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- Royal Artillery 1st Airlanding Anti-tank Artillery
- 1st Maritime Rgt. Royal Artillery
- 1st Maritime Rgt Royal Artillery
- 2nd Field Rgt Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 2nd Searchlight Regiment
- Royal Artillery 3rd Field Regt
- Royal Artillery 3rd med regt
- 3rd Maritime Rgt Royal Artillery
- 4th (Durham) Survey Regiment, Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 2nd Searchlight Regt 5 bty
- Royal Artillery 5th Field Regt
- Royal Artillery 5th Regiment RHA
- 5th Light AA Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 5th Medium Regiment
- Royal Artillery Maritime Regiment 5th
- Royal Artillery 9th Field Regt
- Royal Artillery 10th field rgt
- Royal Artillery 10th Medium Regiment
- Royal Artillery 11 bty 3HAA RA
- Royal Artillery 11 LAA Regt
- Royal Artillery 12th CM Battery
- Royal Artillery 12 LAA Rgt
- Royal Artillery 12th regt
- Royal Artillery 13th Medium Regiment
- Royal Artillery IOM 15th LAA Unit
- Royal Artillery 15th Medium Regiment
- Royal Artillery 16th field rgt
- Royal Artillery 16th Medium regt
- Royal Artillery 17th Coast Battery, RA
- Royal Artillery 17 L.A.A. Regt R.A.
- 1st HAA Royal Artillery
- 21st Anti Tank Regiment, Royal Artilley
- Royal Artillery 21st HAA
- Royal Artillery 23rd Field Rgt
- Royal Artillery 24th Field Rgt
- Royal Artillery 25th Medium and Heavy Training Rgt
- Royal Artillery 26 L.A.A. Regt R.A.
- Royal Artillery 29th Kent Searchlight Regiment
- Royal Artillery 31st Field Regiment
- Royal Artillery 32 Bty 11 LAA Regt
- 32nd Field Rgt Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 34 L.A.A. Regt R.A.
- Royal Artillery 35 L.A.A. Regt R.A.
- Royal Artillery 35th Searchlight Regiment
- 41st Survey Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 4th Durham Survey Rgt Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 50th anti tank RA
- Royal Artillery 50 L.A.A. Regt R.A.
- Royal Artillery 51st Field Artillery Regiment
- 51st Medium Rgt Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 53rd Light Air landing Regt RA
- Royal Artillery 55th Heavy Field Rgt
- Royal Artillery 57th Field Artillery Regiment
- Royal Artillery 57th HAA
- Royal Artillery 57 Light Anti Aircraft
- 60th Field Rgt Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 61st North Midlands Field Regt
- 64th Anti-Tank Rgt. Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 65th Field Artillery Regiment
- Royal Artillery 65th HAA
- Royal Artillery 65 HAA Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 66th Lowland Medium regt
- Royal Artillery 68 HAA
- Royal Artillery 68th Medium regt
- 69th Field Rgt Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 69th West Riding Field Regiment
- Royal Artillery 69th Medium regt
- Royal Artillery 70th Sussex Searchlight Regiment
- Royal Tank Corps Royal Artillery 71st Anti Tank Regiment
- Royal Artillery 71st Anti-Tank Regiment
- Royal Artillery 74th LAA Rgt.
- Royal Artillery 76th Medium regt Shropshire Yeo
- Royal Artillery 77th Highland Field Regiment
- Royal Artillery 78 Bty 35 LAARegt
- Royal Artillery 79th Herts HAA Regt
- Royal Artillery 79th Search Light Regt RA
- 80th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 81st Anti-Tank Regiment
- Royal Artillery 81st Field Regt
- Royal Artillery 82nd Anti-Tank Regiment
- Royal Artillery Royal Artillery 85th Battery
- Royal Artillery 87 AA Regt
- 8th Rgt Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 90th Anti Tank Regiment
- Royal Artillery 94th Anti-Tank Regiment
- Royal Artillery 97th Field Regiment
- 102nd LAA Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 102 Pembroke Yeo Medium Regiment
- Royal Artillery 106th Light Ack Ack Company.
- 107th (South Notts Hussars) Regt. Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 109th LAA Rgt.
- Royal Artillery 110th Light Anti Aircraft
- 112th LAA Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 113 Field Regt
- Royal Artillery 116th Light Ack Ack Company.
- Royal Artillery 119th LAA Rgt.
- Royal Artillery 121 Field Regt
- Royal Artillery 121st Medium regt
- Royal Artillery 124 Field Regiment
- 125th Anti-Tank Rgt Royal Artillery
- 127th Field Rgt Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 128 Highland Field Regiment
- Royal Artillery 131 City of Glasgow Field Regt
- Royal Artillery 132 Battry
- Royal Artillery 135th Hertfordshire Yeo Field Regt
- Royal Artillery 136 bty 12th LAA Regt
- Royal Artillery 138 Field Regiment
- Royal Artillery Royal Artillery 140 field rgt.
- Royal Artillery 146 Field Regiment
- Royal Artillery 151st Ayrshire Yeomanry Field Regt
- Royal Artillery 152nd Ayrshire Yeomany Field Regt
- 153rd HAA Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 154th Leics Yeo Field Regt
- 155th Rgt Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 171 bty
- Royal Artillery 177 battery
- Royal Artillery 178th Field Rgt
- Royal Artillery 186 battery
- Royal Artillery 190th Field Rgt
- Royal Artillery 208th Field Regiment
- Royal Artillery 16/2 RA
- Royal Artillery 227 Bty
- Royal Artillery 28/2 HAA RA
- Royal Artillery 257 Field Rgt
- Royal Artillery 273 Bty
- Royal Artillery 257 Bty
- Royal Artillery 277th Highland Field Regt
- Royal Artillery 278th Bty 87 AA Regt
- Royal Artillery 284 Battery, 82nd Antitank
- 290 Bty LAA Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 342nd Bty
- Royal Artillery 359 Battery
- 4/2 Maritime Rgt Royal Artillery
- 4/2 Maritime Rgt Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 455 Battery
- Royal Artillery 502 SL Bty
- Royal Artillery 52 L.A.A. Regt R.A.
- 579th Heavy AA Bty. RA
- 58th HAA Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 6/3 Maritime Regiment
- 60th Anti-Tank Rgt Royal Artillery
- 61st Anti-Tank Rgt Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery 65th Anti Tank Regt
- Royal Artillery 7 med regt
- Royal Artillery 91st Anti-Tank Regiment
- Royal Artillery 92nd Field Regt
- Royal Artillery 93rd Anti-Tank Regiment
- Royal Artillery 9th Medium regt
- Royal Artillery Maritime Regiment
23rd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, was made up of 60th Battery, 89th Battery, 100th Battery. When the war broke out on 3rd September 1939 the 23rd Army Field Regiment was stationed in England, with RHQ and two Batteries at Topsham Barracks, Exeter, and two Batteries at Bristol, having returned from India in 1935. Immediately on the declaration, the Regiment was mobilised on a two-Battery basis at Topsham, and very soon came under Command 3 Division. This formation was ready for war at the end of the month.
Since then, the Regiment’s travels have taken them to places as far apart as Abberville in France, and Algiers, to Tripoli and Trieste. The number of countries served in is only equalled under the number of nationalities they have supported. Pole, American, French, Senegalese, Ghoums, Gurkhas, New Zealanders, South Africans and Canadians.
But it’s exhaustive list is almost eclipsed by the number of different insignias that had been painted on the regimental transport — which reached an all time record in the first winter of the Italian campaign, when some trucks sported First, Fifth and Eight Army signs, until General Leese saw them.
The Original Regiment had to surrender when surrounded by German Forces at St Valery having failed to reach Dunkirk. Only 1 officer and about 10 other ranks got back to England and a new unit was formed around them. Amongst the new recruits were some POW escapees who had made it home from prison camps in Europe. They fought with distinction in North Africa and Italy.
The 7th Dorsets were renamed the 94th and 110th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery and were equipped with 25 pounder guns. In 1945 they supported the 4th and 5th Dorsets as they crossed the Rhine by assault craft
4th (City of Aberdeen) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders were deployed to France with the BEF. In 1940 having advanced into Belgium, the 4th Battalion along with the 6th Bn were forced to retreat to Dunkirk and were evacuated to England. On the 1st of November 1941 4th Battalion was converted to an Artillery Regiment, becoming the 92nd Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, in 9th Armoured Division. They were employed on home defence duties.
The 8th (City of Aberdeen) Battalion Gordon Highlanders converted to artillery, becoming the 100th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery. They were deployed to Burma with the 2nd Infantry Division.
12th Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment was re-formed in July 1940, they were engaged in home defence duties in Britain. In November 1941 they transferred to the Royal Artillery and became 101st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.
14th Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment was reformed on the Isle of Man in October 1940 and took on duties on the island. In February 1942 they transferred to the Royal Artillery, and became 184th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
The 9th Battalion, Kings Own Royal (Lancaster) Regiment was formed in 1940 as a pioneer battalion for hostilities-only. They served with the British Expeditionary Force as GHQ (General Headquarters) troops during the 1940 campaign in both France and Belgium. After being evacuated at Dunkirk, they served in 47th (Reserve) Infantry Division in the United Kingdom until December 1941. The battalion was then transferred to the Royal Artillery and was converted into the 90th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery and served with the 45th Division from February 1942 until November 1943 when it was disbanded.
The Maritime Royal Artillery had its beginnings in the early part of the war when the Admiralty requested the Regiment to provide 500, 2 man LMG teams for embarking on merchant coasters. Taking with them either Lewis or Bren guns, they were to provide AA defence for the vessels. With the increase in severity of attacks on shipping, the Maritime Anti-Aircraft Regiment RA was formed in 1941.
There were initially 3 LMG Regts each with 2 Btys and 1 Regt of 1 Bty of Bofors 40mm. Port detachments were formed to find pools of trained LMG gunners who could be embarked as required. The LMG’s were supplemented with Hotchkiss guns and eventually mostly replaced by Oerlikon’s and Bofors. There was no higher formation, each CO reporting direct to RA6 at the War Office. In Sept 42 a gunner Brigadier was appointed as commander. By the end of the year Btys and Troops were operating independently and in Jan 43 the regiment was re-titled Maritime Royal Artillery.
Feb 1940 In February 1940, the Ayreshire Yeomanry transferred to the Royal Artillery and became 151st (Ayrshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment RA and 152nd (Ayrshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment.
28th Jun 1940 Reorganisation
21st Nov 1941 Operation Crusader
8th December 1941 Kota Bharu
7th Apr 1943 9 Squadron Lancaster lost
6th Jun 1944 2nd East Yorks in Action
12th Oct 1944 Anti-Tank Regiment RA fire on German Frontier
If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Allen Frank. Gunner
- Atkins Tommie Henry George. Gnr.
- Bailey Peter. Gnr.
- Baker Geoffrey Harding. Field Marshall.
- Baker Peter Arthur David. Capt.
- Baker Thomas.
- Ball George Lloyd. Gnr. (d.15th Dec 1943)
- Barwick Anthony Albert. Gunner
- Bates Arthur Ernest.
- Bates George Charles. Gnr.
- Bayliss Arthur. Gnr.
- Beattie Hugh. Gnr.
- Bennett Edward Alfred James.
- Bennett William. Gnr.
- Berryman Richard. Gnr.
- Best Alfred Cyril. Pte.
- Bettany Desmond. L/Bdr.
- Binz Frederick. Gnr. (d.8th Jun 1944)
- Blake Ronald Owen.
- Blunden Fred. Gnr.
- Bollands Walter. Bmdr.
- Bonner Sydney.
- Booth John Brabazon. Capt
- Boulby Eric. Gnr. (d.May 13, 1945)
- Bowerbank William. Gnr.
- Boyce Thomas.
- Bradley Bernard. LBdr. (d.31st July 1945)
- Bradley Leonard. Gnr.
- Breach Hugh Elliott.
- Briggs Albert. Gunner
- Briggs Albert. L/Bdr
- Broadway Ronald Robert. Pte.
- Broome Frank. Sgt.
- Brown Victor Louis. Gnr.
- Burgess Denis John. Capt. (d.14th Feb 1945)
- Burrows George Frederick Thomas. Sergeant (d.5th July 1941)
- Buskell Charles. Bdr. (d.7th Sep 1945)
- Cairns John. Sgt.
- Cameron Hugh. Gnr.
- Campbell Charles S.. L/Sgt.
- Cansick Jack. Pte.
- Carey Norman James. Gnr. (d.28th Jun 1944)
- Carter Wilfred. Gnr
- Charles John. Gnr. (d.25th July 1945)
- Charlesworth Jack. L/Bdr.
- Clark Arnold. Pte.
- Claw George Henry. Bmdr.
- Cleaver Henry.
- Cockburn Malcolm. Gnr.
- Coles Horace Ivor. Sgt.
- Collier Willoughby Hawkins. Cpl.
- Connolly Gerard Alphonsus. S/Sgt (d.24th June 1944)
- Connolly Gerard A.. S/Sgt. (d.24th June 1944)
- Conroy Patrick P.. Gnr. (d.4th Apr 1942)
- Cook Wilfred Bernard. Gnr. (d.4th May 1945)
- Cooke Kenneth Herbert. Gnr.
- Cope Robert Alfred. Gnr.
- Cordery George Cyril. Sgt.
- Cornthwaite John William Noel. Sgt.
- Cother John Brian. 2nd Lt. (d.8th May 1941)
- Coward Charles Joseph. QMBS.
- Craig Sydney. Gnr. (d.10th Mar 1945)
- Crellin George Edward.
- Cresswell Francis. Sgt.
- Crowther Clarence. Gnr. (d.17th Apr 1945)
- Cuthbert George.
- Davidson Robert. W/Bdr.
- Davies Bert. Gnr.
- Davies John Emlyn. Gnr.
- Davies Ron. Gunner
- Davies Ronald.
- Davis James. Lance Bdr.
- Deeth Frederick George. Gnr.
- Deponio Joseph Jerome. Pte.
- Deponio Joseph Jerome. Gnr.
- Devenish Wilfred Baldwin. Gnr.
- Dey Thomas Brown. L/Bdr.
- Dickers Eric Douglas. A/L/Bdr.
- Dolman Sydney A..
- Donoghue Joseph. L/Bdr.
- Draper Joseph William.
- Dudley Alex Ernest. Gnr.
- Dyson Cyril. L/Bdr.
- Dyson Des . Sergeant
- Dyson Des . Sergeant
- Eccles Eddie.
- Edmonds Sydney Walter. 2nd Lt.
- Edwards Henry William Edward. Gunner
- Edwards Raymond. Pte.
- Edwards Robert Comfort. Bdr.
- Edwards Robert Comfort. Bombardier
- Edwards Robert Comfort. Bdr.
- Edwards Robert Comfort. Bdr.
- Eichen Hyman. Pte. (d.15th Feb 1945)
- Erskine Donald Seymour. Capt.
- Evans John.
- Evans John. Gnr.
- Fellner Frederick. Sgt.Mjr. (d.16th Dec 1944)
- Fletcher Lambert. Sgt.
- Forden Harold. Gnr.
- Forfar Charles Maitland. Gnr.
- Foster Henry Charles. Pte.
- Fox Cyril.
- French Thomas John. Sgt. (d.3rd Feb 1942)
- Gale Harry Mitchell. L/Sgt. (d.26th June 1944)
- Gallagher Charles. Gnr. (d.19th Apr 1942)
- Gardiner Harold. Bdr. (d.4th Nov 1945)
- Geddes William Dean. Sgt.
- Gibson Laurence.
- Gillott John. Pte.
- Gittings Stanley Douglas.
- Goddard Denis George. S/Sgt.
- Godfrey Roy Herbert. Gnr.
- Goldman Frank. Gnr. (d.30th Sep 1943)
- Grant Percy James.
- Gray Andrew. Gnr.
- Gray Benjamin Alexander. Gnr.
- Green Peter Smart. T/Capt
- Grossman Jacob James.
- Gyves George. Sgt.
- Hailstone Stanley Albert.
- Hall John.
- Hamilton Charles. Gnr. (d.11th Oct 1944)
- Hamilton William.
- Handy Raymond. L/Bdr.
- Harding Frank Henry.
- Hardisty Thomas. Gnr. (d.15th Sep 1944)
- Hardwick Albert Henry. L/Bdr.
- Harrington Albert.
- Harrington Ernest.
- Harris Edward Richard Thomas. Bombardier Gunner
- Harris Edward. Gnr. (d.14th Feb 1942)
- Haywood Harold Charles. Gnr. (d.31st Oct 1944)
- Hazzard Patrick. Gnr. (d.between 31st May & 2nd of Jun 1942)
- Heanan John. Gnr. (d.3rd May 1943)
- Heaton Robert. Sgt.
- Hebburn Mark Bernard.
- Hepplewhite William Augustas. W/Bdr
- Higby Stanley William Summers . Gnr.
- Higginson Henry. Gnr. (d.21st Nov 1941)
- Hodgkinson John William. Gnr.
- Hogan . Sgt.
- Hole Albert. Battery Sgt Mjr.
- Holmes Cecil. L/Cpl
- Holmes Thomas James. Pte.
- Horwood Arthur. Mjr.
- Hoyle John Hilton. Gnr.
- Huckvale Frederick Horace Henry. Gnr.
- Hudson Raymond Charles. Gnr.
- Hudson William Hensley. Gnr. (d.11th Dece 1941)
- Hughes Fred.
- Hughes John Owen. Gnr.
- Humfryes Henry. Gnr. (d.6th Aug 1945)
- Hutchinson John Arthur. Gunner (d.21st Dec 1945)
- Inglis Joseph John. Gn
- Inglis William. Sgt. (d.2nd Nov 1944)
- Jackson Gordon Keith.
- Jackson Stanley. Gnr.
- Jackson Stanley. Gnr.
- Jackson William.
- James Albert Edward. CSM
- Jeffery Ernest Frederic Hope. Cpt.
- Jenkins William John. Bmbdr.
- Jenner Norman. Gnr.
- Johnson Arthur William. Pte.
- Johnson Charles Frederick. Gnr.
- Johnson Francis Bernard. Gnr.
- Johnson William. Gnr.
- Jones Francis Benjamin.
- Jones Gwilym. Bmdr.
- Jones Robert . Gnr. (d.14th Nov 1942)
- Joyce John.
- Jupp James Edward. Gunner
- Keen Augustus. Sgt.
- Keningale John W.. Gnr.
- Kennedy John James. L/Sgt. (d.30th Aug 1945)
- Keslake Charles.
- Keslake Charlie J. Gnr.
- Knight Frederick Handel. Gnr. (d.10th/11th July 1944)
- Lacey Tom. 2nd Lt.
- Lake Charles Alfred. Gunner
- Lambert John George. Gnr. (d.18th Feb 1942)
- Lamont Norman Maclaren. Gnr.
- Lees Russell Telford. Gnr. (d.29th Dec 1943)
- Lenton Henry. Pte.
- Lewis Victor.
- Lewis Walter Charles.
- Lillystone Harry. Gnr.
- Limb Alfred William. Gnr.
- Lockie John Pretswell. Gnr. (d.14th Aug 1944)
- Lomas Thomas N. Pte.
- Long Alfred. BSM.
- Lownsborough George. Sgt.
- Mackay Murdoch. Bdr.
- Maguire Charles Thomas.
- Maguire Charles Thomas. Gnr.
- Malcolm Robert Muir.
- Mannion Patrick. L/Sgt.
- Marsden Robert Leonard. Sgt.
- Marshall Cecil Stanley Frederick.
- Mathias Robert Reginald. Gnr. (d.24th Apr 1945)
- Matterface William Albert Charles . L/Sgt.
- May Wilfred. Pte.
- Mayes Frank John. Lance Corporal
- Maylin Ernest Walter. Sgt.
- McCormick William. Sgt.
- McDermont Peter. W/O (d.29th Seotember 1941)
- McGregor Hugh Archibald. Bmdr.
- McKee Edward. Sgt.
- McLoughlin Francis Joseph. L/Bmdr
- McLoughlin Francis Joseph.
- Mead Albert William.
- Mead Albert William.
- Meechan Charles Cullinane. Gnr.
- Mercer Herbert. Pte.
- Midcalf Raymond Aubrey.
- Millar Alexander Brian. L/Bdr.
- Mills Charles Albert. Dvr.
- Mills Charles Albert.
- Mitchell Harry.
- Mitchell Harry.
- Mitchell Leonard Douglas. Gnr.
- Moffatt Stanley. Gnr.
- Mortimer James.
- Mortimer James.
- Munton John Charles. Sgt. (d.1st Mar 1943)
- Murphy John Edward. 1st Lt.
- Murphy Thomas. Pte.
- Mycock Fred. Gnr.
- Nellist James. Gnr. (d.2nd Oct 1942)
- Newman Noel George F.. Bdr.
- Norris James. Bdr. (d.4th Dec 1944)
- Osbourne Harry. Pte.
- Papworth William John. L/Bdr.
- Park Ernest. Gnr. (d.7th Mar 1943)
- Parry Arthur Wellesley. Cpt. (d.16th Dec 1943)
- Patterson John Nicholas. Gunner (d.31st May 1942)
- Pearce Osman Parker.
- Pearce Reginald Ernest. Gunner
- Plant Brian Arthur. Gnr.
- Powell Gilbert Crampton. WO2
- Price Frederick James. Cpl.
- Priestman William James. Gnr.
- Proctor Leslie John. Gunner (d.2nd Jul 1944)
- Quinlan Patrick Joseph. A/Sgt
- Quinn Hugh. Gunner (d.4th Jan 1945)
- Ray John. BSM.
- Rea Thomas James. Gnr.
- Rees Kenneth.
- Roach Stephen. Gnr.
- Roberts Edward Richard. Gnr.
- Robinson Alfred. Gnr.
- Robinson John. Gnr. (d.19th Mar 1943)
- Rogers Lionel. Bombadier
- Rose William James. Gunner (d.8th July 1944)
- Rowley John James. Gnr. (d.10th Aug 1943)
- Royal Albert George. Gnr. (d.10th Feb 1942)
- Rudland Edward Neville. Lt.
- Sales Leonard Edward. Gunner
- Savage Joan Elizabeth. Pte.
- Scott Victor George. Gnr
- Settle Christian. Pte.
- Seymour Arthur William. Gnr. (d.5th Dec 1941)
- Shadforth Robert. L/Bdr.
- Shearwood Walter. Pte.
- Shearwood Walter. Gnr.
- Shepherd James Nicol. Gnr. (d.2nd Feb 1946)
- Simpson Eric. Sgt.
- Sims Llewellyn. Gnr. (d.19th March 1942)
- Skelton Sydney. Bmbr. (d.14th Nov 1942)
- Sketchley Percy Robert. Gnr. (d.10th Apr 1945)
- Skilling Hugh Brown. Gnr
- Smith James Edward. Gnr.
- Smith Leonard Albert. W/Bdr
- Smith Roy Lea. Sgt.
- Smith William David. Gnr.
- Softley Harold. Gnr. (d.28th May 1944 )
- Sparks Eric Cyril. Sgt
- Spencer Alec Roy. Gnr.
- Spriggs George Arthur.
- Stainthorpe William John. Bdr.
- Stainthorpe William John. Bmbdr.
- Staley John. Sgt.
- Stanaway James . Gnr. (d.17th Jul 1944)
- Staples Ronald Charles.
- Steels Irvin.
- Stephenson George.
- Stewart Robert. Gnr. (d.27th Oct 1941)
- Stewart Ronald. Gnr.
- Taylor Douglas. Sgt
- Taylor James John Bagan. Gnr.
- Taylor William Charles. BQMS.
- Thompson Robert. Gnr. (d.15th Mar 1944)
- Thorne Francis Anderson George. (d.17th Jun 1942)
- Tierney Patrick. Gnr. (d.30th Oct 1940)
- Titley George Herbert. Gnr.
- Toolen Peter.
- Tozer Albert Edward. L/Bdr. (d.23rd Aug 1945)
- Tudor James Arthur. Bmdr.
- Tunstall John.
- Twigg Percy. Gnr.
- Unknown . Major.
- Varney Herbert. Gnr.
- Walker James H.. L/Bdr. (d.21st Feb 1943)
- Walker John. S/Sgt.
- Walker Reginald Seymour Clifton.
- Walsh George Ernest. Lt.
- Ward AW. Bombardier
- Wardale Francis. Sergeant
- Wardale Francis. Sergeant
- Warwick Thomas Stanley. Gnr. (d.23rd Sep 1944)
- Waters Richard Henry. Gnr. (d.9th Aug 1941)
- Webster William Barr. Pvt
- Weeks John Henry.
- Weightman Edward. Gnr. (d.22nd Apr 1941)
- West John Stainley. Sergeant
- While Harold Arthur Armstrong.
- White John Stanley. Maj.
- White Michael. Gnr. (d.14th Mar 1945)
- Whyte Agnes Inverarrity. Gnr.
- Wibberley John Stewart. Bdr.
- Wilding Thomas Charles.
- Wileman . Bdr.
- Wilkinson Joseph William. Bdr.
- Williams Arthur Wellesly P.. Chaplain. (d.16th Dec 1943)
- Williams Richard . Gnr. (d.btwn 10th May 1940 & 26th June 1940)
- Williams William John. Gnr.
- Williams William Christopher James. Sgt. (d.1943)
- Wilson Christopher Fegellan. Pte.
- Wilson George Henry. Gnr. (d.12th Dec 1941)
- Wilson Thomas. Gnr.
- Windham P.. Cpt.
- Woodward Frederick George. Sergeant
- Wright George Sydney. Signalman
- Wyatt George Wilfred. Gnr.
- Yalden Henry.
- Young Arthur Leonard. Pte.
- Young Geoffrey Francis. (d.8th Feb 1945)
- Young Robert Alan. Lt.
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 191 pages in our library tagged Royal Artillery These include information on officers service, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.
Fred Hughes Royal ArtilleryI met my husband Fred in Penzance while I was serving with the Land Army, he was with the Royal Artillery, we got married in 1945.Mrs C Hughes
Pte. Herbert Mercer 140th Field Rgt ,367 Battery Royal ArtilleryMy father, Pvt Herbert Mercer, Royal Artillery, 140th Field Reg, 367 Battery, was held as a prisoner at Stalag 8B - E3 Blechhammer he lived in hut 33 for about 4 years.Jan Dennett
Gunner John Arthur Hutchinson Royal Artillery (d.21st Dec 1945)I am trying to trace my Grandfather's death and service records, I know he died in a Hospital called Whynick, theres a mystery around this I'm trying to find out anything I can to put this to rest after 8 years at trying to find out. Thank Youjulie
Lance Corporal Frank John Mayes Despatch Rider Royal ArtilleryMy Dad, Frank Mayes was imprisoned in Stalag 8b, he was in the camp for about 3 years, I have his old pow book.Ray Mayes
Gnr. Alfred William Limb Royal ArtilleryMy Grandad was Alfred William Limb. He was a Gunner with the Royal Artillery. He was admitted to Stalag XXIB on 11.6.1940, & his condition was 'not stated'.Michelle Limb
Irvin Steels 7th Medium Regt, Royal ArtilleryMy father Irvin Steels of 7th. Medium Regiment RA was captured in North Africa by Italians and taken to Italy via Naples. One of my father’s favourite sayings was ‘People say see Naples and die. When we were there the buggers threw bricks at us.’ They were handed over to the German Army who took them to Stalag 8B. My dad spent the rest of the war there working in the coal mines ‘where the pit props were like telegraph poles’. He joined the Army to get away from Fryston Colliery where the seam was only 2 feet thick. He left Poland on the forced March and was liberated by the Americans who had to operate on him to remove a leg which had gone gangrenous as a result of the frostbite which he suffered on the March. Needless to say my father who died in 1997 was never very forthcoming about his experiences and this is all I know of his time in captivity.Roger Steels
Gnr. John Owen Hughes Royal ArtilleryMy Grandfather, Taid as I call him, Gunner John Owen Hughes from Anglesey was captured in early 1942. I am not entirely certain of the date but have a letter dated 11th June 1942 he received from his sister Mary. There is an address on the letter of, SETT2 CAPAN8 PG65 which I believe is a holding camp in Gravina Italy. He was then transferred to Stalg 1Vb possibly during 1943, again I have correspondence dated 29th December 1943. The letters hold two different POW numbers, 4192702 and 227626.
I have read your website with intrigue and admiration for all those who served our country. If there is anyone who is able to help me with any information I would be very grateful.Nia Carlton-Jones
Reginald Seymour Clifton "Todd" Walker Royal ArtilleryReginald Seymour Clifton Walker was the youngest son of Arthur George Walker and Teresa Agnes. Like his brother, Angus, he was given a grand collection of names. We are unsure of the Seymour connection, but Clifton came from the place of his mother’s birth. He was always known as Todd. The name came from his inability as a child to say Reginald and it came out as Toddles. Todd was in the Royal Artillery and served from about 1941 to 1946 on the searchlight batteries, firstly at Deal in Kent and for the remainder on the Rock of Gibraltar. After the war he took a course at the Government Training Centre, Letchworth, to become a bricklayer. He married Queenie Cox of Stotfold in St Mary’s Parish Church, Baldock, and they spent their married life at 2 Manor Cottages, Willian.Ally Ward
Battery Sgt Mjr. Albert Hole MID Royal ArtilleryMy Great Grandfather served in the 8th army from 1940 onwards. He was Battery Sergeant Major Albert Hole, from Swansea South Wales. He served in Italy and against Rommel in the dessert. He was mentioned in despatches and wore the oak leaf because of this. He came home in 1944 after being shot in the leg. He brought home with him a very old pipe which was given to him by the family he stayed with in italy they even built hima seperate wing on the side of the house for hime to stay in.Oliver West
Albert William Mead Royal ArtilleryMy granddad, Bill Mead, is a veteran of WW2 and I am currently trying to find anyone who remembers him or has any photos that may be of interest to him. He was a member of the Royal Artillery, is from Birmingham and was in Stalag VIIIB Lammsdorf and Stalag XXA.Jessica Wood
Gnr. Richard Berryman Royal ArtilleryDick Berryman was in Stalag 8b with my Father, Arthur Booker, if anyone remembers him or his fellow POW's please get in touch.
Gnr. Victor Louis Brown Royal ArtilleryOur father never wanted to talk about his time as a POW, so we are trying to piece that part of his life together. We do know that he was at Stalag 357 when it was liberated. We also know that he was part of the large group of prisoners marched toward Poland. Little else is known, so any information or if anyone knew him would be a huge help. Unfortunately he passed away in 1990, without ever telling his story. Thank you in advance. His son and daughter.Tony Brown
L/Cpl Cecil "Charlie" Holmes 14th Infantry Brigade 52LAA Regiment RAMy father, Cecil Holmes,(known to his army friends as Charlie) joined the army at the start of the war in 1939 when I was a baby. I have one letter which he wrote to my mother in 1940 which indicated that he was 7611996 L/Cpl C.E.Holmes of 52 L.A.A. Regt R.A. workshops R.A.O.C. of the 14th Infantry Bde, Middle East Forces, at that stage. He was captured in Crete in May 41 and served the rest of the war as a POW mainly in Stalag IV B, returning home on my younger brother's 5th birthday, 29 May 45.
Dad did not speak to us often about his experiences during the war, but he and his old army friend, Jimmy Corrigan, would meet maybe twice a year and reminisce. On those occasions we would pick up snippets of their experiences. For instance, one which I rememberwas. He and a party of POWs were returning from a work party. They were permitted to take into the camp a small bag of sticks for the fire in the hut. When the guard asked dad what was in his bag he replied "A radio". The guard laughed and passed him into the hut without examining the bag. The bag did, of course, contain sticks, but also a radio.
A couple of years ago on Remembrance Day some ex POWs from Stalag IV B were interviewed on television. One spoke of the Stage Shows and Plays they used to put on in the camp, and that they had an illicit radio back stage. I have wondered since if it had been dad's radio. Unfortunately dad died in his 80th year in 1993. I wish he had survived to hear these men's recollections. He would have remembered them and what they had to say.
Another story he told was that he had been taken out of the camp to a civilian dentist for treatment. The dentist's wife was Irish. Dad asked her for some bread to take back to the men, and offered his gold ring in exchange for the bread. When he returned to the camp he found his ring embedded in the loaf. I now possess the ring.
Quite a few years ago I was at T.A. Camp in Sennybridge, S. Wales. Four of us decided to Hitch-hike to London for the week-end. We went into a cafe, I think it was the Nuffield Centre. There was only one other person in the cafe. During the meal this person came over to us and said that he recognized our accent as being from Northern Ireland and asked if we knew a man called Charlie Holmes. I told him that my father was Cecil Holmes and that his army friends called him Charlie. He said, "That's the very man, I was a POW with him". Unfortunately that is the total of my recollections of that occasion.
Early in May 45 I was a little boy of 6. I awoke early one morning, coming dawn, to see a man standing beside my bed. He appeared to fall over the bed and disappear. On 29 May 45 my Grand-mother (Dad's mum), my mother, two of dad's brothers, his sister, my younger brother, and I were at the L.M.S. Railway Station to meet my father coming home from the war. Hundreds of soldiers were walking along the platform from the Larne train. One in particular walked past us. I went after him and brought him back. It was my father. He was the man I had seen a couple of weeks earlier, in my vision. He had not recognized us (probably because of trauma), and his mother, wife, brothers,and sister had not recognized him. He was a man of 6'1" tall but weighed only 8 stone, very different to the man who had left in 1939 to go to the war.
Is there anyone out there who remembers my father from those days? I would sincerely love to hear from them.Les Holmess
Gunner Charles Alfred "Lakey" Lake 151st Ayrshire Yeomanry Royal ArtilleryMy Grandfather was a Gunner in HQ Battery, 151st Ayrshire Yeomanry, 11th Armored Division, British Army. He fought in Normandy and in Holland before pushing into Germany until the War ended when he went to India. I recall a story he told me which I haven't forgotten. He gave me permission to share his story. He and his outfit were stationed in Caen just after D-Day. The regiment was then given the word to advance to a new posistion. In the process a random shell had fallen and wounded a nearby despatch rider. My Grandfather was ordered to tend to the man, whilst the rest of his outfit moved forward. He stayed with him and used his field dressing to bandage the mans numerous wounds until medical personnel arrived. When they arrived they took over. "I'd done my bit", and he went about finding his unit. "I knew roughly where they were". He followed their tracks and after a couple of hours of walking he found them after crossing through a large field. He reported to his battery office and continued his normal duties. Overnight the Royal Engineers had been in and cordened off a field in white tape, indicating it was a minefield. When my Grandfather woke he saw the tape and the field, "I nearly had a fit when I saw it". He had realised he had walked across 5 acres of mine field to rejoin his unit. When I asked him "so after you'd walked through the field you realised it was a minefield" he replied "Yes, after my afternoon stroll through the minefield". "Thats what serving in the forces is all about, luck". After hearing this story I shall never again complain about my familys lack of luck. It was used when needed most.Chris Lake
Sergeant John Stainley West 116th Light Ack Ack Co Royal ArtilleryThis is very much a long shot, I am trying to research my late grandfather's time during WW11. There have been numerous articles in local newspapers regarding my grandfather and the information given in these is pretty much all I know as he never spoke to us regarding his experiences. To be honest I have no idea where to start but would be most grateful for any links or information that anyone could provide.
He was Sgt John Stainley West of Stokesley, North Yorkshire and was one of the first to land on the Normandy beaches in 1944, helping to clear minefields in northern France and other parts of Europe while serving with a division of the Canadian Army where he specialised in mine detectors and detonators. He also became a POW for half a day.
On April 15th 1945 he entered Belsen as the Official British War Photographer. At the time he was serving with the 116th Light Ack Ack Company, Royal Artillery. My Grandfather spent 4 months in Belsen recording the scenes of the few victims left alive and also working in the maternity ward. He also helped collect bodies and supervise the burial of 23,000.
He had a photocopy of a Belsen record card, on the back of which were some brief notes compiled at the time. The following extracts illustrate only too vividly the grimness of the war which was nearing its end.
"We feel that some of you who were not here at Belsen from the beginning might like to see these notes. They give the most accurate facts available, We would liked to have produced them before, but we were one and all rather busy on the first main job of clearing the concentration camp. That job is now finished. On the 12 April 1945 the Chief of Staff of the 1st German Para Army approached the Brigadier General's staff of the British 8th Corps and said he had a terrible situation on hand at Belsen and that the place must be taken over. On 13 April 1945 the terms of a special truce were drawn up, although we must remember that a battle was going on all around the Belsen area. Under these terms, the British agreed to come in and take over the camp, a neutral area was defined around Belsen, the German SS camp staff were to remain, the British doing what they liked with them, and the Hungarians to remain armed and be used by the British until such time as they had no further use for them. It is believed that Brig Glyn Hughes, deputy director of medical services, was the first to arrive. The First British unit in was an Anti-Tank Battery which arrived on 15 April. The scene which met the first officers beggars description. There were an estimated 30,000 people in camp, of which about 10,000 lay dead in the huts or about the camp. Those still alive had been without food or water for about seven days, after long periods of semi-starvation. Typhus, amongst other diseases, was raging. Corruption and filth were everywhere. The air was poisoned. You have no doubt heard these terrible details from those who saw them. The tasks which faced the firstcomers must have appeared insurmountable. Nevertheless they were tackled with outstanding success when one considers the resources available.
The Document says that, eventually the Army took over control of all the concentration camps. All the living inmates of Belsen were moved into hospitals and transit camps. The total moved numbered 28,900, although 2,000 died later.
A memento which he kept to remind himself of man's inhumanity to man was a knife, fork and spoon wrapped in a cloth folder which belonged to the Nazi Commandant, the infamous "Beast of Belsen" I believe his name to be Kramer. My Grandfather confiscated it after being spat on by this officer during one of the morning parades.
He left the camp to return to England in September 1945 after contracting a disease at Belsen that attacked his nervous system and which kept him in hospital for 5 months. His illness affected him for the next ten years, resulting in loss of memory and repeated nightmares.Emma West
Geoffrey Francis Young 16th Medium Regiment, 107bty. Royal Artillery (d.8th Feb 1945)Geoffery Francis Young was in a reserved occupation as a driver for a local delivery firm in Wrexham and did not have to join, but as many of his mates where already in the forces and being early 1945 the war seemed in its final stages he decided to see out the last stages of the war in uniform. Enlisting in early 1945 he soon found himself as a gunner in 107 Battery, 16th Med Regt (The South Notts. Hussars), Royal Artillery.
By this stage of the war UK forces were seriously depleted with little reserve left to replace 5 years worth of casualties and so within weeks of joining (and according to his letters only receiving only brief on the job training) Geoff was in Holland preparing for "operation veritable" the big push over the Rhine.
Operation Veritable lasted from Feb 8th to March 10th 1945 and was the northern part of the Second World War pincer movement by Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery's 21st Army Group with the objective to clear the land between the Rhine and Roer rivers. General Eisenhower, the Allied Commander, had decided that the best route into Germany would be across the relatively flat lands of northern Europe. This required that Allied forces should close up to the Rhine along its whole length.
Operation Veritable began at 05:00 with an artillery support of over 1000 artillery pieces (not including bofors and anti-tank guns). The initial barrage lasted for over 5 hours with a mixture of destructive firepower on enemy defences interspersed with a build up of smoke to assist the infantry advance.
107 were in constant action throughout the operation but sometime during the 8th of Feb 1945, Geoff as one of a crew of 10 manning a 5.5" gun was positioned somewhere near Kerzenheim on the German border when a USAAF plane mistook them for an enemy position and dropped bombs on their position. Two 5.5 guns were destroyed, 10 men including Geoff were killed and 8 wounded.
Geoffery Francis Young was buried at Uden war cemetery aged 19.Anthony Owen
James Mortimer 15th Scottish Royal Artillery 190 Field RegimentI have been delighted to find your web site, I have been researching my Father's wartime history for a few years now and at last I am slowly finding information about the 15th Scottish. His name was James Mortimer, 190th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery seconded to the 15th. I would be interested in any information available.Carolyn Mortimer
Ronald Davies Royal ArtilleryMy father, Ronald Davies, served with the Royal Artillery and was a prisoner in Stalag 7A. He did not like talking about his wartime experiences. To my brother he spoke of being put on his knees with a gun to his head on three occasions, each time his life was saved by the priest. To me he told tales of horses head soup and that it was the only time in his life that he had worn a moustache.
