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49th (West Riding) Infantry Division


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#1 Smudge

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 02:19 PM

Hi all

I want to know what units served in the 49th Infantry Div from the Normandy landings onwards, and when did they join the division?

...Or can you point me towards a site that has this info.

thanks

Martyn
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#2 ramacal

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 04:15 PM

Martyn,

Here you go. The link takes you the Polar Bear Association website and has their orbat for WW2.

Home

Cheers - Rob.

Edited by ramacal, 22 October 2012 - 04:25 PM.

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#3 Tom Canning

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 04:31 PM

Martin-
you will note that the 70th Brigade was broken up at the end of August '44 as they had taken a beating in the operations Martlett and Epsom when they took on the 2ndSS Panzers - with rifles and bayonets ... ! the 6th Duke of Wellingtons were also broken up - indicating that they didn't have an easy time in Normandy -

A good book to read is by Patrick Delaforce " The Polar Bears"

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#4 ramacal

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 04:39 PM

Ironically, I have been going around in circles trying to find the 49th Division HQ diaries today at Kew. Can't find them or the 49 Recce War Diaries. The information desk was no help either.:(
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#5 ramacal

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 04:41 PM

If I remember correctly, the DOW's Regt were given a bad press over their performance.
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#6 Tom Canning

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 04:54 PM

Ramacal
Not the whole regiment - just the 6th battalion as their Colonel put in a bad report about their performance at Tessel wood - I think it was - and Monty thought he wasn't fit for the job so fired him and broke up the battalion - the 7th Batt. in the same bde did a fill in job for which Monty was pleased !

The 8th Batt of the DOW's became the 145th Regt RAC in which I served in Africa and Italy none of us were fired !

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#7 ramacal

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 05:02 PM

My apologies Tom, I should have been more specific and meant the 6th Battalion and not the whole Regt.
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#8 Tom Canning

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 09:33 PM

Rob - no problem - it happens as many think that battalions are the whole regiment - it was a sad end though and I thought the Lt.Colonel's report was accurate but Monty - quite clearly could not have such a defeatest point of view so early in the campaign and thus the whole battalion was condemned....

some good came of this exchange though as I have been contacted by a relative of a chap in my old regiment asking about her uncles death at Coriano the day after I was knocked out and so I was able to fill her in with some details - all via Pete Keane ! Amazing what we learn on this forum...
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#9 Smudge

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 11:45 PM

'They are a already a Division and can't join a Division?'

Hi Rob

Thanks; sorry should have worded it better I meant when did the individual units join the division...thanks for the link

Martyn
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#10 Smudge

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 11:53 PM

Hi all

RE; 6 DWR. I don't think its fair to condemn them or their performance (or lack of)...we weren't there or went through what they did after all. I did come across some diaries (or suchlike) that pretty made it clear they'd taken a hammering and when they got the new CO he tried to get them pulled back for rest re-organisation hence the letter that Monty took umbridge to. He sacked the CO for not being aggressive enough and broke up the btn and they got the bad press mentioned. I'll try and find the link. I'll also have a look through the Dukes history its a great book.

Thanks everyone for the responces

Martyn
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#11 Tom Canning

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 02:12 AM

martynsmith
now then - most of us know we were not there at the time that the Dukes 6th battalion apparently made a pig's ear out of that particular battle as there were no spectator stands or TV's and so many of us have to depend on the writings of other people who were also not there at the time and thus they in turn have to depend on the diaries of exhausted captains after a days fighting - BUT - some of us have been in similar situations and know just how easy it is to get scared and forget your training and do silly things in your very first battle and people are getting killed and maimed all around you - fact is that the C.O. - Lt.Col R.K.Exham M.C. - you will note had been in battle before to gain his M.C. - somewhere and put in an adverse report on the two day battle at Le Parc de Boisande - Monty took it as a failure of morale and broke them up ! YOU might not think it fair and I don't suppose you are alone but then against that you were NOT in charge of the Battles of six corps in two armies - Monty was - he was the bossman- and he needed the best !

There is no question that it was a bad battle - but then - I was never in a good battle - it was no better a few days later at Raurey when the 11th DLI went against the 2nd SS panzers with rifles and sten guns - not many survived including my cousin !
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#12 colinhotham

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 09:01 AM

Tom, I never tire of reading your posts on this website and although I have no connection with or axe to grind on the subject, when it comes to Army matters you always give me pause for thought.
Monty was instrumental along with ordinary officers and soldiers like yourself, in defeating the Axis on the ground in many theaters of WW2, but his methods were always up for criticism.
My research over the last 8 years has made me feel that Montgomery and Patton are very much alike in the way history is treating them, but to me it always comes down to one fact - We won the war!!

