- Royal Cheshire Regiment during the Second World War -
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Royal Cheshire Regiment
- Royal Cheshire Regiment 1st Btn
- Royal Cheshire Regiment 2nd Btn
- Royal Cheshire Regiment, 4th Btn
- Royal Cheshire Regiment, 6th Btn
- Royal Cheshire Regiment 7th Btn
- Royal Cheshire Regiment, 22nd Btn
- Royal Cheshire Regiment, 30th (Home Defence) Btn
- Royal Cheshire Regiment, 39th (Home Guard) Btn
12th Jun 1940 Massacre
28th Jun 1940 Reorganisation
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
Royal Cheshire Regiment
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Barratt Joseph. S/Sgt.
- Copeman Edward.
- Coulson Alfred. W/O
- Evans Charlie Herbert.
- Greig William Christie. Pte.
- Harding John. Pte.
- Harding John. Pte.
- Lishman A.. Pte.
- Lucas William Henry.
- McHugh John. Pte.
- Mernagh Thomas.
- Thomas James W.. A/Sgt.
- Tilley Lawrence.
- Watson Louis Reginald. Private
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
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There are 5 pages in our library tagged Royal Cheshire Regiment These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.
Private Louis Reginald Watson 2nd Battalion Cheshire RegimentMy late father, Private Louis Reginald Watson of the 2nd battalion Cheshire Regiment, was involved in the withdrawal from Gazala to Egypt via Tobruk where he was captured and shipped to POW Camp PG 73 in Capri Northern Italy. I have a photo taken at the camp on the 28th Oct. 1943 which he sent to my mother.
As a member of an outside working party repairing the road surface, he hid inside a culvert and escaped about the time of the Italian capitulation and stayed on the run until the advancing British forces reached him.Geoff Watson
Pte. John Harding Cheshire RegimentMy father, Jack Harding, was a private in the Cheshire Regiment. He was captured at Dunkirk in May 1940 and was a prisoner until the end of the war. I'm in the process of trying to find some information about his experience as a prisoner-of-war in Poland.Ann Harding
Edward Copeman 22nd Btn. Cheshire RegimentA few years ago we found an unfinished handwritten account of my grandfather’s time as a Prisoner of War. I thought I’d share some of it here, if anyone can fill in any blanks for me it would be much appreciated, and maybe it will help others too. Apologies if any place names are spelled incorrectly, I’ve just copied what it looked like and haven’t checked them.
My grandfather’s name was Edward Copeman, and he was in the 22nd Cheshire Regiment. I think his account begins in 1942, and he refers to the desert, so he may have been in Egypt at the time (we do have a lot of photos from Egypt). The truck he was in ran over a landmine; he got some shrapnel in his leg, and another man, Mick Parker, was badly injured. He mentions a Sgt. Lord, who went to get help, but never came back as he was taken prisoner; there were two other men with them – Tug Wilson and Joe Gill. They were stuck in the middle of all these landmines, and survived by drinking water from the radiator of a German MK 3 tank. On the third day they flagged down a passing British truck, but it was driven by Germans who captured them and handed them over to the Italians “as all prisoners taken on the desert were handed over to the Italians”.
Mick Parker was taken to one hospital, my granddad to another, and he says he never saw any of the lads again. He was then taken to a transit hospital, and then another hospital beginning with a B (sorry, couldn’t read the name). After two weeks he went to another hospital, then after a while to another beginning with T, then he was moved again to an Italian Hospital Ship. He says after 10 days of moving about they landed at Naples, where he was taken to a civilian hospital.
After being in hospital for 5 months he was moved again to a transit camp at Benivento (sp?), then after a week the whole camp was moved by goods train to PG52 in Italy. When the Italians stopped fighting, the Sgt Major who ran the camp said he’d open the gates and let everyone go, but the next morning they were surrounded by Germans who told them they were now Prisoners Of War.
After a week there were 4 train loads of PoW’s, about 17 in each truck, being moved to Germany. My granddad was in the second to last truck. As they approached a long tunnel, the Brenner Pass(?) between Italy and Austria, there was an air raid by British Bombers. His train was in the tunnel, but another train did get hit. When they arrived at the next station there was no one in the end truck as they’d cut a hole in the wooden floor and escaped while they were in the tunnel.
After 5 days they arrived at Stalag VIII-B, it was now 1943. Someone had a wireless, and the guards could never find it, no matter how hard they searched for it. My granddad says he and his mate Alec Sherriff put their names down for a working party, but you had to be a Cpl or a Sgt. Alec was a L/Cpl but put another stripe on, but he was found out and sent back to the camp.
