- Middlesex Regiment during the Second World War -
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- 1st (Kensington) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
- 2nd Battalion, Kensington (Princess Louises) Middlesex Regiment
- 2nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
- 7th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
- 8th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
- 2/7th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
- 2/8th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
Princess Louise's Kensington Regiment (Territorial Army), originally the 13th County of London Battalion, The County of London Regiment was affiliated to The Middlesex Regiment from 1916. In 1937, with the break up of the London regiment, this unit adopted the title The Princess Louise's Kensington Regiment, The Middlesex Regiment (Territorial Army). In common with other territorial units the regiment was duplicated in early 1939 as part of the doubling in size of the Territorial Army. The two parts were known as the 1/7th and 2/7th Battalions, The Princess Louise's Kensington Regiment, The Middlesex Regiment (Territorial Army). Both battalions saw operational service in WWII.
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
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Badham James William. Lt.
- Baker Edwin Alfred.
- Botchin Harry. Sgt
- Bridges Gordon Bryce. Lt. (d.23rd May 1940)
- Brookman John. L/Cpl (d.8th August 1944)
- Brown Leonard.
- Bulkeley Owen Richard John. Cpl.
- Cheney James Michael. L/Cpl.
- Clark Albert Edward.
- Crabb Sidney. (d.8th Aug 1944)
- Cressweller Ernest Walter.
- Delaney Thomas Leslie. Bmdr.
- Despy Stanley Malcom.
- Doyle Alfred. Pte.
- Eagle Leonard Arthur. Cpl.
- Evans John Arthur. Pte. (d. 1945)
- Everett Walter Richard. A/Capt.
- Eyles James Edwin. Pte. (d.26th Jun 1944)
- Greenough Leonard Oswald Harold. Pte.
- Gribben Joseph. Pte. (d.27th Mar 1942)
- Hall John William. Cpl.
- Heywood Joseph N.M.I.. RQMS.
- Hickman Peter Ronald. Pte.
- Howell David. Pte. (d.12th May 1945)
- Ion Ronald William. Pte (d.4th Jan 1944)
- Jackson James.
- Kirkpatrick William. Pte.
- Lonsdale Roy Alfred. Pte.
- May Frederick John.
- McLoughlin George Edward. Pte.
- McNeill Alan. Cpl.
- Nelson Christopher. Pte (d.6th June 1944)
- Page Leslie Charles. Sgt.
- Page Phillip Eric.
- Palmer Thomas Gerrard. L/Cpl.
- Powell Gilbert Crampton. WO2
- Richardson Peter Herbert. Pte. (d.24th Feb 1944)
- Salmon Philip Sidney. Drmr. (d.31st May 1940)
- Saunders Charles.
- Shimmons Eric Bert. Pte.
- Thie R. L/Sgt.
- Tossell Harold.
- Tunmer William Arthur. Bndsmn. (d.1st-2nd Oct 1942 )
- Turner Robert. Cpl. (d.26th September 1941)
- Wakeman Alfred Percy. Cpl.
- Wood James William. L/Cpl.
- Woods Thomas. Pte. (d.27th May 1945)
- Young Arthur Leonard. Pte.
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 1 pages in our library tagged Middlesex Regiment These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.
Phillip Eric Page Middlesex RegimentI'm trying to gather information about my Grandad and his time in World War II. His name was Phillip Eric Page and served in the Middlesex Regiment, He was captured in June 1940, but am unsure when he arrived at Stalag XXA. We are currently going through old papers and photos that we have, and hopefully in the near future I will be posting what we find.
If anyone has any information on the Middlesex Regiment we would love to hear from you as we are trying to find as much information as possible. Thanks for taking the time to read thisDan Newman
Sgt Harry Botchin Middlesex RegHello just a 2 1/2" with the bronze disc that I found amongst my late fathers items along with his Army no. tag and medals service records etc.I am wondering what it is, perhaps you could throw some light on it. Stamped with BS31 then under, WARSPITE ,under 130805,and at bottom MC. is it perhaps from a kitbag? a navy friend a relative? Perhaps nothing. Dad had a huge amount of war stories to tell and only left after being wounded and discharged in 1945.He did leave some rather poor quality mini-"dictotape" type recordings which (when I can bear to listen to them) may have some war stories on and be be worth sending on, sadly I have only 2 regimental type photos from that war period as I believe the rest were all taken away by other family members.Michael Botchin
Pte. Leonard Oswald Harold GreenoughIwould like to find out some more about my father Len Greenough. He spoke very little of the war and I am given to understand he had a particularly bad time in the fighting. It appears he landed on Gold beach D day plus one but aprt from that little was said.I believe at some time he was attached to a Canadian regiment due to the depletion of his own. Any information I might obtain would be gratefully received. I think he was in the Middlesex Regimentand was awarded the 1939-45 star,France and Germany star,Defence medal and war medal 1939/45. Sadly he died before he felt ale to talk of his experiences.Robert LGreenough
