1st Battalion Rifle Brigade 1944

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by Paul Reed, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Following a request by one of the members here I scanned the pages from the 1944 Rifle Brigade Chronicle which cover the history of 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade in North West Europe in 1944.

    Thought this might interest a wider audience so have put this thread up as well.

    The whole document can be downloaded here:

    1st Rifle Brigade 1944 - a set on Flickr
  2. vista52

    vista52 Member

    Thanks Paul...I'll have to find my spec's
  3. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    When you click on an image in the set, click 'all sizes' above it. You shouldn't have any problems or need for your specs then!
  4. vista52

    vista52 Member

    Arhhh, wonderful!
  5. Lautris

    Lautris Junior Member

    Really great; thanks for that.

    Just one question: do you know who was commanding 1st Battalion at this time?

    Many thanks in advance.
  6. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    I am away from my books at present; will check when I return.
  7. Lautris

    Lautris Junior Member

    Thanks, Paul.
  8. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    I was going to OCR it all but I can't download the photos. Are they protected? I could simply do it all longhand but it seems such a waste of effort.

    I had great difficulty getting the 4bn Welch War Diary extracts into wordpad as well. I had to paste them into notepad before I could transfer them.
    Am I missing something here?
  9. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    After much work here it is as seen in OCR. I have corrected many of the inevitable errors you get with this system but I am sure I missed a few!

    Interesting writing style!



