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Cameron Highlanders (Queens Own) in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- Cameron Highlanders (Queens Own) during the Second World War -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

Cameron Highlanders (Queens Own)

   The 1st Battalion served throughout the war was part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. In the early years of the war they were in France and Belgium as part of the British Expeditionary Force. During the retreat to Dunkirk a number of men were taken as Prisoners of War, but the majority of the battalion were evacuated from a beach near Dunkirk.

The Battalion was brought back to full strength in Britain and were sent to India. They took part in a number of major battles in India and Burma, including: Kohima (27 March 1944 - 22 June 1944), Mandalay (12/13 February 1945 - 21 March 1945), and The Irrawaddy River (29 March 1945 - 30 May 1945).


At the out break of The Second World War, The 2nd Battalion The Cameron Highlanders were in Egypt, they served in the campaigns of North Africa from September 1940 until they were captured at Tobruk.

   Excerpt from Tobruk: The Story of a Seige; by Anthony Heckstall-Smith, 1960.

The 4th Battalion The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders were part of 152 Infantry Brigade of the 51st (Highland) Division with the BEF early in the war. The 4ths were part of the two brigades who covered the British and French withdrawal to Dunkirk and were captured in France in June 1940.

The 4th Battalion was reconstituted in Inverness in July 1940, and departed to garrison the Dutch West Indies. In march 1942 they were The Battalion was then assigned to 46th (Highland) Brigade of the 15th (Scottish) Division, as replacements for the 7th Battalion. In November 1942, they were posted to the 228th Independent Infantry Brigade, part of the Orkney & Shetland Defences (OSDEF). In December 1942 after 2nd Battalion had been lost at Tobruk, the 4ths were disbanded and reformed as the 2nd Battalion.

On the 20 December 1942 the 4th Battalion The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (228th Independent Infantry Brigade, Orkney & Shetland Defenses) were disbanded and reformed the 2nd Battalion. In January 1944 they were assigned to the 11th Indian Infantry Brigade, 4th Indian Infantry and departed for Taranto, Italy. They took part in the lengthy campaigns in Italy until November 1944 when they were then sent to Greece. In July 1945 they were flown to Austria as part of 61st Infantry Brigade, 6th Armoured Division for occupation duties returning to Britain at the end of August 1945.

    Excerpt from Tobruk: The Story of a Seige; by Anthony Heckstall-Smith, 1960.

At the out break of war The 5th Battalion The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders were part of 26th Infantry Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division. In August 1940 they were posted to the newly reformed 152nd Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division and took part in the battles of North Africa and Sicily, before returning the the UK in preparation for D-Day. The 5ths landed in Normandy on the 7th June 1940 and played a key role in most of the major operations, such as Caen, Falaise Gap, the Seine, and the Ardennes, they were in the forefront of the fighting across Northern Europe for the remainder of the war.

    Excerpt from Tobruk: The Story of a Seige; by Anthony Heckstall-Smith, 1960.

The 6th (Home Service) Battalion The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (later renumbered the 30th Battalion) were posted to Inverness, where they served on garrison duties. The battalion was later broken up and reduced to two Independent Companies.

    Excerpt from Tobruk: The Story of a Seige; by Anthony Heckstall-Smith, 1960.

In September 1939 the 7th Battalion, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, were part of the 227th Independent Infantry Brigade. In November 1942 the transfered to the 46th (Highland) Infantry Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division. On the 24th March 1942 the 7th Battalion became the 5th (Scottish) Parachute Battalion, The Parachute Regiment and retrained as paratroopers. Volunteers from other Scottish Regiments were added to fill the ranks of the new Airbourne unit, which was soon to become part of the 2nd Parachute Brigade, 1st Airborne Division.

The new unit, complete with pipe band, saw its first action on the 9th July 1943 during the invasion of Italy at the harbor town of Taranto. They remained with the 2nd Parachute Brigade in Italy, being renamed the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade in November 1942, being attached to the 2nd New Zealand Division. They took part in the action at the River Sangro.

The 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade took part in the invasion of Southern France during Operation Anvil-Dragoon. On D-Day, the 5th Battalion were dropped over 20 miles inland due to inaccurate positioning by the USAAF C-47s, but were successful in meeting their objectives. In October 1944 they were posted to Greece to assist in suppressing the Communist ELAS forces. On 1st of February 1945 they returned to Italy, remaining there until the end of the War.

12th Nov 1939 Quiet

12th Nov 1939 Constructing Trenches

26th Mar 1940 On the Move

22nd Jun 1942 2nd Camerons Captured  The 2nd Camerons were captured at Tobruk on the 22 June 1942, 24 hours after their Brigade command had capitulated. Some men were able to escape but the majority were marched into captivity led by their pipers, an awesome sight to the enemy and fellow prisoners alike.

A Royal Artillery officer was witness to the arrival of 2nd Camerons to the POW cage:

"We heard, although we could scarcely believe it, the skirl of pipes. There, in the brilliant sunshine, marching down the centre of the road from the escarpment, came a long column of men. The Jerry traffic was brought to a standstill or forced on to the verges. A strange awed murmur went up from the cage: "The Camerons!"

In columns of threes they marched with a swing to the tune of their pipers - 'The March of The Cameron Men' - each company led by its company commander, just as though they were on parade. It was a supremely moving sight, although some of us could only see it hazily through our tears.

Even the Jerry sentries sprang to attention as the battalion neared the gates. There, the Camerons halted. Their Colonel reported to the Brigadier, saluted, and dismissed his men, who had held out for twenty-four hours after the surrender order had been issued."

23rd Jun 1944 Attack Made

If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.

Those known to have served with

Cameron Highlanders (Queens Own)

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Adams Andrew. Pte.
  • Adams James Forbes.
  • Alexander Thomas. Sgt.
  • Amato Ralph.
  • Anderson John. Pte.
  • Balderson Henry. Pte.
  • Balderson Henry. Pte.
  • Bedwin John Alfred. CSM
  • Begg Alastair William. Pte. (d.14th Dec1942)
  • Begg Ian E.. Lt Col
  • Black Laurence.
  • Blackwood Tommy Sunderland.
  • Boulton Alfred. Pte.
  • Bowen W.. Lt
  • Brannan John Mullin. Pte.
  • Burness William Noble. Sgt.
  • Bush Henry. L/Cpl.
  • Cameron William Grant. Pte.
  • Campbell Neil.
  • Cargill J. Sgt.
  • Cassidy Henry. Sgt.
  • Cattanach Alexander. Col.
  • Chalmers W. G.. Lt
  • Chisholm . Piper.
  • Clasby Leonard Douglas.
  • Clearie Hugh. Lance Sgt. (d.9th Feb 1945)
  • Collins Thomas. Cpl.
  • Connor Charles. Rflmn. (d.8th April 1944)
  • Cooper Frank. Col.Sgt.
  • Corbett John.
  • Craig Fred.
  • Crockett Arthur. Colour Sgt.
  • Crockett Arthur. Clr.Sgt.
  • Crombie James. Cpl. (d.14th Feb 1941)
  • Cunningham James. Pte.
  • Davidson John Alexander. L/Cpl.
  • Davidson William McMurry. Major
  • Dimelow Joseph. Pte.
  • Douglas Daniel Robert. Pte.
  • Eaton John LLewellyn. Sgt. (d.18th Aug 1944)
  • Fairclough Harry. Pte
  • Ferguson Murdo.
  • Fieldhouse Alfred Thomas. Pte. (d. )
  • Fraser Hugh. C.S.M.
  • French R.. Pte.
  • Galbraith Jack.
  • Gardner Kenneth Cameron. Lt. (d.1 Aug 1943)
  • Geddes James. Pte.
  • Gemmell George. Pte.
  • Goodall T.. Cpl.
  • Graham J. A.. Capt.
  • Gray Campbell.
  • Gray Thomas. Sgt.
  • Greig P. Sgt.
  • Haggart . R.S.M.
  • Harrison Richard. Pte. (d.22nd Jun 1944)
  • Harrison Robert Edward. L/Cpl.
  • Harvie James. Pte. (d.9th Aug 1942)
  • Hayworth Donald Wilfred. (d. )
  • Hayworth R.. Sgt.
  • Hilton Jack William. Pte.
  • Hollister Frank.
  • Jackson Albert. QMS.
  • Jacob Kenneth Clive. Capt.
  • Johnson Fred.
  • Johnstone David.
  • Jones John James. Cpl.
  • Jones Tom Ellis. Pte.
  • Kaye Derek.
  • Kennedy Ronald. Pte. (d.7th May 1942)
  • Kerr . C.S.M.
  • Lang D. B.. Lt -Col.
  • Lavery J.. Pte.
  • Lawson Sidney.
  • Leadbeater R.. Cpl.
  • Low Charles Jackson. Pte. (d.18th May 1944)
  • MacBain Alexander Alistair. (d.1940)
  • MacBain George.
  • MacDonald Murdo. Pte.
  • MacDonald Murdo. L/Cpl.
  • MacDougal .
  • Mackay Duncan. Dvr.
  • MacKinnon William James. Pte
  • MacKintosh Bob.
  • MacNeill . Piper.
  • Mainwaring Eric N.. Mjr.
  • Marshall Jack Lille. Cpl
  • Martin F.. Sgt.
  • Massey Richard.
  • Matthew James Archibald Paterson. Cpl. (d.22md May 1940 )
  • Matthews George Meek. Cpl. (d.15th Jun 1941)
  • Mcallister Thomas Strachan. Pte.
  • McCall John. Pte.
  • McCormack Thomas. Pte. (d.11th April 1944)
  • McGoran Joe. Lance Corporal
  • McGovern James Peter. Pte.
  • McInally Charles. Cpl.
  • McKenzie A.. Sgt.
  • McLaren James Walker. L/Cpl.
  • McMullen Sidney Charles. Pte. (d.16th Jun 1941)
  • Medhurst Wilfred Daniel. Sergeant
  • Melville J. L.. Mjr.
  • Miller Mick.
  • Milne Douglas Wilson. Cptn. (d.11 Sept 1944)
  • Moore R.. Pte.
  • Morris . Pte.
  • Morrissey James . Pte. (d. 1941)
  • Munnoch William. RSM
  • Munro Bill.
  • Murcar Ted.
  • Murray Duncan Williamson.
  • Newnes .
  • Nicholls Fred. Lt.
  • Nicol Thomas Arthur. Lt.
  • Niven Wullie. Pte.
  • O'Neill James. RSM
  • Oliver Hugh.
  • Park William Frederick. Sgt.
  • Parker Nigel. Mjr.
  • Paterson Arthur. Pte.
  • Peacock Robert . Pte.
  • Perkins Frank. Pte.
  • Poe George MacPherson. Lt. (d.5th Aug 1944)
  • Priestley George. Sgt.
  • Reid Walter. RSM.
  • Reynolds Harry Fredrick. CSM
  • Risborough George Samuel. Sgt. (d.18th Jul 1944)
  • Ritchie James Berry. Pte.
  • Robertson John. Sgt.
  • Robertson Matthew.
  • Rosier William Thomas. Cpl.
  • Rowledge Arthur. Pte.
  • Russell Stewart Nisbit. Pte.
  • Ryles George Andrew Frederick. Sgt.
  • Sands George. Sgt.
  • Sands George Percival. Sgt
  • Shafer? Leslie. Cpl.
  • Shields Alexander Davidson. Pte. (d.8th Mar 1944)
  • Shiner Sid.
  • Shipley Thomas George. Pte.
  • Shore Harold Thomas. Pte. (d.8th Sept 1939)
  • Sinclair A.. Sgt.
  • Slavin Samuel. Pte. (d.14th Oct 1944)
  • Smith Leslie. Sgt.
  • Smith Peter.
  • Standish Sid.
  • Stewart Alan Ronald. Pte. (d.26th Oct 1944)
  • Stewart Edward Gabriel MacLean. L/Cpl.
  • Stewart Peter. L/Cpl. (d.23rd Mar 1943)
  • Stobie James.
  • Stockhill Ernest John . Pte. (d.1st Sep 1940)
  • Suggate Derek.
  • Thomas Sidney John. Cpl.
  • Thompson Douglas. L/Cpl.
  • Thompson Leslie. L/Cpl.
  • Tierney Frank. Pte.
  • Toal William.
  • Tomlins Reginald Percy William. Pte.
  • Toogood L.. Sgt.
  • Vine . Pte.
  • Voisin Kenneth George. Private
  • Walters John Campbell.
  • Walton Jack.
  • Wands Robert.
  • Weir William Smellie. Pte. (d.23rd Dec 1945)
  • Weir William Smellie. Pte. (d.21st Dec 1945 )
  • Wescott Frederick. J.Cpl
  • Williamson Harry. Cpl.
  • Wisser Wilfred H..
  • Wood Joseph Farrer Robinson. Pte.
  • Woodman Ernest. Fusilier
  • Wootton Sydney. Pte.
  • Yellowlees W. W.. Capt.
  • Zamansky Jack L.. Pte. (d.23rd March 1943)

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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There are 2 pages in our library tagged Cameron Highlanders (Queens Own)  These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.

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J.Cpl Frederick Wescott Parachute Regiment

My Father, Fredrick Wescott joined the Parachute Regiment from the Cameron Highlanders when it was first formed, also for the 2 shillings a day extra (that's what he told us). He never really spoke about the war, but we know he joined up in 1938 and was at Dunkirk. He was posted to the 6th Airborne and dropped into Arnhan where he was captured. My Mother actually collected a weeks widows pension before she found out he had been taken prisoner. He took part in the forced march through Poland and back to Germany.

Two things I can remember seeing from this time were a Woodbine packet which was signed by another Para to pay one days pay for one dead Rat, this during the march, also what we called the White book containing pictures and messages from all the leading figures of the day including The King and Churchill plus many many more.

If I have got the facts about the march wrong could you please let me know as this is only a boyhood memory,I would like to know more about what he did during his time in the army.

Bill Wescott

George MacBain The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

My uncle, George MacBain was a member of the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders was captured at st Valerie in 1940 his brother Alexander Alistair Macbain was in the same regiment and was killed in 1940. Uncle George was marched to Stalag XXA where he spent the rest of the war working on a farm. He has told me many horendous stories of the war. Are any of the men who shared those years of his life still alive? He would love to hear from them. One time in Stalag XXA he was nick named "The Blue Man" after catching a form of impatigo from the cattle and his face had to be painted with blue gencenviolet, does that jog any ones memory?

Many Thanks to all you soldiers for giving so much and receiving so little in the name of freedom.

Robert Hampton

Pte. Frank Perkins The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

The late years of my education were greatly curtailed by preparations for war (we lived on a farm near Southend on Sea, in Essex at the mouth of the Thames). In pre-war 1938 we were digging up the school playing fields to plant crops for eating purposes in what became known as the 'Dig for Victory' campaign, that not put down to growth was also dug up, but for placement of air raid shelters. Some of the schools were undergoing conversion to use as emergency hospitals. On the lighter side my weekends were filled with fascinating visits to the farm by members of the Territorial Army Reserve with massive searchlight units. They set up camp and practised picking out night flying from a nearby airfield, by flimsy, slow flying, Tiger Moth biplanes. The 'Terriers' were a welcome source for pocket money, using me as an errand boy for morning papers, cigarettes and anything else they needed. At that time, to us war was inevitable, and sure enough in September '39 it came

My parents decided it was time to move. We did, out of the frying pan into the fire! Inland to another farm near Hornchurch. Hornchurch was home to an RAF station about to play a major part in the Battle of Britain. There, within an area that was later called 'Bomb Alley' - a wide corridor of intense aerial activity covering much of Kent, the Thames and into Essex. A grandstand viewpoint for Spitfire and Hurricane 'dogfights' with the German raiders. We saw the sky blacked out with hoards of bomber formations on there way to London, interspersed with bursting clouds of anti-aircraft fire that spat out rainstorms of shrapnel to litter the streets, and inflict as much injury as the enemy could dish out to the unwary. It was great to know that a lot of enemy aircraft were unable to turn tail for home after leaving a trail of devastation and sometimes an equally blacked out sky as happened one Saturday afternoon when they set fire to the Thames Haven Oil Refinery and the Silvertown Paper Works. We were plagued for hours with oily flakes of burned paper fluttering earthwards like demented butterflies.

I left school aged 14, during the height of the blitz to take up work in a stockbrokers office in the City of London, and did see both at work and around home horrifying acts against humanity to friends, relations and strangers, all of it countered and made more tolerable by acts of bravery and a great resilience. Conscription to the forces came in the latter part of the war. I had 6 months of training, mostly in Scotland attached to the Gordon Highlanders, and was eventually shipped out to India.

After journeying a quarter of the way round the world and miles of open sea, cramped in a luxury liner suitably downgraded to pack in thousands of troops we were ready to set foot on land in Bombay. Little time was available to accustom to a new culture. We were bundled into waiting trucks, taken some thirty to forty miles to a transit camp and segregated into groups with destinations we knew not where. In a short stay at the transit camp we were subjected to yet another round of inoculations, graphically lectured about clean living, repeatedly drilled in anti malarial practises, and kept completely in the dark about our future.

The war in Europe ended, and soon we were to learn that a new weapon called an atom bomb had been used to raze two large cities in Japan. Surrender by the Japanese was imminent, so was information on some of our futures - I was in a group that was to be transferred to the 1st Battalion The Queens Own Cameron Highlanders (Q.O.C.H.).

In a camp about a hundred miles north east of Bombay near the city of Nasik the remnants of the Battalion of Cameron Highlanders that had survived the Burma campaign and had not yet been repatriated to home were endeavouring to rebuild a much diminished unit. The Camerons had engaged in heavy and costly combat with the Japanese, contributing immensely to overpowering of the enemy in North East India at Kohima and Imphal. (A dramatic account by Bill Pennington of an operation involving the Camerons and the crossing of the Irrawaddy River may be found on - type Pennington in the search box).

After the initial chaos of being a member of a new draft to be received by veterans of the Burma campaign, old sweats and others that appeared to have only recently arrived, there was time to make an assessment of the new circumstances. The hierarchy had a delicate task on their hands - in fact they were putting together a potentially volatile cocktail of men with very conflicting ambitions. To all intents the war was over, Burma 'vets' had experienced enough in months to last most people a lifetime and desired only repatriation to home, some of them resorting to the bottle to endure the passage of time until their opportunity came. The last thing they wanted was to mix with a bunch of inexperienced conscripts who were still wet behind the ears, but equally ambitious to call it a day and get back civilian life. Add the other ingredient, the regular soldier who was eager to pursue his chosen career no matter what it involved, and you have a rare mixture.

Conditions in this ever changing scenario were far from good, under dusty, tatty canvas, in even tattier beds that were ridden with an impossible to combat form of wood lice, officially bodily harmless so they were there to be endured. Latrine facilities were primitively crude. Drinking water was stored in large cauldron shaped canvas containers to allow the evaporation caused by the scorching daylight sun to cool the water, it was so chlorinated you could have been drinking pure bleach. Food and eating conditions were appalling, weevil loaded bread to be spread with a runny mess called Oleo Margarine, sometimes with a form of jam. Cooked food consisted of 'porridge' and fried weevil bread for breakfast, and a possibility of something hot later in the day. Most meals were supplemented with second hand American 'K' Rations which were survival packs for use in extreme combat conditions - the contents went something like this, hard tack biscuits, brittle chocolate, pieces of toilet paper, some cigarettes and matches. If you drew luckily your 'K' Ration would contain a can labelled ham and egg. Enough griping!! The meal most looked forward to was an occasional serving of Machonochies Meat & Veg, delivered in large steel drums requiring only heating. To break the monotony of meals entertainment was laid on by native buzzards that would swoop under the canvas, grab whatever was laying around, even from our hands and make off. There was the elusive Orderly Officer of the day, he would appear apparently from nowhere, ask "Any complaints", and evaporate with well practised speed before anyone could answer.

