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

    Thanks to Pete, Ramacal, LTDan and Barbara WT for your inputs to this conundrum.

    Taking Ramacal's excellent post and Pete's information about RA Service Numbers, I think I can draw the following conclusions:

    • 600 Rgt/43 Garrison Rgt/43 Searchlight Rgt first saw action whilst investing the German garrison in Dunkirk in April 45.
    • Kershaw's Service Number indicates he joined the RA in 1940.
    • Even if taken prisoner during the Dunkirk action, he could not have been moved 1000 miles to the East behind German lines as the German garrison was surrounded.
    • If the man buried in Quickborn cemetery Plot XVII, Row C, Grave 1 was on the Long March (the most likely explanation) he could not have been from 600 Rgt RA.
    • According to CWGC records he was married to Phyllis Bertha who most probably put the inscription "In Heavenly Love Abiding" on his headstone. This indicates some form of identification took place by NOK on the body being concentrated from Quickborn to Becklingen in 1947. If not NOK, then by the DGRE.
    • The DGRE Concentration Report for July 1947 shows that an "unknown" from the Duke of Wellington's Regiment was buried in that grave.
    • How did the person in the grave switch from "unknown" to "identified" after the re-burial?
    All the above points lead me to believe that there are 2 options for the identity of the person in Plot XVIII, Row C, Grave 1:
    • It is a man named Kershaw who was a Bdr in the RA, but was not from 600 Rgt RA, but from an RA unit which saw action earlier in the war and he was captured during that action.
    • The person in the grave is not Bombardier Kershaw at all and there has been a mis-identification by the DGRE/CWGC. How this will ever be proved I do not know.
    It is of note that the headstone for Bdr Kershaw at Becklingen is more generic than the headstones of the men killed from 600 Rgt RA (5 DWR) who are buried in France. There is no mention of which battalion on Kershaw's grave.

    Will wait until his Service Records arrive from Glasgow to see if this breaks the impasse. Picture of headstone and Graves Concentration form attached.


    P5300004 (2).jpg

    DGRE Report 1.jpg
  2. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Just to let you know I spent a day at the NAs yesterday looking for Norman Kershaw. Files read:

    WO 361/608 - Missing Personnel The Duke of Wellington's Regiment.
    Only mentioned 6 and 7 DWR who fought in France and Holland after D Day. Kershaw not mentioned

    WO 361/106 - Missing RA personnel from the BEF. Huge pack but no mention of Kershaw

    WO 361/525 - Missing RA personnel in NWE campaign after D Day. Another big pack but no mention of Kershaw.

    WO 171/5050 - Regimental War Diary 600 Rgt RA, Feb-Dec 45. As many of you have posted, their only action was on 15 April whilst investing Dunkirk. As has already been posted, it was a disaster and many died/were wounded in a frontal attack. No mention of Kershaw (who died the day before at Quickborn on the River Elbe).
    Interestingly they were still called 43 Garrison Rgt in the diaries until Feb 45 and after that they titled the entries 600Rgt. In May they diaries reverted back to 5DWR as I suppose they were being used in the infantry role. 3 name changes in 4 months!

    I guess I will have to wait for the Service Records to arrive to see who Norman really was. I think there was probably a mis-identification by the DGRE when they exhumed/concentrated him at Becklingen cemetery.

  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I've got the Regts history by Barclay and he's not listed in the Regt's Roll of Honour.
  4. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    I've got the Regts history by Barclay and he's not listed in the Regt's Roll of Honour.
    Thanks Andy. A real mystery, 600 Rgt RA came up when double clicking his name on the CWGC data base. I am convinced the man in the grave was a passing POW therefore captured in the early theatres of war - BEF, Norway, Greece or Crete.

    Will post when his Service Records arrive.

  5. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Posted below is the e-mail response from the Military Curator of the Bankfield Museum to my query regarding Bdr N Kershaw. I originally e-mailed the DWR Regimental Association who sent the query on to John Spencer.

    It appears he is as baffled as we are as to who Norman Kershaw was but has dismissed 5 DWR (600Rgt RA) for the reasons given in the various posts above.

    John has homed in on 68 Rgt RA (2/4 DWR) when it fought after D Day or 58 Rgt RA (1/4 DWR) when it fought in N Africa and Italy. Bdr Kershaw may well have fought and been captured with one of those units and thus died on the Long March. He has also added that there may be confusion by the CWGC over his unit.