He escaped, was recaptured and sent to the coalmines in Poland (I think) My father died in 1986. I wish he was here now to tell his stories.Melanie Dartnell
James Mortimer 190th Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryI have been delighted to find your web site, I have been researching my Father's wartime history for a few years now and at last I am slowly finding information about the 15th Scottish. His name was James Mortimer, 190th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery seconded to the 15th. I would be interested in any information available.Carolyn Mortimer
Hugh Elliott Breach Royal ArtilleryMy father, Hugh Elliott Breach of the Royal Artillery was captured in Italy in September or October 1944. He became prisoner number 138048 at Stalag 7a, and he was liberated by American forces in May 1945. Like so many others my father never spoke about his war experiences. I know he made friends with a Canadian, Al McLennon? who lived in Vancouver, but anything else is a mystery.Chris Breach
Sergeant George Frederick Thomas Burrows (d.5th July 1941)My father, Sergeant George Frederick Thomas Burrows, R.A.S.C. had been in France in the BEF and managed to get home on one of the little ships at Dunkirk. I would love to know who rescued him. After a convalescent, he was sent out to Africa, not sure quite where they intended to land. His ship was the HMS Anselm and he was one who didn't get off. I was about 6 years old at the time with 'ovaltiney' sisters of 4 and 2 and Mum expecting a baby in the November as Dad was killed in July
He was the sun in my sky and it took me over 60 years to be healed of the grief I felt at his death. This being through my Christian faith and a loving counsellor. War doesn't end with the peace treaty, as I and many others can testify.
I have a Liverpool Echo report of the incident and Padre Cedric Pugh, who, eventually received his well earned medal. It took my local councillors 50 years to get our lost loved ones names put on a monument.I also have many photos of Dad and one of Mum that he carried with him all through the BEF and Dunkirk. Also a small cutting about someone who was rescued from the Anselm. I am not very good with the computer but would be very willing to get good copies if anyone cared to have one.
Sincerely and thanks for the site. I will try and send a donation but am now an OAP and it isn't financially easy in this 'land fit for heroes'.Maureen Bessie Bentley
Gunner Reginald Ernest Pearce 50th Battalion Scottish Rifles(Cameroons)My ex-Wife and I are researching our family trees, as it is possible we may have already been related before our Marriage. She has found some references to her Father, Reg Pearce who was a gunner with the 50th. Battalion Scottish Rifles(Cameroons). There is also a reference to his being part of No. 284 Battery (AAKAAK), based at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
The unit had a pet cat. Every time she detected the sounds of the enemy bombers, long before the crew did, she would find her safe spot, but it was the signal for the lads to be ready, well in advance, of the enemy squadrons. One Italian squadron got a real pasting, and,having thus decided that discretion was the better part of valour, just dropped their bombs and fled, and, to this day, the waters of Great Yarmouth's Harboursmouth are still host to a whole collection of unexploded bombs, that. if moved, would wreck the whole of the town if they were to go off. Reg was also aboard the SS "Strathmore", and sailed to Port Said in 1945, being posted to Cairo and Alexandra, at the same time as my own Father, Will Osborne, who was with the REME Dance Orchestra out there. He returned in 1946 aboard the SS "Caroloinen"(Caroliner?). If anyone has any information, or any stories about Reg please do email and we can both enjoy sharing some history about our two families. Thanks in Advance.Pat & Terry Osborne
Sergeant Francis "Frank" Wardale Royal Horse ArtilleryMy father, Francis Wardale, known as Frank, from Liverpool was a POW between 1940-45 and was taken somewhere in North Africa. He was a Sergeant in the Royal Horse Artillery and was regular since 1936. Does anyone out there know of him?Tony Wardale
Sergeant Des Dyson 17th Coast Battery Royal ArtillieryI am hoping to find out more about my fathers'regiments' movements. Dad was captured in Tobruk and ended up in Campo PG78 from 6th June 1942 until he escaped in Sept. or Oct. of 1943. He was Sgt. Des Dyson, (843272) 17th Coast Battery, RA.Clive Dyson
Albert William Mead Royal ArtilleryMy granddad, Bill Mead, is a veteran of WW2 and I am currently trying to find anyone who remembers him or has any photos that may be of interest to him. He was a member of the Royal Artillery, is from Birmingham and was in Stalag VIIIB Lammsdorf and Stalag XXA.Jessica Wood
Sergeant Francis "Frank" Wardale Royal Horse ArtilleryMy father, Francis Wardale, known as Frank, from Liverpool was a POW between 1940-45 and was taken somewhere in North Africa. He was a Sergeant in the Royal Horse Artillery and was regular since 1936. Does anyone out there know of him?Tony Wardale
Sergeant Des Dyson 17th Coast Battery Royal ArtillieryI am hoping to find out more about my fathers'regiments' movements. Dad was captured in Tobruk and ended up in Campo PG78 from 6th June 1942 until he escaped in Sept. or Oct. of 1943. He was Sgt. Des Dyson, (843272) 17th Coast Battery, RA.Clive Dyson
Gnr. Harold Forden 124 Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy deceased Father was in Stalag 4g I have found out some info on the camp but not that much. As you can see my Father was a gunner in the Royal Artillery during WW2. He saw action at Dunkirk & Africa before being captured at the fall of Tobruk.
Gunner Harold Forden, Royal Artillery
Enlisted into Royal Artillery Regular Army & posted to Depot 04/01/39
Posted to 1st Training Regiment 11/01/39
Posted to 22nd Field Regiment 15/04/39
Posted to 1st General Base Depot 19/04/40
Posted to 3rd Division 10/06/40
Posted to 76th (Highland) Field Regiment 11/06/40
Posted to Depot 21/06/40
Posted to 2nd Reserve Regiment 22/06/40
Posted to 124 Field Regiment 26/06/40
Reported Missing 20/06/42
Confirmed Prisoner of War 13/01/43
Repatriated to UK 14/05/45
Posted to 202 Field Regiment 12/07/45
Attached to Chillwell Motor Transport Group 02/08/45
Posted to 2nd Motor Transport Group 22/08/45
Released to Army Reserve 11/07/46
Discharged from Reserve Liability 30 June 1959
Auth: Navy, Army and Air Forces Reserve Act 1959
Service with Colours: 04/01/39 to 10/07/46
British Expeditionary Force 02/10/39 to 01/06/40
Middle East Force 19/05/41 to 30/11/41
Iraq 01/12/41 to 12/02/42
Egypt 13/02/42 to 19/06/42
Prisoner of War 20/06/42 to 13/05/45 Italy, Germany Stalag 4b and 4g
Dad was prisoner of war in Italy, but no records show which camp. He may have been kept in North Africa for some time, before going over to Italy. They were usually shipped into Italy via Benghazi or Brindisi. . After Italy surrendered they were transferred to Austria or Germany. Dad was held in Stalag 4B. The camp opened Oct.39. & was Liberated 23rd April 45. It was located in Muhlberg district 4. he was transferred to 4G on 14/10/43 This was at Oschatz eastern Germany, to the south east of Leipzig, in the direction of Meissen & Dresden & near to the south west of Muhlberg. There were only 20 men permanently based in the camp, the other 4,400 were out on working parties on farms, factories, mines etc.
Stalag 4G was an administrative and holding centre and most of the POWs were assigned to work parties (arbeits kommandos).
Any information, photographs of 4g would be greatly appreciated.Paul Forden
L/Bmdr Francis Joseph "Paddy" McLoughlin Royal ArtilleryMy late Grandfather, Francis Joseph "Paddy" McLoughlin, was held at camp 4dz near Annaburg and was released by the Americans at the end of the war. Prior to this he was held at Campo 73, Carpi in Italy following his capture by the Germans in North Africa. He was a Lance Bombardier in the Royal Artillery, army number 882792, POW number 247056 and had previously been in France before escaping from Dunqerqe.
If anybody has any information on either camp or knew of my Grandfather I would love to hear from them.John McLoughlin
Peter Toolen Royal ArtillieryI am trying to find some information about my father, Peter Toolen, who served in WW2 in the Royal Artilliery (a radio operator, I believe). He was captured in Egypt and taken to a POW camp in Italy. I do not know much else about him except that he escaped when the Italians surrendered. My father died in 1965 and I am trying to find out his story.Peter Toolen
Francis Joseph "Paddy" McLoughlin Royal ArtilleryMy late grandfather, Francis Joseph "Paddy" McLoughlin, was a lance bombardier in the Royal Artillery, escaped at Dunkerque, was then later captured in North Africa and subsequently held at Campo 73 in Carpi, Italy and then Stalag 4DZ near Annaburg.
I'm trying to get info on either camp (memories, photos, anything) and, unlikely I know, hear from anyone who knew my Grandad.John McLoughlin
Thomas Boyce Guards Armoured Division Royal Artillery RegimentDoes anyone recognise the name of my wife's grandfather, Thomas Boyce, and are you able to help us piece together details of his army service — serving with the Royal Artillery Regiment, Guards Armoured Division and involved in BEF action at Reichwald, Rees and Bremen in Germany?Terence Morgan
Thomas Charles Wilding Royal Artillery, 55th (WSY) Field RegimentThomas Charles Wilding (Army Number 930571) was a gunner in the 55th (WSY) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, served in BEF, trained at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain, and saw action in Reichwald and Rees.
Does anyone recognise this man and can you help me piece together some of his experiences during his army service?Terence Morgan
W/Bdr William Augustas Hepplewhite M.M 128th Highland Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy father William Hepplewhite was awarded the M.M for something that happend in Sicily, July 28th 1943 with the 128th Highland Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. His citation is vague on the exact place . If any one can help me with this I would be so greatful.Thomas Hepplewhite
Gunner Anthony Albert Barwick 69th Medium Regiment, 242 Battery Royal ArtilleryI have researched much of Dad's war but parts frustratingly elude me. He was Tony Barwick and he enlisted from Liverpool in 1938 and after the war was a professional soldier all his working life. I guess many men had his sort of war, taking part in big events but only realising it afterwards and doing their duty for their country through injury and sickness. He was away for 3 years from 1943 to 1946.
The following are some pointers. I have read his service record and the available unit diaries at Kew as well as researched books and the internet. For many years he led a battalion at the Dunkirk Veterans reunion each year. He died in 2007 aged 86 still carrying a shrapnel mark from the Dunkirk beaches under his heart and a German bayonet scar on an upper thigh from Cassino. And he was in the Artillery!
In 1940 he was part of 69 medium Regt, 242 battery and was ambushed at Wormhoudt whilst retreating to Dunkirk, 27-28 May. The Earl of Aylesford commanding his group was killed. The 2nd Warwicks (1& 2 24th of Isandlahwhana) were then defending it, one of Gorts strongholds. One of his unit Gnr. Parry was caught and ended up in the S.S. massacre in the barn, but Dad's group ran the lucky way and made it to Dunkirk.
I'd like to know What ship he boarded. He got off by carrying a stretcher onto a warship alongside the mole following an officer with a loaded pistol. This dates it because Gort only agreed to stretcher wounded being evacuated after MO's pressures late in the evacuation. One stretcher took the place of 10 standing men you see. I have the Royal Navy official report on the Dunkirk evacuation and HMS Worcester is the best candidate.
Dad went to Egypt in SS Samaria 1943 in time for Alamein. That ship also brought 101 Airborne of DDay fame to UK from America. Does anyone know Where the unit diary is for this North African period? (Kew National Archive hadnt got it when last I looked); Then across the western desert (I have pictures of him and his mates with some names from this time) to Anzio, Cassino and via Marseille with the Americans and back up to Wormhoudt and then to the Ruhr until 1946. I have various sources eg Walter Lord's "The Miracle of Dunkirk", Gunner Parry's "Massacre on the road to Dunkirk" and the internet eg 58th Regiment RA has a superb site with a detailed diary and Dads C.O. of 69th was in command of both Regiments for while during the Dunkirk retreat. Hence some of Dad's movements can be traced via that wonderfully detailed site. Any relative of a member of 69th Medium Regt.R.A. is welcome to contact me and I will be happy to pass on the more extensive information I have on Word file.Kevin Barwick
Gunner Henry William Edward "Sid" Edwards 110th Light Anti Aircraft, 362 Battery Royal ArtilleryMy Grandfather, Henry William Edward Edwards (Ted) Signed up in 1939 with the Dorset regiment. He was transfered to The Royal Artillery in 1942. Not sure at what point he became to be in the Wessex 43rd, 110th Light Anti Aircraft. I have a boxing trophy he won on the 31st May 1944 which states 362 Battery RA LAA. I have many Photos of him during the war, and have some information given to me by my uncle. He was part of a 40mm Bofor Light Anti Aircraft troop. The bofor was a towed gun, not a static or mounted on a vehicle type. From the information and detective work I have done, I believe that my grandad was in H troop. 362 Battery consisted of H & J Troop. J Troop had the mounted bofors. H troop i believe where attached to the HQ's. The photo below of my grandad outside a THQ in europe.
I Would love to get intouch with someone who had a relative in the battery or 110th in general.Lee Fortis
John Evans 11 Battery 3HAA.RAI served as a gunner with 177 Battery, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, 1941 as Radar Operator. I later with served with 11 Battery, 3HAA.RA in Jahore, Malaya and picked up the only night incursion by the Japs while in Jahore.
The battery was at Anson Road Stadium, Kepple Harbour (a football pitch) and was near to being wiped out on Friday, 13th when many anti-personnel bombs dropped on the site with a direct hit on the height finder. Seven were killed. One bomb only on Saturday, which just missed the ammunition. After taking on a couple of low-flying Japs (traverse right-traverse right-depress-depress-fire and a short fuse up their backsides), a formation of nine were engaged with a salvo smack on the nose of the leading aircraft, followed by another salvo same place. They turned away only to detour and come back for the battery at Kepple Harbour with the sun at their backs. The large bomb we took verified that they had been heading for the Naval Base. The Indian battery nearby had taken a direct hit on a gun and the generator and transmitter of our radar were destroyed.
Although that Indian battery was not in action, 11 Battery was in action on the final day. The lone Bofor sounded reveille at 6am on the 15th, which aroused those of us who had a brief sleep in the Seaman's Mission.
Surrender was a reprieve I felt as I was convinced I must die next day.J Evans
Kenneth "Taffy" Rees 55th Heavy Regiment Royal ArtilleryI am writing this on behalf of my father, Kenneth Rees, who is now 86 years old, he served with the 55th Heavy Field Regiment, Royal Artillery and has told us this story about how when he was serving in India, his regiment was being disbanded at the end of 1946-47 and he had to drive a Super Mack Lorry with a 7.2 gun to Dulali to the School of Artillery, where we believe it is still on display, there were two other people accompanying him on this trip which took at least 8 days driving.Janet Alderton
Gnr. Percy Robert " " Sketchley 12th Regiment (d.10th Apr 1945)Bernard Sketchley
Sgt. Robert Heaton MID. Royal ArtilleryMy Father, Robert Heaton, was in the RASC and served with the BEF in Europe and later with the Eighth Army in the Middle East (and I think in Italy) after the war he was with BAOR in Germany. I think he may have transferred regiments, as his service medals are in a box which has RA (presumably Royal Artillery) on the back.
When he was first in the Army he had the prefix T before his number, by the time of his discharge the prefix was S. I think that he was a driver at first but later was a despatch rider. He has the France and Germany Star, 1939-1945 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal and an oak leaf on a ribbon with a narrow red stripe in the centre with a narrow white stripe, then a blue, then a red on either side. I don't know if there should be a medal to go with that.
I have a birthday card which he sent me with T 50124 Dvr R Heaton, H Q 5th Div, BEF on the back. I know that he was at Dunkirk and that he was home more than once on embarkation leave (he seemed to get sent back to Fulwood Barracks Preston before embarkation).
Quite often I was allowed to sew new insignia on his uniform and I was very proud whenever he added a stripe, he also let me clean his buttons - as I was very young I wonder now if he got into trouble for things not done correctly but I know that he would think it worth it for the love that went into those tasks.
I would love to know his full record, particularly why he was mentioned in despatches (he always said that it was for getting the General's beer through, but didn't say which General although I know that Monty was his great hero)
NOTE: The medal ribbon described is for the War Medal and there should be a medal to accompany it, it is a circular medal with the kings head on the front and a lion and the date 1939-1945 on the reverse.Barbara Radway
Gnr. Richard " " Williams 140 Field Regiment (d.btwn 10th May 1940 & 26th June 1940)Gunner Richard Williams was, I believe my great Uncle, who left home around 1939-40 for WW2 never to return. He is listed on the Commonwealth Graves Commission website as having no known grave and he is on the Dunkirk Memorial in France. He was 21 and lost his life between 10th May 1940 & 26th June 1940.
I never met him, but would like to understand what his role may have been, presumably during the fighting in the period around the evacuation of Dunkirk. I have been reading Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's amazing account of Dunkirk, but I have failed to connect Gunner Williams to any of the account of what happened. I realise that the fighting was intense and it is the nature of war that people get blown up, or bodies left behind in the course of action. I like to think he held off advancing Germans allowing others to get home, but any idea of what might have happened would be appreciated.Mrs J Hargrave
Sgt. Augustus Keen Black WatchMy Father, Gus Keen, was a pre-war Territorial and became full time in 1938. Initially in the Artillery he was seconded north to a Training Camp on the racecourse at Troon, attached to the Black Watch. Because he was an experienced driver, rare in the 1930's, he quickly rose through the ranks and became a small arms and drill instructor.
My mother never let him forget how she could hear him shouting at new recruits across the barrack square (she always said it was a mile, but I doubt it) and how on one occasion she wheeled my brother, in his pram, right up to him on the parade ground to tell him not to shout so much!
He was promoted Sergeant Major and transferred to Northern Ireland with an Ack Ack unit where he became a Spotter. His job was to go up in a Lysander aircraft, fly over Liverpool,Cardiff or Bristol- wherever the raid was coming in- and tell the gunners on the ground what height the bombers were at to set their fuses to the reuired height. On one occasion the plane ran out of fuel and they landed in a field near RAF Locking, Weston-super-Mare, and had to walk to the air station to request fuel. The Duty Officer asked my father if he wanted to go back with the 19 year old pilot or make other arrangements. He went back to N Ireland by train and ferry! He never liked flying after that and after the war never went in an aeroplane again.
Although never wounded, he played football for his regiment and had to have his cartliage removed, for which he received a war pension until his death in 1999. As a small boy in the 1950's I can remember his silver topped cane which he used when he became an Acting RSM with the Black Watch towards the end of the war. This site certainly prompts some good old memories.Vernon Keen
Signalman George Sydney "Lefty" Wright 154 Field Regiment (Leics. Yeo.) Royal ArtilleryMy father was George Sydney Wright ('Sydney' to my mother and 'Lefty' to his friends in his regiment). He served with 154 Regiment R.A. from Jan. 1941 to Oct. 1945.
I was born in Brampton, Cumberland in 1940 and consequently never knew my father until I was five years old. During the war I lived with my mother, my grandparents and my aunt, whose husband was killed-in-action in Burma, May 1945.
When my father returned from the war he could not find a job, so he crossed the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland where he found work in the Civil Service in 1947. Of course my Mother and I accompanied him and this is where problems began. At such a tender age I found it extremely difficult to bond with the 'stranger' who had taken me away from the people I regarded as my family and ever since I have suffered from insecurity and a good deal of guilt.
I am very proud of his war record and think of him as a wonderful man, but I never could feel the son-to-father bond. I'm afraid I was much more bonded to my Grandfather. World War II still tortures its victims!
My father died playing bowls in June 1995 aged seventy-five. He collapsed on the green with a heart attack. Never once did he speak of his war exploits even though he was involved in the Battle of El Alamein and was in action at Ortona in Italy.
I am a retired schoolteacher and songwriter. In my spare time I have composed the following song about our relationship. I also have some photographs. Thanks for reading this and a great big thank-you to the Royal Corps of Signals, 154 Field Regiment R.A. (Leics. Yeomanry)
The lyrics to my song are as follows...
VICTIMS WITH NO COMMON GROUND
In came the soldier, fresh from El Alemein’s war,
Home from the deserts of death where boys became men.
No scars on his body, he kept them where nobody saw,
And I was too young to let Daddy be more than a friend.
Too young to swap families, starting new life with the hurt,
Too young for the change that would season a five year old heart;
He crossed the threshold with medals that hung from his shirt,
And I crossed the Rubicon ever to hold us apart.
Victims of war, we were victims of uncaring war,
Innocence suffers long after the last rifle round;
Father and son, linked by our blood and no more,
No ties that were real, just victims with no common ground.
And I watched him grow old and cope with the life that we led,
We cut two roads through time, two roads that rarely were wed;
With no one to blame, if you don’t count El Alemein’s hell,
It don’t matter now, but I wish I’d been there when he fell.
Victims of war, we were victims of uncaring war,
Innocence suffers long after the last rifle round;
Father and son, linked by our blood and no more,
No ties that were real, just victims with no common ground.
(Words & Music by Raymond Wright)Raymond Wright
Bombardier Gunner Edward Richard Thomas HarrisMy uncle, Tom Harris, was a regular in the Royal Artillery served in MEF and was transferred to Infantry served with 2 Btn Northants in NW Europe. He went missing two days after VE day and his body was found in Jan 1946 (believed murdered by Polish displaced persons.) Any information about his service would be appreciated particularly in the RA.Mike Harris
Gnr. James " " Stanaway 71st Anti Tank Regiment (d.17th Jul 1944)I'm looking for information about or anyone who served with my great uncle James Stanaway from Smethwick, Staffordshire (now West Midlands). He was killed in Caen in July 1944 aged 21, whilst serving with the Royal Artillery 71st Anti Tank. He was the son of Alice and James Stanaway of Smethwick.Dennis Day
Gnr. John " " Evans 11 Battery Royal ArtilleryI had long been wanting to join up, being a reluctant scholar, and brought leaflets home, one being about RAF apprentices which appealed, but my mother was to be my dependant relative and no way was I going to get her permission to join up. However, with call up looming, I reasoned that I may as well go early and choose my own unit, to which she agreed, so off I went to Liverpool recruiting office to be greeted by "wouldn't you like to join the Guards" before I could get inside the place. I declined, and in fact, once inside I had no idea of what I wanted to join, I was in there and savouring the moment. I was pointed in the direction of the person recruiting for the Royal Artillery as it had a choice of units, so I was given my options which included anti-aircraft. Now there were two things which drew me to that. I had been subjected to air raids and hitting back appealed, and ack-ack trained at Oswestry, which I thought useful for a weekend pass, it being nearby, so ack-ack it was.
I was to report on 13th March, 1941, and I had been on the streets with a cousin on the night of the heavy raid of March 12th/13th when many were killed and I learned what a parachute mine sounded like as it descended,a very menacing sound indeed, not the quick swish of a bomb. So off I went after a couple of hours in bed, telling mother who was accompanying me on the bus for whatever reason, that I wanted no fuss.
Parkhall Camp, Oswestry. Get those windows open on frosty nights. The nuisance early risers disturbing the peace. Parading with knife fork spoon and mug held behind back to march to breakfast.
I wanted, boy-like, to be on a gun, but a written test I undertook saw me selected for radar training which I did in Buxton, Derbyshire, where we slept on the floor in the vast Empire Hotel after going to a farm to fill up with straw the flat old mattress, which surely was from WW1?
Off to a cold windy place in North Wales, Tonfannau, with sea to the front and mountains to the rear, and cold water washing and shaving. A train up to Barmouth, and the memory of that seeing me and my wife going there for the occasional few days; the picture I had of breaking waves recalled from those wartime days. It was there that I heard the constant stream of bombers going to Liverpool on the occasion of the seven consequitive nights blitz.
Posted to 177 Battery, Newcastle about May, 1941. Newcastle was alive with uniformed people, saluting every few yards, officers and men fed up with it. One visit to a cinema and half a pint of beer returning to the site.
Why so little to spend? My 17/6- reduced by a 7/- shilling allowance made in respect of my dependant relative. I had been earning 17/6- at age 17 in a shop, and having quit that for better money, had been earning £3-15-0 take home pay, albeit for a six night working week, and a 65 hour week. That was at the Co-op bakery where I was putting up orders for confectionery with two others, one a conscientious objector, for the 47 horse draw vans which even then in 1941 were doing their rounds with bread and cakes, seven vans doing the shops. I wrecked my spine there with a stupid lift, though not knowing what was in store for me late in life as a result. I still can't believe it.
Embarkation leave and off to Woolwich. Strange these old buildings, three stories high and bare. The body of men gathered there were located in a room at ground floor where battery orders were posted. Three of us decided we would occupy a room elsewhere,and I shared a food parcel with Ron Thirling who lived in Catford. I was to be a bearer at his funeral in Thailand. We sauntered down to join the main party to find them on parade in full battle order ! "I'll give you two minutes " said a nice man, "two minutes to get back here properly dressed". Well, webbing equipment never went on so fast.
To the stores for equipment, six shirts, sis pair of shorts, a khaki drill uniform with topee, short puttees, extra this and extra that, but why oh why was I , a stripling at 11 1/2 stone and five foot ten , seen to be large ? Others had reasonablty fitting gear but mine went around me near twice. I always was unlucky.
Off to Glasgow with an overnight journey, and ferried out to the Empress of Canada, I returned there in 1991 for an apology of a holiday at Dunnoon. The only way to see the world is by sea, and once again sleeping on the floor; deck this time as hammocks we could not cope with.
"Any complaints" said the orderly officer? They moaned about mashed spuds and moaned when they got two in their jackets. The sausages were steam cooked of course and looked doubtful, so the tray was passed along, some gravy taken, and the sausages went out of the porthole. Then came the 'chicken'. Odd to see a ring on a leg, along with the odd feather, so wise men forsake that, but those who were bent on suicide partook of it and were in trouble in the early hours.
Capetown gave troops a wonderful reception, and when we left, returning to ship on Bonfire Night, oranges had been taken aboard. Now these were on sale at 1 1/2d each, and we suspected that they were a gift from those lovely people, so few bought them.
Our group of radar men were posted to a regular unit, who were posted to Singapore in 1938, and we experienced Changi Barracks which matched the comfortable life led by those who ran Malaya. Fancy being shaved in bed , a torch on your chest, a murmured word in foreign language saying -what? Off to a gunsite in Jahore, we newcomers under canvas and kit turning green with mold.
It's night and I am manning the receiver as the transmitter scans to the north. I ring the command post-" formation of aircraft bearing 35 something" Not easy to get men unused to action out of bed and they got only seven rounds off. I heard nothing from the direction of Singapore, though I read on BBC People's War a Eurasian youth who was awakened by gunfire. Well, if he could hear us, we should have heard the bombs which he said were dropped!
Guns sent up to Kuala Lumpur and radar to Mersing on the East coast, guns turning back as all else were retreating. WE on radar were relieving a static Royal Air Force radar unit, but left soon after as attention had been drawn to this tiny strip of beach by rifle fire directed at a Jap aircraft, and was followed by three bombers calling with slight damage to the radar, but our range was short and for guns only, sending us to Mersing was quite useless but appropriate to what was going on.
Anson Road Stadium was a football ground and 11 Battery was sited there, with Kepple Harbour behind and Kalang airfield ahead with an Indian battery close by. inn spite of anything written or said to the contrary, they, plus a lone Bofor gun were the only ack-ack defence, both taking casualties from direct hits. Twice daily a formation of 27 aircraft blanket bombed with mainly anti-personnel bombs , and the said are was where they dumped them. We with radar had been pushed around from pillar to post as radar was for night use only. We were with the Indian battery when our generator and transmitter were destroyed and a direct hit on a gun.
We heard that 11 battery had taken a beating, with seven dead via a direct hit on the height finder and the battery close to being wiped out. There must have been ten or twelve bombs on site on that Friday 13th. only one HE bomb which just missed the ammunition on Saturday, but Sunday, the final day saw the battery taking on low fliers before engaging a formation of nine heading for the naval base. Two salvos were each smack on the nose of the leading aircraft which forced them to turn away. Alack and alas, they detoured and came in from Kepple Harbour with the sun behind them and the one very big bomb we took proved where they had been headed. I suppose we surprised them as the battery must have been seen as done for on Friday.
There was no other fire apart from ours, and the Indian battery I can only assume was quiet after the direct hit on the gun. 11 Battery were both first and last to engage the enemy. The Japs must have been impressed with the much cratered site and continued resistance, and it was said by an officer of ours that we had been selected for the job on Saigon docks for putting up a good show, though of course, all artillery went there.John Evans
Ronald Owen Blake Royal ArtilleryI am trying to find out more about Ronald Blake for a very good friend of mine. I know he was born in Nov 1908 and enlisted on the 3rd of December 1942, His height was given as 5ft 6 1/2 in, weight 148 lbs. He went over to Normandy on 6th June 1944 with the Herts and Essex Yeomanry. If anyone has any further details please contact me.John R Garrett
Gnr. Norman James " " Carey (d.28th Jun 1944)I am trying to find details about the last days in the life of my wife’s uncle, Norman Carey, also what led up to his death and were he died, he is buried at the Brouay War Cemetery near Caen, Normandie. I would also like to hear from anyone who was in France with him, he died on the 28th June 1944 age 20.John Bunce
Gnr. William John "Bennet" Williams 25th Medium and Heavy Training Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy father, William Williams was called up on the 26th of March 1942, and joined the 25th Medium and Heavy Training Regiment at the aerodrome, Marske in Yorkshire. His Captain was called Collings and his Sergeant was called Smillie. We could never get much info out of my father when he was alive so his two sons would like to hear from any one that served with him during the war. We know he landed on Juno beach with the Scottish Horse Canadian Division. We also know that he was in the Ardens, Belgium where he stayed with a Belgian family, they used write to my mother and send photos for some years. If anyone knew my father I would be very grateful to hear from them.Gwyn Williams
Sgt. John William Noel Cornthwaite Royal ArtilleryMy father was captured in France in 1940 and spent the remaining years in various POW camps including Stalag 383, my eldest brother said there were 5 different camp. I didn't talk to my Dad about the war as I was too young, my two brothers who were born before the war knew more. My Father's name was John William Noel Cornthwaite, he was a Sergeant in the Royal Artillery. I would like to know if anybody knew our Dad.John R. Cornthwaite
Pte. Thomas James Holmes 13th Medium Regiment, Signal Section Royal ArtilleryI am trying to find out as much information as I can on the 13th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery. My father who is still alive served in this section during the war. Can anyone supply any info and help please?Chris Holmes
Charles Thomas Maguire HAA Royal ArtilleryDuring WW2 service at Blantyre in the Clyde Region, my father, Charles Maquire met my mother and they were married in 1941. I would like to know more about the RA location and of course any info on the Regimental details .T Maguire
Gnr. Robert Jones 97th Field Regiment Royal Artillery (d.14th Nov 1942)I would love to hear from anyone who served with my grandfather, Robert Jones. My mother had no memories of him as she was only 2 when he died, she never even had a photograph of him. I am very proud of him and it is my greatest wish to find a photograph of him and find out what he was like.Shelley Hughes
Lance Bdr. James Davis 10th Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy father James Davis was a guest of the Third Reich for 5 years, he was captured at Dunkirk in May 1940 and was taken to Stalag XXIb in Poland. He was transferred to Stalag8b Lamsdorf and was on the infamous Death March. Can anyone remember him?Peter Davis
Gnr. Bert Davies MM. 138th City of London Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy late father, Bert Davies, enlisted in March 1942 at the age of 32 and after training in Auchterarder he went to North Africa, Sicily and Italy as part of the 78th Battleaxe Division. He was awarded the Military Medal in San Salvo, Italy in November 1943 but following an accident before Cassino in March 1944 he spent 6 months or so in an American hospital (we don't know which one) before being discharged in April 1945 because of his injuries. Like many others, my father spoke nothing or little regarding the war and he died in 1980 and I then realised I should have asked him more.I have built up quite a lot of information since then but as he only spent a relatively short time in the R.A. and with the passage of time I have been unable to find anyone who knew him. If anyone has any sort of information then it would be appreciated.Howard Davies
Gnr. Clarence Crowther 2/11 Battery 3rd Medium Regiment (d.17th Apr 1945)Clarence Crowther was my Grandfather. All I know about his death is what I've gleaned from the official history of the 3rd Medium Regiment RA, published in 1945.
The details are sparse, but apparently he died in an engagement at Otterloo, in the Netherlands, during the night of 17/18 April 1945. It must have been a fierce exchange, because 11 of his colleagues died that night too.
I would love to hear any more details of the action that led to his death, or indeed any more details about him on active duty. It's particularly poignant because he died only 10 days before a truce was declared in that particular theatre. Thank you.Andrew Metcalfe
Gnr. Charles Hamilton 15th IOM Light Anti Air craft Unit Royal Artillery (d.11th Oct 1944)We have very little information about Charles, we have his service records he joined the Army in Omagh December 1924 with the Ulster Rifles and records say he served in the UK until February 1927 and then he was posted to India until 1933 not quite sure what he was doing between 1933 and 1939 but joined the IOM 15th LAA Unit in 1939 it would appear he served in various units and had quite a eventful army career !
The War Daries for October 1944 put the unit in the Uden area in Holland he is buried at the War Graves Cemetary in Uden would love to hear from anybody whom may have served in the regiment or any info would be great.
Charles Hamilton was my uncle we visit Uden every May for the Memorial Service which is organised by the Uden War Graves FoundationJohn Hamilton
CSM Albert Edward "Jesse" James 50th LAA Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy father Bert James, kept a diary from October 1942 through March 15 1943. He landed with the Commando's and the Americans at what I gather is Beer Beach, Algiers, in Operation Torch.
Editors Note: Glen, if you read this please get in touch as we'd love to see a copy of your father's diary, but you didn't leave your contact details to get in touch.Glen James
Gnr. Charles Thomas Maguire 61st (North Midlands) Field Regt. Royal ArtilleryMy Father, Tom Maguire died in 1988 and had not said much about his military career, it was only when I started to research the family history that a few anomolies were thrown up due to little or no information about units, actions, locations etc..
I believe Tom was called up in 61st (North Midlands) Field Regt RA (TA) based in Stoke on Trent. The 61st is shown as serving with 55 Div UK which would in theory make sense. I believe that he was posted within the UK following training and was possibly located around the Blantyre area, Clyde Defence as he would have met and my mother and later married in August 1942.
There were three possible locations he might have done a round robin on (GSG1-Blantyre Ferme),(GSG2 Rogerton) and (GSG3- Carmunnock). 130 HAA Regt seems to be the strongest link to this. He was definately posted to NW Europe on or after D Day but what he/his unit did is unsure.
He was awarded the cluster of 4 Medals, 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal and 1939-45 War Medal. If anyone can fill in the gaps it would be greatly appreciated.Terry Maguire
Pte. Arthur William Johnson 5th Btn. D Coy. Welch RegmenttBill Johnson was my father and the reason why he did not enlist until 26/2/1942 was that he was a bricklayer by trade. Until then he was "sent to Coventry" and labelled a coward despite the fact that he was doing his job. He could have stayed a civilian but could not take being labelled a coward so joined up.
He was posted in the first instance to the General Services Corps and then to the Beds & Herts regiment. On 22/12/1942 posted to 15th Med R.A and later to 'D' Coy 5th Battn Welch Regt then from 13/10/1944 posted to N W Europe. He was discharged 12/12/1945 and resumed his bricklaying. His army pal was Roland Brace who I think was in the same unit. Both have since died.Mick Johnson
Bdr. Joseph William Wilkinson 109 LAA Bty. Royal ArtilleryMy grandfather was Joseph William Wilkinson from Horncastle in Lincolnshire and served in the Royal Artillery. The only information I have on his army history is a photo I have, on the back is written; 109 LAA Bty R.A., W African forces 1941. I would love to know more about his service.Graham Wilkinson
Gnr. Henry Humfryes 135th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regt Royal Artillery (d.6th Aug 1945)Henry Humfrys was my Grandfather who I never met. He was in Malaya then he was captured on the 15th of Feb 1942 in Singapore. He was then imprisoned in Thailand and died on the 6th August 1945 and buried at the Kanchanaburi war cemetery. If anybody has any information on his Regiment's service history and movements before his capture, please do get in touch.Martin Burgin
Sgt. George LownsboroughMy father in law was in Stalag 383, POW No.11139. His name was George Lownsborough. We are trying to find out when he was captured and when released.Patrick Cahill
Gnr. Charles Maitland "Foo Foo" Forfar Royal ArtilleryMy Father Charles joined up to the local Territorial Royal Artillery unit in Southampton. He was a scrap metal merchant in the town and despite being in a reserved occupation he joined up anyway.
The only stories he tells are of being stationed in the New Forest with the Ack Ack guns probably near Beulieu Heath. The heath was lit up to look like Fawley Power station and they shot at the planes attacking the oil refinery. He was later stationed in Dover in Doodle Bug Alley, shooting at the V1 rockets as they headed for London.
After the war he was shipped over to Germany I presume as part of the Occupation. I would dearly like to find out his Regiment Battery etc. If any one could steer me in the right direction I would be grateful.Ian Forfar
Gnr. Robert Alfred Cope 68th Med Regt Royal ArtilleryMy Dad Bob Cope was one of the prisoners held at Stalag IVb. He was held there from June 1942 till May 1945, although he never spoke of his time there or indeed the war. He died in 1986 and I have been doing what research I can online, I found many old photos in his old box one of which was a membership card (attached) to what I believe was the forerunner to the Flywheel club it was called the Auto club with a no7 in flying wings esb 1942 his membership no was 79 and it was signed by the sec T Swallow, who later on formed the Flywheel club I think between 1944-1945 and who after the war wrote the book "Memories of the open road", which I have.Stephen Cope
L/Bdr. Robert Shadforth 106th Light Ack AckCompany Royal ArtilleryMy grandfather, Robert Shadforth passed in 1995. He wouldnt really talk of his time during the conflict, even when I joined the Signals in 1986. I have been doing research about his time and have been speaking with the ICRC who kindly helped me find the basic details of his time served.
He was captured in Crete on the 1st of June 1941, which looks to be at the time of the retreat from Suda bay central sector. At the time he was with the 106th LAA which was supporting 2/3rd RAA (Australian). At this point it looks like the 106th consisted of 4 batteries each with 2 troops that where (LAA)light anti aircraft Lanc Hussars.
OPERATION MERCURY (german)
When the retreat was ordered many were left to fight on with the german 2nd army, 15 divisions, Fallschirmjaeger-Regiment (1st Parachute-hunter Regiment) This seems a bit vague, looks like a communication breakdown.
My grandfather spent 4 months on Crete POW awaiting transfer to Stalag III/D which happened on the 10th of October 1941, then Stalag IV/B 24/7/1942, then Stalag IV/D 27/7/1944. The only information I have was that he was a watchmaker and made compasses for the escape commitee, where I dont know.
Anyone with any information of 106th RHA in Crete - please help me out, I dont want to give this up now!Gregg
Frank Henry Harding Royal Garrison ArtilleryI am Frank Henry's Grandson and I am trying to find out more about him, so that I can tell my children. I have a photo of myself with Frank, taken when I was about tree years old (1937) if that is of any interest. A point that may be of interest, is that as an ex-artillery farrier, Frank used to shoe some of the horses for the Salisbury races, fitting the racing plates before the race and back to standard shoes afterward.Richard Frank Harding
Gnr. Wilfred Bernard "Cookie" Cook 86th Anti Tank Regt. Royal Artillery (d.4th May 1945)My mother's first husband, was Wilf Cook, he was killed in, or near Hamburgh on the last day of hostilities in NW Europe, and my poor mother received the telegram with news of his death on VE Day, when most people were celebrating the end of the war in Europe.
He had originally been in the Devonshire Regt (5th TA Battalion) before the war, and was re-mustered into the Royal Artillery in about 1942, like so many other men at that time, as a result of the British Army re-organising itself, in order to fight a modern war more effectively. He landed on Juno Beach on D-Day, and fought his way through Caen, Holland and then into the German Heartland, and was killed on the eve of the cesstation of hostilities.
If anyone can help me put together a more complete picture, of Wilf's units activities, and his own personnal story, my mother, brother and myself would be extremely gratefull.Pete Harper
Gnr. Patrick Hazzard 7th Medium Rgt Royal Artillery (d.between 31st May & 2nd of Jun 1942)I would be greatfull if anyone had any information whatsoever regarding my uncle.Mark Hazard
Joseph William Draper 51st Ack Ack Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy Grandfather Joe Draper was trained in Yeovil, Somerset and was shipped out to Africa. My Dad said he was in the 51st Ack Ack Regiment. He was captured on Crete and taken to Stalag 4C. He had a hard time there. The Germans used to dress them in smart uniforms and take a picture of them. They wrote short letters home on the back of the pictures. You could see it was staged, because they had cigarettes in their mouths which weren`t lit. I have a picture of him with his friend Victor Nutman. If anyone knows of his whereabouts,please contact me.Stephen Draper
Pte. Alfred Cyril Best Royal ArtilleryI am researching my partner's step-father Cyril Best who is now 93 and has a story to tell. He served in Greece before being taken prisoner in Creete in 1941. The rest of the war was spent in Stalag 3. He is asking if any of his friends are still alive including Ken Griffen, F.Bridger or K.JacobsMalcolm Collins
Pte. Arnold "Knobby" Clark 41st Light Anti Aircraft Royal ArtilleryMy father was in this unit in the 2nd World War. He fought in Italy; the Far East; France & Palestine.
We would love to find out more about his unit,he is now 90yrs old & things are a bit hazy for him ,we would like to know if there are any photo's of this unit & where we could get them.He once told us how, when in Palestine, he & his mate Bert Crow, decided to dry out some tea leaves & swap them with the Arabs for some dates, (thinking they were being clever!) the deal was done & they scuttled back to camp with their ill gotten gains, only to find that the so called fresh dates were rotten & riddled with ants!! They said they had learnt their lesson, but,I bet, they still tried it out again somewhere else!!
