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South Staffordshire Regiment in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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South Staffordshire Regiment




28th May 1940 Memorial Defended


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Those known to have served with

South Staffordshire Regiment

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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There are 1 pages in our library tagged South Staffordshire 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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Mjr. Lance Greville Warrington MC. South Staffordhire Regiment (d.20th Nov 1944)

Mjr Warrington was attached to the 9th Btn of the Camerionians (Scottish Rifles) when he was killed. He was 31 years old and was married.




Pte. Thomas "Mucka" Hall 1st Battalion

Tom Hall was my father, he served with the 1st Battalion South Staffs from 1931 to 1945, with a short break in 1938 when he was on reserve and decided not to go back in when my mom agreed to marry him. Unfortunately, before my brother was even 1 year old he was recalled to fight in WW2. He served in Palestine, Egypt, India and Burma (with the Chidits) to my knowledge.

Throughout the war he sent all his pay home, and lived on his wits. He trained as a barber and made money on the side doing that. He was brilliant at dominoes and won money on a regular basis, as he did at cards - but as a bit of a cardsmith I think he did a fair bit of cheating. He trained as a cook, a butcher and a nurse, all of which helped him be a great father in post-war life.

He never told us kids of any bad things that happened, only funny stories about whitewashing the coal, and spud bashing, etc. The one battle memory he recounted was in Egypt when they were ordered to attack an Italian held fort. Ammunition was so limited that they couldn't afford to fire any before actually taking the fort. They used oil drums and other metal objects, bashing them with their rifles to make loud banging noises and after about half an hour the Italians raised a white flag and they took the fort without firing a shot. Is it true? I honestly don't know, but he told us that story many times and I believe it.

Sadly, Dad died in 1983 at the age of 70 and I still miss him now, but I have his memories and they are great. I dare say I will join him some day, but not for a good many years yet.

Peter Hall



L/Cpl. Joseph John Brooks 1st Btn. Gordon Highlanders

My Father Joseph John Brooks (always called John) Served with the South Staffs from 12/02/42 untill 27/08/44. He was transfered to the Gordon Highlanders 26/08/44 - 30/01/47.

He passed away in May 1973 aged 53 years. He never spoke very much of his experiences. I know he was captured and spent 6 months as a POW. I believe he was liberated by the Americans. I have most of his paper work including a letter from him at Stalag X1B dated 22.3.45 on official Kriegsgefangenenpost.

He landed on D2 at Arromanches, the dates indicate he was serving with the Gordons when taken. I do not know where he was captured but he told that he was in a farm house with quite a few others. A German deligation with a white flag approached the farm house. It was thought that they wanted to surender. The Germans were treated quite rough. However it was the deligation who came to ask for their surrender as they were completly surrounded and it would be a mistake to try to resist.

I would like very much to know more of the details. I was brought up with the sound of bag pipes every sunday on the record player. He was very proud when I joined the London Scotish for a period.

John W Brooks



Harry Cooke South Staffordshire Regiment

My uncle, Harry Cooke, had a row of medals. I remember he was at Arnham and he was in a POW camp. I remember he had letters every year from a Polish organization. He lived in Lodge Road, Birmingham after the War. Something keeps me thinking he was in the South Staffs Regiment. He died in his eighties after a burglar broke in and stole all his medals. Just wondering if anyone can add to this.

R.Robinson



Pte. George Kindon 5th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment

My Granddad was in the South Staffordshire Regiment from 1940 to 1946. He never spoke too much about his time served until his latter years. Looking at his army records he spent a far bit of time in detention for being AWOL. It might have been something to do with the American GI's being barracked not far from where my nan lived (Pheasey). I do know that he had a bad time in Arnham as he was one of hundreds being dropped in by gliders. He was held up in a church, I think, being looked after by a young girl, name of Tula who was with the Dutch Resistance.

Julie Boland



Alfred Ernest Rogers South Staffordshire Regiment

My Dad, Ernie Rogers, served with the 1st Airborne (South Staffs). He only really talked about the war in the later years, I tried to persuade him to tell his story but he said there were enough books written and films made.

After North Africa, he was captured at the invasion of Sicily after the glider landed in the sea, which they clung onto for 17 hours before being picked up by the Italians. He tells me that his sergeant told all the men to take their boots of when they went into the water, but Dad didn't, then when they were lined up by the Italians he gave his sergeant his boots, as he was the senior officer and felt it would help the sergeant to keep his dignity. After the many camps and miles he ended up in Stalag XV111A, I have his wrist band and some photographs.

