- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) during the Second World War -
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Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) 1st Btn
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) 2nd Btn
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) 6th Btn
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) 7th Btn
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) 9th Btn
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 10th Btn
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 11th Btn
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 12th Btn
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 13th Btn
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 30th Btn
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 50th (Holding) Btn
The 9th Battalion, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) was raised in 1939. They undertook training in the UK and formed part of the UK defensive force. They joined the 46th (Highland) Infantry Brigade on 28 December 1942 and began training and preparations for D-Day.
The 9th Cameronians set sail for Normandy, France on 17 June 1944, they did not land until 23 June, as their motor transport was delayed due to a storm. They finally disembarked at the British Mulberries at Arromanches. Their first objective was the village of Haut Du Bosq, which was captured on the 26th of June.
1st Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were stationed in India when war broke out in 1939. The were in action in the Burma retreat of 1942, and in General Wingate’s Chindit campaign of 1944.
2nd Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were based at Catterick Camp, Yorkshire when war broke out in 1939. They were deployed to France with the BEF and were involved in some of the heaviest fighting in the Dunkirk campaign. After a spell in Britain engaged in home defence, they served in Sicily, Italy and North-West Europe.
6th Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) was a territorial unit, they went to France with the BEF and were in action in the later stages of the Dunkirk Campaign. After a spell in Britain on home defence duties, they saw action in North-West Europe.
7th Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) was a territorial unit, they went to France with the BEF and were in action in the later stages of the Dunkirk Campaign. After a spell in Britain on home defence duties, they saw action in North-West Europe.
The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were formed in 1881 as the county regiment of Lanarkshire, by the amalganation of the 1st Battalion 26th (The Cameronian) Regiment of Foot and the 2nd Battalion 90th Regiment of Foot (Perthshire Volunteers Light Infantry) Thier line can be traced back to 1689 when they were known as The Earl of Angus's Regiment or The Cameronian Regiment.
10th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were a war raised unit employed on Home Defence duties.
11th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were a war raised unit employed on Home Defence duties.
12th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were a war raised unit employed on Home Defence duties.
13th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were a war raised unit employed on Home Defence duties.
30th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were a war raised unit employed on Home Defence duties and training.
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
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Adams William Walter.
- Aird Adam Sim Shiels. Pte.
- Archer Stanley Fredrick. Rifleman (d.30th Apr 1945)
- Bates Ernest. Rfm. (d.16th Feb 1945)
- Berry Harold William. Piper
- Chapman Leslie.
- Charles William.
- Churchill Thomas Fisher. Sgt. (d.26th June 1944)
- Coleburn Charles. Rfm. (d.24th Sep 1944)
- Coles Alfred George. Rflmn. (d.7th September 1944)
- Coupar David Alexander Bruce. Sgt.
- Cullen Frank. Bugler (d.May 1940)
- Dawson John. Rfm. (d.6th Aug 1944)
- Dempsey Patrick. Sgt
- Dempsey Patrick. Sgt.
- Deveney George Robert. (d.3rd Nov 1944)
- Doherty Hugh. Cpl.
- Downie William. L/Cpl. (d.19th Apr 1945)
- Downie William. L/Cpl. (d.19th May 1943)
- Downie William. Lance Corporal (d.19th April 1945)
- English Francis. Pte. (d.26th Oct 1944)
- Fender Alexander. Cpl.
- Fish Stephen. Sgt.
- Fleming James. Rfmn. (d.3rd Nov 1944)
- Gardner John Walter. Pte.
- Gibbs Frank. Rfm.
- Gibbs Frank. Rifleman (d.11th Apr 1945)
- Gibson William. Cpl.
- Griffin Enoch Frederick. Rflmn. (d.27th May 1940)
- Hedges Robert.
- Heywood Charles Henry. Rfm. (d.19th Jan 1945)
- Hickey Patrick . Rfm. (d.03 Apr 1945.)
- Higgins Frank. Pte. (d.19th Jul 1943)
- Hope William Oliver. Pte.
- Hughes Ronnie. Pte.
- Jackman Benjamin Charles. Cpl. (d.16th Jan 1945)
- Jeffrey Gerald.
- Jess Andrew Scoular Neilson. Rfm. (d.7th Sept 1944)
- King John. Pte.
- Lakeland Joseph Lawrence. Rflmn.
- Lawlor John. Cpl. (d.27th Jun 1944)
- Leckenby A.. Rfmn.
- Lewis Frank Norman. Rfm. (d.30th Apr 1945)
- Loftus Ronald Bernard. Sgt. (d.7th Sep 1944)
- Madden Allan Gordon. Sgt.
- Marson Clarence Leslie. Cpl.
- McDonagh Peter. L/Cpl.
- McEwan Peter .
- mcfadyen James Armour. Sgt. (d.18th Jan 1945)
- McFadyen James Armour. Sgt. (d.18th Jan 1945)
- McKellar Duncan Arthur. Mjr.
- McLean Andrew. Rfm.
- McMahon Michael. Rfm. (d.28th Oct 1944)
- McMahon Michael. Rfm. (d.28th Oct 1944)
- McMillan Michael James. Corporal
- Mcphail Alistair. Sergeant
- Meek George. 2nd Lt.
- Melvin Thomas . Rifleman (d.26th June 1944)
- Mullen Daniel . Rfm.
- Neighbour Lionel Edward. Pte.
- North Frederick James. Sgt.
- Oliver John Gerald. Rfm. (d.26th Sep 1944)
- Parker Robert Stothart.
- Parkin Bertie. Rfmn. (d.19th April 1942)
- Pearce Reginald Ernest. Gunner
- Pledger . Rfm.
- Pollock James Wallace Roger. Rifleman (d.22nd May 1944)
- Price Edgar George. Cpl.
- Price Edgar George. Cpl.
- Rafferty Jack.
- Reid Colin. Rflmn. (d.20th November 1944)
- Ricketts Ernest.
- Ritchie John. Rfm.
- Russ Edwin Reginald. Pte.
- Sellens Alfred George. Rfm.
- Shadbolt Leonard George. Rifleman (d.21st Jan 1945)
- Stannard Alfred Clarkson.
- Surtees Ronald. Cpl. (d.8th Mar 1945)
- Tarren William.
- Thomas George E.. Rflmn.
- Thomas George Edward.
- Thompson Leslie.
- Tomalin Cyril George. L/Cpl
- Turnbull F.. Rflmn.
- Turnbull Robert. Rfm. (d.28th Nov 1944)
- Viner Laurence William. Rflmn. (d.28th Feb 1942)
- Warrington Lance Greville. Mjr. (d.20th Nov 1944)
- Watson James . Rfm.
- Welch Frederick William James. Lt. (d.1st July 1944)
- Welton Walter. Rfm.
- Welton Walter Joshua. Pte.
- Whitehead Lionel Edward. Rfm. (d.27th Oct 1944)
- Whitfield Herbert. Pte.
- Wombley Vernon.
- Woodman Ernest. Fusilier
- Wright Fred John. L/Cpl.
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 5 pages in our library tagged Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.
Rfm. Alfred George Sellens 1st Btn. 5 Platoon The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)I am doing some research for a friend of mine. Her father was Alfred George Sellens, a RF.N. in the Cameronians. He served in DP of Burma 1943 to’45. He and other soldiers wrote several wonderful poems in an old Eclipse Reporters Note Book, which I think has a twin somewhere. One of these poems is “The Bar O Boys, Introducing 5 Platoon.” The list below contains as many names as I was able to glean from the poem. If any of these names are familiar, please contact me. I would love to compile a history of this Platoon and discover if there is another Eclipse Reporters Note Book of poetry out there. Bar O Boys 5 Platoon Taffy John - Range Boss Tex, M’Guire - Foreman Donneky J.C. O’Connel Sinclair Auchinclose Smokey Rooney Little Cooney Pete McEwan Tichy Elam Thompson Ginger Spiers Watt Wee Spud Tomson Georgie Woods Bobby Dreer Deighton Harry Hindson Tug Wilson - bronco buster Petrie - top hand rustler Begorra, Pat, Hayewood Duncan Michie Tam Mc’Crae Sammy Begg Jackson Fair-Man (Scottish Rifles) Any information that would lead to the identity of theses riflemen would be greatly appreciated.Crystal Webster
L/Cpl. William Downie 6th Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.19th Apr 1945)I am looking for information on my Grandfather, Lance Corpral William Downie of the Cameronians Scottish ifles, R.O. No 16, Camp no 357, POW no 25505, He was captured in May 1940 and died May 19th 1943, he was in Stalag XXA (fort 13 infirmary).B. Martin
L/Cpl. William Downie 6th Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.19th May 1943)I am looking for information on my Grandfather, Lance Corpral William Downie of the Cameronians Scottish ifles, R.O. No 16, Camp no 357, POW no 25505, He was captured in May 1940 and died May 19th 1943, he was in Stalag XXA (fort 13 infirmary).