If anyone can give us info on these "likely lads'" unit we would be really gratefull, thank-you & take careJohn Clark
Gnr. Hugh Beattie 23rd Field Regt Royal ArtilleryUncle Hughie was captured at St valery and ended up in Stalag 9c POW Camp. He was also in Obermassfield Lazarette and had his legs operated on. He died from thrombosis shortly after the war due to this surgery. "God Rest his soul"Ian S. Martin
Gnr. John W. Keningale 2/28th HAA Royal ArtilleryLooking for any information on John Keningale (or Jack as he was known). My grandfather served in the 8th Army, Royal Artillery as a Gunner, although I'm finding it hard to come up with any info on his particular outfit due to conflicting information on his discharge papers. On one set of documents he is listed as belonging to the 28/2 HAA RA and on another he is docmented as belonging to the 16/2 RA. I know he served in Africa and I believe he was also in Italy, as that's where he met my grandmother. If anyone has any stories about him or knew him personally, I love to hear about them.Benjamin Keningale
Stanley Albert Hailstone 56th Heavy Royal ArtilleryI have recently lost my Grandfather who was a fantastic man. He served in North Afria and Italy and spent his 21st Birthday at Monte Cassino.Claire Barnes
Gnr. Russell Telford Lees Royal Artillery (d.29th Dec 1943)I am researching my family tree and have found out that Russell Lees was my real grandfather on my father's side. Gunner R.T Lees died in India on the 29/12/1943 when my father was just 2 months old. Subsequently my father changed his name to Gander after his step-father. I have found out through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission that Russell Lees is buried in the War Cemetery in Chittagong, India. He is also listed on the War Memorial in Campsey Ashe in Suffolk.
Unfortunately, that is the sum total of my knowledge. I would like to find out more about him but I do not know where to start. If anyone has any advice on where I can find out more (cause of death, service records, photos etc) then I would most grateful. Thank you.Stuart Gander
L/Bdr. Joseph Donoghue Royal ArtilleryMy father Joe served during WW2 in Greece, Italy and Germany. Like his father who served in WW1 he boxed for the Regiment, also played football and ran for the Army.
He told many stories of his time in the services. His older brother Steve was his superior. [Dad had a habit of losing his stripe then getting it back, only to lose it again, they used to joke that it was a shame velcro hadn't been invented then] Anyway, one night in a camp on the border of Greece and Yugoslavia, my father was returning to camp and was slightly the worse for wear and couldn't locate the gate, so decided to climb the fence. He managed to get over to find the sargeant of the guard waiting for him to alight at the base of the fencing. My father turning to see his "big brother" as the said Sgt, and grinning from ear to ear says, "oh it's you Steve" my Uncle's reply was, " you can wipe that smile off your face Donoghue guard room at the double". My father and Uncle always laughed about that. Though my father always added it wasn't so funny when I was on KP duties and had to peel tons of potatos or how he had to balance the stones around the green in the centre of the parade ground, with a tooth brush!Patricia Donoghue
Gunner Leonard Edward Sales Royal ArtilleryMy father was held in Stalag 4F after escaping from the Italian ski troops. He would not say anything about his captivity other than to say he worked on the railway. As I have pictures of him with Indian soldiers around Basra I think he was with the 4th Indian fighting in the desert. I believe his period of captivity ranged from 1942 until 1945. His POW number was 250097. Since his death last year I have been trying to find out more about his service. If you or anybody can help I would be grateful.Terry Sales
W/Bdr Leonard Albert "Smuger" Smith 81st Field Regiment, 322 Field Battery Royal ArtilleryMy father joined the army in 1919 at the age of 17 and left the army in 1948. He was present at Dunkirk being one of the last men to leave the beach on the last day. I am 76 and I would like to complete my history of him but am finding it hard to find the regiments he belonged to. Can anyone help?Barrington Smith
Pte. Thomas N Lomas Royal ArtilleryLooking for the medals and war time service of my father Thomas N LomasDavid Lomas
Pte. John Gillott Duke of Wellington's The West RidingMy father, John (Jack) Gillott was in the Duke of Wellington's Regiment, The West Riding, and was Pte. J. Gillott 862992. He wrote a small autobiography for his 5 children, of which I am the oldest. I learned a lot about my father with this book. Dad, who turned 90 on June 27, 2010 and is still living as of this date, joined the Royal Artillery in 1936 and was called into action on September 3, 1939 the day WW II was declared. My dad was shot 3 times in the fleshy part of his hip by the enemy and to this day still has one bullet inside his body - something Dad didn't even realize until many years later - it was at one point in his left chest very close to his heart. The surgeons on several occasions have told him the bullet 'travelled' and by the time the surgery was scheduled, the bullet itself could have 'moved' again. Dad and many of the men in his Regiment were captured and sent to Stalag XXB. I have a very dark photo which I will try to lighten up and put here. Dad only mentions the names of 2 of his friends in XXB, one being Gordon Rolls who apparently was the son of Rolls Royce automobiles, who Dad said used his name and influence to buy food etc. for the men in XXB. The other man mentioned was Cassagrande and it doesn't mention if this is the first or last name. On January 11, 1945 the start of the 'Black March' began and Dad didn't know the exact date but he thought May 1945 he and his friends were turned over to the American sector for liberation. There is so much in his book of 100 pages or so that I would love to reprint here. I would think not too many members of his Regiment are alive today but the one paragraph I will copy verbatim is this one: "It was June 4: history recorded the evacuation of Dunkirk was completed on this day. There was however, no mention of the men who had sacrificed their lives and others who had been wounded or taken prisoner, simply because they had been sacrificed defending the embarkation of the bulk of the British Army. These men at least deserved a medal, however, I am not aware that any such medal was awarded other than the '39-'45 Star which did not honour the defendants of Dunkirk." I love you Dad more than you'll ever know and thank you and your friends at Stalag XXB for helping give me the free life I have today, all because of you!Carole Gillott
Gunner Albert Briggs X (1v) List 1C.R.U. Royal Artillery Searchlight ( S/L 263 )My dear father Albert Briggs was called up on 12 December 1940 just a few months after the death of his mother. I was just 3yrs. old, my sister Amelia was 6yrs of age.
We were living in a small terraced house in Withington which my father was decorating so as to leave it "nice" for his family.
That evening a bomb was dropped om the shelter which stood in the middle of the street and as a result our house caught some of the impact. We usually went into that shelter but that particular evening my mum and dad decided not to for some reason. As a consequence our home was not fit to live in so there we were homeless and dad just about to go off to war. My mum, sister and myself went to live with an aunt and dad, of course, had to go away. Three months later my dear sister, whom I have no recollection, caught diphtheria, which I believe was prevalent at the time, and subsequently died on St. Patrick's Day 17th March. My mum was admitted to hospital and was confirmed as a carrier. All her life my mum blamed herself for Amelia's death but of course she wasn't. I cannot imagine what torment both mum and dad bore. I believe dad was given compassionate leave and because of the circumstances he did not return to his unit on time. The Redcaps came to take him back and I am sure they were just doing there job and dealt leniently with him He was in the Royal Artillery Searchlight unit 8th Army and went to both North Africa and Italy. He always wished to return to Italy but did not get the opportunity to do so. He served in Italy from 1943 until demob in 1945 I wondered if anyone would be able to tell me where abouts in Italy his unit went as my family and I wish to make that journey in memory of my dear father. I understand that the National Archives has War Diaries but they have estimated the charge for copying and posting the info to me would be over £2,000. If anyone out there could help me I would be most grateful Many thanksFlorence Swinton
Gnr. Stanley Moffatt Royal ArtilleryWe have had a book donated at the Oxfam shop in Beeston Nottingham (Matriculation, Precis and Essay) that doesn't have any great value, however there is an interesting 'Censorship Prisoners of war Permit P.W. 367' - 'Prisoners of War Post' attached to the front end paper. It is also stamped by the British Red Cross and has been supplied to Gnr Stanley Moffat, British Prisoner of War No229438 (IVB) Stalag IV A Arb.Kdo.1162. I have had a quick look on your site but can't see any mention of him on the prisoner of war list. If it is of any interest to anyone please contact me and I'll post it on.Sue Bottley
Pvt William Barr Webster Ayrshire YeomanryMy Dad, Willie Webster was called up 1940, first stop Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow.
Dad confirmed he was a Lorry Driver in Civies but the Army, being the Army, made him a signaler.
Attached to the Ayrshire Yeomanry, he saw action in Sicily, Italy and North Africa. He was involved in blocking Jerry at the Kasserine Pass, where he always said we stopped the rout with smaller guns than the Yanks going the other way!
I always loved the stories he told, he was very matter of fact, no heroics just human stories about his life as a soldier in WW11.
After seeing the movie "To Hell and Back" with me as a kid, which was about Audie Murphy,American's most decorated soldier, Dad realised that Murphy had paralled his tour in Italy but mentioned he'd never heard of this hero!
Out pinching eggs with a Yorkshire pal one night, they came across an immaculate Jerry Officier, who pulled out his side arm. Dad, nor the Yorkie, didn't have a pea shooter between them and thought their number was up...until the Jerry offered surrender and passed over his side arm....seems he'd only landed recently with German Youth and realised the game was coming to a close...he could tell Dad was a Jock and his pal was a Bradford man as he'd spent time in the UK before the War at University. Apart from relief, Dad's immediate reaction was joy contemplating how much the side arm was worth to the next Yank!
The stories seemed endless and were repeated time and time again to my delight. I used to rib him about never seeing an angry German. As time has gone by and I've experienced more of the world and had time to think about it, who the hell did I think I was, if I could only take these words back, he was a hero and the truth is they were all heros in the every true sense of the word!! I miss you Dad.William Barr Webster Jnr
Pte. Wilfred "Biff" May Royal ArtilleryI am looking to find some information on my late father Wilfred May known as Biff. He was born in Bishop Auckland, in 1908. I understand that he was in the Royal Artillery from 1939-1945 and possibly served in Burma, India and Gibralter. The latter towards the end of WW11 on one of the Gun Emplacments. He was a keen semi pro footballer prior to the war and may have played for his regiment during the war . I recall a photo of him in a Pith Helmet and uniform whilst tending his horse .
I recall an old story (true or false) of my Father and his best friend, Ron being stationed on a "Martello Tower" in the North Sea at the beginning of the War. He became fed up with the lack of action so decided to take a rowing boat and row to shore for a night out! When caught the story goes that my Father allegedly said "He was bored stiff sitting in a concrete box and joined the army to fight and see some action". I understand the Army duly obliged and he was then dispatched abroad with the Royal Horse Artillary ??? and the rest is unclear and history as they say.
My Father never spoke about the war. Like so many of his generation.Just proud to have served his country and saddened to have lost so many friends. If anybody remembers him or where I may find some information about his exploits I would be very appreciativeNick May
Bdr. Robert Comfort Edwards 57th Field Artillery Regiment, 440 Battery. Royal ArtilleryMy father was born on 26th Feb 1919, Robertson Road, Preston, Brighton, Sussex, he attended the TA from a teenager. This is his account of the war:
In 1938 he was drafted into the Army from Brighton and mobilised in September 1939, from Willingdon Observation Post, Motella Towers Hastings - Sittingbourne. In March 1940 he began Service in France with the BEF he took part in the Battle of the Escaut and withdrew for final evacuation from Dunkirk. They were walking along the many roads to Dunkirk when a plane flew at them, They thought it was German so they all jumped in a stagnant ditch - it was an Allied plane, but they stunk all the way to Dunkirk and eventually to Blighty. Dad remembers he was on a little boat with one funnel.
In May 1942 he sailed with 44 division under Lieut. Colonel R E Green, arrived in Egypt on 23rd July 1942. Equipped with 25pounder artillery guns. When they came across Arabs sitting on their camels making their wives walk along by their sides they took the Arabs off and put the women on the camels! They also sold them used teabags!
They were engaged in Desert warfare training at Khatatba and the 57th Field Regiment was ordered to reconnoitre Gun Areas near Delta Barrage. In August 1942, the 44th Division ordered to take up defensive positions at Bare Ridge, Battle of Dier el Munassib.
In October 1942 they were at El Alamein and 440 Field Battery RA of 57th Field Regiment was temporarily attached to the 50th division. Then 57th Field Regiment RA became an Army Field Regiment RA.
In Dec 1942 they were in action at Suerra, South of Mersa Berga under 51st (Highland Division) and in January 1943 at Sonda in the advance to Tripoli under 7th Armoured Division. In March 1943 they were in mobile operation with 22nd Armoured Brigade and 8th Armoured Brigade Regiment then joined 51st (Highland) Division for the Battle of Medenine. Later in the month the 57th Army Field Regiment they took part in the Battle of Mareth under command of 50th Division, 4th Light Armoured Brigade, 201 Guards Brigade and 51st (Highland ) Division.
April 1943 saw then in action in the Battle of Wadi Akarit under 51st (Highland) Division then Regiment proceeded to parts of the Front near Enfidalville under command 5 AGRA in support of 4th Indian Division, 2nd New Zealand Division, 56th London Division, 4th Armoured Brigade and the fighting French Brigade.
In May 1943 the Regiment returned to Tripoli for refitting under 10 Corps. 440 Battery would not return to 57th Army FIeld Regiment and 160 Independent Battery, formerly part of the 174th regiment joined 57th Army Field Regiment. Then in June 1943 the Regiment was informed that it was to be considered in Eight Army Reserve.
On the 23rd of July 1943, the 57th Army Field Regiment arrived in Sicily, After a few days under 1st Canadian Division, they fought throughout the Sicilian Campaign with 78th Division in Battles of Catenauova, Cenutripe, Adrana and Bronte.
In Sep 1943, 57th Army Field Regiment Fire Plan was to support landing at Reggio, Italy, and 226 Battery of 57th Army Field Regiment occupied positions on the SeaFront at Messina and fired AP Shells with tracer to guide British Landing Craft to the Italian Coast.Glynis Leaney
George Arthur Spriggs 132 Battery, 2 Searchlight Coy. Royal ArtilleryI am looking for any one who might have been with me as a POW at Marieberg Stalag XXIb or on the false march, I am now 92.George Spriggs
Sydney A. Dolman Royal ArtilleryI have a small German Bible which closes up with a clip and has a picture on the front.I know that prisoners of war where given these to send home to love ones and family. My mum's brother Sydney A. Dolman sent this Bible to my mum whilst he was a prisoner of war. Inside the Bible he wrote the following information. "To my dearest sister Doris with fondest love from Syd. Gnr S. Dolman, Captured 1 June 1941 Crete, Escaped 12 June 1941, Recaptured 10 July 1942 Crete
I have found some information on the Ancestry.co.uk site stating the following information: Rank General, Army number 936942, Royal Artillery, Stalag 344, Lambinowice, Poland, Royal Artillery Field Record Office, Foots Crays, Sidcup Kent. Record office number 5.
I do not think this is my uncle as I was never ever told he was a General yet he has entered Gnr. S. Dolman in the Bible. Please could you kindly advise is there any way I can trace further information to see if this is my mum's brother? How would I find out if this information above is the same person who wrote the above information in the Bible? Could you kindly advise me who should I contact and who could help me?
Editor's Note: It would be safe to assume that this is your uncle as the rank of General quoted on the Ancestry website must be a transcription error of Gunner. The POW Camp Stalag 344 (also called Stalag 8b) was a camp for enlisted men, so a General, being a high ranking officer would definitely not have been held in this camp. Information on how family members can access the original POW records can be found on our Family History PageChristine Wilson
Harry Mitchell 128th Highland Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy Granddad, Harry Mitchell, served in the Army in the Second World War but I have very little information as to his activities. All I know is that he may have served in the following: 128th (Highland) Field Regiment RA (TA) I've been told by my mother that he was posted to Africa and Malta and he was an anti aircraft gunner but I'm sure if this is correct.
My Granddad was from Liverpool and was married to Frances Mabel Scattergood in 1945. I know he went on to work as a Crane driver at Liverpool docks and after leaving Liverpool in the seventies he and my Nan moved to Skelmersdale where he lived until his death in 1995.
I would like to know more about what he did when he was in the Army and also his life after the War.
I am looking for any information about his life from anyone who knew him during the War and after. Did you work with him at the docks in Liverpool? Maybe you remember my Nan, Frances? Any information would be great.Lee Capie
S/Sgt. John Walker 26th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy father, John Walker joined the Royal Artillery in Stirling in February 1940 (service number 1551813). He was posted to the 26th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment (LTAA) and after serving in Scotland, was transferred to the Middle East Forces, leaving Liverpool on 11 November 1941.
He was in the front line in the Middle East and suffered ear damage from the artillery fire (for which he eventually received a pension - in 1992, 50 years later!). Having been medically graded A1 on joining the Army, he was downgraded to B (6 or 7) in Haifa, Palestine, in 1942. After the medical downgrading he was ex-regimentally employed with AG16 HQ (Adjutant General's HQ Administration Corps) within a year of action in the Middle East, and was promoted to staff sergeant.
He met my mother, Leading Aircraft Woman Irene Alice Payn, in Jerusalem in 1945 and they were married in St Andrew's Church (Church of Scotland) in Jerusalem on 22 October 1945. I would love to hear from anybody who recalls either of my parents, both now, sadly dead.John Walker
Gnr. Herbert Varney Royal ArtilleryMy Grandfather, Gunner Herbert Varney, was captured in June 1940 somewhere near Calais. He was transported to Stalag XXB where I think he spent the remainder of the war. I would be grateful if anyone has any information/ photographs which mention or show him. His POW number was 8406. Unfortunately my Grandfather passed away in June 1977, but my Grandmother is very interested in any mention of him.Tim Varney
Laurence Gibson Royal ArtilleryLaurence Gibson served Dunkirk. He had to swim to the hospital ships. I believe he was also stationed in Iceland and India. He must have been demobbed at Darlington. His Pal was Arthur WiterburnMaurice Gibson
Edward Alfred James BennettEdward Bennett was born in 1909 and died in 1994 living all his life in Kingsbridge in South Devon. During WWII he served in the Royal Artillery between 1939 to 1943 when he transferred to the Motor Boat Company. His last posting was the Isle of Wight.Chris Lordan
Thomas Baker Anti Tank Royal ArtilleryI'm trying to trace my fathers WW2 army service record, and need to find his army service number. Thomas Baker was in the 51st highland division anti tank throughout WW2, serving as far as I know in France, Belgium, Holland, Sicily, Italy, Middle East and Germany. He met my mother while his battalion was in Enschede Holland. My mother is Dutch and they married in Enschede in 1946.
I know my father was injured with shrapnel after a German attack on his position which I believe to have happened on D-Day +1. His Sergeant was killed and one of his mates was horribly injured with shrapnel wounds to his face. My dad carried his mate to a hospital/first aid tent and it was only when he got him there that my dad collapsed from his own wounds. He didn't realise he had been injured himself until then. My dad was hit in his back with shrapnel and was taken back to Britain to, possibly, Southampton hospital, then onto Liverpool hospital or vice versa. After he recovered, he went back to rejoin his unit and continued fighting throughout WW2 to the end when his battalion folded and he came out the war serving with a Yorkshire regiment.
My dad would only ever tell us small amounts about his WW2 service memories, but he is now 88 years old and in hospital with bad health with only days to live we have been told. So I'm desperate for any help in searching for his service record so I can honour, understand and retrace his footsteps in WW2.Paul Baker
Gordon Keith Jackson Royal ArtilleryGunner Gordon Keith Jackson. Left New Zealand in 1940 as part of the 1st or 2nd Artillery Field Regiment. He was a POW at Stalag V111b, and worked in a Coal Mine, where he passed away apparantely from Pnuemonia. We would loved any information on Gordon.Eric Jackson
A/L/Bdr. Eric Douglas Dickers 10th Medium Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy late father Eric Dickers served with 10th Medium Regt Royal Artillery, he was well known for printing the regiment's magazine Flash. Any information on him or the regiment would be great.Rob Dickers
Gnr. William Johnson Royal ArtilleryMy father Bill Johnson who served as a Gunner with the Royal Artillery serving in Holland during the last 2 years of WW2. I would like to hear from anyone with any information about him.Michael Johnson
S/Sgt. Denis George "Lofty" Goddard MID Royal ArtilleryMy Father Denis George "Lofty" "Badgie" Goddard joined the Royal Artillery Boys Service in Woolwich in 1938. His early wartime service 1939-42 included being a very young staff sergeant training anti tank crews in Wales, most of whom ended up in North Africa.
Overseas wartime service from 1943-45 included Special Operations Executive (SOE) attachment as radio operator in various Greek Islands followed by special forces operations in the Balkans, Northern Italy and Southern France in the following units:- Special Raiding Squadron (SRS), Raiding Support Regiment (RSR), and Special Air Service (SAS)
He finished the back end of the war in a 25 pounder RA unit (the Ayeshire Yeomanry) in Northern Italy (Argenta gap etc.) and Southern Austria where he was part of the operation that handed back to the Soviet Red Army the White Russian Cossacks who fought for the Nazis.
Post WW2 Lofty continued as a professional soldier until 1972. Units included 33rd RA, 66th RA, 7th RHA, 17 RA. Postings included:- India 1945/6 , Palestine 1946/7, Malaya 1950/52, Singapore 1952/53, Dusseldorf 1954/56? , Cyprus 1956?/60 then was UK based after that.
Lofty faded away in June 2007.Michael Goddard
Bombardier Robert Comfort Edwards 57th Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryThis is my Father's account of World War II.
Bombardier Robert Comfort "Robbie" Edwards 57th Field Regiment 898397 Signaller.
My father was born in Robertson Road, Preston, Brighton, Sussex, he attended the TA from a teenager. TA1938. : In 1938 he was drafted into the Army from Brighton and mobilised in September 1939, from Willingdon Observation Post, Motella Towers Hastings - Sittingbourne. From March 1940 his service was in France with the BEF, then Battle of the Escaut withdrew from BEF for final evacuation from Dunkirk in April. They were walking along the many roads to Dunkirk when a plane flew at them they thought it was German so they all jumped in a stagnant ditch, but it was an Allied plane, they stank all the way to Dunkirk and eventually to Blighty. Dad remembers he was on a little boat with one funnel.
In May 1942 sailed with 44 Division under Lieut. Colonel R E Green, arrived in Egypt on 23rd July 1942. They had 251lbs pounders artillery guns. When they came across Arabs sitting on their camels making their wives walk along by their sides they took off the Arabs and put the women on the camels! They also sold them used teabags! Desert warfare training at Khatatba. 57th Field Regiment ordered to reconnoitre Gun Areas near Delta Barrage. In August 1942 44th Division ordered to take up defensive positions at Bare Ridge, Battle of Dier el Munassib, Oct 1942 El Alamein. They were in convoy in Egypt, the West coast of Africa at Freetown Cape Town for 3 days. In army vehicles up to Suez Canal to Cairo and then in to the Desert (he was a Desert Rat) to stop Rommel getting into Cairo then Monty arrived in the heat of the desert.
440 Field Battery RA of 57th Field Regiment was temporarily attached to the 50th division. 57th Field Regiment RA became an Army Field Regiment RA. Battles: Dec 1942 Suerra, South of Mersa Berga under 51st (Highland Division) Jan 1943 Sonda, advance to Tripoli under 7th Armoured Division. Mar 1943, mobile operation 22nd Armoured Brigade and 8th Armoured Brigade Regiment then joined 51st (Highland) Division for the Battle of Medenine. Later in Mar 1943 the 57th Army Field Regiment Battle of Mareth under command of 50th Division, 4th Light Armoured Brigade, 201 Guards Brigade and 51st (Highland) Division. April 1943 Battle of Wadi Akarit under 51st (Highland) Division then regiment proceeded to parts of the Front near Enfidalville under command 5 AGRA in support of 4th Indian Division, 2nd New Zealand Division, 56th London Division, 4th Armoured Brigade and the fighting French Brigade.
In May 1943 Hostilities in North Africa the Regiment returned to Tripoli for refitting under 10 Corps. They travelled along the North African Coast to Birzata. Where Dad went on a Driver Operator course in a tank, he said the clutch was too long! 440 Battery would not return to 57th Army Field Regiment and 160 Independent Battery, formerly part of the 174th regiment joined 57th Army Field Regiment.In June 1943 Regiment was informed that it was to be considered in Eight Army Reserve. On the 23rd of July 1943, 57th Army Field Regiment arrived in Sicily, after a few days under 1st Canadian Division fought throughout the Sicilian Campaign with 78th Division in Battles of Catenauova, Cenutripe, Adrana and Bronte.
In September 1943, 57th Army Field Regiment Fire Plan to support landing at Reggio, Italy, and 226 Battery of 57th Army Field Regiment occupied positions on the Sea Front at Messina and fired AP Shells with tracer to guide British Landing Craft to the Italian Coast. He recalls that In 1944 my Uncle Jonathan Edwards (his brother) picked him up from the Regiment and took him to Naples where Vesuvio was erupting, the ash was everywhere.
He recalls that many of his best friends perished, one was near him and a bomb just blew him to pieces in a second. The noise from the shells and bombs was very deafening. Most nights were lit up with gun fire.
Dad was 92 in February 2011. He now says it was a complete waste of time fighting this war because what he fought for has now diminished.Glynis Leaney
Pte. Walter Shearwood 121st Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryI have been researching my father's time in Stalag 4B and some interesting information came up. I was sent information about a Walter Shearwood who was a general with the same army and prison camp numbers, but the camp was Stalag 4G. Perhaps someone could shed some light on this for me?Clara Smith
Gnr. Wilfred Baldwin Devenish Royal ArtilleryMy father Wilfred Baldwin Devenish, was a Gunner in the Royal Artillery. He did not talk about his war experiences although we know he suffered post traumatic stress and often woke us up screaming from terrible nightmares.
This is the excerpt from the Goole Times newspaper 19 February, 2004 chronicling stories from the war years for the 60th anniversary of the end of World War two in which his story is told. A version of this story appeared in the Goole Times Feb 18th 1944. The story chronicles my Dad's capture at Tobruk, imprisonment in Italy and subsequent escape from Nazi transportation to Germany.It reads:
Many like him lost their chance of freedom because they obeyed orders to the letter. But Wilfred Devenish, good and disciplined soldier though he was, saw his chance and took it.
It meant spending two months on the run. It involved a long and often perilous trek covering 850 miles, at times through deep snow. Yet he saw it through. And 60 years ago this month, when many of his colleagues were getting used to life in the prison camps of Germany, Wilfred Devenish came home to leave in Goole.
Born in September 1919, Wilfred Baldwin Devenish joined the Royal Artillery in 1938. Serving as a gunner during the fighting in North Africa, he was captured at Tobruk on June 20, 1942. Soon afterwards he became one of about 70,000 Allied prisoners of war held at camps in Italy. For all of those prisoners the future became uncertain when Italian forces quit the war in the late summer of 1943. By then the Allies had landed in Italy. Should the prisoners sit tight in their camps and hope for eventual liberation by British and American troops who were advancing towards them? In most prisons camps orders were given to that effect.
Yet in all the camps when Italian guards threw down their weapons, discarded their uniforms and departed, German troops invariably arrived and took control. And by then the Nazis had already begun transferring prisoners to camps in Germany. So there was a real danger that all prisoners held in Italy would suffer a similar fate.
Despite that prospect it was argued that the sit-and-wait policy would prevent prisoners from being shot while attempting to escape. As a result, in many camps throughout Italy, prisoners followed orders and waited for the advancing Allies. But the Germans moved first and instead of release in Italy, more than 50,000 prisoners found themselves herded on to trains and eventually saw out the rest of the war in Germany.
Some though seized the opportunity to bid for freedom. In all about 12,000 men made their way through Italy and back to the Allied lines and Wilfred Devenish was one of them.
When first captured and transferred to Italy, he was held at a transit camp in Brindisi. Then came camps near Capua and Rome before he spent his last six months of captivity at what was known as Camp 115. In some camps, as the Italians capitulated, the senior officer among the prisoners gave permission for men to ignore the stay-put order if they wished. Whether that happened at Camp 115 is not now clear. But 200 men left the camp and set off to make their way to the Allies.
Wilf Devenish made his run for it with four colleagues, a man from Newcastle and three South Africans. At first they evaded German patrols searching for escaped prisoners and made good progress. Then they were captured and put on a train travelling north and bound for Germany. Eventually they escaped again by jumping from the train, but they had travelled so far north by then that the Allied lines were now 850 miles away. One of Devenish's colleagues had no boots yet once again they set off to walk to freedom. Avoiding roads they made their way through open country, travelling mainly by night and resting by day.
That made it more difficult for the Germans to see them but it also made it was more difficult for the escapers to spot their pursuers. Thus one dark night they found they had wandered into the middle of a German camp. Enemy soldiers fired on the group but again they managed to escape. Night after night they struggled on determined to stick together. On average they covered about 30 km, 18 miles a day. They swam across two major rivers and at one stage, high in the mountains, they battled for 20 miles through snow six feet deep.
At the start of his escape bid Gunner Devenish had carried with him the contents of two Red Cross parcels. This food lasted two weeks. After that the group lived mainly on apples and bread, though occasionally they killed and stewed a sheep. Not that going hungry was anything new to the group. Often while held in captivity they had received no more than a bowl of macaroni a day. Finally two months after leaving Camp 115, they reached the Allies at a sector of the front under American control.
A few days later, in December 1943, news of the escape reached Goole, as Wilf addressed a brief letter to his mother Edith, at her home in Elsie Street. He had hoped then to be home for Christmas. But, like many of his colleagues, those who also escaped and those who remained in captivity, he found that amid the pressing needs of war the interest of prisoners were not the highest priority. So, after leaving Italy, he spent six weeks in North Africa, awaiting transport to Britain. Then, at last, he was able to travel home to Goole.
Wilfred Devenish continued in the army after the war. In his military career he saw service not only in North Africa but also in India, Eritrea, Sudan, Hong Kong, Egypt and Japan, and, in the early fifties was also involved in the fighting in Korea. Among the decorations he won were the 1939-45 Star, the Africa Star, the Defence Medal, and the Victory Medal, together with long service and good conduct medals.
A single man at the time of his escape, Wilf eventually married, his wife Margaret being a native of Crathie, in Scotland. After leaving the army he lived and worked in Scotland and died in 1981. He is survived by his wife and their family of five, son George, daughters Phyllis and Joy and twins Pauline and Pamela.Joy Murdoch
Gnr. Agnes Inverarrity Whyte 455 Battery Royal ArtilleryWe are looking on information on my husbands mother, Agnes Whyte. We know nothing apart from that she was based at Redcar.Maureen Taylor
Gnr. Andrew Gray 58th LAA Regt. Royal ArtilleryMy father, Gnr. Andrew Gray, 58th. Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, picked up a small discarded soldier's bible on the beach at Dunkirk, during the evacuation. Written in the rear page is the inscription, "Rfl. (S. or L.) Pledger, 3244693." If this soldier's relatives contact me, I will be happy to return the bible to them.Stuart Gray
Sgt. Lambert Fletcher Royal ArtilleryMy great granddad Lambert Fletcher, was captured in the process of he and his friends leading his unit on an escape navigation from Crete to Greece. When they were captured they were held as prisoners of war in Stalag 18-A. An Austrian countess who lived near the camp disagreed with the war and secretly gave them things such as chickens and food. Even after the war she traveled to their homes and visited them because of how close they all had become.
Unfortunately, we do not have many records of him because when he died, his wife kept his journals and detached herself from the family. On top of that their children died young and so they have been lost to us for many years.Hannah Fletcher
L/Bdr. Raymond Handy 273 Battery "A" Troop. 69th (West Riding) Field RegimentAt the end of WW2 my grandmother and grandfather met in Germany. She was a German girl, Ruth Netzker, and he was an English soldier, Raymond Handy. My mother, Barbara Netzker, was born in October 1946 from the great love they had for each other. My grandfather saw my mother just once in December 1946 when she was 1 month old. My mother has several letters, written by my grandfather to my grandmother, between December 1945 and January 1947. In his last letter, dated January 10th 1947, he said he was going on a trip to England and would write as soon as he had some news, but they never heard from him again. In 1956 my mother arrived in Mexico with my grandmother.
I hope that with all the new technology it might be possible to locate him and know if he is still alive or if he died, if he is happy and if it is possible to have a picture from him. I would love him to know that I am deeply grateful to him for giving me my mother. If there are any relatives I would like them to know they have a piece of their family in Mexico, willing to know them. And, "keeping my chin up" as he used to sign his letters, I will wait for any information regarding my grandfather.Vivian Carasco
Gnr. Brian Arthur Plant CdG. 102 Light Anti-Aircraft Regt, 31 AA Royal ArtilleryI have been trying to find out anything about my dad's military years with no luck. He did not talk about his war years. I just wondered if anyone could help.Katrina Nobbs
Sgt.Mjr. Frederick Fellner MiD. Royal Regiment of Artillery (d.16th Dec 1944)My great uncle Fredrick Fellner, was in Stalag 3a and was killed on the 16th of December 1944 before the war ended. My mother was told by her mother's friend's sister that he was shot while trying to escape but I can't find anything to prove this. I'd love to know a little more. The photographs are of him with other soldiers in India and another of what we believe could be Stalag 3a.Avril Killeen
Osman Parker "Ommy" Pearce Royal ArtilleryMy father Osman Parker Pearce MBE, LLB; recently passed away. He joined the Artillery in Newcastle at the onset of the war. He fought in the desert and advanced then retreated through Greece. Finally he was captured in Tobruk and taken to Italy. The Italians were relatively pleasant. From here they were serially sent to Germany in cattle trucks. He spoke little of his time in POW, just to say that without the Red Cross parcels he would not have survived. He said the Russians were treated the worst. His 'job' was a tin basher. He avoided anything to do with food because it provoked fights. He studied and completed his accountancy exams by post whilst there, afterwards becoming a solicitor. In an interview for his American grandson, he said that his greatest achievements in life were surviving as a POW and being awarded an MBE.
I visited the camp site and museum a week ago. I do not think it was a time my father wished to remember. Throughout his life he would avoid arguments. Nothing perhaps was worth the anguish. He had dealt with things so much more extreme the pettiness of life did not come onto the same scale. He never said a word against the Germans. He may have told my mother more, but not his three children. He hoped for better for us and did not instil any prejudice.Kate Donegan
L/Bdr. Albert Henry Hardwick Royal ArtilleryMy Grandad, Albert Hardwick served in Africa and Italy during the war. All we know is that he was a driver in the Royal Artillery, as part of the Desert Rats, 13th HQ Corps.Victoria Hardwick
Chaplain. Arthur Wellesly P. Williams Royal Army Chaplains' Department (d.16th Dec 1943)At the age of Seventy am still in the throes of completing the story of my Papa's service as a padre with the 8th Army, attached to 113 Field Regt, Royal Artillery. It's based on my family's recollections, Papa's letters, the official - anodyne - report of his death and the remarkable and totally coincidental meeting I had with one of his brother officers who was in his unit and was present when Papa stepped onto a mine. 'What Really Happened' will never be the definitive version, but unless there is more information out there, it'll have to do. Should anyone wish to read it, I would be delighted to attach the piece to an e-mail. It should only take ten minutes or so to read. However, if there's anybody out there who can give me more details of 113's service up to the hideous battle for the Monastery I should be eternally grateful and will edit my piece accordingly.
I make occasional pilgrimages to his War Grave at Minturno and will be there with my daughter, her husband and their son next week. So if anyone tries to contact me and doen't receive a prompt reply, you'll know why.Nigel Parry Williams
Francis Anderson George Thorne 3rd Field Regiment Royal Artillery (d.17th Jun 1942)I have just found that my Uncle Francis Thorne was killed aged 22 in El Alamein. I was wondering if anyone has any information about my him? This site is so interesting, thank you to anyone who can help me.Debbie
Gnr. Percy "Sam" Twigg 178th Field RegimentPercy Twigg enlisted in August 1941 under the National Service Act 1939. He was 34 at the time. He was posted to 25th Medium and Heavy Training Regiment and then to the 178th Field Regiment when it was formed in January 1942. He embarked in March 1943 for India, travelling via Cape Town, arriving in Bombay in June 1943. He was hospitalised in September 1943 for 2 months suffering from Malaria and again in July and October 1944. His regiment was part of the 36th Infantry Division, that for a time was in the Northern Area Combat Command under American General Joe Stilwell.
In December 1945 he was formally discharged and embarked for return to the UK from Batavia as part of Group 25 A release, arriving home in February 1946. He received an exemplary record of conduct. He was employed mainly as a driver of all types of vehicles. In May 1946 he was transferred to 2(T) Reserves and discharged on completion of engagement.Kate Renton
Pte. Christopher Fegellan "Tug" Wilson 2nd Searchlight Regiment, 5 Battery Royal ArtilleryMy father in law, Christopher Wilson, was captured at Dunkirk 1939, he was marched to Blechammer, BAB21 and he remained at the camp until Jan 21st 1945 when he took part in the death march back into Germany, arriving at Moosburg, where he was freed by Gen Patton. I have a list of the dates, and places passed through on the march, the list is written on the back of red cross parcel lists. I also have photographs of him and approx 50 other prisoners at BAB21, on the reverse of some of the photos are names and addresses of other prisoners. I also have a list of bricklaying terms, these are his notes for a lecture to other prisoners, to alleviate boredom. The list of places contains 42 place names, the last entry reads. "April 29th 1945. Battle of Moosburg. Free at last. Gen Patton"Keith Newman
John Henry Weeks 23rd Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryI interviewed Jack Weeks for The Wartime Memories Project on Sunday 23rd May 2010 2pm.
Q. Can you tell me a little bit about your life before the war? A. I was born in Devon in 1917, I went on a farm and the people there was so good, and that, and they couldn’t do enough for me. When I went on this farm I didn’t have anything, ‘cos as you know back then times were hard and you didn’t have much clothes. I got on this farm and the old farmer said have you got any clothes? I said yes. Well where is it? I said I’m wearing it; I’m standing up in it. So I said if you’re a bit ashamed of me or anything like other, say so, I said, and tell me to go and I’ll go and get a job somewhere else.
Q. Did your parents give you their blessing to finding a job on the farm? A. No. You didn’t get their blessing, no. You’d rather have a kick up the arse! I went to school to 14 and I left and as I say I got this job and they were so good the old man said to me one day when we were having a supper. Oh, I don’t think you would mind looking after the cattle and that for me, we wanner go to Plymouth shopping. There was big shopping centre still there then. I said, well (chuckles), you paying me so I said how can I refuse; I said of course I’ll do it. He said, I know that, have yee got anything? I said such as? Well he said clothes and that and I said no, I’m afraid I hadn’t. I said I come from a poor family. The farmer said what are we going to do? I said well in what way? Well he said, you haven’t got nothing. Well I said I’ve either got to work ee here until I get enough money to buy some clothes or else you can lend me and I can do it that way, so, I went on. There was no other help. The old farmer and his wife had one son, they had more sense. When they came home from this day shopping the old man said (I had the tea all ready because they kept a good table and there were plenty of food) how you come on? I said we can go out and look at the stock, see what the position is. He said I don’t think that’s necessary because I know what you done you done well. And I got three shillings and six pence a week. So went around and I said now if you not satisfied at what I’m doing I’d wish you tell me and then I said I can move on. I was quite content on the farm. I stayed on the farm until I went in the forces at 22.
Q. What did your father do? A. He drove a steam roller and worked for the council.
Q. Did you have a big family? A. We were 8. There was Ron, Harry, Joan, James, Sissy; somewhere about 8 and I was the oldest and stupidest.
Q. Tell me about the work you did on the farm? A. I milked the cows, there was cattle, sheep, a sheepdog; you could say I was a Jack of all trades.
Q. Did you enlist or were called up? A. Well I was walking up the High Street one morning and an old lady half way down, an she said how gotten you in the army then? Well I said, I don’t know and I ain't bothered by it. Well your Charlie he’s gone. I said, well, to tell you the truth misses, Charlie would lick anybody’s arse for half a crown but I ain't going to and with that I joined up; I had to go up to Exeter. A friend of mine said, I be going up Exeter then? I said I don’t know but I got to go there. Well he said I’m going to Exeter, you can jump on the back of my motorbike. So I said all right then, thanks very much and went up there, the recruiting office. Funny old geezer there, but I didn’t like their attitudes but I thought, well, but I’m joining up and I’m going to get more of it. You didn’t get any choice then to join the army as they were only too glad to get ee in there. The man on the motorbike didn’t join up as he had a private job. Yes! Right then! You’ll have to go up to Blaise Castle. I said where is the heck Blaise Castle? Bristol! I said I don’t know nothing about that. Oh well he said you’ll soon learn. Get fixed up, the clobber, and you have to catch the train to Temple Meads. And from there I had to walk to Blaise Castle where I did my training. I was an artillery bloke.