He talks about some of his old mates but gets mixed up a bit now, Ray Shorthouse, Lucky Southall, Ivor from Newzealand. He ended up working on a farm, learned a lot of German which helped a lot.

He is still an old soldier at heart and as always kept his sense of humour.

Ernie Rogers Jnr.



Maj. Robert Henry Cain VC. att. 2nd South Staffs. Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

Robert Henry Cain grew up on the Isle of Man and joined the Territorial Army in 1928. After working overseas he was given an emergency commission into the Army in 1940. He transferred to the South Staffordshire Regiment in 1942, and joined the 2nd Battalion, part of the British 1st Airborne Division. He saw action during the Invasion of Sicily in 1943 and again during the Battle of Arnhem the following year. During the battle Major Cain's company was closely engaged with enemy tanks, self-propelled guns and infantry. Cain continually exposed himself to danger while leading his men and personally dispatched as much enemy armour as possible. Despite sustaining several injuries he refused medical attention and for his gallantry he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment was part of 1st Airlanding Brigade which landed in Sicily in July 1943 as part of Operation Ladbroke. In the same month, Cain took command of the battalion's B Company.

Battle of Arnhem

The Battle of Arnhem was part of Operation Market Garden, an attempt to secure a string of bridges through the Netherlands. At Arnhem the British 1st Airborne Division and Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade were tasked with securing bridges across the Lower Rhine, the final objectives of the operation. However, the airborne forces that dropped on 17 September were not aware that the 9th SS and 10th SS Panzer divisions were also near Arnhem for rest and refit. Their presence added a substantial number of Panzergrenadiers, tanks and self-propelled guns to the German defenses and the Allies suffered heavily in the ensuing battle. Only a small force managed to hold one end of the Arnhem road bridge before being overrun on the 21st. The rest of the division became trapped in a small pocket west of the bridge and had to be evacuated on the 25th. The Allies failed to cross the Rhine, which remained under German control until Allied offensives in March 1945.

Advance into Arnhem

The Allies planned to fly the British and Polish to Arnhem in three separate lifts over three days. Major General Roy Urquhart decided to deploy the 1st Airlanding Brigade first, as glider troops could assemble more quickly than parachute infantry and secure the landing areas. Cain took off with the first lift along with two companies of the South Staffords but only five minutes after departing from RAF Manston the tow rope connecting the Albemarle tug to his Horsa glider pulled out of the leading aircraft.[9] After landing safely the glider's occupants were able to fly out the following day with the second lift.

Two Airborne soldiers demonstrate the PIAT anti tank gun

In Arnhem the Allied plan quickly unravelled. Only a small group of the 1st Parachute Brigade, mainly elements of Lieutenant Colonel John Frost's 2nd Battalion, were able to reach the bridge. The 1st and 3rd Battalions were unable to penetrate the outer suburbs of the city and their advance stalled, so in order to support them the first lift of the South Staffords were sent forward on the morning of the 18th. When Cain arrived with the second lift they too were sent forward, arriving at the outskirts of Arnhem on the night of the 18th. Lieutenant Colonel David Dobie of the 1st Battalion proposed a concentrated attack on a narrow front between the Lower Rhine and the Arnhem railway line. The South Staffords would advance toward the bridge, with the remnants of the 1st and 3rd Battalions on their right flank, while the 11th Parachute Battalion, remained in reserve.The Staffords moved forward at 4.30am with D Company in the lead, followed by B and A Companies with C Company in reserve. In the area around St Elizabeth Hospital, the lead company met heavy resistance clearing houses and B Company took the lead, getting as far as a dell near the Arnhem City Museum. Here Cain and his men encountered enemy armour for the first time. The company was only armed with PIATs and mortars and although Cain and several of his company opened fire on the tanks and guns, they did not manage to disable any. By 11:30 they had run out of PIAT ammunition and the tanks now dominated the area.[16] Their position was clearly hopeless and so Lieutenant Colonel McCardie, the commanding officer (CO) of 2nd Battalion, The South Staffordshire Regiment, ordered them to withdraw from the dell. Cain fell back with several of his men but few of them were able to escape, while the men of the other companies were forced to surrender in their droves. Cain was the only senior officer of the battalion to escape in what he later described as the "South Staff's Waterloo". As the surviving men fell back through the 11th Battalion's positions, Major Gilchrist (A Company, 11th Battalion) met Cain, who told him that "The tanks are coming, give me a PIAT". Gilchrist was unable to oblige and so the Staffords regrouped behind the 11th Battalion's positions; roughly 100 surviving men forming into five small platoons under Cain's command. Lieutenant Colonel George Lea, commander of the 11th Battalion, ordered them to capture a piece of wooded high ground known as Den Brink to cover a fresh advance, and a bayonet charge quickly cleared the enemy there.However, the thick tree roots on the hill made it impossible to dig in, and after suffering severe casualties, Cain took the decision to withdraw back to Oosterbeek

Oosterbeek perimeter, A German StuG III at Arnhem.