Two influential personalities were replaced, the Bn. Commanding Officer (C.O.) and the Regimental Sergeant Major (R.S.M.), both were honoured with great respect by the Burma 'vets'. Rumours about our purpose favoured that we were to form part of an occupation force in Japan, but we were kicking our heels in the middle of nowhere in the plains of India. Morale was slipping to an all time low, unsavoury incidents were happening. Sadly there were deaths put down as suicide.The new R.S.M. was attacked whilst asleep in his tent. Someone cut the guy ropes of a marquee that was the sergeants mess, creating havoc inside.

The Bn. was up to full strength. All that remained to learn was the purpose. For the first time it was made public. We were to be part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan (B.C.O.F.) - the 5 Infantry Brigade Group of the British India Division the 14th Army (B.R.I.N.D.I.V.). The main force were three infantry battalions. Ours, 1st Bn. Q.O.C.H. The 2nd Bn. Dorsetshire Reg't, and the 2nd Bn. The Royal Welch Fusiliers, supplemented with units of 8 Coy., R.A.S.C. (Service Corps). 5 Field Ambulance (Medics), and 5 Inf. Wksps. Coy., R.E.M.E. (Electrical, mechanical engineers).

For a reason I did not know I was sent with a group to Poonah and a unit of the Army Education and Intelligence Corps for a two week course on communication qualities - the gathering of knowledge and information from, and imparting the same to both army personnel and the civilians of where we may be. It seemed irrelevant, but I did appreciate the absence of regimentation and the relaxed atmosphere. The course seemed irrelevant, but a by-product was a step on the ladder of promotion.

A new interest served to ease some of the boredom, full highland dress uniform for every member of the Bn. arrived. Appropriately dressed and assembled with a now competent pipe band in the lead brought a positively brilliant display to the barren surroundings. The Royal Welch Fusiliers had imported a goat to serve as their traditional mascot, and the Dorsets were now the proud owners of a fine military brass band. In its entirety the Brigade were becoming a very impressive force, enough to make anybody stand and stare including the Japs, and hopefully to scare the pants off any troublemakers.

Whoopee!!! At last we were ready to go. Not so!!! Protocol had been overlooked by us mere squadies, and it had to be satisfied. There followed a series of mass drill and assemblies of the whole Brigade including all of the smaller back up units. The ground was baked solid to a depth of several feet (as those who had to dig the occasional grave knew to their sorrow). The repeated marching and counter marching of 5 to 6 thousand pairs of boots would have given solid foundation for the building of a city.

The climax of all the rehearsals was an inspection of the assembly by His Excellency, the Commander in Chief (India), General Sir Claude J.E. Auchinleck. I would have loved to be able to stand aside and observe the desperate efforts of some poor souls at the head and tail of each battalion to keep in step. Authoritatively heading the parade was the resounding beat and skirl the Cameron pipes and drums, followed by the delicate fife band of the Royal Welch, and finally the bold brass band of the Dorsets. Three beats to follow - take your choice. A side benefit, the risk of individual units being inspected resulted in a full English breakfast - egg, bacon, sausage and fried bread (weevils and all).

Now we were ready to break camp and go. No converted luxury liner, instead a vessel unable to hold the whole brigade - the Dorsets would have to follow. A motor propelled sardine can heading into the tropics full of bodies taking it in turns to walk the open deck. A promise to stretch our legs ashore in Singapore had a sting in it's tail. What an anticlimax! Drag your kit out of the hold, don the full highland dress and march parallel to the Equator dressed in a heavy kilt. The Mace was lowered, the band struck up, and off we set on our morning leg stretch through the heart of Singapore. Waiting to take a salute at the Municipal Building was no less than Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia. Protocol satisfied we sweltered back to the ship. At Hong Kong a similar march took place at the dockside, nobody saw us, and we saw nobody. Honshu is the mainland of Japan. There are two major islands in the south, Kyushu and Shikoku, with the seaway around the two littered with smaller islands. On the mainland sheltered from the open sea by the land masses is a major port, Kure, situated a few miles from Hiroshima. Kure was our landing point.

As the ship slowly navigated her way through the islands we had ample time to observe. Beaches were virtually non existent. The shores rose steeply from the sea, straight into mountainous terrain. There was an atmosphere of controlled apprehension, we were entering an area of natural fortresses. As we slipped into Kure harbour the view revealed that the surrounding hills bristled with gun emplacements. At that moment I made a decision, one that nothing will ever change. To take Japan without the use of the bombs, conventional combat would have cost an incalculable number of lives over an inestimable period. As with all war, no one side profits in the long term.

We set up station at a place called Hiro, some ten to fifteen miles from Hiroshima. We found the Japanese in our locality were not eager to befriend, after all they had not long since had the most fearful weapon of all time dropped literally on their doorstep, destroying an entire city and most of its population. I formed the opinion that those present at the time of the 'bomb' were unable to come to terms with the sudden change in their circumstances. Having seen the remains of Hiroshima, I could understand the confusion. Research some 50 years after I was in Japan revealed a lot of information that most of us were completely unaware of at the time. The initial headquarters of B.C.O.F. was at Kure, which had been the principal naval base of Japan and the area included the largest combined dockyard, ship-building yard and naval arsenal in the country. The B.C.O.F. consisted of personnel from British, Indian, Australian, and New Zealand Brigade Groups, as well as airforce and naval components from the various countries.

Apparently the station at Hiro had been manned for a short while by an Australian force, we were to carry on from them. From thereon I did not engage in any regimental activities for the rest of my stay in Japan (I was hospitalised for 5 months). Together with a group that included those who attended the course at Poonah in India we were labelled as an education section. Some educational activities within the unit did take place, but the arrangements to mix wtih some Japanese civilians was somewhat revealing. In an exchange of opinions and other information with one such young, well educated, Japanese ex-service man who had excellent English, I was told in no uncertain manner that many of the Japanese did not consider the conflict at an end and they had facilities to continue, his comments were not to be disregarded. Similar to Germany, the Japanese military expansion began in the late twenties, and into the thirties. By 1931 they had overrun Manchuria, and occupied a land mass equal to four times that of Japan by 1933. The aggression continued into China and onwards. By spring 1942 Japan dominated most of South East Asia. When the war ended some of the Japanese military had enjoyed up to fourteen years of insuperable success and would still be in their early thirties, many trained as killing machines from childhood.

The whole of the B.C.O.F. area was found to be honeycombed with caves and tunnels. Many contained large quantities of explosives, ammunition and poison gasses. Inflation was out of control, with prices doubling by the day. The entire Japanese currency was recalled in one day, and replaced with a new issue the next - from then onwards old currency was worthless. This hardly affected us - we had little to buy. The spring cherry blossom was all that one would have anticipated, coupled it with the delightful oriental singing of Japanese primary school children formed a welcome feeling of peace. Seasons followed the same pattern as at home, but to extreme. From May to September it was hot and humid by day, and persisted through the night. Most of the landscape was mountainous. Terrace farming was practised every where, the main produce being rice. 'Paddy' fields in the few flat areas would come alive at night with frogs - the croaking was incessant. Contact with other occupation forces was rare, but one proved to be a terrific morale booster. An exchange of attractions with the Americans was arranged - they were to send a band to entertain us. It got off to a humorous start. The railway stop at Hiro had no platforms, to alight from the train necessitated a degree of jumping. Our American friends would have been used to this, and our organisers did nothing to ease creature comforts. To the Adjutant and R.S.M. (who made the arrangements), a band meant men in uniform with highly polished buttons and boots. All instruments would have been packed in suitable containers. A truck was sent for the instruments and the pipe band was sent to meet the men. Dressed in casual uniform, wearing ordinary shoes and carrying their own personal instruments, the Americans struggled from the train. They were not soldiers in the accepted sense, but were entertainers in one of the very popular 'big bands'. The instruments were their own property - no way were they going to have them piled into a truck. They co-operated and formed up behind the pipes and drums - this was a new experience for them. The Drum Major lowered his mace, the pipes struck up, the drums rolled, and the spectacle set off at a cracking pace, except that the Americans were trailing behind, and I mean behind. Nearly a mile carrying instruments, with the pipe band setting the pace, was a torture they had not endured before. At the guardroom the R.S.M. had assembled the guard, a good first impression for our guests was essential. The expression on his face was one for the books. The now-exhausted followers were a single file of slouching beings. The R.S.M.'s world collapsed. The Americans nearly followed suit - they were saving their energy for later.

A large corrugated-iron building resembling an aircraft hanger had been selected as the venue for the performance. A platform was erected, and seating was concocted from a wide variety of objects. The band slouched on to the platform, the conductor raised his baton, and suddenly an incredible surge of energy erupted. The band was transformed. The sound issued forth in ever increasing volume, enhanced (or otherwise) by the acoustics of the building. Renderings of the most popular music of the period continued almost non-stop. The atmosphere was electric as our lads called for encore after encore. I had not seen such enthusiasm, and felt so much of a lift in morale in a long time. To return the compliment, we sent a section of the pipes and drums together with a highland dance team to Tokyo. Word had it that the Americans received the performance with equal enthusiasm. Time came to hand the station at Hiro back to the Australians, and move on to Shikoku, the second largest Island in the south of Japan. The brigade had been assigned occupation of the Island. Our final base was in a previously Japanese barracks out side the city of Kochi on the mid-western coastline of the Island. The Dorsets were sent to Tokushima in the north-west, and the Royal Welch completed a near perfect triangle, stationed at Matsuyama, in the east.

Viewed from the top of a nearby hill our base could have been a British barracks built around a massive parade ground (fodder for the regimental types). The single story buildings were built entirely of timber, the floor raised about 3 feet from the ground on stilts that were boxed in with cladding. An interesting form of joinery was used on all rafters and joists, there were no traditional joints, they were all bolted together, this method allowed the whole to sway and flex, but remain intact in an earthquake. The electricity supply was a hoot, two lines of bare copper wire supported on insulators running the entire length of each building. Connection was made for any appliance wherever required with the use of a pair of crocodile clips.

The towns were a mixed bag of tricks. Timber and paper walled dwelling and business places adjoining the pathway (unpaved), separated from the road by frequently bridged open drainage trenches. On the crude unsurfaced road, rail tracks carried ultra modern trams. A mixture alien to our ways, but they worked.

A sharp reminder to remain alert came to light through the sloppy activity of a few individuals. Many barrack rooms had an insignificant trapdoor in the floor. Sweeping out was a daily requirement - what easier than to lift the trapdoor and conveniently dispose of the sweepings. Curiosity overcame one individual, so he wriggled down through the trapdoor and exposed a potential threat. We were living on top of a virtual arsenal, tucked away were cases of well preserved weapons and ammunition. 'Well done that man', he initiated another search to be carried out by the B.C.O.F. An incident resulted in me being carted off to the nearby field ambulance (equivalent to a small cottage hospital). In addition to my immediate needs I was having trouble with my ears. Apparently my stay in the field ambulance was short because the next memory was that I had been transferred some 150 miles to the main B.C.O.F. hospital at Kure. It was a busy place with a mixture of staff from a number of countries. The daily routine was to be wheeled to a treatment room by an Indian orderly. The rest of the day was spent perspiring on the bed and developing sweat rashes in awkward places, and prickly heat elsewhere. It was uncomfortable. Soon I could make my own way for treatment, and the line of interest taken by the doctor had switched to my ears which were now very swollen and closing rapidly. One question arose frequently. "Have you been swimming in the rivers?" The answer was, "Yes, but before the notice forbidding it was posted at Hiro".

In a square ward with about six beds to a wall were a mixture of surgical and other patients, most of them immobile. It was a normal afternoon with everything proceeding in an orderly manner. A happening was to occur that would produce a scene equal to a French Farce. The calm atmosphere was disturbed by an unfamiliar rumbling, like distant thunder. It continued and seemed to be getting nearer. The building begun to tremble. There followed a feeling like being on a ship about to ride a huge wave. It was an earth tremor, one only, that rolled in from the sea lifting the building which seemed to flex with it, and then putting it back down again.

The Indian orderlies fled the patients. It was every man for himself. The fellow in the bed on my right, had ear trouble and no control on his balance. He clambered from his bed did a pirouette and fell to the floor. After three demonstrations of his ballet skills he returned to bed. Another fellow in a bed halfway along the wall on my left had his leg in plaster, hoisted by a weighted cord over a pulley at the foot of the bed. He was determined to not be left behind. Mimicking a contortionist , he selected a table knife from his eating irons, and unsuccessfully hacked at the cord. Diagonally in front of me, yet another fellow decided to take matters into his own hands. Quitting his bed, he attempted to crawl across the floor using his hands only - with each slow advance he systematically lost his pyjama trousers. In desperation he gave up and burst into almost hysterical laughter. The rest joined in. Space at the hospital was in heavy demand. It was decided I could return to my unit, the treatment including that to my ears had responded reasonably well, but I felt far from well. I left the hospital with travel rations (corned beef sandwiches and apples), a rail pass, instructions to link with others to form a group, use only carriages designated for forces, and report the Rail Travel Officer (R.T.O.) at each change. Following instructions, the first major change was at Okayama to catch the ferry over to Shikoku, but things were not going too well. As we approached Okayama a cockney comrade looked closely at me and said "Yer don't arfe look ruff mate". It was an understatement. My new cockney friend stayed with me on to the ferry and we made the crossing. Alighting from the ferry, things began to go haywire, I slumped to the floor and seemed to be on my own, except for passing Japanese who had a distinct disinterest in the foreign devil on the ground. Members of the R.T.O. had been alerted and came to my aid. They decided to get me to the nearest unit with a doctor available. It turned out to be the Dorsets stationed at Tokushima. The doctor decided to keep me overnight and transfer me next day to my own unit. By the time I reached the Camerons I was in a right state, and the Bn. Doctor sent me back to the field ambulance. Placed in isolation, I alternated from consciousness, to semi conscious, and just plain nothing. During this period I gained a memory that was to stay with me for ever. A fellow Cameron had been involved in an incident with the Japanese. He had been stabbed in the abdomen, his bladder had burst, and his blood system was poisoned. The air was filled with moments of haunting cries of agony. He took about a week to die. Returning to consciousness, and choking because of a nose bleed, I was confronted with a big ugly Japanese face staring at me from a few inches, frightened and confused I signalled to seek his aid. He just grinned and left me to it. (Japanese labour was used for cleaning). Oh to be rid of this accursed country and it's people!!! A welcome turning point was reached. Thanks to the meticulous, dedicated care of an Australian doctor I was blessed with a steady recovery. I never even knew the mans name, and the opportunity to convey an ultimate debt of gratitude didn't arise. Sufficient recovery paved the way for transfer to another hospital at Okayama, and there began the prelude to my happiest time in Japan. Stretchered into a bell tent I joined a group of about half a dozen chaps installed toe-to-toe around the central pole. It seemed we were untouchables to be kept away from others. None of us had been told what ailed us, but the general consensus seemed to be that we had something like diphtheria. Into the tent walked a little Japanese, he shinned up the central pole dragging a pair of wires with him. Securing the wires to the pole he proceeded to strip off the insulation and affix a lamp holder, he then inserted a lamp, to our surprise it lit immediately. Job done the Jap' left. Life was cheap there, he had been playing with wires, live in excess of 200 volts.

Transfer to a proper isolation ward within the hospital was rewarded with two very pleasant surprises. The hospital had a team from the Queen Alexander's Imperial Military Nursing Service (Q.A.I.M.N.S.) Proper lady nurses with a proper Matron, who came to see us. "You may have one portable gramophone and one recording" we were told. "Let the nurses know your choice" she added, and left. The fellows were from all over the B.C.O.F., and diverse units. We had a ballot on the choice of recording - the leaning was toward classical music, one factor being that complete works required more than one 78 rpm record. The tactic was a success, Beethoven won with his 'Emperor' Piano Concerto, and was avidly followed note-for-note, over-and-over again. Takuma Bay, (whereabouts unknown) formerly a seaplane base, had been adapted as a convalescent centre staffed by the Q.A.I.M.N.S. and the Women's Voluntary Service (W.V.S.). I had a whole month to come and go as I pleased, in comfortable surroundings, with the feminine touch that sometimes bordered on the luxurious. There was a well-stocked library of books and records, with peaceful facilities in which to enjoy them, both in and out of doors. A radio was tuned into a forces programme Radio S.E.A.C. (South East Asia Command)

The food was excellent - snacks and beverages available through the day, willing assistance (if required) available twenty four hours a day. Could this have been associated with the army, or was I dreaming. Early days were spent in simple relaxation, and lapping up the remains of the autumnal atmosphere. Later I ventured further to take in the beauty of the setting, some of the land laid out in typical Japanese garden style. The furthest I went was to the land edge rising almost vertically out of the sea. It was a good feeling.

In the third week the Matron approached me and suggested I go alone and explore the surrounding countryside - no further than I wished, and for as long as I liked. A bicycle had been reserved for me, and picnic food could be prepared. Assurances that I would not encounter any problems in the areas I could reach alleviated any apprehensions I had about the Japanese. It was go!!!

The first day I took just a snack and drink. It was necessary to accustom myself to the bike. The initial feeling of freedom was exhilarating. I didn't go too far, saw no Japs, and determined to do more of this, venturing further each day.

The area was rural with a great deal of appeal. The roadways ran through the valleys of the hilly terrain, frequently bending to offer numerous changes of view. Coupled with the rural atmosphere, and sparse population there was a feeling of having slipped a century or two into the past. The natives, if that was the correct terminology were more inquisitive about, than aggressive to this strange uniformed foreigner. Production of rice on the terraces laid out like giant steps to the top of the mountains, were irrigated by an antiquated system of large water wheels linking the essential liquid right to the top. The water was fed into channels through the terraces, and back down to the feeder pool below. Women, frequently clad in only loin cloths spent the entire day walking on the spot on treadmills to provide the required energy. With a series of fascinating and colourful images planted in my mind I eventually headed back to rejoin the battalion.

Christmas 1946 was four days off. In the early hours of the morning our sleep was disturbed by a sound like a hurricane force wind heading our way, unlike anything experienced before. There were four of us in the completely dark room. The only communication was by voice, and that was tempered with controlled anxiety. The noise increased and communication was overpowered. Situations are not readily recognised when woken from deep sleep. The full reality dawned on me as the building began to shake. This was not an earth tremor like the one at Kure, it was a full scale earthquake. I scrambled out of the trembling bed, but could not stand. The other three had done the same, we were colliding with each other as we crawled across the now violently moving floor. Total collapse of the building seemed imminent. In effect we were up against a raging element, and were helpless.

It was claimed that the initial impact lasted approximately four minutes. I cannot confirm or deny, my mind was on self preservation. Without doubt there was relief when it subsided - the building had survived major damage, but there was chaos, and still total darkness. It quietened, and the first impulse was to find clothing and get dressed. Vocal communication was re-established with a garbled mess of requests and advice. Somehow, we had sort of dressed, and were remaining calm. The noise and trembling started again. 'Get out'! 'Keep covered' ! Conflicting opinions. Confusion had set in. I opted for out , it seemed best.

