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Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment

   1st Battalion, Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment was stationed in Malta on the outbreak of war in September 1939. At the end of the year they moved to Karachi, India. They later transferred to the 17th Indian Infantry Brigade and then went to in Iraq and Syria with 25th Indian Infantry Brigade, 10th Indian Infantry Division. In August 1942, the 1st Battalion embarked from Egypt for Cyprus, but the transport was torpedoed and the troops had to return and re-embark on another ship. In May 1943, they returned to Syria. In October 1943 they transferred to 234th Infantry Brigade in the Aegean Islands where the bulk of the battalion was captured by the Germans after the Battle of Leros on 16 November. Only 57 officers and men managed to escape the island.

On 30th of January 1944, 1st Battalion was reformed by amalgamating with the 8th Battalion King's Own in 25th Indian Infantry Brigade. The reformed battalion later served in the Italian Campaign with 25th Indian Brigade.

   2nd Battalion, Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment was stationed at the garrison of Jerusalem when war broke out in September 1939. I in March 1940 they joined 14th Infantry Brigade in Palestine and moved to Egypt in July. The battalion saw action in the in the defence of Tobruk with 16th Infantry Brigade, 6th Infantry Division (later redesignated 70th Infantry Division) and later formed part of the garrison of Ceylon. In September 1943, the battalion was stationed at Bangalore in India with 70th Division when it was selected for attachment to the second Long Range Penetration or Chindits brigade (111th Indian Infantry Brigade) for the Burma Campaign. 2nd Kings formed 41 and 46 Columns in the Second Chindit Campaign, moving to Burma in March 1944 and being flown out to India in July 1944. Between November 1944 to February 1945, the 2nd Kings were served with 14th Airlanding Brigade, 44th Indian Airborne Division.

   5th Battalion, Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment mobilised with 126th Infantry Brigade, 42nd (East Lancashire) Division and went to France with the British Expeditionary Force seeing action in France and Belgium in 1940. After returning to Britain, the division was converted to armour, and was renamed 42nd Armoured Division. In October 1941, 5th Battalion transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps and was renamed 107th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps. They continued to wear the King's Own cap badge on the black beret of the Royal Armoured Corps, as did all infantry units converted in this way. 107th Regiment was disbanded in December 1943 and a few of its officers and men were sent to 151st Regiment, which was converted from the 10th Battalion King's Own.

   The 6th Battalion, Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment was formed in 1940 as a pioneer battalion for hostilities-only. They served with the British Expeditionary Force as GHQ (General Headquarters) troops during the 1940 campaign in both France and Belgium. After being evacuated at Dunkirk, the 6th Battalion later served in the following Home Forces formations: 218th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home), 48th Division, 54th Division, 76th Division. The battalion remained in Britain and was disbanded in July 1944

   The 7th Battalion, Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment was formed in 1940 as a pioneer battalion for hostilities-only. They served with the British Expeditionary Force as GHQ (General Headquarters) troops during the 1940 campaign in France and Belgium. They were evacuated back to Britain. 7th Battalion served with the 71st Independent Infantry Brigade before moving to form part of the Gibraltar garrison, with the 2nd Gibraltar Brigade, in June 1942. In March 1943, the battalion moved to India to join 150th Indian Training Brigade but it did not see action against the Japanese. The battalion was disbanded after the war in 1947.

   The 8th Battalion, Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment was formed in 1940 as a pioneer battalion for hostilities-only. They served with the British Expeditionary Force as GHQ (General Headquarters) troops during the 1940 campaign in France and Belgium. They were evacuated back to Britain after the retreat. In August 1941 8th Battalion moved to man the Malta garrison and served through the Siege. In November 1943, the battalion was moved to Palestine and then to Italy with 25th Indian Infantry Brigade, 10th Indian Infantry Division. 8th Battalion was disbanded in Italy, on 30 January 1944, and its personnel merged with the few surviving remnants of the 1st Battalion King's Own, which was virtually lost during the fighting at Leros when only 58 officers and men managed to escape being captured.