I would like to contact anyone who knew my uncle LCpl William (Bill) Downie, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) who was captured in Trondheim, Norway in 1940 and transferred to Stalag XXA. He was a POW there until 1945 where he joined the exodus to the west and was killed by an Allied aircraft attack on his column along with approximately 33 other POWs. This incident occured near Hannover on 19 April 1945. If anyone knows any more information on this incident, I would appreciate that you would contact me. My uncle in buried at the Commonwealth Military Cemetery in Charlotteburg, Berlin.
Pte. Herbert Whitfield Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)Herbert Whitfield (English) Cameronians (SR) 2nd World War. I don't have a story, but I do have a question. I found my father's army service and pay book in my mother's effects when she died. It says he was in the Cameronians (SR) and his army no. was 1572231. He was a private. Since he was from Leeds, Yorkshire, I don't know what he was doing in a Scottish Regiment.
I know he served in Wales and was a gunner, but I don't know what that means. What did gunners do in Wales? I remember a story he told of German planes flying into a harbour that had hills on each side. I think the army had guns on the hills firing at the planes, but it's all very hazy because he would have told me this when I was a child. I know he was shipped out to Burma in March 1945. They were clearing Japanese soldiers out of the jungle, I think.
I'd be very grateful for any information you could give me about this regiment and what the Wales division was doing during the War.Madeleine J. Whitfield
Cpl. Clarence Leslie "Les" Marson Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)My Grandad served with the Cameronians during WW2. His name was Clarence Leslie Marson but his service and pay book states Clarence Lester Marson. Everyone knew him as 'Les' even his personal effects suitcase has the initials L.M.
He enlisted on 15/02/40 in Notttingham and was transferred to the army reserve on 12/07/46. He was a W/Cpl on 16/05/46 although I don't know what this means and I know very little about his time during the war and would love to hear of any information about him.Barry Marson
Robert Hedges Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)My father Robert 'Bob' Hedges was interned in Stalag XXB for the duration of the war. He served with the Cameronians and was captured during the retreat to Dunkirk. He told me that he and two others were hiding in a pig sty when they were discovered. The three of them were made to dig three graves and were then told to stand by the edge - only then did the Germans drag out three of their own dead and proceeded to bury them. Thinking the graves were going to be theirs he said - 'It took us a bloody long time to dig 'em'
Gerald Jeffrey 9th Btn. D. Coy Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)Soon after my 18th birthday I was conscripted into the Army and had to report at Carlisle. Later I was transferred to Ballykinla in Northern Ireland to undergo about 10 weeks training with the Royal Ulster Rifles. On completion I was then posted to Keighley to join the 9th Battalion "Cameronians" (Scottish Rifles), D Company.
As the time drew close to the D-Day landings, we were moved to Hove to be part of the build up to the landings. However, we did not join the actual invasion itself, but arrived on the 17th June 1944 to support and relieve the initial forces. The first on-going battle after the landings was known as "OPERATION EPSOM" which began on 26th June 1944. I think it was said that about 60,000 men took part with an enormous support barrage by the Royal Navy and Royal Artillery. Our company joined the start line and around 7.00am we moved across a corn field to commence our engagement with the enemy. It wasn't too long before we encountered cross-fire from the Germans in hedges either side. We were each given 3 or 4 hand grenades to lob in trenches that we saw ahead as we progressed. In my next move there was a trench, but not wanting to waste it, I tore past without using the grenade. However there were 3 Germans in it, whereupon I shouted to the men coming up from behind, and the next thing was the Germans had emerged and surrendered.
Our objective at Haut-du-Bosq was reached later that day. En route to Grainville-sur-Odon we had a bitter fight with the enemy, where I witnessed many men shot and wounded together with many falling dead around me. The cause of this was a sniper hiding out in a church. Having had to withdraw from that encounter, we sought to move forward again next morning. I was required to recover the dead body of an officer which was in a farmyard area and could be still under enemy fire. On his recovery to put him alongside other dead people, I saw many men who had suffered death by being charred by flame throwers. Other casualties had horrendous wounds including limbs blown off. After the battle there, we continued towards Grainville-sur Odon and were expecting to be relived for a rest and return to Mensil Patry. However, before that, 10 men were required to go on a night fighting reconnaissance into enemy territory.
Having infiltrated the German lines and being unable to find the enemy, our officer decided to call it a day and return back. At that point we came under attack and fell to the ground instinctively. Our officer, bren gunner and NCO were able to return fire and were able to flee the area. Unknowingly I was unaware I had been hit. With the Germans at the hill-top in the field, their fire towards us was clearly visible from the flashes from their weapons. Being very dark at the time (early hours after midnight) the remaining 7 of us huddled together along the hedgerow. Obviously the Germans knew we were somewhere there, and began scanning for us the other side. It didn't take them long to guess where we were, and began lobbing stick grenades over the hedge. In no time everyone was wounded in one way or another, and one named Allan Strathan Watson No 14515884 was severely wounded by shrapnel and died during that first night of captivity.
We had no hope of returning to our unit and so we decided to surrender, shouting out " Kamerad, Kamerad" we were dragged over the hedge where I collapsed with my injured foot. Immediately a pistol was put to my head by a German whereupon I screamed "Kamerad" at him. Another German spoke to him and he put the pistol away. Taken up to a farm out-building my boot was taken off while I was in great pain and screaming to stop. The bullets had entered my foot and ankle taking the sock and part of the boot as well. After spending 3 days at the front with the Germans they placed me on a pole-seat and took me to the roadway where a kind of jeep took me to be interrogated by a German officer. He insisted I told him the purpose of our patrol, who was on our left and right flanks and which regiments in the area were taking part. For my part I was completely ignorant of the answers, as we really did not know anything, so I was somewhat relieved not to be pressurised into telling him. However, after that I was placed in a field among many Hitler jugend members of the 12th SS Panzer Grenadiers where I was subjected to much verbal abuse.
Later I was placed in an ambulance along with 4 German wounded, but as there was no more stretcher room, I had to crouch at the rear, to suffer agonising pain with my wounded foot. The ambulance set off that night, but en route to its final destination, I was taken out of it and placed in a classroom at a school and left there alone and in pitch darkness. The next day I was taken to Rennes where it seemed a local school was being used as a hospital. I was in the hospital for the remainder of my captivity, not having any treatment whatsoever, save for the Nuns coming in to dress my wound. As the war progressed the American Army was getting nearer to the hospital, for we could hear gunfire in the distance. The Germans threatened us that anyone looking out of the window at the planes would be shot, and anyone able to escape, there would be 10 of us shot for their daring. As a bed patient I was naturally very concerned.
When eventually the American Army over-ran the area, I was taken to their field hospital and had penicillin pumped into me at regular intervals during the night. I was soon taken to Cherbourg to be taken by landing craft and on to "Blighty". In taking details of everyone wounded and going home the American soldier with his clip-board, shouted out pointing to me, "This is one for the Poiple Heart" ( The Purple Heart was a medal issued to American soldiers for getting wounded). Of course I had to correct him that I was not entitled to it. I arrived back in Weymouth and taken to Winford Hospital near Brisol. Eventually I was discharged from the Army being medically unfit. All this happened between December 1943 until January 1945 and with only 9 months actual military service. I was still only 18 years old to the time I was released as a P.O.W.Gerald Jeffery
Rfm. John Gerald Oliver 9th Btn. B Coy. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.26th Sep 1944)My great uncle John Oliver was killed in fighting near the railway lines in the village of Best, Holland, on 26th September 1944, we believe he was a member of B Coy. He is mentioned on the memorial in the village and buried at Bergen-Op-Zoom in Belgium, having been moved from the initial site of burial at the American cemetery at Zon.