Outside there was immediate contact with the ground, and the movement was more pronounced. I was beginning to doubt my decision, but the duration of this movement was shorter. A pattern of repeating quakes of varying violence continued into the day. Daylight revealed the extent of the damage, the design of the Jap barracks had proved it's worth. Not so a cookhouse built of bricks by our chaps, it was reduced to rubble. Security was immediately tightened, and not without reason. Japanese grenades that had been hidden in the rafters had dislodged, another factor similar to others uncovered in the past.

The C.O. was away, leaving a very level-headed Major in charge. To establish authority, and reduce the question of vulnerability from the Japanese superiority gained by their experience of quakes. We had to show the flag. A company in armed in full battle order was assembled. Headed by a Bren Carrier (a small armoured vehicle), a piper and drummer, they marched into the accessible areas of Kochi in a show of strength, and returned to camp. Information on the full extent of the damage caused by the quake and it's associated elements was passed to us by men from the company that had marched into Kochi. The hilly terrain had given us shelter from a massive tidal wave generated from the epicentre of the quake somewhere out at sea, but much of the city of Kochi had been engulfed.

Quite large boats were left stranded miles inland, buildings had been wrecked, and many washed out to sea. I have no knowledge of human injury and loss of life, but it must have been considerable. Many were left homeless. No casualties were sustained by members of the commonwealth force. Earth tremors continued for up to two weeks. The sea water took a considerable time to recede, and had not returned to the original coastline when it was the time for us to leave Japan.

Early in 1947 our unit left Japan. I don't know if any of the rest of the brigade were left behind. For the Cameron's they had found another spot needing attention in Malaya. The battalion marched out with great pomp and circumstance. I left as an individual. The C.O. decided I would supervise the carriage of a number of crates over the 150 miles to Kure. (I suspect they contained the bounty he had collected). At Kure I saw the crates into the hold of the ship, and we left. From me, no goodbye, definitely no thank you, only a positive message. I will not be back!!!

Frank Perkins

Campbell Gray 7th Btn. The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

During WW2 all members of the Parachute Regiment were volunteers recruited from the many regiments throughout the army. I was with the 7th Battalion, Cameron Highlanders. We had had a visit from General ‘Boy’ Browning, who had given us a talk on the role of the Parachute Regiment and asked for volunteers to form the 5th Battalion (Scottish) Parachute Regiment.

About 400 volunteered, and we were posted for training to Hardwick Hall, near Chesterfield, which was the training school for the Parachute Regiment. The big attraction in volunteering was the 2/- (10p) a day extra pay, which doubled our regular pay as we were only on 2/- a day. The training was very tough, and quite a number of volunteers were returned to their former units as unsuitable. Those who survived the initial training were committed to very intensive training to ensure full fitness. Training day started at 8am and ended at 6.30pm every day. The training staff bawled and shouted at us all day long, and after a few days we were doing things instinctively despite the shouts of ‘Go, go, go’.

We practised dispatch from aircraft on dummy fuselages of floor- and door-exit aircraft, which were mounted about 12ft from the ground. For the next stage of our training we moved to Ringway Airport in Manchester. There, RAF instructors took us in hand to help us land properly. The normal physical training continued at Ringway. That regime kept us up to peak fitness. Learning how to descent from aircraft was the next stage in our training. To qualify as a parachutist, we had to do seven descents, two from a static balloon and five from aircraft. Tatton Park in Manchester was the drop zone, and this was where the balloons were located. Slung from the balloon was a basket roughly eight-feet square with a hole in the base, big enough for a body and parachute to pass through, with a bar above the aperture to hook the static line to. The static line was the means of releasing the parachute from the containing bag to allow it to develop. Four men at a time with an instructor (RAF) went up to a height of 800ft. My turn eventually came round, and it was then that I began to doubt the wisdom of having volunteered for this branch of the services. It was quite an eerie feeling as we stood, one man in each corner of the basket, watching the ground get further and further away. The silence was only broken by the whistle of the wind and the instructor’s voice pronouncing, ‘800ft, lads, get ready no. 1.’ No time was wasted in dispatching us. We sat at the edge of the hole in turn, and the instructor did the hook-up to the bar then ‘Action Station’ – hands on edge of aperture, sitting with legs in hole, head back and ‘Go.’

The sensation of falling was terrifying, with a drop of some 180ft before the chute developed. An instructor on the ground with a loud hailer talked us down. There was a tremendous feeling of exhilaration once we were back on the ground, and we couldn't wait to do a repeat performance. The next stage was dropping from an actual aircraft, in our case Whitley bombers, stripped to carry a stick of ten men. There wasn't a lot of space in this plane, with the round aperture in the floor located about halfway up the fuselage. Five men sat each side of the aperture alternately facing each other. There was little or no headroom, and it was extremely uncomfortable, to say the least. When the red light above the aperture came on, no. 1 swung his legs into the aperture and awaited the green light that came on in a matter of seconds. Off he went, followed by no. 2, on the other side of the aperture, and the remainder followed in turn. After finishing the required number of descents, we attended the ceremony for presenting the coveted wings, by which we became qualified parachutists. Once we had completed the course and qualified, refusal to continue was a court-martial offence with imprisonment of normally 56 days. Our home base was at Larkhill on Salisbury Plains, where we completed our training, being dropped from aircraft, at night and in daytime. The planes were Whitleys, Albemarles, Dakotas and Stirlings.

Around March 1943, the 5th Battalion (Scottish) was scheduled for north Africa, but I had a bout of pleurisy and was sent instead to hospital. When I came out, the 5th was gone, and I was posted to the depot at Chesterfield to join a draft for north Africa to rejoin my battalion. A few days before embarkation, however, I and a number of others, mostly signallers and mortar men, were taken off the draft and posted back to Larkhill to join a new battalion that was being formed, the 12th Battalion (Yorks), Parachute Regiment. The endless exercises continued as before in preparation for the invasion of Europe. When, in May 1944, we took off for a transit camp near Keevil, we knew this time it was for real.

The camp was ringed with armed soldiers (not airborne), and no one was allowed in or out. The first morning saw my company marched to a hut and seated for a first briefing. There was a large map mounted at the end of the hut and covered with a cloth. After a few words of introduction, the briefing offer removed the cloth and revealed a map of the Normandy region of France that showed the German troop positions in the area. In another hut, there was a large sand model of the area that indicated the drop zone, rendezvous point and our objective. The village of Le Bas de Ranville was our objective. While that of the 6th Division was to secure the bridges of the River Orne and Orne Canal, the waterways running close to each other, and the ground east of the river, and take out the gun battery at Merville. Such action would cover the beaches where the sea landing was to take place. We were scheduled to go in a few hours before the landing. Briefing took place every morning, and any changes in enemy-troop movements were noted. We were informed that Overlord would take place on 5 June. Adverse weather conditions initially cancelled this, though by evening it was confirmed that we would indeed be going.

At this stage of the war the parachute soldier carried a fairly hefty load, each with a special kit bag strapped to the leg with a 20ft length of rope attached and tied to a waist belt. This we released during our descent. It was quite handy in letting us know in the dark when we were about to hit the ground. In my case I carried a wireless set too, which was wrapped in foam rubber. We arrived at the airfield near Keevil around 10pm on 5 June and made our way to the enplaning area after drawing chutes. My battalion was being transported by Stirling bombers with Canadian crews. Exit from the bomber was through a rectangular floor aperture at the tail end of the aircraft. Very few of the men had experienced action before, and we were all in good spirits – the great adventure was about to begin.

The signal corporal who was in the next plane to mine came over and shook my hand saying, ‘I'll see you over there, Jock.’ I never saw him again. He disappeared after being dropped in the wrong area with a number of others, all of whom, except him and the signals officer, managed to rejoin us. It would be around 11pm when we got on our way and taxied to the runway for take-off. I must say that no one felt like talking after take-off, and the noise of the engines made it almost impossible anyway. We were scheduled to be dropped around 1am, our drop zone being a few miles inland. There was some light anti-aircraft fire as we crossed the French coast. At last we got the order to ‘Hook-up’ and ‘Stand To’. I was no. 2 to go. We had to rely on the guy behind us handing us the end of our static line, making sure it was free of entanglement prior to hook-up. All eyes were then glued to the lights above the aperture. When the dispatcher (RAF) bawled ‘Red On’ followed by ‘Green On’, then ‘Go, go, go,’ we went through the aperture as fast as possible. We were going in about 500ft, and it was essential to have a fast dispatch to ensure that we would be closer together on the ground. It was a moonlit night with some light cloud. I had quite a good descent, landing a bit heavily but safely in a corn field with stalks up to my waist. There was a real danger for us at this point of being shot at by one of our mates, so a simple code system had been devised, the first day being ‘Ham’ to be answered by ‘Egg’, the next day ‘Bread’ and ‘Butter’.

After releasing my harness and dumping the jump jacket – put on over our outer equipment so that our lines on dispatch couldn't snag on anything – I gathered myself together. I had to get myself to the rendezvous point, a quarry just on the approaches to Ranville. As I proceeded, I heard movement just ahead of me. I went to ground immediately and gave the code sign ‘Ham’ and got the ‘Egg’. It happened to be a signaller of my own platoon, who had injured his back in the drop. We got to a hedgerow at the side of the field, but he couldn't go any further so I had to leave him there and carry on. We had been told at the briefing not to stop to help wounded or injured men under any circumstances. The objective was top priority and required the maximum number of men to achieve it.

I eventually reached the quarry, guided by the flashing red light of my battalion. Other battalions were guided by a hunting horn or a whistle to their different rendezvous points. The drop zone was coming under fire by this time, but most of us were clear of it by then. I was the commanding officer’s, the CO’s, signaller and reported to him on arrival. By around 3am we were still at about only half-strength. It turned out that many of my battalion had been dropped in the wrong area, and in some cases it took a few days before they got to us. In any case, the CO decided to move on to secure Le Bas de Ranville. Resistance was fairly light, the Germans having withdrawn to a wood to the south. By 4am we were well dug in. Things were remarkably quiet for a short time, and then we heard the naval barrage starting and knew that the seaborne landings were about to take place.

Come daybreak our forward position reported enemy-troop movement in our direction, supported by two SP or self-propelled guns. With this forward position were a naval officer and a rating who had parachuted in with us and had established a radio link with a cruiser off the coast. Unfortunately, they were killed in the first assault on the forward position, as was a mate of mine on radio contact with HQ. The forward position, consisting of an officer and 12 men, came under heavy fire and suffered casualties, though the officer and three of the men managed to escape and pull back to the company position. The two SP guns were destroyed by six-pounder guns of one of the other companies. Another section reoccupied the forward position along a hedgerow. Later that day a further attack was launched on our position. We came under heavy mortaring and SP gunfire, and our casualties were fairly heavy.

That evening we witnessed the remarkable sight of around 500 tug-aircraft and gliders streaming in over the coast to land astride the Orne river and canal. It looked like we were well and truly there to stay. By this time, after having come ashore at Sword Beach and suffered heavy casualties, the commandos had arrived at our position. Our division had secured all objectives and were holding firm despite being under almost continuous heavy fire, which, of course, meant more casualties.

We were pinned down in a small bridgehead and awaiting the fall of Caen before the breakout could take place. My battalion was well under strength. We were moved back and forward along the line, exchanging position with other units. On D+6 my battalion – what was left of it – were chosen to take the village of Breville, which was heavily defended. We were down to around eight officers and 350 men by this time. We proceeded to a place called Amfreville, where we trooped into the local church for our briefing. The order was that ‘Breville must be taken.’

The Black Watch had tried to take it and had suffered heavily in their attempt. The commandos were holding position on the outskirts of Amfreville, facing towards Breville, and we took up position for the attack on the road alongside them. The attack, preceded by a barrage at 9.45pm and supported by a few tanks, would be launched at around 10pm. Unfortunately, the first salvo fell short and landed on the road in which we were assembled. Our CO and several HQ personnel were killed and several others wounded. Just as the attack company moved off, the Germans laid down a counter barrage, and they were cut to pieces in the open ground approaching Breville. I went in with the second company and had to pass through the dead and wounded. The company commander, although lying wounded, waved us on to keep going.

I reached the edge of the village with a number of others, and we got pinned down in a ditch. After taking our bearings we moved out to reach Breville crossroads, exchanging fire as we went. I still had the wireless set on my back but had lost the aerial. The village was virtually on fire from end to end. Things were a bit uncertain, to say least. At the crossroads we came under very heavy bombardment and again had to shelter in a ditch for what seemed like hours till, eventually, except for some spasmodic small arms fire, we had secured our positions. We lay all night expecting the usual counter-attack, but at dawn patrols sent out reported that no enemy was contacted. Breville had been taken at last, and our bridgehead was complete.

The cost was very heavy indeed, with all our officers killed or wounded. There were 168 dead from all companies and only around 100 of the original battalion left. The following day was spent burying the dead, British and German. I assisted in burying one guy who had been killed alongside the burning church. He was buried where he had fallen.

When I returned to Normandy at the 40th anniversary, I went to Breville. That grave was still there alongside the ruins of the church. Apparently, the people of Breville had asked that it should remain there rather than being removed to Ranville War Cemetery.

Later, Breville became a battle honour for the Division, such was its importance for the Normandy campaign

Campbell Gray

James Forbes "Pongo" Adams The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

The name James Stobie is so familiar!! My late father was James Forbes Adams of Nairn, was in the Cameron Highlanders (51st Highland Division). He was a drummer with Cameron Highlanders (Territorials) Pipe Band, and as he was 18, he got called up to take place of the 17 year old tip drummer.

James Forbes Adams at breakup of a Territorial camp near Fort George, just prior to hostilities.

After going to France with the BEF (51st HD), he was captured at St. Valery. That's him next to Kenneth Warner at the end of the row in the second photo. (See photo below) I know this, as I still have that portion that my Aunty Marj (ex Wren) had carried around in her purse throughout his captivity. We lived in Nairn until 1959, when we moved to Glenrothes in Fife. Dad was a founding member of the Nairn Pipeband, and later the Co-founded the Glenrothes Pipeband. After that he was involed with teaching youngsters a Cupar PB, and played with the Kelty and Blairadam PB (the year they won the 2nd Grade drumming at World Championships at Perth.

The dreaded telegram his aunty received when he was posted missing.

Dad did attempt escape twice, once in Holland on the long march to Germany, and I believe the other time was when he was at Stalag XXA (Fort 13). He ended up at Stalag XXB. It was hard to get him to talk about his experiences. As a child, I can vividly remember him waking up screaming as a result of the nightmares (right up until the early 60's). He once let his guard down and told me how one night he awoke thinking he was dyingas he was completely soaked in blood. Sadly it was the chap in the bunk above him who had taken his own life.

James M. Adams

James Stobie The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

My father, now deceased, James Stobie, was a prisoner of war in Stalag XXB Camp 34. He was private No. 5783 in the Cameron Highlanders. I have several photos of him taken there in uniform, and in a band and a concert. If anyone knows of my Dad or could shed some light on his time there, could they let me know. I would be very interested.

Margaret Hubble

Pte. Wullie Niven 5th Btn. The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

I am trying to trace a camp in Austria/Germany. My Father Wullie Niven From Glasgow was in The Cameron Highlanders from 1940 to 1946 I know from old photo`s he was in the 5th batt with the Cameron's in Aug 1940, I think he might have gone to North Africa to reform the 51st Highland Division, On back of old Platoon Photo says ??????T, GEISE ? August 1940.

Next I have POW letter to my mother saying he is in GERMANY Dated 24/01/1944 NO camp Number. The group photo which I will try and send states ST MARIEN AUSTRIA. The list of names I have in group photo are all from Scotland. My father is Second from left at the back the man in front second left is called Fitzpatrick. next to him is a friend who sent photo to my Dad but no name? Next Three Sergeants Called Bertingshaw, Bailley, Baker, Also Concert party Wallace, Johnson, Hopfeldt or Hodfeldt? Sorry no first names.

Like most he never spoke much about what he done,where he served or got captured? I do know he had a distrust or fear of Doctors never went unless you dragged him. He is now deceased but I would like to hear from any living friends or family members who can fill in any missing bits in the Cameron's from August 1940 to when he might have got captured where? to his time in & what is the Number of his POW Camp?

I hope to hear from someone.

Alex Niven

Cpl. Leslie Shafer? 5th Btn. The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

I'm search for many years a Corporal Leslie, or his relatives, the surname from Leslie I don't know, on one of the photo?s is his signature and the name look like Shafer. He was round begin December 1944 with his unit in the village of Vught and he often visite us in our home in Hertogenbosch province Nord Brabant-Holland. So far I know he has served in the 51th Highland Division, 152nd Brigade, 5th Bn. Queen Own Cameron Highlanders. Leslie must go with his unit on 16 December 1944 to the Ardennes in Belgium and was billeted in Chaudfontaine on 3 January 1945.

My information say, that his unit returned on 18 January 1945 back in the village of Vught, but we have never more somewhat heard from him.

Who can help me to find him or his relatives, I hope that someone recognize or identify this man on the photo ? He is not Leslie Thompson from Inverness !


Leslie with pipe.

Leslie's signature

On the backrow, place two from the rightside: Leslie, Carrier platoon, Cameron Highlanders.

I will know, is he alive or what is happened after he left our family in December 1944. I thank you in advance that you maybe can help me?

Bert Buitenhuis

Fusilier Ernest Woodman 7th Btn. Cameronian Scottish Rifles

I am trying to trace my uncle's WW2 history. He was Fusilier Ernest Woodman, No:14755782, he served with 7th Batt Cameronian Scottish Rifles and 5th Batt Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, D Coy.

Andrew Athene

Cpl Jack Lille Marshall Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

I am trying to find out more info about my Dad, Jack Marshall of the Queens own Cameron Highlanders. He passed away when I was about 6 years old.

Raymond John Marshall

Lt Col Ian E. Begg 4th Btn Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

Early in 1942 this unit along with the 2nd BN Shropshire Light Infantry was transported by train from New Orleans to Halifax NS. From 21 Feb-9 Mar 1942 these two BNs were stationed at Ft Slocum, NY, an installation of the New York Port of Embarkation located in Long Island Sound near New Rochelle, NY (just north of the Bronx line. Because of wartime secrecy little is known about this episode. I am the historian of Ft. Slocum. I would be grateful if anyone could provide more information about Lt/Col Begg and/or his unit.

Michael Cavanaugh

Pte. Henry "Baldy" Balderson 1st Btn. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

Harry Balderson (right)

My father, Henry Balderson, joined the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders 1st battalion on 19th July 1932, he died in 1996 and I am looking for any information about him, he was captured very early and was a prisoner of war until the war was over. I would like to know where my father was captured. I have the letter sent to my grandfather when he was posted missing in May 1940 the letter is dated 24/6/1940 it is from Infantry Records Office Perth. I do have a postcard with him (on teh right) and three other soldiers, on the back it is stamped oflag VII C gepruft, would anyone know who they are?