The working party went by train to Poland, there were about 78 of them in a small camp near Krakow, and they worked in a paper mill. They were there for two weeks but then had to start walking, my granddad says it was 18th of Janury 1943. They stopped at Breslan, and Dresden, and then a bit later he says it was March 1944 and they were in Plzeň. So I think one of the dates is wrong, he probably meant March 1943. They walked from Dresden to Leipzig to Rochlitz; the Russians were close by this point.
Their guards changed into civilian clothes and basically left them on their own. Most of the lads made off, but my granddad and two others went in search of food. The next morning they walked into the village and came face to face with one of their German guards, wheeling a bike. They took it off him and told him to walk like they’d been doing since January, it was now April. They found the Mayor’s house where they were given food and drink, and they were visited by a Russian officer who said he’d come back on Sunday, but on Sunday morning the three of them left with the bike and some food and carried on walking. They rested overnight and then the next day came to a station. There was no one about, so they went to look in the Booking Office...
unfortunately that is where my grandfather’s account ends, just like that, mid-sentence. So I’ve no way of knowing what happened to them in the short-term, although he did eventually come back home and lived to 82, so in that respect, it was a happy ending. As I said, if anyone can fill in any blanks for me, that would be great.
I also have a handkerchief, in the middle of which my granddad had embroidered the Cheshire Regiment emblem, and around this are the names of fellow prisoners of war, dated 3/9/43, so I wonder if he was recaptured (unless it means 9th March rather than 3rd September)? Not all the names are legible now, but some are, and if anyone wants me to check for a name, I can.Michelle Hare
Pte. John Harding 4th Battalion Cheshire RegimentMy father, Jack Harding, was captured at Dunkirk. He was in the following camps: Stalag V1/A, XX1/B, XX1/D and finally Stalag 344. He never talked much about his experience as a prisoner of war and sadly as he is now deceased his story has died with him.
I would love to hear from anyone who was with him at these camps or anyone who had a relative who was at the camps so my family & I can have some idea of what he experienced. I would particularly like to know what happened after the prisoners were liberated. The last date I have is 20.11.1944 when he was at Stalag 344.Anne Harding
Charlie Herbert Evans Cheshire RegimentMy great uncle, Charlie H Evans, b.1908 volunteered for the Cheshire Regiment at the outbreak of war and was either transferred with other Cheshires or captured at Dunkirk.
The family 'story' is that he was on the Dunkirk beaches awaiting evacuation but was taken by truck to Italy where he was either recaptured or captured. It is believed that he spent time in an Italian POW Camp but by 1942 he was in Stalag 344, Lambinowice (his POW No.29987)and worked in the coal mines. It is believed that he was involved in a successful sabotage explosion that was faked as 'a mining accident' with the aim of preventing coal production thereby hindering the German energy/manufacturing capacity.
My father, who is 94 and still exercising his memory, believes that after the war Charlie was re-called to the MOD in London where he was awarded some form of military medal in recognition of his efforts.
If anyone has any information about Charlie, who died in Cheshire in 1974, or the coal explosion incident I would be grateful to hear from you.Michael Handley
W/O Alfred Coulson 1st Btn Cheshire RegimentMy grandfather, Alfred Coulson, from what I can glean, served in the 1st Battn Cheshire Regt during WWII. Apparently, he made the rank of Sgt or Sgt/Maj we are not sure.Richard Coulson
Lawrence Tilley Cheshire RegimentMy father, Lawrence Tilley, was in Stalag VIIIB during WW2. He would have been in his early 20s. He was in the Cheshire Regiment and came from Sandbach, Cheshire.
He's still alive (87 this year) and would be interested in hearing from anyone who knew him then. He's started talking about the camp and I think he would like to know what happened to some of the men he knew there.Sue Galway
S/Sgt. Joseph Barratt 6th Btn. Cheshire Regiment
Staff/Sergeant Joseph Barratt was an employee of the hat manufacturers Christy & Co. Ltd. when he joined the Army in May 1939. Joseph left Britain in 1942 and ended up as a POW in Italy. He was on a POW train en-route from Italy to Germany when the Allerona tragedy took place.
On 28th January 1944 at the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, a train full of Allied prisoners, most of whom had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, north of Rome, was hit by friendly fire from the American 320th Bombardment Group. U.S. Army member Richard Morris was on the train and wrote that the journey was stopped on the bridge over the river, and that the German guards fled as soon as the bombs struck. The prisoners were left locked inside the carriages. Many, including Joseph Barratt, managed to escape through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. It was a great tragedy of the war resulting in the deaths of hundreds of men.