Leonard Brown Middlesex RgtLen was my grandfather and I remember being fascinated by the stories he told me as a child. I know he was at Dunkirk and my mum says he was also involved in the D-day landings. He died when I was 19 so I didn't get the chance to ask him for any more information, so with the little mum and I can remember and some research on my part, here is what I have been able to piece together. Presumably, being from Tottenham he would have served with the Middlesex regiment, but mum says that he had something to do with the Black Watch. Odd I thought for a Londoner, but it turns out that the 1/7th battalion of the Middlesex served as a support unit to the Black Watch in Normandy. This would tally because we know that Len was a cook in the Army and at D-day. I remember him telling me about some of his experiences in the war, including training with broom handles as rifles and finding soldiers who had been gassed and died on the spot, all sat around their camp still with playing cards in their hands, tea etc, a haunting image. However, I am not really sure if he was talking about British soldiers during the Dunkirk retreat or Germans they encountered after the Normandy landings, my memory is a little hazy. He also showed me some photographs and I recall them being pictures of the devastation he saw whilst in France and I think he may have gone to Germany, photos of streets with corpses lining them, wrecked buildings, vivid stuff for a young boy, I think this is why I remain fascinated and in awe of the war and my grandads part in it. I also remember him telling me that he came home in some kind of amphibious craft! My active childhood imagination always assumed he meant an American DUKW, but this is unlikely if he was talking about Dunkirk because the Americans had yet to enter the war and would a DUKW have been able to cross the channel?! . Perhaps he meant D-day and I misunderstood the home part, or he could have been talking about a different vehicle. If anyone knows more and could help me fill in the gaps, I would be grateful to hear more.Mark Brown
Pte. John Arthur Evans Princess Louise's Kensington Regiment, Middlesex R (d. 1945)I am trying to find out any information about my great uncle John Evans he was in Stalag 20a in Thorn and I am told that he died in 1945 while being marched away from the camp, in a German town called Parchim.Neil Lai
Edwin Alfred Baker Middlesex RegimentMy father in law, Ted Baker is now 86 and has dementia and I am trying to find out something for his wife so she can apply for the New Vetrans Badge that is out on his behalf. He was know as Ted Baker and all she knows is he served in the Middlesex Regt and got invalided out after an explosion damaged his ears. She is not even sure where it happened as he did not say just mentioned that he lost a lot of pals at Dunkirk. Does anyone remember Ted and can help fill in some details of his Army service years.Seamus Maguire
A/Capt. Walter Richard Everett 4th/6th Btn. Middlesex RegimentMy Grandfather was I believe an Acting Captain in the 4th/6th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, the Duke of Cambridges Own. I have a photograph of my Grandfather outside the Houses of Parliament with a number of others one whose name I believe is McFadden and they are about to or have been to a meal at which Winston Churchill was present. I am trying to find out more information about this.Linda Windley
Pte. James Edwin Eyles 1st Bn. (Princess Louise's Kensington Regt.) Middlesex Regiment (d.26th Jun 1944)He is buried at Orvieto Cemetery, Italy and was killed in action June 26, 1944. I am trying to follow his movements through those of the Regiments. Any help would be appreciated.J. Gee
Cpl. John William Hall 1st Battalion Middlesex RegimentMy father told few tales of his time in the landings and the fighting through France. Many he recalled with tears in his latter years, recalling the horrors he had seen as an 18 year old. He spoke of the bitter fighting around Caen, of mistaken identities and the deaths of his mates. May we never forget they gave their tomorrow for our today. I have a newspaper cutting (undated) showing Len Doyne, Willy Hazledene, Titch Ludden Grey and Sgt McKendrick advancing on Caen.Nigel Hall
RQMS. Joseph N.M.I. Heywood Middlesex RegimentMy father, Joseph Heywood, born December 14,1901 in Manchester, originally served with the Welsh Regiment from 21-7-1919 to 16-10-29. He was discharged with the rank of Corporal 20-7-1931.
He enlisted in the newly formed Middlesex Regiment Territorial Army as a QMS. He saw service with the Colors from 3-6-1939 to 18-8-1946. He served in Northwest Europe from 3-5-46 to 8-6-46. He was awarded, A certificate for Good Service by the C-in-C Home Forces (Authroity: ECO 691 of 1943)The Territorial Army Efficiency Medal, The France and Germany Star, The Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-45
He enlisted into the Royal Artillery, Territorial Army 6-1-1948 and served until 1952 when he brought his family to the United States as his daughter Maureen had married an Airman from the US Eighth Army Air Corp. His good friends in the Army included RQMS Ben Brockman and also Sergeant Harry Attle.
His son, my brother, Anthony Joseph Heywood served from 1944 to 1948 in the Royal Air Force in Burma, India and Ceylon. I was born in London in 1943. My brother Anthony thinks that our father served in France and was part of the evacuation from Dunkirk. His address while in the Regiment was my grandmother's house - 171 Long Lane, Finchley, N3, London. We'd love to hear about the stories from any of his mates or associates.Mike Heywood
Frederick John May Royal Middlesex RegimentJohn May was born in 1923 and joined the army about 1941 where he served with the Royal Middlesex Regiment until 1945. It is believed most of his service was in Belgium where these photographs were taken. He died in 1979.
John is front, far right.
Seated right with legs crossed.
Standing on the right
Pte. Peter Ronald "Mick" Hickman 2/7 Royal MiddlesexMy dear old dad, Peter Hickman, was in the 2/7 Battalion Royal Middlesex Regiment and was a prisoner of war in Germany interned in Stalag 1VC on 13th June 1944. My Grandmother, Thurza, in 1944 would read tarrot cards for her friends and neighbours and decided that she would read her own card as she was so worried about her son as she had not heard from him.