   The 9th Battalion, Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment was formed in 1940 as a pioneer battalion for hostilities-only. They served with the British Expeditionary Force as GHQ (General Headquarters) troops during the 1940 campaign in both France and Belgium. After being evacuated at Dunkirk, they served in 47th (Reserve) Infantry Division in the United Kingdom until December 1941. The battalion was then transferred to the Royal Artillery and was converted into the 90th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery and served with the 45th Division from February 1942 until November 1943 when it was disbanded.

   50th (Holding) Battalion, Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment was formed in the United Kingdom on 28 May 1940. On 9 October 1940, it was renumbered as the 10th Battalion, Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment and joined 225th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home), formed for service in the United Kingdom. When the brigade was converted into a tank brigade in December 1941, the battalion became 151st Regiment Royal Armoured Corps. When 107th RAC was disbanded in December 1943, a cadre transferred to 151st RAC, which adopted the number of 107th to perpetuate the 5th Battalion King's Own, which was a 1st Line Territorial battalion with a long history. The new 107th Regiment went on to serve in North-west Europe from 1944-1945.

10th April 1941 Coup in Iraq

6th May 1941 Attack Made

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

Those known to have served with

Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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There are 2 pages in our library tagged Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) 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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gunner patrick "Jock" mccluskey 16th Btn. Lancaster Rgt

this is my dad taken in india june 19 42 does anyone recognise him any information will be much appreciated

May Law

Pte Henry Hynd Young 8th Pioneer Btn Kings Own Royal Regiment

My dad, Harry Young, died some years ago, but I only recently got sight of his war record. He was captured on 29 April 1940 at Amiens, France and was taken to Stalag XXA, prisoner no. 19412, on 21 July 1940 from a Dulag. He was transferred to Stalag XXB on 1 November 1940 and appears to have stayed there until repatriated. He arrived back in the UK on 19 May 1945. Would be interested to know how he would have spent his time and any photographs would be particularly welcome as he never spoke about his time as a POW apart from mentioning he went on a Death March.

Ray Young

Pte. Charles Thomas Oliver Hunneybell Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment

Just trying to follow up on the only story he ever mentioned about his service in WW2. He was a prisoner of war at Stalag Camp 344 in Poland his POW No. was 16022. He was captured at Dunkirk fighting a rear guard action and imprisoned by the Germans. He had to work forced labour and claimed he escaped with a sergeant but was recaptured when a gestapo officer recognised him. He then said he was near a concentration camp for the remainder of his time.

He would never speak about his time as a prisoner of war, but is said to have been mentioned in a book about prisoners of war who were not officers and escaped. His name being miss spelt - perhaps as honeyball, honeybell or honeywell. He was also a translator at the Nuremburg Trials.

Anyone who could add or knows anything to add to this story about my late father, it would be very gratefully received.

David Hunneybell

Pte. Leonard "Wingy " Woodhead 2nd Btn. Kings Own Royal Regiment(Lancaster)

My dad who from Leeds, West Yorkshire, Pte. Leonard Woodhead 2nd Bn King's Own Royal Regiment, was captured at Dunkirk whilst holding off the advancing Germans. He endured the "Death March" to Stalag V111B. He spent nearly 4 years in captivity in Lamsdorf. After an accident, in the forced labour coal mines, he lost his right hand and had multiple injuries to his head arms and legs. He met up with a fellow Yorkshireman, Richard Pape who was a captured RAF navigator,and after the war an author of a book on his wartime experencies. My dad was repatriated in November 1943, but before he left stalag V111b Richard Pape asked my dad if he would smuggle a message home to Ernest Osborn editor of the "Yorkshire Post Newspapers". He got this message through in a ring made out of a toothbrush. My dad describes his feelings in the book, “Boldness Be My Friend” written by Richard Pape, when he was stripped and searched by the German guards before he was allowed to embark on his way home. My Dad was known as Wingy Woodhead in the book. Risking his life Dad got the message to Ernest Osborn, and in return was presented a world atlas from the editor of the Yorkshire Post Newspaper, which I still have today. It has a signed and dated label in the front. Sadly my dad died in 1980, 2 months after my mother, I have one or two photos of him in Stalag v111b plus POW letters etc., if anyone has any more knowledge of him during his captivity I would be most interested in it.