    Our last letter ended with the Battalion shivering
    in their dismal and ill-constructed Nissen huts in a
    dank pine wood near Brandon, Norfolk. By the
    beginning of May our re-equipping was largely com-
    plete and the English climate became more tolerable.
    Waterprooling was, next to leave, our chief pre-
    occupation, and much training and instruction in this
    were carried out : we were told we must expect to
    drive through at least three and a half feet of water.
    Around the middle of May we moved to our
    assembly area near Brentwood and begin the actual
    waterproofing of the whole of the Battalion vehicles.
    The camp was overcrowded and our time there was
    a nightmare, relieved from time to time with a few-
    hours respite in London. But after we had been briefed
    as to our destination, even this was officiallv denied
    us and we were, at least theoretically, wired in.
    At the very end of May we moved down to the
    Docks. The vehicles had already been loaded and we
    were driven to Tilbury in R.A.S.C. transport and
    embarked on our M.T. ships during the first days of
    We had been warned that we should be crowded,
    but I don't think anyone expected that the packing
    would be quite so tight. But once out in the Thames
    Estuary we had a grandstand view of the invasion
    fleet which stretched to the horizon. The voyage
    was uneventful and early in the morning of D plus 2
    We anchored off the coast of Normandy, opposite
    Arramanches looked unexpectedly peaceful from
    the boat and only distant gunfire could be heard
    from farther inland. There seemed, though, to be a
    great dearth of landing-craft apart. from a large
    number high and dry the beaches. During the
    time we spent at anchor in the M.T. ship there was
    an almost uneery calm ashore and a serious lack ot
    any unloading of the many hundreds of ships awaiting
    However, at length after delays of as much as
    I8 hours in some cases, the Battalion began to come
    ashore. Enormous time and attention had been
    spent in waterproofing, but most peoples hearts
    were in their mouths as they took to the water to
    drive ashore, for the prospect of losing one's vehicle
    and all one's belonpinns was by no means attractive.
    Those landing, on the high tide were the luckiest, for
    their landing was almost dry-shod. But those at
    half or low tide had a longer and deeper drive and
    occasionally disappeared completely from view through
    driving into holes up to 18 feet deep, made where
    ships had beached on previous tides. The driver and
    crew had to bale out quickly and make a sad and
    ignominous way to the beach. On the whole, there
    were remarkably few cases of drowned vehicles in the
    Battalion and such as there were, were for the most
    part quickly rescued by the REME Beach detach-
    ments which did splendid work with their specially
    waterproofed bulldozers,
    We concentrated inland a few miles short of
    Bayeux still without sign of any but distant sound of
    enemy activity. We were not, however, ready to go
    forward as complete battalion when the Armoured
    Brigade moved, as "C" Company (Bill Jepson-
    Turrner) and the Support Company, "B" Company
    (John Watt) were far from complete. Nevertheless.
    when the advance did start on D plus 4 "A" Com-
    pany (James Wrighf) and "I" Company (Bill Apsey).
    each with an anti-tank platoon under command, were
    ready to join 4th CLY. and 5 RTR, the. two
    Armoured Regiments with which they usually work.
    We soon learned the nature of the "Bocage"
    country with its banks and thick hedges every hundred
    yards or so. You could not imagine closer country,
    and it was difficult, if not impossible, to spot enemy
    anti-tank guns, Spandau positions or even tanks
    themselves if they chose to lie up and keep still. It
    was hopeless country for an Armoured Division and
    our hopes of a rapid "swan-through'' faded rapidly.
    " I " Company found themselves clearing one small
    set of houses no less than three times in the day
    since small parties of Germans kept filtering back.
    Whilst. doing so they were unlucky enough to lose
    Sergt. Hines (M.M.) who had a distinguished record
    both in the old 9th Battalion and in this Battalion.
    "A" Company were plugging along with the leading
    Armoured Regiment and finding it necessary to watch
    every approach along which enemy infantry might try
    to stalk the tanks, and all night had to guard the
    tank leaguer.
    All this seemed far removed from the rapid dash
    some 20 miles inland for which we had been briefed,
    with its first objective Villers-Bocage and its final
    objective Mt. Pincon and the high ground near it
    dominating all the surrounding country. However,
    after a few days of imperceptible progress towards
    Tilly la Campagne it was decided on the 12th June
    to switch the Armoured Brigade by small side roads
    to pass through the Americans on our right and to
    approach Villers-Bocage from the west and to capture
    some high ground to the south and east of the town.
    Speed was to be the essence of the party and rapid
    progress was made by the 4 th Sharpshooters (County
    of London Yeomanry) and "A" Company, with
    Roger Butler's anti-tank platoon under command
    which formed the leading Armoured Regimental
    The group passed through Villers-Bocage early on
    the morning of the 13th and reached their objective
    some two miles to the east of the town by 9 o'clock
    that morning and halted on the road in close column
    ready to take up dispositions for holding the ground
    gained. At that moment the front half of the column
    was attacked by German tanks and the tanks of the
    Regimental HQ were knocked out and a number of