(Despite knowing that you should never read your own cards!) Poor Grandmar saw death all around her son, this worried her terribly and I guess this may have been the dreadful prisoner of war camp that she later discovered he was in. Dad has never spoken much about these dark days but said he was treated well considering the circumstances. I believe his best pal was a gentleman called Harry Sugar and I know dad often thought about Harry and his lost comrades and they are still in his heart and memory today. Dad is still alive and kicking! Bless him - we are very lucky for our dad to have survived as we appreciate how fragile life can be.Vicky Halliday
Pte. Joseph Gribben Princess Louise Battalion Middlesex Regiment (d.27th Mar 1942)My great uncle Joe Gribben served with Princess Louise Battalion, Middlesex Regiment and was captured at St Valery-en-caux on 12 June 1940 and was a prisoner of war at Stalag 20A at Torun. He was later transferred to BAB20 a work camp in Upper Silesia, where sadly he was shot by a German guard on 27 March 1942. He was 21.
My mother wrote to The Legion magazine a number of years ago requesting information. She received a letter from Mr. C. Earl who was a medical orderly at the camp and who, along with another man J. Watson, identified Joe's body when it was brought into the guardroom. He said that Joe was part of a working party formed at Fort 11 near Torun. There were 200 men in the party and their job was to build huts, lay pipes, clear snow etc. Mr Earl describes that the working party then moved to Reigersfield near Old Cossel in Upper Silesia. The working party was known as BAB 20/3COY. Here they worked on a chemical factory building wooden huts, laying pipes and trenches etc. Mr Cossel said, "Your uncle was working there when he was shot by a German guard. I think he had an argument with them about the fag." There are various post cards of a funeral at BAB20 for a man shot for smoking a fag.
In 2005 my mother also contacted Alison Robertson from an advert in the local paper. Alison was researching a number of deaths in prison camps. She gave us a copy of the Translation of the Deposition of W.J. Schmitz (used in the war crimes investigation). This states that Joe refused to push a heavily laden wheelbarrow of earth. "Gerfreitter Sonntag lifted the wheelbarrow himself and pushed it a bit further in order to show the prisoner it was not too heavy. He ordered Gribben now to push the barrow. But Gribben unloaded a portion of the land on the ground." The sentry Sonntag continued to order my great uncle to move the barrow and threatened use of his firearm. Some of the surrounding POWs were said to have shouted at him and Sonntag took his rifle to show he meant his threat. "As Gribben made no attempts of pushing his wheelbarrow and as other POWs took up a threatening attitude, Sonntag fired." A civilian labourer apparently confirmed this version. The military court at the time granted Sonntag an acquittal as he had "acted in accordance with the instructions issued by the Kommander i/c POWs, Major General Von Osterrich. My family were told that Sonntag was not seen in the camp again and they believed he was sent to the Eastern Front.
Today I read the diaries of Private William Law. On the 27th March there is an entry about a shooting of a POW for refusing to push a wheel barrow. The date fits (if this was Pte Law's diary for 1942) and the reason fits the official German version. I now wonder if it was another soldier who was shot in an argument over a cigarette and that Joe's shooting was indeed over refusing to push the wheelbarrow. There are photos of three funerals at BAB20 on the Pegasus website.
I would very much like to get in touch with Paul Law (William's son who submitted the dairies).Alison Shorrock
Pte. David Howell 1st Btn. Middlesex Regt (d.12th May 1945)I'm looking after 8 War Graves in Hamburg of Middlesex Soldiers, including that of David Howell. Early in 1946 the 1st Battalion Middlesex Regt. came from Lübeck to Rendsburg to stay for one year at Barracks called Albuhera Barracks. I was 11 years old, and after a short time the Regiment adopted me as a mascot. I made many friends, and am still in contact with a number of ex Members. I have opened a museum in our Town, Museum Time of Occupation. To the opening, 7 ex Members came over from England. I have received many photos from the end fo the was, from the Barracks, in the Barracks, in front of the famous NAAFI Kiel Club an many more. If any one is looking for someone from that time 1946 1947 perhaps I can help, as I also have all the Diehards Magazines from that Time.Heinz Johannsen
Cpl. Leonard Arthur "Jack" Eagle 2nd Btn. Middlesex RegimentMy late father, Leonard Eagle was already in the Middlesex Regiment in 1938 was at Dunkirk and D DayKevin Eagle
Pte. Alfred Doyle Middlesex RegimentI'm attempting to write the biography of my grandfather, Alfred Doyle who served in the Middlesex Regiment during the Second World War, mainly on anti-aircraft. He served in several places, including Biggin Hill. Later he was part of the occupying amry in Germany in a place called Nurenburg. I'm wondering if anyone has any idea how I can get his war record or a record of the regimental diary?
Editor's note: Please see our Family History FAQ's for details on how to obtain his service record, regimental war diaries are held in the National Archives.Byron Perry
Albert Edward Clark Middlesex RegimentMy father, Albert Edward Clark, joined the forces in August or September 1939. From what limited information we have, I understand he was sent to Palestine in 1944 from Egypt, then back to Egypt in 1946. The only other thing I know about his service is before he was sent to Palestine he was part of something or a unit known to me only as 'R.C.O. Sigs.' Perhaps it was his job. If anyone out there has any information on Albert Edward Clark, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. Thank you.Robert Clark
Pte. Peter Herbert Richardson Middlesex Regiment (d.24th Feb 1944)My uncle, Peter Richardson whom I was named after, was killed at Anzio, Italy, he served with the Middlesex Regiment along with his brother Dennis. They survived being in the rearguard at Dunkirk, and his brother Dennis survived the war, but always suffering the effects of being continuously shelled.