Q. Do you recall your first days in the service? A. Got in there and I started training and I said to myself I must pick this up smartish because I don’t want to be here long. Then they wanted a volunteer and to go up to get a cap for somebody and I was the only one to volunteer. I walked from temple Meads with the cap to. I’ll go and buy some fish and chips as I was a little hungry, I went in there and you couldn’t see nothing but fog. So a lady come out and she said excuse me soldier, where you making for tonight? Well I said I don’t know where I’m going to be truthful. She said you’re new here? I said, I, but I’ll expect I’ll find my way about and she said you’ll have a long walk back, I doubt if you’ll catch a train back. Anyway I set off walking, up over the Downs and going down Blackboy hill (by Whiteladies road, Totham). Got on the station just as the train pulled off. I went up to the driver and said when’s the next train? Not ‘til tomorrow morning! Oh, I said, damn me! I said I’m supposed to be in by tonight. Oh well you won’t do it now then. And I said well somebody will have to get in touch with the military police and tell them I’m stuck here. Oh won’t be able to do that. (chuckles) Oh I said, if you can’t do that I must walk on. I was on the train at Corsham and eh, the little cafe was open and I went in. Oh I’m sorry soldier you’re too late. So I said well how there going to get up to camp? I don’t know. I said well this is a bit of how-de-do, I said I got to get up Hudswell camp by midnight; that’s by Corsham. There was old chap there. Soldier, you lie down at there couch, he said and I’ll wake you in the morning so you can catch the first train out and you’ll be up there. And I thought it was ever so good of them, that’s what he done. I got back up there and course when I got up Corsham there was a lot to do but unknown to me whilst I was away they sent me on a farm. What happened see was the old farmer up at Corsham, he was friendly with the commander and he had got in touch with the farmer and he said (this commander used to go in there and have a drink there every morning) farmer, I have a chap here who would suit you; you can have him for so long. And that was when I went out farmer Minties to work and when that finished I went to Warminster. I came home from having inoculations and he were turning the cows out and he said, good God Jack what in.... what have you been up to? I said I don’t know, why? He said ye look as white as a sheet. Oh well I said I will get over that I expect and ee said Win has been looking for you. Oh I said, what he want? Well he wants you to stay ere. And sleep ere. He said you don’t have to go back to Nissen hut. You have your food with wee, that is hee wife and his son and his daughter. I had a good time up there. And I used to do the cooking. I got an old oil barrel, converted ee so I could cook on it. And then the sergeant Major, ee came up one day. He said Jake! Want you! I said how many more want me! I said I’d better cut myself in half. Oh what you want? I want you to do me a favour. I said but everyone wants a favour! Still never mind, tell me what it tis. He said we are short of wheel barrows down in the dump and I want you to come with me this afternoon and we are going to nick some of thee barrows. The red caps were no way in the march then. (you’re aint going to believe it). I said what time are yee going for these wheelbarrows? Two o’clock! I said I’ll be there. So up he comes with a Will’s WD and HO Will’s van then, do you remember driving they about? We were driving they about then. Right he said I’ve got it all mapped out (chuckles). He said we’ll get a load of wheelbarrows, then we got to get some coal and I said what else do we want? Well anything you can think of. I said you’ll want wood. Yea all right, get wood (chuckles) Tell about crooks! Their nothing way near it, but the funniest thing, we enjoyed every minute of it. The army were supplying it!
Q. What did your family think about you joining up? A. Not a lot. I never told them. I just wanted to go on and do things my way, I was having just a good time! Parents they wouldn’t have.. whether you were there or..... Things were so hard that they were glad that you were gone.
Q. Did you soon make friends with others? A. Oh yes, we made lots of friends, quite a few years. Some used to visit now. I will have to look through the pictures for my friends.
Q. What was the food like in the army? A. We were stationed at Portishead and what we call oil. The food was bloody lousy! And that same Sergeant Major I was telling ee about, he and I used to go round some of the pubs scrounging grub, and they would. I used to know a young lady down Portishead, I know her name. She was good as gold, she always give us stuff to take back with us. I used to go up at ten o’clock every night and take her home and she used to give me a basket of grub. She worked up in there cafe. Poor old Cinders, she used to give me a basket of grub. I shan’t tell you her other name (chuckles).
Q. What was the accommodation like for you and your men? A. They had a Nissen hut; they couldn’t go on the farm, could em. I used to go in the farm because I got up early mornings. I was in uniform on the farm. The Red caps would have been after me!
Q. How did people entertain themselves? A. The war was on. You had to make your own; self made.
Q. What did you do when you were on leave? A. Occasionally go home for a week.
Q. What were you trained on? A. I trained on big guns then our Captain said to me one day, I’ve been looking for you. Oh what for? You have to learn to drive a van. I said I don’t want to learn. Look he said (he was a nice chap), you’re going to learn, make no mistake about that, he said I’m going to learn you so you can’t get out of that and he said I shan’t do you any favours as all I want is somebody that is trained. So all right then, what’s the perks? There ain't no perks. Why ain't there any perks then, surely I get something in return? (chuckles) He said you will in a minute! I said all right all right then, I’ll not again thee. So I learnt on big lorry first and then I had to go at a Bofors gun. Now he said I want you in ere because you been a good chap and I wanted ee to stay in ere. I said doing what? Well there’s lots of things I want done around here and you capable of doing it. Oh well I said all right if you want to bend your back so much, then I got a job inside. He said to me one day I‘m glad I caught you. I said Oh what do you want? I want you to do me a favour. I said it seem to me I’m doing everybody a favour and I aint getting any back. So what as got to be this one? Well he said would you mind putting the flag up mornings? Putting ee up saving ee coming up. I used to sleep in the shed, in the hut then and the condition was then that I would sleep in the shed providing he never pinned PT on me. All right you got my permission; he said I won’t bother ee again. I said as long as you don’t bother me the flag will be flying at six o’clock. I’d take it down in the night and put it in the shed. I was sort of stores clerk, cooking.
Q. What were some of the pranks you and the others would pull? A. No, never pulled a prank on any of them but they tried. I wasn’t very big but they come worse off.
Mr Weeks has a photograph marked ‘Ceylon 1943’ on back. Q. ‘There’s something written on the back’? A.. To one who is very dear to me, my loving wife Doris. 1943! My Pal and I there.
Q. What we have now is your old war time photographs and what we’ll do is go over them. This photo shows you and your mate A. My Scotch mate. We were in barracks doing jankers. This is in India. (Another picture) That’s Nelly (Nan’s Brother in Law’s wife). There’s my father, Cecil, working for the Council. There’s Harry who just died. That was Gold Face Green in the back ground. I remember going along Gold Face Green and the wheel coming off! We just took it as a joke. I didn’t do much driving the time I was out there. You see, I didn’t want to drive at all and our officer, he said if you don’t learn to drive you won’t be any good. I had to book up and learn and that’s what I done. Well I got more fun then, where as you could only drive a light vehicle, but it turned out as you passed your test you were able to take on the big ones. Mind where we used to drive sometimes, well, it put the wind up ee. The roads were dangerous with everybody on err and see there were all sort of obstacles in the way, animals were always there.
Q. When you left this country, how did you get to Ceylon? A. Boat. The biggest laugh of all was when we moved up to Scotland, Tidwell, the joke was the boat weren’t ready. Little did we know the boat was out err waiting. I remember when I came back, a lady up there from the shops, we were talking one day, she said how did you get out there, she said there was no boat. I said there is transport, the Malogen. She said my husband has a book on that; I’ll let ee have it. Mrs Gardner wouldn’t have it; I said I know I did. I discovered it was a merchantman. I boarded at Greenock. We got on the boat and we went to first trip was South Africa. We had a stop at Freetown, then we went down to Durban, that was a lovely place. We waited for another boat and this other boat was a bit long coming so we had to put up on the playing field in Durban. And there they said we don’t want these troops going short for anything; they’re our guests. Cor we did have some lash ups too. Like all things they come to an end. We went from Freetown to Bombay. That was a dirty * place. Language uh. We went to Calcutta. Then we went down to Ceylon in a smaller boat. (later in the war) Then we got off the boat at Rangoon; I was always volunteering, I volunteered to bring the prisoners of war home.( Jack thinks he went from India to Ceylon and back to India and then Burma) (He Looks at another photo from India 1944. and reads) from your dearest husband Jack. There was me by my tent.
Q. What did you do in Ceylon? A. I used to write forms out. I was so interested in Ceylon. When I found out I was going to Ceylon I made up my mind what I was going to do. I was going to be sociable, I was going to mix in with them learn as much as I could about the people, the country and everything, and that I accomplished
Q. Did you enjoy yourself in Ceylon? A. I had a wonderful time. One part of Gold Face Green was curry and the other part Singhalese. We had an opportunity. One Singhalese said what are you having tonight. Came with me and taste curry and rice. I said I would only be too happy to oblige. We got into the canteen there, he put up a * big plateful. I said what’s that for. He said get it down. I got that down and then this other chap came along and he said you are coming to tea tonight, I said ar I don’t know. He said he spoke to his mother and father and they want ee to come and have tea with them. I said all right and they were a lovely family: Mother, father and the son and daughter. And when I went in and seen what was on the table and she said don’t be afraid and eat want you can and leave what you can. And didn’t I tuck in to rice and curry, I thought I was going to bust. And we went for a stroll after and that was what we done. Ceylon was a beautiful place, fruit, you didn’t want for anything.
Q Did you keep any correspondence A. Only the photos these kept. She didn’t keep any photos.
Q. Did you receive any Medals? A. I never bothered but there were several times I wish I had put in for them. I haven’t got much time; you could stick em on your hat.Dean Price
Gnr. Alec Roy "Spenny" Spencer Royal ArtilleryMy Dad, Alec Spencer was in the Royal Artillery and unfortunately died in 1974. All my life and that of my brothers he did not want to talk about his experiences of the war or his time as a P.O.W. in Stalag XIII-C. He was a member of the Stalag 13 association, so maybe someone else can remember this association and memories that went with it?Mark Spencer
Sgt. Frank Broome 85th Battery Royal ArtilleryLouise
L/Bdr. Thomas Brown Dey Royal ArtilleryThomas B Dey, my Dad, was in the TA in Glasgow and was sent to France. Whilst carrying out a rear guard action they were captured at St. Valery. Prior to this they were onboard a barge when an officer ordered them off. The barge got blown out the water.
He was in a hospital as a prisoner with appendictis, Douglas Bader was in the next bed, apparently they, the Germans, took away his artificial legs as he kept escaping. This did not deter him he just used his hands to get around. he still tried to escape.
My Dad told me once he and others were up against firing squads at least five times. Once they went on strike because their Red Cross parcels were stopped. They were forced to work down salt mines, for some reason he said they knew the Germans were only bluffing, some bluff. The Americans liberated them. My mum told me he went away a blond well and a built man and came home with black hair and very very thin.
We have lost pictures and papers and would be obliged if anyone has any information to help us build a map of where he was as he and mum have passed on.Robert Dey
Bdr. James Norris 24th Field Regt Royal Artillery (d.4th Dec 1944)An excerpt of a censored letter to the Northampton News (Post Office Newsletter) from Bombardier 1058316 Jim Norris, 24 Field Regt, R.A. in Italy, late 1944, shortly before he was killed on 4/12/1944:
Since I last wrote I have been on some interesting and tedious journeys which eventually brought us face to face with our old adversary - Tedesci (sic) We realise that since that great achievement of the Allied Armies in France, we in Italy have been pushed into the background a little but I am going to say right now that no Army in the whole world has ever had to face such difficulties as those our Generals have had. All my life if a man says "I served in the infantry in the Italian Campaign", I shall say: "Pal, What are you drinking?". If ever any men had the right to say they were browned off, those men are in the infantry.
I have been a member of an S.P. gun crew and though we usually operate well behind them, we have at times been up with them and on one occasion we were in front. That was at Anzio; I swore that the infantry should get a special campaign medal; he is the man that has to meet the enemy face to face.
As I write this there is a terrible din going on among the grape vines of the Lombardy Plains. Our planes are dive-bombing his forward troops relentlessly. Our bren gunners are opening up every minute or so. The horrible whine of his sobbing sisters shatters the air. I believe that sound is the most horrible of all. Every time they open up I gnash my teeth and curse because we can see them falling on our infantry positions. Gerry is a crafty old fox but he is being pushed steadily back. His Gothic Line was a tough proposition. It is a marvel he was ever ousted out at all. Pay tribute to the infantrymen for getting them out. As I passed by one of his Panther turret strong points, I saw chalked "Captured by Cpl............Infantry Regt." Said I to my comrades: "The Infantry has done it again." "Aye" said our Yorkshire Sergeant,"They are t'lads."
Rat-tat-tat, the bren guns are at it again. The spandau replies in short bursts, his artillery is silent, perhaps he is making another strategic withdrawal. We shall soon know. The planes are going in again, four spitfires, down they go, hell for leather - are they all up safely? Yes, here they come, heading for our lines. They have given them hell!
One thing, the prophecy Mr Churchill made about Italy in 1940 when Musso attacked us, has come true. Italy has paid the price, she has paid in full. Never in all history has one country suffered so much destruction. It is appalling. Roll on that blessed day when I can come back to my native land but the task is not yet complete. No relaxing anywhere must be permitted. I shall have to write another long letter soon as airmails are scarce, only one a week. We have been extremely busy of late forging a way through the Gothic Line. What a line it was, no sooner had one strong point been liquidated than another and another barred the way. I have nothing but the highest praise for our infantry, who have to take these positions in fierce fighting. All the way up Italy you will see the signs of these struggles, let us therefore praise them, and remember those they leave at home. The grand advance of the boys in France has made our own campaign look small in comparison but the ring around Germany gets smaller and, whoever gets to Berlin first, will have our best wishes.
Bdr Norris is remembered on the Memorial at Cesena War Cemetery. C.W.G.C.: "Most of those buried in this cemetery died during the advance from Rimini to Forli and beyond in September-November 1944, an advance across one flooded river after another in atrocious autumn weather. The cemetery site was selected in November 1944 and burials were brought in from the surrounding battlefields. Cesena War Cemetery contains 775 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War."David Thacker
S/Sgt Gerard Alphonsus Connolly Royal Artillery (d.24th June 1944)My father, Gerard Connolly, served in the British Army for 20 years. He went in to the Boys Service. He served in India in 1934, where I was born. My mother died three weeks before my father was killed in Italy, he is buried in Assis. They left five children.Sally O'Hare
Harold Arthur Armstrong While 51st Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryHarold While served in the 51st Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery in Tobruck, Western Desert in 1940. He was awarded a medal and his daughter is trying to locate a copy of the citation.Jenny Myers
Mark Bernard Hebburn Royal ArtilleryHello There! I have been doing some research into my husband's family history and came across your site when I 'googled' Stalag XXB. My father-in-law, Mark Bernard Hebburn was a POW there for a substantial part of the war, like many of your other participants having been captured in France in 1940. He didn't really talk much to his sons about his time as a prisoner, but from time to time he would drop a snippet of information to me as we chewed the fat with a cup of tea in front of the fire!
It is a great shame that he died in 2002 and took a lot of his stories with him. During the war he was serving as a Lance Bombadier with the Royal Artillery. His service number was 819389 and his POW number at Thorn was 18598 ( I have his dog tag). He told me that for some time during his stay at Thorn he worked on a farm. He also developed acute appendicitis and very nearly died of peritonitis so presumably was hospitalised for some time. By September 1944 he had been transferred to Stalag 3D near Berlin and the photographs I am attaching are from that time. The writing on the back of the cards has been mostly censored. In the uniformed photograph Mark hebburn is in the front row, far right as you look at it. Something that may jog a memory from someone (I am hoping so) is that just before he left Thorn for Berlin Mark fathered a child, Margaret who we think was probably born round July 1945. I would love to find her and her family but really don't know where to start looking. If anyone out there knew Mark or can fill in any of the gaps, I would be very grateful.Barbra Hebburn
Gnr. Fred Blunden Royal Artillery Maritime RegimentMy Dad, Fred Blunden, was on the last ship to be lost to U-boats in the Med in WW2, the SS Fort Missanabie. He served as a DEMS Gunner with the Royal Artillery Maritime Regiment.Jan
Gnr. Malcolm Cockburn Royal ArtilleryMalcolm Cockburn was in the Royal Artillery as a gunner. He was injured in Burma and placed on a hospital ship that was torpedoed by the Japanese. He was from Scotland. I would like to find out more about him.Debra Brehmer
John Joyce Royal ArtilleryMy Uncle, John Joyce was captured at Tobruk and ended up in Stalag IVA I have an image of one of his letters to his brother. It bears the stamp of Stalag IVAPeter Cain
Gnr. Thomas Hardisty 74 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, 186 Bty, H Troop. Royal Artillery (d.15th Sep 1944)My father, Tom Hardisty served with H. Troop. 74 Lt A.A. Regt, in Malta between October 1941 and July 1943, he then moved to Sicily on the 14th of July and the 28th of August 1944. The photograph would have been taken in either Malta or Sicily. I hope that someone may recognize others on the photograph with my father. I would hope for some feedback as to who the others may be. I'm sure they would have been close friends in those hard and sad times. Father sadly died in Sept 1944. I was too young at that time to be able to get to know him, before he died just aged 39yrs old. I would appreciate any information received.Dorothy Hardisty
Albert Harrington 121st Medium Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy Uncle, Albert Harrington was in Germany and believes he fired some of the last shells of the conflict in 1945, he served with Sgt Hogan and would like get in touch with him or his family.Kenneth Linden
Sgt. Hogan 121 Medium Regiment Royal ArtillerySergeant Hogan, from Taunton Somerset served with 121st Medium Regiment, RA and was in Germany April 1945. He was, perhaps, the last in command when firing last shells in this conflict. I am trying to find information on Sgt Hogan for my uncle, Albert Harrington, who actually fired those last shots. Hoping someone out there can help.Kenneth Linden
Harry Mitchell 128th Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy Granddad, Harry Mitchell served in the Royal Artillery in WWII. The information I have been given is 307th Division, 128th Field Battery, Royal Artillery but this doesn’t seem to match any army divisions I can find. The nearest I have been able to match it to is: 128th (Highland) Field Regiment RA (TA)
Harry was about 22 when World War Two broke out and was from Liverpool so I'm not sure how, or if, he ended up in a Highland regiment.I'm looking for anyone who can help locate his regiment and help me work out the correct one he was in. Also anyone who knew him or anyone related to him. I've been told he was definitely based in Malta and possibly North Africa and even Italy but any help would be greatly appreciated.
Editors Note: 307th Battery was part of 128th (Highland) Field Regiment, RA, they served with 51st Division. Men joining up after the war began rarely served with their local regiments, especially if they were called up to serve.Lee Capie
Gnr. Edward Richard Roberts 59 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, 179 Battery Royal ArtilleryEdward Roberts joined up on the 12th December 1940 and was attached to various Territorial Army Artillery units before being posted overseas to India on the 14th February 1942 where he was to joined the 59th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. The 59th with Edward saw service iwith 1st Ind AA Bde, 36 Ind Div Arty, 33 Corps Arty, st RM AA Bde, and 9 AA Bde, in places such as Bombay, Calcutta and Poona.
On the 13th March 1945 Edward was posted back to the UK joining the 227 Training Field Regiment. A year later was realised to the reserve list before being discharged from the service in October 1954. Edward Roberts was awarded the Burma Star for his service in India.I Jones
L/Bdr. Cyril Dyson Royal ArtilleryMy father, Cyril Dyson, was captured in Hazebrook, 1939 and was a POW in Stalag VIIIb, Lamsdorf. He survived the "long march to freedom".
I have his "little black book" in which he listed all the places he marched through during that horrendous winter of 1945. I will upload the images and transcriptions for others to share. I will also scan the various photographs that he managed to hold on to.Maureen Haldane
George Cuthbert 77th Highland Field Regiment Royal Artillery (TA)World War II Experiences of George Cuthbert of Cathcart, Glasgow. By Ian Andrew Lindsay, Great Nephew, for a Lenzie Academy school project.
This is a story about my Uncle George Cuthbert's War-time experiences and one of his friends, Harry Osborne, who he met before World War Two. He gave a speech to a Regiment Reunion in 1982, summarising his experiences, which was tape recorded and forms most of the story. Harry Osborne, helped in deciphering and explaining the tape contents. He and my Uncle George joined the Territorial Army in March 1939, on the same night. Harry was just 19 years old and my Uncle was 23 years old.
Going to War: Great Uncle George's comments from tape.
"My friend over there said we are not just a unit but a family, and that family starts back In 1939 in the regiment before the war, we went to camp, Budden Ness, near Canoustie, and all of you were young soldiers but I wasn't I was in the original battery (group of guns) because I was a surveyor. (Someone who surveyed the land to see what the guns where aiming at) Then in September 1939, we all got our bits of paper through the door (call-up papers) and I went scampering round to the Drill Hall at Cathcart (Glasgow) and the Sergeant Major Officer said "Go away!" He was up to here in paper. "Go away we will send for you." So they did they sent for me the next day.
And then what happened:- I had a tearful farewell and went off to War, and I had my own pack because they had not given me a pack, my own pack on my back, and off I went to War, mother said "Good-bye" and away I went. I was back for lunch, they sent me back, they didn't want me! Mother said "What is happening? " I said "I don't know" "But what did they tell you ?" "They did not tell me anything" and "What have you to do?", I said "I have to go back at 2 o'clock". So I went back at 2 o'clock and then they said "Go back home and come back tomorrow", and I went back home and my mother said "What are you doing back ? I thought you were going to War." I said "I am back and I don't know why. I don't think they are sending us anywhere." and that went on, for how long did it go on for, every day for a month!
And what did we do in between times we went on route marches, do you remember .... We were marching along to 'Roll out the Barrel', (a popular song of the time) and can anyone ever imagine marching to 'Chattanooga Choo Choo' but we did it! And now and again, when we passed some poor inoffensive civilian somebody in the ranks would call out "Aye you'll go" (meaning you will be next to be called-up) and some one else would shout "and twopence halfpenny will not get you back!" (that was the maximum tram fare to the outskirts of Glasgow) Well that was fine, now most of us were very young, at that time, but they finally took us off down to Crookham Crossroads, down to Leipzig Barracks (called that because the Kaiser opened it in 1913).
And they kept giving us money, money came out of the heavens! You got coat money, you got boot money, you even got bounty money for camp you had been at In the summer! I don't know for the rest of you, but for me this was the kind of money I had never seen in my life before I mean, £5 in one lump, nobody ever saw £5 in 1938. Not if you had just left school you didn't! Anyway that is what went on; and then Oh! English beer, do you remember ... that English beer! Somebody said that it was cats piss watered down!
France – Dunkirk
Right, of course, then we went off to War. We went off to that lovely French Resort, Les Trois Pierre, near Bolbeck l20 miles from Le Harve). Do you remember ... Les Trois Pierre? Right, there we were and then we finally moved up to the War, we travelled across France, only it was rather difficult at the time, because the elements (weather) were doing their best to stop us. We only got halfway and we got snowed up, and we were stuck there for, I think, about a week, and Andy Gump (Anderson) swore he was going to write a book, when he got back, about how he was towed across France, because we towed him the whole way from Les Trois Pierre to Roubaix, he was towed the whole way that ... And I think, I think, Tom Wright remembered that ...
So to Roubaix, someone mentioned Roubaix already, the time we had there, it was really something! Ah, I think we all enjoyed ourselves there, I know my French improved remarkably, but that was fine, ok, we went into battle, we came out again, and then Harry and I were remembering these days when I was by myself, I had lost the whole regiment.
[Recalled from previous conversations] George got separated from the rest of the regiment, stole a motorbike, drove to Dunkirk, had obtained some waders and got on a rowing boat. But the boat, being full, got stuck in the sand. George jumped out to push it off, his waders filled up and he was nearly left behind, but someone pulled him into the boat. He boarded a puffer (small fishing boat), which then off loaded them onto a Destroyer, which got torpedoed by a German Sub, it did not sink, and a Cross channel ferry then came alongside and rescued them. They return to Southern England.
Back to the tape:- I was rescued by a fishing vessel, soaked up to the neck, and I got down into the pitch black hold and asked "Is there any room to lie down here?" I said and a voice said "Is that you George?" It was Harry Osborne, I was standing at his feet! And he gave me a towel and I got myself dried. I had a tin of sardines and Harry a tin of condensed milk. Together they made a great meal!
Right, then of course, we gathered at Charmouth near Lyme Regis (town in the south coast of England). We all finally got back, one by one, we trickled in from all over Britain. When I got back, I didn't own a razor, I had one spare shirt, and I came on parade, I came on parade and Captain Walker, I had been his observation post assistant, and he came down as I was standing on parade and he said "Cuthbert your Boots are Dirty!" Your boots were dirty! Well, I said "The last time I cleaned them was in France." There you are that’s the Army!
Harry Osbourne's story: Harry and Uncle George were part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) part of the first Army. Harry talked about how at the front, before the retreat, all the 'Officers' seemed to disappear on courses, even most of the Sergeant Majors disappeared, leaving the troops to fend for themselves. Harry and Uncle George had to blow up their 4.5 inch Howitzer, as that is the gun they used in 1940.
The troops retreated 18 miles to Dunkirk, where the town was being bombed, a Brigadier formed them into groups of about 50 men, then told them to go to the beach, find a rowing boat, which had an anchor into the sand with a rope to a puffer (small fishing boat) so that they could haul themselves to the boat, quicker than rowing.
Dunkirk - details from the Library book, World War Two by Ken Hills:
Nine days of continuous calm is a rare event in the English Channel but it happened, allowing small boats accompanied by the Royal Navy to go to the Dunkirk beaches, to bring home the British troops trapped there, as Uncle George said "The boat was full and got stuck in the sand"
Back to the tape: Right, now of course we get to the place where we really soldiered, in Sway, (near Bournemouth) that is where the 77th Highland Field regiment and 306 Battery, I think, in particular really made their mark, in Sway. I think we enjoyed our 21 months, I think we were pleased at our performance, that, it was a really good time. But then they finally uprooted us, most unwillingly, and dragged us up to Scotland.
But don't forget we had to fight our way back to Scotland (from Sway, by doing training exercises), we marched over the moors from Catterick (Northern England) to Barnard Castle and then had to fight our way back to Scotland, they would not let us in, but we got there.
North African Campaign
Then eventually we left for overseas and we were on that lovely cruise Ship the 'Johan van Oldenbarnwelten'. It must have cost the a fortune to put that in brass letters around the counter. Really! We got out to North Africa and that is where there was a very important ceremony, there was a very important place in North Africa, a very sad burial.
We buried about 3 x 5 gallon drums of 'Green Blanko' (stuff to clean and dye their belts and gaiters green, not required for brown Africa), not far from Algiers and not far from Mers on Blanche that we buried this 'Blanko' for the rest of the War. And then, we were then as you might say 'blooded', I think in my recollect1on the war in Belgium had been too quick, to sudden, and we didn't know enough. I think when we went to North Africa we were very busy much more seasoned soldiers, we knew what we were doing we really got on very well there.
Harry Osborne's story: In the First Army in Africa we used 25 pounder guns, the latest gun of its time, a magnificent quick firing and very good for knocking out tanks due to its high muzzle velocity.
From the Library book: The War in the African desert moved back and forth for two years along the north African coast.
Back to the tape: I have just seen today a very good map by J V McKay of the North African Campaign with the 77th Highland Field Regiment route through North Africa, and he has on it that at the end of the campaign; at a place called Corba, just south of Nems al Tamire, Cape Bon that Sergeant Skipsey's gun fired the last rounds of the North African Campaign. And I can tell him how many rounds that was! It was 9 rounds, that were fired at little boats that were taking off for Pantillaria Island and that was Colonel Pike, was it not you, that ordered, Sergeant Skipsey to bring these boats back he said, and Sergeant Skipsey’s gun was only about 20 yards from the beach and he swung the gun round, which was No 1 gun of 'Don' troop and he fired 9 rounds and later on in the Command Post we got this piece of paper all tabulated off, the various kinds of ammunition and under the heading 25 pounder and down the side it had the dates and when it came to the last date there had been a few days with no ammunition fired at all, and on this date there was 9 rounds of 25 pounder ammunition fired. that was 'Don' troop 306 Battery 77th Highland Field Regiment had fired the last 9 x 25 pounder rounds in the North Africa Campaign.
Well, that was it, we then, Ah, then the buzz went round, we got on the docks at Tunis, the Ship was standing there, we were going home. Somebody said "There is mail in that ship for Blighty (army term for home) we are going home !" Right, what did we find the next morning, the ship had sailed, where was the morning sun ? Right on the bow of the ship ! There we were going east, we are going to Burma, and down we went through Suez, Port Said, we are stopping here, 'no' we are not, right through non-stop straight through into the canal, Burma it is, get our chopsticks ready, and then what happened.
We got to Bitter Lakes, dropped anchor and that was New Year's night, and 1 can't remember who it was, I think it was Mr Kennedy who came down to where I was with a bottle of whisky, he says right, we are going ashore, this is as far as we are going, Happy New Year and I got a tot of whisky. I was lucky, the privilege of being a Sergeant..
Then we had a little trip from Egypt to Naples (Italy). On the trip we started off lying in the sun in the boat travelling up the Suez Canal, then the battledress blouses went on, and then the greatcoats went on, and then the balaclava helmets, and then when we stepped ashore in 'Sunny Italy' there was 9 inches of snow in Naples.
We sat on the dockside, If you remember, for about 5 hours, we sat in a neat little backstreet and then somebody had the bright idea to march us up to where the transport was, but the transport was just on the other side of the road and IT was moving up to, so we marched for about 1/4 of a m1le carrying all our full serving marching order, our kitbag and our blankets. We marched up until somebody said "Right, get on to that truck". The same truck that had come up the road with us, but we got on and away. Well, that was Naples in the snow.
Then, Ah. Tommy guns were issued to everyone, to fight their way ashore and I don't think any of these Infantry Companies from the 77th Highland Field Regiment went off in very great heart at all, because that was not our kind of war. We were the long range fighters, we didn't fancy this idea of going ashore. Mind you, it didn’t worry me because I was in the rear party. I was alright. We finally fought our way up to Cassino and what I remember about Cassino is my arm getting about 3 or 4 inches longer, carrying ammunition up the hill, from the bottom to the top. Because we were 'smoking' Cassino from dawn to dusk, 1 round of smoke every 2 minutes. A terrible lot of smoke, a lot of ammunition to be brought up from the bottom to the top. Everybody was carrying it Officers, NCO's everybody.
From the Library book: Allied bombers smashed the ancient Abbey of Monte Cassino and turned it into a smok1ng ruin. But it took the Allies two more months of bitter fight1ng to drive the Germans out.
Harry Osbourne's story: We kept sending smoke bombs over the river below Cassino, so that it formed a fog, so the army could build bridges across the large river, which needed to be crossed.
Back to the tape:
Anyway, we got to Greece, and I think we had our happiest time of the whole war. In Greece, we even had set up a Further Education College, where everybody was scampering to learn elementary French and Architecture and all sorts of things and, so far as I was concerned is where the shutters came down. I was always very disappointed that we left Cathcart, Oh, by the way, I shouldn't be here! I should still be standing at the 'Cooper Institute' because Taffy Mills, when we were in the Cooper Institute, he said "Cuthbert", we were standing there with our blankets, with a bit of string, to tie it round us, and we got a tin of 'bully beef' between two and a packet of biscuits and he said "Cuthbert, go out to the door relieve so and so and let him come in to get his blanket".
So I went to the door of the hall, to keep out all the wives, sweethearts and girlfriends, you see. Next thing that happened was the battery marched out of the Cooper Institute and left me standing on guard at the door! Now as a good soldier, I should really should still be standing at the Cooper Institute door because nobody relieved me and the. last order was "Cuthbert go and guard that door" and I should still be there! But, I mean, I took a chance, and came with the Battery and that’s how I happened to be here.
So, now, I don't want to keep you too long, I've talked long enough, and I feel that to me, that has been the Regiment, that has been a part or my life that I would never have missed, to have got to know you all, to have lived with you, Oh to have cursed and sworn with you, to have seen some of you far enough, that man for example, but still in all, It was a great time and we were a pretty good bunch. Thank you.
End of the tape.Gillian Lindsay
Walter Charles Lewis Martime Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy father, Walter Charles Lewis, was in the Royal Artillery and served throughout WW2 from 1939. He was engaged in the Battle of the Atlantic whilst serving as gunner on armed merchantmen ships and I believe also went to Murmansk on the Russian convoys. He received an Atlantic Star campaign medal together with his other war medals.
He was born in Fulham, London and died in hospital in London in 1979. My father and I were strangers as he and my mother were divorced when I was 5. I can find no record of this type of service where soldiers served on merchant ships. It seems like a closed book. I know he was torpedoed and had a bad war which had an affect on him, apart from that I know nothing as he never spoke of his experiences. Any information would be gratefully received.Barry Lewis
Cecil Stanley Frederick Marshall Royal ArtilleryThis Stalag 8b group photo has a date of 12.7.1943. My father-in-law, Cecil Stanley Frederick Marshall, known as Fred is 4th from right middle row. He was also held in Stalag IIIDSusan Nystrom-Marshall
L/Bdr. William John Papworth 5th Medium Regiment Royal ArtilleryWilliam John Papworth, 5th Royal Artillery. During WW2 this Australian soldier fought for our country. He died in the Battle of Salerno.Carmen Adamek
Arthur Ernest Bates 5th Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy Dad, Arthur Ernest Bates, served in the 5th RHA from 1940 to 1946 and went through North Africa, Italy, Normandy & Germany. He was born in Australia but returned to England when he was three years old. He has many memories of what he went through and it is only in recent years that he has disclosed some of them to me. Amongst many other stories, he shook hands with King George, and also ‘spotted’ Rommel during his North Africa service.Peter Bates
T/Capt Peter Smart Green MC. 31st Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy Great Uncle T/Capt Peter Smart Green MC. served with 31st Field Regiment Royal Artillery. I know he was awarded a medal at some point too, through the national archives I found reference to his medal and found this interesting as I didn't realise the gong was the Military Cross.Chris Green
Gnr. Fred Mycock Royal ArtilleryI have been told that my father, Fred Mycock, was held in Stalag 398. Apparently this was at Pupping. I believe that that camp was in the valley of the river Danube. However, when he was alive, we went to Austria and found the site of the old camp. I do not recall it being in Pupping. In fact I am pretty certain it was not. The camp we found was in a small village, just off a fairly major road. It had a small sawmill, with a log flume from further up in the hills behind. The camp was access via a narrow unmade road up a narrow ravine, alongside the log flume and small river. The hut foundations were still visible. The track continued up into the hills. It was there that my father worked, felling trees, which were sent down the flume. The flume was fed from the dammed-up river further up the valley.
Editor's Note: Most of the Stalag POW Camps had work camps, known as arbeitskommandos, where the men would be housed close to the work they had been allocated.Hugh Mycock
Robert Muir Malcolm Royal ArtilleryMy grandfather, Robert Muir Malcolm, was captured in the Second World War in 1940 at Dunkirk and marched to Stalag 20b in Poland until the end of the war when he returned home.Duncan Malcolm
Sgt. Edward McKee 21st HAA Royal ArtilleryMy grandfather, Edward McKee never spoke about the war so his involvement is a mystery, I am trying to find out history of his Regiment and my grandfather's involvement.I have got these details from his soldier's service and pay book and a permanent pass.Johnny McKee
BQMS. William Charles Taylor Royal ArtilleryWilliam joined the British Army before the advent of the Second World War. He saw that war was coming and decided to join up in advance. He first joined the Territorial Army in 1938, and was embodied at the outbreak of war. His Army number was 6779655, and he attained the rank of W/Battery Quartermaster Sergeant in the Royal Artillery (HAA). He was transferred to the Reserves on 9th August 1946.
His military conduct was described as ‘exemplary’. His trade on enlistment was decribed as ‘salesman’, and trade courses and trade tests passed during service was ‘engine hand’.
His Release Leaving Certificate has the following testimonial from Major J Mc A Plunkett: ‘This NCO has served in the Territorial Army since 1938 and was embodied at the outbreak of war. He has served under my command for the past 18 months. He is energetic, conscientious and very loyal. He [...] initiative and is capable of working without supervision. He has always been cheerful even under adverse conditions. he has had over a year’s experience of organising and administering [...] for large [numbers?] of displaced persons and has a good knowledge of food supplies. I can confidently recomend him for any post requiring organising and administrative ability.’
It is believed he spent some time training women to drive army vehicles in Scotland, served in Africa for a time, and was with the Allied Forces in Berlin after the war was over.Louise Prince
Ernest Harrington 8th Survey Regiment Royal ArtilleryAfter the theft of my wife's grandmother's handbag which contained one of the only picture she had of her late husband, I am looking for anyone who may have pictures either of the whole unit or better still of Ernest Harrington preferably taken in Italy.
My wife's grandmother is heartbroken at the loss of this picture so any help will be much apreciated.Peter Lake
Gnr. Frank Goldman 5th Maritime Regiment Royal Artillery (d.30th Sep 1943)My grandfather, Frank Goldman, was a Gunner with the Royal Artillery, 5th Maritime Regiment and died on Sept 30, 1943 at the age of 36.Karen Miller
BSM. John Ray 133 Field Regiment (Welsh)I have details of the Regiment's posting as Depot Regt, School of Artillery in 1943 when they were in Chichester (Tangmere). My Father Jack Ray, went with the Regiment when they were incorporated into the 2nd Canadian Division in Holland and Germany in 1944.John Ray
Gnr Wilfred Carter 111th HAA Reg Royal ArtilleryThe information I have is rather sparce as my father died in 1963 before I could talk to him about his war service -
My mother spoke of his return. She said he was traumatised by what he saw at Belsen but he never spoke of it again.
- 18.7.40 209th AA Training Reg
- 15.9.40 Posted to 347th HAA Reg RA
- 22.10.40 Regimented with 111th HAA Reg RA
- 9.44 To NW Europe
- 27.10.45 Posted to 1 Holding UnitPhil Carter
Gnr. Thomas Stanley Warwick 1st Airlanding Anti-Tank Artillery, D Troop Royal Artillery (d.23rd Sep 1944)i am looking for any information on Thomas Stanley Warwick who was with the 1st Airbourne, 1st Airlanding Anti-tank Artillery. He was in D Troop he was in Arnhem Market Garden. He was killed at Hartenstein, Oosterbeek on the 23rd Sept 1944. We don't know what happened to him. He has no grave, but is on the Roll of Honour in Groesbeek Cemetery. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.Nadine Jesko
Gnr. Thomas Wilson Royal ArtilleryMy late Dad, Thomas Wilson lived and died in the City of Durham. He must have joined up in London because he was working down there I think in the Grosvenor Square area, other wise he might have been in the Durham Regiment, the DLI like my Granddad in WW1. I’m sure he said he was Kings Troupe R H A. I have most of his Army papers but nothing to tell me where or when he was taken, or his Battery. Dad always said that he was taken prisoner near Dunkirk, he said some thing about escorting Queen or Princess Willamina and his Regiment being all taken prisoner there. The CO said to destroy every thing before they surrendered (I just do not know). He was then marched all over, until they reached a POW Camp XXB. His POW Number was 5536.In early 1960 my Dad developed a brain tumour every one said it could have been from the time in the prison camps, he did recover and lived untill 1980's. But after the brain operation he lost a good bit of his memory and I never really got to the bottom of his POW life. He did say that he escaped some where near Hoene and he said he knew about Belson, he did say that within a few days they were flown to England
Dad had 2 tattoos on his arms one of Edith Cavil and the other Florence Nightingale.
My Dad looking the wrong way and one one of these he has his long riding boots I can only think that these were taken in there Unit form up, before they left for France
the German people are from the farm that he worked on.
He was in Bulford Camp, some time there he was knocked of his bike by a truck at night they sent him to Halifax General Hospital, R&R I suppose it was whilst there he met my mam, Stella, she was visiting her brother and my dad saw her photo on his locker and told him that she is a bonny girl. And the rest is history. They got married and I was born.
My Mam has her right hand on the right shoulder of the girl in front.Stewart Wilson
Sgt Douglas Taylor Royal ArtilleryFred Byrne
Pte. Joseph Jerome Deponio Royal ArtilleryMy Grandfather, Joseph Deponio from North Wales, was of Italian descent and became a gunner with the Royal Artillery. He was captured shortly after landing in France when he was driving a lorry full of officers away from the front line. They rounded a corner and drove straight into a German ambush. He was marched to Poland and stayed there for the whole war. He played guitar, but was so tired from days of marching that he threw his guitar over a hedge because he simply couldn't carry it any more.
He was at Stalag XXB for the whole time, although he said he did escape often so that he would be put to hard labour where you got extra food. One time he escaped with a couple of friends... he is no longer alive to ask, but I am pretty certain that their names were Bill Williams and Frank Nuttall. They were walking through deep snow and were exhausted and the guards were taking their time re-capturing them. One of these two couldn't go on and urged my grandfather and the other chap to carry on without him. Apparently my grandfather carried him until they were captured shortly afterwards and thanked him later as he simply would have died that day.
