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Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding) Regiment in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding) Regiment during the Second World War -

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Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding) Regiment

   At the outbreak of the Second World War the 1st Battalion Duke of Wellingtons West Riding Regiment was sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. During the retreat of Dunkirk they formed part of the rear guard. In 1942 the 1st Battalion landed in North Africa and took part in a number of key battles, notably at Djebel Bou Aoukaz in 1943. In 1944 they landed at Anzio and were in action in some of the most desperate fighting of the war, including Monte Ceco in October 1944, where Private Richard Burton was awarded the Victoria Cross.

   The 2nd Dukes spend the early years of the war in defence of Britain. In February 1942 the 2nd Battalion was hastily mobilised and sent to reinforce Burma. Within a week of landing at Rangoon the battalion was in the rearguard action defending the bridge across the river Sittang, which was then blown up before the battalion could withdraw across the river. They were in action in the Battle of Paungde in March that year and the campaign became a long retreat until they reached India in May. After reorganisation the 2nd Battalion was assigned to the Chindits and formed two columns - the 33rd and the 76th. As part of that force both columns were involved in the relief of Imphal from March to July 1944.

   The 2/6th Duke of Wellingtons deployed to France with the BEF and were evacuated in June 1940.

   The 2/7th Battalion Duke of Wellington, West Riding Regiment was deployed to France in March 1940 for pioneer duties on a three month tour. They were caught up in the German advance, which began on the 10th of May. By the 7th of June they had withdrawn to Dieppe and saw action at St Valery-en-Caux before being evacuated to Britain. They spent the rest of the war in the UK on defence and training duties.

   The 1/7th Battalion Duke of Wellington, West Riding Regiment landed in Normandy on the 11th of June 1944 and served with distinction, gaining a Battle Honour Fontenay-le-Pesnil on the 25th of June 1944. They took part in the liberation of Holland and was there when the war ended.

   The 8th Battalion, Duke of Wellingtons West Riding Regiment was reformed in July 1940. In and 1941 the battalion was converted to 145 Regiment Royal Armored Corps and served in North Africa and Italy.

   The 9th Battalion, Duke of Wellingtons West Riding Regiment was re-raised in 1940. The 9th converted to 146 Regiment, Royal Armourned Corps and were sent to India and saw action in Burma. After the end of the war they went to Sumatra.

   The 10th Battalion, Duke of Wellingtons West Riding Regiment were employed in Britain throughout the war on home defence duties and in training reinforcements for the overseas battalions.

1st Jun 1940 Evacuation

9th Jun 1940 Held until the Last

26th Jan 1944 Ready to Move

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

Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding) Regiment

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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 3 pages in our library tagged Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding) Regiment  These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.

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James " " Shorrocks (d.10th Aug 1944)

V Howley

Pte. Francis Joseph Morris Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment

My Dad, Francis Morris, died recently and I would like to know more about his exploits in WW2. He never really said what he did in the war, but he said he landed at Normandy, went through Belgium and Holland and finished up in Germany at the end of the war.

Alan Morris

Pte. Thomas Gallagher 2/6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regt

My father, Tommy joined up in 1940 at the age of 21. He saw service in France and later in Burma where he fought for just under 4 years. He was lucky enough to come home alive and went on to marry my mother and father 7 children. He died in 1986 aged 64. RIP. He told us that he sailed from Blackpool, Lancs (where he met my mother in the Tower Ballroom! - he was a great dancer). Apparently he had his army shoes on and couldn't ask her to dance in those, so he asked a chap who looked as if he had the same size shoes on to lend him his and the rest is history). He didn't like donkeys for some reason so he had a bullock, which he called Basil, instead. Unfortunately, it ended up being eaten when they were short of rations.

Maria Mills

Pte. John Gillott Duke of Wellington's The West Riding

My father, John (Jack) Gillott was in the Duke of Wellington's Regiment, The West Riding, and was Pte. J. Gillott 862992. He wrote a small autobiography for his 5 children, of which I am the oldest. I learned a lot about my father with this book. Dad, who turned 90 on June 27, 2010 and is still living as of this date, joined the Royal Artillery in 1936 and was called into action on September 3, 1939 the day WW II was declared. My dad was shot 3 times in the fleshy part of his hip by the enemy and to this day still has one bullet inside his body - something Dad didn't even realize until many years later - it was at one point in his left chest very close to his heart. The surgeons on several occasions have told him the bullet 'travelled' and by the time the surgery was scheduled, the bullet itself could have 'moved' again. Dad and many of the men in his Regiment were captured and sent to Stalag XXB. I have a very dark photo which I will try to lighten up and put here. Dad only mentions the names of 2 of his friends in XXB, one being Gordon Rolls who apparently was the son of Rolls Royce automobiles, who Dad said used his name and influence to buy food etc. for the men in XXB. The other man mentioned was Cassagrande and it doesn't mention if this is the first or last name. On January 11, 1945 the start of the 'Black March' began and Dad didn't know the exact date but he thought May 1945 he and his friends were turned over to the American sector for liberation. There is so much in his book of 100 pages or so that I would love to reprint here. I would think not too many members of his Regiment are alive today but the one paragraph I will copy verbatim is this one: "It was June 4: history recorded the evacuation of Dunkirk was completed on this day. There was however, no mention of the men who had sacrificed their lives and others who had been wounded or taken prisoner, simply because they had been sacrificed defending the embarkation of the bulk of the British Army. These men at least deserved a medal, however, I am not aware that any such medal was awarded other than the '39-'45 Star which did not honour the defendants of Dunkirk." I love you Dad more than you'll ever know and thank you and your friends at Stalag XXB for helping give me the free life I have today, all because of you!