Diane Grant

RSM William Munnoch 5th Btn. Cameron Highlanders

I am trying to find anyone that can tell me about my father Bill Munnoch. His army number was 2923997, and he served with the 5th battalion Cameron Highlanders. I believe he was promoted to RSM from RQMS in the 40s, and attended, and was responsible for organising Lochiels last parade in Feb 1944. His friend and CO was I am told, was called Sandy Munro, and another name thrown in was a Major "Nippy" Milne of Inverness. My father also served in India, several postings there I believe. He lastly looked after the TA Batallion at Fort Williams drill hall, where he and my mother Mary lived before moving to Plean, Stirlingshire. I hope someone may be able to throw any light on any other info regarding my father.

Bill Munnoch

Pte. James " " Morrissey (d. 1941)

Jasmine Marsh

L/Cpl. John Alexander Davidson 4th Btn. Cameron Highlanders

My Late Uncle, John Davidson lived in the far north of Scotland, in a place called Belladrum Estate, a stones throw away from a village called Kiltarlity, approximately ten miles from Inverness. Until just recently I knew very little by way of his wartime exploits other than that he was a prisoner of war & he was put to work in the salt mines.

That has changed dramatically earlier today, when I made contact with someone who to my delight furnished me with some vital details to get me seriously started to find out about his time during the war. I am told he was a Lance Corporal in the 4th Camerons and was upon capture interred in a POW Camp called at Lamsdorf, Stalag 344

I would very much like to hear from anyone who knew him or who has a picture of him from his experiences.

Ian Davidson

Pte. John McCall 5th Battalion Cameron Highlanders

John McCall was my uncle and I have fallen heir to his army discharge material, medals etc. He volunteered at 17 and saw service throughout 1939-45 until wounded at Caen in 1945. I believe he was a bren gunner at that time. I would be interested in hearing from any old comrades who may remember him.

Jim McCall

Cpl. George Meek Matthews 2nd Battalion Cameron Highlanders (d.15th Jun 1941)

I'm trying to find out about how my great uncle, George Matthewa died. I have just been given his medals and would like to know more about him. All I have is he died in North Africa on the 15/06/1941.

Michael Mulholland

Sgt. Thomas Gray 1st Battalion Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

My Father, Thomas Gray joined the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders as a boy soldier in I think 1925. He left the army after being a member of the regimental band and winning loads of medals for his athletic prowess. He trained as a psychiatric nurse and then was called back in 1939 as a class A reservist, joining the 1st dock labour coy and he was one of the last people out of France. Does anyone know what the evacuation was like? Dad has now been dead a long time and really did not discuss it except to say he and a comrade were in a pigsty and it was either them or the Germans. How awful.

Edith Anne McDonnell

Lt. Fred Nicholls MM, Croix de Guerre. 4th Btn. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

My late father, Fred Nicholls enlisted in the Camerons in 1931, according to his medals, of which I have only his dress set, including his Military Medal and French Croix de Guerre. He had many overseas postings before during and after the war.

He was with the 4th Camerons on the Somme in June 1940 as a platoon Sergeant. He had to take command of the platoon when his commanding officer was injured and captured. After they ran out of food and ammunition they were ordered to surrender by their C.O. which they did along with the rest of the 51st Highland Division. After the surrender, the troops where marched toward Germany. According to his own story he stayed with his men until they crossed the Belgian border, it was at this point that he made his first escape. I am in possession of both his own account of his escapes and the official M19 debrief account. Whilst they do differ slightly, broadly speaking one confirms the other. He was incarcerated at St Omer after his 2nd or 3rd recapture. It was there that he met Sgt Andrew Faith of the R.H.A. both of them where like minded and they again escaped. After walking through France they eventually crossed the Pyrenees in to Spain where they were arrested and imprisoned by the Spanish Army. They were later released and eventually repatriated via Gibraltar.

After returning to the UK they where both awarded the Military Medal. It was after this that he attained the rank of Lieutenant. I have not got his record of service so where and and when he spent the rest of the war is a little sketchy. However he was posted to Aruba with the Camerons in 1941 and he was seconded to the control commission in Germany. He was demobed in 1947.

John A. Nicholls

Pte. Robert Peacock Cameron Highlanders

Robert Peacock was my Great Uncle and was part of the sacrificial rearguard action at Dunkirk by the 51st Highland Division. He was captured and became a POW. According to his own testimony he escaped 6 times but was caught. Having known this man I have no reasons to doubt his evidence. All I know is that he was imprisoned in Stalag IXc but ended in the salt mines of Silesia. It is important to me personally to trace his war history as he never talked about it much. Any help would be much appreciated.

Kenneth Peacock

Pte. Alfred Thomas Fieldhouse Queens Own Cameron Highlanders (d. )

I am trying to trace anyone who remembers my late father Alf Fieldhouse. I am also looking for any information regarding the time my father was in The Queens Own Cameron Highlanders and also at some time, the Highland Light Infantry. Any and all information is welcome as I do not have much at present.

Kevin Fieldhouse

Pte. Harold Thomas Shore 2nd Btn. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders (d.8th Sept 1939)

The following is the story that my mother told me about her older brother, Harold Shore.

Harold was on duty at the Liverpool Docks at the beginning of the War. He was on night duty and when the morning came he was nowhere to be found. It was presumed that he had run away when the German fighters came and was therefore a deserter. White feathers were put through the letter box of his parents' house and people would turn their backs when the family walked down the street. When one of the docks was drained, Harold's body was found at the bottom with a German bullet in it. He was then declared one of the first victims of the war in Liverpool. The funeral hearse was pulled by black horses, his coffin covered with a Union Jack and a salute was fired over his grave. He is buried in a Commonwealth War Grave at Liverpool Allerton Cemetery.

If anyone knows the truth or otherwise of this story I would like to know.

Janet Howard

Lt. Kenneth Cameron Gardner 1st Btn. (d.1 Aug 1943)

My husband was only aged 5 when his Dad, Lt. Gardner was killed in Sicily He would like to hear from anyone who served with him. Could anyone who possibly heard their relative mention this soldier get in touch with me through e-mail, My husband would be very thankful for any info.

Moira Gardner

Pte. Daniel Robert Douglas 4th Btn. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

My Father Daniel Robert Douglas, of the 4th Battalion Cameron Highlanders joined the army on the 15th of July 1939 and was taken POW on the 6th of June 1940, captured at Abbeyville. He was allocated POW No. 542 and held at Stalag 9 in Bad Sulza, Germany.

Marlene Malcolm

Pte. Thomas Strachan Mcallister Cameron Highlanders

I recently discovered that my grandfather Thomas McAllister was a p.o.w in Stalag xxb during WW2.

Kirsten Macmillan

Sgt. Leslie Smith Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

I am looking information about my biological father to see if I may have any half brothers or sisters somewhere. My father did not take on the responsibility of having a son, and left as he was not married to my mother. I think he was at Fort George in November 1943, his name was Leslie Smith and he was English, I think he was from London. I also believe he had medals for rifle shooting. My mother's husband was Ewart Munro from Inverness and they stayed at No.5 Telford street Inverness and may have known my father as he was in the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders also. So far I have had no luck. Any information will be gratefully received.

Glen Munro

Donald Wilfred Hayworth Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (d. )

I know my grandpa Donald Wilfred Hayworth he was in the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and I am wondering what battalion he was in and where he served and who with. Any info on my grandpa would be much appreciated

Ben Hayworth

Cpl. Thomas Collins MID. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

My father joined up in 1933 and his service book shows the following: Home 1933-35, Palestine 1935-36, Egypt 1036-38, Home 38-39, BEF 23-9-39 until 30-5-40, Home 1940-42, India 1942-44. He would have loved this site and the opportunity to share his stories. He was awarded the 1939/45 Medal with MiD Oak leaf


Murdo Ferguson Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

Murdo Ferguson was my Grandfather and I would dearly love to hear from any one that could give me any information at all, he was captured in St Valery and was POW till the end of the war.

Tracy Rodgers

John " Jock" Corbett Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

My grandfather joined the army before the war. When the war started some how his unit ended up in a tiny little village called Avening near Tetbury in Gloustershire and that's where he met my grandmother.

I don't know much more apart from that he served in Burma. He won some medals but, unfortunately, I do not know what they were.My grandmother recieved a letter from the King telling her that John Corbett was missing presumed to have been killed in action. About 6 mounths after the war finished he turned up on the door step looking as white as a ghost and that's all I know.

My grandmother's name was Nancy Corbett and they both ended up living in Tetbury with ten kids

Shane Corbett

Pte. Joseph Dimelow HQ Coy. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

I am lookin for Sgt Luby of the Queen's Own Camerons, known as H.Q. Company Liverpool and scottish and my father (Joe) Joseph Dimelow of Northwich, Cheshire who sadly died in 2001. I have such fond memories of the tales he told me of his army life and I would love to find the family of anyone who might have known him. I do know of his company sargent Sgt Luby, and would love to find or trace his family..thanks

M Dimelow

Cpl. Sidney John "Taffy" Thomas 4th Btn. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

My father, Sidney John Thomas, joined the TA prior to World War II and found himself a Welshman in the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders.

He was part of the BEF sent to France at the start of the war and was captured at St Valery on 12 June 1940. The Battalion was covering the evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk.

My father, like the rest of the 51st Division, spent the remainder of the war in prisoner of war camps across Europe. His experiences, and those of his colleagues, were recorded in a meticulously kept log book which was provided by the YMCA. This log book, which I still have, contains poems, drawing and photographs relating to their years in prisoner of war camps. By 15.07.40 they had been marched across Europe and reached Thorn (Fort XV) in Poland. He spent the next 4 years in Lobsen (22.08.40.), Graudenz (22.04.42), Kulm (03.03.43.)before returning to Thorn (01.04.44)and then being marched to Fallinbostel (Stalag XIB) in Germany, where they arrived on 12th August 1944. Many POWs contributed to the contents of the log book, they include:

    G Foot;
  • H Lowe;
  • S M Taff;
  • A Macgillvray;
  • Nobby King;
  • W Drake;
  • J Westcott;
  • Clifford;
  • G Broughton;
  • Alfred James;
  • Eric J Holmes;
  • J Owen;
  • S Brands;
  • Alex Clarke;
  • S A Godfrey;
  • J Ludford;
  • W Waldack;
  • "Wally";
  • J Holt;
  • B Gurner;
  • G E Barder;
  • R Wilson;
  • Harry Cottle;
  • A James;
  • C Foot;
  • A A Rees;
  • F Richmond;
  • F MacDonald;
  • J Morrison;
  • A MacKenzie;
  • G MacKenzie;
  • R Johnson.
My father survived the war, returning to his home town of Swansea where he lived until his death in 1991.

Adrian Thomas

Pte. Reginald Percy William Tomlins Leicestershire Regiment

My father was POW in Stalag 357, He was originally in the Leicestershire Regiment, then transferred to the Cameron Highlanders. He told us that He was at the docks waiting to embark when an arm came down between him and another soldier and told he was now in the Camerons. His POW number was 29018. He came home very ill. He died in 2005 at the great age of 90,

Shani Tomlins

Pte. Stewart Nisbit Russell 2nd Btn Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

Stewart Russell was my dad. He died in June 1991 from cancer. In 1939 when the war was about to start my father lived in Parkhall, Clydebank with his mum and dad, four brothers and six sisters . He was in the employ of the Clydebank Co-op as an apprentice butcher when he got his call up papers on 27th June 1940. He enlisted in Perth and became a member of 5th battalion Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. His training and drilling etc. took place in and around Fort George and Inverness Castle (Inverness) after about six months' training he and his comrades sailed from Greenock bound for Egypt and the western desert. There they were to join the 2nd battalion (QOCH). En route they stopped off in Cape Town and it was there my father discovered the apartheid system. This came about when he was told he could not visit a township because he was white. On arrival in Egypt he and his comrades settled into life in the desert (the heat, the cold at night, the flies and of course the Afrika Korp). My father and his mates had the utmost respect for their opponents, Rommel, the German soldiers and the Italian troops that they were fighting. He told me many stories about his time there, but all of it was overshadowed by Tobruk. In 1942 his battalion defended the outer perimeter and after fierce fighting (my dad carried a Bren gun) a bombardment by artillery and Stuka bombers, the order was given to surrender with the Camerons fighting longer than any other regiment. As they were marched off to captivity and years as POWs my father remembers Rommel saluting him and the other British and Commonwealth troops (not the Nazi salute but an army one). After that they were shipped off to Italy where my father worked on a farm. Then they were moved by train through the Brenner pass to prisoner of war camps in Germany and Poland. My dad worked in the coal mines of Silesia where .the Germans would try to get defectors to join the British SS brigade (with no takers, they would pass leaflets in English extolling the virtues of joining the fight against the communist threat). When the Russians were nearing the camp my dad and his comrades were taken on the long march by their guards towards the American and British lines. Many didn't make it as they died on the way. Finally dad got home in a Lancaster bomber and he was eventually released from army service at York on 11th June 1946. I have his soldier's release book (marked 'conduct exemplary') and a photo of him in uniform taken in Alexandria in 1941/42. It has pride of place in my living room. He was entitled to wear the Africa Star 39/45 Star of Italy, Germany and France. He never did go back to his old job, but joined the Post Office as a postie and served in Clydebank (his home town ) for thirty years retiring in 1980. He married my mum in 1949 and my older brother Douglas was born in 1953 and they had me in 1959.

Cameron MacDonald Russell

Lance Corporal Joe McGoran 2nd Btn Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

Joe McGoran is my father. He was conscripted into the Army early in 1940 and sent up to Inverness (Fort George) for Basic Training. During his first leave in March 1940 he returned to Glasgow to marry my mother (Isabella McLeod McLeish) and they had a few days in Inverness before he returned to base.

He is now living in Erskine Home, Renfrewshire and will be 94 years of age in December this year.

In the summer of 1940 the Battalion was in the Cherbourg Peninsula in North West France as a rear guard against further German advances after the fall of France and the evacuations at Calais and Dunkirk. After withdrawal they were returned to Scotland. He says the Camerons were "defending Scotland" at this time and as the then 2nd Battalion was actually in Egypt fighting Rommel then he must have been a member of the 4th Battalion which was stationed, the records suggest, in Orkney and Shetland.

Sometime in 1941 he was sent to Aruba (Dutch West Indies) to guard the oil refineries there and remained for about 18 months until relieved by the Americans who had entered the war after Pearl Harbour. The Camerons were then shipped home via New Orleans and were the first British soldiers to sail up the Mississippi since the War of 1812. They transited via New York city where my father sang in front of a large audience of US troops and city dignitories. He had sung with a Dance Band in Glasgow before the war and was a popular performer with his comrades in arms. The 4th Battalion was then officially disbanded and reformed as the new 2nd Battalion in place of the heroic original 2nd Battalion soldiers who were exemplary in their valour and conduct at the fall of Tobruk.

In 1943 the new 2nds were then shipped as reserve troops to North Africa and thence to Sicily and the Italian mainland following in the footsteps of the advancing front line troops. In January of 1944 they entered the line at Monte Cassino and as part of the Indian Division held the Front at Cassino along with Ghurka and Polish troops.

Joe was a Bren gunner and has many startling tales of how the campaign was run, not all of them complimentary to tacticians or local NCOs! On the 25th of March 1944 while actually off duty in the watch rota my father and his loader were hit by an exploding German rifle grenade fired into their 'foxhole'. His right arm was blown off above the elbow and his right leg almost detached at the hip requiring a complete 'disarticulation' of the leg/hip. He was hauled down the mountain to a field hospital where the medical officer on duty saved his life by some magnificent surgery and suture work.

He was eventually shipped home to a Military Hospital in Birmingham and thence after some 5 months to Erskine Hospital in Renfrewshire where he spent almost a year in recovery. After returning home to his wife and two children in Glasgow he had to be fitted with prosthetic limbs and learn to walk, write, use cutlery, put coal on the fire and wash the dishes with only one arm and one leg.

In August of 1946 I was born. In 1948 Joe got a clerical job in the Ministry of Labour in Glasgow and worked there until a minor stroke caused his retirement at age 63 in 1979. He had learned to drive his own car and continued to do so until well into his 80's. He had fathered 4 more children and was a founder member and sometime Chairman of the Glasgow Branch of BLESMA (British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association) and a pillar of his Church and Community in the South West of the City where we had moved in November of 1948.

Although frail, and a widower of 15 years, Joe still enjoys conversation, company and singing when presented with the opportunity in the happy and supportive surroundings of the (now) Erskine Home.

We love you Dad and you'll always be our quiet hero!

Bob McGoran

L/Cpl. Robert Edward Harrison The Cameron Highlanders

I am trying to find out any information about my Grandfather's Service whilst in The Cameron Highlanders. Ted Harrison served in India and Burma and survived service throughout the whole War. Anybody remember him? I have photos of him during training.

Tracey Riley

Sgt. John LLewellyn Eaton 5th Btn. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders (d.18th Aug 1944)

John Eaton was the father of two of my friends who lived at 5 Bulwer Street, Everton, Liverpool. He left a widow Anne Evelyn and sons Kenneth and Leslie. He was in the Liverpool Scottish and volunteered for the 5th Bn Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. John landed in Normandy on the 7th of June 1944 and was in action during the taking of Caen and Falaise Gap and now lies in Banneville-La-Campagne War Cemetery.

His brother Ernest was killed later (also 5th Bn) on the 4th October 1944. Buried in Valkenswaard War Cemetery Holland.

Alan Hayes

Wilfred H. Wisser Cameron Highlanders

We have very little information of my grandfather's service during WW2, except that he was a German translator and took part in the Liberation of the Netherlands. He may have been an official translator during the Nuremburg Trials as well. I am looking for his service record of when he enlisted, and his discharge.

Graham Wisser

Dvr. Duncan "Bebe" Mackay 2nd Battalion Cameron Highlanders

Duncan Mackay was a Land driver, he was posted in Egypt in 1944

Eileen Mackay

Clr.Sgt. Arthur Crockett 5th Btn. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

Arthur Crockett joined the 1st Bn Liverpool Scottish in 1932. He was posted to 2nd Bn Liverpool Scottish with the Rank of Sergeant in 1939. He was promoted to Company Sergeant Major then reverted to Rank of Sgt and was posted to 5th Bn Queens Own Cameron Highlanders in North Africa in 1942. He served in Sicily, France, Holland & Germany with the Battalion as part of 152 Brigade, 51st Highland Division, being promoted to Colour Sgt. He was demobbed in Nov 1945 and rejoined 1st Bn Liverpool Scottish as Company Sergeant Major to 1951.

Neil Crockett

Pte. James Berry Ritchie Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

The only information I can supply is that my father James Ritchie was a veteran of Dunkirk. He often spoke of a "McGinty" from Clydebank and another soldier who came from Manchester and had been employed by a Manchester newspaper prior to to the war.

The first ship that rescued my Father from the beach was sunk and he was eventually rescued and brought home having inhaled fuel oil from the wreckage of the first ship. He was pensioned out due to his injuries in 1943 and died in 1999 at the age of 80 years within Erskine Hospital for ex service personnel.

The photograph is my father and 3 other comrades, two of which have crosses marked on their arm. I believe they were killed in action but I do not know their names or location of their deaths. After Dunkirk my Father's Regiment was sent to India.

Alan Cameron Ritchie

Sgt. George Andrew Frederick Ryles Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

My grandfather George Ryles enlisted in Inverness on 8th November 1937; he served for nine years and fought in Sicily and Egypt. We have an old bloodstained leather wallet from Egypt and plenty of pictures, but he never spoke of his combat experience in El Alamein or anywhere else. He was shot in the right elbow and left hand in Sicily. He had other wounds too, but I am unaware of how he recived them. A darker time of his service was when he went M.I.A for a period of time, which he never spoke about. I heard that a trench collapsed in on him and some other men, and with him being claustrophobic I am not surprised he never mentioned this. If anybody has any information about people who served with or may have known him we would like to hear your story.