Les Woodhead

Trpr. James Connolly 107th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps (d.27th Aug 1943)

James Connolly died aged 23. The son of William and Sarah Connolly (late McCluskey nee McCrudden) of Primrose, he was born in Jarrow. He served with the 5th Btn The King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster) and 107th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps

James is buried in Dely Abrahim War Cemetery.

Vin Mullen

L/Sgt. Alfred Davies MM. Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

Alfred Davies was born in 1920 and enlisted in the TA at Horwich and then the regular army whilst still only seventeen. He served with 1st Battalion South Wales Borderers regimental number 3d 50th in India, Iraq and North Africa. He won the Military Medal in June 1942 during the withdrawal from the Tobruk area. In August of the same year all but 19 of the survivors were transfered to the Kings Own Royal Regiment.

In November 1943 Sgt Davies was part of the ill-fated garrison occupying the island of Leros when it was invaded by an overwhelming forces of German infantry and paratroops. Other regiments involved included the Royal East Kents (Buffs) and the Royal Irish Fusiliers. After five days the garrison was forced to retire. Alfred was among the hundreds wounded and taken prisoner. He was treated at a German military hospital in Salonika and then taken by cattle truck to Austria and eventually to Stalag 357 Oerbke. He remained in captivity until April 1945.

Kathleen Walsh.

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. John Thomas Antrobus 2nd Battalion Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment

My grandfather Tom Antrobus served with 2nd battalion KORR from March 1940 until the end of the second Chindit Campaign (Operation Thursday) when he returned to England sick with dysentry and malaria. Any info would be great to piece together his time in the forces.

Amanda Antrobus

Don Pearce 1st Btn. King's Own Royal Regiment

I have a special interest 1st Btn The King's Own Royal Regiment in which I served. I celebrated my 21st birthday 7.7.44 in Montone and I am trying to find any one who was was involved in the Battle of Montone, July 1944, military or civilian.

Don Pearce

Pte. Alfred Connolly 1st Btn. King's Own Royal Rgt. (d.4th July 1944)

Pte Connolly was killed in action on 4th July 1944 whilst serving with the 1st Btn. King's Own Royal Regiment. He is buried in Assisi War Cemetery, Italy.

Sgt. Anthony Maloney 5th Btn. King's Own Royal (Lancashire) Rgt.

I think my grandad was at Stalag XXID, but he never spoke about it even to my grandmother. Sadly, he died in 2001 aged 93. He was Sgt Anthony Maloney of the 5th Btn King's Own Royal (Lancashire) Regiment. He was captured in 1940 but I have no exact dates or location. Any information would be appreciated. My grandma can only remember that he was at Posen in Poland - Stalag XX1D is the only camp I can find mention of there.

John Anderton

Benjamin Armitage King's Own (Royal) Lancashire Rgt.

I joined the AFS (Fire Service) for three years, then I was called up for military service and served in the King's Own at Lancaster. There were eleven from Wallasey. I was the only survivor, the last one from Wallasey and still around. My company was sent to Swansea to be in charge of the wooden bridge. It was a past-time and Lil came down, she was here for four or five days. We were also in charge of the fish market. The Sally Army came around with tea and cakes for a nominal fee. We were billeted behind the church hall and I had just got to bed when someone came and kicked me and said a couple was getting married and no best man had turned up, so I was the dogs body. So I went to the church and stood for them. After, I went to their house, had a drink, wished them good luck, and back to my sleep.

We were called back to Lancaster and on to the Pollock Camp, where we were rigged out with tropical kit to go to a hot country. But on the way to Port Said, we were then changed to winter gear and landed at Port Said. We found a NAAFI with clean table cloths. You paid one peasta for bacon, one for tea, one for chips, one for egg, and finally one for cake. One for bread if one wanted. Approximate total about two shillings.