I have visited his grave at the Beach Head War Cemetery in Anzio, and was very pleased to see the condition it is kept in. It's a very long time ago now, but if anyone has any information regarding my uncle, and is prepared to pass it on, I would be very grateful.Peter Richardson
Sidney Crabb 8th Battalion Middlesex Regiment (d.8th Aug 1944)Steve Smith
Pte. Roy Alfred Lonsdale 1/7 Btn. Middlesex RegimentPrivate 6846521 - Roy Alfred Lonsdale served with the 1st Kensington's and was held as POW No 6199 in Stalag 8b, Stalag 21a & Stalag 21d. Dad never talked much about that part of his life spent as a POW in Poland. On the few occasions that he did it made him very upset and depressed. He died in 1996. After my mother died I found a number of items that related to my father’s time as a POW. These included various documents, photographs and his "Soldier's Service and Pay Book", along with a small list of names and addresses.
He was required to present himself for military training on Saturday the 15th July 1939 in Winchester. Since leaving school he had first been a pantry boy and then a steward on the railway, working on the "Coronation" from Kings Cross, London to Waverley, Edinburgh. He had obviously worked the return journey from Edinburgh on Friday 14th because we have a menu with that date. What the chain of events from that day are I do not know.
What I do know is that Dad was taken prisoner at St Valéry on June 12th 1940, but have no details about his capture. The "Register Form For Recovered Allied Prisoners Of War" states that he was evacuated by the Americans on the 29th April 1945. The document states last prison Stalag VIIIB how long 4 years 11 mths, previous camp Stalag XXID. What I am confused about is where he was and when he was there. The paperwork in my possession says that his last prison camp was "Stalag VIIIB" and that he was there for 4 years 11 months and that previous to that he had been at "Stalag XXlD" but he had photographs from "Stalag XXlA" he was obviously at Stalag XXIA on July 7th 1942 because a "Next of Kin parcel card" of that date which he has signed shows his camp address as Stalag XXIA Germany. Page 4 of his service book lists the places he was taken to from his capture at St Valéry on June 12th 1940 until his arrival at Shulin? Poland on July 8th. Then some movements up to January 29th 1941.
The details that I have seem to point to the fact that dad was in Stalag XXIA for some considerable time and Stalag VIIIB for a short period of time but there are also a few photographs that relate to Stalag XXID. I'm not certain when he was at Stalag XXID or how I would find out these details. I have an article dad sent to a local paper in Dec 1961 about how the Germans tricked them into working extra hours and days. If anybody can add any other information please contact me.Michael Lonsdale
Ernest Walter Cressweller Middlesex RegimentErnest Walter Cressweller was my grandfather, he enlisted with the Middlesex Regement on the 2nd of Nov 1943. I know very little about his time during the war as he died before I was born aged only 34. Unfortunately, my grandmother didn't like to talk about it too much although he did not die until he left the Army. He was discharged from the Army in 1947. However, he didn't pass away until 1960 when his son, my father was only 3. It was always implied that he died as a result of the war and his death certificate basically says heart failure.
I only have 3 very small photos of him and would love to know more about him, I wonder if anyone who knew him is still around remembers anything about him.Jon
WO2 Gilbert Crampton Powell 9th Btn. Middlesex RegtMy father Gilbert Powell joined up as a "Terrier" on 10/06/31 in the 9th Btn Middlesex Regiment and by 1937 he had attained the rank of Lance Sergeant. He was called out for military service on 08/10/38 and transferred to the Royal Artillery. He joined 60th Searchlight Regiment RA on 01/11/38. After various courses he was posted to 4 Anti-Aircraft 'Z' Regiment on 19/02/42. He was promoted WO2 (Battery Sergeant Major) on 21/12/42. His last posting was to 41 Regimental Holding Unit on 06/07/45 and was released to the reserve 06/01/46.
Most of the letters to my mother were sent from Birkenhead during his time with the AA Regiments and I remember him telling me of the rocket system that was in use at the time, (An example can be found in the Firepower museum).Alec Raymond Powell
Pte. Arthur Leonard Young 2nd Btn. Middlesex RegimentMy Father, Arthur Young, was a machine-gunner and range-taker with the Middlesex Regiment from 1942 - 1946. Before that, he served from 1940 - 1942 with the Royal Artillery. He was involved with the D-Day invasion, supporting the invasion of Sword Beach on 6th June 1944. He was injured in August 1944, and repatriated to England for treatment. He then saw service in Germany, where he was again injured and was again repatriated for treatment.Martyn Young
Stanley Malcom Despy 1st Btn. Middlesex RegimentDad, Stanley Malcom Despy was called up to the above 1st Btn. Middlesex Regiment and served in various campaigns including the battle for Monte Casino. He often drove Col Wingate and I have several photos of him and other men in his unit some have a notation on the back of the photo of Hamburg June/July 1946.
Like most of the men who served he did not talk much about the war but the year before his death we went on a trip back to Italy during which we visited Monte Cassino and he signed the visitors book. Dad said that this was a dreadful battle that went on for over 6 months during the winter and the mud was knee deep. He used to also be part of the team who fired a Beaufort gun and said the losses were terrible and when they eventually got to the top of the mount they found that there were not the volume of German troops they were led to believe but because of the location of the monastery they were so well placed to pin down the combined forces trying to get past on to Rome.