    the motor company's half tracks brewed up by enemy
    tank fire at point-blank range. Dense clouds of smoke
    from burning tanks and vehicles added to the general
    confusion, which was increased by the fact that the
    platoon commanders of the company were forward at
    the time getting orders from James Wright and so
    were not, with their platoons. Many of the company
    managed to get away from the burning vehicles, but
    a number were not so fortunate. By about 1 o'clock
    the leading squadron of tanks had been overwhelmed
    and the enemy had appeared at the rear of the column
    in Villers-Bocage itself. Of the whole company only
    one officer and thirty other ranks finally returned
    during the next few days and we lost Alfred de Pass
    and Roger Butler killed, James Wright, Charles Parker,
    Bruce Campbell were taken prisoner, and Peter Coop
    is missing still.
    Meanwhile the rest of the Brigade took up an all-
    round position some two miles west, of the town and
    dug in. "C"' Company arrived the same. day and
    dug in to the north, other machine-guns and anti-tank
    guns of the support company plugged various holes in
    tlie position. "I " Company were on the Southern
    flank and the next day had a very busy time, and the
    whole area was fairly heavily shelled and mortared.
    At about 8 in the evening the enemy put in an attack
    on " I " Company's area and got, quite near to "I"
    Company's positions before being seen off
    magnificiently by the. company, admirably assisted by
    5 RHA firing air bursts over open sights and a
    special concentration (the code word for which was
    " pandemonium ") laid on by some self-propelled 155's
    of the American Artillery who had an O.P. officer
    with us.
    Although this attack was repulsed with heavy
    enemy losses, higher authority decided that the
    Division must be pulled back that night to a less isolated
    position. It was pitch black that night but the
    move was a triumph of good driving and road
    discipline, and was completed with the minimum of
    enemy interference. Only a few shells came over,
    but one unluckily landed on John Foreshew's carrier
    and killed him and his crew instantly. " I " Com-
    pany had already Had a most unfortunate time in
    onicer casualties with Geoffrey May killed and Gerald
    Pritty and Dennis Matthews badly wounded, as well
    as losing CSM. Jefford also killed.
    We were only given a few days respite (with the
    exception of the remnants of " A " Company which
    was sent. back to refit) and the Battalion was con-
    centrated and sent up to fill a gap in the line near
    Le Pont Mulot some 4 miles south of Caumont. The
    frontage was about 2,500 yards and with only two
    motor companies and the support company there
    was no depth to the position whatever. We remained
    in position for 11 days and found the long hours of
    daylight desperately trying. Stand to in the morning
    was at 4.15 and in the evening at 10.30. each for an
    hour, so that there was no opportunity for a good
    night's rest. Still there were certain compensations
    in the form of delicious Camenbert and Port de Salut.
    cheeses from Bayeux, ggs and fresh butter from the
    farm-houses and plenty of Calvados, a highly potent
    and lethal form of apple jack which tasted like fire
    It was during the time at Pont Mulot that "B''
    Echelon, away back near Balleroy, was heavily shelled
    at night. " A " Company was there reforming and
    re-equipping and Francis Dorrien Smith had just taken
    over command. Unhappily Francis and James
    Caesar were killed by one of the first shells and shortly
    afterwards Gilbert Talbot commanding H.Q. Com-
    panv was also killed. It was a desperately tragic
    ffair and the Battalion suffered a loss of exceptionally
    able and experienced officers whom it will he indeed
    difficult to replace.
    We were relieved at Pont Mulot by the Glosters
    and went hack to Ellon, some five miles south of
    Bayeux. for two weeks. We spent the time pleasantly
    enough and the motor companies tried various themes
    in conjunction with the tanks to decide on the best.
    method of advancing with the tanks in close country
    Eric Sargeant joined us from home to take over "A"
    Company and shortly afterwards "A " Company was
    brought up to strength with a large batch ot rinforce-
    ments. .
    Early on the 17th July we came under command
    of 8 Corps to take part, with 11 Armoured Division
    and the Guards Armoured Division in the hig attack
    which was to he made to break out south of Caen.
    For this purpose we crossed the Orne, north of Caen
    and moved southwards. We had a good view of the
    terifficallv heavy bombing of Caen and the enemy-held
    villages to the south, when some 7,000 tons of bombs
    were dropped. We moved in regimental groups, but
    there was much congestion and long delays when no
    forward movement, was possible. There was a lot ot
    Nebelwerfering, the noise of which often causes much
    alarm and despondency, though fortunately the splinter
    effect is surprisingly small. But progress was slow
    in spite of the air bombardment and artillery barrage,
    for well-concealed enemy tanks and anti-tank guns
    were hard to dislodge and the armour never succeeded
    in gaining freedom for manoeuvre. The weather broke
    too and it became plain that the operation would not
    succeed. There was a lot of enemy shelling and all
    that we could do was to disperse our vehicles, dig
    deep and hope for the best. The G.A.F. were also
    active at night with an unpleasant kind of anti-
    personnel bomb. Bill Apsey was, unfortunately,
    wounded by a mortar bomb and he will he a sad
    loss to " I " Company. Norman Griffiths ("B"