He learnt fluent German and exchanged things with the guards for extra fags or other bits and bobs. His knowledge of German came in very handy with my homework! He also mentioned another chap, I think he was a Frenchman, named Felix - (or that may have been his surname) and they exchanged letters after the war. After the war, he arrived somewhere in Sussex or Hampshire and was stationed in or near the small Sussex village of Billingshurst. The details are unclear, but I assume he was waiting to be demobbed or something like that and return to his hometown near Rhyl, North wales. However, whilst there, he met Marjorie Gravett and married her and settled in Sussex. He sadly died in 1996 aged 77 from cancer.
I have always been interested in his war story, although he rarely talked about it, and I got the feeling that he saw and went through some terrible things. My Mum says as a young child she can remember him sitting staring into the fire with tears rolling down his face silently. I would like to hear from anyone who knew Joseph, or Bill or Frank. I think one of them was actually writing a book, but I haven't a clue where they live, or if they have since died. My grandfather would be nearly 93 now, as would they, but if by small chance they, or their children or grandchildren stumble across this memoir, then please get in touch.Claire Eldred
Maj. John Stanley White 29th Kent Searchlight Regiment, 468 Searchlight Bt Royal Artillery (TA)John White was stationed on South Ronaldsay with 313 Searchlight Battery in 1943, and then as CO of 468 Searchlight Battery in 1944. These batteries were two of the three searchlight batteries of 29th (Kent) Searchlight Regiment RA (TA). In 1945 we know that he was in Belgium and then in Lower Saxony. He contracted TB while he was in Germany, had half a lung removed, and was invalided out of the Army in 1946.Mike White
Gnr. John Emlyn Davies 11th Regiment, B & E Battery. Royal ArtilleryMy father, John Emlyn Davies, served with the Royal Artillery in North Africa from September 1941 to January 1942 when he was captured and sent to a POW camps in Italy & was then transported to Stalag 4B near Dresden where he was a prisoner until May 1945. He returned to the UK in August 1945. I have his POW tag which shows his prisoner number to be 248388. Like so many former POWs, he spoke very little about his wartime experiences.
I would be extremely pleased to hear from anyone who might have known my father.Richard Davies
Sgt. George Cyril Cordery 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Regt. Royal ArtilleryMy father, George Cordery did his basic training with the Durham Light Infantry before joining the Royal Artillery as a Gunner. He was eventually posted to the 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, which was part of 6th Airborne Division. He served with the OP Section of then Regiment.
After the war had ended he was sent to Burma as part of the British Training Mission, where he served as an instructor with the Burmese 1st Anti-tank Regiment (which was also known as the Chin Hills Battalion).Robert Cordery
Bdr. John Stewart Wibberley Royal ArtilleryMy dad, Jack Wibberley, talked about being in the Eighth Army, and about visiting Cairo. He was captured at Tobruk in June 1942 and was taken to Italy where he was a POW in the following camps:
I know he escaped from one of the camps with a friend Mac. He was taken in by a farming family & lived with them. One day when working in the fields he was challenged & beaten with rifles by some Axis troops - he agreed to meet them in the market in Naples the next day & bring another POW with him. Needless to say, he didn't do that! [I read a report he wrote about this when I was about 13, but that report wasn't in family papers when we cleared the family house] In June 1944 his war record states he was known to have reached Southern Italy & was in Allied hands. By August 1944 he had returned to England & was in Liverpool Transit Camp He was posted to Clacton on Sea in Essex where he was part of the Heavy Ack Ack Battery. In the NAAFI there he met my mum Ada Letch who was in the ATS. They got married in December 1945. He died in 1958 and my mum died in 1980.
- 85 Turturano near Brindisi
- 87 Stalia
- 66 Capua
- 68 Vetralia
- 73 Fossoli of Carpi
- 53 Sforzacosta
I would love to know if anyone remembers him - he was always known as Jack.Jan Kitchin
Gnr. Charles Frederick Johnson 68 H.A.A 277 Bty. Royal ArtilleryMy father, Charlie Johnson, was a gunner in the Royal Artillery and served in Egypt where he suffered from dysentry before being reported missing in Tobruk on 20.6.1942. He was taken as a prisoner of war and shipped to a transit camp in Italy, PG 75, P.M. 3450, Bari.
I have no information of what happened to him in Italy but he was transferred from there to Stalag XVIIIA in Wolfsburg, Austria sometime in 1943 where he stayed until 1945. My father didn't really talk about the war or what happened to him in the camps, all the information I have is mostly through research and the records I have received from the Army Personnel Centre. All I have of my Dad's from this time is his dog tag which has the no. 8296 and a ring which has scribed on it "Austria 1943" and in one corner an arc of the sun with rays coming off it. I was told by my Mum that she thought that someone in the camp had made it for him, but on reading a passage from the book "POW Allied Prisoners of War in Europe 1939-1945" by Adrian Gilbert, where it mentions that the Russian POW's on the other side of the fence were so badly treated that the POW's in my Dad's camp smuggled food and cigarettes to them and in gratitude the Russians gave them small wood carvings and metalwork, I now wonder whether this ring was made by a Russian prisoner of war.Pamela Denmead
Sgt Eric Cyril Sparks 87 Field Regt. Royal ArtilleryMy dad, Eric Sparks, worked as a tailor at John Colliers in Colchester before the war. He was also the goalkeeper for Colchester United in their Southern League days. He was called up 0n 15.1.40 at Shoeburyness in Essex and joined the Royal Artillery.
After training he went to the Middle East area and spent all his service there including Iraq, Persia(Iran),Syria and Italy. He was on 25 pounder field guns and eventually rose to be a sergeant. While on leave in Cairo, he fell off the back of a lorry and broke his back, but after rehab, rejoined the unit. He became a trainer on artillery weapons in Iraq.
Sometime in 1944, in Italy the gun was firing when a shell exploded in the breech killing two men and wounding the rest. Eric hand his left hand severely blown apart and was sent back after initial treatment to the UK for his finger to be repaired, but it didn't happen and his finger was taken off. Obviously he was discharged medically in 1945.
He married his sweetheart, Sgt Major Violet Cook of the ATS at Colchester Military Hospital in 1945. He couldn't return to his old profession so became a clerk at Colchester Barracks and eventually became the Superintendent Clerk of Works for all Military buildings and areas in Essex. Despite his disability, he played the piano and organ in Church up to his death.
Unfortunately, the war got him in the end, when all the millions of minute blood clots that he had lived with in his body since the war, joined up as one huge clot and killed him in 1986.Ian Sparks
Gnr. Llewellyn Sims 34 L.A.A. Regt. 92 Bty. Royal Artillery (d.19th March 1942)Llewellyn Sims was the youngest of my father’s brothers he died on 19 Mar 1942 when serving in WW2 but we don’t know where or how he died. Can anyone help? My father, Richard John Sims, was a POW in Stalag 344 Lambinowice, Poland.Richard Edward Sims
Gnr. Patrick P. Conroy 6/3 Maritime Regiment Royal Artillery (d.4th Apr 1942)Not much is known about my Uncle Patrick Conroy or his service other than he was buried at sea. He was about 20 years old when he died. The UK Army Roll of Honour gives his regiment at enlistment as Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, he was serving with 6/3 Maritime Regiment, Royal Artillery at the time of his death. Looking for information and photographs, can any one help?Brian MacDonald
L/Bdr. Jack "Nipper" Charlesworth Royal ArtilleryMy dad, Jack, joined up 1939 and one amusing tale was when the dinner gong went, he asked his Sergeant "whats the gong for?" - "It's dinner time Charlesworth" was the reply, to this my dad said ""e had dinner yesterday, Sunday" to be answered, "We have dinner everyday in the army, Charlesworth".
Jack was taken prisoner at Dunkirk, apparently dismantling some communication set up. He was sent to Stalag XXb at Marienburg where he worked on a farm as a shepherd. His nickname was Nipper as he was 5ft 5". He used to tell a tale that he learnt German from a boot polish tin and him and his mates would take the "mick" out of the guards.Malcolm Charlesworth
Sgt. Ernest Walter Maylin 365 Battery 92nd Field RegimentOnly recently started to look into my grandfather's military career. I have discovered that Ernest Maylin was involved in the defensive action with the BEF throughout the month of May 1940. He was injured and captured 31st May 1940 and after healing was transferred to Stalag VIIIB on 28th Jan 1941. As to what else happened I have no idea, but I would like to eventually find out who he bunked with during his time as a POW.Jason Kingsley-Brown
Pte. Hyman "Harry" Eichen MID. 7th Batallian Seaforth Highlanders (d.15th Feb 1945)My father Harry Eichen died on 15th February 1945 during a Battle in Reichswald Forest, Nr Cleve. He was part of Operation Veritable. I understand from an article in the Walthamstow Guardian that he was Mentioned In Dispatches for his part in capturing a German unit as he could speak German. I was 3 years old so never knew him. I have letters from his Captain and chaplain sent to my mother.
He is buried in the Commonwealth War Grave in Reichswald Forest and I was able to visit his grave in 1997, travelling from Australia. I wonder if anyone remembers him. He was 34 years old when he died and both he and his brother volunteered as soon as war broke out. I believe prior to being posted to the Seaforth Highlanders he was a gunner in the Royal Artillery.Gilda Mann (nee Eichen)
Gnr. Tommie Henry George Atkins Royal ArtilleryMy grandfather was a POW at Stalag IVb. His name was Gunner Tommie Henry George Atkins, Royal Artillery. We have photographs of family members that were sent to him in the camp and they have his POW number written on the back. His number was 223067. He talked very little about the war to his family. We know that he was shot in the hip and treated (insufficiently) by a German doctor before being sent to the camp. His leg fused straight and he had a limp the rest of his life.
Sadly, he died in 2000 but had a good life after the war, despite illness and disability caused by his time there. He was a much loved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.Thank you for recording their history for us,Cheryl Miller
Victor "Taffe" Lewis 24th Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy dad's name was Victor Lewis. He went to India in 1932 until 1937 up on the North West Frontier serving in the 4th Field Brigade Royal Artillery. He also went to France with the BEF serving in the 24th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, only to be driven back to the beaches of Dunkirk.
Has anybody out there got a photo of the boxing team of the 3rd training brigade 1931 Woolwich Barracks? This boxing team photo was lost in a small holdall with photos of my Mother, cups for running, and a few boxing medals. Dad told me that he put the holdall in to the stores at Aldershot barracks where he was stationed after Dunkirk. When he went back to claim it, on two occaisons, sadly they could not find it, for what reasons he did not know he told me. So may be some relative of a friend of Dad's who served at Woolwich in 1931 may have some photographs for me. It's a small world sometimes.Malcolm Lewis
Gnr. George Herbert Titley Royal ArtilleryMy wife's father, George Herbert Titley, was captured at the fall of Crete in 1941. He was taken to Berlin after an escape attempt and eventually to Stalag VIIIB in Poland. In 1945 he was part of the, so called, death march. He had signed up having lied about his age. My wife would like to hear any stories relating to the Royal Artillery who had similar experiences.Brendan M Ramsbottom
L/Bdr. Desmond Bettany 88th Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryTaken from Dad's website of his art work: www.changipowart.com
Life as a Prisoner of War (POW) from Feb 1942 to Sept 1945 As a response to a request from the Singapore Tourism Promotion Board, To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle for Singapore Re-typed from the original manuscript written by Des Bettany in 1991
On our arrival in Singapore, in November 1941, we entrained up country to Mantin. The unit, the 88th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery became part of the 9th Indian Division, and the three batteries were sent to Ipoh, Alor Star and Kuantan, where the Repulse and Prince of Wales were sunk. Eventually the Battery was moved back over Fraser’s Gap to the West Coast, north of Kuala Lumpur and took part in the fights, skirmishes and battles down the Peninsular to Singapore. After capitulation we were all marched to Changi, after disabling and destroying our guns.
The passage of 50 years has reduced the mass of incidents and memories as P.O.W.’s to general feelings, impressions and attitudes. Between February 15th 1942 and September 1945, the completely alien existence we led has become blurred. What is left is a lasting profound distrust and dislike of the Japanese and Koreans.
What remains clear is that throughout the period of privation, starvation and slavery, hope, faith and confidence in our eventual release remained optimistically constant. Rumours abounded but I particularly remember the night of the ‘D’ Day landings in Normandy. When the report reached us, the whole camp within and without the jail began to stir and murmur, to the consternation of the Japanese. This was accepted as fact, but the stories of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs, were met with disbelief.
Some things remain clear however – the never ending struggle for means to bolster woefully insufficient rations; the treatment of working parties by third class Japanese and Korean privates, some of whom had never seen a European before; the road side display of severed heads; the lashings and tortures of Chinese and Indian labourers as well as P.O.W.’s; and complete disregard of the sick and injured by the Japanese. But there was also the ingenious use of material and primitive resourcefulness shown in building accommodation, chapels, theatres and essentials. The concerts, shows and plays were quite excellent as were talks and lectures by experts. Many miracles of surgery occurred under very trying conditions.
At an early date, working parties left Changi for camps in Towner Road and Sarangoon Road, etc. We worked at clearing up the damage in Singapore and the Dock area. For a while we collected abandoned military and private transport. What could not be repaired was broken up and shipped to Japan as scrap. Ingenious methods of sabotage were used both here and other working parties, such as transit camps for the Japanese troops from the Islands and the War Memorial to Japanese dead on Bukit Timiah Hill.
At this time the Selarang Square incident occurred in Changi and parties began leaving there to work on the Burma Railway. After returning to Changi we were moved to the jail and surrounds, and from there until repatriation went daily to work, clearing a corner of the Changi area and creating a fighter strip. This still exists, but has grown into Changi International Airport.
My personal worst moments came when I had to appear before the Japanese Commandant and an assortment of interpreters, to try and explain away, to humourless Japanese officers a book of political cartoons I had drawn. I had lent the book to a careless person who allowed it to fall into the hands of Japanese guards. This was at a time when the war was going badly for Germany and Japan and this was reflected in the cartoons. I was extremely lucky to get away with a whole skin. The Japanese did not approve. I never saw the book again. I am now retired from a life of tertiary art education, and enjoy the benefits of family and eight grandchildren.
Signed: Desmond Bettany, Royal Artillery, 1991
70th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore 15th February 2012 ‘Lest We Forget’ The Triumph of the Human Spirit in the Face of AdversityKeith Bettany
Cpt. P. Windham Royal ArtilleryWe would like to hear from Captain P Windham or his family.Pieter Sakko
Gnr. James John Bagan Taylor Royal ArtilleryI am trying to find my father James John Bagan Taylor who was from Glasgow. I have been informed that he served a a gunner in the Royal Artillery Probably in Scotland but don't know definatly. Not much information but can anyone help?Patricia Reid-Hoggarth
Gnr. Henry Higginson 1 Reg Royal Horse Artillery (d.21st Nov 1941)My Great Uncle, Henry Higginson, was born in Belfast in 1920, son of James and Ellen Jane Higginson. He took part in the Siege of Tobruk and died at age 21. A month before he died a pencil sketch was made of him by a fellow soldier named Kowieski and was attached to a wooden keepsake box. The box and the picture made it home to his family thankfully. It is now a treasured family heirloom.Linda Higginson
L/Bdr Albert Briggs Royal ArtilleryIn 1940 my parents Albert and Amelia Briggs, my sister Amelia and myself were bombed out of the little terraced house we lived in in Manchester. It was just a few weeks before my dad was to join the army. This was December 1940. On 17th March my sister died of diptheria age 6yrs and the day after my sister's funeral my mother was admitted to the same hospital as a suspected carrier of the disease. I cannot imagine how my parents must have felt. Of course I was just 3yrs old and do not remember most of this terrible time. However, I do remember being in my auntie's bed and seeing a soldier peeping round the door which was half opened. I have since realized that this was my Dad. Apparantly I stayed with my aunt Edith who was like a second mother to me. I learned later that my father had been given compassionate leave for my sister's funeral but because of the ordeal he had not returned to his unit on time and the redcaps had been sent to take him back to his unit. It is not until you are much older that you fully appreciate your parents. I will always remember until the day that I die how much love and devotion was shown to me and the sacrifices my parents made. My mother's heart must have been breaking but she always managed to make me happy. As for my dad he was the most wonderful father any girl could have. He never recalled all his bad experiences during the war but only told of the funny things he encountered. I am sure we were not alone and like many others at that time we just got on with it.Florence Swinton
Mjr. Arthur Horwood Royal ArtilleryMy Dad, Arthur Horwood joined the army because he wanted a pair of boots like he had seen in the army recruitment posters to replace the old ladies shoes he had. He was a poor boy from London who worked in the glass works in the East End or pushed a barrow from which he sold various items such as firewood or salt.
He rose through the ranks and finished up his army career as a Major with the George Medal, (he never would divulge why he had been awarded the G.M.- he always was very modest and hard working). He did a stint at the start of the war on Canvey Island with the 'Dads army' of the time and served under Colonel Fielder. During the main part of the war he took part in the Italian campaign and eventually was sent home injured after having an argument with a land mine.
He was posted to various places such as Colchester Military Prison and Dover and after the war had finished was posted to Egypt with his family of four (not me as I had not yet been born!). After the war he rose to a high position in the stores of a motor vehicle plant in Basildon and settled for a long while in Southend on Sea, Essex, before coming to live with me in Southend in his old age after the loss of my mum. He died in 2004 at the grand old age of 98.Sara Moyo
Cpt. Ernest Frederic Hope "Jeff" Jeffery Royal ArtilleryMy Grand-Father, Ernest F.H. Jeffery, Royal Artillery was captured at Dunkirk as a member of the rear party to the B.E.F., whilst on the beaches at Dunkirk he was machine-gunned/straffed by the Luftwaffe in the legs and lower back and later was hospitalised.
Whilst he was in Hospital being treated for his wounds,a rumour thought to have been started by the Germans,insisted that German Prisoners of War where being chained and hand-cuffed whilst in detention centres in the United Kingdom! This was of course totally untrue but at that time Herr Gobbels jumped onto any means to spread his propaganda and rhetoric. But, the up-shot of this rumour was that Allied Prisoners of War where taken from where-ever they where being held in camps or hospitals and chained, handcuffed and manacled together and forced to undertake a forced 1000 mile march from Dunkirk to Germany in retaliation for the supposed chaining of German POW's.
He was eventually housed in Offlag V11 B near Eichstadt,for the duration of the war,& his injuries were as such to prevent him attempting to escape! I do remember him telling me that he worked in the market garden in the town and brought back vegetables to supplement the rations supplied by the camp guards
Though he was an officer he was a rarity as he came up through the ranks having signed on as Gunner in the Royal Artillery India around 1923-24. He was discharged from the Army after having served 21 years 10 months and demoted from Major to his pre war rank that of Captain. This was done, he said, to prevent paying him his full Army pension.Michael Frederic Jeffery
Henry Yalden Royal ArtilleryMy father Harry Yalden was sent to France to fight the Germans who were moving in from Belguim in 1940. He was part of the Artillery Regiment. They fought on the beaches of Dunkirk until they ran out of ammo. They were captured and sent on a death march to Poland were he was a prisoner of war for 5 years at Stalag xxb his number was 14 on the records. He later escaped with others and was found by Americans hiding out in a barn. If anybody has any information a family mentioning him, records of him I would very much appreciate it. He died in 1986 and would never talk about his ordeal when he was alive. My Dad was a little guy 5ft 4in reddish blond hair blues eyes and stocky and a jokester who loved to draw.Sandy Earlywine
Bdr. Robert Comfort "Robbie" Edwards 57th Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryBombardier Robert Comfort "Robbie" Edwards 57th Field Regiment 898397 Signaller. My father was born on 26th Feb 1919, Robertson Road, Preston, Brighton, Sussex, he attended the TA from a teenager. TA1938.
This is his account of the war: In 1938 drafted into the Army from Brighton. Mobilised in September 1939, from Willingdon Observation Post, Motella Towers Hastings - Sittingbourne.
March 1940 Service in France. BEF April 1940, then Battle of the Escaut withdrew from BEF for final evacuation from Dunkirk. They were walking along the many roads to Dunkirk when a plane flew at them they thought it was German so they all jumped in a stagnant ditch - it was an ally plane - they stunk all the way to Dunkirk and eventually to Blighty.
Dad remembers he was on a little boat with one funnel. May 1942 sailed with 44 Division under Lieut. Colonel R E Green, arrived in Egypt on 23rd July 1942. They had 251lbs founders artillery guns. When they came across Arabs sitting on their camels making their wives walk along by their sides they took off the Arabs and put the women on the camels! They also sold them used teabags!
Desert warfare training at Khatatba. 57th Field regiment ordered to reconnoitre Gun Areas near Delta Barrage.
Aug 1942 44th Division ordered to take up defensive positions at Bare Ridge, Battle of Dier el Munassib, Oct 1942 El Alamein. They were in convoy in Egypt, the West coast of Africa at Freetown Cape Town for 3 days. In army vehicles up to Suez Canal to Cairo and then in to the Desert (he was in the Desert Rats) to stop Rommel getting into Cairo then Monty arrived in the heat of the desert.
440 Field Battery RA of 57th Field Regiment was temporarily attached to the 50th division. 57th Field Regiment RA became an Army Field Regiment RA. Battles: Dec 1942 Suerra, South of Mersa Berga under 51st (Highland Division) Jan 1943 Sonda, advance to Tripoli under 7th Armoured Division. Mar 1943, mobile operation 22nd Armoured Brigade and 8th Armoured Brigade Regiment then joined 51st (Highland) Division for the Battle of Medenine. Later in Mar 1943 the 57th Army Field Regiment Battle of Mareth under command of 50th Division, 4th Light Armoured Brigade, 201 Guards Brigade and 51st (Highland) Division. April 1943 Battle of Wadi Akarit under 51st (Highland) Division then regiment proceeded to parts of the Front near Enfidalville under command 5 AGRA in support of 4th Indian Division, 2nd New Zealand Division, 56th London Division, 4th Armoured Brigade and the fighting French Brigade. May 1943 Hostilities in North Africa the Regiment returned to Tripoli for refitting under 10 Corps. Travelled along the North African Coast to Birzata. Where dad went on a Driver Operator course in a tank he said the clutch was too long! 440 Battery would not return to 57th Army Field Regiment and 160 Independent Battery, formerly part of the 174th regiment joined 57th Army Field Regiment. Jun 1943 Regiment was informed that it was to be considered in Eight Army Reserve. 23rd Jul 1943, 57th Army Field Regiment arrived in Sicily, after a few days under 1 Canadian Division fought throughout the Sicilian Campaign with 78th Division in Battles of Catenauova, Cenutripe, Adrana and Bronte. Sep 1943, 57th Army Field Regiment Fire Plan to support landing at Reggio, Italy, and 226 Battery of 57th Army Field Regiment occupied positions on the Sea Front at Messina and fired AP Shells with tracer to guide British Landing Craft to the Italian Coast. He recalls that in 1944 my Uncle Jonathan Edwards (his brother) picked him up from the Regiment and took him to Naples where Vesuvio was erupting the ash was everywhere. He recalls that many of his best friends perished, one was near him and a bomb just blew him to pieces in a second. The noise from the shells and bombs was very deafening. Most nights were lit up with gunfire. He was 92 in February 2011. He now says it was a complete waste of time fighting this war because what he fought for has now diminished.Glynis Leaney
Gnr. William Bowerbank Royal ArtilleryMy late father, Gunner William Bowerbank, was a Royal Artilery signaller between approx 1936 to 1946. He only joined so he could get a new suit. He was a good footballer and was a member of a team that won the Salisbury Plain Area Challenge Cup in 1937 under a CO named Borthwick, I had a photo but mislaid it. I would like to hear from anybody who could shed any light on this.David Bowerbank
Pte. Jack Cansick Royal ArtilleryMy Father, Jack Cansick, was a prisoner at Stalag ivb at Muhlberg. He was captured in North Africa in 1940 and was liberated by the Russians in 1945Robert Cansick
Dvr. Charles Albert Mills Royal ArtilleryMy Father Charles Mills was in the Royal Artillery, a driver of anti-tank guns. Posted to North Africa with Montgomery in the 8th Army then moved onto Anzio where he was caught in a bomb blast and then demoted and looked after a hotel in Venice where Italian women who had married English soldiers were held waiting to come to England.Teresa Mills
Raymond Aubrey Midcalf 12th CM Battery. Royal ArtilleryI have just found this card dated Sept 1945. It says "From Saleino Italy to Hamburg Germany distanct of 1790 miles, 12 CM,Bty on the move, the only unit in British Army to do the journey by road. Photo taken nr Hersfeld between Frankfert and Kessel." Mum had written on back "Raymond on motorcycle."Allan Midcalf
Pte. Henry Lenton Royal ArtilleryMy late father Henry Lenton was the youngest child of William and Helen Lenton nee Gunn of Walsall they had been publicans in Walsall Foreign Staffordshire. He was child of the St Marys the Mount RC school and served on the altar as a young boy. My father joined the artillery south staffs regiment in 1936 at the age of 17 yrs. He did most of the campaigns during WW2; Dunkirk, Tunisia, El Alemein, Africa and the Holy Land, he was in the airborne parachute regiment in 1944 on Operation Market Garden [Pegusus] earning his wings at Ramat David Palestine K57,a red beret.
He was sent to Arnhem with the airborne to capture the Bridge and was taken POW on 25th Sept 1944 at Oosterbeek whether this was in bombed shelled HQ of the day or on the river of 54 men left in the late evening during to heavy German firing on the river is unclear. He was in the 11th Battalion. My father was then taken by cattle train truck,the marched into Limburg where he was to be prisoner of War in Stalag 12A from Sept 25th until liberation the following year. His mother passed away in February 1945, therefore he was never to see her beloved face again. My father didn't talk much about the war, but like most young men, tried to begin life again, sadly his wife was diagnosed in 1950 with MS and life was going to be tough for them and their 8 children, today Henry's legacy of loyalty lives on through his children who live across the world, in Australia, UK and Scotland and his memory will never leave us, such brave young men.Jennifer Lenton
Charles Albert "Bisto" Mills 81st Anti-Tank Regiment Royal ArtilleryCharles Albert Mills enlisted on the 2nd March 1943 and on the 15th April 1943 joined 50th Anti-Tank Training Regiment RA in Church Streeton. On the 5th July 1943 he was posted to 94th Anti-Tank Regiment RA, Conwy, North Wales and 14th November 1943 was posted as a member of a Draft to North Africa. He was posed on the 15th January 1944. to 81st Anti-Tank Regiment RA
On 22nd January 1944 81st Anti-Tank Regiment RA were part of the assault landing at Salerno, and by the end of the day were established on the Anzio perimeter defence line. The regiment remained in Italy until 25th January 1945 when they embarked at Taranto , landing in Haifa , Palestine on 31st January 1945. Three months later the regiment disbanded. However, I don't think he went to Palestine with them, his tracer card also states he was regularly on the non-effective (X) List [Regimental sick list] and then the main CMF (Italy) sick list, and its during these times when not in hospital that he would get the temporary jobs such as warden in a hostel or as member of mess staff.
The last few details on his card are: 4th March 1947 posted to the Depot RA, Woolwich and 25th July 1947 discharged
Gunner Hugh Quinn 79th Hertfordshire Yeomanry Royal Artillery (d.4th Jan 1945)My Grandad was Gunner Hugh Quinn of the 79th Hertfordshire Yeomanry H.A.A. Regt. I know he was killed in action at Corino Ridge,Rimini Italy on the 4th Jan 1945. I would like any info on my granddad or the 79th Herts Yeomanry.Russell Quinn
Jacob James Grossman Royal ArtilleryMy grandad was a Desert Rat and his name was Jimmy Grossman. He was at Trobruk etc. Ef any one has any photos or information concerning him please get in touch. ThanksLisa
Pte. Ronald Robert Broadway 35th Searchlight Regiment, 342nd Battery Royal ArtilleryOn the 18th of April 1939, Ron Broadway, my Dad, enlists in the Territorial Army, Royal Engineers. He signs up for 4 years. His Attestation (enlistment) took place at Highwood Barracks, Lordship Lane, Dulwich. He was declared fit and assigned to 342 AA Company, 35th AA Battalion RE (TA). At the time of enlistment Dad was: 25 years and 8 months. He stood 5’ 6” tall, weighed 145lbs, his girth when fully expanded was 38.5”. He was of fresh complexion with blue eyes and fair hair. He was assigned as Sapper R R Broadway No. 2085852. His address at the time was given as 37 Playdell Avenue, Stockwell, SE19 and he was a Decorator by Trade.
Highwood Barracks was so named from the Dulwich Volunteers who fought in WW1 at Highwood on the Somme. Although the Barracks no longer exist a block of flats built there in recent years bears the name Highwood. Home to 35th (First Surrey Rifles) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, Royal Engineers (H.Q., 340th, 341st, 342nd & 343rd Anti-Aircraft Companies, Royal Engineers) The 21st Bn. The London Regiment was also converted into a searchlight unit of the Royal Engineers in 1935. It was affiliated to the East Surrey Regiment. The headquarters and all the companies were based at 4, Flodden Road, Camberwell, London. In January 1940 it was redesignated as the 35th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery. In March 1942, it was converted into the 129th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery. The regiment served in the U.K. throughout the war.
On the 18th of June 1939 Dad was embodied (put on stand by) into the Regular Army. As Dad was in the TA his unit was embodied into the Army and prepared for duty in the UK. As a member of the TA he was not expected to serve abroad, but could volunteer for overseas service. On the 16th of July 1939 his unit was Disembodied (stood down) from the Regular Army the TA volunteers would have returned to their normal peacetime occupations.
On the 19th of August 1939 he married Dorothy Margaret Archer and on the 24th of August he was called out for actual Military Service and Reported to TA Barracks in Dulwich before being posted to 342nd Battery, 35th Searchlight Regiment at Wingham in Kent. On the 1st of September the 342nd/35 S/L Battery was embodied into British Army on the 3rd of September 1939 at 11.15am War declared with Germany
On the 1st of August 1940 Dad Transferred to Wingham in Kent with the 342/ 35th Searchlight Regt., Royal Artillery, having mustered as a Gunner On the 21st of August 1940 hereported sick on leave and failed to return to Wingham on expiration of his pass. On the 3rd of September he returned from sickness on leave to Wingham.
18th November 1940: 342nd S/L Battery vacated DG area, being relieved by 314th S/L Batt. The personnel concentrated at Herne Bay and billeted in town overnight. The following day the Battery moved by train to Seaton, Devon and were accommodated at Warner’s Holiday Camp, Seaton.
1st to 26th December 1940 was a period spent on squad drilling, PT, arms drill and route marches. In addition much entertainment during period as well including boxing tournaments, football and rugby matches against other units. On the 8th of December 1940 a Defence exercise was held against local Home Guard and on the 19th a warning order was received notifying movement to Leatherhead, this was confirmed on the 21st and on 27th December they moved by rail to Leatherhead to replace 460th S/L Battery
On the 10th of February 1941 Dad was admitted CBS Fetcham (this would have been through an injury received. CBS Fetcham was probably a casualty clearing station) He was discharged on the 18th.
On the 28th of May 1941 Dad was Classified as Class 2 (Non tradesman) Cook at Leatherhead. 342/35 S/L Regt. In July the Battery moved to Herstmonseux and in August to Storrington. On the 5th of September the Battery moved to Funtington Hall Hotel, Chichester then on the 24th to Midgley Lodge, Farnborough.
On the 28 March 1942 Dad was upgraded from Class 2 to Class 1 Non-tradesman cook wghilst stationed in Watford with 342/79 S/L Regt. On the 31st of May 1942 he became attached to London District School of Cookery from 31 May to 13 June. He undertook a Course of Kitchen Management, Organisation and Technical Control and achieved a pass rate of 88%. On the 25th of August 1942 he was Posted to 342(M) S/L Battery R.A. at Watford then on the 9th of December was Posted to 79th S/L Regt. RA Watford abd on the 11 December to 502 S/L Battery RA Field. On the 11th of February 1943 he transferred to the Army Catering Corp in the rank of Pte. as non-tradesman Class 1. Permanently attached to 79 S/L Regt. R.A. On the 29 May 1943 Dad Tested and Classified Gp. B Class 2 Tradesman Cook by Officer Commanding 502 S/L Bty. RA.
On the 22nd of April 1945 he was Taken on Strength of Admin Battalion, Army Catering Corp, Training Command until the 20th of May when he embarked for the Middle East, arriving on the 3rd of June 1945 where he was posted to Army Catering Corp. On the 10th of July 1945 Dad was posted to 922 Company RASC and on the 26th was appointed Acting Corporal. He seems to have suffered an accident on the 12 September 1945 and on the 4th of October he was admitted to 27 General Hospital, being relegated to Private on admission to hospital. He was discharged and returned tohis unit on the 17th of October.
I have his notification of impending release form dated 19th October 1945: Pte. Ronald Robert Broadway No. 2085852 of 922 Company Army Catering Corp (Cook Gp. 8 Class2). Military Conduct: Exemplary. Testimonial: Has proved himself a willing worker and has applied himself with zeal to his duties and carried them out efficiently, sober and well behaved. A sound reliable man with good organising ability. On the 20th of October 1945 Dad was Posted to X List, Sidi Bashr, Egypt (The X list was the register of those personnel awaiting repatriation and discharge to the UK and on the 25th was released for embarkation to UK. He was released to Territorial Army Reserves on 31st December 1945.Bob Broadway
L/Bdr. Albert Edward Tozer 35 Lt AA Regiment, 78 Bty Royal Artillery (d.23rd Aug 1945)Albert Tozer was a relative of my wife, I discovered LBdr Tozer was a POW of the Japanese following the capture of his unit after the fall of Singapore. Unfortunately he is recorded as having died only a few days after the Japanese surrender. He survived so long under horrendous conditions only to die when rescue was so close.Rob Baxter
2nd Lt. Tom Lacey MID 12th Regiment HAC Royal Horse ArtilleryImmediately on joining in July or August 1942, Tim Lacy's CO said 'I'm going to sack the worst performing subaltern every month', which was a mighty motivation tool. This ended when they were send overseas, as a part of the First Army, to North Africa.
My dad's chief memories (he didn't talk about his wartime experiences a lot) seems to have involved food or drink - getting extremely drunk on hooch made from potatoes by his gun crew to celebrate New Year's day in 1944; eating a meal with an Italian family and eating so much pasta that he literally could not get up afterwards; and staying at a Doge's palace in Venice. He was involved in (or led?) a patrol that captured the first Tiger tank knocked-out in North Africa. Is this why he was mentioned in dispatches? I have always assumed so. He remembered Monte Cassino with bitter feelings.
Previous to joining the regular army, he was in the Home Guard. As it was obvious he would be called up (being physically fit and the right age), he was made a sergeant, to give him command experience, of a squad of very old soldiers. They wend on strike - this must be 1940 - as they refused to obey someone so young and inexperienced. He was hastily given a squad of younger soldiers until Sept 1941, when he was 21 and old enough to join the regular army.Clive Lacey
Cpt. Arthur Wellesley "Bill" Parry 113 Field Regiment Royal Artillery (d.16th Dec 1943)The story of my father's death during the advance to the Gustav Line is long and complicated. I have written an account based on information given to me over fifty years ago by a fellow officer who was with him at the end.
What Really Happened?
The accepted version of events leading up to father’s death was straight-forward and in a way comforting. For Mama they were established facts and not worthy of further examination or discussion. Her husband had gone to the aid of a group of wounded sappers, had stepped on a mine and was killed instantly. I’m not altogether sure where these ‘facts’ came from, but obviously his Colonel had written to the family - maybe to my Grandfather Parry Williams in Wales - and told the tale that we all accepted as a true record of the death of Captain the Reverend Arthur Wellesley Parry Williams BA in Italy on 16th December, 1943.
Father had been with the 8th Army from the reverses in Egypt right through El Alamein to victory in Tunisia. Initially, before embarkation, his regiment was up in arms against being saddled with a God-Botherer who was expected to cramp their style, but as Father turned out to have been a reserve in Oxford’s pre-war XV as well as winning a Blue for hockey and tennis, and had a trial as a flank forward for Wales, he was grudgingly accepted. There exists a yellowing cutting from the Sunday Express of an article written by a fellow officer after father’s death. This paean of praise to their padre tells in detail of his acceptance by his soldiers and the grief they all felt when, after nearly eighteen months continuously fighting, he should be killed in an act of loving impetuosity which defined the man.
This might be the primary text for the version I had accepted until one Founder’s Day at St. Edmunds in the ‘fifties, when I met Ken Anderson I was friendly with Bruce Anderson, a contemporary in Walker House who must have mentioned my name to his father. Mr. Anderson sought me out. “Are you Parry-Williams?” he asked. “Any relation to Bill Parry-Williams?” “No, sir,” I said. “Not a ‘Bill’. Afraid not.” “Oh,” he said. “Sorry.” And turned away. Later in the day, he returned. “Look,” he said. “You didn’t have a relative in the 8th Army? A padre?” Then I remembered that ‘Bill’ was the name Father had been called in the article in the Sunday Express. “Yes, sir. My father, sir.” He regarded this callow thirteen year old for some time and then said. “All right, Nigel, I’ll tell you about your father. I was with him all through North Africa and I was there when he was killed.” I remember him squeezing my arm, a gesture of familiarity altogether alien to my generation. He looked me straight in the eye. “You’re too young, now. We’ll meet up when you’re a bit older. Maybe after you leave school”
And that was that. I quizzed Bruce who had no further information. So in the manner of all teenagers I got on with the things I felt to be important. I never saw Mr. Anderson again until I was nineteen. I’d failed to get into Oxford and was too young to have been called up for National Service so a spell in uniform seemed a reasonable way to pretend to be ‘doing my bit’; even then I had to make do with a General List Commission in the Territorial Army, initially training cadets, and later with the KKRC which transmogrified into the Royal Green Jackets . By a strange coincidence, Father and I were both in 56th Division and his first attachment was a Reconnaissance Battalion, a similar outfit to the one to which I was posted.
Kenneth Anderson was Night News Editor on the Daily Mirror and as I was still a chum of his son’s, I felt I ought to fulfil the arrangement Kenneth and I had made four years before. Not knowing what to expect and in some trepidation, I rang the Mirror and asked to speak to Kenneth Anderson. He was a somewhat abrupt man, his clipped responses probably exacerbated by the job and I have to admit I didn’t warm to him. We arranged to have lunch at the Devonshire Club in St. James’s where, incidentally, I had met an uncle by marriage who advised me against ‘going for a soldier’ and suggested instead a job with him in Lentherique, which he owned. Anyway, after my previous visit to a gentleman’s club I knew enough of the protocol to enter and ask the porter for Mr. Anderson, rather than hang around in the street, expecting him to be late. I was duly ushered into an ante-room and Kenneth rose to greet me. We did the small talk thing and went in to lunch. I don’t remember anything of the meal except that it was nursery food and there was a great deal of wine, but even after almost fifty years I can remember the conversation. Actually it was more of a monologue from Kenneth. I had suspected he was the author of the piece in the Sunday Express but it turned out I was wrong. The writer was another officer in the battery and he was killed less than a year later. To my shame I’ve forgotten his name.
Kenneth verified that the sentiments in the article about the 113th Field Regiment’s initial suspicion of the new padre were correctly reported, as was the swift way that Father - with no sign of trying to ingratiate himself - became important to each and every soldier. He was known as ‘Bill’ and ‘Uncle’ by officers and men, never ‘Sir’ nor even ‘Padre’, except by the Adjutant who was a bit of a stickler. Being aged 37 he was considered positively ancient and he was expected not to able to keep up with the fit young soldiers he looked after. But to everybody’s amazement, he shone in all sports and appeared as tireless on route marches as in his pastoral duties. That he had a pretty wife at home was the source of much innuendo and it was a sure-fire way of making him go scarlet and writhe with embarrassment. The fact he had a son was triumphantly used as further proof of a lack of ascetic celibacy. Although this was rather more information than I needed, it helped to develop a picture of a man whom I’d not known next to nothing about. And everything I’d heard from the family had been far more anodyne and respectful. Kenneth’s account was an example of the tough-love unique amongst soldiers on active service who found it hard to commit themselves to new arrivals; men who might be taken from them tomorrow. Nonetheless many went on to forge the deepest, most enduring and loving friendships there can be between men. This was something I would spend the rest of my life regretting I never got to share.
There’s absolutely no doubt that ‘Bill’ was loved by his flock. He was the butt of jokes, yet he was deeply respected. He could be goaded into giggling embarrass- ment, but could also be relied upon to come up trumps in every emergency. Kenneth told me Church Parades had been poorly attended until ‘Bill’ came along but developed into regular congregations which included devout atheists, all the left-footers in the Regiment and a couple of Jews. It should come a no surprise that the longer and further the unit advanced across the desert, the better attended my Father’s services became.