The remnants of the four battalions fell back in disarray to the main divisional positions at Oosterbeek. Here they were gathered into defensive units by Lieutenant Colonel Sheriff Thompson, CO 1st Airlanding Light Artillery Regiment, who forcibly stopped many of the panicked troops. Alarmed that the many retreating units would soon leave his own 75 Millimetre Howitzers undefended, he sought out Cain, the most senior officer, and ordered him to form the men into a defensive screen ahead of the gun positions. Thompson later sent Major Richard Lonsdale to take command of these outlying troops, and throughout Wednesday 20 they weathered strong German attacks before falling back to the main divisional perimeter. The sector was designated "Thompson Force", but was renamed "Lonsdale Force" when Thompson was wounded the following day. To the north and west of Oosterbeek other units fell back in the face of strong German resistance and over the next few days a thumb shaped perimeter formed around the town, with the Rhine at its base.

Lonsdale Force's sector covered the southern end of the eastern perimeter, and Cain was one of three Majors defending this sector of the line. As the battle progressed he became determined to destroy as much enemy armour as possible[25] and sited himself in a laundry's garden, much to the chagrin of the Dutch owner. Over the coming days Cain was everywhere, dealing with armour and snipers and encouraging his men. On the afternoon of Thursday 21st two tanks approached Cain's position. Guided by a colleague in a building above him, Cain waited in a trench until the first tank�actually a StuG III self-propelled gun (SPG)was close enough to engage. The SPG fired at the building, killing Cain's colleague and showering him with masonry but despite this, Cain kept his position. Staff Sergeant Richard Long of the Glider Pilot Regiment remembered that through the clouds of dust, Cain fired round after round from his PIAT until the SPG was disabled,[26] but whilst engaging the second tank a round exploded in the PIAT with a bright flash and Cain was thrown backwards. Cain recalled thinking he was blind and "shouting like a hooligan. I shouted to somebody to get onto the PIAT because there was another tank behind. I blubbered and yelled and used some very colourful language. They dragged me off to the aid post."[30] The British brought forward one of the Light Regiment's 75mm guns which blew the tank apart.

Witnesses believed that Cain was incapacitated, but within half an hour his sight returned. He refused morphia and against all advice returned to the front lines, deciding that he "wasn't wounded enough to stay where [he] was". On the following day his eardrums burst from the constant firing and barrage, but he was content to stuff his ears with bandages and continue fighting. On Sunday 24th, shortly after a truce to allow the evacuation of casualties, Cain was alerted to the approach of a Tiger tank. Together with a Royal Artillery gunner he raced for a 6 pounder anti-tank gun, manoeuvred it into position, fired and disabled the tank. He wanted to continue using the gun, but the recoil mechanism was destroyed.

By 25 September, the area occupied by the Lonsdale Force saw heavy fighting against self-propelled guns, flame thrower tanks, and infantry. There were no PIATs available to the force by now; instead Cain armed himself with a two inch mortar. Mortars are muzzle-loading indirect fire weapons but Cain was forced to fire it on an almost horizontal plane due to the enemy's proximity. His citation states that his leadership ensured that the South Staffordshire gave no ground and drove the enemy off in complete disorder. By the end of the Battle, Cain had been reportedly responsible for the destruction or disabling of six tanks, four of which were Tigers, as well as a number of self-propelled guns.

That night the Division began to withdraw in Operation Berlin. Many men shaved and blackened their faces and Cain removed a week's growth of beard from his face, drying himself on his dirty, blood-soaked Denison smock. After successfully crossing the Rhine, this led Brigadier 'Pip' Hicks to comment "there's one officer, at least, who's shaved". Cain made sure all of his men were over the river by dawn, before he himself crossed in an old boat

"War Office, 2nd November, 1944. The King has been graciously pleased to approve awards of the Victoria Cross to Captain (temporary Major) Robert Henry Cain (129484), The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, (attd. The South Staffordshire Regiment, I Airborne Division).

In Holland on 19th September, 1944, Major Cain was commanding a rifle company of the South Staffordshire Regiment during the Battle of Arnhem when his company was cut off from the rest of the battalion and during the next six days was closely engaged with enemy tanks, self-propelled guns and infantry. The Germans made repeated attempts to break into the company position by infiltration and had they succeeded in doing so the whole situation of the Airborne Troops would have been jeopardised.