    Company) and Tony Crassweller (" I '' Company)
    were both slightly wounded by shell splinters. Peter
    Luke, who had been second-in-command "B " Com-
    panv, took over " I " Company.
    Meanwhile a new plan had been evolved which
    placed the Division under command of the Canadians,
    through whom we were to pass on their reaching
    their second objective in the hopes of a break-through
    in the direction of Falaise. Unfortunately, the Cana-
    dians were held up and the Brigade found itself in
    the earlv morning on an extremely exposed slope within
    some 3,000 yards of the enemy. The inevitable
    reaction on the enemy's part was not long delayed
    and the Battalion suffered some casualties before less
    vulnerable positions could be found. Nevertheless,
    the number of untenanted reverse slopes was all too
    small and considerable overcrowding again resulted.
    Once again some days of inaction followed with
    shelling by day during which we lost Robin Birch,
    and air bombing by night until we were relieved by
    a Canadian Motor Battalion. We were delighted to
    leave the Caen area with its open corn-fields and
    destroyed villages which had a most depressing effect
    on everyone. The bridge at Caen had been repaired,
    so we drove through the town and could see the
    full extent of the devastation caused by the air
    bombing. On the 30th July we found ourselves
    back again in Ellon and delighted to be back among
    the green and fertile pastures of the Bocage country.
    But it was not for long, for on the 1st August we
    returned to 30 Corps and were on the move again in
    the direction of Villers- Bocage and Aunay-sur-Odon.
    5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoons had replaced the Sharp-
    shooters in the Brigade and we were shortly to lose
    our universally admired, respected and beloved Briga-
    dier Hinde, a blow from which the Brigade took
    long to recover. While in addition to this, it was
    decided to change the Divisional Commander, Bobby
    Erskine, and his loss was felt deeply throughout the
    Battalion, whose good friend he had been for so long.
    For the next two days the motor companies were
    fully occupied with their armoured regiments pushing
    forward in dfficult country against determined enemy
    rearguards. Aunay itself had been bombed com-
    pletely and utterly flat with the sole exception of the
    church-tower, which still stood an erect and gloomy
    sentinel over the devastation.
    We were then moved from the Aunay area to a
    position west of the main road from Caen to Falaise,
    and the Division became part of the First British
    Corps of the First Canadian Army. We moved east-
    wards and took over a small bridgehead near Livarot.
    There was another river obstacle a few miles ahead
    and the Battalion was ordered to seize the one bridge
    that was supposed to be intact at Fervacques. In the
    failing light " I " Company were hastily mounted on
    tanks and succeeded in rushing and capturing the
    bridge. The rest of the night they had a good harvest
    ambushing enemy vehicles, some of them horse drawn,
    who were unaware that the use of the bridge had
    been denied them. The most satisfactory prize was
    the capture of a German cook's lorry with a hot
    breakfast destined for the German garrison. How-
    ever, the enemy were not prepared to give up
    Fervaques without a struggle. and in the evening a
    vigorous infantry counter-attack was put in. "A",
    " B " and " 1 " Company Commanders had taken up
    their headquarters in the local chateau, a splendidly
    constructed building with walls at least five feet thick.
    There was a prodigious expenditure of small arms
    ammunition on both sides, but a well-timed and well-directed
    direct fire. by the gunners and a generous use of
    •5 Browning by " I " Company's Scout. Platoon and
    plenty of MMG fire from "B" Company proved
    decisive and the attack was repulsed.
    The advance continued with the object of forcing
    the enemy into the big loop of tHe Seine, south-west
    of Rouen. and involved much clearing of woods and
    orchards in which all the scout platoons especially
    had satisfactory bans of prisoners, and booty.
    We crossed the Seine on the 31st August, and by
    last light were well on the way to the Somme. We
    kept going all night, although at one moment the
    whole of our column had to turn round in its tracks
    on a narrow road owing to an alteration of plan and
    route. We, like most of the Army, had run off our
    maps and the best that was available was scale
    1/100,000 to the tune of about one per company.
    A Canadian Armoured Division then decided to use
    our narrow centre, line and delayed our progress con-
    siderably. However, we crossed the Somme soon
    after first light on the 2nd September and pushed on
    eastwards, by this time we could only raise maps
    of scale 1/250,000. and the dificulties of navigation
    sensibly increased. The enthusiasm of the local
    inhabitants was prodigious in this part of France
    and Company Commanders (and perhaps even the
    C.O.) from their Olympian seats in their half tracks
    could not help but envy the DR.s, so vulnerable on
    their lowly machines to the embraces of the local
    ladies. Prisoners were becoming a considerable prob-
    lem and often outnumbered many times those who
    had taken them. But the Maquis were very active
    and helpful and always ready to take them off our
    hands and it was a real pleasure.
    The Maquis were particularly useful in Lillers,
    which was cleared and held by 1st R. Tanks and " C "
    Company. Unfortunately John Young, who was com-
    manding their Scout Platoon, was wounded on the
    way there and Norman Deveson killed in the street