He told of the occasion when ‘Bill’ was conducting Holy Communion from the back of the three-quarter ton Dodge which Father apparently referred to as ‘St. Jude on Wheels’ - St. Jude being the patron saint of lost causes - when the Luftwaffe gate-crashed proceedings in the form of a strafing Me 110. The Liturgy was temporarily forgotten and everybody, Father included, buried themselves in the sand. As the fighter roared back to base accompanied by very un-Christian sentiments, the Dodge suddenly ignited. Father’s batman/driver leapt on board and chucked out Father’s wooden cross, chalice, paten and bible - w3hich I still possess - but was too late to save himself as the truck burst into flames. Before anyone else had time to move, the Padre jumped on board, picked up his driver - Kenneth said he weighed considerably more than Father - and jumped to the ground with him in his arms. He remembered how tenderly Father held the man so no sand got into the terrible burns which covered every inch of the mortally wounded driver’s head, legs and arms, but he died within minutes. This was the first of scores of dead bodies Father prayed over and buried as the 8th Army chased Rommel back the way he had come to Tripoli.
Italy was worse. Father’s letters home, although still witty and warm, began to reflect the terrible attrition of fighting up from the toe of Italy to the heavily defended Gustav Line which had Monte Cassino as its hub. Early on there appeared to be a brittleness in the relations between the British forces and the newly-arrived and pugnacious Americans who considered their allies to be ‘fought out’. Kenneth remembered well the antipathy between Montgomery and Patton in Sicily and that these attitudes percolated down through the chain of command to officers, NCOs and private soldiers. However, General Mark Clark was roundly detested by everybody, American and British. Paradoxically, this helped to unite Yanks and Limeys in common cause. During this time of grinding toil day after day in vile conditions with torrential rain and deep mud over difficult terrain, ‘Bill’ was ever his cheerful, ebullient self, always and unlawfully up at the front of the column; caring for the injured and the dying; praying over the already dead and swapping insults with the dog-tired but still lippy gunners.
One duty of every officer was to write letters of condolence to the families of those killed and Father’s input was gratefully accepted, although he often wrote separately if he had anything extra which he felt could ease the relatives’ pain. He also helped the gunners with their own letters home if they were tongue-tied or plain illiterate. Some bold souls baited the padre by expecting him to write down verbatim the utter filth they solemnly dictated for girlfriends and wives. Any soldier in an aid station or forward hospital could expect a visit from ‘Bill’ in his torn battledress and grimy dog collar. Strangely, it was the soldiers themselves who were most likely to bring up matters spiritual. Kenneth himself was wounded and awoke to find ‘Bill’ praying beside his cot, which made him think these were his Last Rites and complained croakily that dying was the last thing he intended to do. The Padre giggled, insisting he was just investing in a spot of insurance on Kenneth’s behalf.
When Kenneth returned to the front, the Division was battling its way past Monte Camino twenty miles north of Naples towards the Mignano Gap, less than ten miles from Monte Cassino itself. He was shocked to find many unfamiliar faces while searching in vain for many he’d known in North Africa. However ‘Bill’ was there “bouncing like Tigger” although there was a sadness Kenneth hadn’t seen before in his old friend, a quiet stoicism which was never far below the surface.
It wasn’t long after he got back that the whole line moved up at speed in one of the few rapid advances during the campaign. In the pouring rain, they were temporarily halted on a single-track road through some olive orchards when they came across a group of sappers about one hundred yards off to the side, kneeling around a wounded comrade. Contrary to the report in the Sunday Express, the Engineers were alone and thus far no medical help had arrived. The sappers shouted that they had been clearing a mine-field and that one had gone off. It so happened that ‘Bill’s’ jeep was a few yards down the column and he came up to find out what was going on. Before being put totally in the picture he decided he was going in to help, but was told in no uncertain terms that this was the job for other sappers who would clear a path to the injured man for the medics. It was no place for some clumsy God-Botherer. This was too much for Father who pulled himself up to his full five feet eight and three-quarter inches and demanded to be granted passage. Fatally, someone told him to act his age. It was reported to Kenneth later that ‘Bill’ said something rather un-Godly and marched forward. He was immediately restrained which made matters even worse. The wing forward in him saw a gap and he went for it. Breaking clear he charged down the blind side, breaking tackles to left and right. Father hadn’t got more than a few yards before he stepped on the mine. There was a flash, and the appalling dull crump of the explosion. Then, from out of the smoke and the shocked silence came the sound of my Father laughing. He must have realised the stupidity of his actions. Soldiers from either ends of the column came rushing up when they heard ‘Bill’ was down, Kenneth amongst them. Some wouldn’t wait for the sappers to arrive and clear a path, but followed into the minefield, following their padre’s footsteps. (If only I‘d written it down at the time, but it wasn‘t appropriate and the chance never repeated itself so I don’t know the precise words he spoke to Kenneth - and which Kenneth relayed to me over that luncheon table but they were along the lines of “Sorry old chap. Made a bit of a mess of that, didn’t I?”)
They carried their grievously injured padre out of the mine-field and he was rushed to an aid station and thence to a field hospital near Naples. It was obvious to his surgeons that Father would not recover. I found out since that the anti-personnel mine he probably stepped on was particularly vicious. The initial explosion threw a box which contained the main charge to around waist height were it exploded. These mines are held in particular contempt because they were designed to maim and not to kill outright. The typically efficient German logic meant that for each grievously injured victim, stretcher bearers, medical orderlies, surgeons and nursing staff would all be involved, thus tying up far more soldiers than would be required to bury a corpse. Many members of the Regiment put in for permission to visit their dying Padre, but as they were involved in an advance, this was tactically impossible.
When the advance stalled some days later, everybody who could be spared made the journey southward. Kenneth got there in time. Most were too late and Father died on December 16th 1943. Ironically, the wounded sapper in the orchard was able to rejoin his unit after treatment at the aid station to which Father was originally sent. A group of the officers are said to have approached the Colonel with a view to putting their padre up for a decoration. Correctly, it was pointed out that ‘Bill’s’ act of courage would not satisfy the qualifying requirements. His actions were unnecessary, though unarguably gallant. The enemy was not involved, except insofar as they had laid the mine-field and anyway, he had saved no one - not even himself. And he’d disobeyed the orders of a senior officer, to whit the Major who had been hanging onto his leg. It was agreed that it was far better to remember ‘Bill’s’ actions in the context of the man they knew and loved rather than to send off a well-meaning but un-thought through recommendation which would inevitably be turned down. So that was that.
Kenneth’s war finished in 1946 when he went back to newspapers and tried to forget about the friends he’d made and lost. It was only his son’s chance mention of a boy in Baker House with the same surname as ‘Bill’ - albeit suddenly with a hyphen which the Padre for some egalitarian reason of his own, sometimes chose to eschew - that had spurred him into retelling the story. As I recall, Kenneth Anderson and I talked on into the evening. I eventually walked out into St James’s, glowing with pride and full of a respect I will never lose for soldiers, whatever uniform they wore.
Mama never wanted to meet any of her husband’s army colleagues and it was out of respect for her wishes that on her behalf I turned down a request from an old soldier who served with Father and had spotted her name in the membership list of the Friends of Lichfield Cathedral. I’ve often wondered whether she suspected the official version of events would not be corroborated by those who were actually there. She had decided, with typically steely resolve that her husband had died cleanly, and swiftly. The fact I’m putting down Kenneth Anderson’s version - or rather my memories of his memories - is only that there will now be a record of what probably happened. In no way does in invalidate what Mama chose to believe.
The Reverend Arthur Wellesley Parry Williams BA, 113th Field Regiment Royal Artillery, is buried in the British Military Cemetery, Minturno, just south of Monte Cassino. There is an epitaph on the stone: “Say not good night, but in some brighter clime wish me good morning.”
In the mail earlier on Christmas Eve 1943, the very day that the telegram arrived from the War Office, there was a letter, dated 10th November, from Arthur to Audrey, his youngest sister-in-law. She decided to open it later and show it to Mama on Christmas Day. Her intentions were, tragically, overtaken by events and on the grounds that it would be both tactless and inappropriate, Audrey never showed Mama the letter. Much later, when she thought the time was right, she decided to show it to her sister only to discover to her horror that she’d misplaced it. Mama died before the letter was eventually found
It was only after Audrey’s death, sixty-four years after it was sent, that I discovered it, wedged behind a drawer in her drop-front desk. It was the last letter he wrote before being mortally wounded and is the bleakest of all I’ve read. One section joshed Audrey that he’d been showing photographs of his wife’s younger sisters around the Mess, and that he could expect to be “…visited by many of them after the war with a particular purpose in view!!!” But he then the mood changes, “Some of them unfortunately have since died - a very terrible business, but war is like that and demands such sacrifice. The one thing is that we can never get used to it when it does happen. But I mustn’t keep on in this manner.” He had never before mentioned death, as I recall. However, the closing passage is a sublime reaffirmation of his love for my mother. “Tell Joan very quietly I simply adore her. Goodbye. Good night. Arthur.”
I wish now that she’d read it.Nigel Parry-Williams
Gnr. Frederick Horace Henry Huckvale Royal ArtilleryMy father, Fred Huckvale served in the Royal Artillery and was listed as a POW at camp Hohenstein. Also, I do know for a fact, that he was a volunteer (not a conscript) and was based in India, before the outbreak of war. This is where things might get a bit sketchy, as I'm trying to recollect what he told me, which was many years ago. I am assuming, because of being located where he was, that he would have been sent to fight the Japanese once they came into the war. I'm sure he told me, that he was on a ship, which was destined for Singapore. However, in the meantime, there was an uprising in Iraq (where rebels wanted to overthrow British control of the oil fields from what I can gather), and they were diverted to there instead, to help quell it. He definitely told me that he felt as though fate was on his side, as his original destination, Singapore, fell to the Japanese. Like many people of his generation, he would say how cruel the Japanese were to POW's. I think he fought both in Iraq and Iran. I know he mentioned seeing Soviet troops on one side of the road, but they weren't allowed to speak to them. I have done a little bit of searching online, and read somewhere that the Soviet Union did send troops into Iran.
I don't know exactly thereon after, but he must have then gone on to be dispatched into the North African campaign. All I know is that he was taken as prisoner (by a very young German soldier who spoke fluent English), and think it may have been at Tobruk. At some point, he must have been in captivity of the Italians, who he said treated him badly, and beat him. Another member of our family has recently told me, that he escaped and made it back to England, but this is where things seem to conflict, as I don't think it was from camp Hohenstein, but from somewhere in Italy. That seems difficult to believe, but he did seem determined to escape, but from where, we just don't know.
If anyone has got any more information on any of this, or knew of my late father, I would love to hear from them.Susan Harvey
Gnr. John William Hodgkinson Royal ArtilleryMy Uncle, John Wm Hodgkinson, known as Bill to distinguish him from his father also John Wm, was a prisoner of war during WW2. Like many others he spoke little of his experience but he did tell me this just before he died. He joined the Army, 25th Field Reg. Royal Artillery,in 1935 and was sent to Woolwich then Newcastle for training. From there he went to Mhow & Jansi in India. When War was declared this became part of the 7th Indian Div. and he was sent to Kirkee then Egypt as part of Army of Nile (later 8th Army).
He was captured and he was a POW in Italy outside the Vatican. On Xmas Eve 1942 the prisoners began to be moved to Stalag 8B. He told me that nuns came out of the Vatican and took all the prisoners to Midnight Mass. Catholics were at the front of the church others at the back. All were given coffee & biscuits then 2 nuns escorted all the prisoners back. When Russia entered the war all POWs in Italy were marched to Germany. He remembered that Russian planes were painted white and used to straffe the camp guards after flying over the camp. After the war he transferred to REME as an armourer until he left the army in 1950. He died in 2004. From War Office records on Find my past - Prisoners of War - J W Hodgkinson - rank Gunner, camp 344 POW no. 847460 Royal Artillary (Field), Record Office Foots Cray, Sidcup, Kent, Camp type STALAG Camp 6c Lamsdorf. regiment: Royal Artillery. I have a brass plaque with my uncle’s name and no. 847460 RFA engraved on it.Carol Smith
Cpl. Frederick James Price 82nd Anti Tank Regiment, 284 Baty. Royal ArtilleryFred Price had been in the Territorial Army for some time before the start of WW11. The Territorials met in The Drill Hall, Mill Lane, Buckley, Flintshire, North Wales. His Grandfather Charles Price and Uncle James Price had also been members of the TA in the late 19th Century.
On the first day after war was declared in early September 1939 Fred reported to the Holywell Drill Hall and joined up. He was in 284 Battery, 82nd Anti Tank Regiment, of The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Royal Artillery. Alongside him were many other ‘lads’ from Buckley – George Williams, Edward Roberts, Stan Parry, Donny Lyons, Oliver Lloyd and many others. They were part of the 14th Army – later known as The Forgotten Army’. Generals Slim and Orde Wingate were their commanders. Lord Louis Mountbatten was the Supreme Commander for S E Asia. He was a popular Commander. Major Gould was their Officer. Fred trained and served at The Dale in Chester where he was trained as a cook and driver, and was also at Catterick and Bangor Northern Ireland.
He left for Burma in November 1941 having been stationed at Clacton – on – Sea for about a month previously. Vera had stayed nearby. He arrived in India in December 1941 and was initially based in Calcutta within sight of Everest. He became an Antitank Corporal with the rank of Bombardier – in charge of the ‘Cookhouse’. They were fighting alongside the Chindits and the Ghurkas. Fred admired them all. During his time in camp he had a mule, a little dog and a mongoose of which he was very fond. He drove lorries too.
He was involved in the campaigns of Imphal, Kohima, Mandalay and Rangoon, and The Admin Box when the Allies were surrounded by the Japanese, but eventually fought their way out. Here Fred was wounded in the leg when he left the cookhouse and dived under an antitank box as they were being attacked. The wound was on the inside leg above the knee and he suffered reoccurring cramp for many years. He recounted tales of peeling leeches from his legs and torso as they waded through jungle conditions, had boils beneath his feet and contracted Malaria which reoccurred for many years after the war ended, he would shiver violently and both he and the bed would shake. When he returned his once beautiful, perfect, white teeth were rotted with pyorrhea and had to be removed.
He was reluctant to tell many tales himself but his friend George Williams, with whom he remained friends until his death in 1982, was more forthcoming. He told how Fred once jumped into a lorry loaded with ammunition as it was slipping back without a driver into troops – and saved them. Fred recalled how a fellow soldier put his head up out of a trench to take a look and his head rolled back in. But the ‘Buckley lads’ all came back. They said that they must have had a star above their heads. The Burnma Star!
This story was complied from information Remembered by Julie, his daughter, or told by Vera, his wife in about 2004.Julie Harrison
Gnr Victor George Scott 76 Medium Regiment (Shropshire Yeomanry) Royal ArtilleryI have a book of Sketches that belonged to my dad, Victor Scott from the war in Italy, He never spoke of the war, so I just wanted to know any details about him, what he did. The sketches were drawn by Frank Ward, my dad served in the 76 (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment R.A from 1940 onwards under Brigadier Julian St Clair Holdbrook. If anyone has any information I would love to hear from themYvonne Sibley
Cyril Fox Royal ArtilleryI have been searching for 15 years for my grandfather, Cyril Fox and all I know is he was in the Royal Artillery in Edinburgh Castle between 1939 and 1940. My gran was in the WAAF Elizabeth Bell and worked in the canteen. All I know is his maybe name is Cyril Fox, blonde hair, and was Irish. Mum was a one night stand as they say. My mum was born in Dec 1940 so he was at Edinburgh Castle around February to March 1940. I would be so grateful if someone knew of him or even a photo, possible 88th Royal Artillery Regt? It would be nice to know if I have other family out there. Thank you so much.Dee Hodge
Bmdr. Hugh Archibald "Mac" McGregor Royal ArtilleryMy Granddad Hugh McGregor was a POW in Stalag 383 and we were always told that whilst there he bred rabbits for the Germans - now I am older I realise that the rabbits don't need much help! Apparently, he lied about his age, he was born in 1914, to enter WW2. He obviously enjoyed it or it was a welcome diversion to home life. When I was at school the local paper ran a story about him but being young I was more embarrassed then impressed, oh how I wish I had that cutting now.Pam Penfold
Gnr. Benjamin Alexander Gray 67 HAA Regiment, 189 HAA Battery Royal ArtilleryMy Dad, Benjamin Gray served in North Africa and Burma 1942- 1945 in both an artillery and infantry role. I have prepared a 60 page record of his service, units and events. This record is now with the Royal Artillery library Woolwich. If anyone has any further information please contact me so I can add to the record and pass the record on.Alec Gray
Gnr. William James PriestmanBill Priestman was my Grandad, who never ever spoke of his time in the war or as a POW. He was a Gunner 914577 in the Royal Artillery. He was posted as missing on the 20th June 1942 in The Middle East. He was captured and was in Italian hands at Campo PG75 PM3450 Italy. Then marched onto Stalag IVF and Stalag IV B - POW number 259537. He then returned back to the UK on the 15th May 1945. Please let me know any further information.Louise Priestman
Gnr. John James Rowley 77 HAA Rgt, 240 Btty. Royal Artillery (d.10th Aug 1943)Gunner John James Rowley was in the Royal Artillery serving in the 240 Battery, 77 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment, he was captured by the Japanese, I think, in 1942. Sometime he was taken to Hintok River Camp in Thailand where he worked on the Burma Thai railway near to the River Kwai. He sadly lost his life to cholera on the 10th of August 1943 due to the brutality of the Japanese army.Terry Oldham
Gnr. Harry Lillystone Royal ArtilleryWe were told (the family) that Harry Lillystone was captured at Tobruk, and marched to Poland, although I have my doubts. Other than that don't know anything. Any other info would be greatly appreciated.
Capt. Donald Seymour Erskine Royal ArtilleryS. Flynn
Capt John Brabazon Booth Royal ArtilleryJohn Brabazon Booth was commissioned in 1944, in the service of the Royal Artillery. He fought in India and was Aide-de-Camp to Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief of India in 1947.S. Flynn
Gunner James Edward Jupp Royal ArtilleryMy father James Jupp was captured at Dunkirk. I have no details of what happened to him after that but he did end up in Stalag XX-B Malbork Poland. He said that he volunteered to go to a Horse Stud where they broke in the German Stallions. He claims to have escaped a couple of times but was recaptured. The last time he tells of escaping with fellow prisoner Harry Brough. They took 4 prized stallions and obtained passes and because my father could speak fluent German they kept moving along updating these passes. They rode from East Prussia to the River Elbe arriving at Wittenburg on the Western Front. At that point they met the Americans. Of course there was more to the story. This is a quick version of his escape but it made the newspapers in England on his arrival back home.
James Edward Jupp left England in 1959 on the Ship Fairsea as a ten pound pom to Australia with his wife and family. He passed away in 1987.I would love to contact anyone who might have heard of this story or might have further information.Janine Petersen
Gnr. Robert Reginald Mathias 102 (Pembroke Yeomanry) Medium Regiment Royal Artillery (d.24th Apr 1945)My uncle 'Bobby', Robert Reginald Mathias, died 24/4/1945 at Argenta Gap, Italy, a few days after the Battle of Argenta Gap. I have only one photograph of him and would love to know if anybody knew him.He served in Africa and Italy as a gunner. I have found his grave in Argenta Gap War Cemetery, Italy. It is my ambition now to go there and just say he has not been forgotten. I never knew him as I was born in 1957. Any information or even a photo of his regiment would be so appreciated.Kathryn Ashworth
Bmdr. Walter Bollands Light Anti Aircraft Royal ArtilleryWalter Bollands is my grandfather. He served 1939 -1945 in England, India, Malta and USA. He enlisted on the 23rd of September 1939, aged 40 in Middlesbrough and joined the Corps of Royal Artillery Light Anti Aircraft as a Gunner (Army No 1482498) On the 14th of April 1941 he was posted to 4th Regiment Maritime Anti-Aircraft Royal Artillery. on the 4th of February 1942 he was reported Missing at Sea whilst serving as a Bombardier Royal Artillery, (Gunners of the Royal Artillery Maritime Regiment manned the Bofors gun) He was demobbed on the 29th of September 1945.Paul Bollands
Lt. Robert Alan Young Royal ArtilleryMy late father Alan Young served with the Royal Artillery I'm trying to get a better copy of this photograph which is titled; M.G.R.A's Visit to Waziristan - R.A Mess RAZMAK September 1945. If anyone knows any stories or details of my late father Alan Young they would be greatly appreciated. Please can anyone help me?David Young
Bombardier AW Ward Royal ArtilleryI understand that my father, Bombardier AW Ward (Royal Artillery) Woolwich, captured at Dunkirk and marched eventually to Stalag 8B and imprisoned until end of war. He worked in coal mines where he sustained a back injury, but I cannot find any references. I would be grateful for any assistance.Diane Ward
Percy James Grant 239/101lt AA & A / T Regt Royal ArtilleryMy father, Percy James Grant, of 239/101lt AA & A / T Regt Royal Artillery was captured - he told me - at St Valery in France and was reported missing about June 1940.
He was marched through France to Germany and ended up in Poland. My father is no longer with us but told us very little about his time in a Prison of War camp except we have a picture of him with colleagues in Stalag VIII B in 1942. He had a POW number of 6333. He did mention that they were made to work in a jam factory while being prisoners of war.
The only other thing I know is that he was picked up by the Americans near Prague and brought back to the UK at the end of the war. I have a few words in a diary with a whole list of names which might be people he was with in the camp.Peter Calder Grant
Gnr. George Wilfred Wyatt 1st Regiment Royal Horse ArtilleryThis is the writing of George Wilfred Wyatt, written in the mid 90's about his experience
"Courage and Determination"
In 1939 after working down the mines for four years, I joined the army and served as a gunner in the Royal Horse Artillery. I was posted to France as part of the 51st Highland Division B.E.F. and was taken Prisoner of War at St. Valery in June 1940. We marched to Holland and then went onto Emerich in Germany by barge. We then travelled by train to Scubin in Poland where we were put into working party camps. Whilst at this camp we were sent to work on farms, in factories and on the railways and roadworks. We were also sent to build camps for P.O.W's.
About two years later in 1942, we were sent to work in the mines in the Katowice mining area. At this mine, a young Polish girl was working in the lamp cabin. Her job was to hand out checks and lamps to the miners working below ground. This was the beginning of my friendship with this young Polish girl named Halinka. As our relationship blossomed daily to eventually corresponding and meeting occasionally whenever possible during the following years. Halinka's father was a Polish Resistance leader who lived throughout the war never knowing whether that dreaded knock at the door would ever come, (i.e. "Gestapo"). Halinka obviously kept her friendship with me a big secret, knowing that any relationship with a P.O.W. would be against her father's wishes.
During the last few months of 1944, we moved to another mine, 20 kilometres north of Halinka's village and later still yet another mine, 15 kilometres south of her village. However, every few days I would see Halinka walking near by the camp. Sometimes, we could have a chat and other times it would be impossible, but she never complained. In January 1945 along with a friend, we escaped from the camp and made our way with the help of Polish friends to the village some 15 kilometres away. Knowing the Russians were advancing to the area, local people hid us until we were liberated. We then decided to get married. So we travelled to Krakow airport where the R.A.F. had a base travelling on top of a cattle truck 80 kilometres to receive permission from an officer, which he granted and signed my pay book, escorting me out of the base, against the will of the Russians. We made our way to the city of Krakow 5 kilometres away and found a church with a friendly priest who willingly agreed to marry us and also kindly found us accommodation for our wedding night. We returned to my wife's home in Niwka and after the initial shock, her family accepted us with open arms and gave us their blessing although with a little doubt. (Was I true or false).
Our happiness did not last long, as the Russians put out an order that all P.O.W's must report to military headquarters within a week or be treated as spies and shot. A party of eight reported to Krakow where we were given hard rations, mostly dried vegetables, for 4 days journey by train to Odessa. They would not allow girls to travel, however, between us we managed to smuggle my wife Halinka with us, hiding her under top coats in our sleeping compartments. On arrival at Odessa, the British Military Mission, who had to escort her back home, held my wife. I was sent home by merchant ship, via Italy, Gibraltar and Scotland. On my arrival, I informed my unit and the British Red Cross of my marriage and received only acknowledgement. Later my wife came home from Odessa with a British Military escort and was told to wait until later and to get in touch with the British Embassy, which at this time did not exist. However, Halinka being very impatient decided to make her own way to Prague in Czechoslovakia with papers or passport. At the British Embassy, her good luck still held out. After being checked, she finished up in the office of a Major Wyatt whom was delighted at meeting a namesake and looked after her the time she spent in Prague. Halinka arrived in London on VJ Day, unable to contact anyone owing to a public holiday. However, the police found me and informed me that Halinka was on her way to Nottingham by train and that I should meet her when she arrives. Courage and determination played a big part in our romance throughout.
George Wilfred Wyatt
I hope that I have done the right thing for my uncle Wilf. He was a kind man and did tell me one or two anecdotes about life in the camp. If I remember rightly, he told me how they used to make fish soup by tying the fish onto a piece of string and passing it across the top of the boiling water. They didn't eat very much as the rations the Germans gave them were very meagre indeed. I suspect probably just enough to keep them going. He also told me of the time when he was out with some of his POW mates. I think he worked nearby in a mine or a farm. They had been given some eggs and they were looking forward to having something more substantial to put into their stomachs. One of the guards stopped them and when he went to search the knapsack, uncle Wilf gave the bag a huge clap and smashed all the eggs, so then the Germans couldn't take the eggs either. He had a very dry sense of humour and was a genuine good man.Colin Winterbottom
Bmdr. Gwilym Jones 5th Field Regiment, 63rd Battery Royal ArtilleryGwilym Jones enlisted at Caernarvon on 6th January 1932 according to the records. But, I recall he always said he was a boy trumpeter at Woolwich Barracks. The book shows his service to run from 17th August 1935 (his eighteenth birthday). He talked of his days fighting on the North West Frontier. With the information on 63rd Battery and 5th Field Regiment I have trawled the internet and found that they were "lost" at the fall of Singapore which means he was transferred fortunately before the regiment went to Malaya.
Working through what I could find I am fairly certain he was transferred to the 9th Field Regiment RA which had been in the BEF and I presume recovered from Dunkirk with the loss of many men and much equipment. He was in the UK for 2 years which ties in with his records, presumably re-forming, re-equipping and re-training and then went to South Africa for the Madagasca invasion and he then shows as being in Durban (again). This I think from things I recall him saying was for R and R. In January 1943 he is shown as returning to India and I know he fought in Burma although this is not shown as he held the Burma Star.
Following the trail of the 9th FR they became part of the 20th Indian Division that fought at Imphal and pursued the Japanese through Burma. The Service Book shows:
- home 6/1/33 to 18/2/34
- India 16/2/34 to 28/4/40
- home 29/4/40 to 21/3/42
- Madagasca 22/3/42 to 24/10/42
- South Africa 25/10/42 to 24/1/43
- India 25/1/45 to 6/5/45
- home 7/5/45 to 9/4/46Bryn Jones
Pte. Christian Settle Royal ArtilleryMy father Chris Settle never talked about the war apart from he was captured at Dunkirk and was on the Long March. I just wondered if he was a prisoner at Torun.Joseph Christian Gent
Lt. George Ernest "Walshie" Walsh 65 HAA Rgt. RA (TA) Manchester RegimentMy father George Walsh would never talk about the war. He did once tell me that "they fired 15,000 rounds a night but never shot anything down". Otherwise I never knew anything about it. I would like to know if possible just where he was during the war. Please can anyone help me?Marie-Louise Walsh
Gunner Ron Davies Royal ArtilleryMy late uncle, Ron Davies from near Swansea, Wales, was a gunner with the Royal Artillery when captured at Crete in 1941. I know that he was at Stalag 344 at the end of the war. I recall him saying that he worked in the mines when a POW. I would be pleased to hear from anyone with any memories, photos etc.Gareth Bassett
Sgt. Eric Simpson 1st Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery Royal ArtilleryThe 1st Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery of the 1st Airborne Division, famous for their exploits at Arnhem in 1944, actually made history at Netheravon. A gun team flew in a Horsa Glider with a full load of 6pdr gun and Jeep, on Saturday 26th September 1942, for the very first time in history. The gun team included :- Sgt Holmes, Bmbdr Les Towell, gunners Harry Townsend, Frank Greaney and Lance-Bmbdr Richard Flaherty. My father Sgt Eric Simpson was also a member of this Battery.Nigel Simpson
Gunner Frank Allen Royal ArtilleryMy father, Gunner Frank Allen of the Royal Artillery was taken prisoner in Crete June 1941 and held until 1945. He died in 1965, he never told me about his POW days as I was too young but I have some photos. I would like to find more info on Stalag 8b and what it was like for my Father.Brenda Allen
Stanley Douglas Gittings 65th RA Field Regiment, 257 Bty. Royal ArtilleryWe are in the process of typing up my father's diary of his time in Stalag VIIIB between June 1940 and 1945. His name was Stanley Douglas Gittings and he was in the 257/65th RA Field Regiment.
In the back of his diary is a list of names of people who he seems to have been incarcerated with. If anybody would like me to check the list for their relatives please email me, although the diary does not mention anything other than their names and addresses at the time.David Gittings
Eddie Eccles 31 Field Regiment, 105/119 Bty. Royal ArtilleryThese photos from the camp include my father in law Eddie Eccles (105/119 battery of the 31 Field Regiment R.A.) who was caught at Tobruk on 15th Dec 1941 whilst taking part in the great Battle of Halem Hamza in the Libyan Desert.
Understandably Eddie was reluctant to talk about his experiences so I would love to hear from others who may have knowledge of the battle and times of this Field Regiment during this period in the Libyan Desert and also at Stalag 8B.Gwyn Hughes
W/O Peter McDermont Ayrshire Yeomanry Royal Artillery (d.29th Seotember 1941)From what I have been told, Peter was a loving father of 2 children. His wife died in childbirth with their 3rd child in 1938. When he was killed, he left behind 2 children with no parents. My mother-in-law, Mary McDermont, Peter's younger sister, raised both children in her parent's home in Kilmarnock. That was when family was important and meant everything.
Gnr. Norman "Bishop" Jenner Royal ArtilleryMy father-in-law, Norman Jenner (Gunner 888206 in the Royal Artillery), was captured at Dunkirk and spent the rest of the War in Stalag 8b (Stalag 344) near Lamsdorf. Like everyone, he had a pretty rough time there and would never talk about it, so unfortunately I don't have many memories to share. What I do recall from many conversations during which he shared little was that his nickname was "the Bishop" - maybe because he was a committed Christian and/or he was well spoken and older than most of his fellow inmates, being born in 1910. He also said they often had sugar beet to eat, which was not a balanced diet, but filling. He also said that although the Brits had a hard time, it was nothing compared to the Jews, Gypsies and Slavs who were treated as subhuman.
He suffered from malnutrition during his stay in Stalag 8B and this brought on blindness which he suffered from the mid-fifties until his death in 1993. I have two photos of Norman with some of his POW friends taken soon after the War. I would love to know who they are and to make contact if possible. I also have a photo of Norman's nephew which must have been sent to him at the camp as it is stamped "Stalag VIIIB geprüft Nr 35".Malcolm Tebbutt
Sgt. George Gyves RA HAAMy father, Sgt George Gyves (RA HAA), was captured on Crete in June 1941. I know he was in Stalag V11a (Moosburg) during 1942 as we have postcards from him. We also have postcards dated June 29 and September 15 1943 from Stalag V111b (Lamsdorf). He was on the Death March that commenced on January 1945.
Unfortunately, he was very poorly when repatriated to the UK and died on Oct 25 1946 age 39. If anybody recognises a fellow POW from the photograph or has a related story, I would like to hear from them.Michael Gyves
Sgt. John Staley 23rd Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy father, Sgt. Jack Staley of the 39/45 Battery, 23rd Field Regt Royal Artillery, was captured June 6th or 10th 1940 at St. Valery-en-Caux. He ended up in Stalag 8b and was repatriated after the death march on the 24th May 1945. The 51st Highland Division and many other units were surrounded and captured at this village. He was given the Military Order of the Firing Squad - a United States award. If anyone can shed a little light, I would be appreciated.Bob Staley
Bdr. William John Stainthorpe MM. Royal ArtilleryMy grandfather, Bombardier William John Stainthorpe of the Royal Artillery was captured at the Battle of Sidi Rezegh. For his actions in that battle, he received the Military Medal.Steve Madden
Gnr. Ernest Park 57 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, 171 Bty. Royal Artillery (d.7th Mar 1943)Ernest Park sadly died aged 22 during service. He was a gunner in the 57th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment of the Royal Artillery and was in the 171 Battery. He is buried in the Tripoli War Cemetery, Libya. His service number was 1778545. He was originally from Dorset. Would love to hear from anyone who may have known him or anyone from same regiment.Louise
Gnr Hugh Brown Skilling Royal ArtilleryMy father Hugh Skilling was a gunner in the Royal Artillery, he was captured in Tobruk in 1942/43. He was taken to Stalag 4c and he was there for 3 years. He worked down the coal mines in Wistritc, Teplitz, Czechoslovakia. He had a bad time there. He had the scars to prove it. He would never talk about his time there.Hugh Skilling
Pte. Raymond Edwards Royal ArtilleryMy late father, Raymond Edwards, was taken POW in Dunkirk and spent some time in 20A at Torun and endured the long march, leaving him so sick he spent six months in hospital recovering. As well as being at 20A he also spent some time in a camp in Italy where I believe he was working on building a dam, I presume this must have been before going to 20A. I so enjoyed reading other peoples' accounts, like so many other POWs my father would say very little about his time during the war. Also, like others he did not want to claim his medals.Ray Edwards
Gnr. John Pretswell "Jock" Lockie 71st Anti Tank Regiment Royal Artillery (d.14th Aug 1944)Jock Lockie was one one of the two recruits from Selkirk, who joined up together and were posted to the 71st anti tank regiment. Jock along with 30 other members of the Regiment lost their lives between being landed by Rhino barge at Courseulles-sur-Mer and the breakout from around Caen. The other, Martin Joyce fought with the Regiment to the end of the war and returned to Selkirk.Philip Barnett
Gnr. William Bennett Royal ArtilleryMy Dad, Bill Bennett was at Stalag 9C from 1939 to 1945.Muriel Flitcroft
Sgt. William Christopher James "Kit" Williams 35 L.A.A. Regt, 78 Bty. Royal Artliiery (d.1943)My father William Williams was born on the 15th of December 1913 at 106, Upper Beau Street, South Everton, Lancashire. (Part of Liverpool) At birth he was registered as William Christopher Williams. James was added when he was Baptised, in accordance with Catholic tradition. This has led to some confusion over his middle names. His father was William Nicholas Williams, a Bricklayer’s labourer, born at 42, Mere Lane, Everton, in 1886, he died before 1940. His father was born in Beaumaris, Anglesey, of a Welsh family, originally from Ruthin in North Wales. His mother was Agnes Williams (Nee Kane), Born at 138, Elias Street, Everton in 1888. She died c.1955. Her father was born in Everton of an Irish family which had come over from Ireland during the Irish Famine in 1851 or ‘52. Brought up as a Catholic, my father was sent to a Catholic Boarding School, for his education, in which he did well. After leaving school, he entered the tailoring trade, specialising in invisible mending. Although a Catholic, he was interested in all religions, and had visited a synagogue.
When the Second World War began he joined the Royal Artillery and trained as a Bofors (Anti-Aircraft) gunner, becoming a good shot. (My daughter, Tamsin, has in her possession a part of a Target Drogue, which he shot down.) His Regiment, the 35th was a special TA Regiment formed at Oxford on 2nd September 1939 for the defence of RAF airfields in the area against air attack. It recruited initially older men aged 25 to 50 (he was 26) and by early 1940 comprised five batteries with Headquarters at Oxford, Abingdon, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Reading. In mid 1940 this Regiment reverted to a normal Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment and was reduced to three batteries 78, 89 and 144.
My father was in 78 Battery. Battery HQ was in Reading. The RHQ was located in Black Hall, St Giles, Oxford. He was posted to an ack-ack site in the village of Bramley, in North Hampshire, where he met my mother, who lived at the bottom of the hill on which the gun site had been built. These guns also protected the airfields at RAF Aldermaston and RAF Greenham and also the ammunition depot at Bramley. On the 29th June 1940, aged 26, and now a Lance-Bombardier, he married Phoebe Helen Warner, aged 23, born 12th March 1917. Although he was still a Catholic and she was Church of England, they married in the C of E Church at Bramley. His Best Man was Edwin Randall, presumably one of his fellow Gunners.
He was then posted away, to a gun site at the I.C.I. factory at Mirfield, in Yorkshire. Here, they got the orders for mobilization. They were sent to a staging centre at Middlesborough, where the 78th made ready for the move to Scotland. It was here that the thought of going overseas proved too much for a couple of the lads. One shot himself in the foot and the other threw himself out of a bedroom window.
On the 14 July 1941, aged 27, now a full Bombardier (equivalent to Corporal), his son, Christopher Robin, was born. Presumably before his posting overseas, he was given a 48-hour pass to come down to see his new son, and we have some photos taken then. Obviously, I have no memory of him.
On the 8th November, 1941, 35 LAA was kitted out for Iraq and entrained for Gourock, on the Clyde. At Gourock, on the 12th November 1941, his Regiment, the 35th Light Anti-Aircraft, boarded the converted liner the “Empress of Japan”, along with the 6th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, and others, and joined Convoy WS 12 ZM, bound for Basra, in the Persian Gulf, hence their sand coloured camouflage. The convoy was escorted by the battleship “Royal Sovereign”, and Destroyers “Dulverton” and “Southwold”. The “Royal Sovereign” was one of the first ships to be fitted with Radar. They left Gourock at 2345, on the 12th, superstition preventing any ship sailing on the 13th! The ship was carrying 50 crated Hurricane fighter aircraft, as well as the 53rd Infantry Brigade Group, 232 squadron RAF, the 85th Anti-Tank Regiment,and the 6th Heavy AA Regiment, along with 35 LAA. On the 24th November, they put in at Freetown, but were not allowed ashore. Two days later, they left Freetown. As they were heading out to sea, a solid thump was heard on the side of the ship. It was a torpedo that had failed to explode. The men enjoyed the luxury of the ex-liner, with its cinema and air-conditioning, as they rounded the Cape of Good Hope. On the 7th December 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour - and the Americans entered the War. After rounding the Cape, they docked at Durban on 19th December, for another four days, with shore leave. They were billeted ashore and wrote letters to their families, who were preparing for Christmas, On the 21st, they were told that 35LAA and 6HAA were to be transferred to the SS “Narkunda”, an ex-P&O liner. The “Narkunda” sailed on the 24th December (Christmas Eve!). This ship was not air-conditioned, having been built in 1920. They had only one Naval escort. After a few days at sea, the convoy was split into two. Due to the Japanese situation, the “Narkunda”, “Abbekerk” and some others were diverted to Singapore, as Convoy DM1, with escorts “Emerald”, “Exeter” and “Jumna”.
The troops, having been kitted out with clothing suitable for desert warfare in the Middle East, were hardly equipped for tropical climates and jungle conditions. Not only that, but much of their equipment, including their guns, were on another ship, possibly the “Abbekerk” . On the 4th January, the convoy refuelled and watered in the Maldive Islands. Here they were joined by HMS “Durban”, and the Dutch Battlecruiser “De Ryter”. A day later the convoy was reinforced with another six naval escorts, including an Australian destroyer. As they entered the South China Sea, three Dutch destroyers and a Norweigian ship joined the convoy..
The Japanese bombed Singapore on the 12th January 1942, and the convoy arrived in Keppel Harbour on the 13th. Major Cutbush, RA commandeered the Singapore Harbour Board Club as a billet for his men. Next day, it was realised that they had no guns or equipment. Because of the explosive ordnance she carried, the “Abbekerk” was berthed in an isolated spot, and it may be she had all of the AA guns aboard, but it was felt too dangerous to unload her at the regular docks.
The men had nothing to fight with and the Japs were coming! Their torpedo bombers had already sunk the “Repulse” and the “Prince of Wales”. Both formations were rearmed in Singapore from existing stocks. Upon rearming, 144 Battery and two troops of 89 Battery of 35 LAA Regiment were sent into Johore and went into action against enemy aircraft. 78 Battery remained in Singapore.
Whilst the British were hastening their defence preparations, General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the 14th Army Group of the Imperial Japanese Army was getting ready for the Japanese assault. The British Army in Malaya did not have any tanks whereas the Japanese had over two hundred. The Japanese Air Force were also able to carry out a series of air attacks on Allied positions. Under the command of General Yamashita, the Japanese made rapid progress as they forced Allied troops to retreat south. Unsuccessful attempts were made to halt the advance of General Yamashita at Perak River, Kampar and the Muar River.
On the 25th January 1942, General Arthur Percival gave orders for a general retreat across the Johore Strait to the island of Singapore.With the rest of the retreating army, 144 Battery fell back across the causeway into Singapore. At this point, the story becomes confusing. On 30th January, 78 Battery commandeered a ship and left for Java. William was not aboard. I can only assume that my father, and possibly another man, Gunner Hatton, were somehow left behind, in Singapore.