Shortly after his death his parents received a visit from a (supposed) member of the regiment who claimed to have been friends with John. This person told them about what happened the day of John's death. They gave this man a significant sum of money as he was experiencing hardship. It wasn't until 2001, when a Dutch gentleman researching the history of Best contacted us, that we learned the true circumstances of the action that day. The War Office had told the family John died in France, his Roll of Honour entry still gives incorrect details of place of birth.Sarah Bremer
Rfm. Robert Turnbull 9th Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.28th Nov 1944)I'm looking for information on the rifleman Robert Turnbull number : 3863491 who served on the 9th Bn., Cameronians ( Scottish rifles ) and was killed on 28th November 1944 in Lottum/Grubbenvorst in Holland.Mick Kurvers
Mjr. Lance Greville Warrington MC. South Staffordhire Regiment (d.20th Nov 1944)Mjr Warrington was attached to the 9th Btn of the Camerionians (Scottish Rifles) when he was killed. He was 31 years old and was married.
Rfm. Walter Welton 9th Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)Rifleman Walter Welton served in the 9th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). He fought from Hout Do Bosq, Eterville. Lost a lot of comrades at Paderbourn (Germany). Did some serious street to street fighting in Celle (Germany). He also remembers going through Keel, Cleve? (Germany).B. Archer
Rifleman Leonard George Shadbolt 7th Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.21st Jan 1945)Do not know much about my uncle I was 18 months old when he was killed in action in Western Europe but have since found letters he wrote to his Mother, a letter and a scroll from King George offering sympathy on his death, also his service book, and a book containing the record and story of the 7th BN. THE CAMERONIANS ( Scottish Rifles ) with The British Libration Army, which includes a map of the activities of the 7th BN, OCT.1944 - MAY 1945 does any one know any more about him? did your family serve with him?Alan Shadbolt
Lance Corporal William Downie 6th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.19th April 1945)L/Cpl William Downie from Larkhall in Lanarkshire was badly wounded at Narvik in May 1940 and left for dead. He was taken to Trondheim Hospital and later to Oslo Infirmary by the Germans. Willie was in hospital in Norway until August 1940 then transferred to Stalag XXA ,Thorn, Poland, Fort 13. He was in the misery march which saw Germans and prisoners go west to escape the Russian advance in January 1945. L/Cpl William Downie was killed by friendly fire at Gresse, on the River Elbe on the 19th April 1945. L/Cpl William Downie is buried in the British and Commonwealth Cemetery, The Heerstrasse, Charlottenburg, Berlin,Plot 11.Row kWilliam Downie
Fusilier Ernest Woodman 7th Btn. Cameronian Scottish RiflesI 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
William Walter Adams CameroniansI was adopted as a young child and did,nt discover the knowledge of my real Father until mature years. I would be really grateful if perhaps there are any survivors of the war who served with my dad. All I know is that he was in Burma , was wounded and sent back to England and died later from complications. He did have a military funeral I think in the late forties or the beginning of 1950. We lived then I think in Ivy Gardens Leyton E10Doug
Gunner Reginald Ernest Pearce 50th Battalion Scottish Rifles(Cameroons)My ex-Wife and I are researching our family trees, as it is possible we may have already been related before our Marriage. She has found some references to her Father, Reg Pearce who was a gunner with the 50th. Battalion Scottish Rifles(Cameroons). There is also a reference to his being part of No. 284 Battery (AAKAAK), based at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
The unit had a pet cat. Every time she detected the sounds of the enemy bombers, long before the crew did, she would find her safe spot, but it was the signal for the lads to be ready, well in advance, of the enemy squadrons. One Italian squadron got a real pasting, and,having thus decided that discretion was the better part of valour, just dropped their bombs and fled, and, to this day, the waters of Great Yarmouth's Harboursmouth are still host to a whole collection of unexploded bombs, that. if moved, would wreck the whole of the town if they were to go off. Reg was also aboard the SS "Strathmore", and sailed to Port Said in 1945, being posted to Cairo and Alexandra, at the same time as my own Father, Will Osborne, who was with the REME Dance Orchestra out there. He returned in 1946 aboard the SS "Caroloinen"(Caroliner?). If anyone has any information, or any stories about Reg please do email and we can both enjoy sharing some history about our two families. Thanks in Advance.Pat & Terry Osborne
Corporal Michael James McMillan 6th Battallion Scottish RiflesI would like to contact Michael as I last saw him in 1944. I was in contact with his sister, Margaret for some time but lost touch.Mrs M Scott
Rifleman Stanley Fredrick Archer 9th Battalion Cameronian Scottish Rifles (d.30th Apr 1945)Hello trying to trace any imformation re my husband uncle killed on the river Elbe,would like to know what fighting he would have been engaged in as it was almost the end of the war in europe. Some years ago we did visit his grave in Hamberg Cemetery and there were about eight more graves along side all from the same reg we assumed they may have all died in the same conflict. Stan had only been married ten weeks his wifes name was Jean and lived in Shields.Len my husband was thirteen when Stan died so looked on him like a brother never forgot him and often speaks of him so it would be great if someone maybe remembers him or what really happend him. regards.marie doughty
William Charles Durham Light InfantryMy dad was no-one special to anyone but his family. He was of the Old School – boss in his house, Ma got a share of his wage if he was working, but only as much as he chose. She worked wonders with the pittance he gave her, and she brought up two kids, my sister Jean, and myself, Jim. He would be in the bar, or later the Club almost every night, he was a Committee Man, at times a sponger, at times totally stubborn, would not back down to anyone, and had an opinion on just about everything. My sister and I were afraid of him until he died, alone, probably bitter, but reaping, as he had sown. BUT, He was MY DAD, and when I was a young lad, and asked, “What did you do in the War da?” he told me. He later told more tales, some true, some jokey and some plain daft. This little attempt at literature is to give him some pride back. He said he would do it again, with the same lads, said National Service should never have been withdrawn, that I had missed it and sometimes, when the pints were flowing and he was in a good mood, he and some of his mates would draw me into that special circle, to listen, in awe, at ordinary men, men I knew only as middle aged and sometimes grumpy. But then I noticed the blazers they wore. On the breast pocket was a badge, usually in gold, or silver thread, and there were many different ones, and then a special look came over their faces, they were back in uniform, remembering, and by the end of the night, I appreciated them and Dad a lot more.
Of the badges, there was a hunting horn with DLI under it, the same as Dad's badge in pictures I’d seen. There was a Cannon with a pointing barrel, GR in big letters, a WW1 Tank Corps, but one I knew was missing. I remember my Ma saying it was the best looking badge in the Army, it had a star, a wreath, and a hunting horn, now who was that? No one wore that one in our local club, but I had seen it but where? Then it hit me, it was in a picture of Dad in uniform, so questions asked when I was small, were asked again. This is a way to pass on to my nephew, and his sons, and even my son, and his son, a small record of what my dad did in the War so for them and to them, I rack my memory for some war stories of Billy Charles, of Birtley, England, near Newcastle upon Tyne, an ordinary soldier. His war service began in August 1939, when his TA unit, Durham Light Infantry, was embodied into the Army; the war was just a couple of weeks away but the call up was in effect before September 3rd. He had hurried home from the brickyard where he worked with his father, he was going to take his girl Jane to Newcastle to see a new film, as he was washing up, his mother said someone was coming to the door with a blue envelope. Dad knew what that was, so he told her to say he’d gone out, and to come back tomorrow, But, the messenger told Nana the lads were meeting in the William, a pub in Birtley. After discussing what was happening with Jane, they decided to go to the pub and see what was up.
It seems that many a pint was drunk that night, as the lads in uniform were told to report to the drill hall, now! Being the true soldiers they were, hardly anyone turned up that night, but next day, with thick heads, dry mouths and a following crowd, the unit formed up in the drill hall. They were tasked with digging holes in the farmer’s field next to the hall; dad had a rifle and two bullets, and said, “If I fire these, can I go home again as there are no more?” He was on night sentry and only had a couple of curious dairy cows snuffling around for company. Next night they were allowed home, but had to be back the following night to be moved to parts unknown. As was related to me by both Mam and Dad, “you could have sailed a ship down Harras Bank that night” women crying, old timers like my Granddad asking to be allowed to go, as they had been there before, and all the while, drink flowing from the pub, the landlord was losing a lot of his best customers that night.