    fighting, but a good number of prisoners were taken.
    Germans continued to try to filter back into Lillers,
    and it was unfortunate that we should have been
    ordered to push on and so leave the inhabitants to
    the risk of German reprisals. The only consolation
    was that the Maquis were by this time both numerous
    and well armed, and it is to be known that they were
    able to give a good account of themselves.
    That evening we pushed on to the La Bassee Canal
    near Bethune. but our intended centre line was never
    finallv cleared of enemy and so we moved the next
    day through Bethune, which by then was reported
    clear, to Mazingarbe near Lens, where the Battalion
    rested for a few days and tried to catch up on some
    much needed maintenance. "A" Company was not
    so luckv and joined the remainder of the Brigade
    who by then had moved up to the area of Ghent.
    By the 8th September we were on the move again,
    passed to the east of Lille, crossed the frontier into
    Belgium. through Tournai to south of Termonde.
    We found the Belgians even more delighted to see us
    than the French, and were met everywhere with a
    happy admixture of eggs and enthusiasm. Belgian
    beer was there for the asking, and made up in quantity
    what it lacked in quality.
    We pushed on towards Antwerp and stopped to
    hold St. Nicholas, a delightful old town some five miles
    west of Antwerp. Here we were joined by "A"
    Company and 5th D.G. who had taken part in the opera-
    tions round Ghent. The population were beside them-
    selves with joy at tlie disappearance of the the "Moffe,"
    tlie Flemish word of disaffection for tlie German, and
    could not do enough for us. 'The local White Brigade
    were busy rounding up collaborators of both sexes,
    shaving the heads of the women and making the
    men get on their hands and knees and scrub out
    Nazi emblems from the pavements before clapping
    them into prison. In fact an enjoyable time was had
    by all. and we were sorry when we were ordered to
    move on to a village five miles north of Malines.
    Here we celebrated the Regimental Birthday with the
    aid of casks of beer from Malines, and most people
    managed to get into Malines for a few hours.
    The Battalion was then ordered to join the Lorried
    Infantry Brigade in holding a stretch of some 20 miles
    of the Albert, Canal. We were well spaced out but
    had the canal between us, and the enemy and things
    on the whole were reasonably quiet. After this we
    returned to our own Brigade which was split up,
    5 D.G. with "A" Company going off to join the
    53 (W) Division and 5th RTR and "I' Company
    joining the 15 (S) Division. The rest of us moved
    up to the Meuse-Escaut Canal north of Moll where
    we took over the defence of the canal. Here the
    anti-tank platoons of the support company parked
    their anti-tank guns and took over, as ordinary riflemen,
    aided by the machine-gunners, the defence of a
    large factory area bordering the canal. When the
    Germans finally pulled out, Michael King with some
    of his platoon, accompanied by a Belgian Officer,
    went off on a special patrol. This involved com
    mandeering bicycles from some most, reluctant
    onlookers who could hardly be prevailed upon to
    part with such valuable articles. The party was
    then ferried across the canal and bicycled to Rethy
    some four miles north of the canal and there organized
    civilian bicycle patrols in all directions, and when
    these had reported, the patrol bicycled back with
    some really valuable information.
    On the 24th September we crossed into Holland
    and moved up to Eindhoven and then on to St.
    Oudenrode. Just to our north there was acute centre
    line trouble: a German column had cut the road
    and brewed up a number of 3 tonners. But the
    situation was later restored and we moved on to
    Dinther and Heeswijk where we were joined by "A"
    and "I" Companies. The enemy were rather accurate
    with their mortars and we were not sorry when we
    were relieved and moved north to Heesch. some
    eight miles east of s'Hertogenbosch.
    We stayed in the area of Heesch for three weeks,
    our task being to prevent any eastwards thrust by the
    enemy which might have cut the centre line of the
    troops in the area north of Graves and Nijmegen.
    We were spread over a wide front and there was
    much night patrolling to be done. "A" Company
    had a highly successful battle when a night attack
    of battalion strength was put in against their positions
    in the small nearby village of Geffen: they drove the
    enemy off with gusto and heavy losses to him, and
    George Burder won a richly deserved M.C.
    We left Heesch on the 20th October, the Battalion
    coming under command of the Lorried Infantry
    Brigade (131) whose task it was to protect the left
    flank of the 53 (W) Division which was attacking