Major Cain, by his outstanding devotion to duty and remarkable powers of leadership, was to a large extent personally responsible for saving a vital sector from falling into the hands of the enemy. On 20th September a Tiger tank approached the area held by his company and Major Cain went out alone to deal with it armed with a Piat. Taking up a position he held his fire until the tank was only 20 yards away when he opened up. The tank immediately halted and turned its guns on him, shooting away a corner of the house near where this officer was lying. Although wounded by machine gun bullets and falling masonry, Major Cain continued firing until he had scored several direct hits, immobilised the tank and supervised the bringing up of a 75 mm. howitzer which completely destroyed it. Only then would he consent to have his wounds dressed.

In the next morning this officer drove off three more tanks by the fearless use of his Piat, on each occasion leaving cover and taking up position in open ground with complete disregard for his personal safety. During the following days, Major Cain was everywhere where danger threatened, moving amongst his men and encouraging them by his fearless example to hold out. He refused rest and medical attention in spite of the fact that his hearing had been seriously impaired because of a perforated eardrum and he was suffering from multiple wounds. On 25th of September the enemy made a concerted attack on Major Cain's position, using self-propelled guns, flame throwers and infantry. By this time the last Piat had been put out of action and Major Cain was armed with only a light 2" mortar. However, by a skilful use of this weapon and his daring leadership of the few men still under his command, he completely demoralized the enemy who, after an engagement lasting more than three hours, withdrew in disorder.

Throughout the whole course of the Battle of Arnhem, Major Cain showed superb gallantry. His powers of endurance and leadership were the admiration of all his fellow officers and stories of his valour were being constantly exchanged amongst the troops. His coolness and courage under incessant fire could not be surpassed."

Later in the war he took part in Operation Doomsday, where the 1st Airborne Division oversaw the German surrender in Norway Operation Doomsday, Cain travelled to Oslo, Norway, with the 1st Airlanding Brigade on 11 May 1945. Working with Milorg (the Norwegian resistance), the British took the surrender of German troops in Norway without incident, before returning to the UK on 25 August 1945.

S. Flynn



Cpl. Frederick Edmund "Simmo" Simmons South Staffordshire Regiment

My dad, Frederick Simmons arrived at Arnhem by glider from (I believe) Boston Spa Airfield, and was subsequently wounded in the leg at Oosterbeek and was taken prisoner. He was operated on by a German Army doctor. He told me he was at the Hartenstein Hotel when the failed attempt by the RAF to resupply the survivors was made. The wounded prisoners were put into railway freight wagons for shipment to prison camp. He ended up in Stalag 11B. I remember him telling me the Germans treated the prisoners very badly and dad was made to work in an iron ore mine. There were also Russian POWs in a separate part of the camp and they were treated even more harshly. On one occasion someone killed a German guard dog and smuggled it to the Russians who ate it and spread the skin on the barbed wire.

Roger Simmons



Richard Glover South Staffordshire Regiment

I found this photograph found in a family album. Could he have been a boyfriend of my mother? Other than the details shown on the photograph I know nothing more about Dick Glover. If anybody recognises the man perhaps you will let me know?

Peter Harness



Pte. Frederick Victor Hussey 1/6th Btn. South Staffordshire Regiment (d.6th Aug 1944)

When Frederick Hussey died I was 18 months old, just looking for information.




Lt. Ernest Roebuck 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment (d.19th Sep 1944)

Lieutenant Ernest Roebuck of B Company, 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment took part in Operation Market Garden, centred on Arnhem in Holland, most widely known through the film "A Bridge Too Far". Until recently, all that the family had to remember his war service by were his medals, which of course he never saw himself, as they were issued after his death, and his bamboo swagger stick. My brother and I were proud to visit Arnhem itself in September 2014, for the 70th anniversary of the battle and its associated commemorative events.

From accounts and records I saw on our visit, I have pieced together some of the likely facts about my uncle's contribution and what happened to him. He was in the 1st Airlanding Division, formed specially for the operation, and dropped on either 17 or 18 September 1944 (most probably the former) at the dropping zone north west of Arnhem. According to the Roll of Honour in the Hartenstein Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek, Ernest Roebuck was first buried at the St Elizabeth Hospital. From this record, I have deduced that he most probably died close by. In the evening of 18 September, two platoons of B company of the South Staffs regiment, in which Ernest was a lieutenant, are recorded as approaching the aforesaid hospital and then taking up positions slightly to the south of it. From there, on the next day, they were ordered to press forward towards the bridge at Arnhem itself. According to an account available from history.net, published originally in World War II Magazine and subsequently online on 12 June 2006, "...section leader, Corporal Arthur Stretton, ...ordered an 'O Group'(orders group) with the platoon officer Lieutenant A. J. Roebuck..."