Michael Grant

Pte. William Smellie Weir 4th Bn. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (d.23rd Dec 1945)

Weir William Smellie, a soldier of the British Army, died in the Soviet Union in a military hospital Number 2860 on the 21st of December 1945. He was buried in the Nizhny Novgorod region, Volodarsky area in the village Golyshevo. His Mothers name was Mary Dunn Weir. His name is on column N128 in Dunkirk Memorial, but his grave is in Russia. His relatives still do not know anything about him. Can anyone help establish his fate!

Roman Firsov

Private Kenneth George Voisin 1st Battalion Cameron Highlandeers

This is a brief outline of the story of my Uncle's war. He was evacuated from Jersey in the Channel Islands with his brother, mother, grandmother and some cousins. They reportedly saw the little ships on their way to evacuate Dunkirk as they crossed over to England.They had left everything they owned behind, including a family business. They were put into a basement of a church hall in Barnsley in Yorkshire until they were able to find somewhere to live. My Uncle then joined the Army. I am unsure when or where but he was in the Highland Light Infantry at one point. He was then transferred to the 1st Battalion, Cameron Highlanders. I am now going to type information from a very basic embarkation diary that he kept (not for very long) at the beginning of his journey to Japan. Thursday May 3rd 1945 Left Ayr, caught train for Greenoch and then joined ship on the Clyde (SS Corfu). Friday 4th May Still in the Clyde, awaiting rest of Convoy, beginning to settle down aboard Saturday 5th May Rest of convoy arriving and getting ready for sailing. Just before midnight sailed out of Clyde. May 6th Sunday On the way now but can still see England in the distance. May 7th Monday V.E. Day announced on the wireless for tomorrow. Sea very rough and not feeling too good. May 8th Tuesday V.E. Day. Churchill and King speak over ship's wireless. Sea still as rough. May 9th Wed. No work today and we are allowed 1 pint of beer to celebrate V.E. Day but did not feel too good to drink it all. May 10th Thursday nothing much to say only that sea is not quite so bad but still no sign of land. Drew weeks rations - 140 cigs, 4 bars chocolate, 7 packets of biscuits - 4/4d May 11th Friday Land at last.We sailed into Gibraltar for a few minutes and left most of convoy. Entered Mediteranean. May 12th Saturday Sailed past (Oman?) and Algiers in North Africa. Sea as calm as a lake and getting warm. May 13th Sun Passed (Bizerta?) and Cape Bon. Weather very hot. May 14th Passed Malta at 3 am and Tunis in evening. Sailing right along North African coast. May 15th Changed into tropical kit. Passed (Derna?) early this morning. Sadly he did not continue with his diary. By 1946 he was in Japan. I have to do more research to identify where he was in the interim but at Christmas 1946 he was at Kochi. Once I have furtherinformation I will update his story. I have a few interesting pieces from his time in Japan. before and after the bomb pictures, instruction cards about interacting with locals, silk handkerchiefs, a saki barrel and lots of photographs. He was a lovely man. Sadly he had no children of his own. But the war had a huge impact on him from a young age.

Janet Young

Sgt. John "Seonaidh An Bhig" Robertson 4th Btn. Cameron Highlanders

I am keen to find out more about my grandfather's war time experience. John Robertson was captured at St Valery, part of the 51st Highland Division. He spent the rest of the war in Stalag XXA working on a farm. Apparently on liberation of the camp by Russians he was taken to Odessa. It is thought that the Russians mistook him for a German as he had no papers on him.

I would be delighted to hear from any contacts.

Norman MacArthur

Pte. Samuel Slavin 4th Btn Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (d.14th Oct 1944)

In January 2010 a group of friends from Liverpool visited Auschwitz in Poland. Whilst there we also visited the Main Cemetry in Krakow and came upon the grave of Samuel Slavin. Jis relatives may like to know that we said a prayer and placed a poppy on the grave. Although covered in over a foot of snow, it was clear to see the site is being well maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

I do not know if Samuel is related but as an ex soldier myself I can appreciate the sacrifice made by our Servicemen and women.

Tom Slavin

Pte. William Smellie Weir 4th Battalion (d.21st Dec 1945 )

I am member of "Group 9 May" which in the past two years has been looking for graves of Soviet soldiers in the UK and the former Soviet Union. Some time ago in a database of the Ministry of Defence of Russia, I found an entry telling about a British soldier who died in Russia during the Second World War. Since then I've been collecting material about him and eventually I stopped just in front of one question - to find his relatives.

A brief history of William Weir: he was in the British Army since 1939. During the action was in German captivity in the area of ​​Dunkirk. Was in a POW camp XX-B. After liberation (or escaping) he was sent to the Russian Military hospital 2860 were he died. He was buried in the Nizhny Novgorod region, Volodarsky area in the village Golyshevo. Date of Birth - 1918, Date of death - 21 December 1945. Defore WW2 he lived in Renton (Scotland), Back Street 132. His Mother's name was Mary Dunn Weir.

His name is on column N128 in Dunkirk Memorial, but his grave is in Russia. His relatives still do not know anything about him. Please help me to find them so they may know of his fate!

Roman Firsov

Col. Alexander Cattanach 5th Battalion The Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

I have recently been reading through letters written by my grandfather, Colonel Alexander Cattanach to his wife. The letters are fascinating and mainly cover two periods of service.

Firstly, August to September 1941 when his Battalion was highly honoured to be chosen to guard the Royal Family at Balmoral Castle. His letters include vivid memories of a very happy time (apart from his tummy troubles - I believe he had a stomach ulcer) when he was in sole command of the defences at Balmoral. They were made incredibly welcome by the King, Queen and Princesses and he seemed to be almost part of the family.

Secondly, letters to his wife written in the Spring of 1945, describing the horrendous conditions in the P.O.W camps and concentration camps. His Battalion went in immediately after the defeat of the Nazis. There are also some letters from grateful Germans whom he rescued from a terrible fate.

Siriol Sherlock

Capt. Kenneth Clive Jacob Cameron Highlanders

Kenneth W Jacob

Pte. John Mullin Brannan Cameron Highlanders

My late Father John Mullin Brannan was a POW for 5 years in Stalag IXC, Bad Sulza. I have a lot of postcards that my father sent from Germany to many different relations, photographs. I don't have a lot of stories, my father never talked much about it, the only thing he used to say to us, when we would complain about being hungry, he would say you don't know what hunger is.

I would love to hear from anyone who knew my father, possible too late as he would be be 92 years old now, but perhaps family of other soldiers who served with my father may have heard him mentioned?

Mary Boyle

Cpl. Harry Williamson 5th Btn. A coy. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

I was a Cpl in A coy 5th Battalion, Queens Own Cameron Highlanders and joined them after commando training at Spean Bridge. They were then outside Hanover in a place called Airenhousen before moving into Hanover the C O at that time was Lt Col Tony Noble. I was in A Coy the Commanding officer was Captain Cameron his second in Comand was Lt Gentleman, Coy Sgt Maj was C S M Anderson.

The picture was taken in Hanover Barracks. I was in Hospital at the time. Cpl Macnab died in an accident just before the Btn Disbanded in Brussels Belgium 1946. He fell from a window he came from the 2nd Btn along with C S M Anderson.

Harry Williamson

Pte. Sidney Charles McMullen 2nd Battalion, A coy. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (d.16th Jun 1941)

Private Sidney Charles McMullen was born in 1915, the youngest son of five siblings. I don't know the name of the ship he sailed on but Sidney states in his letter home from HM Ships "touched lucky on board a 20,000 tonner her first trip as a troop ship. We sleep 6 to a cabin, it has a smashing bathroom just for ourselves with ultra modern fittings and best of all we sleep on sprung mattresses. It's just like a floating hotel. You can get a 1lb of tobacco for 7/6d and the panelling is all oak." At the time of writing they had just dropped anchor. His next letter states that was just their first port of call and they had another 4 weeks to go and he was getting fed up with the voyage.

Sid talked about the port they visited, how they had stayed for 48 hours. He said it was a pretty place with mountains in the background and little red-topped houses dotted about in the valley. Dark skinned natives came out in little boats loaded with fruit, and if you threw a penny in the water they would dive down to get it. At night the lights of the town were all lit up and Sid said "you couldn't see a prettier sight if you wished to".

At their second port of call they were allowed onshore, it was very hot. Sid found a Woolworths and went inside for an iced drink where Sid found an old friend from "Palm" who had been in the same convoy all along.

On arrival at his destination Sid writes "it's a pretty desolate hole, and nothing much happens where we are. Around the back of us are big rocky hills, we went for a walk up one, every step we took in the sand we slid back two. It took all the go out of you and we were nearly creased up by the time we got to the top."

Sidney was killed in action on 16th June 1941 and is buried at the Halfaya-Sollum War Cemetery. He was a single young man just 26 years old and much loved by his family.

Carol Smith

Pte. William Grant Cameron 4th Btn. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

My grandfather's name wass William Grant Cameron but was mainly known as "Willie Cameron" to those who knew him. He was born and raised in Dalwhinnie, Scotland. After the war when he married, he lived and raised his family in Ballinluig, Scotland.

During the war he served as a part of the 4th Battalion Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, 152 Brigade, 51st Division. He was a POW in the Stalag IXC camp but was also a part of various work parties, so I don't think he spent most off his time in stalag IXC. He does mention in his diary that after being caught after escaping he spent 17 days in Stalag XIII C, then briefly retured to IXC before being sent to a punishment camp for 10 weeks. He had 3 escape attempts and had a mention in dispatches in the London Gazette for these attempts.

In his diary he does have various names and addresses of other prisoners:

  • Fred Larter (Sydney, Australia)
  • Ronald K Kentwell (Sydney Australia)
  • Jack Banks (Australia)
  • Keith H Hooper (Victoria, Australia)
  • Tom H Bennett (XIII C} (POW No: 10495) (Helensburgh, Australia)
  • Frank Connery (Sydney Australia)
  • Johnstone B Miller (POW No: 5226) (Lochgelly, Fife, Scotland)
  • William Wilson (POW No:30508) (Glasgow, Scotland)
  • George D Fowler (POW No: 763) (Falkirk, Scotland)

There are some other names but it's hard to make them out. If anyones knows anything about William Grant Cameron (Willie) or know of any possible cross references of his name in other POW diaries then I'd love to hear from you.


David Johnstone Cameron Highlanders

My uncle, David Johnstone, passed away but this was a small story of his part in WW2.

Davie was born in Glasgow, he joined the Cameron Highlanders served through the Middle East and moved up into Mayala. His regiment took a POW camp and captured the Tiger of Mayala. Uncle Davie was on guard duty with his mate "Tex", when the Tiger asked for some water, Davie went and got some water for him. When the Tiger went to take the water, Uncle Davie threw it in his face. Both men were confined to barracks for 1 week, which I guess meant nothing as they where in the miidle of the jungle. When they returned to their own regiment they were given a hero's welcome back, to a man they were cheered back home.

On a personal note: what horrors did these men see, they gave us freedom of speech. Gone Uncle Davie but never forgotten.

Ian Johnstone

Sgt. Thomas Alexander 7th Btn. Queens Own Cameron Highlander

Thomas Alexander started his army service on 15th April 1940 at the age of 20 in the 7th Battalion Cameron Highlanders (Signals) which later became 5th batt (Scottish) Parachute Reg (in 1942, I believe). I know that he was made sergeant and that he served in North Africa, Italy and Greece and finally in Palestine until 1946. I have a little field message book belonging to him from 1946 with details of some of the men. If anyone needs further info about the addresses then I would be happy to supply via email. The book title is "Signal Platoon 5bn (Scottish) Parachute Regiment 1946". I also have some poems that he had written in this book, looking forward to going home to his family and bride to be.
  • 323153 leiut Tweedale (Rochdale)
  • 2935002 sgt Thomas Alexander (Glasgow)
  • 275999 cpl Anderson (Angus, Scotland)
  • 7012154 cpl McGrath (Dublin)
  • 3065817 cpl Finlayson (Edinburgh)
  • 3245981 cpl Marshall (Bellshill, Scotland)
  • 5124904 cpl Arnott (Penpediarheol, Glam)
  • 3454609 cpl Pratt (Co Durham)
  • 14000183 pte Aitchison (upminster, Essex)
  • 4455025 pte Bridge (Newton, Stockton)
  • 2939438 pte Brown (Port Glasgow)
  • 14889788 pte bowen (west-on-tyne Bristol)
  • 2939456 pte Cant (Glasgow)
  • 14857516 pte Cummings (Fulham)
  • 2991379 pte Dickie (Motherwell)
  • 14880762 pte Ford (Huddersfield)
  • 2939474 pte Geddie (Banff)
  • 557916 pte Greaves (Stratford on Avon)
  • 3194191 pte Hume (Ayr)
  • 2934341 pte McIndoe (Glasgow)
  • 2939542 pte McLean (Kilpatrick)
  • 7013444 pte Suiters (Ballymena)
  • 1791196 ptr R Smith (Lincoln)
  • 14354008 pte Wilson (Leicster)
  • 2992700 pte Williamson (Edinburgh)
  • 18010516 pte Zammit (Valetta Malta)
  • 14849423 pte frost (Brixton, London)
  • 14887023 pte Schofield (London)
  • 14908407 Laxton
  • pte McDonald
  • pte Angus
  • pte Penington
  • pte Hall
I hope that someone out there will recognise a face or two in the photographs

Gillian Robertson

Pte. Henry Balderson 1st Btn. B Coy. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

My father, Harry Balderson, was a POW at Laufen Castle. On the back of a postcard that my grandmother was sent it bears the stamp Oflag VII C gepruft his P O W no is 5036. It was sent 16-3-41. My father was in the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders "B" Company 1st Btln who were part of the 5th Brigade 2nd Div, 1st Army Corp. I have received information he was one of the last men ever to fight a battle wearing a kilt that honour was unique to the battalion, and was one of the many prisoners who were marched towards Germany- but once again one of the few in a kilt.

I was, and always will be, immensely proud of my father and the sacrifice that he and all the servicemen and women did for generations to come. They still pay that price unselflessly to-day. As the words of the poet said on Remembrance Day "They gave their tomorrow so that we could have our to-day" is so very true. This is not only for the Allies but also the Axis, both sides gave their all.

Diane Grant

Major William McMurry Davidson Royal Army Ordnance Corps

Bill Davidson was my uncle. I have pictures of him as Private in the RAOC and then Sgt, then as an officer in Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. He served in Egypt and after the war went to Thailand in 1955

JIm Davidson

L/Cpl. James Walker McLaren Cameron Higlanders

My father, James McLaren was captured on 27/5/1940 at La Basse, France. He was sent to Stalag XXA (Thorn) from 9/6/1940 - 19/4/1941. He was then transferred to Stalag XXB from 19/4/1941 - 24/1/1945. During his time in the camps he worked at Marienwerder 23/4/1941 - 2/3/1943 (Farm), Rehof 16/3/1943 - 18/4/1944 (Farm) and Mierua 20/4/1944 - 24/1/1945 (Smithy Work). He was then forced to go on the long march. During his time working on the farms he became very friendly with a young Polish girl called Stefania Drews. Soon after the war he applied for permission to bring Stefania to Britain and he married her. They went on to have four children, three girls and one boy.

Stuart McLaren

Pte. James Peter McGovern Cameron Highlanders

My Dad James McGovern served with the Cameron Highlanders. I am trying to find any information about my Dad.

Tom McGovern

Sergeant Wilfred Daniel "Percy" Medhurst Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

2 additional photos in gallery to include

Wilfred Daniel Medhurst was born at 2 Devonshire Terrace, Church Road, Northwood, Ruislip, Middlesex on 26 July 1909. During the 1920's, Wilf worked in London as a chauffeur, to the boss of a hearing-aid Company called Ardente. One day he was asked to drive his boss to Scotland for a series of business meetings. Whilst up there, Wilf fell in love with a local Scottish lass. When the boss finished his business, Wilf had to think of a way of staying in Scotland with his new sweetheart. The best idea he could come up with was to join the Army, so he signed on with the Cameron Highlanders! He first enlisted in the Queens Own Scottish Regiment on 23 Sep 1927 aged just 18 years and 39 days. His romance fizzled out, but he was stuck in the regular army until 1934, when he was transferred to the Army Reserve. Then he returned to London, where he met and married his wife Dot.

He was mobilised on 2 Sep 1939 when his unit was among the first divisions to be sent to France. "When the war broke out on Sep 1939, the 1st Camerons mobilised at Aldershot and moved to France with the British Expeditionary Force, arriving at Cherbourg on 24th September 1939. They formed part of the 5th Infantry Brigade in the 2nd Division, and prepared positions at Aix. On 5th December the 1st Camerons were inspected in the field by HM King George VI, The Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment. When the Germans advanced into Belgium in May 1940, the 2nd Division moved towards the River Dyle, east of Brussels. As the BEF withdrew, the 1st Camerons fought a counter-attack action on the River Escaut, and on the 25th May 1940, held a defensive position on the La Bassée canal against an order of about 300 German tanks, until they were ordered to withdraw to Dunkirk. On 31st May 1940 the 1st Camerons embarked at Dunkirk, seventy nine strong. They still wore the kilt, and were the last Battalion to wear it in action". Extract from ‘Queens Own Highlanders’ By Lt Col Angus Fairie

In late November 1939, while passing through Orleans, France, Wilf was struck down with a ‘mysterious illness”, which had him creased in agonising pain for several hours. It took a sharp-witted doctor to ask a very simple question… “By any chance – is your wife expecting??” Wilf answered that Dot was, indeed due at any time, to which the wise doctor told him – well I think the baby is born now!! Sure enough, a few days later, word came through that Wilf had a baby daughter, and that miraculously, Dot had suffered no labour pains – it seems that Wilf had had them for her! The baby was christened Joan (after Joan of Arc, to celebrate the Maid of Orleans).

Wilf's duty was to drive a petrol tanker across France and Belgium. He told his wife, Dot,: “If you ever get a telegram saying I am missing in action, don’t expect them to find much of me if a bomb or grenade hits my tanker!” Eventually, Wilf found himself heading for Dunkirk, staying in (when he was lucky) draughty old tin huts, until he finally made it to the beaches, where was he ordered to destroy his vehicle. Then he had to watch helplessly as friends around him were killed or injured when enemy planes bombed and strafed them. At sea, he saw a troop ship carrying over 600 wounded men have a bomb dropped down one of its funnels and the whole ship was blown apart! He spent 3 days on the beach and in the water, amongst the bodies of his friends, until he was finally picked up by a little boat, shattered, wet and weary, and brought home to England. His division had been over 700. He was one of the 79 to return!

By the time the re-formed Battalion embarked for India, in 1942, Wilf (no longer fit enough to fight) was in Scotland. He was broken-hearted that he couldn't be with his comrades, but he was posted to Perth, to a small Scottish village called Auchtermuchty. He remained in the Army until he was formerly medically discharged in April 1944. From being: 'A1 - Fit for service anywhere in the world' his Discharge papers read: "..permanently unfit for any form of military service."