We were the first convoy to travel through the Mediterranean. There were destroyers on the flanks, and cruisers and battleships guarding the merchant men. One particular ship had a red flag, which meant it was carrying ammunition. It was struck and blew to pieces. There were two destroyers and most of the merchant ships went. We entered Pantolere Straits and the heavy battleships and the Arc Royal pulled out. HMS Manchester, which I was on, got torpedoed in the back and a four-inch gun turret. Quite a number of sailors and soldiers were lost. We had to turn around and go back to Gibraltar. You could touch the water from the top deck of the ship and I could not swim, very dicey.

We stayed at Gib for four days, then we embarked on the cruiser HMS Hermione and set sail at midnight, destination again Malta. I was on the upper deck talking to a sailor when the skipper said 'Hear this - we are not stopping at all.' Then we cut an Italian submarine in two. We did not pick up any survivors, just kept on moving. We arrived at Malta and Maltese stood on the walls of Grand Harbour cheering the cruiser in. Malta is only seventeen miles by nine and it had over 9,000 tons of bombs on it. '9020' did not have quite so many and 'Cos' had nothing at all.

Malta was the only island unoccupied. If the Germans had taken it the war may have lasted much longer. But Hitler decided not to send his Eleven division in. 'Haw Haw' said he will leave Malta to starve, which it nearly did. I went down from eleven stone to around eight stone. It was so bad, notices were put up: 'Anyone caught stealing would be severely dealt with.' The cruiser HMS Welshman' and a submarine would come once a fortnight, mostly with ammunition and mail. HMS Welshman was one of the fastest in the Navy, but Jerry got it because of lack of planes, so that Jerry could land and take off at will. The American aircraft carrier USS Wasp had forty-five planes on it and every one was shot before it could operate. One great feature was the oil tanker called the Ohio. It had a hole in it where you could drive two double decker buses through. Either side of the tanker was a destroyer tied to the tanker, to get it into the harbour. One Friday night, a dozen 'E' boats came to attack but our gunners knocked hell out of them. One of our gunners had his arm blown off being too slow to pass an order. Things eased up in Malta and we were off.

Doc Cole was a great fellow and he told me that I could not go as I was downgraded, so I asked him who signed the medical records. He said I did and had better writing than him. So I said 'Here goes, I am upgraded as from now H.A. Cole, doctor.'

We had a few weeks before we left Malta so we still had SLEK parades. Salkeld had a bad neck, full of inflammation. I was treating it using my scalpel. I cut the bad stuff and told him to hold the chair arms while I put on lotion, and he nearly hit the roof. I told him he could go on duty at the airfield, he was chuffed. He was killed before lunch.

It was my turn to go to Luca aerodrome. I got friendly with an airforce officer. He said that he blew up bombs, I said I was medical and would look after him. Then he called me over and said would I listen to this bomb ticking [at] both ends. He put a fuse in both and said 'Over the wall with!' And it nearly blew the wall down. I invited him over to our canteen. He was lucky, a large lump of shrapnel shot through the wall and stuck in his bedding. He was very lucky to be at our place.

This is now cheerio to Malta and we boarded a cruiser, destination: unknown. Crossing the water we got mixed up with Captain Potato Jones's convoy watch. To our advantage we were due to attack Leros but we were too late and the First Battalion went forward in our place and got a severe bashing, so we became the First Battalion King's Own.

We left Egypt and sailed for Italy. Landing at Taranto we moved forward to Ancona. There was a large hotel. Jerry held one part of it, we held the other. We eventually got shut of Jerry, but he left some booby traps for the engineers to sort out. We could climb on to the roof and count how many he had on sick parade. If his red flag was not out our gunners would give him a few shells to liven him up. Sewion Singh was my first Sikh driver, but he ran away to the Tenth Indian Field Section. Sikh number two was worse than the other. I gave him an instruction: straight on and turn right. The poor chap put his head lamps on and Jerry woke him up. [I] jumped in to the ambulance [and] took him back. Captain Jones said he had a good man, an ex-taxi driver, So'an Sing. He was crazy but a good driver. He took control of the ambulance [and] mad, I even got scared he would get off his seat and bang like Hell out of the ambulance. He was a good driver, a little erratic. Threatened him with a big stick. He said: 'give me stick and I will fight you.' [I said]: 'Get behind that wheel and drive or I will fight you without the stick.' I asked him if he had food. He told me that there was only one sheep a marrators cut the sheep's throat across and a Muslim cut the sheep down. An argument ensued, who will win? In the meantime someone did not mind up or down: they swiped it.