I am not sure how to get the photos on to this site but I shall have a go so that if anyone recognises their family from them they may be able to add to the story. I know that Dad spent some time billeted in Italy where he learned to speak Italian. Dad also said that the Germans treated the Italians badly and sent them in first. He lost his best friend during an airborne attack. He was called Ken and when Dad's first son was born he named him Ken.
Any information that anyone has would be very gratefully received.Carol Pearce
Pte. Eric Bert "Bub" Shimmons Middlesex RegimentWritten by Eric Bert Shimmons in 1993
My Army Career 1941 – 1946
In September 1941, at the age of 18, I joined the army, and was sent to Bury-St-Edmonds for six weeks of basic training. Once training was completed, my new mates and I we were sent to Chester where we joined the Middlesex Regiment to begin our Infantry training. After four months of extremely tough training, we were sent to the Island of Anglesea in North Wales where we joined the 51st Highland Division.
It was at Anglesea that we started our beach landing exercises. If we thought Chester training was rough, Anglesea was murder. We continued with the beach landings’ training until May 1942, and then it was called off. Our life, then, consisted of just route marches, rifle drills, and range shooting. At weekends it was fun because we had exercises with the local home guard and, 9 times out of 10, we all finished up in the local pub.
In January 1944 the beach landing exercises were resumed; however, this time it was much harder. Live ammunition was fired over our heads, and landed in the water about 20 yards behind us. These exercises continued until the night of June 1st 1944 when the Sergeant came into our hut and said, “Be ready to move at 8:30 tomorrow morning.” Anxious to know where we were going, the Sergeant would only say, “You’ll find out.”
The following morning at 8:30 promptly, we boarded our transports and headed south. After a few hours, we guessed we were going to Portsmouth. We were right. As soon as we arrived, around 6:00 that night, we went straight to a transit tent-camp not far from Portsmouth Docks, where we were assigned 12 men to a tent. After we got into our tent, the Sergeant came in and announced, “No-one is to leave camp, no letters to be written home, and no telephones to be used!” To top it all, one lad came back from a walk around the camp in disbelief and said, “Blimey, they’ve got Red Caps (Military Police) on all gates!” We felt like jailed prisoners, and spent the next 4 days doing nothing but playing cards and sleeping.
On the 4th day, around 9:00pm, the Sergeant poked his head into our tent and shouted, “OK lads, be ready to move in one hour!” Excitement and anticipation rippled through all of us, but we still didn’t know where we were going: “You’ll soon find out!” was all the Sergeant would say. But when questioned about dress code, the Sergeant’s words sent shockwaves through each of us: “Full Battle Order,” he announced. Those three words said it all; we knew something big was happening.
As instructed, we were all lined up outside the tent at 10:00 that night. The Sergeant marched us to the armory tents, and we were ordered to draw 100 rounds of ammunition and 2 grenades. We, then, marched about 1 mile to Portsmouth Docks. When we arrived, we noticed there were thousands of troops of all nationalities: American, French, and many others. Our officer told us we would be there for a few hours, so we just took it easy. Shortly after midnight our Officer stopped by and said, “OK lads, we’re moving out!” We marched, further, along the docks and boarded a big cargo boat called “The Lady of Man.” We set sail about 2:30 in the morning and, after several stops, entered the Channel just before daybreak.
Just after daybreak, between 4:30 and 5:00am, we looked around us and, to our amazement, saw an unbelievable sight that has stayed with me all my life. There were thousands of ships of all sizes, including Royal Navy ships. After looking over the Port side of our ship, we found we were very close to that great battleship “Warspite.” It was then, our C.O. came on deck and spoke: “Gather round lads. Well I guess you’ve probably figured out what’s going on. Yes, we are going to make a landing in Normandy, France. The first wave will go in at 6:00am, but we will go in at approximately 7:30am. The plan is for the 3rd British Infantry Division to land at 6:00am, and form a bridgehead about a mile deep. After we land at 7:30am, we will go through the 3rd Division and make straight for Caen. We are to take all of the high ground near Caen, and capture the city itself by nightfall. Intelligence reports state we should meet little opposition. Caen is 10 miles from where we will land. Good luck lads, see you soon.” The padre came and held a small service.
After that, we all sat on the ship’s deck, and hardly a word was spoken; we were each lost in our own thoughts. I know that I wondered if we would still be here tomorrow.
At approximately 5:30am, our thoughts were shattered when the Warspite opened fire with her big fifteen-inch guns; the noise was deafening. It was then that hundreds of Air Force bombers came over. We could see the French coast, and saw many shells and bombs exploding on the beach; we all thought that nobody could, possibly, have lived through that lot.
It was just after 6:00am when the 3rd British Division started landing. To our surprise, there was very little firing coming from the Germans; we thought just the job, they’re all dead. Another ship drew along side us, which carried the south Lancashire Regiment. We where landing with the South Lancs!
At 7:25am, we left our ship, and got into our landing craft. Several other landing crafts (Bren Gun Carriers) held our transports. We had to go about ½ mile to the beach. Jerry must have woken up, and started to throw everything at us. As I looked to my right, I saw two landing craft, belonging to the South Lancs. get hit. We landed on the beach, and rushed to wherever we could find shelter. The 3rd Division, which had landed before us, was firing to keep Jerries’ heads down so that our Bren Gun Carriers could land.
When our Carriers arrived, we jumped aboard and went straight through the 3rd Division Line heading for Caen. We got within 5 miles of Caen and managed to take all of the high ground. Up until then, we had not fired our rifles; however, the Brens had been busy. As they say in the Infantry, we hadn’t fired our rifles in anger.