Wilf never worked a proper full-time job again. He drove for National Express buses and then Windsorian coach for a while, until his health broke down again. After that, a friend gave him a very temporary job as a delivery driver for Oakleigh Animal Products in Ascot, Berkshire. But he was never a fit man again after the war, and died at the age of just 52 years old, on 8th June 1965.

Sue Prosser

Sgt. William Frederick Park 1st Battalion Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

William Frederick Park

William Frederick Park & friends

I served with the 1st Cameron Highlanders and my story is almost an exact copy of Pte Perkins.

William F Park

Pte. Thomas George Shipley Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

My late Uncle Thomas George Shipley served with The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. He was captured by the Germans and sent to Marienburg Stalag XXB His POW number 3960. He was originally from Glasgow. Does anyone have any information about him?


Tommy Sunderland Blackwood Cameron Highlanders

My dad, Tommy Blackwood, was in the 51st Division with the Cameron Highlanders during the Second World War. He was captured at Saint Valery in June 1949 he was a prisoner of war for five years Stalag 8b. That's all I know.

Carol Ann Blackwood

Pte. Alfred Boulton Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

Licensee's son a casualty

Private Alfred Boulton of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders is named as a casualty in the recent operations in the Middle East. He is reported to be seriously ill in a casualty cleaning station and a message to this effect has been sent to his wife who lives at 134 Cemetery Road, Southport. Private Boulton, who is 27, is a son of Mr. Harry Boulton licensee of the Miner's Tent, Whelly, Wigan. He attended St. Mary's School Ince and is well known in the Spring View area.

I found this newspaper cutting amongst my late father's belongings. Alfred was my uncle. I believe he was the only survivor from a tank crew that was blown up in El Alamein. He survived the war and went on to be a postman in Southport.

Ralph Boulton

Duncan Williamson Murray 1st Battalion Scottish Cameronians

My dad, Duncan Murray died when I was 16. He never talked about his times in the Army. In this photo my dad is the one in the middle. I think this photo was taken in India in 1942.

Yvonne Neskey

Cpl. John James Jones 10th Btn. Cameron Highlanders

My Father Jack Jones, was captured on Crete when the Germans parachuted on to the Island. My father and his mates were backed on to the beach and before they surrendered they all removed their boots and threw them in the sea, as the Germans shot on site any Commandos captured and they could only identify them by their boots.

They were then marched to Poland, Lambowich to Stalag VIII-B POW Camp where he spent the rest of the war. I have recently found his diary of the Long March to Poland and the food rations they were given. Like many captives my Dad did not speak much about the war or the March but all of the situations they faced must have been horrific. God bless all those who gave so much for us

Ian Jones

Pte. George Gemmell Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

My Grandfather George Gemmell enlisted 27.6.1940 in the 5 Bn Cameron Highlanders (TA). On the 24th April 1942 he joined L Det SAS, transferring to 1 SAS (A Squadron) 21.9.1942 to 1.2.1943. On the 10th of March 1943 he rejoined 5 Bn Cameron Highlanders then served with 11 Infantry Holding Bn (attached 9 Bn Seaforth Highlanders) from 1.12.1944 to 1.5.1946. He was released to Army Reserve 15.1.1947 

I am interested in the specific battles in which he may have fought.

Alex Ford

Sgt George Percival "Sandy" Sands MM. 5th Btn. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

Richard Sands

Lt. George MacPherson Poe 2nd Btn. Cameron Highlanders (d.5th Aug 1944)

Lieutenant George Poe`s military history (September 1942 to August 1944) with 2nd. Battalion Cameron Highlanders

In writing this investigation the principal reason was to be able to focus on the events that George was involved in. All the information contained in this document has been collected from the following sources: George`s diary, letters home during the campaign, The Regimental History of the Cameron Highlanders Vol.5, recollections from colleagues in the Battalion and various books on the campaign in Italy (see acknowledgments)

The information has always been verified by at least one source. I have used the information contributed from the above sources to try and create a biography of his involvement in this period and the situation from his perspective. Various points have stood out during researching this period, the most prominent being: The average life span of an allied officer in the Italian campaign was only 6 weeks and the contribution by the Indian Army was enormous and far outweighs any credit given to them by the authorities. They were the largest volunteer army in history with over 2.5 million men by 1945, yet they got scant attention from the media in films or publications of the period or today. It is a fact that the Indian Army inflicted more casualties on the Japanese Army by 1945 than the Americans did in all their Pacific operations since Pearl Harbour. The Italian Campaign was also dubbed the forgotten war because it was overshadowed by events on D-Day. They suffered from a lack of supplies and equipment that were diverted to the Normandy invasion and hence hampered the advance on this front. The Campaign was also a truly international affair with troops in the 5th and 8th Armies from 27 countries.

George Poe`s military history (September 1942 to August 1944)- Biography

From the first entry into George`s diary we know that when he left home at Dalwhinnie to enlist, he chose to join the Guards at Caterham Barracks near Reigate in Sussex, which he did on the 23rd. of September 1942 . Why he chose to join the elitist Guards is unclear but he may have looked on it as a good “career” move. His diary does not begin until the 13th. of December 1943 by which time he had been transferred to the 2nd. Battalion `A` Company of the Cameron Highlanders Regiment. We also know from one of George`s letters that while he was training in the ranks of the 2nd. Battalion Guards at Pirbright, near Woking in Surrey, he was given a good report and recommended for an Emergency Commission by his Commanding Officer Bowen Colhurst. He received his commission as a 2nd. Lieutenant on the 20th. of November 1943. According to his colleagues, after receiving the commission he would have had 2 weeks leave before returning as an Officer, about a week before he began his diary. In one of his letters home he confirms that he “joined `A` Company at Bridge of Allan along with (Lieutenant) Douglas Robb” (see group photograph). During this period, there was a lot of movement of officers and ranks between and within the Regiments, and as the Camerons had been badly depleted at Tobruk in North Africa, George was transferred. We also know from his colleagues that he spent some time at the Shetland Islands training and so how much officer training was done at Pirbright with the Guards and how much at the Shetlands with the Camerons is uncertain. Officer Training at this time due to the Emergency took a period of about 6 months which would mean he spent from September 1942 to May/June 1943 on basic training with the Guards.

According to the Regimental History of the Cameron Highlanders, (RHCH) Volume V - 2nd. Battalion, a new 2nd. Battalion was created after the capture of Tobruk in North Africa by the Germans where most of the remaining Battalion had been killed or captured. The new Battalion, formed on the 20th. of December 1942, was then situated in the Shetlands where they trained until the 3rd. of November 1943 when they left Lerwick and travelled to Bridge of Allan arriving on the 5th.

The new Battalion had 5 Companies i.e. `H.Q.`, `S`(Support), `A`,`B`,&`C` which were rifle Companies and `D` Company which was an anti-tank platoon. Their Commanding Officer was Lieutenant Colonel C.S.Clarke and their Adjutant was Captain Gordon Munro. The Battalion Headquarters at this time was the Bridge of Allan hotel and George`s diary confirms leaving the camp at Bridge of Allan on the 13th. of December by train, arriving at Gourock to board the SS Stratheden (see picture). The following 3 days consisted of taking on troops, boat drill and PT. The strain of the time was evident as George records that a man on board the ship shot himself in the foot on the night of Tuesday 14th in order to avoid embarkation.

The large convoy departed on Thursday 16th through the submarine boom between Toward Point on Bute and Skelmorlie on the mainland. That night on the boat there was an ENSA concert with Harry Roy and his Band. At that time he was a big name in the music world and his wife, Princess Pearl, was the band`s principle singer. She was the daughter of the last white Rajah of Sarawak which is now in North Borneo and part of the Malaysian Federation. Rajah Brooke had come to Sarawak in the late 19th. Century and had been acclaimed by the local waring tribes as a King (Rajah). He had three daughters but no son and Pearl was one of the daughters. The presence of such a well known band on board the ship, along with the fact that most of the men and women on board were young and were going abroad for the first time to places they had only heard or read about, helped with moral.

By the next day, the sea was so rough that everyone on board was sea- sick including the 200 WRNS and 300 nurses. Most of the Friday and Saturday George spent in bed suffering. Lieutenant A. Findlay describes the scene where, as Orderly Officer, he had to go round the troop decks at 10.00pm with the civilian ship`s Trooping Officer. “The troops were in very low spirits, as was everyone, and the troop decks were an evil and insanitary place to go”.

The only remedy was to be `bloody minded` and get them out of their bunks to clean up their own filth and get them vying with each other until things improved”. By Sunday and Monday, the sea was much calmer and the days warmer, allowing some on-board exercise. The following 3 days George spent suffering from a cold, censoring letters and feeling bored with the confinement of the ship, although there must have been suspicion of submarine activity on the Wednesday when 5 depth charges were dropped off the ship`s starboard bow. On Christmas Eve the west coast of Africa was sighted and Christmas Day was spent passing Gibralter, seeing Tangiers in the distance and socialising. The lights of Tangier were the first time they had seen a town/city light up since September 1939. The bar was open for 2 hours on Christmas Day so that 2,000 First Class passengers could get one drink if lucky. Christmas Day meals were served and a copy of the ship`s menu has signatures of some of the Cameron officers among others enjoying the meal (including GM Poe).

On following the North African coastline, the convoy halted at Algiers the next day but continued at 5PM with all on board. Monday 27th. was a lovely clear day but, due to an air attack, a smoke screen was set up by the convoy ships to hid from the enemy bombers. There is no mention of any bombing or sound of bombing so the aircraft must have continued on to other targets. The next day, while passing Malta, the pipes and drums on the ships played `Retreat`.

On Wednesday, George was made Orderly Officer. The next 2 days the convoy passed Benghazi, Tobruk and Derna while in the evenings they were entertained by ENSA concerts. On Friday 31st. the convoy arrived at Port Said in Egypt, and the next 2 days were spent watching children diving for 6d pieces, celebrating New Year, sunbathing going for a route march through Port Said and attending a service on Sunday morning.

On Monday 3rd. of January 1944, George and his Battalion left the boat for the station and travelled by rail to Giza via Cairo, a distance of about 150 miles. He arrived the next day at a military camp near Giza called Mena (see photo P.9 . This was about 3 miles from the famous pyramids at Giza. The 3rd. battalion Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders (A&SH), the Durham Light Infantry (DLI), the 2/7th. battalion Gurkhas and 3rd. Rajiputane were also there, the latter two being part of the 4th. Indian Army. The Gurkhas, at this time, were part of the Indian Army, which was the largest volunteer army in history and amounted to over 2 million men. Due to Indian Independence and a mutual disregard by India, Britain and the former Commonwealth countries, their story and history of involvment in the war has been largely ignored. The next 3 days involved route marches to the Pyramids and Sphinx, PT,Drill checking equipment,football ( they beat the DLI team 2-1) and socialising in the evenings. Spirits were high as the food was good and the washing facilities reasonable although on Saturday 8th. they went to Mena House Hotel for a bath where, W.Jack recalled, the “Gyppo” hotelier charged them 2/6d {£5 in todays` money} for the loan of a bar of soap.

On Tuesday 11th there was a raid on the camp, reputedly by Arab Nationalists. The following day, the General Commanding Officer (GOC) of Egypt General Stone visited Mena Hotel, the grounds on which the camp was located. There had been an assassination attempt on the train that Stone had arrived on and 2 people were killed along with 2 Scots soldiers wounded.The following day,George gave a direct blood transfusion to one of the injured soldiers from this incident. He also records that Churchill, Roosevelt and Chiang Kai Check visited the British Indian Cemetery on that day. On Saturday 15th. 150 men from his Battalion were drafted to the A&SH. The next day he had his photograph taken, along with the other officers of the 2nd. Battalion. The tent rigging and dessert sand are clearly visible.

Back Row 1. Lt.R.MacKenzie - George`s friend, mentioned in many letters(see RHCH p.342) 2 Lt. CGS Maxwell - died of wounds at Monte Cassino 3. Lt.W.MacGillivray * Lt.G.M. Poe - killed at Monte Grillo 4. Lt. G.Mackie - killed at Cassino 5. Lt W.Jack - POW at Bibbiano (ref. Letters Appendix ) 6. Lt. W.N. Cameron - son of Colonel of Regiment - killed at San Marino 7. Lt. GG Macdonald - POW - escaped through France and over Pyrenees after St. Valery 8. Lt. A G Findlay ( refer letters Appendix ) 9. Lt. E. Chevasse (son of WW1 double VC)

3rd. Row 10. Lt. J.Stirling - wounded near Bibbiano 11. Lt. RCH Collier- wounded at Cassino, won MC in action before Bibbiano 12. Lt. H.Waring 13. Lt. DR Galloway - awarded MC in 1945 for excellent service in Italy 14. Lt.S Mackay 15. Lt. I.Anderson 16. Lt. T. Fairbairn 17. Lt. Rae Johurst - mentioned in George`s diary

2nd. Row 18. Lt. P. Laughton - wounded at Cassino 19. Padre RA Smith - mentioned in George`s diary 20. Captain J.Malcolm. 21. Captain E. A. Cameron - awarded MC as Signals Officer at Cassino for continuing bravery under fire (seeRHCH p342) 22. Captain HG Hall - medevac from Cassino 23. Captain R.Stark 24. Captain I.Jack - killed at Cassino 25. Captain RB Marriot 26. Lt. (QM) G. Peaston 27. 2nd.Lt. KCG Morrison - wounded at Cassino 28. Lt. (MO) F. Hamilton- Leckie RAMC - awarded MC for conspicuous bravery by maintaining the Regimental Aid Post close to the front line at Cassino without protection of the Rex x (29) Lt. JA Swain

1st.. Row 30. Captain JA Cochrane DSO MC ( both awards for previous actions in Egypt and Eritrea. He still had not fully recovered from his wounds when went up to Cassino as O/C `C` Company. He also wrote a book called `Charlie Company`. 31. Captain AF Lauder 32. Major A.Todd O/C `D` Company 33. Major GH Munro Battalion 2nd.I/C 34. Lt. Colonel CS Clarke M.C. - MC awarded for service in Palestine in 1937 35. Major D.B. Mitchell O/C `B` Company - as Sargeant of a platoon he evaded capture after St. Valery and was medevac from Cassino 36. Major D. Douglas DSO - awarded DSO after battle of Keren in Eritrea 1942 37. Captain W.W. Watt (Adjutant) (38) Captain M. Underwood O/C `A` Company - escaped after Mont Grillo ref. George`s diary & RHCH page 409 .Sitting (39) 2/Lt. A MacKintosh - Last Governor of Singapore (40) Lt. I U Gow 41. 2/Lt. DH Burns - MC at Orsogna 42. 2 Lt. D. Robb - wounded at Cassino

On Monday, the camp was hit by a sand storm. That day was spent giving lectures `with medium success` and preparing to move. The entertainment that evening was Nelson Eddy. The following day, the tents were struck and the Battalion moved to Giza station where they left by train at 5PM and travelled overnight the 150 miles to Alexandria. The train arrived at 12 midnight and they were kept on board until the next day when they transfered to the docks and George boarded the liner HNT`Ranchi`. The ship was full with soldiers from Poland, West Africa and the U.S.A. On this ship, George was detached from his Battalion as they were on a different ship - the HMT Princess Kathleen. The ship left on Thursday afternoon in the same convoy as the ship he had arrived in, the Stratheden. George records that he did not feel well as there was no ventilation and he was sea-sick on the ship. Early in the morning, the ships guns practised and he heard they were bound for Taranto on the Italian mainland.

By this time, the Allied armies in Italy consisted basically of the British and Canadian forces ( 8th. Army) on the eastern Adriatic and the American 5th. Army on the West. There were a total of 27 nationalities in the Allied Armies including Goums (French speaking Arabs - as mentioned in the book “Private Angelo” by Eric Linklater), Poles,Italians,Czecks, Free French etc. On Sunday morning there was an air attack on the convoy but it could not have been big as he spent most of the day playing cards and writing letters. The following day they passed a snow covered Mount Etna and later arrived at Taranto on the 25th. On disembarking, they made their way to a camping area 3 miles out from the town.

With the Camerons were the `little men` of the 2/7 Battalion Gurkhas and the `tall men` 4/6 Rajputana. On Thursday the 27th. They were told they would be “moving up in about a week with the 4th. Indian Division as part of the 8th. Army”. The days were fine and warm but the nights were cold and there was “no sign of letters yet”. Over the next 4 days the weather remained the same, as hundreds of Liberator bombers flew overhead on raids. There were casualties in the camp –1 man died from pneumonia and a Cameron was run over by a Polish truck. There were also food riots in Taranto at this time and so it was declared out of bounds on Wednesday 4th.. During this time he also managed to see some variety shows in the evenings.

On the following Tuesday, George was given innoculations (INOC) and vaccinations (VACC) after a route march in the morning. They were also issued with leather jerkins to protect them from the cold. On Friday 6th. of February, reveille was at 2A.M.. They were moving up with the 5th. Army under Brigadier Griffen. At this stage, the 8th. Army offensive in the Adriatic side of Italy was discontinued and the 4th. Indian Division, along with the New Zealand 2nd. Division were moved to the 5th. Army. At 5 AM they marched to Taranto Station and boarded cattle trucks. The truck that George was in had both Camerons and Gurkhas and he describes the conditions as` rough`. They travelled overnight and arrived at Salerno early next morning (see map `A`). Salerno was in chaos. They moved on passing the Isle of Capri and Mount Vesuvius which was covered with snow. They stopped for a while in Naples, `a terrible joint` where it rained all day and was very cold. On Sunday they arrived at Capua (see map `A`) where they joined up again with the rest of his Battalion having been separated in Egypt at Alexandria on different ships. They then moved from there to Pietramelara (see map `B`) which was muddy and bomb shattered. He spent the first night there in an old barn and the nights were still cold. George also noted that day that he could hear `the big gun show` at Monte Cassino which was about 25 miles away.

On Monday 8th. of February he received some letters. It was snowing but the men were in good spirits and some were now bivouaced in tents. The following day George was assigned to an LOB ( left out of battle) party and he records that he was `disappointed in a way`. This party went on a route march which passed closer to Monte Cassino (approximately 20 miles). On Saturday 13th., George records that the 5th. and 7th. Cameron Companies were now in action at Cassino and that his No. 2 Company (minus the LOB party) were going up the next day. On Sunday, the LOB parties were relocated in new billets which were more comfortable. The LOB parties from the other divisions were all billeted together. He was also given a present of a Kukri knife from one of the Gurkhas ( According to the Gurkha museum curator, this gesture is considered to be a mark of respect) This Kukri was returned with his personnal effects. He also records that `Captain Underwood was in hospital`. He was later to became a Major.

On Tuesday 16th., the monastery hill at Cassino was bombed. The men in the LOB party managed to get a wireless working and heard that they were in action which helped to boost spirits. On the 19th., the main Battalion moved up to Cervaro and on to Portella near the Rapido river and the front line. The next day, some LOB`s came back along with the Padre. They reported fierce fighting at the front with the monastery still not taken. On the 21st. there were heavy casualties from `A` Company reported when they were shelled in the Quarry at Monte Cassino with 9 killed and 12 wounded

The story of Monte Cassino and the Cameron involvement is described in RHCH pages 338 – 344. On Monday, George noted in his diary that he contacted Subadar Major Sahib of the 3rd. Rajiputane. A Subadar Major Sahib was the highest non-commissioned rank in the Indian Army. On Wednesday, he received 8 letters and went to a hospital in Caserta to visit some wounded colleagues from his time in the Guards.

