1589242 Bombardier N Kershaw, Duke of Wellington's Regiment

Discussion in 'War Grave Photographs' started by Steve Foster, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Whilst recently searching for Lance Corporal Antony Coulthard's grave in Germany, a July 1947 Grave Concentration Report supplied by the CWGC, showed that two soldiers had been exhumed from Quickborn Cemetery to Becklingen CWGC Cemetery. In the report, they were both listed as "unknowns", but when we inspected the two graves one was an unknown and the other had the following inscription on the headstone:

    1589242 Bombardier N Kershaw, The Duke Of Wellington's Regiment, 14 April 1945 Aged 27.

    Whilst in some ways this narrowed down our search to Antony being buried in the other grave, the identification on the other headstone of Bombardier Kershaw threw up more questions.

    It was known that two separate columns of POWs crossed the Elbe and stayed in the large barn in Kaltenhof where Antony died; one group in March 45 and one in April 45. It was also known from local witnesses that a prisoner from each column died in the barn. Antony was carried to Quickborn cemetry by his comrades and buried there; it is assumed the second POW to die was also buried there. As there was no fighting between British and German troops in the Kaltenhof area during those months (or at all), it was assumed Kershaw was the POW who died at Kaltenhof in April as Antony died in March.

    However, I have consulted the ancestry.co.uk website which lists British POWs and N Kershaw was not listed; there were about eight Kershaws in all taken prisoner in various theatres but none with the initial N and none from the DWR. As he couldn't have died in combat in the area, was not a POW and was almost certainly not aircrew, how did he come to die and be buried behind the German lines in the Quickborn/Kaltenhof area?

    The other strange thing about the inscription on his headstone is that he is given the rank of Bombardier yet was a member of an infantry Regiment.

    Could anybody please help me identify Bombardier Kershaw, or know anything about him?
    Picture of grave attached.

  2. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    The other strange thing about the inscription on his headstone is that he is given the rank of Bombardier yet was a member of an infantry Regiment.

    The 4th Duke of Wellington's Regt
    was converted in 1938/39 into the 58th & 68th Anti-Tank Regts RA.
    but still kept their DoW title, might explain the Bdr rank.
    His Army No. on enlistment is Royal Artillery
    The 58th was in Italy
    The 68th N.W.E.
  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    CWGC list him as: Royal Artillery 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.

    Some thoughts:

    1) 600 Regt RA were investing Dunkirk in April 1945 (there's a thread on them here somewhere). How did Bdr Kershaw end up in the depths of Germany? Even if he had been captured, how would he have got to Germany - Dunkirk didn't surrender until May 1945.

    2) The DWR history - unlike some - covers the battalions that converted to other arms. There is only one Kershaw listed in the roll of honour (J Kershaw of 1/7 Bn).

    3) The RA Commemoration Book includes Kershaw N in its roll of honour with the same date of death, but no unit is given.

    If he wasn't 600 Regt (5 DWR), perhaps he had served with 58 or 68 A/Tk Regts (ex-4DWR) before getting captured? His service record ought to hold the answer...
  4. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    This thread lists the action & casualties sustained by the unit on the 15th of April, how did Kershaw be 100s of miles away and die 24 hours before this opeation??


    Even if he was taken POW around Dunkirk early in April there is no real way he could have been transported so far away from a town under siege.

    Looking forward to seeing if the unit war diary offers any assistance as it is referred to in the previous thread.
  5. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Thanks Rob, Idler and Dave for your help, at least I now know why he was a Bombardier. I think sending for his Service Records is the answer to what he was doing on the Elbe. Perhaps he was a POW and the "ancestry" list is not correct.

  6. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    I have just been looking at the ancestry.co.uk roll of honour for WW2 and Bombardier N Kershaw is listed as:

    Norman Kershaw
    Royal Artillery
    Place of birth Bradford
    Date of death 14 April 1945
    Theatre: North west Europe 44/45

    I was beginning to think he was a POW from the BEF who had been missed out on the POW list, however the entry above dispells that theory. He was obviously killed/died in NW Europe in 44/45 but why was he buried deep in Germany near the river Elbe?

    Does anyone know if 600 Regt RA (5 DWR) was in action in 44 during the advance from Normandy? Perhaps he was captured in 44 and he was a POW who died on the Long March.

  7. idler

    idler GeneralList

    600 Regt didn't serve in Normandy, they only arrived in France around November 1944.

    Here's the original 600 Regt thread for background.
  8. Philip Reinders

    Philip Reinders Very Senior Member

    Like some guys who got a "lift" on board, with the supply planes to Arnhem , could it be he also flew with a crew of whom he maybe knew someone?
  9. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Thanks for your help in this matter gentlemen. Having read the two threads about 600 Regiment RA (5 DWR) it would appear a complete mystery why Bombardier Kershaw died on 14 April at Kaltenhof/Quickborn on the Elbe. His unit, if he was from 600 Regiment, was nowhere near there in April 45, they were attacking a mill near Dunkirk!

    The only thing I can think is that the CWGC records of him being in 600 Regiment are wrong and that he was a POW passing through on the Long March. I have sent an Email to the DWR museum to see if they can clear up the mystery.

    The next time I am at the NAs, will read file WO 171/9172.