Next day we moved on to 'Forlee' and Forlee in Poplar. These were divided by a wooden bridge. Forlee was on time covered by our unit and on the other side was the Devon Light Infantry. We were knocking hell out of each other and to handle the fray Jerry flew over and dropped a bomb right in the centre of the bridge and there endeth that lesson. I still had my mule (Elmer) going toward the River Po. There was a rope stretched across. I had a medical pannier on one side of the mule and a stretcher on the other side. I was up to my armpits but managed to make the trip but Tyson, a Liverpudlian, had a big radio on his back but the weight took him down stream. We found him later on the sand and on the riverside. We went further up and twelve feet back and reburied him.

We caught up with Doc Cole and the padre. Captain Bill Beresford, he was not too happy being so far ahead. We found a deserted Jerry first aid post, all it contained was a full operating kit and paper bandages. The operating kit was worth over five hundred pounds, so I stuck [it] in my medical kit. Doc Cole and I went forward to find a better place for a medical unit. The padre said 'Don't leave me here' and tagged on behind us and lo and behold a six-foot Jerry jumped out of [the] bushes shouting [in English], Bombers, mercy, mercy,' and put his hands up. None of us had a gun to hold him. I persuaded Doc Cole to book out two Tommy guns and ammunition for self preservation. Because you can feel safer with guns than Red Cross armbands at night. We ditched the padre as he was nuisance value. We went to 'A' company and met a Scotch Church army man. He had a mule with pannier with cakes in and a tea urn full. But, alas, the lid was loose and the tea was going over the mule. The faster it was going the faster the tea spilt. The mule was going towards Jerry lines so they got tea and cakes and even a mule for nothing.

The following day we were to attack the Germans, the Canadians on the left and the British on the right. We had a good house for a medical post. Jerry started to shell the post: if the shell burst of the right I dodged to the left and vice versa. I was fixing a Gerry's leg which was badly fractured but I failed to hear this shell and received a big hole in my head. That ended my partnership. It took twelve hours to get to hospital and a further five hours treatment. I had a local anaesthetic. I got over this then I flew to Naples, went into Ninety Second Hospital. After a few weeks I was demobbed long-term. Released from hospital, [I] went on the liner the Oranjee. Left Naples, back to Liverpool. Put on a train to Shaftesbury, Dorset and got my discharge.

Philip Handyside

Pte. Samuel James Henry Hulse 1st Battalion Kings Own Royal Regiment Lancaster

This story was passed on to me from my elder brother. I was only five & a half years when the WW2 started. Samuel Hulse, my uncle, relates a story when he & his fellow prisoners were working on a railway track and the guard in charge apparently lost his false eye in a disturbance, and had the prisoners looking for it, story has it that it was eventually found. This incident caused some slight amusement in a what must have been a drab and repetitive, drudgery day.

Sam was captured in Leros, Dodeconese Islands after a very short battle in November 1943. He was torpedoed 17th of August 1942 on HMT Princess Margerite but was one of the fortunate few to survive. I have a group photo of other fellow comrades in a camp but I don't know where it was taken but I do know that his aunt in Canada enlarged it and sent it to my grandmother in Cheshire, there are names on the back of the original, small photo(that I understand were sent to all relatives back home).

I recently bought a (book called SBS in WW2 by Gavin Mortimer & one of the main men mentioned in the book was Dick Holmes who it appears is on the photo. It could be that another was Duggie Pomford, it would be good to know more about the photo & it's people. The men of SBS in this book were transporting troops by boat in the Agean at the time, they left Alexandria, on 2/11/43 not knowing where their destination would be & arrived on Leros on 5/11/43. If anyone has any information on the photo or any connection with other facts I would be most grateful if they could get back to me.

