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East Yorkshire Yeomanry in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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East Yorkshire Yeomanry

   After training at Tidworth, in March 1940, the 1st East Yorkshire Yeomanry joined the BEF in France with 1st Armoured Reconnaissance Brigade, initially being Corps Cavalry to III Corps. In May the Regiment transferred to 48th (South Midland) Division,then moving to 44th (Home Counties) Division, Macforce, and finally back to 48th (South Midland) Division. They were first involved in action near Ath, to the south of Brussels, and over the next two weeks fought seven rearguard actions before being finally surrounded at Cassel on the night of 29th/30th May as rear guard to 145th Infantry Brigade.

The remnants of 1st East Yorkshire Yeomanry (7 officers and 230 men) returned to Tidworth, where the Regiment was brought up to strength by drafts from the 2nd Regiment, before moving to Bovington to join 1st Armoured Reconnaissance Brigade. They moved to Essex for anti-invasion duties, and were equipped with Beavettes. In Spring 1942, the Regiment reequipped with the newly available Covenanter tanks and Honeys. They formed 27th Armoured Brigade, together with the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards (replaced by the Staffordshire Yeomanry, in January 1944) and the 13th/18th Royal Hussars. In April 1943, the Regiment was again re-equipped with Sherman Duplex Drive tanks.

On 6th June 1944, the 1st East Yorkshire Yeomanry landed in support of 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd British Infantry Division and over the next fifty days took part in the bridgehead battles. During this period they also acted in support of 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division. Folowing heavy casualties, 27th Armoured Brigade was broken up on 29th of July, and on 16th of August the 1st East Yorkshire Yeomanry joined 33rd Armoured Brigade, inheriting the petrol MK1 & II Shermans of 148 Regt RAC. They joined 51st (Highland) Infantry Division, for the final Pocket of Falaise Battles and advanced to the River Seine. After crossing they helped take St Valery-en-Caux. East Yorkshire Yeomanry then transferred to 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division for the Battle of Le Havre.

In October, they supported 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division, in the Netherlands fighting around Hertogenbosch and in the crossing of the Maas. During the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944, 1st East Yorkshire Yeomanry were rapidly moved to reinforce the pressure being put on the German Bulge. In January 1945 they returned to 79th Armoured Division, and were re-equipped with Buffalos, to carry the troops of 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division, on the assault crossing of the Rhine which too place on 15th of March. For the last weeks of the war, the Regiment was equipped with Shermans under the command of the First Canadian Army in the Netherlands. After the war the Regiment was stationed at Laboe on the Kiel Estuary until 7th of March 1946.

   2nd Squadron East Yorkshire Yeomanry was formed as a Royal Armoured Corps regiment on 24th of August 1939. On 25th of June 1940 it converted to infantry and became 10th (East Riding) Battalion, Green Howards.

20th Nov 1944 In Support

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Those known to have served with

East Yorkshire Yeomanry

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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Tpr. Anthony Wiles East Yorks Yeomanry

I believe that my Grandfather, Anthony Wiles was imprisioned in Stalag 8b (344) from 1940 to 1945 (he is the only Tpr A Wiles listed - though the A Wiles listed is R.A.C). Sadly, he died in 1989.

He was captured in 1940 in France (probably as part of the BEF). He told me he was captured in a cornfield and surrendered after the Germans surrounded the field and threatended to burn them out. He talked of working in Poland, a long march (during which they were abused by the locals), being fed on Beetroot Soup and working near a river. He was fluent in German on his return and I think he served a while as a dispatch rider after the war. He brought back a few mementoes (which he said he picked up on his walk back) including a German army bayonet and flag (both of which I still have). For anyone who may remember him, he was a bandsman (accomplished trumpet player), would have been in his early 20s, was from the Hull area and was referred to as Tony.

Paul Hewitt

Cpl John Hughes 1st Bt East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry

MY WAR By 14366760 Trooper then Corporal John Hughes, The East Riding Yeomanry. I joined the Local Defence Volunteers the L D.V. for males the age of enlistment was 17 yrs and over and I joined the Great Sankey Platoon, our headquarters was in the Sunday school of the Parish Church and we used to meet there every Thursday night for training. We had to go to the Sankey police station and borrow their 10 rifles and their 100 rounds of ammunition. Each night there was a squad of men on guard and every morning we did a patrol to see if all was OK. This was later called the Home Guard and we were better equipped and learned how to use the equipment we learned how to throw grenades and fire rifles and submachine guns and it did do me a lot of good when I joined the Black Watch as I was partly trained. Life was not very good for a young man as all his friends started to join up in the forces when they were 18, so I asked to be allowed to join up as well but as it was a reserved occupation it was refused, However I found out I could change my job and do something that was not a reserved one and then I could go to join up. When I told my Chief Chemist that I intended to do this he asked me to train someone else to do my job and then he would let me go so I agreed and 6 months latter I went to Manchester for my medical to join up. You can imagine my feelings when I was graded 9b unfit for service due to a very perforated ear drum. I asked if I could see an aurist and a week later I did. He was a nice old man and when he realised I was doing it with one eye open he said you do really do want to go don’t you, when I said yes he altered my grading and a week later I joined the Black Watch regiment in Perth. The training was very hard and the first 4 weeks we were not allowed out of Barracks as we were not up to the standards of Black Watch solders and were not smart enough to walk round Perth. After about 4 months we were examined medically and physically to see which corps we should be sent to, I was asked if I would like to go in the medical corps as I was laboratory trained. When I said no they then put me down as Royal Armoured corps and I was sent to the Highland Light Infantry Armoured Corps. It was the 156th Regiment of the H L I nicknamed Glasgow’s Own. When we arrived there two of us who were classified as P.O. which meant potential officers we had to go before a selection board. I was marched in and as they had all my school reports etc they asked me if I could Dance, I said yes as we were taught it at the Wade Deacon so I was asked to dance a few steps of a waltz, and then to dance a few steps of a foxtrot. Then they asked what did my father do, I told them he was a boiler man shovelling coal into steam raising boilers. Then I was told to go and I would be informed later. The other man then went in and he was asked the same things only he had to do a slow foxtrot and then a rumba, his father was a maker of golf club handles and he then left. We both heard that we were not suitable materials and this made Jimmy Cuthbert who was the other man, my life long friend throughout the war. The H.L.I. was if anything a harder regiment than the Black Watch and it was stationed near to Bury St Edmunds in a large park Fornam Park east the C.O. was determined to make us fit and he had what he called a dog and stick run, this was a course of some 7 miles which you had run a telegraph pole then walk a telegraph pole. The C.O. and the R.S.M. ran in the opposite direction and all the solders that they beat back had to do the run again on Sunday so we had to run hard. Then there was a shortage of Tank crews in Egypt so all the older trained ones were sent out there so the young untrained ones were sent to the at 54th training Regiment R.A.C. stationed at Barnard Castle, 16/7/1943. There we were classified as drivers, gunners, and driver wireless operators, we were trained first on Valentine tanks and then on Sherman’s I was classified as a Driver Wireless operator. This meant that I had to be able to do both driving and wireless operating if necessary. When we had passed out we were then sent to a gunnery school to learn about all the guns we might have to fire, I did in fact do so well at this that I had “First class gunner” written into my Soldier’s Service and pay book... When we were all trained we were to be sent back to the H.L.I. but this was changed and we were all sent to the 1st East Riding Yeomanry (Wenlocks Horse). This regiment was stationed then at Peasenhall near Rendlesham. This had been a Territorial unit and it had suffered many casualties trying to hold back the Germans at Dunkirk with armoured cars and a lot of guts. We were sent to make up the numbers, we were sent to stores to draw our kit and to our surprise it included a pair of spurs as it had been a cavalry unit for many years. What surprised us most was they had be cleaned and laid out on your bunk bed. We were taught how to march with them as they could catch your ankles very easily, however we only used them on Regimental parades We then had some more exercises having to get up every weekday morning and go running for a few miles, our Squadron Leader always ran with us as he was determined to be very fit. Then we were moved up to Forres on the Moray Firth to practise landing the tanks from Tank Landing Craft ready for the invasion. Then we had to waterproof our tanks and in my case our Bren Gun Carrier. General Dempsey inspected us, with Major-General Rennie, third British Infantry Division on the Forres cricket ground. The regiment were granted Christmas leave but as my brother Joe who was a sergeant in the R A F as a navigator bomber was to be married on the 1st of January and I was to be his best man I volunteered to stay behind and man the telephone lines. I was on duty 22 Dec 1943 when a telegraph came through from my father whose birthday was on the 21 Dec 43 to tell me my brother had been killed when his plane an Albemarle had crashed into a hillside when carrying paratroops who were preparing for the invasion, the only survivor was the gunner who was very badly burned..

We then went down to a new camp at Petworth, Sussex, in April and did our waterproofing again we also had extra sides welded on to the carrier so that the carrier would float in water we also had jerry cans tied on to the back where most of the weight would be as we would have a motor bike tied on to the back. We were then inspected by the King. And then were locked up so that we could be briefed and then on the 3rd of June we moved out to go to the hard sands of Gosport, we embarked that afternoon and lay off Gosport, the Landing Craft Tanks could hold a load of nine Shermans two carriers one jeep and one scout car. And we were the last to load on our craft this meant we backed on and we were right behind the ramp and the first to be off the craft on arrival in Normandy. We stayed there for the whole of the 4th then on the 5th of June the weather was better and at 4-30 p.m. we sailed out of the Solent. Trooper Jones and I slept for a little while and then had a hot can of soup and the as dawn broke we were looking from the bow of the ship and could see the shore with explosions going off and houses burning. Our Naval Officer had promised us a dry landing on Sword beach and he kept his promise as the Ship grounded on to the sand we had started the engine and as soon as the ramp was lowered we went down it into about 5 foot of water then hitting the beach and moving on. Jones had not waterproofed his visor and the sea rushed in and he could not see so I had to stand up and guide him, we drove up the beach as fast as we could and then I saw something I will never forget – the Military police were standing up waving and shouting get off the beach and they were all wearing red berets. I had never liked the red caps until that day, but that changed my mind. The time was 8:30 am we carried on till we were in among some houses and then got out to help the dispatch rider who did not want to get inside the carrier but preferred to hang on to his motor bike which was tied to the back alas he had been hit as we crossed the beach and we never saw him again, we had his bike on for many a day before we abandoned it.

We then had to go to a map reference to meet up with Major Billy Holtby and his sergeant who had landed on foot at about 7 am., we arrived there and all was quiet the field had the German words actung minen but none were found so Jones and I decided we would have some tea and had just got the water on when we had some mortar bombes fired at us 5 in total so we packed up and went back to the road and met the Major who then took command.