Carole Gillott

Capt. Denis John Roche 2nd Btn. Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment (d.24th July 1943)

I would like to find any information concerning the circumstances of my Uncle's death, his name was Dennis Roach and he is buried in Bhowanipore Cemetery in Calcutta, India.

Clive Margesson

Pte. Sidney James Holland 1st Btn. Duke of Wellingtons Regiment

My mother was Italian whom my father, Sidney Holand, met while at a rest camp in Naples. She followed my father back to the UK just after the war, I think in 1946. I'd like to know more about what happened to my father during the war and the campaigns he was involved in. Can anyone help?

Robert Holland

Cpl. Thomas Herbert Hardwick 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) (d.30th March 1942)

Thomas Hardwick was my grandad's cousin. We don't know much about him, but we have some photos of him in his uniform, he was a very handsome chap. He died at the Battle of Paungde and has no known grave, but is on the Rangoon memorial.

Vicky Hardwick

CSM. Reginald John Shilleto 1st Btn. Duke of Wellington Regiment (West Riding) (d.6th May 1943)

In World War II, the 1st Battalion West Riding Regiment was immediately sent to France as part of the British 3rd Infantry Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division of 1st Corps of the BEF. During the retreat to Dunkirk, the 'Dukes' forming part of the rearguard. The 'Dukes' fought in North Africa, fighting with distinction in a number of actions and gaining several Battle Honours, as part of the 3rd Brigade. They fought at the Battle of Medjez Plain, as well as the Battle of Banana Ridge and the Battle of Djebel bou Aoukaz. The 'Bou' was a ridge dominating the Medjez el Bab to Tunis road. The feature had been reached, on 27th of April 1943, by elements of the Scots Guards after first taking 'Pt 171', another hill before the Bou. However they were too weak in numbers to hold it from being retaken by a strong German counter-attack, on 30 April.

On the evening of 5 May, the Dukes attacked, from the 5th Grenadier Guards positions at Pt 171, with support on the right from the King's Shropshire Light Infantry (KLSI), from ground held by the Gordon's. By nightfall the Dukes and the KSLI had control of the Bou, apart from the actual peak (Pt 226). A heavy counterattack by the Germans against the KSLI, at midnight, was fought off with considerable casualties to the KSLI. The Germans then switched their attention to the 'Dukes' on the Bou, engaging them with mortar and machine guns, plus snipers from their positions on the peak. By midday the Dukes had taken the peak and removed the last German forces, at a cost of 31 killed and 83 wounded.

Michael Shilleto

Arthur Thornton Royal Engineers

My grandad Arthur Thornton started his army career in the Duke of Wellingtons but was transferred to the Royal Engineers. He was stationed in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and all I know is that they were building a dam (amongst other things). I would love to find out more, can anyone help?

Catherine Bowles

George Cott Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding) Regiment

My father George Cott joined the Duke of Wellington Regiment as part of what he called the Militia. As a child I was fascinated looking at his photos of his army pals and places they visited like the Holy Land and Italy. At the time I had no idea what he had been through. Even when I grew up he would never talk about the war. I only know that he was one of the last to leave Dunkirk and he had thought he would never get away. He didn't even want me to visit France when I was planning a holiday there.

This is a long shot, but I wonder if he was the Little George that Monica remembers. He used to receive Christmas cards from an old army pal signed Big George who lived in the London area after the war. He returned safely from the war and married my mum Mary. They lived very happily until sadly died very suddenly from a brain tumor in 1982. He is still missed every day. Such a lovely man. One of the thousands who gave so much so we can live happily today. Thankyou.

Elizabeth Midgley

Sgt. Albert Edward Furnell 11th Btn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment

My father Albert Furnell was a sergent in the Duke of Wellington's regiment. He rarely spoke of his time in the war, but I have found out he was wounded at Anzio in Italy. He was captured and spent time as a POW. He returned home after the war and was invalided out of the army.