Norma Waine

Pte. Benjamin Armitage Kings Own Royal Regiment

The great war was of no significant to me; only later did I realise how many thousands of lives were lost just to take a trench. My earliest recollection of poverty was 1926 General Strike. Miners went on strike for better conditions and Prime Minister Baldwin locked them out long enough to make them return for less cash. You wonder what this has to do with the present. Wallasey always had three tier populous - the rich, the poor and the people in the centre who are not either. They were the worst type to deal with. A large majority went to Liverpool to work others went labouring in factories mills and dock working others in shop.

At the age of 12 I did a newspaper round for half a crown a week. Life today is easier than the thirties. The means test then was very hard if you applied for help you would get a visitor who would look around and if you had a dog he suggests that you get rid of it. Even gramophones or pianos were a luxury which could be got rid of and thus your hardship continues. The unemployment was around three million and around twenty people waiting to take the same job. At fourteen I got a job at a tailors learning the trade. I had a bit of an argument with the Boss, ending with slinging the iron and Rule at him. I was fortunate then to get a job at the Co-op as a milk rounds man.

I was called up for army service June 1940 reporting to Lancaster in the King's Own Royal regt. We had our orientations and were excused duties for 24 hours. To fill the time we were given a lecture by the officer commanding and the reference to the W.A.A.F.S. came up by a stupid remark by him so I asked to be excused because his remarks were derogatory. Penalty being I was put on guard duty. Nothing batter to do, I picked up about one hundred and fifty cig ends. The company sergeant major sneaked up on me and accused me of smoking on duty - sent me to company officer at nine o'clock the following morning. The case was stated against me and the O.C. asked me if I would accept his punishment. I said no I would go before the C.O. He asked why, so I pulled this packet of cig ends out and asked them which one I was smoking. He said that it was immaterial which one. I still I still insisted on C.O. orders. I went in and he asked me if I was smoking. I replied that I was a non-smoker and you will find no stains on my hands; there was no further action. I was chuffed at the expression on their faces.

After initial training, Swansea was my next place guarding the docks and bridges. The Salvation Army came round about ten o'clock with tea and cakes. Coming off the docks in the morning an official came to our bus and said someone had nicked four large fish. We pleaded ignorance but the fish was already on board our bus wrapped up in a groundsheet. We were stationed at Lewton Parish hall at the back on a concrete floor. It was Saturday morning and I had just dropped off to sleep when someone knocked me and asked if I wanted to be a best man at a wedding. There was a soldier from the North Staff reg. whose best man had not arrived. Someone polished my boots, brushed my uniform, got shaving water and within ten minutes I was best man to a couple I never knew.

We left Mumbles and returned to Lancaster and from there to Glasgow. The Glaswegians are not mean, they are very friendly. From there we went to Greenock and on to a heavy cruise ship and joined a big convoy with ten warships, six cruisers, four battleships, one aircraft carrier and sixteen merchant ships. We were informed that we were to be the first convoy through the Mediterranean since the fall of Crete. Every other country from Gibralter to Alex[andria] was in Jerry's hands. That only left Malta. We had 9 merchantmen and five destroyers up to the Spatillia{?] straits when the battleships and the aircraft carrier left us to other jobs. We were attacked on all sides and we were torpedoed and had to leave the convoy to fight our way back to Gibralter. We even had a big burial service: ninety lives, soldiers and sailors. We eventually arrived at Gib[ralter] and put into a room lousy with bugs. 2 days later we were transferred to the French liner 'Hous Pastine'[?]. We thought we were going back to Blighty for a rekit. But then we were taken off there and went on a cruiser, the 'Hermone', and set sail at night. It was funny really. Gib[ralter] in darkness and Spain all lit up about 2 in the morning. The skipper on the tannoy said 'get ready for a run'. Then we suddenly stopped and we had cut an Italian sub in two. We did not stop for survivors but went off full steam.