    I am afraid it is a .tiff document so you will have to click to open it. I couldn't get a .jpeg version smaller than 2mb and the upload failed.


    View attachment Scan0001.tif
  6. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    John has homed in on 68 Rgt RA (2/4 DWR) when it fought after D Day or 58 Rgt RA (1/4 DWR) when it fought in N Africa and Italy.

    I told you that in post 2
    BarbaraWT likes this.
  7. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Thanks Rob,

    I thought I would put the Regimental Museum Email in for completeness. It was sent in July but I forgot all about it.

    Happy New Year

    BarbaraWT likes this.
  8. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Bombardier Norman Kershaw's Service Documents arrived in the post to day and from reading them, they don't help solve the riddle.

    It appears he was in 600 Regiment RA, a derivative of 43 Garrison Regiment which in turn was derived from 5DWR.

    The entry against his death states Presumed KIA in Western Europe on 14.4.45 which seems to indicate that the army was not sure where/why/when he died. The authority for posting his death is CAS/Recds P110 163/45. Perhaps that document may hold the key to this mystery.

    As has been stated in posts above, 600 Regiment did not fight its first action until 15.4.45 in the Dunkirk perimeter which is nowhere where he was first buried in Quickborn by the River Elbe, Lower Saxony.

    BarbaraWT and I set out to establish who Norman Kershaw was to help our case with the MOD that he was buried next to L/Cpl JAR Coulthard in Quickborn CWGC, whose grave we are trying to recognise. We were hoping that he would turn out to be a Bombardier captured in earlier actions of the war and have died, like Coulthard on the Long March. This blows that theory out of the water. We know one other POW died and was buried in Quickborn cemetery at the same time as Coulthard and was moved with Coulthard to Becklingen CWGC in 1947. How can that possibly be a man form 600 Rgt RA?

    The only two answers I can think of is that Norman Kershaw does not lie under his headstone and it is mistaken identity or that he was an SOE/SF operative who died behind enemy lines.

    Any help would be appreciated.


    Kershaw 3.jpg
    Kershaw 4.jpg
    Kershaw 5.jpg
  9. Pete Keane

    Pete Keane Senior Member

    Its interesting that he was presumed kia - which means he was def with the 600th during the farmhouse debacle, yet there is no record of the enquiries that led to this presumption in the WO file on missing men.

    Earlier in the thread you mentioned a N Kershaw in a pow camp in Lithuania - I wonder if it was the pow Kershaw, who was subsequently misidentified as 600th Kershaw?

    The only answer to this lies in the enquiries made in 1947 which changed the unknown status to N Kershaw of the 600th

    The service history is sparse.
  10. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member


    Thanks for your reply. Like you, I think this is a case of mistaken identity and the Kershaw who lies in the grave in Becklingen is probably the one from Stalag Luft VI in Lithuania. There is absolutely no way a member of 600Regt could have been captured whilst at Dunkirk and then somehow ended up at Quickborn. The headstone has an inscription from his wife so there must have been some compelling evidence for all to agree that it was the remains of the 600 Regt Kershaw.

  11. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I wonder if the identification was based on the co-incidences of name and the date of death on a temporary grave marker matching the 'missing' date of the other Kershaw ?

    I don't know if a spouse would have known where her husband was. If the authorities had contacted her two years after the event and told her that a grave had been located in Germany, she'd have had little reason or means to start looking into unit locations...she may not even have known where he was first missed.

    The clerks must have been so busy at that time.
  12. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    All of which begs the question where is the grave of Bombardier Norman Kershaw of 600 Regt RA if it is not the one in Becklingen cemetery? It appears he is not in Cassel Communal Cemetery with his fallen comrades, perhaps his body was never recovered after the attack of 15 April 1945 on the mill near Dunkirk.

    As Rich states, perhaps the DGRE allowed coincidences of names to neatly close the case.

  13. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    Thanks Ramacal. This is really interesting analysis. I'm sorry I might have pressed the wrong buttons on your "reputation"- didn't mean to change anything!
  14. Buteman

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

    Hi Barbara,

    Unfortunately, my analysis on this occasion has proven to be incorrect. The service records posted by Steve, prove to be even more inconclusive and leave this one a mystery still to be solved.