When we took the last of the high ground referred to as Hill 112, we were coming under very heavy shell and mortar fire. The order was given to dig in which meant we had to dig into our foxholes. In slang words, we called them “Dofor’s” meaning, they would “do for” when you got killed because your body was just slung in.
After we dug in, we could see Jerry down below forming up with some tanks. They came at us in strength and large numbers. We, still, didn’t have any tanks; they had not landed. The officer shouted, “We must hold the Hill until tank support can come!” It was then we knew we would be firing our rifles for the first time in anger. As Jerry approached the bottom of our hill, our Bren guns, heavy machine guns, and mortars all opened up. We had to pick special targets and fire when the chance came. My mate in the same foxhole as me yelled, “I’ve got one!” By now, the riflemen were all firing. I remember getting a Jerry in my rifle sights and pulling the trigger; he jumped into the air and down he went.
It was a very strange thing - there was no excitement about it at all. I believed we were all the same. Ever since we joined an Infantry Regiment, we knew one day it would come to this. We had all thought about how we would react to this moment. You were so close to death that you didn’t think about it.
After about ½ hour, Jerry stopped where he was and dug in. Throughout the rest of the day and the next day, we were just taking pot shots at each other. As soon as anything moved, you shot at it. We were certain Jerry had taken heavy losses. We were waiting for reinforcements before starting again, and praying our tanks would come before his; however, we found out later, he never had any reinforcements. The Germans were still very strong in front of us. Although our armored divisions arrived after the 3rd day, they still wouldn’t give in. We should have taken Caen on the first day we landed, but it was 3 weeks later when we, eventually, took Caen.
The devastation of Caen was awful. When we first entered the outskirts of Caen, there seemed to be nothing standing above knee high, and the smell was awful. The dead littered the streets, and the sight was heart breaking. Men, women, and children all dead in the ruins, made us nearly sick. Caen was the one and only really big battle of World War II, but there were many smaller ones.
After taking Caen we broke through the German front and raced through Belgium and Holland. We came across small pockets of Germans trying to hold out, but they were, soon, dealt with. When we reached Eindhoven on the German Dutch border, we captured the bridge before the Germans blew it up, but Jerry tried all sorts of tricks to destroy it. One trick he tried was filling dead cattle with explosives and sending them down the river hoping they would explode on impact with the bridge, but our orders were to shoot at anything floating down the river.
When we crossed the German border, we where given strict orders not to talk or smile at the German people (fraternization order). As we marched through the village, I well remember the faces of the first German civilians we saw, it was a look of utter despair and fright. They had been told we would rape and shoot them on sight. Curiosity overcame fear when some young lads couldn’t resist coming up to us to look at our weapons; the ice was broken. Without being seen, we passed them bars of chocolate.
When we reached the River Rhine, we had to dig in on the banks and await our landing craft. It occurred to us that once we crossed, we would be in the heart of Germany. The night before crossing, our guns opened up to one of the biggest barrages, ever: “Operation Pepper Pot.” As we were getting into the landing craft, we could see shells exploding on the beach making it impossible for any living thing to survive. Bombers littered the sky, some pulling gliders. We counted six bombers and gliders shot down that night; some crashed very close to us but there was nothing we could do. When we landed on the German side of the river, they started to fire at us with mortars. I lost a very good friend during that attack. We had been together since our first training days at Chester and had, often, spoken about whether our luck would hold out. His never did.
After we crossed the Rhine, we made straight for Hamburg in order to take it. Since Jerry refused to surrender, Montgomery drew us back two miles and sent in the Air Force. We were positioned on high ground and had an astonishing view of the entire bombing. What a show! The Air Force bombed the Germans all night long.
We entered Hamburg at 8:30 next morning. Not a shot was fired. The devastation was unbelievable; fires were raging everywhere. There must have been thousands of dead under the rubble. We went straight through Hamburg, and stopped in a small village where we stayed for a week, then we heard the news: The war was over! I can remember that day very well because there was no shouting or cheering; it was just a very quiet day. It wasn’t until nighttime as we sat talking with our mates; we realized we had come through it. We had survived.Indra Hill
Bmdr. Thomas Leslie Delaney 60th (Middlesex) Searchlight Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy father Thomas Delaney lived in Bradford West Yorkshire and served in the Middlesex Regiment during WW2, which he survived. He told me he was on the searchlight batteries. He appeared to be stationed at several cities around the UK, but notably at Golcar above Huddersfield, when the garrison was at the Huddersfield Town football ground on Leeds Road.
According to his diary he departed Southampton on the 26th of November 1944 for Ostend before going on to Nijmegan in Holland. He returned there in 1945 following the end of hostilities in Europe. He also served in Belgium during this period and Plettenburg in Germany from August to October 1945. He was billeted in empty houses in Rotterdam and a sugar factory in Pattershock. I also know he stayed with a Dutch family.
I have enclosed some photographs. One shows the training camp at Towyn and the other at Rotterdam in 1944. Also his diary which may give a feel for how meticulous he was. I now realise I was conceived when he was home on leave in August 1945 before he returned to Germany!Trevor Delaney
Cpl. Alan McNeill 2nd Btn. Middlesex RegimentMy Father was Cpl. Alan McNeill who served with the 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment from D-Day to Bremen in No 1 Platoon A company.