We arrived in Malta and hundreds of people were on the battlements waving us in. Things got very bad then for an island 17 miles by nine, had 6,636 tons of bombs. There was a food crisis and there were 300,000 Maltees and 30,000 troops to feed. I lost nearly four stone myself. Farmers were not allowed to dig their produce without supervision. There was only food for eleven weeks and ammunition was low. The barrels for the guns was at the bottom of the harbour on the Leominster amd Irish boat. One great feature was the old tanker 'The 0140' which had a destroyer either side of it keeping it afloat. You could drive three double decker buses through the hole at the rear of it and we needed that oil. 311 spitfires took off from aircraft carrier 'The Wasp', but they were shot up before landing. Hitler had 11 divisions waiting to invade but he decided they should go to other places and we were up and out.

We moved out on a cruiser sailing for a port in Egypt, then to attack Leros but we caught up in a convoy with Capt. Potato Jones. He hated convoys which was good for us as the first batallion took our place and they were nearly wiped out [Battle of Leros 16 November 1943]. The merchants joined us and we became the first batallion. We moved out to Hapthanya for five days.

Outside the camp was a palmist. We had this had Jack with us. He was a corker, played the one-man band. Wash his shirt and guide the sun rays to it. 'Aunt' he says (that's what he called me) 'can I come with you?', 'alright Jack, no problem'. He had mail in his hand, 2 letters. 'Which shall I open first' he said. 'That one', I said. He smiled, he saw it is a letter from Betty in Sidmouth, a Valentine. It says 'you've got the key to my heart, keep it safe'. 'How's that?' says Jack and open the other. 'Dear Jack, by the time you read this I will be married'. 'What' he says 'is unpainlable[?]'. So we suggest he goes into the palmist fellow, in he goes comes out beaming. He has been told that he is illiterate. 'What does that mean "Aunt"?'. I said 'It means great learning' but then my Welsh mate says 'it means you are a big idiot'.

That night there was to be a carol service in the field of the shepherds. We marched through the streets of Jerusalem. There was the shepherd, sheep and forty thousand troops, the fire and the wisemen - it was amazing the clocks did not chime when they played carols. The following morning we visited the Dead Sea. It truly is salty. One of our chaps lost his false teeth on a pallette, he never found them. I walked around and got as far as the fourth slargs of the brons[?] and the sister was from Liverpool - she had been there many years.

Time to get back as we were on the move to Italy. Taranto was our base. We fought our way up the coast through the Apennines to a place called Umbertent[?] that took] us 4 days to capture. We advanced on the Mountellon. The Sikhs tried to take the lake and were repulsed with heavy casualties. It was then our turn. Mountellon was two hundred feet up. We marched fifteen miles behind it, took Jerry by surprise and captured it with eight killed. Forty-three thousand bonlieruing[?] to forty in Paphar[?] the enemy we were engaging were the Waron Regt. There was no damage done, minor casualties. We were standing around larking at the bridge when a light aircraft flew over and dropped a bomb in the middle of the bridge. Trienze was our next place, the Canadians on our left and we on the right. This was where I met my Waterloo. I was fixing a German who had a shattered leg when this shell hit the back of the wall and sliced the top of my head. That finished me in the battle lines. I took a long time for me to get to a casualty station.

Pte. Sydney Percival Hartry 1st Btn. South Wales Borderers

Sid Hartry was my father-in-law, his wife's brother Frederick Hayden Wright also served in the same unit. They both moved to my home town after the war and Syd was a miner. He had been a physical training instructor and keen boxer in India was always a 'tough little Welshman' They served in India, taking part in the campaign in Wirestan and then the regiment moved to Iraq and then to North Africa.

They were involved in the Battle of Gazala and were separated on the night of 21st June. Fred was captured and Syd escaped and eventually was transferred to the King's Own Royal Regiment. Fred was a POW in Germany, though he did speak of being held by the Italians, he was released in 1945.

Peter Catterall

Pte. Frank Miller 2nd Btn. Kings Own

Frank Miller began his military life joining the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. After training he transferred into the Kings Own. Serving in India he became a member of the Chindits, his story (along with many others) was recently told on a programme aired by Channel 4 called "Calling Blighty. A message home". After his time in the jungle, Frank transferred once again to the Army Catering Corp when he came out of the Jungle. Many of the guys saw this as a fast track to food.

Tony Moore

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