Eventually the buses, not trucks, set off, no one knew where to, and hours later they were in a strange part of England, with no means of letting anybody know they had arrived safely. At least that’s what the officers and NCOs thought. A bright lad had stuffed a couple of his champion pigeons in his kit bag, and he sent one home now, they were in Oxfordshire for Home Defence, and the people in Birtley knew before anyone else.
After some to-ing and fro-ing as a prisoner escort, back home some nights, but all over the country with his mate Bob Elliot, Dad was settling into wartime life. He was trained on the PIAT, and until he died he had a scar over his eye, where the “bugger hit me”. He swore he could tell a PIAT man by that scar, and he did a number of times.
All good things come to an end, some of the Battalion had been sent to France, some would die, and some escape from Dunkirk, some were captured, to spend almost six years as prisoner, and some simply disappeared. Dad was posted to Iceland, he spent eighteen months there, coming back for invasion training, late 1942 I believe. He was trained to drive a Bren Carrier, and loved it. Many years later I took him to the DLI Museum in Durham, and he literally taught me to drive a carrier, there in the museum. The guard was about to say something until dad told him he was an ex-Durham, and an ex-carrier driver. He showed us some places that only those crews knew….
I could retell some tales from his training days, but this is about his Cameronian days, so we’ll skip to June 1944, not D-Day, but D+6, when Billy Charles invaded France, was told to drive his carrier into that field, park it that side, then get a cup of tea. Not a bad start? Then he’s told to drive out again, through that gate, and now, by the way, you are re-badged as Cameronian. Being rebadged to the Cameronians occurred either during, or just after the Battle of Caen. The DLI and the Cameronians had taken a good hiding and it was decided to consolidate, so he and others were told to report into a certain field, as he said, “I was told to drive into this field, told to wait, have a cup of tea, then report to an Officer. He told us we were now in the Cameronians, and God help anyone who said Camerons!, so get your transport and prepare to move".
I asked about the pipes, “Fine music, stirs the soul, but when you see the Scots charging, it’s not the Germans they want, it’s the guy playing those bloody things”. I asked about the kilt: “We could wear trews, tartan just the same, and as easy to start fights” and of course “What’s worn under the Kilt?, “Absolutely nothing son,- It’s all in first class condition.” Oh yes, Dad took to his new regiment with great spirit, and that spirit went with him through Belgium, Holland and into Germany, to be drunk when it was all over, but that was a way away just yet.
He landed at Arromanches about D+6, driving his carrier over the Mulberry Harbour, a marvel of engineering, but he was glad to get to firmer ground, he was no great swimmer. I’m not sure if they went to Bayeux from here, or what happened, I’d love to know from anyone else who was re-badged. He travelled to Villers Bocage, it was here he came under fire for the first time, at least it was here he “heard and felt somebody was trying to kill me”. He recalled how he was in a field, a Spandau opened up from another side, and he could see the trail of tracer and earth as it was spurting up. He dived to the ground and found great relief to be behind a blade of grass, “as thick as a tree trunk” it was amazing he said, how anything, no matter how small, could be as big, as to hide behind when the bullets were flying. That was his baptism of fire. He was scared, feared for his life, but lived to tell the tale, with a glint in his eye. Villers Bocage was a fierce battle. I’m sure all who were there do not need reminding of that fact, I have read the tales of it, and am proud my Dad was there.
As the carrier driver, he became a shell carrier when his team was ready to start a mortar shoot. He used to laugh as he retold how when he pulled up somewhere, the regular Infantry would call him names, and tell him to go elsewhere, because as soon as they’d fired off a few rounds, the Germans would reply in kind, by which time S Company was on its way somewhere else, “thereby missing that which we had sown”.
He never spoke much of France, except to say he’d like to see parts of it again, like Bayeux (he’d seen the Tapestry), and while sitting in a shell hole from WW1, he wondered if he was sitting where his Father had been.
After France was Belgium, and some fun times: he told of the Union Jack club in the main square next to the railway station. He said he had some good times in there. He loved Brussels, some things he would not share, like a certain sergeant who was famous for his dancing and that was all I got on that subject. He also told me how he met up with a big French Canadian, and they became friends, bumping into each other now and again up until the end of the War. One story was that he and Frenchy were in a bar in Brussels when a Yank started to become “aggressive and argumentative” and was about to fight any and all comers. He pulled a flick-knife, to which Frenchy pulled a hunting knife from his boot, threw it so it landed on the table, and told the Yank to be quiet. He was, and Dad was happy Frenchy was his friend.
Again I must say I am not sure of any timeline to these recollections, I wasn’t there, and Dad didn’t elaborate. He would just say something like “One time in Brussels…” or something along those lines. But I can recall how he told his stories, and how he enjoyed his war.
In the heat of battle some strange tales emerge. He recalled the time when he and some mates were in a farmyard and found some edible eggs, some potatoes, and decided to do some egg and chips, except they had no fat, so on searching again, found a jar of honey, decided this would do, and fried the eggs in the honey. He never said if they did the chips, but he did say the eggs were different. Another time they had real fresh pork after spending a lot of ammunition and a very long time trying to shoot this pig. “It just would not die", he said.
Driving the carrier, he was used to doing the Dixie run to outlying positions, so the lads could get a hot meal. He told of one time he was taking a hot box to a sniper lying up in a barn. Dad and his friends knew this guy, and they all had agreed they could not do his job. It was a quiet approach to his spot, Dad walking the last few yards so the enemy not too far ahead would not hear the sound of the carrier. He went in the barn, up the stairs, and was watching the sniper work. A German moved away from his group, to relieve himself behind a tree, but in view of the sniper, who offered Dad a look through his ‘scope. Dad saw the German was indeed “Havin’ a good un” and asked the sniper if he was going to shoot him. The sniper looked through his sight, shook his head and said not yet. They waited until the German had finished, pulled up his trousers, fastened his belt, and was starting to walk away. Then the sniper shot him, clean as a whistle. Dad asked “why the wait”, the sniper replied, "I’m not that hard hearted I’d shoot a guy on the toilet. He died happy, with nothing on his mind”. Dad swore that this story was true I have to believe it. All was not fun, and laughs I’m sure, but there must have been instances that broke through the seriousness.
He was driving his carrier and he caught an infection in his thumb. It swelled so badly and was so full of poison that it was touching the palm of his hand. He had to go back down the line to an aid post to have it lanced, when he got back, it was to the tail end of the Gheel battle. He was not happy to be sent backwards when his mates were going forward, but he was ordered to go, as he could not grip because the thumb was touching the palm of his hand, he told his Officer he would just burst it by driving, but the officer would have none of it and sent him back. I believe this officer was killed near Gheel, when he dived under a carrier to escape shelling, only to have blast blow under the carrier he was under.
Dad said all in all his Officers weren’t too bad. I’m not sure if one was a Captain Jurgensen, he may have been DLI, and he got on okay with them. One day toward dusk an officer came to Dad and his pal, another carrier driver, and asked if they would “Dash down the road to that Villa thing, load up with as many wounded as possible and get them back to the R.A.P.,” It was also pointed out that the road was under observation, and any dust brought forth some "nastiness that we didn’t want too near to us”. He and his pal set off, the Officer in Dad's carrier, until they were almost at the gate, “Turn Now !!!” and the gate post was demolished. “That made it easier for my pal to get in the drive” said Dad. Loading up with stretcher cases first, and doing a number of runs until it was just too dark to see, the two carriers did sterling work. Other drivers had "not exactly refused, but…” and the Officer told Dad, “You will hear more for this night’s work”. Alas, he was killed just a few days later, so no more was heard. Dad wasn’t bothered; he and his pal were just pleased to help other pals.
Leave came around, but so did the Battle of the Bulge and hardly had the lads got their boots off, than they were back to help the Yanks. This was not a pretty site he recalled, young men hanging from tank guns by wire, or their dogtags, and yet the one thing that stuck in his mind, was the fact that there was cake, and soda pop, and decorated trees. He always said the Yanks were not concentrating and were caught out because their troops were not as disciplined as ours. During this period, he and his mates were trying to sleep in a farmhouse, but just outside was the body of “The biggest bloody Jerry” he ever saw, and no-one could sleep just thinking of this poor man, so in the middle of the night, they had to bury him, so they could sleep. I asked if they marked the grave, so his family would be notified, “Nope” and that was that.