Joseph suffered bruising to his chest whilst escaping from the train, and was admitted to hospital at Orvieto. From there he was sent on to Stalag 344 in Lamsdorf, Poland. His wife received notification of his detention on 21st February 1944. Tony Barratt, their son, reports that during the action in which his father was taken prisoner in Garigliano, the commanding officer was killed and so his father took command. He was debating the best course of action (to wave the white flag or run) when the Germans captured them.S Flynn
Pte. A. Lishman 6th Btn. Cheshire RegimentA Lishman was a POW and was one of many POWs who were on a train on 28 January 1944 having been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. They had mainly come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome. The Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, became the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river.
He was Captured at Garigliano. He survived the wreck uninjured and was sent to Stalag 344 LamsdorfS Flynn
A/Sgt. James W. Thomas 6th Btn. Cheshire RegimentJames W Thomas was a POW and was one of many POWs who were on a train on 28 January 1944 having been evacuated in anticipation of the Allied advance. They had mainly come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, 35 kilometres to the north of Rome. The Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, became the site of the inadvertent bombing by the American 320th Bombardment Group. One of the men on the train, Richard Morris of the U.S. Army, wrote that the train was halted on the bridge over the river when the Allied bombs started to fall, and that the German guards fled the train, leaving the prisoners locked inside. Many escaped, Morris included, through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. Historian Iris Origo wrote that 450 were killed when the cars ultimately tumbled into the river.
He was Captured at Garigliano. He survived the wreck with a fracture to his left upper arm and facial wounds. He was sent to Stalag 344 LamsdorfS Flynn
Pte. William Christie Greig CVK. Gordon HighlandersThis is the story of my father, William (Bill) Greig, after he had escaped from Stalag 8b (344 Lamsdorf), at the end of WW2. It has been picked up by both the Czech authorities and posted to a website. It has also been published in some UK newspapers a few years ago. Unfortunately my father passed away in 2007. At that time his health and memory was failing, so we have a mixture of stories to us when we were children and his recollections from the time, late in his life.
William Christie Greig was born in Aberdeen on December 15th 1921. He enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders in on 10th August 1939. We do know he 'doctored' his birth certificate, so that his younger brother Ben could join at the same time. This was later discovered after the war.
He did his initial training until 19th April 1940. After training, he was sent to France in 1940, as part of the 51st Highland Division. After some combat, the forces found themselves being surrounded and retreated to St.Valéry-en-Caux, on the French coast. He recalled ditching his anti tank rifle after seeing the shells pinging off the outside of the German tanks, during the retreat. His troop was pushed onto the beach and eventually into the sea by the superior German forces. Eventually General Fortune ordered the surrender on June 12th. My father was always amused when the Dunkirk evacuation was celebrated and shown on television. "There wasn't a single boat in sight at St. Valery when we could have done with them!" was his comment.
Bill was marched to Poland and ended up in the POW camp Stalag 8b near Lamsdorf, Poland. He was kept there through to 1945, in really tough conditions. He would only talk of his comrades and any funny occasions at the camp. We do know he became (as did many) malnourished, with raw turnips being a staple part of the limited diet. He never ate them again after returning to Aberdeen after the war and couldn't stand the smell of them being cooked. This poor diet nearly killed him later in life when the stomach ulcer he developed burst and required major surgery to save his life.
Most soldiers consider it their duty to try to escape. Few managed it but my father and 3 mates did eventually escape. On a march to nearby Glatz, Bill, his friend Tommy Vokes and two others seized an opportunity to hide under some bushes before rolling into a ditch to escape. Foraging for food by day and sleeping in a local cemetery by night, they managed to avoid capture. Eventually, they were befriended by a Czech family who took them in. They were fed and clothed and then taken to the local railway station, to catch a train to Prague. The head of the family, Frau Babca arranged for them to be met in Prague and given a place to hide. Tommy and my father split from the other two soldiers to go it alone. The family in Prague took good care of the Bill and Tommy, who were probably expecting to wait out the end of the war in some safety and comfort.