    Thanks again,

  10. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    I've been searching the web for info on Norman Kershaw. I found an RAA Forum. Below is an extract from one of the Forum's threads. It reads like the WW2 activities of the "5th Battalion", but they are called the "5th Regiment":
    Source: http://www.forums.theraa.co.uk/index.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=1190&highlight=5th+battalion


    The Regiment was formed as 5th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery in 1939 and consisted of K Battery and G Battery (Mercers Troop) RHA. K Battery was the current Riding Troop at St Johns Wood. In 1940 the Regiment formed part of the British Expeditionary Force to France and after Dunkirk moved to North Africa, where it joined 7-Armoured Division. Along with 7-Armoured Division the Regiment fought throughout the Western Desert and for a limited period took part in the Italian Campaign. On return to the UK in early 1944 it then took part in the Normandy landings and fought in Northwest Europe to VE Day

    Maybe Kershaw became a POW sometime in 1944? As Steve says, the Military service record would tell us.

  11. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member


    Just a quick update about Bombardier Kershaw. The attached Record Details from "Forces War Records" show that Bdr Kershaw was in the 600th Rgt RA - a TA unit derived originally from 5 DWR and then 43 Regt RA.

    The POW records on "ancestry.co.uk show an N Kershaw (no rank or Regt) as being in Stalagluft VI in Heyderkrug, Lithuania. This was the most northerly German POW camp and the inmates took part in the "Long March" from Jan-May 45 so Kershaw could well have died at Quickborn on the River Elbe on 14 Apr 45 as the columns passed through there. However it was a camp for RAF personnel, not soldiers so what was he doing there?

    So a real conundrum, how did a Bombardier from 600 Rgt RA, which did not go into action until after he died end up on the Long March in an RAF column and dying by the River Elbe?

    His Service Records are on order, I hope they will help solve the riddle.

  12. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    He's only listed as having a War Medal and a '39-'45 Star. Wouldn't anyone captured in Africa, Italy or NW Europe have had the respective star, with the exception of the 1940 campaigns ?

    There must be a mistake somewhere, surely ?
  13. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    I think there is some incorrect information somewhere Rich, let's hope his Service Records clears up the mystery.
  14. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Could anyone please help with the approximate date Bdr Kershaw enlisted into 5 DWR/600 Rgt RA by his Service Number please?

    It is 1589242.

    That date will help solve the mystery of when he was captured.

    Thanks very much,

  15. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    That info from 'FWR' is just a rehash of what is on the CWGC website made to look like an old document.
  16. Pete Keane

    Pete Keane Senior Member

  17. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Bombadier Kershaw’s service number 1589242, is one in a range allocated to the Royal Artillery.

    A casualty with service number 1589230, twelve numbers lower than Kershaw is listed on CWGC as having served with 43 (5th Duke of Wellingtons Regt) Searchlight Regt, died on 13/9/44 and was buried in the UK. This tallies with the following information.

    According to the RA 39-45 website, 5th Duke of Wellingtons were formed into 43 Searchlight Regt in August 1940 and served in the UK. In October 1944, they became 43 Garrison Regt. A month later, they became 600 Regt RA, an infantry RA Regt, which went to North West Europe in early 1945 and fought on the outskirts of Dunkirk. Any men captured here could not have gone to a POW camp in Germany.

    In August 1944, due to shortages of infantry and replacements for other RA units, approximately 250 men from HAA, LAA & Searchlight Regts were retrained and posted elsewhere. My theory is that Bombadier Kershaw was one of these reposted and information passed to the War Graves Commission at the time of his death was incorrect. I’ve found a few others which looked odd for the same reason and having investigated them, proved it and got them changed on CWGC.

    In regard to the date of joining up, a man with a slightly higher service number than Kershaw died in April 1941. I would put my money on Kershaw having been called up in July/August 1940 when thousands of others were mobilised.
    CL1 likes this.
  18. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    I'm thinking he may have served on planes as a bomb "aimer". From a read of veteran POW accounts on the web there are references to "Bombadier's" being part of plane crew. (for example see Wellington III BJ653 crashed near Lintrup on 13/10-1942 )

    So, let's assume Kershaw was seconded to the Air Force to aim bombs. His plane came down in enemy territory and he was captured and sent to one or more POW camps, the final one being Luft VI in Lithuania.

    Luft VI was the first camp evacuated in the Forced March. These POWs started their trek in July 1944! (see
    http://www.214squadron.org.uk/Prisoners_of_war_The_Long_March.htm )Some marched to Gross Tychow and the rest went to Stalag XXA. Assume then that Kershaw was in the group that went to XXA. He was in a different column than Antony but followed a similar route, dying in Kaltenhof around 14 April 1945. When he was exhumed, he may have had some ID, so his grave was named.
  19. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Served - K

    The page lists a person named Kershaw, N as survivor of "Burnley and District at War"

    A bombardier or bomb aimer was the crew member of a bomber aircraft responsible for the targeting of aerial bombs. "Bomb Aimer" was the preferred term in the military forces of the Commonwealth, while "Bombardier" (from the French word for "bomb thrower" and similar in meaning to "grenadier") was the equivalent position in the United States Armed Forces.
  20. Pete Keane

    Pete Keane Senior Member

    If he was indeed with the RA / DWR then I'd have thought it more likely that he was captured in 1940 with the 68th Anti-tank Regt which was originally the 2/4th Bn DWR.

    His service history will hopefully reveal all, in about a year......

    Seems this lad is as much of a challenge as your actual subject!


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