15th / 19th Hussars in Assche / Asse

Discussion in '1940' started by BrianM59, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Bedankt Filip !

    Where is Vryleghen actually ? I've tried as many spelling variations as I can think of...
  2. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    Try Vrijlegem, close to Assche! ;)

  3. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member


    What's the story behind the graves of Tipping and I think 2nd Lt Wood next to him - both have similar photographs on the grave, and Tipping's appears to represent a black man. This, as you mention, isn't typical of CWGC burials. Do you know who the photograph is of?

  4. Filip

    Filip Member



    These pages are taken from 'The History of the 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars, 1939-45' by Major C. Courage.

    Have no more info, sorry

  5. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    Hi Brian, yes you are right 2nd Lt J.A. Wood of the Gordon Highlanders has a similar picture.

    The picture is of Tipping. I think the picture is just faded through weathering. When I contacted Pierre Vandervelden (the In Memory website) for a high resolution picture of the grave he asked if I had a picture of Tipping to replace the weathered one. I got the impression it was done by locals in respect but didn't ask. Later I wondered as I thought the graves were looked after only by CWGC with specific guidelines. However as you probably know there is another unusal grave for Sgt J.H. McKenzie 4th troop A Squadron 15/19th Hussars in Diest Communal Cemetery that although matches other graves in the cemetery is not standard CWGC. They even got the regiment wrong. It's a shame!
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
  6. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    Hi Filip, thanks for your interest in the forum. Yes there is little in the Regimental History and war diaries from 15th/19th Hussars for May 1940 for Lt D. St. G. Martin. We have yet to start to research his activities on May 18 1940. But please stay tuned to the forum I'm sure we will eventually uncover the details.
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
  7. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member


    I think it is just weathering - as he appears to have white hair and a black face - I'll have to do some research, but I think this is called 'mirroring' whereby the silver halide in the print rises to the surface; usually this happens in the darkest areas of the print - but I'm 99% sure it's something of the sort. It's not only that I have an interest in black British soldiers, but also that this kind of memorial is not common in England or UK burials and certainly not in CWGC cemeteries - I have seen photographs added over time, more so recently, but this must definitely be a local addition. The local people must have obtained a photograph of TSM Tipping from somewhere - his family? This is a fascinating thread and particularly of interest to me as I write about memory and reconstruction, thanks very much for your hard work and sharing it with us.
  8. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Brian, the addition of a photograph is absolutely typical of Belgian cemetery memorials of a certain age. I find them a little bit creepy but many here find graves without a photo rather incomplete. The blackening out of some areas is quite common. They are usually a sort of transfer fired onto a ceramic plaque. There must indeed have been post-war contact with the families.

    McKenzie's grave in Diest is alongside Belgian war graves of the same period, hence the format identical to those alongside. Presumably because it was being cared for, CWGC have allowed the style to remain. It looks as if a recent plate has been affixed to each stone following weathering of the original. It may be that the unit details were no longer fully legible (hence 'RAO' instead of 'RAC' as well) I wonder if CWGC should be dropping a hint that the two designations are incorrect ?
  9. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    Hi Brian, the reason I know a little about CWGC graves relates back to some family history research I was doing a year ago on my Dads brother. His brother Louis James Edward Pearce had died in Cairo Egypt in 1924 as an infant and was buried in The Cairo New British Protestant Cemetery. My Grandfather Louis James Pearce was an RSM in the 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment at the time and stationed in Cairo. The CWGC maintains his grave on behalf of the MOD and we were trying to get the headstone replaced.
  10. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    One of Those Rare Bloody Hell…….Oh My God…… Moments

    On rare occasions after all the research, collecting and interpreting of pictures and documents a small piece of information becomes revealed that starts to connect the dots and something significant is realized and we have one of those Bloody Hell.. Oh my God… moments.

    One of those moments occurred recently for Rich, Jan, Andrew and myself.