We moved along the road until we came to a fork in the road and then stopped to await the arrival of our tanks who were due to land at about 12:30 but had been held up and they did not arrive until about 2 pm, then we went down to the shore and brought them to a field that our Major had found so that our tanks could blow off their waterproofing and go into action.

The assembly area was just inland south of Lion sur Mer, and when the tanks had departed we returned to our fork in the road. We were then ordered to dig a slit trench as we would be staying there till night fall when we would have to go back to the Beach to act as guard for the soft vehicles which would bring fuel, food, and spares for our tanks. We had just got the trench dug when a dispatched rider came up the road only to be shot by a sniper who was in the top room of one of the houses, his gun flashes had been seen by an officer and our officer threw the carriers Bren machine gun into the trench and told me the top room fire, the gun had a round magazine holding some 100 rounds of .303 so I held the gun pointed it at the window and started to fire all over the window until 2 infantry officers shouted stop and then they ran in, when they came out they said you will have to scrape that sniper off the wall. That was the only German I killed during the war as I was a driver wireless operator and I often wonder what he was like, how old, was he was he married, etc.

We remained there until close to nightfall then went back to the beach head to bring our “soft skinned” vehicles up so they could replenish the tanks. We advanced towards the Regiment then stopped to await the tanks, we were in the Bren Gun carrier in front of the trucks when a German voice came over the 19 set and it sounded as though he was right by us, then came the rumble of tank tracks and as we had been warned that the Germans had some 6 Churchill Tanks they had captured at Dieppe we were afraid that this was them. We could not go back as our convoy was behind us so I was told to keep on the 19 set and get word back to the Regiment if that was the case, then all the other personnel got down into the ditch beside the road. Then a Churchill tank came round the corner of the road and gladly it was one of ours, so although my hair had been cut very short I am sure it was no longer brown and I was no longer 19 years old I was in fact 20 3 days latter. We continued to bring up supplies for some days then rejoined H Q fighting troop B Squadron.

B Squadron were the armour of The Royal Ulster Rifles and we supported their snipers with the Carrier by taking them up to the front in the early mornings and bringing them back at night and some of the tails they told were amazing, and the patience before they chose their targets was a talking point every night as we returned back to Harbour. One member waited for one German who wanted to move his bowels until he had dropped his pants then shot him up his backside. Another waited for some Germans to cook their breakfast and were just about to eat it before he shot them. We never had to bring back any wounded from their escapades they were so good.

At this time we were watched each morning by a German spotter plane who only came over early before the R A F, who had no airfields at this time to give us cover or late at night when the R.A.F had left, however our C.O. offered a prize of 1000 cigarettes to the man who shot him down and one morning when we were leaving harbour early he came early and as we were lined up it seemed that everyone who had something to fire did so, not just 500 brownings but big guns as well. We were later told that he had been shot down but as every one claimed it was them no one got the prize.

We continued to recce with the Bren Gun carrier waiting to see if the Germans were going to attack and on one occasion we were concealed by some large trees and after we had been there for some time one of the troopers having been a farmer decided to have some fresh milk as there some milking cows in the field, he went round the 5 or 6 cows and milked them all and then shared the milk out so we could enjoy a real cup of tea, then later an old French lady came into the field with a dog pulling a small cart on which was a large churn. The lady then sat on a little stool and tried to milk a cow, when nothing happened she moved to the next and so on with no success, she shouted in anger at our troop so the farmer collected chocolate from us all and gave it to her and she kissed him more than once and then left the field.

On another occasion we had been given 5 pork chops the first meat we had seen and as it was our officers turn to cook (this was taken in turns sensible officers knew that if they did not do their share they would get the smallest bit and perhaps with a little sand in it of any meal). He had just got the tommy cooker going with the chops on it when Jerry decided to lob some mortars at us, we scattered for cover, when it stopped we came out and our officer went to relight the cooker which he had turned off when the shooting started only to find a large French dog finishing the last chop. He was so enraged that he pulled out his pistol and started to fire at the dog chasing it across the field, despite having emptied his gun he did not hit it and we had no pork for dinner.

Another incident was a typical cavalry one, our C O. did not have a seat in his tank's turret he had a saddle, we knew that the Germans were shelling the beach head and we were concealed by a hill so he lined all the tanks up ready to go over the hill so he said when I shout charge over the radio you will all charge and when you see the guns you will fire. The order came through, over we went, the guns were facing away from us and they were taken by surprise they did not get a single shot at us before we had run over them.

We were then taken out of the line for a rest on 16th June, and on the 17th I along with some other troopers were writing letters home as these had to be censored by our officers, we sat down in front of one of the tanks of H Q Fighting and some officers were having a rest at the side of the tank then a large shell landed on the top of the tank it blew off the turret shield of the gun which hit trooper Billy Wells who was walking back to the tank from the latrine we had just dug, he was severely wounded and died of his wounds latter. Our officer of the Bren Gun Carrier was killed Lieut D J Hodsman, he was killed by shrapnel our medical people were there right away and they tried to stop the bleeding of a small hole in his chest, then they turned him over only to find a hole in his back as large as a dinner plate and he died then.