Eventually he came to “The land of clogs and windmills”. That got past the censor, so Mother knew where he was heading, and she kept that letter for years. Market Garden, a mad dash to a sudden stop – he couldn’t explain why XXX Corps or the Second Army never pressed on. He felt they should have. Nijmegen and the flat tops of the Dykes, the bridges, being told by a Tankie to get that effing mess tin out of his way, or he’d be run over. Then came Tilburg, I have a picture that says “with the first troops to liberate Tilburg” it's dated, and I would love to go over there and find the house in the picture and some friends of Dad's; it may happen.
The War was winding down now, he was either in Kiel, watching over SS officers in the prison, “Several slipped on occasion, those uneven floors”. He met a cousin somewhere in a prison camp who begged him for a loan of his rifle as he had a score to settle. He was not overly impressed with the conditions the Germans had to live in, as they denied ever knowing about concentration camps nearby… so let the “buggers starve”.
He made another trip home just as the war was ending; in fact the war was over and by the time he got back to Newcastle the news was just breaking there. When a guard told him the War was over, he smiled and said I know. Leave over, War over, but he had to go back to Kiel, the picture there is dated June '45. He met a friend of his being de-mobbed, and they drank that spirit he had carried since landing. Swaps were made, another town was driven into, a manicure set was thrown at him, incomplete, but I have it still.
Werewolves as they called the German Underground were still active, and he was in on the hunt. One night, on returning to barracks, one of the new boys was playing cowboy with his pistol, a chip flew up and hit Dad over the eye, so now he had two scars, one from a PIAT, and one from “after the war”.
Now it was time to clean off the Carrier and park it for the last time, check the oil, redo the tracks, grease it, wash it, and say bye bye to a good friend who had saved “me walking all that way”. He missed that Carrier, and many years later in the DLI Museum in Durham, he showed me how to drive it. I’d love a real go at one, I’m sure he was a good teacher that way.
When the Surrender was signed, I believe he was on the banks of the Escaut Canal, when I asked how he felt, I was told this, “ I felt relief, a sadness at friends lost, I felt I needed to thank God I was in one piece, I kneeled and prayed, then we laughed, had a drink, and were very very careful, we wanted to be sure the guys on the other side knew it was finished too. There was also a sense of something ending, I would be going home to Birtley, the lads would be splitting up and going their own ways. Reunions were talked of, but I never went to any, except one of the DLI where I was told I could pick the best carrier they had, then I found out that it was a recruiting drive, not a reunion. I lost touch with the lads I served with, but if I could go back, would I? You bet I would, we had some good times, and I had some great pals”.
After his de-mob, he gave a load of his souvenirs to a relative, who in turn sold them, all that was left was a very small selection of pictures. My Grandmother wanted only his Cameronian cap badge, she got it, but on her passing, it was lost.
When I was old enough to ask about his war, he related these tales here, but in his style, eyes twinkling, a memory stirring, a thought of someone, somewhere I never would know, something he would not tell me about just yet, but that tale went untold, it had to do with a sergeant, and his “talent” it involved “dancing too” I never did get that one. As I said, I loved to hear the guys in the Club telling their stories, Tankies, Sloggers, Drivers, each a joy to my ears, I wish I could have written them all down, or recorded them. Time is passing, I hope someone reads this and recalls my Dad, but also I hope he recalls some of his own stories, and someone writes them down for him. It’s a legacy to be proud of, we need to have the Ordinary side heard, not just the medal-winning hero though that has its place, but also the guy who all he got was two Stars and two round ones, as Dad called his medals. Alas I stand guilty of playing with them and losing them.
So in ending, I thank all who served, I hope I hope I can meet some of you sometime, and listen to your stories. The last word of course is Dad’s, when he was talking to his best mate from before the war, in the bar sometime after it was all over:
“Colin, you flew in Lancs and bombed Kiel didn’t you?”
“Yes“ was Colin’s reply, “why?”
"What were you aiming at?”
The harbour he was told, “again, why?”
“Cos you hit every bloody thing but.”
Goodnight Da, sleep well, and I promise I’ll find that someone in Tilburg and we’ll meet, sometime. God Bless.Jim Charles
Rfm. Daniel Mullen Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)My father, Daniel Mullen didn't talk to us, his children, about his war experiences, hence my attempt to fill in some blanks. I have my dad's release leave certificate. It is stamped Rugely ,Staffs. I do know that it was while in Staffs that my father met and and fell in love with my mother,Lydia Bostock. Mum lived at Red St. I think it was a place called Chesterton. Dad's certificate has the date of 31 March 1946 written on it. Dad's trade on enlistment was a newsagent. His service trade is down as being a guard private. His army number is 3253584. I just don't know what dad did, what he endured. He was my hero anyway, and he passed away in 1986, aged 70. It would be nice to hear if anyone has any memories.Frances Mullen
Peter McEwan 1st Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)My father Peter McEwan was in Burma with the 1st battalion Cameronians during the Second World War. I would like to hear of anyone who served with him or their families who have any memories of their fathers who may have served with him in Burma.Morag Jenkins
Pte. Edwin Reginald RussMy Dad, Ted Russ, served with the Cameronians, but his army service book does not say which battalion he was in. He was a mortar specialist in 1942 and a carrier driver in 1943. I believe he was in Italy as well as India. He contracted malaria while serving and I believe it was then that he drove petrol tankers in India. My Dad died in 1982 aged 65 and spoke very little about the war and it wasn't until my mum passed away that I found his army service book. He was awarded the 1939-1943 star which was awarded for active service, but I don't know where or which campaign. I have some photos of him and some members of his regiment and would like to share them, maybe they might be recognised by someone.
After the war from 1946 until 1952 he was with the R.A.S.C in Hastings as a driver and was given the rank of Lance Coporal. He was with the 410 Coy A Platoon.Joyce Roberts
Rifleman James Wallace Roger Pollock 1st Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.22nd May 1944)My family would love to hear from anyone who might have known or met my uncle, James Pollock of the 1st Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).Lisa Skedd
Sgt. Allan Gordon Madden Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)My Grand father, father and two uncles (Max and Tim) all served in the Cameronians. My father, Allan Gordon Madden, joined as a boy soldier and followed his father into the regiment. My Dad was a bandsman.
He went to France with the BEF and was at Dunkirk. My uncle Alex (who now lives in Scotland but was in the Navy) says he came back in a hospital ship. I believe he then went to India via Madagascar (where he caught malaria). He told me the regiment was in India in case the Japanese invaded. Apparently the kite hawks used to swoop down and steal his dinner off the plate. From there he went to Persia. I remember him telling me it was hot and smelly. Years later I managed to get his war record and found he had been in Basra, Iraq. Presumably en route.
All I remember from my Dad is him telling me he was later in North Africa and then in the invasion of Italy at Anzio and Salerno. He told me he crossed the Qattara Depression in Egypt and that it was pretty hot. The regimental history suggests that the regiment crossed from Persia to North Africa by land. That sounds incredible. I do not know what Dad did in North Africa except he said he had to leave one place very quickly because the Germans were advancing and he lost all his possessions (he did save a beautiful silk dressing gown covered in elephants from India though which I thought was wonderful). He told me that in Italy he was in a truck that took a direct hit from a German 88. I think that was the end of active service for him.