    I had been researching POWs and casualties in Assche and checking some pictures from an “Asse” photo set. I had read Captain Taylors diary and report that mentioned he had been held in a School House in Assche. I had also just got off the phone to Dad to see if he could recall events after he was captured and where he was held. Jan had been helping me to try to locate where the POW and casualty photos were taken and where were the old schools in Assche. We were not having a lot of success in moving forward and I remarked to Jan that I thought we should shelve this for later.

    Then I decided I should have one last try at this and ask Rich if he had any POW photos in his vast collections that might be Assche.

    A few hours later I got an email from Rich indicating he had had a "Bloody Hell" moment and found a picture that was taken at Gemeenteplaats town square in Assche in his collections and that it had to be 15th/19th POWs. We were familiar with the town square and the surrounding buildings and the butchers shop as we had recently identified two Mk Vibs of A Squadron there.

    When I looked carefully at the group of soldiers in the photo I realized it must be right after the battle on the afternoon of May 18 and then I had an "Oh My God" moment as I recognized one of the POWs in the photo as my Dad! He is the chap in profile no tin hat, top of the "h" in koelsch333. I just about fell off my computer chair.

    Here's a cleaner cropped close up.

    We were all pretty excited and after the initial shock Rich suggested we should try to get a cleaner version of the picture and that perhaps Andrew might have a copy in his collections. He did and was kind enough to supply us with a clean high resolution photo shopped version.

    My Dad was very excited and surprised to see the photo and recognized himself and remarked that he looked like a school boy, he was only 18 at the time and is 93 years old now. He had previously recalled being held in an open area surrounded by buildings which fit the square. He also recalled how the Germans had brought small groups of 1 or 2 POWs to the square as the soldiers were captured in and around Assche. Also that along with 15th/19th chaps were Scottish infantry from The Gordon Highlanders. Unfortunately after all these years (75) he could only recognize one soldier from his Squadron but couldn’t recall his name. He expressed his thanks and remarked that the results of our research on the battle was most interesting for him and he looked forward to seeing more in the future and hoped he could recall more in the future. (he only knew his part of events).

    Jan commented well on the probability of this occurring:
    “Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing? I just can’t believe it! A German takes a picture of an Englishman in Belgium. This picture remains in Germany for 70 odd years, is advertised on the world wide web, bought by an Englishman who lives in Dubai, brought back to England. Then an English expat in Canada starts searching on the world wide web for pictures of this battle, and with the help of another expat in Belgium and a Belgian citizen he finds a copy of a picture of his dad. All people seem to know each other and your dad is reunited with his picture that was taken 75 years ago!”

    I think that it is times like this that make all the researching, collecting and Interpreting truly worthwhile. It’s not just about the interesting characteristics of tanks and carriers and motor cycles or details of markings or the fun of analyzing old pictures and gleaning information from them, it’s how all these aspects are important and combined create an account of history.

    I recall a comment made to me by a 15th/19th Regimental Association member after he read one of my accounts and viewed the photos, he said “These stories really make these lads come back to life for me”. He was right, when the personal accounts of events we create are read and the photos viewed in the future, these brave chaps will come to life again each time for future generations to come. I think there is a nobler aspect to what we do that we should not overlook.

    Jan, Rich and Andrew have been at his for many years and deserve all the credit, having them on your team will make those rare bloody hell moments not so rare.
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
    Drew5233 likes this.
  11. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM New Member

    I imagine the shiver down your father's spine was even worse than mine.

    As we tended to say during gunnery training, "A good action, well carried out. Stop, rest, rejoin the class."

    If your father makes it to the LD Tercentenary at Catterick in May, it will be an honour to meet him.