    s'Hertogenbosch. The Battalion was not heavily
    engaged. though John Poole and lan Bancroft had a
    good indirect shoot with their Vickers on to some
    enemy positions on a canal bank. We then returned
    to the Armoured Brigade and moved westwards to
    cut the northern roads out of Tilburg. The motor
    companies went with their armoured regiments and
    did good work patrolling and clearing woods. The
    Brigade was, however, held up beyond Udenhout by
    a strongly defended position in front of some woods
    at a cross-tracks near De Heidebloom. The plan was
    for "I" Company to put in an attack with the
    riflemen riding on the tanks of the tanks of the 5th DG
    The attack was to be preceded by a heavy concen-
    tration of artillery and supported by covering fire
    from John Poole's Vickers machine-guns. Unfortu-
    nately, when still some 300 yards from their objective,
    several of the troop carrying tanks got bogged : one
    went up on a mine and another was knocked out
    by an anti-tank gun. The attacking infantry came
    under heavy spandau fire and had no alternative but
    to gain the temporary shelter of a small wood. Later,
    " I " Company went in again in a different place
    followed by "A" Company, and there was a very
    satisfactory bag of some 120 prisoners.
    We had 48 Hours much needed rest before taking
    over the town of Ramsdoncksveer, which lies some
    1000 yards south of the River Maas, from the 51 (H)
    Division which had just captured it. The take-over
    had in fact to be partly postponed until darkness
    owing to enemy interference, but was satisfactorily
    completed during the night. The enemy were just
    across the canal in the adjoining town of Getruidenberg
    and there was much mutual shelling, mortaring
    sniping and patrollng, which ended up considerably
    to our advantage. Finally, the Poles came up trom
    the south and captured Getruidenberg and we were
    relieved partly by them and partly by the Canadians,
    and moved back to Belgium again to the area some
    way south of Venlo.
    While we were at Ramsdoncksveer, Bill Jepson-
    Turner went home to the Training Battalion for a
    rest, and Cyril Suter who had been second in command
    of " " Companv took over "C " Company. Gilbert
    Williams came out from the Traming Battalion and
    became second in command to " B " Company.
    We arrived at Neeroteren. a small village a few
    miles from the Maas just opposite the narrowest point,
    of the Maastricht appendix, on the 13th November.
    We were all in comfortable billets and with no opera-
    tional commitments, settled down to a rest and a
    good time. After some days the matter of training
    began to rear its ugly head and Company Commanders
    were invited to make out a training progrramme for a
    fortnight This was clearlv tempting providence too
    far and just when we were thinking we might spend
    Christmas in peace and comfort we were ordered to
    move across the Mass to take over from the Guards
    Armoured Division who were holding the villages of
    Nieuwstadt and Holtum, two miles north of Sittard
    and on the German-Dutch frontier.
    We arrived there on the 1st of December and took
    over with one motor company and part of the support
    company in each village and one motor company and
    the rest of the support company in reserve. The
    enemy was disagreeably close to our F.D.L.s only
    200 yards at one point and was quite aggressive in
    his patrolling and accurate with his shell- and mortar-
    hre. We suffered occasional casualties from shelling,
    especially at Nieuwstadt, but gave back a good deal
    better than we got. Shortly before Christmas the
    Germans sent over a lot of leaflet shells containing propa-
    ganda leaflets and Christmas cards. They were mainly
    fired from 105 mms and as ill luck would have it,
    one of the empty metal containers had a direct hit on
    Eric Sargeant's H.Q. in Nienwstadt and killed Gilbert
    Williams, Eric's second-in-command, and wounded the
    Gunner OP officer and two signallers. It was the
    most tragic luck and cast a gloom over the Christinas
    Everyone spent Christmas as best they could and
    there was some enjoyable if impromptu parties.
    Shortly before Christmas David Clive, who had returned
    to the Battalion from Brigade H.Q. and became
    second-in-command of the support company, went
    off to Rheims and came back with excellent stocks of
    champagne. The PRI produced some good Christ-
    mas fare and the NAAFI. some beer and brandy,
    so there was no lack of alcoholic encouragement.
    As we bring this letter to an end with the close
    of the year we hope that we shall read this letter
    when it. appears in the CHRONICLE, with our feet on
    the marblepiece of our respective homes, back in the
    one and only street many of us ever want to live
    in -Civvy Street.
  10. Lautris