On Friday 16th. of March, his diary records a big allied bombing campaign was underway . This was the 2nd. `big attack` on Monte Cassino. This attack backfired in that, by reducing the Cassino buildings to rubble, it gave good cover for the Germans to defend their position. According to the RHCH (Page 342), on the 10th. of March George`s Reserve group (LOB) from `A` Company were sent forward to reinforce the Battallion at Point 593 (see map). However, according to George`s diary, they and the reserve with `B` Echelon transport group did not move up until the 16th. of March after the attack was finished. Bob Wheeler recalls that all the reserves had to be called up because there had been such heavy Cameron losses (nearly half the Battallion). During this period, George recorded that the 1/9 Gurkas were cut off on monastery hill and had to be supplied by air because the Germans had been well dug in after the bombing raid which had given them better cover.

The route taken was from Pietramalera up to San Michelle where they met up with the supplies and reserve `B` Echelon group. They then followed the established pack mule supply route to Portella, crossing the Rapido river at night and then up to Cairo village . They then continued through the trenches up to Point 593. George`s period of involvement at the front line is described in pages 343 &344 of the RHCH. Conditions in the trenches at point 593 were `hellish`. Bob Wheeler recalled “ you lived under a constant bombardment of machine gun fire,mortars,snipers, bombs and rain which all caused casualties.

This bombardment went on day and night contributing to an average of 8 casualties per day in George`s Battalion . The rain was incessant and added to the misery of the trenches which were filled waist high with water and worse. Basic hygiene was impossible and men developed dysentry among other conditions including trench foot which had not been seen since the 1st. World War. Throughout all this, `the mule packs always made their incredible journey at night and unloaded there packs with supplies, sometimes within 250 yards of the enemy positions, while during the day the stretcher bearers carried down the wounded and dying`. The daily toll continued until the Camerons were relieved at point 593 by the 2nd. Lancashire Fusiliers. On the 26th. the remainder of the Battalion moved out at night using the same supply route from Point 593 i.e. Cairo - Portella - across the Rapido river at dawn and then on to the `B` Echelon transport base at Venafro.

At Cassino the Battalion lost 250 ( 51 killed and 199 wounded) of it`s 600 strong complement in the period 19th. of February until the 25 th. of March. The `B` Echelon that George had been with (normally positioned to the right of the main Battalion) was a motor transport group , and had moved at some point from Pietramelera where we know he was on 15th. of March to Venafro where they met up again with the Battalion ( see location 2 on map). A `Special order of the Day`, dated 27th. March1944 by the Divisional Commander Major General Holworthy placed on record the performance of the Division at Monte Cassino.

The Battalion left Venefro on the 1st. of April by motor column to the Taurasi area via Capriata - Alife - Caiazzo - Triess - Ponte - Benevento - San Giorgio Del Sannio After a few days R & R, the Battalion was ordered to Castelfrentano, 4 miles from the front line on the Adriatic sea. This period was described in the Regimental History as the `Adriatic Interlude`. They arrived on the 9th. of April and after 10 relatively easy days,the Battalion moved to the Arielli sector of the front with George and `A` Company taking up position at Farrar`s Ridge approximately 500 yards south west of Arielli

Although fighting on the front was ongoing in the area at this time, it appears to be of a light nature with few casualties and in stark contrast to the experiences of Cassino. On the 31st. of May, it was announced that 2 Italian Divisions were taking over that part of the front. They were `Mostly from Northern Italy and therefore fighting to get back to their own land and were considered reliable`. The Camerons were relieved on the 1st. & 2nd. of June by the 13Th. Paratroop Battalion of the Italian ``NEMBO`` Division. The Battalion then moved to Ortona and then Tollo on the 9th. They continued to advance on the Germans through Francavilla and Pescara arriving at Montesilvano on 11th. of June (see RHCH map Page 347). According to Bob Wheeler who was in George`s No.9 platoon and Angus MacKenzie who was in Willie Jack`s No. 8 Platoon, they were the first Allied troops to land in Pescara by using amphibious craft (DUKW`s). Prior to this their platoons had a narrow escape. While waiting by the river bank for orders to cross a bridge over the river Pescara, it was suddenly blown up by the Germans showering them with debris. Bob Weeler also recollects the welcome smiles of children in the villages that they past through and how they asked for `carmelli` (sweets) or cigarettes and how on one occasion a young girl about 5 or 6 years old, eager to please, stepped aside to pick some fruit as an exchange of goodwill for him and was killed by a landmine . It was here that the Poles took over from the Camerons on this part of the Gothic Line. The Battalion then moved to an area called Campobasso for training in mountain warfare. The move from Montesilvano began early on 15th. of June moving through Castiglione and Sepino on the foothills of the Apennines ( see map `B` ). Courses at the mountain school began on the 20th. of June with Saturday afternoons and Sundays kept for R&R. The 2/7 Battalion Gurkhas who had been with them since Tarranto were also training there.

In a letter from George on the 23rd. of June he describes bivouacking in tents 5000 ft. high up in the Appenines where supplies had to be brought in by mules and training consisted of learning absailing and survival techniques.

The month of rest and training was wound up with an exercise on the 15th. of July and the Battalion then began it`s operational move north. On the 18th. of July the Battalion arrived in the Arrezo area (see map RHCH Page 352), and were dispersed as follows: `A` Company south of San Polo, ` B` Company at Patrignone, `C` Company at Puglia, `D` Company at Battalion H/quarters in Arrezzo.

On the 25th. of July the King arrived, disguised as a `General Collingwood` to visit the Brigade and Battalion He inspected ` a party of men` and `some of the senior officers of the Brigade and Battlion`. He also had a tour of `Jacob`s ladder` which was a structure made from logs and wire and designed to aid vehicles up steep slopes. By the 1th. of August, `D` Company had taken Castiglion Fibocchi . On the night of the 4th. of August, a Corps offensive known as `Operation Vandal` began. The operation was designed to sweep the lower alps clear of the enemy and capture Bibbiena further up the valley and open the road to Florence. The Camerons plan was for `C` Company to take the village of Bibbiano and `A` Company to take Monte Grillo. When this was done, `B` Company could then take the high ground beyond Monte Grillo and `D` Company could then capture the village of Monte Ferrato . An allied artillery barrage on these areas commenced from 19.30 until 21.15 hours.

The Companies then commenced their attack and there was little opposition. When `A` Company reached a farm in Monte Grillo, “Lieutenant Poe killed some Germans in one of buildings` which was established as temporary Company H.Q.George was in charge of No.9 Platoon and Willie Jack in charge of No.8. They were the 2 forward platoons. No.7 platoon remained in the farmhouse to defend Company H.Q. Due to the breadth of the front, the Battalion Commander was obliged to put George`s platoon forward and up to the top of Monte Grillo hill and take a forward defensive position while No.7 was in the farmhouse and No. 8 to the side of No.9 Unknown to the Company Commander, the Germans had been reinforced the previous day with fresh troops from an SS unit.Just after dawn at about 08.00 hours on the 5th. of August, the German counter-attack began with a heavy barrage. Two Infantry Companies of the 115th. Panzer Grenadier Regiment (approximately 200 men depending on how full the Companies were) supported by some SS troopers and assault engineers attacked and encircled the hill. George and his platoon in their slit trench dug into the hillside initially took the full brunt of the assault from grenades, mortar and Spandau machine gun fire. The platoon put up a brave fight but were hopelessly outnumbered. Bob Wheeler, the platoon Bren machine gunner, recalls “ I just kept firing my Bren gun and the Germans were going down like ninepins but when I bent down to change a magazine my helmet fell off. I was then hit by a blast from a rifle grenade which blew off part of my head”.Angus MacKenzie, Bob`s life long friend who joined up on the same day, was captured and carried Bob to medical help.

George was killed by a head injury. Several men of the platoon were killed or wounded, some were captured and some managed to retreat back to the farmhouse. The German encircling movement continued by`viciously` attacking the house and large farm building in Poggio del Grillo which was the Cameron base. The Germans also over-ran the forward `A` Company No.8 platoon and, although they were now prisoners, used them and some prisoners from No. 9 platoon as protection in front of their line as a screen to begin the assault on the farm house. . The Camerons had tried to make the house and farm buildings secure but they were limited as to what they could do.The assault engineers placed pole charges against the doors and blew them open. Close contact fighting then ensued from room to room. Cameron losses were 60 men and 3 officers, one of which was George.There was a further attempt to retake the buildings by the Camerons but this failed and some men were taken prisoner including Lieutenant Jack . The Company commander, Major Underwood (ref.diary), was taken prisoner but managed to escape when tank fire by the Warwickshire Yeomanry distracted his captors sufficiently for him to make an escape. This area eventually took a full Batallion assault to capture. George was buried, along with some of his comrades who had also been killed, in a small cemetery just north of Arezzo. This was a temporary arrangement and by June 1945, the British War Graves Association had established a military cemetery with British, Commonwealth and Indian army sections at Indicatore which is 3 miles north west of Arezzo. George was reinterned there during this period.

Actual diary entries from Lieutenant George Poe`s Diary Words in brackets have been added for clarification although some entries are unclear and are marked with an asterix *.

December 1943

Mon.13th Left B of A (Bridge of Allan) by train and went on board the S.S. Stratheden at Gourock.

Tues.14th. Continued to take on passengers. Boat drill.

Wed.15th. More boat drill. The food on board is perfect. One man shot himself last night.( to avoid embarkation - W.Jack)

Thur.16th. More boat drill and PT (Physical Training) today. Concert with Harry Roy at night. We passed through the boom at 20.00 hours. (Boom was located between Toward Point on Bute and Fairley ). We`re off!

Fri.17th. Very rough. Everyone sick, including myself. Can`t eat. Big convoy. Clocks back 1 hour.

Sat.18th. Still very rough. Still very sick. In bed all day.

Sun.19th. Much better today. Eating again. Much warmer. Must be nearing the Azores. A Liberator flew over this afternoon.

Mon.20th. Much warmer. P.T. again this afternoon. Becoming browned off with the confinement.

Tues.21st. Got a hell of a cold today. Censoring letters most of the day. The heat will probably prevent me sleeping tonight.

Wed.22nd. Cold better. Five depth charges dropped off starboard bow this afternoon.

Thurs.23rd. Still at sea. No sight of land. Completely cured.

Fri.24th. Christmas Eve. Nothing unusual happened. Sighted west coast of Africa. Did not touch the Azores.

Sat.25th. Christmas Day. Past Gibralter during the night. Saw the lights of Tangier. (The lights of Tangier were the first time they had seen a town/city light up since September 1939. The bar was open for 2 hours on Christmas Day so that 2,000 First Class passengers could get 1 drink if lucky- W.Jack). Everybody stocious . Can see land all the time now.

Sun.26th. Arrived at Algiers. Lovely day. Lovely city. No one allowed ashore. Sailed at 5 in the evening.

Mon.27th. Lovely day. Smoke screen. Land this afternoon. Air attack.

Tues.28th. Passed Malta on starboard bow. Pipes and drums played `Retreat`.

Wed.29th. Orderly Officer today. Passed Benghazi,Tobruk and Derna. Lovely day. Killing time.ENSA concert in the evening.

Thurs.30th. Lovely day. Still sailing. Nothing to report.

Fri.31st. Arrived at Port Said. Not getting off until Monday.Beautiful day. Watched kids diving for 6 d`s (6d pieces) .

January 1944

Sat.1st. Another beautiful day. Route march through Port Said. Very nice. Attended service.Met Selby Wright and Sargeant Charters.( Selby Wright was a well known radio padre).

Sun.2nd. Lovely day. Lay sunbathing nearly all day.Pdw party left for Mena Camp near Cairo this morning. Boat was nearly empty.

Mon.3rd. Left boat entrance at Port Said station for Giza via Cairo.

Tues.4th. Arrived at Mena camp early. In tents about 3 miles from pyramids. The 3rd. Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and the 1st. Durham Light Infantry (DLI) are in the same camp.Very warm. The 7th. Gurkhas and the 3rd. Rajputana Rifles ( 4th. Indian Army)? are here also.

Wed.5th. Another lovely day. Checking up on equipment etc. P.T. and Drill.

Thurs.6th. Lovely day. Haven`t been out yet. Party at night.

Fri.7th. Route march. Pyramids and Sphinx. Beat the DLI 2-1 at football this afternoon.

Sat.8th. All got a bath today. Food good. All in good spirits.(They went to Mena House Hotel for a bath where the “Gyppo” charged them 2/6d {£5 in todays` money} for the loan of a bar of soap - W.Jack).

Sun.9th. Duty officer today.Church service. Lovely day.

Mon.10th. Lovely day.Route march in morning and P.T. etc. in afternoon.Advance party.

Tues.11th. Wog raid on camp.Two killed on Stone train. Two jocks injured. Blood test O.K. Good blood. No mail yet.

Wed.12th. General Stone G.O.C. Egypt payed a visit to Mena Hotel. ? Churchill, Roosevelt and Chiang Kai Check visit British India Cemetery.

Thurs.13th. Gave 1 pint of blood to soldier from station? Front today in Cairo. Should move any day now. Scorcher today.

Fri.14th. Scorcher. Preparing to move on Monday. Losing some of my men. Could see the Citadel in Cairo today,so clear.

Sat.15th. Warm. Italy. 4th. Indian Division 150 men left today on draft to Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (A&SH). Advance party returned from Syria.

Sun16th. Photos taken today. Seem to be bound for Sicily. Leaving on Thursday 20th. Beautiful day. Duty Officer tomorrow.

Mon.17th. Very blowey. Sand storms. Took first lectures today. Medium success. Preparing to move.Orderly officer tomorrow. Saw Nelson Eddy and King Farouk.. Advance party returned from Syria and Lebanon.

Tues.18th. Tents struck. Moved to Giza station. Left Giza for Alexandria 5pm. Arrived at 12 midnight.Stayed night in the train.

Wed.19th. Went aboard P & O liner `Ranchi` and unknown destination. Full of Poles,West Africans and Yanks. Detached from Battalion.

Thurs.20th. Left this afternoon. No ventilation. Seem to be Taranto bound. See `Stratheden` in same convoy.

Fri.21st. Sea-sick this morning. Guns were practising this morning. Very dull boat but food is quite good when one can eat it.

Sat.22nd Lovely day. Very calm. Must be off Tobruk. Can see `Stratheden` in the convoy. Clocks back 1 hour tonight.

Sun23 rd . Lovely day. Air attack in morning. Played cards most of the day.Wrote letters.Should be nearing Italy now.

Mon 24 Passed Mount Etna on port side. Snow covered. Lovely sight. Colder today. Some ships have left the convoy, including the Stratheden.

Tues25 Arrived at Taranto. Camping 3 miles outside. Conditions not good.

Wed26 Conditions better. Had a bath today. This place has taken some pasting.Food not too good.Gurkhas2/7 Battalion and Rajputana

Thurs27 Lovely day.No letters yet.Very cold at night. Moving up in about a week with the 4th. Indian Division in the 8th. Army. We will lose Ray on Saturday - going to Brig Recce Unit

Fri28 Another beautiful day. Hundreds of Liberator planes flying over today. Fire in ration store last night. Little damage. Food still bad. One casualty died with pneumonia.

Sat29 Went into Taranto this afternoon. Had quite a good time. Saw good variety shows. Tommy Trinder comes on Monday. Man killed tonight by a truck. ( The man killed was a Cameron. He got a lift back to camp in a Polish truck. The driver took a wrong turning so the soldier got out of the truck to guide him from the rear. It was dark and the truck slid down a ditch at the roadside killing the soldier. The driver drove off , unaware of what had happened. W.Jack was given the task of sorting out the situation, as the driver had been put in jail by the Poles. Cost of living high. Still no mail

February 1944

Sun1 Beautiful day again. Weather exceptional. Went to the service this morning. Did some washing. Going for a bath this afternoon again. 2 Charlie4 2/7 George *

Mon2 Lovely day P.T. 0 *

Tues3 Route march this morning. VACC and INCC ( vaccinations and innoculations) this afternoon. Beautiful day. No night scheme. Issue of leather jerkins.

Wed4 Lovely day but Taranto out of bounds. Out on patrol at night. Angus left this morning * ( Rioting was due to food shortages - W.Jack).

Thur5 Lovely day. My * still in Alexandria.Reveille 02.00 hours tomorrow. Moving up with 5th. Army 42 –dps * Brigadier Griffen

Fri 6 Left Taranto 05.00. Led to station. Men in cattle trucks with 2/7 G.R. (Gurkha Regiment). Better off than most. Travelled all through night. Arrived Salerno early. Utter chaos. Passed Isle of Capri and Mount Vesuvius (snow covered). Rained all day.Very cold. Stopped a long time in Naples. Terrible joint.

Sun8 Arrived Capua. Debussed and joined rest of 2nd. Division 25 miles from Cassino I think. Very cold indeed. Can hear the big gunshow. Slept in old barn tonight.(Pietramelara).

Mon8 Received letter today. Still very cold. Got my clothes done. Food good. Waiting for orders. Men in good spirits. Bivouacing same now in tents.Snowing. ?

Tues9 All letters received today. In LOB ( left out of battle party). Disappointed in a way. Went for a route march 20 miles from Cassino. All is not well there. Moving up on PLON (platoon order of march). Had a bath today.Now in tents.

Wed10 Bloody awful today. Over boots in mud.Douglas not back. Advance party LOB-me?

Thurs11 Soaked through. Slept in house. Clothes dried but trousers burnt.

Fri 12 Bullets found in 2 1/c British Wing. All divisionsLOB.Billeted here.Lousy day.?

Sat13 Better day. Trying to write. 5&7 now in action. No. 2 Company go tomorrow.

Sun14 Lovely day. Very muddy. New billets found. Settling in OK..Captain Underwood in Hospital.(ref. RHCH page 348). Received Kukri today.(kept by N.Paterson)

Mon15 Attack postponed. Received papers today. Good day. New cookhouse for BOR`s found ( Battalion`s other ranks). GIL and water cooking.?

Tues16 Bombed Monestery hill today. Should take in 2 days of 4nd. DW (Indian Division) fighting (quoted). Quite a few casualties from USA 6 mls.

Wed17 Got wireless going. What a boon you heard that we were in action over radio.

Thur18 Sick. Bad stomach.

Fri19 Plenty of bombing. Lovely day. Usual procedure. Wireless at night.

Sat20 Battalion moved up LOB`s came back + Padre. Fierce fighting up front and monestery not yet taken.

Sun21 Very heavy casualties today. All A Company. Lovely day.( `A` Company were shelled in the Quarry at Monte Cassino on that day. 9 were killed and 12 wounded - W.Jack.

Mon22 Subadar Major Sahab goes. Changing billets again Capt. Power. 400 live Ammo. Wet again. Very muddy. Nothing to report.

Tues 23rd. Had a bath today. Had a run on the * motorcycle.

Wed.24th. Eight letters today. Went to hospital in Caserta (see Map) Saw most of the boys. Also Baron Colhurst. Told me about Smithy POW Herd & Moyes *

Thurs.25th. Jabbed. Nothing to report. Dull.

March 1944

16th. Bombed Cassino. Action Ve (Venafro - `B` Echelon) And us.( `A` Company Reserve George was with) - refer RHCH page 343

19th. 1/9th. Gurkhas cut off on Monastery hill. Supplies landed by air. (refer RHCH page 344).