He met my mother Nilva in a refugee camp in Florence and married her in Pioppe di Salvaro near Bologna. He then ended up in Austria in the Army of occupation looking after an officers mess. I think he left the army then on medical grounds. He was very proud of his Army service and of being in the Cameronians. I am proud of him too.John Madden
Rifleman Thomas " " Melvin 9th Battalion Cameronians (d.26th June 1944)My father, Thomas Melvin was killed before I was born. I believe he could have been killed at Haut du Bosq after having only been in France a matter of days, if anyone has any information on the regiment at that time or possibly a regiment photo I would be glad to hear from them. My mother died when I was 9 months old so I have never known very much about him. I try to build a mental picture of him in my mind, I am now 63 but think of him often and what my life would have been like if he had returned home from the war.Hazel Slack
Rfm. Patrick Hickey 7th Bn Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.03 Apr 1945.)Paddy Hickey, my Grandfather is buried in Reichswald, Germany, he was only 30yrs young when killed in action along the Dortmund Emms canal. Originally from Co Tipp in Ireland, he got involved with the Blue Shirts movement over here, kinda like facists and went to fight in Spain with General O Duffy, and yes went fighting for Franco and the international brigades against so called communism at the time, he saw the light there and came back home to Ireland only to be shunned. He moved to Coventry and went to work in munitions factorys there and again saw the light and joined up the Worcestershires which were amalgamated to the 52nd lowland and in to the Cammeroinians. That's all the information I have, other than I've been to his grave twice, and tried to access his files but sadly I'm unable to do so. Still to this day my family do not know how he was killed or what he was up to on the fateful day, if any one out there has any info to help me research my Grandfather, please get in contact with me. Many thanks from a serving Irish Army Soldier for a wonderful site,Brian Byrne
Rfm. James Watson 2nd Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)My father, James Watson, was involved with the landings in Scicily and then Italy. He was wounded on 1st Nov 1943 and lay in a ditch for about 3 days, presumed killed. He was eventually found, taken to hospital and then returned to Britain. After a period of time in hospital, he was eventually discharged as unfit for duty. Does anyone know which battle they were involved in at that time and which hospital in Italy he would have been sent to?Stephen Watson
Rifleman Frank Gibbs 9th Battalion Cameronians (d.11th Apr 1945)My Dad, Frank Gibbs was a rifleman in the 9th battalion of the Cameronians. He landed in Normandy in June 1944 and made it all the way across Europe to Germany. On April 11th 1945 he was shot by a sniper and killed in Celle. The war finished in May 45 and I was born in June 45. My Mum never got over his death or the war and never married again. I was named Frank after him and was their only child.
He is buried in Hanover War cemetery and last year my son and I visited his grave. We both found it a very moving experience. Even though I never knew him I felt so proud of the fact that he had laid down his life for his country. I would love to hear from anybody who knew him.Frank Gibbs
Pte. William Oliver Hope CameroniansWillie Hope was my father, he was from Hamilton Scotland and had two brothers, George and James. We don't know much about his war record, only that he served as he didn't speak about it. He did however remember his service number and rifle #6854678 until the day he died in August 1996. If you remember him, his grandsons would love to know more.Elizabeth O.Hope
Sgt Patrick Dempsey 9th Battalion CameroniansMy father Patrick Dempsey was a soldier in the 9th Cameronians and fought at Cheaux. His friend Ronnie Hughes was wounded and left for dead but I believe that my dad saved him. Due to the large number of casualties he was promoted in the field. Ronnie Hughes (known as Huggers because the Scots couldn't pronounce Hughes) died recently. Any information on either of these fine men would be greatly appreciated.Eric Dempsey
Pte. Frank Higgins 2nd Btn. Cameronians (d.19th Jul 1943)Frank was killed in Sicily whilst serving with the 2nd Btn., Cameronians in the 13th Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division. He is buried in Catania War Cemetery, Italy in collective grave plot 1V. Row. C. NO37.Paul Brennan
Rfm. Michael McMahon 7th Batalion Scottish Rifles (d.28th Oct 1944)My grandfather Michael McMahon served with the 7th Battalion Scottish Cameronians, 52nd Lowland Division. He was killed during Operation Infatuate on the River Sheldtz, on 28th october 1944 aged 35. They were clearing a causeway . I Would like to learn more about his service .Sarah McMahon
Cpl. William "Gibby" Gibson 7th Btn. CameroniansI never met my granda, William Gibson, he died before I was born, I was the next generation to go in to the forces after him, the Royal Marines,and my family didn't really talk about this great man. I'm just trying to go back to see what kind of man grandad was, thanks if anyone can help me on this matter.John Gibson
Vernon Wombley CameroniansMy mother Evelyn Haire dated Vernon in 1942 in Stirling, Scotland and child born 10 Dec 1942. Child Janet wants to know more about Vernon as he may be her father.Having been brought up by her grandparents she has no information about Vernon ,other than he was in the Cameronians and has his photo in his uniform ,plus another with regiment and Queen Mother and Elizabeth and Margaret in Oct 1942Janet Haire
Robert Stothart ParkerHe did not talk about ww2,only recently found out he was in the d-day landings. Think he was in the scottish rifles.Andrew Parker
Sergeant Alistair McphailI am trying to find any information on my uncle Alistair Mcphail. I don't really know much about him, but I think he was killed. I dont know any dates etc. but I have some pics.Mary Mcinulty
Rfm. Pledger The CameroniansMy father, Gnr. Andrew Gray, 58th. Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, picked up a small discarded soldier's bible on the beach at Dunkirk, during the evacuaion. Written in the rear page is the inscription, "Rfl. (S. or L.) Pledger, 3244693." If this soldier's relatives contact me, I will be happy to return the bible to them.Stuart Gray
Sgt. James Armour mcfadyen 6th Battalion Cameronian Scottish Rifles (d.18th Jan 1945)James Armour McFadyen was a regular Soldier in the Cameronian Scottish Rifles. After landing in Baarland on the Island of Walcheren in the Nederlands on 26th October 1944 with the 6th and 7th Battalions of the Cameronians he was then involved in Operation Blackcock in the Industrial area of Maastricht and Sittard. He lost his life in the heavy fighting in that area and was buried in Sittard War Cemetery.
We have visited his grave many times over the years and have met the War Graves Commission from Maastricht who look after the graves in the area. We can only thank them from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing job they do in looking after the graves.Malcolm Macfadyen-Nichol
Sgt. Thomas Fisher Churchill 9th Btn. Cameronians (d.26th June 1944)Sgt Thomas F Churchill, died 26th June 1944 - I have just returned from holidaying in Normandy, France where I was able to locate my uncle who was killed on 26th June 1944.
He lies in peace at the British War Cemetry in Bayeux. He was 22 years old and with him lie two other soldiers from the same Regiment who also died on the same day, one of the soldiers is 'known only unto God.' I would like to find out more about the circumstances that lead to his death if possible. I'm curious that three soldiers who lie together, having died on the same day, possibly were fighting together when they met their demise. I know nothing of how he came to be there and with his brothers and sister also now gone,there is no-one I can ask. If anyone recognises my uncle's name, I would love to hear from you. He was only one of many who lost his life but also, too young to die. Kind RegardsGillian Carpenter
Cpl. John Lawlor 9th Btn. Royal Cameronian Scottish Rifles (d.27th Jun 1944)Jack Lawlor was my step father. He died 27th June 1944 around Haut du Bossq. My mother was told via someone else that his commanding officer was killed and he was next in command and died on the roadside. Does anyone remember him or know if this was correct? He died before I was born, but I would love more information for his daughter who was a baby at the time.Elaine
Bugler Frank Cullen 21st Btn. Cameronian Scottish Rifles (d.May 1940)Bugler Frank Cullen was my father. He and my mother were engaged to be married when he was called up and I was born in December 1939. Because my father was killed in May, 1940 I never knew him and have not even seen a photo of him. I have always wanted to know more about my father but my mother was reluctant to talk about him as she married in 1942 and I was legally adopted by my stepfather who was a wonderful man and a good father to me.
I would be so grateful for any information about my father however small as the need to know about him is as strong as ever. I hope there is someone out there who can help.Shirley Plummer
Pte. Francis English 6th Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.26th Oct 1944)I would love to hear from anyone with more information on my Uncle Francis English who was killed on the 26th Oct 1944 at South Beveland.Francis Walsh
Pte. Lionel Edward "Ginger " Neighbour CameroniansLionel Neighbour was my father. He joined the Cameronians when he was fifteen years old and served with them for another eighteen years, culminating in his being taken prisoner in the Comines débcale and subsequently spent four years in Poland, returning to Blighty resembling a skeleton. The good news was that my mother was waiting for him, disbelieving that he had been killed in action. Thank you mother and thank you dad.
He always wore his medals with pride, and I am sad to see that he isn't mentioned anywhere. There is no mention of him in anything that I can find to do with the Cameronians. He spoke rarely about his war years. He was a sniper and not particularly proud of what he did, but without blokes like him I would be speaking German. Actually, I do, as did he, but we both spoke the language out of choice.
I just want him remembered. All I have are photos and medals. I am not best pleased that he's been forgotten by everyone else, but here, on Christmas Day 2010 there is a place for him at the family table right next to my mother's. They aren't here any more of course, but he's here right now with me.John Neighbour
Sgt. James Armour McFadyen 6th Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.18th Jan 1945)My grandad, James Armour McFadyen, was killed in action in Western Europe on the 18th of January 1945, leaving his wife and two young children.Gillian Biddle
L/Cpl. Fred John Wright 2nd Battalion Queens Own Cameron HighlandersMy father, Fred Wright was in PG54 from August or September 1942 until Sept 1943 when Italy capitulated and he escaped. He was harboured by an Italian family for about 9 months and was was then re-captured. We believe he was injured when he was re-captured as he ended up in the hospital at Stalag 7A (Moosburg) and lost a lung as a result. During his time at Moosburg he be-friended two NZ soldiers, one of whom he said was from Invercargill. I assume he remained at Moosburg until the end of the war. After the war he emigrated to NZ where he spent the rest of his days. He passed away in 1991.
