14499459 Bill Leach - various regiments.

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Richard Leach, Aug 21, 2020.

  1. Richard Leach

    Richard Leach Member

    Screenshot_20200820_093011_com.android.gallery3d.jpg Hello, my grandfather Bill Leach(14499459) was in Normandy 1944. I know he was around the falaise pocket and took part in the attack on Bemmel with the 5th Yorkshires.

    He wrote information of the Bremmel assault (D company) {where he "acquired" a German iron cross from the enemy} and the advance up to Nijmegen. The only ever words he spoke of his action before Operation Market Garden was that it was indescribable and horrific.

    He was apparently in 8 different regiments mainly due to them being decimated and I know he was called "lucky leach" due to this.

    I was wondering if anyone had any information on his previous engagements. He was with the East surrey's and the D.L.I. Before this.

    Attached is his service card.
    Thank you in advance.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 21, 2020
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The East Surreys didn't fight in NW Europe so that's likely to have been his holding/training battalion. There were plenty of DLI battalions in action, though, so he may have gone to one of those as a reinforcement.

    Have you had his full records from the MoD?
  3. Richard Leach

    Richard Leach Member

    Am awaiting the full records from Mod.
    The only info I have in regards to Normandy is he landed "some time around the 16th June 44'" my brother said he talked about being attacked near Caen apparently but none of this is solid info.
  4. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    If he was in the DLI my guess is that he might have been in one of the battalions of 70th Infantry Brigade, 49th Division. This brigade was broken up, I believe in August 44, and the personnel sent elsewhere. The 151st (DLI) Brigade of 50th Div received some men from 70th Brigade, and I wouldn't be surprised if some also went to 69th Brigade (5th East Yorks, 6th and 7th Green Howards).
  5. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Taking onboard what idler has stated about the East Surrey’s not fighting in NW Europe and based on your grandfather’s ‘Record Of Service’, it is more likely he landed around 16 July 1944.

    TTH is probably right about him being with the ‘Durhams’ of 70th Infantry Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division, which was broken-up on approximately 20 August 1944 and its troops dispersed mainly to 50th (Northumbrian) Division and 51st (Highland) Division as replacements. If correct, he would have served with, either, the 10th or 11th Bns Durham Light Infantry.

    50 Div was itself broken-up on approximately 1 December 1944, with the Division’s HQ and its long service troops being returned home as a Training Cadre. This would likely explain his transfer from the 5th Bn East Yorkshire Regiment, 69th Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division to the Lincolnshire Regiment (this could have been the 2nd Bn, 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, or the 4th Bn, 146th Infantry Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division).

    Only a full copy of his service records will give you certainty!

    Edited to correct information concerning the Lincs Regiment (not Leics Regiment)...
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020
  6. Richard Leach

    Richard Leach Member

    Thank you all for the help! Have just discovered in a letter he wrote to a family in Nijmegen. Seems like a good start :)

    Attached Files:

  7. Richard Leach

    Richard Leach Member

    So this is what I have found so far. unsure of his company in D.L.I. it looks like he wrote S (support?)

    East Surrey Regiment: 10th Btn (19/1/1944 - 20/7/1944)

    1943 joining 45th Division for three weeks before being deployed to Cookstown and Portglenone in Northern Ireland until returning to England at the end of the year at
    Hassocks, West Sussex. During this period many men were transferred out for service in the Middle East and in 21st Army Group.
    The 10th's final task was to prepare and run a camp marshalling sub-area in Hambledon, Hampshire, for Operation Overlord until being transferred to D.L.I. 20/7/1944.

    10th Durham Light Infantry, 70th Bgd, 49th Polar Bear Division. "S(5?) company" (20/7/1944 - 02/09/1944)

    The 70th brigade with support of the tanks of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry captured Rauray (11th battalion) and the high ground beyond (10th battalion) on 27–28 June.
    The German counter-attack by troops of II SS Panzer Corps was held by the 11th and Tyneside Scottish battalions after such hard fighting that
    Lord Haw Haw called the division the Polar Bear Butchers (referencing their formation sign).
    After some days rest and reinforcement the five D.L.I. battalions in Normandy were briefly together when the 70th brigade relieved the 151st brigade around Tilley-Sur-Seulles on 7 July.
    Later in the month the brigade was transferred to the east of Caen and covered the right flank of Operation Spring.[236] Advancing to Mezidon on the River Dives after the German defeat at Falaise,
    the brigade fought its last action on 18 August, after which the brigade (as a second line formation) received news it was to be disbanded to reinforce other units of the Second Army.