Two other officers were wounded and 2 other troopers as well of which I was one, I was taken to the field hospital which was close by in some stables to be sorted out by the medical officer. I had been hit by the blast and had lacerated lips and some small bit of shrapnel in my face which he removed and I was suffering from shell shock. I was put to sleep on a stretcher and when I awoke next morning I had a notice on my chest which said “evacuate by air” that made me feel very happy as I would be going home. However, 3 days went by and every time a plane came to evacuate the wounded there were soldiers far worse than I so I had not gone. On the third day the new Bren Gun Carrier officer hearing I was still in the field hospital came to see me. He asked how I was and saw the notice I said I was feeling much better so he went to the medical officer and asked was I fit enough to return to the regiment as he needed his wireless operator, being told yes but keep an eye on him for the shock, he then came over to my stretcher took off my “evacuate by air” notice and back I went to B squadron.

Life then became very difficult in and about Cambes Wood as we were waiting to go forward and the smell of dead cows and German soldiers was nauseating.In C squadron one driver L/c Frow had 5 tanks knocked out and suffered shell shock. This time was a hard time as we were doing reece’s nearly every day, and when we got back to base we had to dig in the carrier and make an earth wall round the sides as we slept under it.

Jerry had decided to drop leaflets on top of us to tell us about the Flying bombs being dropped on England but this propaganda did not work. We were then pulled out of the line and returned to Luc sur Mer for 3 days and we then lost the Ulster Rifles and we now had the 59th division to support, B Squadron went with the Infantry to Galmanche to country they knew very well having done may reece’s before, but the infantry had not seen action before and as they started the Germans put down a large barrage of Shells and Mortars. This resulted in a lot of casualties and a loss of control of the soldiers who started to retreat so we in the carrier went on a round up of all the infantry that were left and the tanks went forward and the tanks had a lot of success overwhelmed the defences killing many of the Germans in their trenches. The carrier Officer rounded more infantry and the tanks stayed there for some 5 hours, B Squadron lost its Squadron Commander Major Tony Platts being killed by a sniper together with another in the same way and 4 others were wounded from shelling and shrapnel one of these was Sgt Coupland another soldier of the 1940,s who last his sight, 5 months latter he was running with the Harriers in East Yorkshire. The regiment stayed there for another 2 days then moved back to Luc-su- Mer for a rest.

Then we had a new Squadron Leader, Captain Robinson, promoted to Major. Our cooks were there to feed us and we actually had a bath in a mobile shower then on the 15 July we had to go across country to get to the Bailey Bridge over the river Orne the roads were very dusty so we had to cross at night and it was a slow as we had no lights. Two of the tanks went up on mines no casualties reported. Later we arrived at the village of Le Plein and stayed there for 2 days then on the 18th July the R A F came over first with heavy bombers then American flying Fortresses Liberators and then medium Bombers.

B Squadron were once again with our 2nd Royal Ulster Rifles our favourite infantry. We first went through Herouvillette to a piece of waste land called Butte de la Houge.we came across many tanks of the Guards Armoured Division many of which were damaged. The R U R were held up by heavy mortar fire and B Squadron could not get to them until a scissors bridge was brought up and then they got and up to the R U R and captured the brickworks as well as two anti-tank guns. It was nearly dark so they harboured till morning.