I am now trying to put together the story of his time in the war so if you know of Fred, or have any stories that mention him, I would love to hear.Julie Henderson
Rfm. Michael McMahon Cameronian Scottish Rifles (d.28th Oct 1944)My father was only 2yrs old when his father, Mick McMahon was fighting to clear the causeway in the River Scheldt. I don't know how he died, but he was only 35 yrs old, and was involved in Operation Infatuate with 52nd Lowland Division. He is buried in Bergen-op-Zoom. He received 4 medals.
Does anyone remember him? He's my hero, and I don't know what he looks like, or how he died.Sarah
Pte. Walter Joshua "Darkie" Welton 6th Battalion Royal CameroniansWalter Joshua Welton, was born in 1914 in Leiston, Suffolk. He served with the 6th Battalion Royal Cameronians during WW11,and was very proud of the fact. Could any person please pass on any information they may have regarding Walters time during his time in the Cameronians.Bernie Archer
Rfm. Andrew Scoular Neilson Jess 9th Battalion Cameronians Scottish Rifles (d.7th Sept 1944)Andrew Scoular Nelson Jess was my Husbands Uncle. He was killed in Action on 7th September, 1944 and is buried in Leopoldsburg War Cemetary, near Limburg, Belgium. The family believe he was killed in the run up to Operation Market Garden. We believe he was a casualty of the battle to secure the Albert and the Meuse-Escaut Canal. The family would love to learn more about this if anybody can tell us. Andrew was just 20 years old when he was killed and in common with other families who sufferred such a loss, his death left a hole in the hearts of the Jess family which remains till this day.
Andrew Scoular Neilson Jess was the youngest son of Samuel and Agnes Jess. The Jess Family were originally from Dromore, County Down, Northern Ireland. They were a devout presbyterian family and Andrew was proud therefore to serve in the Cameronians Scottish Rifles with its Covenanting History.
His older brothers were all away to serve in the war and no doubt this motivated his decision to join up. Joseph his eldest Brother served in the Parachute Regiment, Samuel was in the Dumfries and Lanarkshire Yeomanry and was a Prisoner of War with the Japanese. James Jess was serving with the RCT and was attached to the Tank Corps. The original Dessert Rats. Therefore all the Jess boys were serving in the armed forces.Janet H. Jess
L/Cpl Cyril George "Bud" Tomalin 1st Battalion Cameronian (Scottish Rifles)Cyril Tomalin enlisted at the age of 18 yrs with the Regiment in London on the 13th November 1935 and served until 30th May 1945. His friend, Lawrence William "Laurie" Viner s/n 3245258 joined up at the same time. He served with the Regiment in India before WW2 and, on war being declared, was a PT Instructor training the Indian Police.
On the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942, the 1st Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were one of the many regiments sent into Burma to repel them. During the fighting and on 28th Feb 1942 his friend, Lawrence William "Laurie" Viner s/n 3245258, was killed beside him and he buried him using a piece of wood from the side of an Army truck as a makeshift cross (for which he was threatened with Court Marshall for destroying Army equipment!). On the retreat from Burma, he became detached from the Regiment and led a small group of Cameronians back towards the Irrawaddy River and safety in India. One of the group, Charles "Charlie" Connor s/n 10602700, was sure they were heading in the wrong direction and left the group only to be captured by the Japenese. He ended up on the Burma Railway, where he died on the 8th April 1944.
On reaching the Irrawaddy River, they found it heavily swollen by rainwater and fast flowing. Under heavy Japenese fire and using, as floats, empty water bottles taken from the bodies of dead soldiers littering the banks, they managed to go upstream and cross the river on the current where friendly forces hauled them ashore on the far bank. From the whole Battalion of the 1st Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) only 14 officers and 120 other ranks escaped with their lives.
Cyril was hospitalised in India suffering from malnutrition, dysentery, malaria and the mental scars of his ordeal in Burma. He was to have recurring bouts of malaria for the rest of his life. He was evacuated back to England and to Hammersmith Hospital in London, where his future wife and my mother, Evelyn Rosemary Emily "Eve" Williams, was one of the nurses that cared for him. They were married on the 12 May 1945 at St Clements Church, Fulham, London. My father would never talk about his experiences during the War and refused to even send for his medals. My mother sent for them following his death in 1984. She has his 1939-45 Star, Burma Star, War and Victory Medals but I also know he was awarded the 1936-9 General Service Medal with Palestine Clasp and the India General Service Medal with North West Frontier 1937-39 Clasp but do not know if these are available, or not. I think the following tribute says it all!
From Lt Gen Sir William Slim KCB, CBE, DSO, MC. Tribute to the 1st Cameronian Scottish Rifles the 8th April 1944. "The retreat from Burma in 1942 was as severe an ordeal as any army could be called to endure - Battered, exhausted, hungry, reduced by casualties to a fraction of their strength, they never lost their fighting spirit or their indomitable cheerfulness."
"Lest we forget"John Cyril Tomalin
Cpl. Hugh Doherty Parachute RegimentAs far as I know my grandfather, Hugh Doherty enlisted in The Cameronians, then volunteered to the Parachute Regiment. At some point he was shot whilst deploying his parachute, wounded and captured. He ended up a Pow at Stalag 357, Oerbke, Lower Saxony. He was very ill when liberated in 1945, spent a long time in hospital, possibly in London. He returned to his wife and family in Glasgow, but in about 1960 he suffered blood poison caused by German shrapnel, which was then removed. My family are very proud of Hugh and proud of the men he served with, we owe you so much. Any info received will be cherished.Martin McGhee
Cpl. Edgar George Price MID. 9th Battalion CameronionsCpl George Price was posted to the 9th Battalion 25 July 1941 and served active service in France landing in Arramanche (Mullberry Harbour)16th June 1944 then as a LCpl appointed Acting Cpl 13th July 1944. He was involved in close hand battles against the Germans until he was badly shot and wounded by shrapnel on or near the railway line in Best near Eindhoven, Holland. He was disharged because of injuries sustained 12th July 1945. Awarded the Oak Leaf on his medals (MID) and was proud to be a Cameronion. He never really talked about the war only on the odd occasion when triggered by events. He suffered paralysis down his right side through his injuries. He died in October 1992 leaving two sons and two daughters. Myself, being the oldest son, joined the REs and researched his wartime history from his service records and a day by day account of the 9th Cameronions in WW2 from a book on the History of the Cameronions after his death and also claiming his medals which he had left unclaimed. I am submitting this passage in respect of his memory and sacrifice.A. G. Price
Rfm. Charles Henry "Chuck" Heywood 7th Battalion Cameronian Scottish Rifles (d.19th Jan 1945)My father, Samuel Blackwood, served alongside Charles Heywood during WW2 in the 52nd Lowland Division. Sadly Charles was killed in battle in Holland on 19th January 1945. My father (now 89 years old) has fond memories of him and a photograph taken shortly before he fell. He would like, if possible, to pass on the photograph and a copy of a book which he has written to a relative of Charles. We know that he came from Preston and was married to Mary Alice. I would be very grateful for any info of Charles's relatives as my dad would really like to get in touch.Joyce Walters
L/Cpl. Peter McDonagh MM. 7th Btn. CameroniansLike many other old soldiers my father Peter McDonagh never talked about the war, it would be nice to hear the stories of others who were there. I only know that he was a stretcher bearer at Walcheren and he and his fellow medics rescued many wounded under heavy machine gun fire and mortar bombs, his closest mate died in the action, Cpl Mullen was his name I believe. Not a lot more information except to say that I have all the paperwork on the MM award including photograghs and the citation.Peter McDonagh, Jr.