On February 15, 1942, Singapore capitulated, with the personnel of 3 Battery, 6 HAA Regiment, and 35 LAA Regiment's HQ and 144 Battery becoming prisoners of war. My father was also captured, as we know from his Japanese POW Record Card, which gives the date of his capture as 15 February 1942. Strangely, his rank is given as “Gunner”, although he was in fact a Bombardier. Maybe the Japs didn’t know what that was, although he surely would have had his stripes on his uniform.
The prisoners were held in what had been the British Changi Camp. Soon after, a message was sent to my mother stating that William was a Prisoner at Changi. The reverse of his Japanese POW Record Card informs us that on the 18th October, 1942, control of the Prisoners in Changi was transferred from Malay POW Camp to the Japanese 17th Army (New Guinea). On that day, 600 men of the Royal Artillery, including my father, were marched to Singapore Docks and put aboard a ship. This ship was the Kenkon Maru, Sister ship of the Kenkon Maru Of the 600 Gunners, 130 were from 35 LAA, mostly from 144 Battery. They were told that they were going to Japan. Herded into the hold of the ship, they endured horrific conditions. On the journey, it was noticed that the ship was definitely not heading for Japan, but was going south. The ship stopped at Surabaya Harbour, Java, on the 22nd Oct. then Timor, Bali and the Hialmarhere Islands. Many men were sick at this time and Battery Sgt Major Lambourne of the 11th Coast Regiment died from dysentery. On the 5th November 1942, the ship docked at Rabaul, on the island of New Britain in the Solomon Islands Group, where the men were unloaded and marched along dusty tracks, ankle deep with volcanic ash, despite many being without footwear.
The Kenkon Maru, now without the prisoners, continued her voyage. On the 21St of January, 1943, the U.S.Navy submarine SS 212 Gato torpedoed and damaged the Kenkon Maru. just East of Bougainville. (06°12'S, 155°51'E). Her escort then scuttles the ship. This was the action that led to the Japanese lie that the 600 Gunners had been "Lost at Sea". The British were informed of the action, and so my mother was told this on 5th March 1943.
This lie persists in both Japanese and British records. The prisoners had all disembarked at Rabaul. The prisoners were marched from Rabaul to Kokopo Camp. From the start they were badly treated with consistent beatings and being tormented by the guards. During this period the men were made to work in the tropical sun. The Japanese interpreter, Higaki, was a Christian and did his best to help the prisoners, at some risk to himself.
On the 15th November 1942, a parade took place where the fittest 517 men, out of the remaining 599, were chosen to go to Ballali (Balalle) Island to build an airstrip. My father was amongst these men. They were taken by trucks to board another hell ship for the two day journey to Ballali. The island, which is approximately 4 miles in diameter, is one of the Shortland group of islands, just south of Bougainville.
Not one of these 517 men survived to tell their story. It was only through one of the few natives who lived on the island, and who had witnessed the events, that this story was able to be recorded by the Australian Forces who reoccupied the island some time later.
The first thing that happened was that a British Officer was shot. More atrocities followed. 81 men died from beatings, illness and from Allied bombing of the island. No-one knows whether my father was among these. The prisoners were not allowed to dig trenches for protection from the bombs. In April 1943, the Japanese on Ballali Island were told by their headquarters that the US Navy was preparing for an attack. If this happened, all Prisoners were to be disposed of by whatever means was available.
On the 29th June 1943, an American warship bombarded the island. The next day the remaining 436 prisoners still alive were lined up and killed by sword or bayonet. The bodies were stripped of their identity tags and dumped in a large pit. In November 1945, this mass grave, containing 436 bodies, was uncovered, confirming the facts. The remains of these British servicemen were recovered by 3 Division AIF, War Graves Unit of the Australian Army, and in December 1945 were finally interred in graves in the Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery, in Papua, New Guinea. As the bodies, when recovered, could not be identified, each one has an individual grave marked "A Soldier of the 1939-1945 War Know Only to God". No-one knows whether my father was killed in the massacre, or had died before. The official records still give the date of the death of all 600 Gunners as 5th March 1943, the date given for the sinking of the ship which they were no longer aboard, which is incorrect anyway.Chris Williams
Gnr. Frederick George Deeth Royal ArtilleryS B Flynn
Gnr. George Lloyd Ball 3.H.A.A. Rgt. Royal Artillery (d.15th Dec 1943)George Ball died aged 30 whilst serving with the Royal Artillery. He was the son of Phyllis Forman. O. Ball (nee Hayton) and the late Alexander Foster Ball of Jarrow. He was born in Jarrow in 1913. His father Alexander Foster Ball served as Private 20/159 Northumberland Fusiliers and was killed on the 1st of July 1916
George is buried in Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. His name was missing off the old plaque in the Town Hall, Jarrow.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Frederick Binz 2nd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (d.8th Jun 1944)Frederick Binz age 25 died of wounds at Roehampton Military Hospital in London. He was the son of Frederick Theodore and Margaret Binz (nee Howe) of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire and was born in Jarrow
Frederick is buried in Jarrow Cemetery. His name was missing off the old plaque in the Town Hall, his name is still missing off the new plaque.Vin Mullen
Bdr. Charles Buskell Royal Artillery (d.7th Sep 1945)Charles Buskell died age 23 whilst serving with the Royal Artillery. he was the son of Charles and Georgina Buskell (nee Thurston) of Jarrow. Born in Jarrow, he is buried in Hamburg Cemetery.Vin Mullen
Gnr. John Charles 6th Anti Aircraft Regiment, 12 Bty Royal Artillery (d.25th July 1945)John Charles died age 23, whilst serving with the Royal Artillery. he was the son of John and Agnes Charles of Monkton, Jarrow. He is remembered on the Singapore Memorial.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Sydney Craig 18th Medium Regiment Royal Artillery (d.10th Mar 1945)Sydney Craig died aged 29 whilst serving wth the Royal Artillery. He was the son of George Henry and Elizabeth Mary Craig (nee Dodds) of Jarrow.
Sydney is buried in Florence War Cemetery.Vin Mullen
L/Sgt. Harry Mitchell Gale 531 Bty. Royal Artillery (d.26th June 1944)Harry Mitchell Gale who was born in Jarrow in 1911 died aged 33. He was the son of Harry and Lily Gale (nee Mitchell) of Jarrow and the husband of Anne Stafford Gale (nee Wright) of Jarrow.
Harry is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Charles Gallagher 326 Battery Royal Artillery (d.19th Apr 1942)Charles died aged 23. Born in Jarrow in 1918, he was the son of Charles and Mary Elizabeth Gallagher (nee Rogers) of Primrose. He is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Bdr. Harold Gardiner 616 Regiment Royal Artillery (d.4th Nov 1945)Harold Gardiner died aged 35. Born in Jarrow in 1909 he was the son of John and Mary Winlow Gardiner (nee Collin) of Jarrow. He is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Edward Harris 6 Heavy Anti-aircraft Regiment, 15 Battery Royal Artillery (d.14th Feb 1942)Edward Harris died at the age of 28 whilst serving with the Royal Artillery. He was born in Jarrow in 1914, son of John and Helen Harris of Reading Berkshire.
Edward is buried in Jakarta War Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. John Heanan 6 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 3 Battery Royal Artillery (d.3rd May 1943)John Heanan died age 22 whilst serving with the Royal Artillery. He was born in Jarrow in 1921, son of John and Hilda May Heanan (nee Seaton) of Jarrow
John is remembered at the Singapore Memorial and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. William Hensley Hudson 51st (Westmorland & Cumberland Yeo) Field Regt. Royal Artillery (d.11th Dece 1941)William Hudson died aged 23 whilst serving with the Royal Artillery. Born in Jarrow in 1918 he was the son of James and May Hudson (nee Hunton) of Jarrow.
William is remembered on the Alamein Memorial and is is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Sgt. William Inglis 374 Bty. Royal Artillery (d.2nd Nov 1944)William Inglis who died aged 31 was the son of of William and Rose Inglis (nee McNulty) and husband of Violet Inglis (nee Potts) of Jarrow.
William is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. John George Lambert 6 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 15 Battery Royal Artillery (d.18th Feb 1942)John Lambert died age 27 Whilst seriving with the Royal Artillery. Born in Jarrow in 1915, he was the son of Neville John and Sarah Lambert (nee Hanson) of South Shields and Husband of Lucy Doreen Lambert (nee Brocklebank) of Clerkenwell London.
John is remembered on the Singapore Memorial and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
L/Bdr. Alexander Brian "Dusty" Millar 57 HAA, 215 Bty Royal ArtilleryMy dad, Alexander Millar served as a Gunner during WWII, joining up on July 16th 1939 aged 20. He was discharged in May 1946. He never talked much about the war but just told us a couple of stories - some he made up. Towards the end of his life he opened up a bit to my brother. When my brother asked him why he never attended any of the reunions his answer was "why bother, all my mates were killed". We do know while at Monte Cassino he was sent away for a reconnaissance course and when he returned most of his unit were dead. How he managed to survive all 7 years without injury is beyond me. I do have his entire war record from the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow.Elaine Tayefeh
L/Sgt. Charles S. Campbell 2nd Searchlight Regiment, 5th bty. Royal ArtilleryCharles Campbell was held as a POW in Stalag 8B in Lambinowice, Poland.
WO2 Gilbert Crampton Powell 9th Btn. Middlesex RegtMy father Gilbert Powell joined up as a "Terrier" on 10/06/31 in the 9th Btn Middlesex Regiment and by 1937 he had attained the rank of Lance Sergeant. He was called out for military service on 08/10/38 and transferred to the Royal Artillery. He joined 60th Searchlight Regiment RA on 01/11/38. After various courses he was posted to 4 Anti-Aircraft 'Z' Regiment on 19/02/42. He was promoted WO2 (Battery Sergeant Major) on 21/12/42. His last posting was to 41 Regimental Holding Unit on 06/07/45 and was released to the reserve 06/01/46.
Most of the letters to my mother were sent from Birkenhead during his time with the AA Regiments and I remember him telling me of the rocket system that was in use at the time, (An example can be found in the Firepower museum).Alec Raymond Powell
Gnr. John Robinson 7 Medium Regiment Royal Artillery (d.19th Mar 1943)John Robinson who died aged 22 was born in Jarrow in 1921. He was the son of William and Harriet Robinson (nee Wears) of Hebburn.
John is buried in Sfax War Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Albert George Royal 5th Field Regiment Royal Artillery (d.10th Feb 1942)Born in Jarrow in 1912 Albert George Royal was 22 when he died. He was the son of Albert George and Catherine Ann Royal (nee Bowman) and husband of Elsie Kirkup Royal (nee Dalton) of South Shields.
Albert is remembered on the Singapore Memorial and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Arthur William Seymour 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (d.5th Dec 1941)Arthur Seymour was born in Biggleswade in 1918. Husband of Dorothy M Seymour (nee Woodhouse)of Jarrow. He died aged 23.
Arthur is remembered on the Alemein Memorial and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Bmbr. Sydney Skelton 4 Survey Regiment Royal Artillery (d.14th Nov 1942)Sydney Skelton was born in Willington Quay about 1916. He was the son of Ernest W and Mary A Skelton (nee Henderson) of Jarrow. He died aged 26 and is remembered on the Alamein Memorial. He is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. James Edward Smith 87 Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 278 Battery Royal ArtilleryJames Smith died age 38, he was the son of James and Marklyn Smith of Jarrow and husband of Catherine Smith (nee Walker) of Primrose Jarrow. He is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Harold Softley 141 (M) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery (d.28th May 1944 )Harold Softley died aged 22m he was born in Jarrow in 1922, son of Robert Carr and Amelia Munro F. Softley (nee Collings) of Jarrow. Harold is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
George Stephenson Royal ArtilleryGeorge Stephenson, RA is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Robert Stewart 11th LAA Rgt (City of London Yeomanry), 32 Bty Royal Artillery (d.27th Oct 1941)Robert Stewart died aged 36, he was the son of James and Alice Stewart of Jarrow. Robert is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Robert Thompson 61 Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery (d.15th Mar 1944)Robert Thompson, the son of Robert and Mary Elizabeth Thompson of Jarrow, died aged 21 and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall. He is buried in Jarrow Cemetery.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Patrick Tierney Royal Artillery (d.30th Oct 1940)Patrick was the son of Patrick and Mary Ann Tierney of Jarrow and husband of Mary E Tierney. He died aged 33 and is buried in Perranzabuloe (St. Piran) Churchyard. He is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
L/Bdr. James H. Walker 93 Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery (d.21st Feb 1943)James Walker was the son of James Henry and Sarah Walker and husband of Ann McGreal Walker of Jarrow. He died aged 28 and is buried in Enfidaville War Cemetery. He is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Edward Weightman 51 (Westmorland & Cumberland Yeomanry) Field Regt Royal Artillery (d.22nd Apr 1941)Edward Weightman, son of George and Mary Weightman and husband of Eva Gwendoline Weightman of Jarrow, County Durham, died aged 25 during the Siege of Tobruk. He is buried at Tobruk War Cemetery, Libya and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance to Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Raymond Charles Hudson 31st Field Regiment, 105/119 Field Bty. Royal ArtilleryMy father Raymond Hudson was with 105/119 Battery, 31st Field Regiment in Egypt from 1938 to 1942 with the 4th Indian Division, then in the Western Desert around Tobruk, and Mersa Matruh. He went to Sudan in 1941 and Benghazi in 1942. In 1943 he moved on to Cyprus with the 97th Field Regiment. In the second half of 1943 he went back to the Middle East before returning to the UK at the end of the year. He also served in North West Europe in 1945.
I would be really pleased to receive any information from anyone who has any knowledge or information relating to my father no matter how small or obscure.Richard Hudson
Gnr. Charlie J Keslake Searchlights Royal ArtilleryMy father Charlie 'Chaz' Keslake was a POW in Stalag VIIIB from 1940-45. He rarely spoke of his experiences as a POW and what little information my family have I will post here in the hope that someone may remember him. Dad was with the Royal Artillery (Searchlights) and was captured at Dunkirk in 1940, spending the rest of the war in Stalag VIIIB. We think he worked as a hospital orderly for a time, and someone taught him to perfect the art of Pitmans Shorthand. We know that after the war he continued to write to Jack Minson from New Zealand and the name W. Bright features amongst his possessions. We would love to hear from anyone who may possibly remember Dad, or from anyone who could provide some insight into his time at Stalag VIIIB.Doreen Keslake
Gunner John Nicholas Patterson 72 Field Regiment Royal Artillery (d.31st May 1942)John Patterson died aged 23, born in Jarrow in 1919, he was the son of George William and Mary Jane Patterson (nee Reed) of Primrose Jarrow. He is buried in Knightsbridge War Cemetery Acroma and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. Michael White 131 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery (d.14th Mar 1945)Michael White was the husband of Margaret White of Jarrow He is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. George Henry Wilson 290 Battery Royal Artillery (d.12th Dec 1941)George Henry Wilson died aged 37, he was the son of John and Jane Wilson of Primrose, Jarrow and is buried in Jarrow Cemetery. He is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Sgt. John Charles Munton 5th Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery (d.1st Mar 1943)Sergeant John Charles Munton served with the 5th Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery and died, age 24, on the 1st March 1943. John was born in Easington 1919, the son of Charles Edward and Catherine Munton (nee Mahady) of Jarrow. He is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall and is buried in Beja War Cemetery.Vin Mullen
Gnr. James Nellist 965 Defence Battery Royal Artillery (d.2nd Oct 1942)James Nellist died age 24, he was born Jarrow 1918 son of Joseph Foggon Nellist and of Catherine Nellist (nee Dunwoodie) of Primrose Jarrow. He remembered on the Sai Wan Memorial and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Gnr. James Nicol Shepherd 12th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 136 Battery Royal Artillery (d.2nd Feb 1946)James Nicol Shepherd served with 136th Battery, 12th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment and died age 39 on the 2nd February 1946. He was born in Jarrow 1906, the son of William and Martha Shepherd of Jarrow. He was the husband of Florence Shepherd (nee Brooman) of Jarrow. He is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Bmbdr. William John Jenkins Royal ArtilleryThis is something my dad wrote after coming back from Dunkirk, he was evacuated on 31st. May, his birthday, unfortunately, there isn't a lot, he never finished it.
The Long Road to Dunkirk
On the morning of May 10th.1940 Belgium was invaded by Germany, at 04:00 hours. The Regiment moved towards Belgium at 09:00 hours on the morning of the 13th. Via Baisieux, Renaix, Ninove, Brussels to Huldenberg right of the River Dyle. As we passed through Brussels we were given a marvellous welcome by the population, including Belgian troops, (my truck was decorated by two young girls it looked like a Co-op van on May Day). All day long we passed a pitiful stream of refugees wending their way from the fighting zone. The guns came into position near a large farm house now evacuated the date is now the 14th. Enemy bombers came over the battery position all day long but inflicted no casualties. The men lived well here as all the livestock was killed for food, and eggs and milk could be had at most times of the day. So for a whole day we did very little but rest and eat, but we did make ourselves some protection in case of sudden enemy action. On the morning of the 15th. the battery fired its first round, and we being unaware of any danger were casually strolling around. Later however our mistake was realised and this silly habit was soon stopped.
The enemy attacked our zone at 21:00 hours but we held fast, as the whole of the British Artillery in our line pounded them. At a late hour in the night our Battery laid down a barrage, assisted by other Batteries all around us. I shall never be able to describe this noise it was terrible, the farm and all the buildings on it were shaking, the windows dropped out all around. This kept on for six or seven hours and it was now daylight, after the firing had ceased by our Battery and some of the others we prepared for a meal. It was then I saw our Gunners, they looked tired out and black as soot with the smoke as they had been almost stripped to the waist. We pulled out of Huldenberg that same morning May 16th. again we passed through Brussels, this time it was so quiet and the only people seen were a few Belgian soldiers. Then on again through many villages and towns to Gooik where we stayed the night.Colin Jenkins
Cpl. Willoughby Hawkins "Bill" Collier 70th Sussex Searchlight Rgt Royal ArtilleryBill Collier served with the 70th Sussex Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.Geoff Collier
Pte. Arthur Leonard Young 2nd Btn. Middlesex RegimentMy Father, Arthur Young, was a machine-gunner and range-taker with the Middlesex Regiment from 1942 - 1946. Before that, he served from 1940 - 1942 with the Royal Artillery. He was involved with the D-Day invasion, supporting the invasion of Sword Beach on 6th June 1944. He was injured in August 1944, and repatriated to England for treatment. He then saw service in Germany, where he was again injured and was again repatriated for treatment.Martyn Young
Major. Unknown Royal ArtilleryI have found a portrait photo of a soldier hidden behind an old picture (which was a newspaper cutting of st Anthony, Roseland, of 3/9/1949). The picture was bought in a junk shop in Limerick Ireland. I would love to help find the family of this soldier but I have very little to go on... I know the photo was taken by J. Weinberg in Cairo it has the number 22496 printed on back of photo.. So far I think he was a major in the RA and received a MiD( but looks like the Older WW1 oak leaf from it shape on the photo), his uniform was American made (apparently)! (Historians from twitter helped me out). I know this is probably WW2 but I am trying any/ every available source to try to name him... Any information you give would be so great. I attach the picture of him in the hope you might be able to help or redirect me. I was wondering if anyone could help me... Anything at all would help.
A Twitter appeal identified the coastal scene as Cadgwith and has given certain details about the soldier, whom Claire and her daughter have nicknamed ‘SAM’ (short for Soldier And Mystery). The khaki colours of the shirt and tie on the uniform are in line with desert colours and from the badge on his cap he was a Commonwealth Royal Artillery Officer. He also has an artillery stripe on his arm. The epaulette on his shoulder looks to be a crown, meaning he was a major, and the badge near his collar appears to be an MiD award – “mentioned in dispatches” for gallant or meritorious action in the face of the enemy – a silver oak leaf symbol. His uniform has been suggested as a 1940s pattern battle dress, from the pockets and buttons, issued from 1942 onwards. The Canadian army did not adopt this jacket, although it is possible Australia and/or New Zealand may have, while the upright bar at the end of the oak leaf may be the start of a Star of Africa ribbon.
The picture appears to have been taken by J Weinberg in Cairo with the number 22496 printed on the back. Jean Weinberg was a Romanian Jewish photographer based in Cairo between 1938 and approx 1948 and photographed members of the Egyptian royal family, so it may have been prestigious for a military man to be photographed by him at the time. It suggests the photograph was taken during World War Two.
Anyone who has information on the identity of the soldier, or who can suggest why his photograph would be wrapped in a cutting about Cornwall, can contact Claire via Twitter using @clairemsbClaire Barrie
Pte. Thomas Murphy Royal ArtilleryWhen my mum was a young woman my grandmother got a telegram to say her son Tommy Murphy of 10 Chalmer, Greenock, Renfrewshire was missing in action at Normandy, I have always wondered if Tommy was buried in Normandy cemetery I know my mum tried to find out if he was buried in Normandy. Now my mum has passed away it is always in the back of my mind i would be grateful for any information. Tommy served with the Royal Artillery.
Editor's Note: CWGC lists Gunner 882478 Thomas Murphy aged 24, son of Cornelius and Amelia Murphy of Greenock, Renfrewshire. Being killed between 01/06/1940 and 02/06/1940 at Dunkirk. He served with 77 Field Regt. Royal Artillery. He has no know grave but is remembered on the Dunkirk Memorial. Could this be your Tommy?Jean Sercombe
Sgt. Roy Lea Smith 91st Anti-Tank Regiment, 146 Bty. Royal ArtillerySergeant Roy Lea Smith served with 146 Battery, 91st Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery during WW2.Danielle Lea-Smith
Gnr. John Hilton Hoyle Royal ArtilleryMy late father, Jack Hoyle, served with the Royal Artillery 8th Army, and was a driver/gunner throughout the North African Desert campaign from 1940, then Sicily, then Italy, then across on the 1944 D-Day invasion, through to Berlin in 1945.
His collection of four campaign stars remains testament to that service, although the medals were never exposed during his long post-war life - they are now framed in my hallway with his photograph, attracting attention and admiration from many visitors. He maintained that he was neither brave nor exceptional, spending five involuntary years mostly scared but eventually very lucky. As with many who saw such active service, he spoke little of the true horrors he had seen, tending only to reminisce with anecdotes about the many humorous incidents along the way and the colleagues with whom he served - probably a common way to deal with the harsh reality he had endured. I learnt more of his exploits by talking privately many years later to one of his fellow Desert Rats (MacDonald) than he had ever told me directly. A craftsman bookbinder by trade, he returned to that in 1946 and continued until his retirement in 1975. He died, aged 85, in May 1998.
If anyone has any information regarding his service, I would be delighted to know of it.Graham Hoyle
Gnr. Stanley William Summers Higby 57th Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryStanley Higby was my late granddad. He served with the 57th Field regiment he never really spoke about his experiences of ww2 but just told us "If it had not have been for some young German soldiers he would not have survived the war. The heavy vehicle he was traveling in overturned and these young soldiers dragged him out of the vehicle to safety." My granddad passed away in 1999, I would love to know more about his time in the Royal Artillery as my two eldest children now serve with the regiment. He was a great man, my hero.Carol Collins
Gnr. Francis Bernard Johnson 23rd Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryFrancis Bernard Johnson, known as Bill, served as a Gunner with R.A.23rd Field Regiment served in the central Mediterranean in WW2. He was married in 1943 to a Helen Sullivan (who died in January 1946). There were no children of this marriage. He then married Kathleen Sullivan (Sister of Helen) in about 1953 and they had 3 children. Does anyone know this gentleman? I am interested in Bill's life with Helen and am trying to find anyone who knew him around this time - sadly, with Helen's early demise, this has proved fruitless on her side. I understand Bill died in about 1994.Lorraine Lewis
Sgt. William Dean Geddes 4 Lt Bde. 31 Fd RegtMy grandfather, William Dean Geddes enlisted at Glasgow into the Royal Artillery on 30th of January 1935. he did his basic training at Woolwich (three months) posted to 4th Light Brigade at Deepcut, moving to Brighton 1937. In 1939 he was posted to Egypt as a L/Bdr sailing from Southampton in HMT Lancashire landing Port Said 4th July 1939 to 31 Field Regiment Royal Arillery at Helmeia, Cairo. The Regt moved with 4 Indian div to Mersa Matruh remaining during the desert campaigns of the next 2 years & firing their 25 pdrs almost daily. After Sidi Berani fell, they sailed from Alexandria to the Sudan to move into Eritrea for that 4 month campaign before returning to Cairo. The biggest action in Eritrea was the capture of the heights above Keren after a two monthsiege.
In April 1942 the Regiment having suffered many casualties & losing their guns in a GE Tank attack at Sidi Omar, went to form a composite Regiment on Cyprus. In Dec 1942 he was posted to Egypt to join the SAS at Kabrit Trg for under cover ops, which they carried out on the north coast of Africa, in the Aegean Sea & Cretan area of Greece. He was promoted to Bombardier & after the Syrian & Palestine campaigns of 1943 & 1944, he returned to the UK in August 1944 & rejoined SAS Regt at Chelmsford after detached SB duties & later went to Norway in 1945.
After disbandment of the SAS just post war he returned to 24 HAA Regt RA as a sgt at Sheerness staying until 1949 when he was posted to school of AA Gunnery for a year as an instructor & then went to Gravesend to join 46 Regt RA until his discharge on 29th of January 1957. After 22 years with the colours.
My grandfather died on 11th April 1989 at Royal Hospital Chelsea & is buried at Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey (old plot). Sadly my father never got to meet his father. We just have a few photos & his wonderful service history.Ashley Geddes Pierce
Pte. Henry Charles Foster Royal ArtilleryMy dear Dad Charlie Foster was captured at Tobruk North Africa by the German Afrika Corps, taken as prisoner to Benghazi, then by boat to Brindezi, and to Bari. Onto PG70 Prison Camp near Porto St Georgia and Fermo, then to Germany, Stalag IVB Dresden. He never spoke to me about this but I have a diary he kept. The last entry reads -
Sunday 13th, I am writing this in the plane I have waited so long for. We are having a glorious run, just passed over Stuttgart, the 2nd pilot who is American says we shall be in Rheims by 12.30am and perhaps tomorrow we shall be in England....
He sadly passed away in 1997.Julie Wilkinson
Gnr. Leonard Douglas Mitchell 62 Anti-Tank Regiment, 247 Bty. Royal ArtilleryLeonard Mitchell served with 247 Bty. 52 Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery. Can anybody please tell me where the unit above went after they embarked from England on the 3rd June 1944 as we are trying to fill in gaps in our family tree. The unit was posted into the 62nd anti tank Regimen. any info would be very helpful.
Editor's Note: 247 Battery was part of the 62nd Anti-tank Regiment, Royal Artillery and formed part of the Order of Battle for 1st Corps. As part of that Corps they would have landed at Sword Beach during Normandy Landings. The other Battery was 246. They were part of Corp Hq units and would have been used to support any of the 3 Divisions as the need arose but remained under overall Corps Control.Malcolm Bowsher
Gnr. Harold Charles Haywood Royal Artillery (d.31st Oct 1944)Harold Haywood served with the Royal Artillery. He died on 31st October 1944.Mike Haywood
Bmdr. George Henry Claw Royal ArtilleryMy Great Grandfather was called George Henry Claw and he was a prisoner of war at the Stalag XXb camp. He survived the war and died in 1972. I don't know much about his time there as he died before I was born but I am told that he refused his medals and became a pacifist. So if anyone has any information on him, I would be very grateful.George
Ronald Charles Staples Royal ArtilleryRonald Staples was my Dad. He served with the Royal Artillery and we believe he was captured about 6 weeks after D-day and was a POW at Stalag 4b for the remainder of the war, his POW No was 294001. He still won't talk about his experience, but this may help fill a small gap in records.
Gnr. Arthur Bayliss 277/68 Heavy Anti Aircraft RegimentMy late father Arthur Bayliss of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, enlisted in Bishop Auckland in September 1940 as a gunner in the 277/68 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.
In February 1941 he was posted to the Middle East where he fought until he was captured by the Italians at Tobruk in June 1942. As Prisoner Number 247030 he was held for approximately 18 months by the Italians at Campo p.g. 75 PM 3450 and Campo 54, PM 3300 before arriving at Stammlager IVB in December 1943.
He was put to work breaking stone and then transferred to Stalag IVD in March 1944. Twelve months later he was working in a sugar factory making vitamin tablets, which he described as ‘a cushy number’. That work ran out and he was sent to work in an emergency hospital. Being a bit of a
Fed up with this life he soon decided to try to escape and went through the wire on 25 March 1945. He slept in the woods at Golpa but was arrested by German civilian Police two days later. He was charged at Bittefeld and sentenced to 5 days jail on bread and water. On release he was sent back to work, this time in the penal colony, again with a guard keeping watch over him.
On 4th April 1945, whilst at work, he witnessed Pte W R Devlin, an Australian POW being shot by a German civilian. It was Pte Devlin’s 23rd birthday. Dad was a bearer at his funeral 3 days later. On April 13th the Bittefeld area was evacuated and Dad was marched approximately 25 km to camp Schammewitz but he decided to escape again and took off that same night, his objective was to reach Wurzen. Freedom was short lived, he was recaptured on 16 April at Schildan and taken to the cells at Torgau.
Stalag IVD was then evacuated and Dad together with all the other prisoners were marched to Stalag IVB with Ukranians aged only 14 to 16 years. On 23rd April Stalag IVB was liberated when the Russian Cavalry rode into camp and on the 30th Dad left Stalag IVB with the objective of reaching Leipzig. He lived well in various houses en route passing through Torgau, Arzburg, Belgern, and Neusen. He diverted to Dahlen on hearing that the Yanks were there and they took him to Maachern and then on to Halle.
Like so many POW’s Dad never talked about his years as a prisoner and so this information is very sketchy. It has been pieced together from letters to Vera, his wife, which of course were censored, his diary, kept only for a short time in 1945 and jottings in his Service Pay book. Hopefully it may add to the knowledge of how others’ family members existed during this time. If anyone knew Dad or recognises events I would be very pleased to hear from them.
I doubt that Dad escaped alone, in fact one of the few tales he told of his escapes was that he and his comrades caught and killed a pig to eat. They built a fire to roast it. However, they were so hungry that they couldn't wait for it to cook and ate it partially raw, with the result that it made them all ill. He also said that whilst in camp they had such little food that he would scrounge potato peelings from the guards.
He had some names in his Soldiers Service and Pay Book which were:-
- Tommy Norfolk of Leicester
- R Douglas of Liverpool
- A Mellows of Nottingham
- K Whittingham of Wolverhampton
Were these people with whom he was imprisoned? Did they get home safely and are they still alive? If anyone recognises the names or has information about them, I would love to know.Graham Bayliss
BSM. Alfred Long 92nd Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy Dad, Alfred Long enlisted in the Territorial Army as a Gunner with the Royal Artillery in 1936 aged 18. He served throughout WW2 until released to the Royal Army Reserve in 1946 and was finally discharged in 1959. He served with the British Expeditionary Force, India, Palestine/Iraq, Middle East, Sicily, Middle East Force, Central Mediterranean Force, North West Europe. His Military Conduct is listed as exemplary.
He has a citation recommended by Commander 50th Div, for the M.M. The Citation reads "Displayed great courage in helping 2/Lt Geddes (Q.V.), remaining after his own gun had withdrawn to assist with other guns and attend to wounded men".
Sydney Bonner Royal ArtilleryMy father, Sydney Bonner, was taken prisoner in France at about the time of the Dunkirk evacuation and was a prisoner at Stalag XXb. His prison tattoo number was 7179. Early in 1945 he, together with thousands of others, set off on the Death March across Poland and Germany. He and the survivors of his party were met by Americans in April 1945 and was placed in what was, by then, a liberated concentration camp whilst awaiting repatriation to the U.K.
I am trying to trace his journey and specifically the exact position and name of the concentration camp that had been liberated by the U.S. Given that he had met Americans, I am assuming that he was liberated in central Germany rather than in the north. With the help of my mother, I am putting together an account of my father's experiences and would be grateful if anyone could shed some light on on the last few weeks/months of his time as POW.
If anyone can put any detail to the route taken by POWs from Stalag XXb to a camp newly liberated by American troups I would be most grateful. Once I have all the details to complete the account of my father's experiences, I can post it on the XXb section of the Wartime Memories Project.Valerie Gorman
Gnr. Stephen Roach 55 (Loyal Suffolk Hussars) Anti Tank Regiment, 218 Royal ArtilleryI have my grandfathers war card his name was Stephen Roach Army No. 11277128 he was last serving with 218/55 Regt RA (SY) . TA and Trade Courses Passed show Engine Attendant C.581 It says he served in BAOR. I have attached a photograph taken of his war card There are few stamps on there. Any information greatly appreciated.
Editors Note: Additional Information from Card
The Stamp in middle of card seems to be his units stamp but is obscured by the writing so unable to read even greatly enlarged. The 55 (Loyal Suffolk Hussars) Anti Tank Regiment were made up of 217 Battery, 218 Battery, 219 Battery and 220 Battery.
- Rank: Gunner
- Trade: Engine Attendant
- Passed 2 weeks Photography Course - Good results (think this was a resettlement course???) Signed by Unit Education Officer.
- Character on discharge: Exemplary - Good references.
- Called up for Military Service: 14/05/?? (too faint to read)Paul
W/Bdr. Robert Davidson 50 Searchlight Regiment, 400 Bty. Royal ArtilleryMy father Bob Davidson served with 50 Searchlight Regiment (Northampton Reg.) RA TA, he was in 400 Indep FD SL Battery. From info I have found on the web using Google he was in the 400 battery, who were later attached to 30 Searchlight Reg. (Surrey Reg.) and was sent to North Africa and then over the Med into Italy, I don't know if he went through Sicily though. I've enclosed some snaps found of my dad's war days. I was surprised to see pics of him with the Northants cap badge on as I had always believed he was in the RA, still not 100% sure why this is, can anyone shed some light on it?
Editor's Note: 50th Searchlight Regiment were formed by the conversion of 4th Btn, Northamptonshire Regiment and wore the cap badges of their original regiment.Andy Davidson
John Tunstall Royal ArtilleryMy nan's uncle John Tunstall was held as a prisoner of war by the Japanese. Trying to find out more information about him, can anyone help?
Editor's note: In th ephoto he is wearing a pre-war Royal Artillery uniform, so he is likely to have been a regular or territorial soldier.Chloe Dawn
Sgt. Robert Leonard Marsden Royal ArtilleryNeuralia was utilised as a troopship before the start of WW2 According to my Father Robert Marsden's record (Obtained from Army Personnel Centre) he had been in the Royal Artillery Hong Kong Singapore Battalion from 1934 to 1936 & embarked on H.T.Neuralia to return to UK. He was part of the 11th (Seringapatam) Heavy Battery & had been involved with the placement of the "guns facing to seawards" on Blakang Mati Island, (Now known as Sentosa Island) as Master Gunner's Mate.Tony Marsden
Gnr. Charles Cullinane Meechan Royal ArtilleryMy grandfather, Charles C. Meechan, was captured by the Japanese in February 1942. He spent 3 1/2 years as a POW in Japan. He told me that he survived because he was underground, working in a mine, when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. He returned to Scotland a changed man.
He told me of how he had been on a Japanese ship which was subsequently bombed by the allies. While floating in the sea he was rescued, but unfortunately it was by the Japanese. I'm not sure where he was taken at first, only that his last months in captivity were near Nagasaki. There are other stories that my grandfather told me about the cruelty and viciousness of the Japanese soldiers. No wonder that he refused to ever eat rice again or purchase anything made in Japan. He carried a hatred for the Japanese to his grave in 1986.Kim Meechan
Gnr. Richard Henry Waters 5/3rd Maritime Regt. Royal Artillery (d.9th Aug 1941)Richard Waters served with the 5/3rd Maritime Regiment Royal Artillery during WW2. He was killed in action on the 9th August 1941 and is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent.S Flynn
Lt. Edward Neville Rudland Royal ArtilleryMy father, Edward Rudland joined the war, I think, at 19. He left his University at Oxford where he was studying medicine in order to fight. He was exempt because of his chosen profession. He landed in Normandy on D Day + ? and was with an anti aircraft battery. He went to to Belguim .
I have many souvenirs, such as a piece of the shell that landed on his bunk, which he had left only moments before. He was injured when he hit a mine which he rode over on his motorbike.Julia Smith
Pte. Joan Elizabeth Savage 564 Battery Royal ArtilleryI grew up in the village of Henfield, Sussex. At the age of 18, in 1942, I went to Brighton and signed up. From Brighton I was shipped to Guildford, to 5 Platoon, C Company, No. 7 Training Centre. From Guildford, and Aldershot, I was posted to Sheffield. It was here, in a canteen, that I met my future husband, Cecil Cowey, a soldier in the Canadian Army. I then went to Oswestry for further training. In north Wales, I was trained for airplane identification, recognition.
After D Day, I was shipped by train to the coast and boarded a ship for Ostend, Belgium. Then, by truck to Antwerp, and Wilrijk, until the war ended.
Upon returning to England in 1945, I married my Canadian soldier, in December 1945, in Worthing, to where my parents had moved during the latter stages of the war. I was unable to follow my husband to Canada until July, 1946, on the Queen Mary. I have lived in Peterborough, Ontario, for 67 years, raising 9 children.Joan Cowey
Bdr. Murdoch Mackay Royal ArtilleryMy father Murdoch Mackay, nickname Mac, was in Stalag 383 between 1940 and 1945 after being captured in France. I believe he was a Bombardier or Lance Bombardier when captured and was later an Acting Sergeant. He spoke of being in the same camp as the actor Sam Kydd, but never really spoke of the war, as I think was typical of many ex-POWs. I have pictures copied from the family photos so if anyone recognizes someone please contact me as I would love to know. Similarly if anyone has photos with my father in then I would love to see them.
My father was always a very quiet strong man, very reliable and hardworking. I was 18 when he died, so I was really too young to have taken an interest in his war service. I am interested to know if there is anyone that knew him.Andy Mackay
LBdr. Bernard Bradley 85 Anti-Tank Regt. Royal Artillery (d.31st July 1945)Bernard and his brother Harry survived evacuation from Dunkirk and shortly after some leave, were drafted to Singapore. Both became POWs on the fall of Singapore. Harry survived and continued to serve in the Royal Artillery until he was 55, finishing as Sergeant Major.
Bernard Bradley died on 31st July 1945, aged 25 and is buried in the Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore. He was the son of William and Kathleen Bradley, of Worplesdon, Surreys flynn
Sgt. Thomas John French 420 Battery Royal Artillery (d.3rd Feb 1942)Sergeant Thomas John French aged 26, the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. T. French, of Lane End, Camelford, has died of wounds received whilst on active service in the Far East. In 1931 at the early age of 15, he enlisted in the Royal Artillery as a trumpeter. Showing signs of great promise, he soon won his 3rd and 2nd class certificates and in 1933 was drafted to Egypt where he served for six years and four months. Whilst in Egypt and in is 17th year he won his first class certificate. Returning to England in 1939 he was promoted to sergeant. Last year he went to the Far East where he died on the 3rd of February. Much sympathy is felt with his parents and the other members of his family in their loss. Three Camelford lads representative of the Navy, Army and Air Force have now made the Supreme Sacrifice for their country.
Extract taken from the Cornish and Devon Post dated 07/03/1942.
Thomas died of wounds on the 3rd of February 1942 aged 26 and is buried in the Kranji War cemetery in Singapore. He was the son of Thomas James French and Ethel Jane French of Camelford, Cornwall.s flynn
L/Sgt. Patrick Mannion 73rd Anti Tank Rgt. 196 Btry. Royal ArtilleryPatrick Mannion served with 196 battery, 73rd Anti Tank regiment, they landed on D-day, fought in Normandy, in Belgium, Holland and into Germany. It was in Germany they did something remarkable, historical. I’m seeking any information on 196 battery 73rd Anti Tank regiment. It’s for a book I’m writing.Chris
Bmdr. James Arthur Tudor 152 (Ayrshire Yeo) Field Regiment, C Troop, B Batt Royal ArtilleryMy father, James Tudor refused to discuss his service in the Italian campaign, but one or two facts did come out that began a story that I could relate to in later life. That was the reality of war, and the realism of the trauma our relatives suffered, is emotional to say the least.
For example he told my Mother of dozing off under a tree, presumably at the Monte Cassino bombardment phase of the campaign when a raindrop landed on his helmet, and such was the tension of the situation he thought he had been blown up. Then in Rome he told her of searching ordinary houses with ordinary families in residence,and his feeling that how would he have felt if it had have been our home that foreign troops were searching.
In September 1944 he had a portrait painted by Artists of Florence at a studio that still exists (I visited it in 2011 on a trip to Italy) these paintings were done for many British soldiers, his name and detail was inscribed on the back.John Tudor
Sgt. William McCormick Royal ArtilleryLooking through my late mother's letters, I found a few postcards sent to her from Stalag 383 and XXIA from her uncle, Sgt. William McCormick. The cards from XXIA are dated September 1941 to June 1942. The cards from 383 are dated August 1943 and November 1944. I know that Sgt. McCormick received a Gallantry Award, but I don't know which one.