    Cheers - Rob
  15. KymberlyC

    KymberlyC New Member

    229 Bty 58th Anti/Tank Regiment 1/4th Duke of Wellingtons Regiment fought at Calais May1940. if it helps Kymberley
  16. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Hi Kymberley,

    Thanks very much for the information. As you can see from the previous posts, there is a lot of confusion about the identity of Norman Kershaw but I believe the body in the grave at Becklingen cemetery is not from 600 Rgt RA which fought during the investment of Calais in 1944 but is possibly from 1/4 DWR, captured in May 1940 and died on the Long March from one of the eastern prison camps. However, Norman Kershaw is not his name. How we will ever prove that I don't know.

  17. KymberlyC

    KymberlyC New Member

    229 Bty 58th Anti/Tank Regiment 1/4th Duke of Wellington's Regiment Fought at Calais May 1940, if I remember right, I think only five of this Bty made it back to England, rest either being Killed or taken prisoners..... Regards Kymberley
  18. KymberlyC

    KymberlyC New Member

    Hi Steve
    Just had a look at Nominal Roll of 229 Bty who embarked on SS Autocarrier 23rd May 1940 and there's no Bdr N Kershaw No. 1589242, but there is a Gnr N. Kellett No. 1545247. He was a prisoner at 7B, Menimigen, Lamsdorf Regards Kymberley
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Not sure if this will help ot hinder this thread but here it is:

    UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945
    Name: Norman Kershaw
    Given Initials: N
    Rank: Bombardier
    Death Date: 14 Apr 1945
    Number: 1589242
    Birth Place: Bradford
    Residence: Bradford
    Branch at Enlistment: Royal Artillery
    Theatre of War: Western Europe Campaign, 1944/45
    Regiment at Death: Royal Artillery
    Branch at Death: Royal Artillery

    Name: Bombardier Norman N Kershaw
    Death Date: 14 Apr 1945
    Cemetery: Becklingen War Cemetery
    Burial or Cremation Place: Soltau, Heidekreis, Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany
    Has Bio?: N


    Norman Kershaw in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966

    Name: Norman Kershaw
    Probate Date: 18 Feb 1946
    Registry: Llandudno
    Death Date: 14 Apr 1945
    Death Place: Bradford

  20. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Hi Kimberley and TD, thanks for your help in this conundrum. As you may have read, this quest all started during the process of me finding the grave of LCpl Coulthard of the Int Corps who escaped from Stalag XXA with my father and subsequently died on the Long March with no known grave. Through four years of work, I discovered that two unknown POWs were buried in Quickborn cemetery in Lower Saxony but subsequently moved to Becklingen military cemetery in graves at Plot XVIII, Row C, Graves 1 and 2.

    I knew that Antony Coulthard was buried in one of them, as the DGRE Concentration Form stated that two unknowns, one a "soldier of the British Army" and one "a member of the DWR" were moved to the graves from a civilian cemetery in Quickborn to Becklingen in '47. Through evidence a bit too long to use on this post, I had proved beyond all doubt that Antony's remains were in one of the two graves but thought I would never be able to prove which one.

    As I approached the two graves in Becklingen for the first time, it was a great shock to discover that the remains in grave 1 were of an identified member of the DWR, Bombardier Norman Kershaw. Hence Antony's remains had to be in grave 2. The CWGC and the JCCC agreed with me and LCpl Coulthard's grave was re-dedicated last year.

    However, there was a slight doubt in my mind as to whether Bombardier Kershaw's remains were in grave 1, as 600 Rgt RA - ex 5DWR (as detailed in the CWGC data base) did not go into action in Calais until later than the recorded death on the grave. Also, as the German garrison was surrounded at Calais, the body could not have been transferred by the Germans to Lower Saxony nearly 1000 miles away. As has been stated by Rich Payne, Ramacal and others, I am convinced it is a case of mistaken identity.

    So that's where we are. I am convinced the remains lying in Plot XVIII, Row C, Grave 1 are those of a POW member of the RA who died on the Long March with Antony, probably captured as a member of the BEF in 1940. How we will ever find out who it is, I do not know.

    Thanks again,

    Drew5233 likes this.

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