Colin.
PS. Ok ok this erk probably sees things too simply.
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#13 ramacal

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 01:04 PM

This is an interesting document I copied from 49 Divisional Signals file, which gives a snapshot of the Divisions Orbat as at 16 October 1944 in Belgium. For a 3 week period, they created an extra ad-hoc brigade commanded by the Co of 89 LAA Regt and composed mostly of 89 LAA, 62 Anti-Tank and 102 LAA Regts, supported by a company of Kensingtons, RE and a smattering of others including the Belgian White Brigade.

I'm sure Andy (Drew) will be interested from a signals perspective.

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#14 Rob Dickers

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 01:59 PM

From Jan 45 till Mar 45
The 10th Med Regt RA were the sole dedicated Med Artillery regt under command for all RA 49th (WR) Div operations, which was very unusual indeed for this time of the war.
To have an AGRA Heavy (Medium) Artillery Regt in support for so long, they must have been having a very bad time of it to need this level of artillery help for so long.
Rob

Edited by Rob Dickers, 22 October 2012 - 11:42 PM.

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12311726876_74a8350ed7_t.jpgArchive of 10th (R/Fus) Medium Regt RA
from16th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regt)


#15 51highland

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 05:38 PM

Ah the 49th Div, affectionately known as the 'Nijmegen Home Guard'.
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51 highland "Don't leave me Sarge" & Keep 'em Moving

Là á Bhlàir's math na Càirdean

(Friends are good in the day of battle)


Na diobair caraid's a charraid
(Forsake not a friend in the fray)

Cuimhnichibh na suinn nach maireann .
Mairidh an cliu beo gu brath.
(In memory of the Heroes who are no more.
May their Fame live on forever)

#16 Smudge

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 11:55 PM

Tom

I think that having achieved their tasks which resulted in around 50% losses against a more experienced enemy in defence they don’t deserve to be lambasted. Mistakes might have been made and I’ll be researching this a bit more so thanks for the book recommendation I’ll look out for it. If a unit suffered 50% casualties today it would be a national disaster.

What happened at Tessel Wood to make the CO write such a damning letter there’s no mention of this in the Dukes history? Also isn’t it strange (a sentiment mirrored by Brereton and Savory the authors) that Exham who’d led them into the first few days battles when they’d suffered such casualties, was moved to another btn…especially considering the state of his btns morale. That must have been pretty poor timing all things considered or were there other factors? Also, I may be getting a bit confused but Exham led the men at Le Parc de Boisande 16/17 June didn’t he when in two days they suffered 236 dead and wounded out of around 845? After that they also suffered casualties in a rear area while trying to absorb replacements so they would have been disorientated and less organised.

Then a new CO turns up and on his first day they were involved in the attacks on Fontenay and Rauray again they suffered heavy casualties but achieved their objectives…the letter to Monty was written by LT Col Turner of the Suffolks who’d only known the btn a matter of days…could his appointment at such a time have contributed to the poor state of the btn? Was Turner wrong in his assessment or just being prudent? He says that the men didn’t know each other so how could he have known them himself?

Along similar lines in 1940 the 2/6th Dukes was ordered to rest by a senior medical officers and they’d only ( ONLY) suffered 85 casualties no- where near those of the 1/6th in 1944. They weren’t damned in fact Brereton and Savory say they deserved the highest praise for their actions in 1940. Neither were they broken up.

You’re right of course Monty was in charge and needed the best and aggression and momentum is key in battle. The 6th wouldn’t have been the first or last I suppose to have been broken up and redistributed around…didn’t the same happen to 11th Durham Light Infantry?

Ta

Martyn
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#17 Tom Canning

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 02:37 AM

Martynsmith
no use getting all het about about the 6th Dukes - fact is that many units suffered 50% casualties - that's what happens in war - but you must distinguish exactly what casualties are firstly - there are the dead - wounded - captured - sick - now in Italy there were various forms of sickness mainly - malaria - jaundice - gastro enteritis - impetigo -trench foot - boils -appendicitis even !

all sorts of other ailments and all requiring hospital or at least CCS care - and all reducing the effectiveness of a fighting unit - so 250 out of 850 is meaningless as not all were dead -

I do know that the 11th DLI suffered greatly in their attack on Raurey with -in some cases less than 50 left out of a company of 150 - they in turn were also broken up - along with the whole of 70th bde - so it could be said that their losses exceeded that of 6th Dukes ?

In just one attack with two companies of Infantry supported by six Churchill Tanks - which lasted all of half an hour - five Tanks were lost - six crewmen and more that 90 infantrymen were casualties - in the whole 28 days Battle of the Gothic Line in Italy - 14,000 were killed - or about 500 per day and God knows how many were wounded but the CCS was full and the troopships were also full taking them down to Bari where there were three hospitals with over 2000 beds available.