Sgt. Frederick James North CameroniansMy father was Frederick James North who was a bandmaster with the Cameronians and served in Trieste and India during the Second World War. He was in the same regiment as Lawrence Dunn who took over as band master after which I believe he was sent to India. I would be interested in any photos or information relating to the time he served in the band. I believe he returned to Carluke in Lanarkshire where he became a caretaker at a local school and died in Blantyre and was interred in Newbury, BerkshireRosemary
Pte. Adam Sim Shiels Aird CameroniansMy father, Adam Aird, Cameronians was captured in Sicily. He was in camp 8B and then on the Death March. He had many memories of the March but did not bear a grudge. He was friendly with a group of Scotsmen, including Garry McKrindle from Glasgow and a Mr Knowles from Aberdeen, who looked out for each other. In the 1960s he met one of the German guards and they shook hands.Christina Craig
Rfmn. Bertie Parkin 1st Battalion Cameronians (d.19th April 1942)Bertie Parkin of the 1st Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) died on 19 April 1942, aged 26 years. His name is commemorated on the Rangoon Memorial. None of my family is sure what actually happened to Bertie, only he never came home. He was presumed killed or missing. A search on Google turns up a note about his campaign medals which somehow were sold in auction in 2008 and that his name is listed on the Rangoon Memorial in Myanmar.
I have a number of his letters home from 1941/42 when he was serving in Meadows Barracks, Secunderabad, Deccan, India. These go into a lot of detail: Onions with every meal and eggs costing 1d each. 10 Players cigarettes for 3d. Cakes and tea from the Charwalla which they get 'on the book' and pay for at the weekend. How the natives do everything for them and he even gets a shave in bed and then has his bed made and boots cleaned by a native. Going to the pictures to see "Green Light" and Laurel and Hardy in "A Close Shave". He goes about with a couple of friends from Hexham and Copley but doesn't mention their names. There's lots more letters and info if anyone is interested I can pass this on.
If anyone has any information or can tell me how to access the war diaries from the date he was listed as killed that would be hugely appreciated.Andrew B.
Pte. John King South Lancashire CameroniansMy Uncle, John King died in 2004 age 92. During his life he talked a little about his service in the South Lancs, landing on the Normandy beaches, capture and internment in Stalag IVB where he was POW from around September 1944 - liberation. Spasmodic nightmares returned throughout his life but he managed to live a fulfilled and long life. Throughout my life he was my father figure and I feel proud to add his name to this web site.Margaret Sheldon
Cpl. Ronald Surtees 7th Battalion Scottish Rifles (d.8th Mar 1945)Ronald Surtees served with the 7th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), he was aged 22 when he died on 8th March 1945. Born in Chester le Street, County Durham in 1923 he was the son of George Surtees (MM) and Ann B. W. Surtees (nee Lowerson) of Hebburn His older brother John was also one of the fallen. Ronald is buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery and he is also commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour in the entrance to Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Rfmn. A. Leckenby 2nd Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)A Leckenby and the 2nd Battalion joined Montgomery's 8th Army for the invasion of Sicily and the battle for Italy in 1943, and from there was involved with the Garigliano Crossing. Unfortunately, he was captured and ended up bound for Germany on a POW train. It was on this journey that the Allerona tragedy took place.
On 28th January 1944 at the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, a train full of Allied prisoners, most of whom had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, north of Rome, was hit by friendly fire from the American 320th Bombardment Group. U.S. Army member Richard Morris was on the train and wrote that the journey was stopped on the bridge over the river, and that the German guards fled as soon as the bombs struck. The prisoners were left locked inside the carriages. Many, including A Leckenby, managed to escape through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. It was a great tragedy of the war resulting in the deaths of hundreds of men. Leckenby was uninjured in the train crash, but was captured at Garigliano. He was sent to POW camp Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland.S Flynn
2nd Lt. George Meek 2nd Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)My Uncle, 2nd Lt. George D. Meek, 2nd Battalion The Cameronians, was captured at the Ypres-Colombines Canal on 27th May 1940. He was a prisoner of war at Laufen Castle Oflag 7C, in Bavaria and also in Oflag 7B (Eichstratt).
Anyone out there who knew him, or can give me any information about Laufen?
George Meek is 2nd. from the right in the attached photo, the others are unknown. Taken either at Laufen or Eichstatt, I think. Does anyone recognise anyone?Christine Cramb
George Robert Deveney 6th Battalion Cameronians (d.3rd Nov 1944)George Deveney was the youngest son of Alexander and Catherine Deveney from Greenock in Scotland. George was one of 7 in the family (5 brothers and 1 sister) He died at only 20 years of age during the conclusion of Operation Infatuate at Binnendijk in Walcheren. George was a most cherished son & brother and is buried in Bergen Op Zoom War Cemetery.Michael Deveney
Rflmn. Enoch Frederick Griffin 2nd Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.27th May 1940)I never knew my uncle Fred Griffin, only that he was a kind and caring man who, when on leave, used to throw his spare change to the children playing in the streets.
When he was killed whilst fighting in Belgium in 1940, he was recognised from a letter found in his pocket. Unfortunately the letter was from or to my father, John Llewellyn Griffin and it was my father's name that was engraved on my uncle's grave stone in Esquelmes war cemetery in Belgium.Anthony Griffin
Rflmn. George E. Thomas CameroniansGeorge was taken prisoner at Dunkirk, and was one of the last to be released.Ruth
Rflmn. Colin Reid 9th Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.20th November 1944)My Uncle Colin is buried at Mierlo War Cemetery. I am trying to find out which battle or operation he was Killed in Action on. The date of KIA was 20th November 1944, beyond that I don't have a clue. Any assistance would be much appreciated.
Rflmn. F. Turnbull 10th Btn. Cameronian (Scottish Rifles)I am looking for the family of F Turnbull, Service No. 3248490 of the 10th Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). I have inherited something that he or the family would like back. Nothing valuable, only sentimental, and I would like it to go back to a family member if possible. Can anyone help me?Ellen Payne
Rflmn. Alfred George Coles 9th Btn. Cameronian (Scottish Rifles) (d.7th September 1944)My grandfather, Alfred George Coles, was killed in action on 7th September 1944. He was serving with the 9th Cameronians at the time, fighting in Leopoldsburg, Belgium. Does anyone know of the battles fought there and did anyone know him?James Ellis
Piper Harold William Berry Pipe Band The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).I am now 91 years old. Harold Berry was my older brother who joined the TA in 1939 and was naturally enlisted in the Cameronians Scottish Rifles at the very start of WWII.
I was in the Royal Corps of Signals from 1943 to 1954.
I lost touch with my brother but well remember his leaves and his piping in the family home. He was married and I belive he lived in Yorkshire.Ronald Berry
Rflmn. Laurence William Viner 1st Btn. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (d.28th Feb 1942)Lawrence Viner was the son of Harriett Anne (Catherine or Kit) Adcock nee Viner. He enlisted on 13th November 1935 in London with the 1st Btn. Scottish Rifles. They were sent into Burma on 12th of February 1942 following the Japanese invasion of the country. Lawrence took his own life in Burma while the balance of his mind was disturbed.John Cyril Tomalin
Pte. John Walter Gardner 9th Btn. CameroniansJohn Gardner (my dad) was very proud to have served with the Cameronians in Normandy. He spoke very little of the fighting other than the awful waste of life on both sides. I know he took part in the fighting at Hill 112 where he encountered fanatical members of the Hitler Youth, who had tied themselves into trees so they were very difficult to remove. He mentioned the huge allied artillery barrage and the massive air raid, the biggest in history I believe, that took place before one advance in which he took part. Although he was very young at the time he never forgot the awful sights that he saw or the smell of death. He was haunted by bad dreams, terrible memories and the sad loss of friends and comrades all his life. On the lighter side he remembered an RSM, I don't know his name, who was reputedly the tallest soldier in the British Army. He talked of training exercises that went wrong, night time guard duties where rabbits were scary and and having to whitewash coal for some reason! He had huge respect for General O'Connor who he thought would have commanded the army in Normandy in Montgomery's place, had he not been captured.Richard Gardner
Mjr. Duncan Arthur McKellar MID. 6th Battalion, B Company Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)Duncan McKellar was wounded in action.George McCormack
Cpl. Alexander Fender Cameronians Scottish RiflesAlexander Fender served with the Cameronians Scottish Rifles in 52nd Division.Alex Fender
George Edward Thomas CameroniansThe only story my grandfather, George Thomas told anybody (as he never liked to talk about his time as a POW) was, that he always looked at the German Guards as young men that didn't want to be there just as he didn't.Shelley Patterson
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