At 4am B Squadron again went forward with the R U R the opposition was tough, the tanks went forward and No 1 troop managed to kill a Panzerfaust team before they could be fired at. After gaining a few hundred it was decided to stop and consolidate .Reconnaissance were made and Lieut Chris Moreton was wounded and the rest of the patrol were killed. The R U R sent out a team to rescue him and they lost an Officer and 3 other ranks, B Squadron also lost another Tank. That night B Squadron stayed there with the R.U.R and at about 2am the heavens opened and it poured down for more than 24 hours. We then moved back and C Squadron took over from B in the woods with the R U R .We remained in this area until July 26 when we were put into 2nd Army Reserve, our Brigade, the 27th was to be broken up owing to losses of personnel and Tanks. .It had been decided before D Day that our losses would be more than double what they were after 4 weeks whereas we had been in action for 7. We had to give up all our Diesel Tanks but lucky for me we did not have to give up the carrier, we were in a field at Creully and played many games and had a good rest. We were then told we were to join the 33rd Armoured Brigade and we were to take the tanks of the 148 Regiment R.A.C .these were Sherman 1s and 2s with an American aero engine and these would easily catch fire. This was to be about 12th of August but we moved on the 15th to a village called Bras then next day we moved to join the 33 Brigade and we found the Regiment we were taking over from and getting their Tanks was in a battle. .The change over took over on the 15th and we were then with the 152 Infantry Brigade of the 51st Highland Brigade near St Pierre Sur Dives. B Squadron were supporting the 2nd Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, we in our Bren gun carrier .We were moving well along a sunken road for quite a long way and the we came out in to the sunshine. Then over a little bridge and stopped by the infantry. Were able to keep up with the Infantry but our tanks were held up being too heavy to cross one of the scissor bridges, we were held up by the Germans who were dug in on a hill on our right we were with the forward platoon and a second platoon were coming through us to help to take the hill. Then our radio informed us that three of our tanks who were behind us had been strafed and told us to set off our Yellow smoke cans and get out our bright yellow squares so they would know we were British however a few minutes latter we heard them coming , the infantry started to take cover but we had a heavy point five machine gun for air cover and I manned this gun as we were not sure these were friends but Lieut Don Foster shouted at me to get off the gun they were our Planes and he dived into the ditch at the side of the road I followed him but was a bit late and was wounded at the top of my right leg. They were our air force but they managed to kill or wound 60 troops I rolled down the bank and was pulled by a Seaforth man under a little bridge. When after about 1 hour the planes departed I was helped up the bank and my field dressing was put on the wound and then some French farmers carried me to a forward dressing station about 2 miles away and as they passed their houses the women would come out with a glass and give it to me. This turned out to be Calvados with the result the M O asked “is this man wounded or just drunk.” After he dressed the wound I was taken to a converted Jeep which had 2 stretchers by the side of the driver and some large webbing straps across the bonnet, the stretchers were already taken so I was strapped across the Bonnet. This was because the road was not suitable for any other vehicle we were then sent back to a field hospital and then loaded into army ambulances, I was on the top and above my head was a line of bullet holes which did not give me any pleasure. We were then taken to Bayeux where there was a British Hospital the 25th. We were put into an big canvas marquee with about 60 beds in it and the Army Nurses came round to examine us, nearly all the soldiers that came in were from the Friendly Fire, my wound had stopped bleeding and I was given something to make me sleep as the noise was not pleasant as most of the wounded were worse than me. After a few days my wound was doing so well that I was up walking and helping where I could and as it was not giving me any real pain I was sent to a rehabilitation unit. where we were given programs to get us ready to go back to the E, R, Y. I was then sent to a more forward unit and we were marching every day to get us fit then I started to have pain whenever I sat down. I was given an x ray which showed 2 bullets in my right buttock , one of these was stuck in my pelvis the other was free. This meant that I needed surgery so I was put on a plane and flown back to Amiens to have these removed. The plane was an Avro Anson .which had been converted to an ambulance and it had 2 layers of stretchers down the sides as there were no parachutes we were fastened to them. I was near to one of the windows facing one of the engines and we were flying quite low so as to keep out of any hostile planes and the engine was covered in oil streaks and was giving out a lot of smoke so we were very pleased when we arrived at Amiens and off loaded. The hospital was a large brick building and 2 days later I had my operation and the bullets were removed. It took about ten days before I was allowed out and then after about another week I was sent back to the Rehabilitation unit once again.. Then followed the marching running and all sorts of examinations , but we were allowed out and I made friends with a French family and spent many a happy evening with them drinking their coffee made from charred nut they ground on their stoves and it was good. I was able to help with food from the NAAFI as they had so very little. Then just before Christmas I was told I could go back to the E R Y who were at this time in Brussels so I rejoined the Regiment on the 23 of December only to find that the tanks had gone as the Germans had broke through in the Ardennes and the regiment had gone to reinforce the Americans. The B echelon was left behind in Brussels and I was then one of them.. I was there some weeks until one day I was told the Recce troop needed another Stuart Tank and I was to take it up to them as I was the only Tank Driver operator so I was given a mechanic in case of trouble as I had never driven one before. The roads were under snow and Ice and we had quite a lot of trouble but after one fast decent down a hill we did eventually get there and hand the tank over in the Ardennes . The Ardennes was a very cold place and it was often 6 below zero if you touched a tank with your bare hand it stuck and you could lose some skin getting it free. We had special suits which had 5 layers of covering but even then you would wrap anything round you to keep warm, it was here that I first found what “Piles” were i.e. haemorrhoids , I went to the M O and he put me wise and said he would get them removed but that never happened. B squadron were on the higher ground but I had no contact as I was in the B echelon but one of the tales that was told was of a German who had been killed and was buried in the snow and froze with his hand and down to his elbow above the snow and as the soldiers went passed him they would shake his hand and say hello Fritz . Then on the 17th of January we were told that we were going back to lay up the tanks and we would be equipped with Buffaloes which were amphibious Tanks so the tanks were to be taken to a Belgium town Called Ciney where there was a railway siding where they would be loaded on to flat wagons to be taken to Brussels. Then I got another job, it was my job to drive these Tanks on to the flats and to make sure that the Belgian workers fastened then securely after I had put on the brakes. I was once again given the mechanic so we could do this. We were billeted with a Belgian and his wife for some three weeks so we slept in a bed for a change, we had to go around the siding during the night to make sure things were alright but we usually collected the coal which had been dropped and