The names of the members of the platoon are as follows: Lt Fendick, Platoon Sgt Charlie Freshwater, Sgt Faircloth (KIA), L/Sgt Eric Wilson(KIA), Sgt Bob Boyle, Sgt "Nish" Garnish, Sgt Chester, Cpl Trotman, Cpl McNeill, Cpl Obee, LCpl Byron O'Down, LCpl George Hickling, LCpl "Bud" Flannigan, Jimmy Little, Pte Kenneth Seaman (KIA), Pte William Hatherley (KIA), Pte Edward Holmes (KIA), Pte Rooney, Pte Gibbard, Jimmy Denholm, Jimmy Mason, Pugsley (medic), "Bogey" West, Hewson, Hully, Mason, Quarmby, Cleary, Bramston, Cook, Akam, Bennet (cook), Wright.Keith McNeill
Pte Christopher "Jim" Nelson 2nd Btn Middlesex Regiment (d.6th June 1944)Christopher Nelson was my Mums first husband who seems to be known as Jim. I would like to know more about him.Carol
Lt. James William Badham MID. Middlesex RegimentWO2 RQMS James Badham was awarded MBE in July 1941 and MiD in January 1944. He was promoted to Lt in January 1951 on a Short Service Commission and attained the age limit of liability to recall ceases to belong to the reserve of officers in October 1956.Nick Turner
Pte. William Kirkpatrick Middlesex RegimentBill Kirkpatrick served with the Duke of Cambridge's Own Middlesex RegimentDavid Kirkpatrick
Harold Tossell Middlesex RgtI am looking for information about Harold Tossell of the Middlesex Regiment. He was a POW at Stalag 21D from May 1940 to 1945.Kathleen Burgess (McMillan)
L/Cpl John Brookman 8th Btn. Middlesex Regiment (d.8th August 1944)My uncle, John Brookman, came through Dunkirk and then went back on D-day or very soon after. He was killed near Caen, France on 8th August 1944. Does anyone know the history of his battalion in those times? He was in the TA before the war, so presumably he was called up very early in the war. The only information I have about him is from the Commonwealth War Graves website.Brian Edwards
Charles Saunders Middlesex Rgt.Charlie Saunders was with the 8th Army in North Africa and Italy. I believe he started with the Middlesex Regiment but continued with the Royal Hampshires, possibly due to heavy losses. I also think he may have been a mortar man.Keith Saunders
James "Jacko" Jackson Middlesex RegimentI am looking for any information about my father James Jackson who joined the Middlesex Regiment about 1939. He saw action at Dunkirk and was hospitalised at Woolwich afterwards. He was a Geordie by birth, although he lived in Barnet. He served until the end of the war and was probably demobbed in 1945. Anyone remember him?Paula Jackson
Sgt. Leslie Charles Page MID 1st Battalion, 7 Platoon Middlesex RegimentLes Page began the process of joining the British Army at Acton Drill Hall in London on the very day that WW2 broke out. His brother Laurie walked in to the the room that Les was waiting in - much to the surprise of both of them! Laurie then enlisted with the 2nd Battalion as they were concerned at the effect on their parents, sister and his fiancee if they were both to be lost in action.
Les was in the 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment which was attached to the the 15th Scottish Division in the latter stages of the War. He landed at Arromanches on DDay + 19 and then went from Normandy to Belgium, Holland - and eventually in to Germany.
During this period he was Platoon Sergeant of 7 Platoon - part of B Company of the 1st Battalion. His officer Lieutenant Frank Handslip was killed on the Normandy beaches on the day that they landed. In the eleven months or so before they reached Germany he had all together five officers; all except the final one Lieutenant Jimmy Stubbs M.C. were killed or injured in action - and Les spent more time in command of his Platoon then all the other five officers added together. This undoubtedly led to his award of a 'Mention in Dispatches' - personally signed by Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery.
Les' unit were expert machine gunners and mainly used Vickers Machine Guns and Bren Gun carriers. They saw a good deal of action and lost many men on the long way from northern France to Germany.William Page
Cpl. Alfred Percy Wakeman Middlesex RegimentPercy Wakeman was my uncle and he was captured by the Wehrmacht after June 26th 1944 as I have a field service post card censored saying he is well only.
I am in possession of his wartime issued bible which is stamped 4 Gepruft Stalag IV B. In this bible are paper snippets of messages from fellow American and British prisoners. These are the names and addresses of the the prisoners written in the blank pages of the bible.
- Mr Anthony Palecki 3214 Tilton street Philadelphia 34 Pennsylvania USA
- Wesley d Swibold 703 Valley Drive Syracuse New York USA
- James f Ray RFD NO1 Box 946 Phenix City Alabama USA
- Mr E Turner 17 Saxby street Lyme Road Brixton Hill S.W.2
Although the following names are noted in the bible,Stalag X11 A is written at the top of this page so may have been his first camp which I believe was a Transit camp.
- Mr Martin Lawrence 322 Main Street Binghampton New York USA also 499 Court Street Binghampton N.Y USA .
- Mr R Cherry 13 The Crescent Bolton on Dern Nr. Rotherham Yorkshire.
- Fred South 6 Baltic Terrace Wilton Park Nr Bishop Auckland County Durham.
- Mr G. Barber 109 Elm Park Avenue Elm Park Romford Essex.
I hope these names might help any of the above named prisoners relations information on finding out where the were held.