If anyone has any information about him I would love to know.

T Furnell

L/Cpl. George Boynton 2nd Btn Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment (d.23rd Feb 1942)

My Grandpa's brother George Boynton served in the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment in WW2. He died on 23rd of February 1942 in Burma, I believe on the last day of the Battle of Sittang. He was just 23 and the son of Thomas and Annie Boynton from Roos in East Yorkshire. He is commemorated on the Rangoon Memorial and I believe he is listed as missing in action as he was never found.

Lindsey Strachan

Pte. Arthur Brazendale Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Rgt.

Arthur Brazendale was my grandfather. He would often tell the family how he captured some Germans. When he was on patrol, he noticed what looked like dead men in a ditch at the side of the road. He approached with his bayonet drawn and gave them a prod. They soon moved! He knew a little German and told them to put their hands on their heads. One of them was an officer and when he stood up he was holding a grenade. My grandfather told him to drop it and the German officer did. Luck was on my grandfather's side that day and for many days after. This story was reported in the Warrington Guardian paper. My grandfather died in 1989 but the story and memories he left with us will live on.

Pauline Bolton

Pte. G. D. Curnow Duke of Wellington's Rgt.

My grandfather was captured at Anzio and taken to Stalag 4B in 1944. He was also at Stalag 7A. Does anyone remember him? He served first in the Essex Regiment.


Cpl. Bert Plunkett 4627217 Duke of Wellington's Rgt.

Cpl. Plunkett was a POW at Stalag 7A (Moosburg). POW No. 127945.

L/Sgt. James Casper 6th Btn. King's Own Royal (Lancs) Rgt. (d.29th May 1940)

My father was a Lance Sergeant with the 6th Btn. The King's Own Royal Regiment. (He has been in the Duke of Wellington's Regiment prior to this.) He was killed in action on the retreat to Dunkirk. He was first buried by local people in the churchyard at Berthern but in 1979 his remains were transferred to the British War Grave Cemetery at Wimille, France. On my father's death my mother was left a widow with four young sons. I was the second eldest aged three years. My mother had to work so hard to keep us all together and so she too died young. My brothers and I were then fostered, so losing all trace of our family tree. Does anyone remember my father?

Ronald Casper

Pte. Jack Broadbent 2/7th Btn., Z Coy. Duke of Wellington's Regiment (d.11th June 1940)

I never met my uncle, Jack Broadbent, because sadly he was killed in action. Jack was serving in Z Company 2/7th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regt. Jack and my aunt had only been married a short time before he was killed. Between 1st and 20th May 1940 the Battalion was located in Blain, France. On 20th May the Battalion was sent to Abbeyville from where they withdrew to Dieppe on 22nd. The Battalion then proceeded to Veules-les Roses where, on 10th June 1940, it was under intense mortar and machine gun fire. Jack was identified as being amongst several soldiers who died during this offensive.

My dad said he was killed in a rear guard action. Jack is buried in Ste. Marie Cemetery Le Havre.

Jack's wife Ivy remarried and the government took her war widows pension off her. This began a long battle with parliament to change the law so that war widows if they remarry will still get the war widows pension. She fought tirelessly and eventually after nearly 50 years she got it changed with the War Widows Association. Little did Jack know he would become famous - his picture was in the local and daily papers and mentioned in Parliament. My Aunt also so disgusted with the whole thing that she sent Jack's war medals back to Buckingham Palace, although she eventually got them back. I am so proud of them both and just wanted them remembered for how brave they were.

Anne Wolstenholme

Pte. Charles David Croney 1st Btn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment (d.1st Feb 1944 )

Charles Croney was my uncle, I would like to find out more about his military service. Can anyone give me any details of where I can find more information about him? He died at Anzio

Steve Croney

Capt. William Donald Meryck Coningham 2nd Btn. Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment (d.30th March 1942)

In February 1942 the 2nd Battalion was hastily mobilised and sent to reinforce Burma. Within a week of landing at Rangoon the battalion was in the rearguard action defending the bridge across the river Sittang, which was then blown up before the battalion could withdraw across the river.

They were in action in the Battle of Paungde in March that year and the campaign became a long retreat until they reached India in May.

Captain Donald Coningham, 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Wellingtons Regiment, according to those who served with him, was a very brave man who sacrificed his life in order that his company might be successfully withdrawn. He was killed at Paungde at 4:30pm on March 30, 1942. He was put in for a DSO but Brigadier Slim didn't award it. His men still contended that the award was well deserved. Details of the action in which Donald Coningham lost his life can be found in: Burma: The Longest War 1941-45 by Louis Allen, Phoenix Press 1984. (pp40 & 62).

James Stewart-Rattray

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