Left home 13.12.43

Arrived Port Said 2.1.44

Arrived Cairo 3.1.44

Left Cairo 18.1.44

Arrived Alexandria 19.1.44

Left Alexandria 20.1.44

Arrived Taranto 25.1.44

Left Taranto 4.2.44

Arrived Pietramalera 6.2.44

There were no more entries in the diary after this.

References and Acknowledgements

Ghurka Museum Peninsula Barracks Romsey Road Winchester SO22 8TS Photograph No.2 Battalion 7th. Regiment (2/7) Ghurkas 1944 Assistant Curator Gavin Edgerley Harris Tel. 01962.842832

Indian Army 4th. Division Rajiputanes (booksearch Waterstones 332.9105– G.R.Stevens)

Commonwealth War Graves

The Queen`s Own Cameron and Seaforth Highlanders Regimental Museum Fort George Ardersier Inverness-shire IV1 2TD Tel. 01463.224380 Curator Lieutenant Colonel (Retd.) A.A. Fairrie

The Imperial War Museum 0171.416.5000

War Diary Army Record Office Bourne Avenue Hayes Middlesex UB3 1RF

Brigadier A.G. Findlay Kinrossie, Perth,

Lieutenant W.Jack, Mirefield, West Yorkshire,

Bob Wheeler Inverness

Angus MacKenzie

Peter Laughton Petworth, West Sussex

Neil Paterson

Pte. Murdo MacDonald Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

My father, Murdo MacDonald, was with the Cameron's in Burma and his brother Alastair was with the Cameron's and captured at St Valary. They were from the Isle of Skye. If anybody knows of anybody who served with them please contact me

Ruaraidh MacDonald

RSM. Walter Reid Cameron Highlanders

My grandfather, Walter Reid, was a CSM with the Cameron Highlanders during WW2. He is mentioned in Peter Cochrane's book 'Charlie Company - In Service with the C Company 2nd Queen's own Cameron Highlanders 1940-1944'

L/Cpl. Peter "Spring" Stewart Queens Own Cameron Highlanders (d.23rd Mar 1943)

In his war uniform - full length

Peter Stewart served in World War 2 as part of The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. He was killed in action on 23rd March 1943 in Tunisia and his grave resides there. He was nicknamed Peter the Spring as he was so fast. I have his Cameron Highlanders badge.

I have been informed that his name is commemorated on a war memorial in Edinburgh which I have yet to see, again if anyone has any information of other memorials or pictures this would be really helpful and I would really appreciate it being passed onto me.

Mary Kelbie

Pte. Tom Ellis Jones Cameron Highlanders (Queens Own)

My father, Tom Jones, a policeman in 'C' division in Liverpool before and after the war, he was a prisoner of war in Austria. He was imprisoned in a small camp which I believe was under the village school or the town hall, in the centre of a village called Wundschuh, Stiermark. Each day, the men in this camp went out to the surrounding farms to work as labourers. Within the bounds of what was acceptable at the time, dad and the farmer's family became good friends, and they kept in touch for the rest of their lives. Mum, my sister and I have all visited the family and I received a letter of condolence from the farmer's grandson when dad died in 2007.

Dad had many yarns about his time working on a very basic farm in Ponigl during WW2, a very different life from that of a policeman working on the Liverpool docks! A few years before he died, he was contacted by an Austrian PhD. student called Edith Pettschnig, who was researching the era of 'farming prisoners' called 'Vom Front aus Feld' of which I have a copy. If anyone would like me to check for their relatives in the many reminiscences quoted there, I would be happy to check and photocopy the relevant passages - all the quotes are in English.

One story I would love to hear the end of. According to dad there were two Jewish Austrian nationals in their ranks, men who had made their way to England at some point and had been able to join up, being subsequently captured and returned to their home countries. Dad was very clear about this - he said everyone went to great lengths to conceal the true origins of the men concerned. One was called Peter Black, And the other was Arnold Glebe, or something like that. I would love to know whether they made it to the end of the war - dad was marched out of that part of Austria early in 1945 and didn't know.

Kath Breen

Pte. Joseph Farrer Robinson Wood Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

on his despatch bike

joe 3rd left back row

joe in his kit

joe 2nd left front row

Joseph Farrer Robinson Wood, my uncle, was a dispatch rider and served in Assam, Chittagong and other Burmese places in WW2. He would tell me stories of his time there, including crossing the Irrawaddi River - up to his neck in water holding his rifle and ammo above his head. I have several photos of this time. He was a very popular type of person. My mother was his sister Margaret, does anyone have any memory of him?

Joseph Mulroy

QMS. Albert Jackson Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

My father Albert Jackson, served as QSM with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and formerly Highland Light Infantry. He transferred to QOCH after they reformed following Dunkirk. He served in India and Burma.

He did not talk about the war and died aged 66. Since my mother Mary died, I have recently acquired a large photograph album depicting members of the regiment in India and Burma with many names and ranks associated with the photos. Any information that can be provided about my father, or if anyone knew him, please get in touch.

B N Jackson

Pte. James Cunningham Cameron Highlanders

Jimmy is back row second from the left

Names of Cameron Highlanders in XXA

Jimmy Cunningham was my father's uncle, served in the Cameron Highlanders, 51st Division. He was captured on the 12th of June 1940 St Valery en Caux, marched to XXA, later transferred to XXB. His is POW number was 364. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Karen Hillas

Pte. James Geddes 1st Btn. Cameron Highlanders

My father James Geddes served with the 1st Battalion from 1927 until 1944 was part of the BEF. He was also with the rear-guard at St Valéry-en-Caux. He and some others got away by stealing a French fishing boat and then got picked up in the Channel and returned to the UK.

David Geddes

L/Cpl. Murdo MacDonald 1st Btn. Cameron Highlanders

My father Murdo MacDonald served with the 1st Cameron Highlanders in Burma.

Cpl. Charles McInally 7th Btn. Cameron Highlanders (Queens Own)

My grandfather served in the 7th Btn. Cameron Highlanders. I have some photos taken in Greece and Africa. He was a tailor to trade and I think he might even have been a regimental tailor. I will look out the photos when I get a reply in an email.

Steven Charles Moore

Cpl. James Archibald Paterson Matthew Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (d.22md May 1940 )

James Matthew, Belgium 1940

James Matthew was born in Hawick in 1911, the son of a career soldier later killed in WWI. He initially joined the Scots Greys but later transferred to the Cameron Highlanders. While billeted at Edinburgh Castle he met his future wife Mamie Day, and they had two daughters, Eileen in 1930 and Freda in 1934. He left the army about 1935, and worked as an electro-welder, which was a protected trade.

When war broke out in 1939 he felt guilty that other younger men were dying while he was an experienced soldier, and so joined up, with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. He was killed on the retreat to Dunkirk on 22nd May 1940, his regiment fighting a rear-guard action to try to hold up the rapidly advancing German Wehrmacht and tanks (including Field Marshall Erwin Rommel), in a bid to help evacuation of British troops. About three-quarters of the regiment were captured or killed. He is buried in the war cemetery at Bruyelles, near Tournai, in Belgium.

His widow married a New Zealand soldier and the family emigrated there after the war. James is well loved and remembered still by his family.

Stephen Kennedy

Sgt. Henry Cassidy Cameron Highlanders

My grandfather was imprisoned in Stalag 4b sometime between 1942 and 1945. He also spent time as a POW in the hands of the Italians. He never spoke of his experiences during this time.

Stephen Hutson

RSM James O'Neill DCM Cameron Highlanders

My grandad, James O'Neill, was awarded the DCM in WWII in Burma. A truly great man, humble, hard working and honest. He was an RSM in the Cameron Highlanders. He never spoke of his bravery. My hero.

Dominick Campbell

Pte. Ernest John Stockhill 1st Btn. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (d.1st Sep 1940)

Ernest Stockhill is buried at St Peter and Paul Church, Burton Pidsea Churchyard in the N.E. Corner.

Col.Sgt. Frank Cooper 1st Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment

My father, Frank Cooper joined 1st North Staffords in early 1938, under age. He sailed to India in 1939, serving in Calcutta and Ahmednagar as Company Qtr Master Sgt/Color Sgt with D Company before being posted to supply work with PAI Force in North Persia/Iraq.

From there, en route to officer training in Bangalore, he served with 7th Leicesters whilst they were training for the second Chindit Campaign. He Commissioned into the Cameron Highlanders, serving with a training battalion in Scotland, and then with a Royal West African Frontier Force pioneer unit in West Africa and the Canal Zone, where he was Adjutant, Camp Branch GHQ Middle East until leaving the Army to come home in early 1947

Mike Cooper

CSM John Alfred Bedwin 5th Battalion Cameron Highlanders

My father joined the Territorial Army in 1938 (24/10/1938) - Royal Engineers and eventually ended up as a Company Sergeant Major in the 5th Battalion Cameron Highlanders being de-mobbed in 1946 (21/01/1946). Whilst with the Cameron Highlanders he took part in many offensives including the Falaise operation, Goodwood, and on into Germany which included a bayonet charge.

He told me that he was taken to Belsen after its liberation but did not talk any more than that about it.

Malcom Bedwin

Pte. John Anderson MID. 2nd Btn. Cameron Highlanders

Pte John Anderson

I knew very little about what my father John Anderson did in the War. He died in 1993 and he would not talk about his experiences. All I have managed to find out is that he was Mentioned in Dispatches in October 1945. I know he was also a POW in Campo PG60 and Stalag IV-C. It was at some stage reported to his parents that he was missing in action. He was awarded the Africa Star and I believe he fought in Tobruk before being taken POW. He brought back a strange plate with his name and service number. This could never be explained as it was such a strange item to be given. However, Stalag IV-C was a former porcelain factory so does look like he could well have made this himself. I am sure you can see why he never took this up as a future career.

Steve Anderson

Sgt. William Noble Burness Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

William Burness served with the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders and was held in Stalag 21b.

Andrew Davies

Sgt. J "Jock" Cargill 2nd Btn. Cameron Highlanders (Queens Own)

My great-uncle, Patrick Kerr, wrote a memoir about his experience as a POW in Italy, and his subsequent escape. I am paraphrasing a small part of it here, as it may be interesting for the relatives of those he encountered.

My uncle mentions being held for a few days at or near a railway siding named Stazione di Manopello. It appeared to be a holding place for POWs, until there were sufficient in number to transfer them elsewhere.

There, he was joined by more prisoners. Three of them had been taken in desert campaigns, and spent a year in Italian POW camps. They had been released in September 1943, when Italy concluded an Armistice with the Allies. Since then, they had been living very well in the villages, making a leisurely journey south expecting to meet Allied troops. However, the German winter line had been formed, and in an effort to pass through they had been recaptured.

When one of the prisoners (a well-built paratrooper from London) escaped, the guards threatened to shoot them all, if they did not tell what they knew of his escape. The prisoners were inclined to believe him, however one of the three (from the desert campaigns), Sergeant Jock Cargill of the 2nd Camerons, saved the day by saying "[Expletive] him! He is only bluffing, tell him nothing." Sure enough, it was a bluff.

The prisoners were then transported about 25 miles to a village called Bussi. They were hustled into a former school building surrounded with barbed wire entanglements - obviously a POW Transit Camp. There were already a number of Allied prisoners in the building. There, they were given a very thin soup and some pieces of bread for tea.

Escape was uppermost in the thoughts of my uncle, along with Sergeant Cargill and L/Cpl Donnelly (also of the 2nd Camerons). They went to bed in some straw. The building walls were covered with inscriptions from Allied prisoners. Cargill and Donnelly added their names. The date was 10 December 1943.

My uncle describes how the three escaped by climbing down a sheet hung out of an unfastened window. Cargill and Donnelly escaped ahead of him into the night as planned, and he never saw them again. They were certainly not retaken that night. He ends that chapter hoping they had a safe passage to Allied-held territory.

Aishah Kerr

Robert Wands Cameron Highlanders

My grandfather Robert Wands was part of the Cameron Highlanders and was taken prisoner, I believe near Tobruk, in 1940 and remained a prisoner for five years. I am looking for information.

Kathryn Glennie

Pte. Thomas McCormack No 2 Commando (d.11th April 1944)

Thomas McCormack served with the 1st Btn Liverpool Scottish (Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders) and No 2 Commando. He was seriously injured during the Commando raid on St Nazaire (France) in 1942 and was buried in my town (Rennes, France). I am looking for information, could you help me?


My great uncle was a member of the Guard of Honour at Thomas McCormack's funeral, one of four captured allied servicemen who attended. Thomas McCormack was buried with full military honours by the German Forces. After the funeral McCormack's grave was a mass of flowers and these were renewed for many days afterwards by the French people of Rennes. (Robert Allwood)


Ralph Amato Cameronian Highlanders

My uncle, Ralph Amato, was a POW in Stalag XXB. His POW number was 18035. He served with the Cameron Highlanders (51st Division) and was captured at St Valery. After he was liberated he was shipped back to England and stationed at a YMCA in Chelsea until his discharge. I know (from some things that my family have said about him) that he was a great artist and played the classical guitar. I'm hoping to hear from anybody who knew him or heard of him. Sadly, he is now dead. He never spoke much to his family and friends about his experiences in the war. I'm looking for any information.

Sam Gillan

Laurence Black Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

My grandfather, Laurence Black, was in the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and served in Italy, Southern France, Greece and Palestine. I would be grateful if anyone has any information about him.

Arthur Black

Rflmn. Charles Connor 1st Btn (Scottish Rifles) Cameronians (d.8th April 1944)

Charles Connor entered Burma on 12th February 1942 with the 1st Battalion Scottish Rifles when they were sent into Burma following the Japanese invasion of the country. He was captured by the Japanese during the retreat from Burma about July 1942 and put to work building the Burma Railway. He died in Japanese captivity on the Burma Railway.

He is commemorated on the Rangoon Memorial, Myanmar Face 10.

Charles was born and lived in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire. He was the son of Denis and Margaret Connor, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire and the husband of Myrtle Connor, Aberdeen.

John Cyril Tomalin

Pte. Alexander Davidson "Eck" Shields 2nd Battalion Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (d.8th Mar 1944)

Alex was my Granddad's (David Hunter Shields) brother. He served with the 2nd Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and was killed at the age of 25. He was the son of Matthew Hunter Shields and Janet Page Adams Shields, of East Wemyss, Fife. Alex is buried in the Cassino War Cemetery.


Lt. Thomas Arthur Nicol MC. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

I really don't know too much. But I do know that my uncle, Thomas Arthur Nicol, escaped when Tobruk fell to the German's and travelled over 300 miles to Alexandria. He commandeered a German truck with a knife and drove part of the way. My father says he also shared food/water with some Germans he met in the desert going the opposite direction.

My dad says there was a plaque for him in Buckie. He was called the Buckie hero. My Grandmother was send a Missing in Action letter, but she never gave up hope. And, he survived. He passed away several years ago from melanoma. His back had been so badly damaged those days in the desert.

Margie Walser

Sgt. George Samuel Risborough 5th Btn. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (d.18th Jul 1944)

George Risborough is remembered on the Lazenby war memorial, Redcar & Cleveland. He is buried in the Ranville War Cemetery.


Pte. Arthur Paterson 1st Btn, A Coy, 7 Platoon, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

Arthur Paterson's details are recorded in my dad's address book

John Bell

Pte. Ronald Kennedy 4th Btn. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (d.7th May 1942)

Ronald Kennedy was 35 when he died and he is buried in the Calvary (Prospect) Roman Catholic Cemetery, Bermuda.

S Flynn

CSM Harry Fredrick Reynolds Cameron Highlanders

My grandfather Harry Reynolds from Leith joined the Camerons as a boy soldier at 17 and served about 12 years, but was called up again at the start of WW2 when he was living in London. None of us know where he served but rumours say he was with the Gurkhas. He served a total of 18 years and left with the rank of CSM.

P Foster

Pte. Andrew Adams 2nd Btn. Cameron Highlanders

My granda, Andrew Adams, was a POW during WW2.

Yvonne Keegan

Pte. James Harvie 2nd Btn. Cameron Highlanders (d.9th Aug 1942)

My late uncle, James Harvie, served in the Cameron Highlanders in World War Two. I know very little about him as he died in action in 1944 a few days after his 27th Birthday. He is buried in a war cemetery in Arezzo, Italy where he must of been fighting. I have his army book which passed to me when my Mother died.

Caroline Payne

Frank Hollister Cameron Highlanders

Frank Hollister served with the Cameron Highlanders

L/Cpl. Edward Gabriel MacLean Stewart Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

Lance Corporal Edward Maclean Stewart of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders married Violet May Rolls at North Church Paisley on 1st August 1940. He was 24 and she was 21. By finding his marriage certificate I have been able to establish the fact that he had served as a soldier in WW2, his rank and his regiment.

C Ireland

Sgt. George Priestley 1st Btn. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

George Priestley was my father, who I am very proud of. He earned the 1939-45 Star, Burma Star, Defence Medal

Barbara Wade

Cpl. James Crombie 2nd Btn. Cameron Highlanders (Queens Own) (d.14th Feb 1941)

James Crombie served with the 2nd Battalion, Cameron Highlanders.

Ian Rome

Pte. Frank Tierney 2nd Btn. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

My father Frank Tierney served in the 2nd Battalion of the Camerons from May 1940 until just before the fall of Tobruk. Trained in Inverness he served in the Nairn Defence Platoon before shipping to serve in the Westen Desert, seeing action at Halfaiya Pass and other locations. He was part of the defence of Tobruk, serving in a mortar section prior to being evacuated following a wound on the hospital ship `Aba' prior to the fall of Tobruk. He was subsequently transferred to the REME and saw action in North Africa until the capture of Tunis, taking part in the invasion of Sicily amd Italy before transfer back to the UK in early 1944.

He landed in Normandy on D-Day plus one and served in the British Liberation Army in France, Holland, Belgium and Germany before de-mob in 1946.

David Tierney

Matthew Robertson Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

My grandfather, Matthew Robertson, served with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in WW2. He lived in Pollock, Glasgow and his wife's name was Georgina.

He didn't say much about the war, I remember that when an airplane or helicopter went overhead he would cringe. His time in the army affected him for the rest of his life. In Australia we celebrate ANZAC day and remember those who served. He always said I don't need a day to remember my mates that I lost, I remember them every day. Very poignant.

He served in Africa and Italy. He would recount a story that the Ghurkas would sneak up behind the soldiers in the dark and put the sickle up to their neck as a joke. Pretty scary stuff but they all had a laugh seeing as they were on the same side!

Stacey Pilmore

Recomended Reading.

Available at discounted prices.

Charlie Company: In Service with C Company 2nd Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders 1940-1944

Peter Cochrane

"Charlie Company" is something original, the story of a rifle company of the Cameron Highlanders whose record of service in the Western Desert, Eritrea, and throughout the Italian campaign fully deserves this tribute to their courage and endurance. Peter Cochrane joined the company as a young platoon commander in 1940. He won an MC in their first action in Libya, and followed this with a DSO for his part in the grim assault on Keren. Badly wounded there, he missed the disaster at Tobruk, but was back as company commander at Monte Cassino and afterwards for the long haul up Italy. From his own experience he has told the remarkable story of a small group of soldiers of whom any country would be proud. The stresses and horrors of war are there, but so is the humour and the wonderful spirit of men whose morale was somehow sustained to the very end. It is a deeply moving book.


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