took it back to our Billet as they had no fuel at all. We had been supplied with rations for a longer stay so we shared these with our hosts as the lady was a great cook and my schoolboy French came in very useful. During the day we were loading the tanks and the Belgian drivers even taught us how to drive the Engines so we had a rest and a happy time for a couple of weeks. We then returned to Brussels and I found that I was once again to become part of a tanks crew, but this time I was put into C squadron. The buffaloes only had a crew of 4 but we had more of them than we had Shermans so I was put in one instead of being in the B echelon. The Regiment then went to a village called Dilsen in Belgium then we got our 96 Buffaloes and had to learn all about them. I was not driving this time I was the Wireless operator and hull gunner. The engines were like the Stuart ones with a Browning Machinegun in the front cockpit where the wireless was, the main gun was a 20 mm Polsten cannon. We were trained on the Maas River and later we trained at night the tanks had infra red lights so that we could see in the dark and when we first started a swimmer would go across the river and fix a radio transmitter and the radio operator had a receiver in the tank. The idea was that we aimed for the transmitter signal and if you went to the left you got Morse dots and if you went too far to the right you got Morse dashes if you were in the silence zone you were on course. There were 2 types of Buffaloes, the mark 2 which could carry 30 men and the mark 4 which had a ramp door and could take either 30 men or Bren gun carriers, anti tank guns or 4 tons of Stores. I was in a mark 4 .We were to take a Scottish Brigade across the Rhine and on the 18 March the Buffaloes moved off on transporters to the Hochwald Forest then we had to camouflage them. The Luftwaffe were active and came over most nights dropping flares and we slept by the side of the tanks .We were busy working on the tanks and it was rumoured that jerry had planted some mines so we filled some sandbags and put them on the floor in the front of the craft and we then covered them with our ground sheets so the sand could not get our eyes if we were to hit a mine. The biggest surprise was when we were told to go to the stores to get some plugs, this turned out to be a large sack containing wooden bungs some very small and some bigger ones up to a foot wide, when we asked what were they for we were told the small ones were for bullets and the large ones for shells to stop the Rhine’s water coming in. We were to cross the Rhine on 24th of march and the tanks were loaded up we had a Bren gun carrier and an anti tank gun on our tank and we were second in line to cross, the engineers had blown a large hole into the Rhine,s Flood bund . At 8 pm 23rd the most terrific artillery bombardment started and lasted for about 6 hours, the gunners were pounding the German positions and they made little reply as we had about 2000 guns and we could see the tracers crossing the Rhine , it was like a giant firework display and the noise was continuous then searchlights lit up the sky and we thought we would be fired on by the Germans but the creeping barrage kept their heads down.. We entered the Rhine as the second tank and we followed the leading one with no trouble and offloaded the carrier and the gun and then went back for another load. We carried on going across again for some few days until the Bridges were built be the engineers, we then had some free time and had some fun with a beautiful carriage that was horse drawn.. We had a good few members who knew how to handle these and we drove it down to the German Town of Xanten , this had been very badly bombed prior to our crossing. We then were told the Regiment were getting its tanks back to advance into Germany to the town of Bocholt, but then plans were changed and we went back to Holland, we were by the river Mass and we were there to stop the Germans from crossing. The river had these great earthen banks to stop flooding and we dug out enough to put some of our Shermans in them so they could fire across the river. We took it in turns to go and man the tanks and when we were not required we were billeted in the town of Kaatsheuvel I was billeted with the owner of a shoe factory in Gas House Strauss, and they were a very nice family. I was there when the armistice was signed, and our Echelon went down into France and came back with water cans full of red wine, a big fire was lit and the people of the town and the troops all gathered round, we were drinking red wine like water glad the war was finished. Then after a few weeks we were sent to Germany to block a lot of German tanks that were held up in the Denmark peninsular as it was feared that they might try to get out, the regiment were stationed in the Baltic coast town of Laboe. Our tanks were stationed on the sea front and the men were in the hotels on the sea front. . Then all drivers that could be spared were taken from the tanks and put into 5 ton Bedford trucks, we were then sent back as convoys to bring back coal and food as the Germans were starving and the railways were not functional due to bombing. This carried on for some time. Once again I was given a mechanic and a tow rope and some jacks, we were Tail End Charlie and were the last truck and had the job of repairing and towing as well as bringing stores. The difficulty we had was if the front truck was doing 10 M P H we would be going flat out to keep up, we had several near misses. We were stationed in the Village of Wankendorf in the Station Hotel which we took over. Then when the food and fuel run finished we had the better job of going round the large castles and houses to empty their wine cellars. The wine was in boxes packed in straw and we were told by the troops who unloaded it not to worry too much as they were allowed 4% breakages so we had some of the same wine. This carried on for some days and then we went back to Laboe. We had a very good time at Laboe and we had a NAAFI in Kiel and our transport to Kiel was a German Destroyer who picked us up on the Laboe landing stage then took us to the port of Kiel we were able to shop and go to the cinemas and relax as the war for us seemed over. The East Riding Yeomanry was originally a territorial Regiment and a lot of the men had been in from the start of the war so when the demobilisation of the army was started they were the first men to go home. A large part of it was young soldiers who had joined up around 1942 and your pay book was stamped with your demobilisation number, the younger ones were classed as group 50. My book was stamped 50 Far East 1 as many of the others were, this meant we could be sent to Burma to start fighting over there, we were not too pleased about that. Then a little time later a notice was put on the Squadrons notice board that Military government wanted volunteers to become clerks at Displaced Persons Assembly Centres, and training would be given. Any thing being better than being sent to Burma I volunteered and was told I would be told if successful. About a week latter I was sent for and told to pack my kit and as they had looked at my education records I did not need training I was then given a travel warrant and taken to the Station in Kiel to go to Join 78 D P A C .in a town called Siegen.. This turned out to be a nightmare as the R T O sent me across the Rhine and I ended up almost back to Holland, the next day I was put on another train, by an R T O and sent back but not to Kiel to another town, this happened all told until I had crossed the Rhine 5 times, then my luck changed as I met an Army post man who was taking mail to Siegen so getting a rail card from the new R T O, I joined the post man and finally arrived in Siegen at midnight. We had no place to stay but the Post man said an infantryman collected mail each morning so we slept in an enormous Bunker built by the Germans to withstand the 1000 lbs bombs which the R A F had been dropping. The next day the army truck arrived to collect the mail and I hitched a lift and then eventually arrived to the office of 78 D P A C, I was sat down to await the Major . When he arrived I