    The 5th Battalion East Yorkshires (D company), 69th Brigade, (administered by 50th {Northumbrian} Division) (3/9/1944 - 9/12/1944)

    After Falaise, 50th (N) Division took part in XXX Corps' drive to the River Seine and its subsequent pursuit into Belgium, 'mopping up' behind the armoured spearheads.
    On 7 September the division was ordered to prepare to force a crossing of the Albert Canal. Only 69th Bde was immediately available: it moved to Hasselt to prepare,
    and on 8 September the Green Howards crossed near Geel.
    On the night of 9/10 September 5th East Yorkshires made a separate assault (Albert Canal) crossing west of the Green Howards to extend bridgehead. D and B companies crossed in their stormboats unobserved,
    but the other two companies came under heavy small arms fire. At 01.00 the battalion formed up and attacked Het-Punt, setting fire to the village,
    capturing Germans prisoners and freeing some Green Howards who had been captured. With 69th Bde firmly established, opposition faded away and prisoners and wounded could be ferried back.
    151st Brigade then had a longer fight for Geel. Both brigades were relieved on 12 September after the Royal Engineers had bridged the canal.

    XXX Corps then carried out the ground part of Operation Market Garden, attempting to thrust forward to the Nederrijn across a series of bridges captured by airborne forces.
    50th (N) Division was a follow-up formation tasked with keeping the narrow 'corridor' open. The operation began on 18 September, and on 20 September 69th Bde was called forward towards Nijmegen.
    Progress was slow on the jammed road, and on 22 September a German counter-attack cut the road between Veghel and Uden,
    with 5th East Yorkshires north of the breach and the rest of the brigade to the south. It was not until the next day that the road was reopened and the reunited 69th Bde could move on to Nijmegen,
    where it relieved 43rd (Wessex) Division and US paratroopers and took responsibility for defending the vital bridges over the River Waal. 5th East Yorkshires deployed across the river,
    skirmishing with parties of Germans and trying to capture the village of Bemmel, east of the road. The first attack,
    at 16.30 on 24 September by A B and D Companies supported by tanks of Guards Armoured Division and an artillery barrage, failed to break into the village,
    but C Company supported by tanks and a short barrage got in at dawn the next day. By 14.00 the vfilalge was firmly held and 80 prisoners had been taken. However,
    the battalion suffered days of heavy shellfire, and the failure of the operation to hold Arnhem bridge meant that German forces were free to counter-attack.
    5th East Yorkshires drove off the first counter-attack on 30 September, but sustained attacks by infantry and tanks came in on 1 October. 5th East Yorkshires had been pulled back,
    but went into Bemmel again with a squadron of 13th/18th Royal Hussars to support the Green Howards who were hanging on in the village. The rest of 50th (N) Division arrived to relieve 69th Bde on 4 October.

    The division now settled down to static warfare in the low-lying 'Island' between the Waal and the Nederrijn.

    Its battalions were now very weak in numbers – the whole of 21st Army Group was suffering a manpower crisis – and the War Office decided that it should be broken up to provide reinforcements for other formations.
    The division was withdrawn from the line on 29 November and moved back into Belgium where the units were reduced to cadres.

    Lincs Regiment:?? (10/12/1944 - 6/8/46)

    He wrote of The Dressel Hotel where It seems he stayed during the winter of 44/45 as some sort of regimental HQ but am unsure of details as of now.
  8. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    I have edited my previous post No. 5 regarding the Lincolnshire Regiment.

    This posting could have been, either, to the 2nd Bn, 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, or the 4th Bn, 146th Infantry Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division.
  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    The letter in an earlier post says 4th Lincolns.

Share This Page