2976691 Sgt William McCormick served with the Royal (Field) Artillery during WW2 and was a Prisoner of War for most of the war years. POW Numbers Stalag XXIA and Stalag 383 5209 (598)Hohenfels, Rhineland-Palatinate.Ian Forshaw
Sgt. Horace Ivor Coles 55th L.A.A. Regiment, 165th Bty. Royal ArtilleryHorace Ivor Coles enlisted on 14 April 1939 and was discharged on 29 November 1945. From 1941 to 1945, he fought in Burma with the 165th L.A.A. Battery, 55th L.A.A. Regiment of the Royal Artillery and was part of the Eighth Army. Horace died in 1998, leaving his wife Clarice Pamela Coles and daughter Irene.Irene Coles
Sgt. Francis Cresswell att. 136 Field Regt RA. Royal Electrical and Mechanical EngineersMy father, Francis Cresswell served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and was attached to 136 West Lancs Field Regt Royal Artillery and told a story of taking a convoy of trucks across India in 1943 when Rangoon was in Japanese hands. He was subsequently involved in the Arakan and cut off being relieved by (I think) parachutists. I can find no reference to the epic drive across India.Derek Cresswell
L/Sgt. William Albert Charles Matterface MID Royal ArtilleryMy dad, Bill Matterface was a soldier through and through, he was captured at Dunkirk and was on the long march to the concentration camp. He, from what he told us, was involved in the sport, getting the men involved in all sports and inter camp contests. He was MID for distinguished service, he never wanted the laurel leaf or his medals as he believed he was fighting to save the country and should not be rewarded for it. He was in Stalag XXA BAB 20 and captured for a good amount if the war, he never really spoke about the time before he was captured but told us stories of life inside the camp, how they entertained themselves with stage plays, baking cakes, making clothes, sport and much much more, he never did say where anything came from that was used in the making of the items they used. They suffered severe winters and many froze to death, they had rags on their feet when their boots fell apart and had to scrounge around for food and wood for a fire. He died on 11.11.1995 a very appropriate day.Margaret Cheeseman
Gnr. Walter Shearwood Royal ArtilleryI'm trying to find any information about my Dad, Walter Shearwood. I know he was captured in Tobruk, I think in 1941. He was transported through Italy to Stalag 1Vb by train. He did tell me that a lot of POWs tried to escape and were shot. About Dad's time in the camp we know very little and I was wondering if anyone may be able to shed some light on this please. The only information I have been able to discover is of a man of the same name and service number who apparently was a Colonel! Dad was definitely only a Private. Any help would be much appreciated as I'm hoping to visit the site in the near future.
Editor's note: If the information you found was on Ancestry, the ranks have all be incorrectly transcribed from the POW lists. Your Dad's rank is listed as Gunner and he was held in Stalag IVb and Stalag IVg.Clara Smith
William Hamilton Royal ArtilleryWilliam Hamilton joined the Royal Artillery and served in Tobruk where he was captured. Made to walk the thousand mile march from Palermo to Brindisi then all the way to Stalag 1Vb where he was prisoner for four and a half years. He worked in a ball bearing factory. He was liberated by the Russians and came back in a Lancaster. He left his engagement ring and watch hidden in rocks before being taken prisoner. His back was badly damaged by the constant rifle butt by Italian soldiers who marched him up the length of Italy. He never collected his medals as he thought he had let his country down, but his daughter sent for them.Ian Reid
2nd Lt. Sydney Walter Edmonds 97th Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryI met Sydney Walter Edmonds in the summer of 1994 at the bed and breakfast run by his daughter. With some coaxing he told us his prisoner of war story. My wife and I wrote it up and later sent it to him to be shared with relatives and friends. I have recently put the story on my web site. I found this site and hope others can provide additional material that could be included.
I see many letters on this wonderful site which are clearly related to individuals that served with Mr. Edmonds. Would very much like to hear from them.Melvin Oakes
Gnr. William David "Ginger" Smith Royal ArtilleryMy father William Smith would never talk about his time as a POW until my mother died in 1969 when after a few years he came to live with me. I asked him one day if he would tell me about the terrible POW years and he told me his story which I decided I would write one day. I have just found the notes I took on this day together with telegrams, letters, photographs and drawings that he sent home so have decided it is now time to try and write my book.
Two drawings I have were done by Thomas Burke at Stalag XXA entitled 'A Merry Christmas to all', and the other is by K V Wood which is just entitled 'The Camp'. I don't know where the 1st drawing was sent from, but the second one was sent from Blechhammer. I would be interested to know if anyone knows the two men who drew them.
My father was in Stalag XX1B, XX11A and V11A. He was captured on the 20 May 1940 in Albert which might be in Belgium but I'm not sure and was on the Death March from Poland to Germany. His best friend who was captured with him and went all through the POW system with him, was called Albert and I think he lived in Rotherham.Violet Walker
Gnr. Kenneth Herbert Cooke 4th Survey Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy Father Kenneth Herbert Cooke enlisted in the Royal Artillery on the 29th of November 1939 and was posted to 41st Survey Regiment, at Preston Barracks, Brighton, then on the 29th of October 1940 he was posted to the 4th (Durham) Survey Regiment. He was Posted overseas to Beni Yuseff Eygpt, then to Greece, they were evacuated to Crete, evacuated to Alexandria, then to Tobruk captured as part of No2 composite battery. He was transferred to Italy as pow, then in 1943 transferred to Stalag 18c Wolfsburg /Markt Pongu Austria.John Cooke
Gnr. Roy Herbert Godfrey Royal ArtilleryMy late dad Roy Herbert Godfrey kept a diary during the war and in it he wrote:- On the 10th may 1940 Germany broke through Belgium and Holland, we were told to evacuate Arleux on thursday 16th may which we did, but we went the wrong way into trouble instead of out of it. We met the enemy for the first time on Monday 20th May, tanks etc, made a break for it with 3 others but it was no use, we were captured on Thursday 23rd May. Then for 17 days we had to march on average 30 kilometres a day without food, arriving at a place called Thorn in Poland on Saturday 9th June. The last 2 1/2 days spent in a railway truck, not being let out at all, our conditions by this time were very bad, we were so weak that climbing upstairs was hard work. Now we were fed reasonably well, but of course we didn't get enough 1/5th of a loaf of bread and a bowl of soup. Once we got out during the day we got a certain amount of bread etc. from the Poles. Of course our health picked up a bit, then on the 22nd August 1940 we went to Berlin as printers (my dad's job before the war) and stayed there for 24 days, arriving back at Thorn on Tuesday 27th September without doing any printing. Berlin was bombed every night we were there. Then on Friday 4th October we left Thorn again on a working party arriving at a place called Guttowitz to find it was a camp that was just being built. October 29th, been at Guttowitz over 3 weeks, the food is improving a little, any way it's better than Stalag, we have 2 tier beds to sleep in and are fairly comfortable in our quarters. Haven't had a Red Cross parcel for 5 weeks now, keep expecting it every day. We haven't started regular work yet,the camp is nearly finished being built yet.
Sunday 3rd November 1940, the bad weather seems to have started, anyway it's pouring with rain at present, it's been cold for a week (very cold). We got a Red Cross issue last Wednesday, 1 individual parcel between 9 men.
Friday 3rd January 1941 terrible cold over 30 below zero.
Monday 13th January we had to do 2 hours punishment drill because someone threw a snowball and hit the Commandant.
Tuesday 3rd June 1941 spent a day travelling to a place called Marienwerder, billeted in a barracks, 25 of us and 25 French.
Sunday 15th June been here nearly 2 weeks,the French have gone and 25 more men from Guttowitz have arrived. Tuesday 1st July 20 more men from Guttowitz arrive making 90 in total.
1942 Monday 19th October sent to work at Reisenburg sugar facgtory.
1943 Tuesday 5th January went to Stalag Willenburg.
Monday 11th january 14 of us went to work on a farm near Reisenburg.
As far as I know my dad spent the rest of the war working on the farm.Bridget Briggs
Bombadier Lionel "Roby" Rogers 151st (Ayrshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, C Batter Royal ArtilleryI served in the Ayrshire Yeomanry between 1941 and 1946.Lionel Rogers
1st Lt. John Edward Murphy Bronze Star HQ Coy. 386th Field Artillery RegimentMy dad Lt. John E Murphy enlisted in March after Pearl Harbor. He went through OCS and artillery training. When he completed his courses he was assigned to the 104th Division when it was established in late 1942 and served with them until he was discharged in 1945. We have all his letters to my mom during that time and there are too many funny stories to tell. I will say he loved the Timberwolves and felt that the United States had to fight in that war so that none of the horrible things that happened there would ever happen here.Rosemary Murphy
Bdr. Robert Comfort "Robbie" Edwards 57th Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryThis is what My father Robert Edwards born 26/2/1919 Robbie, recalls. He was born on 26th Feb 1919 in Robertson Road, Preston, Brighton, Sussex, he attended the TA from a teenager and as Bombardier Robert Comfort "Robbie" Edwards 57th Field Regiment 898397 Signaller. This is his account of the war:
In 1938 drafted into the Army from Brighton. Mobilised in September 1939, from Willingdon Observation Post, Motella Towers Hastings - Sittingbourne. March 1940 Service in France. BEF April 1940, then Battle of the Escaut withdrew from BEF for final evacuation from Dunkirk. They were walking along the many roads to Dunkirk when a plane flew at them they thought it was German so they all jumped in a stagnant ditch - it was an allied plane - they stunk all the way to Dunkirk and eventually to Blighty. Dad remembers he was on a little boat with one funnel.
In May 1942 he sailed with 44 Division under Lieut. Colonel R E Green, arrived in Egypt on 23rd July 1942. They had 25 pounder artillery guns. When they came across Arabs sitting on their camels making their wives walk along by their sides they took off the Arabs and put the women on the camels! They also sold them used teabags! Desert warfare training at Khatatba. 57th Field regiment ordered to reconnoitre Gun Areas near Delta Barrage. Aug 1942 44th Division ordered to take up defensive positions at Bare Ridge, Battle of Dier el Munassib, Oct 1942 El Alamein. They were in convoy in Egypt, the West coast of Africa at Freetown Cape Town for 3 days. In army vehicles up to Suez Canal to Cairo and then in to the Desert (he was in the Desert Rats) to stop Rommel getting into Cairo then ‘Monty’ arrived in the heat of the desert.
440 Field Battery RA of 57th Field Regiment was temporarily attached to the 50th division. 57th Field Regiment RA became an Army Field Regiment RA. Battles: Dec 1942 Suerra, South of Mersa Berga under 51st (Highland Division) Jan 1943 Sonda, advance to Tripoli under 7th Armoured Division. Mar 1943, mobile operation 22nd Armoured Brigade and 8th Armoured Brigade Regiment then joined 51st (Highland) Division for the Battle of Medenine. Later in Mar 1943 the 57th Army Field Regiment Battle of Mareth under command of 50th Division, 4th Light Armoured Brigade, 201 Guards Brigade and 51st (Highland) Division. April 1943 Battle of Wadi Akarit under 51st (Highland) Division then regiment proceeded to parts of the Front near Enfidalville under command 5 AGRA in support of 4th Indian Division, 2nd New Zealand Division, 56th London Division, 4th Armoured Brigade and the fighting French Brigade. In May 1943 Hostilities in North Africa the Regiment returned to Tripoli for refitting under 10 Corps. Travelled along the North African Coast to Birzata. Where dad went on a Driver Operator course in a tank he said the clutch was too long! 440 Battery would not return to 57th Army Field Regiment and 160 Independent Battery, formerly part of the 174th regiment joined 57th Army Field Regiment. Jun 1943 Regiment was informed that it was to be considered in Eight Army Reserve. 23rd Jul 1943, 57th Army Field Regiment arrived in Sicily, after a few days under 1 Canadian Division fought throughout the Sicilian Campaign with 78th Division in Battles of Catenauova, Cenutripe, Adrana and Bronte. Sep 1943, 57th Army Field Regiment Fire Plan to support landing at Reggio, Italy, and 226 Battery of 57th Army Field Regiment occupied positions on the Sea Front at Messina and fired AP Shells with tracer to guide British Landing Craft to the Italian Coast.
He recalls that in 1944 my Uncle Jonathan Edwards (his brother) picked him up from the Regiment and took him to Naples where Vesuvio was erupting the ash was everywhere. He recalls that many of his best friends perished, one was near him and a bomb just blew him to pieces in a second. The noise from the shells and bombs was very deafening. Most nights were lit up with gunfire. He was 95 in February 2014. He now says it was a complete waste of time fighting this war because what he fought for has now diminished.Glynis Leaney
Gnr. Peter Bailey 107th (South Notts Hussars) Regt. Royal ArtilleryMy father, Peter Bailey, was conscripted into the Royal Artilery in 1939 aged 21. He was sent to Catterick Garrison for basic training. After this he was posted to Ipswich where he was involved with anti aircraft gunnery. Sometime later he was re-posted to Woolwich to await a troop ship bound for Egypt. I think it was around this time he learned he would be attached to the South Notts Hussars, a TA unit. After six or seven weeks at sea they arrived in Egypt and were sent on to somewhere near Tobruk where the whole regiment was overrun by Field Marshal Rommel's Africa Corps.
Some time later he found himself in POW camp 53 at Sforza Costa near a larger town called Macerata in Italy. When Italy surrendered my father and many others, although not all, escaped to the hills and managed to survive by foraging and stealing until they came across a farmer who took them in and kept them hidden whenever any Germans were about. I think there were only three or four people in my father's party and they helped out on the farm in exchange for food until they were found by US troops.
After this it's pretty much blank as I don't know how he got back to the UK, nor do I know any names of his companions or indeed if all of them survived whilst on the run. The last six months of my father's service were spent in hospital in Sheffield with PTSD, and then medically discharged just as the war ended. I am pleased to say he completely recovered and lived to be 78 years old.He rarely talked about the war but one thing he did mention was the harsh conditions in camp 53 and the brutality of some of the guards, his biggest complaint though was the fact that his army boots fell to pieces and it left him barefooted for around two years.Ray Bailey
Bdr. Noel George F. Newman Royal ArtilleryGeorge Newman (as he was known) was born on the 27th of Dec 1907. He enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment on the 27th of July 1923 and served in Singapore and India being discharged on 20th of Nov 1935. He was recalled to the colours for the duration of the War in the Royal Artillery attaining the rank of Bombardier. George and his wife moved to Australia in 1949.
Gnr. Norman Maclaren "Monty" Lamont 91 Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryNorman Lamont (my father) was 29 years old at the outbreak of WW2. He was a bus conductor with London Transport, married with at that time with one son, my elder brother Roger. My father told me he was offered the trams, but volunteered for service instead.
He trained in the Orkneys for about two years to become a radio operator RA.
Some guys were so frightened of the Pentland Firth that they never took leave. Dad endured the sea sickness on the flat bottomed ferry and always took the Jericho Express, that he recalled "went like the clappers". At one time he was training in Harrogate, was taught to ride a motorcycle one morning, and to his alarm he performed in a public showing of motorcycle skills that same afternoon. At a sharp bend he could see that he wouldn't avoid the crowds who'd come out to watch. He jumped off and managed to cling onto the machine. This brought rapturous applause from the admirers who believed this had been a stunt.
In 1943 dad sailed from Liverpool. They wore arctic gear on boarding but were then re-clothed for the North African desert. His memories recalled of North Africa were non-combat. He had a recruited Arab boy to watch over the mule that carried the wireless. This mule was stubborn but the boy would whisper something in the beast's ears. The words would always work. He also told me that he was re-baptised in the River Jordan. Another tale was reading a newspaper whilst lying on top of the saline Dead Sea.
Near the end of his North African time Dad caught dysentery from eating a water melon, and overheard the medic "don't worry about this one, he'll be dead in 24 hours". " I'm sure I'm not going to bloody die" was dad's thought. However, the illness prevented him leaving with his regiment. To catch up he crossed a desert in a railway train with some Yanks. It was so cold the "mad" Yanks built a fire in the truck. The truck caught fire, the Yanks unhooked the blazing inferno and all ran to catch up with the front of the train. Luckily the speed was only 10 mph.
As part of 5th Division reserve he sailed for Naples. But it wasn't long before he saw serious action. The 56th Division had been wiped out at Anzio, and the 5th were to replace it. Vesuvius erupted as the troop carrier sailed forth. It was a terrible portent of what would become hell on Earth in the following 3 months. On arrival at Anzio, dad and his pal John Panton (famous Scots golfer) ripped up tram lines to reinforce their bunker near to the beach at the front line. It was well to prepare. There would be days and nights of enemy bombardment. One Dunkirk veteran was "bomb crazy" and the lads had to take turns to sit on him. Up top the surrounds were a wilderness, although, strangely, skylarks would sing when there was a lull.
Every day was greeted with "I'm still alive". But for some it was too much. Dad noticed those who would stop shaving and abandon their personal hygiene. They would soon pass away.
Dad had a few tales about action here.
They drove behind enemy lines to get a range on enemy targets. One day one of the trucks failed to re-start. Stuka dive bombers came to visit. It made getting the truck re-started a little urgent!
Another story was reporting enemy 4th paras swimming in the sea. The OC instructed the battery to fire 200 yards over their heads, then a 100 yards. The Tommies had a good laugh at all the naked Germans fleeing for their lives.
One time dad was told to get "his head down for four hours". He was awoken an hour and a half later with the order "destroy the equipment and run for the sea". With some little pleasure (the set was new but was difficult to tune) dad put his foot through it. Unable to extricate himself he had to run with the set dangling around his boot.
Dad recalled that "the infantry (Wiltshires, Northern Irish Inniskillings and the Scots Cameronians) had a "rough time of it". The wadis (I found out after he died in 1991 that these were three deep in un-recovered dead) he would merely describe with an "ugh!"
In late May came the breakthrough. He and his buddies of the 13th infantry brigade quickly came to a halt at the gates of Rome, having been ordered to let the Yanks in first.
From Italy it was up through France then onto Belgium, Holland and Germany in Monty's charge. One riverbank was bombarded heavily (the Elbe?). But the enemy had already fled. Dad found himself in the forefront, relieving captured allied soldiers who had been force-marched to Lubeck. He recalled "I don't care what has been said, but we were the first ceremonial parade at the end of the war. The Irish and Scottish pipers rattled off such a quick march that it was hardly possible to keep up. The German townspeople came out in their thousands to cheer us." Oddly, of all the nationalities, dad trusted the Germans more than any other. He had had to accept surrender from German officers fleeing from the Russians. He also became a "parlez" picking up the language quickly. As a reward he had many a pleasant evening, dining with officers and Germans in country houses, and was even offered a farm in Lower Saxony. Cigarettes were the currency and dad had a good supply!
The biggest danger at the end was drunken Russians at the border between 30 Corps 5th Division and the Russian sector. The Ruskies would let off their weapons indiscriminately.
Norman Lamont was given release leave 14th January 1946, Velpke, Helmstedt. His military conduct was recorded as "Exemplary". The citation reads: "This soldier is one of the best wireless operators in his battery and has performed efficiently and cheerfully under bad conditions and for long spells. He has been a popular and valuable member of his unit football team. Extremely honest and trustworthy."
And this is one of the downsides of military service. Once home, his son (my brother) didn't have clue who dad was.Douglas Lamont
2nd Lt. John Brian Cother 72nd Field Regiment (d.8th May 1941)I grew up knowing my uncle Brian as a photo on our piano in the lounge of our modest bungalow in Mile Oak, Portslade, Sussex. We never spoke about Brian, specifically to my grandparents. I was born in 1944, just three years after Brian was killed and my grandparents were still grieving, I guess. Brian had been the favoured child. He had attended Brighton Hove and Sussex Grammar School on a scholarship and gained high marks in the OTC, as a rifleman. He is on the school honour roll which is located in the great hall on the stained glass window. I have many photos of Brian during his childhood with his elder brother (my father) and younger sister. My grandparents passed away some years ago and are buried at Stoke Trister Church, Bayford, Somerset.
Brian is buried in the Nicosia Cemetery, Cyprus, located in "No-man's land" and therefore, unfortunately, the family cannot visit his grave and place flowers. My elderly aunt would love to place a cross on the grave on Remembrance Sunday but she cannot travel far nowadays. I am compiling my uncle's biography, from his birth, to school days, to military days... and death, aged 25 years.Veronica Bently
Gnr. Alfred Robinson Light Anti-Aircraft Royal ArtilleryMy father Alfred Robinson joined the Royal Artillery (light anti-aircraft) in Liverpool on 22nd June 1939 and began service abroad as a gunner on 16th February 1940 to 31st May 1942 where he served in Egypt until he was captured and sent to Italy to POW Camp 54 (Passo Corese/Fara in Sabina, Rome).
He escaped from Camp 54 twice, but was recaptured. The second escape lasted three months. He and some other prisoners hid in a field at the back of a little farm. The lady of the farm, Mrs Martino, brought them food whenever she could. They were eventually recaptured and sent to Germany on 10th November 1943 to a POW camp. (I am still currently trying to research which POW Camp.) My father remained in that German POW Camp from 11th November 1943 until 21st May 1945. He escaped once when his name was mixed up with a person (who was not at that camp) who had one leg and was being sent home. My father managed to get on the train and pass as a one-legged man for half a day, until one of the German officers realised he had two legs. Sadly he was taken back to the camp.Wendy Sicari
Gnr. Frederick Handel Knight 61st Battery 97th Anti Tank Regiment (d.10th/11th July 1944)A letter received by my husband's grandmother on the death of his grandfather, Frederick Knight.
"Captain T.Fleming R.A, 61/97TH Anti Tank Regt Royal Artillery B.W.E.F. 14TH July 1944
Dear Madam, It is with extreme regret and a deep sense of sympathy that I have to inform you of the death of your husband, No 1118428 Gnr. Knight F.H On the night of 10/11th of July while serving under my command. Your husband was a member of a 6-pounder anti tank gun detatchment and had only joined my Battery 2 days before as a reinforcement. Whilst in action during the night, the enemy counter-attacked to regain the ground which we had taken during the day, and your husband was struck in the head by a bullet. He was buried nearby by his colleagues, and details of his grave have been passed to the authorities. You will be informed in due course of the exact location of his grave by the Imperial War Graves Commission. Unfortunately security prevents me telling you now.
May I, on my own behalf, and of that of the gunners who worked with your husband during that short time, empress our sincere sympathy with you in your sorrow. We had only known him a short time but we had already accepted him as a friend and he was thoroughly well liked. We offer our sincere condolence in your loss. It may help you to know that he suffered no pain at all and his death was instantaneous
Yours very Sincerely, T.Fleming, Capt R.A.Mary Jones
Gnr. Hugh Cameron Royal ArtilleryMy father Hugh Cameron enlisted in the Royal Artillery on 3rd February 1939. He was posted to France with the British forces and was captured at Dunkirk. He was transferred to Poland and ended up in Stalag XXB. I have a number of photographs taken during his time there.
Gnr. George Charles Bates 2nd Search Light Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy father George Bates was captured near Frevent on 20th May 1940 as the German spearhead advanced towards the coast. He arrived at Stalag XXB via XXIA, XXIB and XXIC on 14th June 1941. Dad spent much of his time working on a farm at Workcamp 299 (later re-numbered Workcamp 34) at Wesseln, which I understand is now known as Lelkowo. I have a photo of dad with his fellow prisoners on the farm and another of the farm itself which was taken by a local Polish man.
Dad took part in the long march in the winter of 1945 and was eventually liberated by the Americans and flown home to England from Reims to Ford Aerodrome by Lancaster flown by a mixed English and Canadian aircrew on 10th May 1945. There is a photo of the Lancaster given to my dad by the crew and signed on the back. If anyone recognises any of the men in the photo and would like a copy or has any information about the farm please let me know.David Bates
L/Sgt. John James Kennedy 68th Heavy A A Regt. Royal Artillery (d.30th Aug 1945)My Grandfather, L/Sgt John James Kennedy, was in the 68th Heavy A A Royal Artillery Regt. He was killed 30th August 1945 andis buried in Mazargues Cemetary, which is just outside Marsailles, South of France. The story we were always told was that he had chartered a private flight home from France, to surprise his family, as he was travelling via ship, was taking too long. So together with a couple of others, they got a flight, which was then struck by lightening and all aboard died. I have been fortunate on a number of occasions to visit his grave which is kept to an excellent standard by the CWGC. Following recent visit and attempts to find out exactly where and what my grandad's regiment were doing, I keep hitting brick walls. I was wandering if anyone can help me fill in the gaps in regards to manouveres his regt were involved with. Was it that he was a prisoner of war? Any info would be greatly appreciated thanks.Tony Doyle
Charles Keslake 1st Searchlight Regiment Royal ArtilleryCharles (Chaz) Keslake served with the 1st Searchlight Battery, 1st Searchlight Regiment and fought during the defence of Calais in 1940 as immortalised in the book by Airy Neave. His subsequent capture and memoirs of the next five years make for an extremely moving read. Chaz was in the habit of recording accurate detail especially dates, times and locations.
In this book, I intend to give an account of my life from the time I enlisted in the British Army, during the Second world War, 1939-1945, until my discharge. The contents are entirely for my own use or pleasure, but I hope, should anyone read them, they will not find them too boring or badly written, and that they shall not form a wrong impression from them. In the latter pages also, I may have a few cartoons or something inserted so that the book may also serve as a souvenir.
As most people will remember, just before war was declared in 1939, the government decided to train men in preparation for the coming conflict. I, being of or just under the stipulated age, had to register for service under the Militia Act. Actually, I was just under the age limit, but decided to get into the army and get my training done. Had I not have been in such a hurry, things may have turned out differently, but fate seemed to take a hand in it, so perhaps it is a good thing that one cannot foresee the future course of one’s life.
I registered for service on 3rd June 1939 at an employment exchange in Camden Town, London NW1. The terms of service were six months with the colours and three and a half years on the reserve. I received my calling up papers in due course and reported for service on 17th July 1939 to the 22nd Searchlight Militia Depot, Morton Park, Taunton, Somerset. During the third month of my service, Germany invaded Poland and owing to an agreement, England declared war on Germany.
While at Taunton, I worked in the camp hospital for nearly four months, after which I was posted to the 1st Searchlight Battery, 1st Searchlight Regiment, Kimmel Park, Rhyl, North Wales on 15th January 1940 where I completed my training and received draft leave for France on 2nd March 1940 which expired on 9th March 9th 1940. We left Rhyl at 10pm on 15th March 1940 travelling overnight from Rhyl to Dover. After embarking we finally left Dover at about 4pm on 1th March 1940 and landed at Boulogne an hour and a half later. In France, we took over from a company of Royal Engineers who were billeted thirty kilometres from Boulogne in a Chateaux at a place called Setques (pronounced Set). I went to France as a driver to the battery Sergeant Major and while at Setques was batman to a Royal Engineer Officer who came to us for a few days, and who incidentally was a famous racing motorist, quite well known at Brooklands. After a stay at Setque, we moved to Roubaix where we were billeted in a large house which had been commandeered for us. While at Roubaix our searchlights went into action for the first time with a fair success. We were not at Roubaix as long as at Setques but during our stay in Roubaix, the Gemans broke through in the Luxembourg area on May 10th and we accordingly retreated to a small village called Gorre (famous during the last war as part of the front line being near Festoubourg) where we gave up our searchlights and were attached to an Infantry division and had to guard bridges etc.
We were only at Gorre a few days when owing to the Germans rapid advance which is now part of the word history, we retreated further back to Calais. At Calais, we were billeted in a small cottage which had been evacuated by its owners. The cottage stood at the back of one of Courtaulds (silk manufacturers) huge factories and for a few nights I slept in an air-raid shelter owned by the manager of the factory (who was an Englishman) who told us that the shelter cost £500,000 to build as it was specially ventilated, contained a lavatory, wash basin, and was equipped with a stretcher, besides being fitted with cupboards, deck chairs and forms. The manager claimed that the shelter could withstand a direct hit from a 500lb bomb. After a few days at Calais, things began to get a little warm as by now the Germans were again on top of us, so we took up a position as Infantry along the road with Bren and Anti-Tank guns. By the following day, things had got so warm that we had to leave our billets, and took up another excellent position on top of a railway embankment nearer the centre of the town. The position comprised of some of the Rifle Brigade, Kings Royal Rifles, Queen Victoria Rifles, a few men from the Royal Corps of Signals, ourselves, and one or two odd men from various regiments. The first time we took up this position we succeeded in putting a German tank out of action, setting it on fire, and killing itís occupants as they jumped out, at a range I should say of about four hundred yards. We then retreated from this position, but re-occupied it later.
Just after the second occupation of this position I had a very narrow escape. I was sent to get a lorry, which I had just placed in position, when I was told that tanks were coming up the road behind us, on which information I ran down a nearby cellar, and had just got down there when a shell blew my lorry and the house outside which it was standing out of existence. No doubt a lucky escape! From there my troubles began!
After a little more excitement, I arrived on the dock-side and then on to the beach. The railway station was a complete wreckage, and there were lorries overturned and military and civilian kit strewn everywhere. I have never seen a town such a complete wreck, as before I left, it was absolutely flat. On reaching Calais Station, I joined up with various platoons of the infantry regiments and we slept that night in a field covered by our great-coats and gas-capes. The following morning the battle continued even more fiercely than before. This however proved to be its last day, as at 6 o’clock that evening (Sunday May 26th 1940) I was taken prisoner of war. The German officer who captured us spoke perfect English, and we were made to throw away our tin helmets, all arms, and any ammunition which we had. Then what we termed as ’the march’ began.
We had to march from our place of capture, inland towards Germany. The first night of our capture, we were marched all through the night during which there was a very heavy downpour of rain in which we had to stand still for about two hours owing to an air-raid by our own planes which was then in progress. The following morning, we were rested in an old factory but were so packed in that we could only sit with our knees under our chins. I can only remember ever being fed by the Germans about three times during the whole of the march, the food we got we had either to beg or steal. That is not a very pleasant admission to have to make, but I can assure you that hunger is not a very pleasant thing. I cannot remember the exact details of the march, but I will write them as they come to mind. We were marched for three weeks, at the end of which we boarded a train comprising of cattle trucks, at Cambrai and started for Germany. While marching, the French women were very good to us giving us everything they could and welcoming us in every village and town we passed through. In several of the women’s attempts to give us food or water, they were invariably hit with the butts of our guard’s rifles or their buckets of water kicked over, however, in spite of these atrocities they were still determined to help us. On the third day of the march, we were caught in another heavy downpour of rain and I can assure you I got really wet, as I only had my battle-dress on, having had the rest of my kit blown up in the lorry at Calais. That night, still very wet, we were all packed in a church in which I was fortunate enough to get myself a chair but it was most uncomfortable as my clothes were still very wet and my trousers stuck to my legs.
On again during the next day until we came to a large football stadium, only to stop for a few hours during which we received a few hard biscuits and a drop of watery soup but as there were still very large puddles and the ground was very soggy, there was not much rest here. On leaving the stadium we marched twenty five kilometres to Doullons (Douai) where we were once again packed into an old civilian prison. As we marched so we multiplied in numbers, so that by the time we reached Doullons (Douai) we had with us some Belgians and French Morrocans. I shall never forget this prison, the reason for which I will not explain, but we really were having some bad times. In this prison, I picked up with two ambulance drivers, and we planned to escape shortly after leaving here. We left the prison and had marched some distance when our chance came to escape - and we took it.Simon Clegget
Gnr. Ronald Stewart Royal ArtilleryMy father, Gunner Ronald Stewart, 51st Highland Division, Royal Artillery, BEF was a POW at Stalag VIIIB for 5 years after he was captured just outside Dunkirk. He was 20 years old at the time.
Since his unit was told to leave its guns and cover the retreat of the infantry he was always rather acid about his war experience. "The only thing that can run faster than a French soldier is a British officer" or perhaps vice versa.
My father worked in a coal mine and also a timber mill, and as one of your correspondents says it wasn't easy. There is also a family legend from my aunt who is still alive that he worked in a salt mine but we have always been dubious about this. If there are any records confirming where he worked I would be grateful. I have contacted the Red Cross who have the camp records, but there has been no reply.
There have been photographs of the funeral of a "Perri Daniels" (I have seen photos of the gravestone) and we were told the the funeral party was dressed up for propaganda purposes but I'm afraid the photos have been lost. I have a number of photographs and some letters home.
My father always spoke very highly of the hospitality of the Polish people who had very little themselves but who would leave presents of food on his lathe or who would throw cigarette ends as a work party passed, often at great risk to themselves. I worked for a year in Poland in 1997 and when they heard about my father the managers of the Polish construction company organised the trip to the camp for me.Mac Stewart
John Hall Royal ArtilleryMy father, John Charles Hall, served in the Royal Artillery, from 1923 to 1945. He was a prisoner of war, in Camp 85 pm 3450 Tuturano,Italy and also 4c. Stalag IVc, Wistritz bei Teplitz from 29th June 1942, to 24 May 1945. I would love to hear from any one who remembers him.June Marriott
Pte. Harry Osbourne 77th Highland Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryHarry Osbourne was a friend of my great uncle George Cuthbert. He and my uncle George joined the Territorial Army in March 1939, on the same night. Harry was just 19 years old and my Uncle was 23 years old. They served together throughput the war. Harry and uncle George were part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), part of the first Army.
Harry talked about how at the front, before the retreat, all the 'officers' seemed to disappear on courses, even most of the sergeant majors disappeared, leaving the troops to fend for themselves. Harry and Uncle George had to blow up their 4.5 inch Howitzer, as that is the gun they used in 1940. The troops retreated 18 miles to Dunkirk, where the town was being bombed. A brigadier formed them into groups of about 50 men, then told them to go to the beach, find a rowing boat, which had an anchor into the sand with a rope to a puffer (small fishing boat) so that they could haul themselves to the boat, quicker than rowing. "In the First Army in Africa we used 25 pounder guns, the latest gun of its time, a magnificent quick firing and very good for knocking out tanks due to its high muzzle velocity."
Harry and George were also at Monte Cassino: "We kept sending smoke bombs over the river below Cassino, so that it formed a fog, so the army could build bridges across the large river, which needed to be crossed.Gillian Lindsay
QMBS. Charles Joseph "Charlie" Coward 8th Reserve Battalion Royal ArtilleryCharlie Coward joined the Royal Artillery on the 16th. June 1937 and was serving with the 8th. Reserve battalion as Quartermaster Battery Sergeant Major when he was captured in may 1940 at Calais by the Germans. He managed to make two escapes before they even got him to a prisoner of war camp! During his seven subsequent escapes he managed to be awarded the Iron Cross whilst hiding in a German army field hospital, he spotted experimental V1 rockets and managed to send coded information on them back to the British intelligence via letters to his father via Mr William Orange: On the pretext of writing to his father (who was dead), in care of William Orange, ge could get out about a half dozen letters a week to let the people in England know what was going on. He figured that he could pass the censors that way, and at the same time get the information to the War Office. In the letters he sent information that he thought had military value and also wrote about the conditions of work for the civilians and the inmates, as well as the British prisoners of war. He wrote giving the particular dates on which he had witnessed thousands arriving and marched to the concentration camp. Inquiring of the people in Auschwitz where the next batch was coming from. In the letters he would say that 600 arrived from Czechoslovakia, so many from Poland, et cetera. The turnover was in the hundreds of thousands. You could not count them. The majority of them went into the camp next to us.
His wife Florence was at first confused by these letters and it took a few months before she spotted the ruse and redirected the mail to the War Office.
Charlie arrived in Auschwitz in December 1943. Auschwitz was under the supervision of Stalag No. VIII B. The camp at Auschwitz at which they lived was E 715. It was one of the camps grouped around The I.G. Faben plant at Auschwitz. At the time when about 1,200 British prisoners of war were working for I. G. Faben. Toward the end of 1943, our camp held 1,400 British prisoners of war. At the beginning of 1944, British prisoners were sent to Heydebreck and Blochhammer and about 600 British prisoners of war remained.
Charlie was sent to the factory at Auschwitz where as senior British prisoner and the Red Cross representative he witnessed the atrocities at first hand. True to form he resisted and by bribing guards he managed to swap the dead bodies of Jewish prisons for some 400 live people, knowing that the concentration camp guards only measured the number of people transferred from the camp to the gas chambers he took live prisoners out of the ranks and buried them in a shallow hole to be recovered later and replaced them with a dead prisoner he knew that the SS would assume that the prisoners died on the march., after all, if he was questioned what would he, a gentile, know or care about Jews. At least 80 of these poor souls are known to have survived the end of the war. With the assistance of fellow POW's. and polish resistance workers Charlie helped to smuggle arms and explosives in to the death camp and substantial damage was done to the gas ovens that never was fully repaired. Thus ensuring that a substantial number of other prisoners had some extra chance of survival from this hell on earth. One of his last duties before he left the camp was to organise the funerals of 34 British prisoners of war who had been killed by a stray American bomb after a raid on the factory started whilst they were on a sports activity. Prior to this he had complained
The British prisoners of war were not permitted to use the air raid shelters in the IG plant. Charlie complained to Duerrfeld ( the civilian manager in charge of the factory) about this. He was very abrupt and said that a place was being allotted. The place we could use instead of an air-raid shelter was locked so that we would have to get the guard to get us a key before we could get even that protection. The inmates had no air-raid shelters of any kind, and the foreign workers were marched out into the fields. It is sad to record that the mass graves were subsequent directly hit by another large bomb and the prisoners' remains were destroyed.
After the war he testified at the Nuremburg IG Fabens war crimes tribunal. His testimony ensuring that the civilian contractors could not be excused from their dreadful part in this savage Auschwitz death factory enterprise: "I discussed the gas chambers with German civilians. I never heard of any of the German foremen who protested against the gassing. The others were in favour of gassing - provided it was for Jews. They looked upon killing Jews as killing vermin. We were not permitted to talk to the inmates but managed to do so anyway. I was told by quite a number of inmates that if they were sick for more than 5 days, they would be sent to the gas chambers. One foreman boasted about having seen Jews arrive for gassing, 100 to the railway wagon, standing because there was not enough room to sit down. It was too much trouble to take the inmates out so a gas pipe was put into the wagon. He also told us about the Jews walking into the gas chambers."Bernard Williamson
George Edward Crellin 15th IoM Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 129th Batte Royal ArtilleryMy late father, George Edward Crellin was with the 129th Battery, 15th (Isle of Man) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. The 129th was raised on the IOM just before war broke out. He was one of the many soldiers and officers of the 129th captured in Crete (only 1 officer and 30 soldiers escaped capture). He eventually ended up in Germany and was in Stalag 3D from August 1941 to October 1943, then Stalag 4G from November 1943 to April 1945. During his time as a POW he was in several work parties. e.g. at a stone quarry. Along with many of his fellow Manx POWs, my father died young and probably as a result of the harsh treatment received. I would be very grateful for any further information about my father, the camps and about the liberation of Stalag 4G.Ann Graham
Gnr. Leonard Bradley 175th Field Regiment Royal ArtilleryMy father, Leonard Bradley served as gunner with the Royal Artillery in North Africa with 175 Field Regiment and in Sicily with 126 Field Regiment.Dorothy Palmer
Gnr. Joseph Jerome Deponio Royal ArtilleryMy grandfather, Joseph Jerome Deponio, was born in North Wales to Italian parents in 1919. He was the eldest son and enlisted with the Royal Artillery, a gunner, army number 4191861, POW number 13046 and was captured at Dunkirk. He was driving a lorry of officers to find another route and drove around the bend straight into a German ambush. He was marched to Poland. At some point he threw his guitar over a hedge because he simply couldn't carry it any longer. He spent the whole war in the camp, with frequent petty escapes in the knowledge that he would be recaptured and then given hard labour - which meant extra food.
During one of these escapes the Germans were not so quick to capture them, possibly on purpose, and he and his friend walked for miles in the snow. His friend, Frank Nuttall, could go no further and sat down. He told my grandad to carry on without him. If he had left him there he would have died, so my grandfather carried him on his back until they were picked up shortly afterwards. Both were given time in 'solitary' and then hard labour. I don't think they bothered to try again. There was also a chap called Bill Williams who he used to talk about, and others too.
When he returned to England he was in Sussex where he met my nanny, and settled there. There is a photo of him on this website (which I found a year or so ago, but cannot find again) and I have no others of him during this time. He came home speaking German - of great use during my GCSEs - and being able to get a tune out of almost anything you gave him. I would like to know if he played any instruments at the camp, or if he was in any shows that they performed as he spoke of them often when I was a youngster.
I would love to hear from anyone that knew him, or anything about his time during those long years.Clair Eldred
Gunner Leslie John Proctor 71st Anti Tank Regiment Royal Artillery (d.2nd Jul 1944)Leslie Proctor was one of the first casualties of the 71st Anti Tank Regiment, RA after landing in France on the 27th June 1944. Ironically his task before the invasion was making white crosses to mark graves of causalities.Philip Barnett
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A Short History Of The Ayrshire Yeomanry 151st Field Regiment, R.A. 1939-1946
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A Short History Of The Ayrshire Yeomanry 151st Field Regiment, R.A. 1939-1946
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