However, their arrival coincided with the Czech Uprising. This started with the capture of the Prague Radio building from the Germans in late April 1945. There was then a radio broadcast for all Czechs to take up arms and to liberate Prague from the German forces. With the Nazi's grip weakening, the Uprising leaders were frustrated by the lack of support from the Allies and their failure to move into the city, despite being just a few miles away from Prague. They were not to know that a deal had been struck with the Soviets that the Red Army would be the liberating force, with Czechoslovakia falling under Stalin's rule after the War. Meanwhile the Germans attempted to take back the Radio building with fierce fighting. Throughout Prague the Czech resistance movement built barricades and engaged in may street battles to defend strategic parts of their city.
My father and Tommy volunteered to help the resistance movement and were asked to help defend the precious Prague Radio station building , that was their only real link with the outside world. They were given a rifle each and spent may hours lying on the stairs, defending the station from German attacks. With the threat of the Radio Station being overrun and the likelihood of the Germans defeating the Uprising, my father was asked to make a very important radio broadcast in English. He remembers being taken down some stairs and through a tunnel to where the broadcast equipment was housed. He was given a script and made a number of broadcasts
"The Germans are attacking us with tanks and planes. We are calling urgently our allies to help us. Send immediately tanks and aircraft. Help us defend Prague. At present, we are broadcasting from the radio station and outside there is a battle raging" He made a number of broadcasts and it's obvious the Czechs (and my father) were becoming more desperate. “Hello, hello, hello! This is Prague calling London. Once again we repeat what I have already said three or four times. The Germans did not keep their promise. Prague is in great danger. The Germans are attacking with tanks and planes. We’re calling urgently our allies to help. Send immediately tanks and aircraft. Help us defend Prague. Do not let Prague be destroyed. We don’t know how long we can hold out. We are hoping for the best – that English, American or Russian troops will reach us in the next few hours. It has to be very quick and very soon. Good night!” The broadcasts had the desired effect and Allied aircraft destroyed an approaching German column and effectively ended the conflict in Prague.
With the Russians approaching, my father and Tommy helped an old Jewish couple escape to the west and in return the couple game them their car. They attempted to travel to Northern France but the car broke down halfway. Luckily they were 'acquired' another car and were given fuel by the Americans. They eventually made it back to Aberdeen.
For his actions, my father was awarded the Czech Military Cross and also a civil honour of the Radio Memory Distinguished Order, in 1948. Communications from General Ludwig Svoboda from the Czech military and The War Office are attached. Interestingly, the War Office sent the initial letter to the wrong William Greig, who informed them he had nothing to do with the Prague incident. They contacted Tommy Vokes who had my father's correct address and they managed to get the MC medal to him safely. My father returned to the Army to 'see out his time' and was transferred to the Cheshire Regiment, until he was demobbed. Bill married my mother Ann Milne Rose in 1947 and went on to have my two sisters and me. My mother passed away in 2010.
I'm very proud of my father's bravery in a situation where most would be looking to avoid further conflict after 4 tough years in one of the Nazi's notorious POW camps. He was always very modest and refused to accept he was a hero. The recent interest shown by both the Czech and British media clearly demonstrates the small (but hugely significant) roles my father and Tommy played to end the conflict in Czechoslovakia. Letters from those he met and helped in Prague show their gratitude for his actions and bravery. Recordings and transcripts of my father's broadcasts can be accessed on the following website: A Scottish Hero of the Prague Uprising.William Greig
Pte. John McHugh Cheshire RegimentJohn McHugh was captured at Salerno, Italy on 10th September 1943, after being wounded. He had previously been at El Alamein and the following battles. John never spoke of the war, so all knowledge has been gained from army records and his POW identity card, which we have.Frank Scott
William Henry Lucas Cheshire Rgt.My father, William Henry Lucas, served in the Cheshire Regiment during WWII. He joined the Manchester Regiment in 1926, serving in Germany, India and Egypt before war broke out. He was taken prisoner at Boulogne on 24th May 1940. His POW number was 2539. The POW camps he was in were Stalag XXIb in 1940, Stalag XXIa in 1941, XXId in 1941, XXIc, XIIb and Stalag 344. My father returned home at the end of the war and was medically discharged after serving five years in the camps. Like lots of others, he would never talk about what it was like. He passed away in 1974.John B Lucas
Thomas Mernagh Royal Berkshire RegimentI would like to find information aboutthe regiments my brother, Thomas, served in during WWII and for a time afterwards:
Royal Berkshire 14th August 1939 to 2nd June 1940
2nd Rangers 3rd June 1940 to 12th July 1942
Cheshire Regiment 24th September 1942 to 25th September 1947
Worcester Regiment 26th September 1947 to 26th August 1952.Kevin Mernagh
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