was stood to attention had my Black Beret knocked off and was marched in. The Major accused me of going A O L (absent without leave) and missing for 8 days what had I got to say. Luckily I had kept all my rail warrants and was able to prove I had been trying to get to Siegen for all that time. The office was in Siegen but the soldiers were in a large house about 5 miles up on top of a big hill so I was taken there to await the Major at dinner time, it was a very small unit having only 12 soldiers and one officer the Major who lived in a large house nearby. He was very interested in the fact that I was a Trooper so I must be able to ride, when I said I had not ridden at all he said you will soon learn and you can come out with me every morning. Then he said you must be in the office every morning before the trains arrived from Poland you will need some transport and at the moment we only have a motor bike spare so it is in the stables get it, when I told him I had never ridden a motor bike his reply was well you have all the afternoon so get on with it. The bike was a 500 Norton so I filled it up with petrol and tried, the roads were about 6 inches deep in snow luckily as I fell off many times but by tea time I could manage it and went down to the office and back. 78 DPAC was in Siegen to receive all the civilian Germans that were being sent from Poland and Prussia the code name was the Swallow the civilians were sent packed in Carriages and trucks chiefly women and children many were ill and some even dead on arrival .They were then deloused and given food and loaded on to German Trains to be distributed around Germany. I had little to do with this and worked in the office, I did have to ride after a fashion with the major until the haemorrhoids which I had picked up in the Ardennes started to be painful so I escaped that. Then after some time the Swallow operation finished and we were sent to Bielefeld, It turned out that there was no suitable accommodation for us in the town so we finished up in a small town called Senne 1. The major commandeered a Restaurant called ZUR SPITZE, for the accommodation of the troops and it had a conference room for the office. The new job for the 78th was to look after some 5000 or so Ukrainians who had been working for the Germans and were now displaced persons as if they went back home the Soviet authorities would treat them very badly. We also had three other camps of the Baltic people but these were much smaller camps of Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians, of about a few hundred each also afraid to go home. The Ukrainians were all housed together in a very large building in three tier bunks and they had their own elected leader who spoke for them all. They had a good intelligence service as the Russians would come to search through the building to try to find war criminals but when they arrived the place was deserted only to fill up when they had departed.. Their leader also had a seat in our office to try to sort out their problems with our Major his Daughter was a very good English speaker and acted as his interpreter. The three Baltic ones also had their own leaders and were very well organised.. Our main job was to keep them well supplied with food and basic needs as their Leaders were made responsible for their behaviour. At this time I had a little Mercedes car and was promoted to a lance corporal and had to take charge of the Baltic people and it was quite a surprise when I went to my billet in the Latvians camp, as I was talking to the leader when he asked my name, and when I said John he shouted to all his people it is a John and all the people gathered around me shouting. Then one of them fetched a blanket ,I was put into this blanket and was thrown up into the air a few times while they were shouting John, I was wearing my Smith and Weston pistol strapped to my leg as we did in the Tanks and was just about to pull it out when they stopped and helped me out of the blanket and a lady interpreter Explained to me that they had a Saint called John and on this day he was remembered so they were so pleased I had arrived on that day. All the camps were well run and I was sorry when they left to go back to their homes as the Russians were not so much against them as they were to the Ukrainians., this meant that I had to go back to Senne 1 and was made a full corporal.. The Ukrainians were quite a religious group and they asked if they could make a church in the attic of their large building and the Major got them permission to do this. It took a long time making the altars ect but at last it was finished, and it was to be consecrated by an Arch Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church and a Princess of the Ukraine would be there. The quartermaster and myself were to attend as the representatives of the British Army, we arrived to find the attic had been floored and a large alter had been built at one end , there were no seats and the room was packed when we arrived so they got two large chairs and placed them in front of the congregation . We asked them to let us stand like the rest and the service began. We had our interpreter from the office who, helped us through it. At the end a lot of the Ukrainians went forward to be blessed by the Arch Bishop with a lot of Incense being waved about Then our interpreter told us that the Arch Bishop would like to make us members of his church so we both went forward and knelt he then held his hand on each of our heads while we kissed the ring on his hand then with a little more Incense we were lead back to our spot.. Then a feast was arranged and we were sat down to a large feast not army rations. I was sat between the Princess and the Arch Bishop as we only had one language in common and that was French from school the Quarter Master sat the other side of the Arch Bishop but he had the interpreter helping him, it was something I would never forget. The Senne 1 station for 78 D P A C was the restaurant and we had a total of 11 other ranks which made it difficult to guard day and night so two of the soldiers were sent away to a unit to learn how to control guard Dogs, they were away about two weeks and then returned with two Alsatians. At night they were chained to a running wire one at the front and the other at the back, they each had a kennel and could run up and down the wire to act as guards and they were on our rations list. Talking of rations we had to go and collect them each week and this was not just food but goods from the NAFFI , we had 3 trucks to collect and distribute them, but one day we found we had no vehicles that would go so the Major who had brought his horses from Siegen along with a servant told me to go and collect as much as we could with a carriage and the two horses and his servant. You can imagine what an uproar this created when we arrived with this cart and horses among ten ton army wagons to queue for our allocation. We had to make several journeys before we had got them all but it never happened again however I was a cavalry man of the East Riding Yeomanry so it was right for me to go the major said. I was then posted to 61st D P A C, as they were under strength only having 4 solders and were having to look after some 800 ex Polish soldiers who were creating a lot of trouble in the town of Warburg.. Once again we were feeding them and trying to make them behave, . they had their own Officers but would raid the farmers fields and steal a cow in the night but by morning all trace of the animal would have gone. They were also using the Towns electricity by hooking wires over the overhead cables every night to cut up wood for fires and building. The town also had a dance hall which opened on Thursdays where there were always fights. We had to take it in turns to stop the riots and I was lucky as I had a polish soldier who had been the Heavy Weight Polish Army champion who was my body guard, when it was my turn to go to the dance hall. It only cost me a packet of fags a cheap price. I was there until my time to be demobilised and we arrived in England were fitted out in civilian clothing given a rail warrant and sent home. Two weeks later I was on holiday in Blackpool