I am grateful for this account, but must offer a correction: there was only one Roebuck among those killed in the operation, and he was my uncle Ernest. I suspect that the initials quoted above might be wrong. Still, the same account, by Private Robert C. Edwards, makes it clear that "when the leading platoons reached the open spaces east of the hospital...[at] the wide-open exposed riverside stretch of the road in front of [it]...everything suddenly let loose". It seems most likely that it was then or during the push shortly afterwards that my uncle died.

My brother Jonathan Goodhead and I were privileged to be able to visit Ernest's grave at the war cemetery in Oosterbeek on Saturday 20 September 2014, to lay a wreath on behalf of all the surviving family members. We revisited the next day, just before the major 70th anniversary commemorative service there, when we briefly added Ernest's swagger stick on top of the wreath. The service itself was most moving, especially when an army of school children laid flowers on each of the graves. We are sincerely grateful to the Dutch people of Arnhem and Oosterbeek, to the War Graves Commission and to all others concerned for their generous and moving welcome and their insistence on retaining and supporting these annual events.

Clive Goodhead



Pte. John Henry Ross 2nd Btn. A Coy. 7th Platoon South Staffordshire Regiment

Centre, First Row

My Dad, John (Jack) Ross, served at Arnhem, he was in 7th platoon, A Company, 2nd South Staffordshires. He was wounded and taken prisoner to Stalag 11b, Fallingbostel. I know he also served in North Africa and Italy as well as other places. I would love to hear from anybody who has any information on him or his friends especially Ivor Williams, Service no.51214938.

Christine Ross



Capt. Aubrey Conrad Cawsey 5th Btn. South Staffordshire Regiment (d.7th Aug 1944)

The following is a transcribed document from the Moose Jaw Times Herald newspaper regarding the death of Captain Cawsey in battle while serving with the 5th South Staffordshire Regiment.

Moose Jaw Times Herald, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada Friday, August 11, 1944

Captain Aubrey Cawsey has been killed in action in France according to word received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. L. Cawsey, 1219 Redland Avenue. The sad news was telephoned to T. P. Baylis by Mrs. Aubrey Cawsey, say the former Miss Kathleen Baylis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T. P. Baylis, 1161 Second Avenue North East. Mrs. A. C. Cawsey resides at White Rock B.C. and Mrs. Baylis is presently staying with her.

Captain Cawsey went overseas with the Saskatoon Light Infantry as a Lieutenant in 1940 and while overseas was promoted to the rank of captain. He was called back to Canada in 1942 and rejoined the 1st King’s Own Rifles of Canada on mobilization of the battalion. He took a course at the Royal Military College at Kingston, Ontario, graduating with the rank of Major, but relinquished his majority in order to return overseas and serve with the Imperial army. Leaving Canada in April of this year Captain Cawsey went to France on June 13. To mourn his loss, in addition to his widow, Captain Cawsey leaves a daughter, Joan, three and one half years old and a son, Thomas Frederick, one year old. His parents received a letter from Captain Aubrey Cawsey dated July 24, 1944 in which he spoke hopefully of the end of the war and of rejoining his wife and family. He was educated at the King George Public School and Central Collegiate Institute in Moose Jaw, later being employed by the Canadian Pacific Railway, the T. Eaton Company Limited and Slater and York.

Two brothers are serving in the Canadian Army, Major Emery B. Cawsey, with the Royal Canadian Artillery in Italy, and Captain Ralph B. Cawsey. Who graduated at the staff course held at Royal Military College in Kingston, and who left Regina a week ago last Saturday, and was flown to England. Another brother, Benjamin Cawsey, is in business in Red Deer, Alberta.

Richard Dowson



Frank Garfield South Staffordshire Rgt.

Frank Garfield was in the South Staffs Regiment. He was involved in operation Market Garden, where he lost a leg.

Any photos or information would be appreciated.

Pam James



Pte. John Emery South Staffordshire Regiment

I am trying to find anything on Pte. John Emery, known as Jack who served with the South Staffordshire Regiment. Also photos of South Staffs would be great.

Debbie



Pte. John Emery South Staffordshire Regiment

I'm looking for anything on Private Jack Emery, does anyone remember him?

Debbie









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