In that Coriano region of the Gothic Line there are seven cemetery's all with around 2000 graves plus a crematorium for the Ghurkas - only seven you say - but then there was Cassino - Ortona - Salerno -Naples - Termoli -Anzio -Rome -Trasemino - Assisi - Perugia - Orvieto -Cesena - Ancona - lots of them !
Cheers
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#18 Smudge

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 12:55 PM

Tom

Thanks

You were in 8 DWR then later the 145th Regt RAC right? Theres an interesting photo in the Dukes history of your Regiment standing on a Panther. Was this just a photo opportunity or did you actually man it? Whats the story?

I may on this site a bit so can you call me Martyn? martynsmith looks so wrong.

I'm not getting het up about 6DWR as such. I do have a a great affinity with the Dukes I was one for 20 years, retired in 2004. Its great to share and discuss info with vererans like yourself

Martyn
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#19 Tom Canning

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 04:37 PM

Martyn-
Can you publish that picture of the Panther - be of great interest to me as I was still in hospital when we operated that Tank - and we did - with some effect - how it came about was in this way ......

It was on the flooded plain of the River Savio in Oct 21-24th October '44 and the 145th RAC was bogged down in trying to support the Canadian Seaforth Highlanders - whose "A" Company was over the river and holding a small bridgehead.

"C" company led by a real estate executive from Vancouer Major "Budge" Bell-Irving decided to turn two sections into Tank Busters with Piats and Tommy Guns as there were some tanks in the vicinity. One section of four men took off with two Piats and two Tommy guns- and soon ran into a Panther which fired it's MG and wounded a corporal - his buddy - "Smokey" Smith - took the wounded corporal into a ditch -fired the Piat - and knocked out the Panther - then picked up a tommy Gun and killed the PG's who were riding on the back of the Panther - another Panther showed up and again "Smokey" fired - hit the Panther which reversed into a ditch and the crew bailed out - a third Panther showed up - had a look and took off......."Smokey " was awarded the V.C......

Next morning - this ditched Panther was recovered and presented to Maj Christopher
Newton - Thompson M.C. of our "C" squadron but it was claimed by Maj Lyall Lusted of "A" Squadron - the Panther was checked and cleaned out and handed over to 3rd Troop and the gunner was my best friend - Walter Pollard from Yorkshire - who stonked the German lines with their own ammo and had fun doing so.

On November 11th - Walter was refuelling this Panther when he trod on a schu mine and died an agonising death on the way to the CCS some two hours later. Walter is buried at Cesena cemetery.

Brigade got to hear of this and "suggested" that we were contravening the Geneva Convention - and the Panther was handed over to them ....

"Smokey" had a good life as in his later years he was made up as an aide to both the Governor General and Prime Minister and toured with both on their overseas travels as the last holder of the WW2 V.C's - he died in Vancouver in 2005 aged 90 with a full Mititary Funeral watched by thousands.....two great men - I knew them both. !
Cheers
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#20 Tom Canning

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 03:39 AM

Martyn
Here is the cemetery where Walter Pollard lies at peace...

CWGC :: Certificate
Cheers
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#21 Smudge

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 11:06 AM

Hi Tom

Thanks for that little snippet of info; I'll post the photo over on the Italy forum it's probably more appropriate there. You may be able to ID the characters stood on the Panther? I'll also put a few questions that interest me if you can help...pick your brains a bit!

Martyn
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#22 Jamie78

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 04:17 PM

Hi all, I'm new to this forum.

I am doing a bit of family research and I'm struggling to find any detailed information about the 143rd Field Regiment RA. They were referred to in places in 'The Polar Bears - Monty's Left Flank' by Patrick Delaforce but not in any great detail. In his bibliography he refers to a 'History 143 (Kent Yeomanry) Field Regiment RA' by Bowring, Maj.E.R.H. but I have searched high and low for this to no avail. Any ideas would be very welcome!!

Thanks :)
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#23 Philip Reinders

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 04:24 PM

It is rare book, never seen it before either
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#24 Jamie78

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 04:29 PM

Thanks anyway Philip, I'll keep looking!
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#25 Bala

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 06:56 PM

JAMIE78 You may enjoy reading 'MIKE TARGET' by John Mercer Published 1990 by The Book Guild Ltd. The author served in 49 Div 274 Bty 185 Field Regt RA and the book covers his time from D-Day to Berlin

My father served with the Hallamshires. They were mighty grateful for the Gunners Support
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#26 Jamie78

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:19 AM

Thanks for your reply BALA, I've now ordered the book and really looking forward to reading it.
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#27 Sheldrake

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 11:24 AM

It is rare book, never seen it before either


I can't find it in either the Badley library nor Firepower. Nor could the late Will Townend because I am working on the Normandy volume of the RA History which he started and have his papers. Major ERH Bowring was the BC of 507 Battery.

Edited by Sheldrake, 30 December 2012 - 11:32 AM.

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