Graham J Hughes

L/Sgt. Henry Vies "Ginger" Suggit MM 5DG East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry

My father, Lance Serjeant H.V. Suggit of the East Riding Yeomanry, seconded to the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, was captured south of Brussels on 18 May 1940 whilst attempting to break through a German forward column. After initial treatment for serious wounds in a German field dressing station and hospital, he convalesced in base hospitals set up in Lazarettes in Brugmann and Malines, before recovering sufficiently to be transfered to prison camps in Hemer (Stalag VI A) on 17 September 1940 and then Lamsdorf (Stalag VIII B) on 28 November 1940.

Despite a still not fully functional arm, he bluffed his way onto coalmine working parties for the prospect of better rations, regaining fitness and more lax confinement - conditions useful for escape. Initially based in Morgenroth, he was transferred to Triebitz (party E211) in the Sudetenland, from which he made his first break on 27 August 1941 with two like minded colleagues, TSM Perry and Corporal Pugh - removing bars from their block windows and shinning down knotted sheets. They were on the loose for nearly 3 weeks, covering a significant distance on foot before being caught as they tried to stow aboard a train near Lundenburg. After security processing, they were returned to Lamsdorf and 20 days bread and water in solitary confinement.

Undeterred, he spent the next 8 months keeping a lower profile before securing another outside working party job, this time in a brewery in Hansdorf (party E95), again in the Sudetenland. Within the week, he and two East Yorkshire Regiment chums, Edie Harris and Jim Andrews, had done a bunk, changing into home made civilian garb that they had brought with them and had secreted on arrival.

Freedom was short lived, being apprehended 7 days later near Mueglitz. Two days initial security processing followed in Schoenberg, before being returned to Lamsdorf (as proof that escapers would be caught) and another interrogation, but only 5 days clink - all sticking to a tale indicating appalling conditions in work party E95. Their story and reality were poles apart, but was not checked, otherwise they could have got a year in a straflager. As it was, they were separated and father spent a month in two closely guarded timber working parties (E495 and E364), before a camp transfer to become somebody else's problem.

After a temporary confinement in Parsburg, he was held in what became Stalag 383 at Hohenfels from late August 1942 through to liberation, making two more escape attempts. The first was on 25 August 1943, when he and George Beeson walked out dressed as German guards. They were only loose for just over a day - a consequence of generally tighter German railway security measures around Nuremburg. They subsequently received 30 days solitary in the bunker, but managed not to compromise their modus operandi of getting out.

This enabled another attempt dressed in facsimile German uniform on 17 March 1944, with Australian Charlie Elphick. After passing through the inner gate, they came to grief at the outer security checkpoint, when a clued-up sentry asked too many questions. This time - being apprehended in the enemy's uniform - they were perhaps extremely fortunate only to receive 30 days solitary. The guard who passed them at the inner gate received 14 days of the same.

With a reputation as a persistent escaper, further attempts were problematic. When the Germans evacuated Hohenfels in Spring 1945, my father and others secreted themselves, hunkering down till liberation on 22 April. Cadging lifts to Paris, he was flown by prisoner recovery arrangements in a Dakota to Buckinghamshire and arrived home in Hull a week later.

J R Suggit

Sgt. Charles Edward Turner East Yorkshire Yeomanry 5th Dragoon Guards

My father, Charles Turner was a Tank Commander from the East Yorkshire Regiment. he was captured 23 May 1940 in St Omer, and sent to Stalag XX/A 6 June 1940 prisoner number 776 in Oflag III/C. He was transferred to Stalag XX/B on 10 October 1941. He was transferred from XX/A on 16 September 1942 and held in Oflag III/C we have no records of his of his release etc, he attested into the TA in 1947 In Kingston upon Hull.

My Father would never talk about his time in the camps as he thought it was better to look to the future. We have a photo of him in the camp, but we don't know which one is him. My father died in May 1973 and I am trying to compose a life book for my children before I die. I would like any help of advice from anyone and will pass on any info I have.

James Turner

Tpr. Ronald Victor Page East Riding Yeomanry

My father, Ronald Victor Page, lives with us in North Bay, Ontario. He wrote a book about his wartime experiences, "European Tour, 1939-1945". It was printed in a very limited edition (12 copies; one for each family member). There is a lot more to his story than he has revealed in his book. He has told us many humorous stories and some very sad one's since he finished the book in 1997. We are trying to encourage him to document more of his experiences and have the book re-written with our help.

Ron, a member of the East Riding Yeomanry, was taken prisoner near Watou, Belgium on 30th of May 1940. After six weeks of being marched around France and then following a long train ride, he ended up at Stalag XXA, Thorn. About a month later his group was split up and he was transferred to Stalag XXB farm / labour camps, where he stayed for the next few years. On 14th Jan 1945, his group left Deutsch Eylau on foot on a journey through Poland and Germany. The estimated 800 mile march ended near Bitterfeld, Germany, on 25th of April 1945, when they met up with US forces. Ron sketched out the general route they took. Ron would enjoy hearing from any old comrades who may have taken "the tour' with him.

Gerry Page

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