Uncle Percy didn't say much about his experience at the camp but I remember him telling me he was captured in France and while on a transport train going back to Germany the train was attacked by allied aircraft and a lot of German soldiers were killed.He said he and the rest of the prisoners were ordered off the train and they thought they were all going to be shot. but he said that the soldiers were Wermacht and not SS which probably saved them.John Meedy
Pte Ronald William Ion 2/7th Btn. Middlesex Rgiment (d.4th Jan 1944)Ronald Ion is presumed to have been a dispatch rider for the 2/7th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment and was possibly was wounded, either from a training accident or from enemy fire, while fighting in Sicily. He was wounded in 1943 before his whole unit was fully deployed and died from his wounds in a military hospital on 4th of January 1944, aged 21 years. He is buried in the Bari war cemetery in Italy.Rachael
L/Cpl. Thomas Gerrard Palmer 8th Btn., B Coy. Middlesex RegimentMy dad, Thomas Palmer, landed with the machine gun battalion as a bren carrier driver on about D-day plus 9 or 11. He was with them until the end of the war. He wrote an account of his experiences in a school book in the early 1960s. I read this book. When he died the book was missing and to my shame I think he felt we were not sufficiently interested and he burnt it. Fred Armstrong was his buddy. I do remember bits of his memories.
Bndsmn. William Arthur Tunmer 1st Btn. Middlesex Regiment (d.1st-2nd Oct 1942 )Bill Turner served as a Bandsman with 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. He was killed on the 1st or 2nd of October 1942 on the Lisbon Maru. He was 28 years old and is remembered on the Sai Wan Memorial.Jacqueline Jennings
L/Cpl. James William Wood 2nd Btn. Middlesex RegimentWhilst we knew James William Wood (Grandad Jim) was evacuated from Dunkirk, we failed to realise that he also took part in the D Day Landings almost exactly 4 years later. We have only just obtained his records and these show that that he was wounded in August 1944 and returned to the UK spending 4 months in hospital and 2 months compassionate leave before returning to duty.Mandy
Drmr. Philip Sidney Salmon 2nd Btn. Middlesex Regiment (d.31st May 1940)Philip Salmon was my uncle. All I know is that he was in the Middlesex Regiment and was recorded as missing, presumed dead at Dunkirk. I believe he was about 21 at that time and was a PE instructor and a pole vaulter. If anyone has any information I would love to hear it.Evelyn Critoph
Cpl. Owen Richard John Bulkeley 2nd Btn. Princess Louises Kensington RegimentMy grandfather, Dick Bulkeley, joined the 2nd Kensington Regiment at the outbreak of WW2, being part of the occupying force in Iceland in 1940. On his return to the UK he was based at Kington Camp in Kington, Herefordshire where he met Mary Cook and married her.
On D-Day + 6 he was a machine gunner as part of the invasion force in Europe fighting through Northern France, Belgium and finally on "the island" in Holland.
He was discharged in 1946 for a perforated ulcer and returned to Hereford were he lived for the remainder of his life. He never spoke of the war but he often mentioned the evil of the German Army at that time.
Pte. George Edward McLoughlin Queens Royal West Sussex RegimentI believe George McLoughlin joined the Queens Royal West Sussex Regiment on 10th May 1939. About 1940/41 He transferred to the Middlesex Regiment. George served in the British Army until about 1966. No other details are known. Any information would be gratefully received.P McLoughlin
L/Cpl. James Michael Cheney 1st Btn. Middlesex RegimentMy father, Jimmy Cheney, served as a machine gunner with the Middlesex Regiment defending Hong Kong in WW2. Very little of this story is from him. He never spoke about within my hearing when I was young (I was born in 1947), although I did overhear a little when he spoke about it occasionally with his two brothers who served in Europe during the war. The eldest brother was killed in North Africa. He did speak more freely when I got older but, unfortunately, he died at an early age which meant that much of his experiences were left un-said. I did get some of his stories from my mother and some of the other older members of the family but as always with family stories, they are embellished or parts forgotten.
He claimed he was captured by the Japanese on 25th December 1941 although his record shows it was 26th December. He was incarcerated in Hong Kong for nearly a year and then embarked on the Lisbon Maru for transport to Japan. The ship was torpedoed by USS Grouper on 1st October 1942 and my father was one of the lucky ones to escape from the holds and spent some time (he said more than a day) until he was picked up by a Japanese warship and transported to Osaka. He was put into a POW camp and was forced to work in the docks. I still have to find out which of the camps he was in. During his time as a POW he contracted various diseases including malaria and beriberi. The camp was bombed a number of times by the US Air Force, which my father said was because they mistook it for a troop camp. I suspect it was no more than some saturation bombing of the dock area which meant the camp was likely to be hit by mistake rather than design.
He spent some time in a sweat box for stealing sugar and claimed that probably saved his life because one night the camp was hit by bombs and some of his friends were killed.
He was finally liberated by the Americans following the Japanese surrender and, according to my mother, was transported home via Canada and he arrived at Londons Waterloo station. My father was 6ft 2in tall and a well-built man with a full head of hair. When he went to Hong Kong he weighed almost 15 stones. When he arrived home he was almost bald and weighed about 8 stones. For much of the fifties he suffered from the effects of his time as a POW including malaria. He finally died in 1972 aged 54. He never bore any ill will towards the Japanese and said that although the officers were cruel and brutal, the ordinary soldiers were just doing what they were told. If they were ordered to punish someone they knew if they didn't, they would be punished and the person would get punished anyway by someone else. He always wanted to go back to Japan and see the country but never made it. I have been lucky; I have lived in Singapore for four years and have had the opportunity to visit Osaka. It felt a little like a pilgrimage for the old man.Thomas Cheney
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