    Edit. The actual tercentenary (of the 13th) is tomorrow, but because they are just completing a move to Catterick, celebrations will be next May.
  12. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    Cheers Mate. Much appreciated.
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Some additional Info that may be of interest from the 4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders War Diary

  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    For interest Diary of 38 Battery, 14 Anti-Tank Regiment
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    For interest War Diary of 14 Anti-Tank Regiment
  16. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    Thanks very much, perhaps some of these Gordon Highlanders are in the POW photo. Do you have the war diaries for May 18th 1940 for 5 Inniskilling Dragoon Guards? We have spotted what looks like one of their Mk VIb tanks in Assche. (at least the markings are 5 IDG but not sure who was using it at the time).
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I have all the (main) BEF war diaries ;)

    For interest the War Diary of 5 Inniskilling Dragoon Guards
  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    And a map from the War Diary of 5 Inniskilling Dragoon Guards

    Rich Payne likes this.
  19. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    Much appreciated, just skimmed the 5IDG war diaries and I think I've solved that little mystery of the tank in Assche!
  20. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    I had received a scan of an old MK VIb picture from Ascania, the local historical society in Assche, a while ago with a small child sitting on the tank, in front of a house in Assche.

    An eye witness report from a local, Mr. Jef Vermeiren, explains this photo was taken in front of Mrs Elise Heunincux-Dubois parent’s house. Mrs. H.-Dubois was 7 at the time. Their house was near the intersection of “G. Kurtstraat and the Asse Alost Road” (Godfried Kurthstraat and N9 (59 Kalkoven)). The photo was taken a few days after the battle of Assche.

    The house had a door with a dome window above and shuttered windows and a drain pipe on the left of the house. I Street View(ed) this area and found the house right behind a current day bus stop and shelter on Kalkoven around the corner from Godfried Kurthstraat.

    Street view of Kalkoven near Godfried Kurthstraat

    I noticed the row of buildings and her parent’s house was familiar to me and was the same buildings as in a newly acquired set of ebay Mk Vib photos, of a tank named “Archan” which means “Worship” in Hindi.

    Archan from the left front looking north on Kalkoven

    Archan with raised engine hatch with crossed off markings looking south on Kalkoven

    Notice the building with the shuttered window and doorway with dome window and the other buildings further down the road with white window trim, same as current day Street View. Also the lamp posts in the street and old rail line. The Archan Mk VIb photos shows German infantry walking by, some on bikes, horse drawn carts, the rail line and open parkland on the opposite side of the street. Current day Street View shows new low density homes in this area. Therefore it appears that Archan and the tank in front of Mrs H.-Dubois parents’ house are the same tank.

    Archan displays a number of markings which appear to be crossed out by the Germans. The name Archan visible on the engine hatch begins with an “A” indicating an A Squadron tank. The tank also displays tree branch camouflage characteristic of A Squadron. There also appears to be a crossed out symbol below the name on the engine hatch. This symbol is most likely a lions head which is visible on a number of other tanks in Assche and used by A Squadron. The symbol is also visible on the well published photo of A Squadron commander Major Cokayne-Firths tank entering Belgium on May 10, 1940.

    Close up of the lions head symbol on a FHQ tank at the Assche Station

    Other Mk Vibs of FHQ and 4th troop of A Squadron have been accounted for at or near the Assche Station so it is likely that Archan is one of the three Mk VIb of 3rd Troop commanded by TSM J. Smith.

    Another eye witness report from Mr. Jef Vermeiren describes how a German guard was assigned to keep an eye on Archan because of the exposed ammunition. Mr. Vermeiren was a young lad at the time, being 6 years old, and his job was to keep the German guard talking while other lads would try to nick a bullet or two from the ammunition belts in the tank.

    Here is another photo of Archan around the corner on Godfried Kurthstraat near an iron gate. Note the same crossed out markings, tree branch camouflage and damaged left front fender. There is also a newly painted “WH” for Wehrmacht Heer on the right front of the tank.

    Photo Locations

    Thanks again to Andrew and Rich for feedback on my ideas and speculations.
    Last edited: May 18, 2020

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