    Lautris Junior Member

    Just one question: do you know who was commanding 1st Battalion at this time?

    Is anyone able to answer this one for me?

    Many thanks.
  11. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Sorry, I couldn't find a note of it.
  12. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Lt Col AGV 'Victor' Paley
    Owen and Paul Reed like this.
  13. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    When I managed to get it in a word document I sent a copy to Daniel Taylor. This was his reply:

    "I believe this account was in the RB War History. I came across it in the Library at Sandhurst in about 1996. Whilst interesting, I don't think it adds much from our point of view [NOTE: 'our' point of view being related to Villers Bocage] in that the author was clearly with Btn HQ In my estimation the most likely author was Victor Palsey, the CO.
    One of the few officers not mentioned is Chris Milner - he was the officer mentioned but not named - who returned from Pt 213. This is particularly interesting as he was made company commander straight after VB. I'm pretty sure he got his MC near Ghent. In any event, all manner of officers are mentioned by name including quite junior ones, though I'd admit that it was frequently because they had been wounded or killed.
    I had the impression (implied but never explicit) that Milner and Palsey did not get on. Milner said that on his return, Palsey's first reaction was, "What the bloody hell have you done with A Company?" Also, Milner referred to Palsey as Nuf-nuf - a nick-name given him on account of his cleft palette. It's not the sort of thing I'd have expected to be passed to me (at the time a serving lieutenant and therefore quite junior) unless there was some animosity - gripes usually go up rather than down the food-chain."

    He also sent a copy of the RB Oficer returns before Villers Bocage and after.

    Return of Officers 1 APR 44

    1st Btn Rifle Brigade
    Lt Col AGV Paley OBE CO Victor
    T/Maj The Hon MG Edwardes MBE 2i/c
    T/Maj JC Watt Support Coy Comdr John
    T/Maj WJ Apsey MC I Coy Comdr Bill
    T/Maj JEL Wright A Coy Comdr James PoW 13/6
    A/Maj BW Jepson-Turner MC C Coy Comdr Bill
    T/Capt GSW Talbot HQ Coy Comdr Gilbert
    T/Capt FA Dorrian-Smith Coy 2 i/c Francis
    T/Capt PAC Luke B Coy 2 i/c Peter
    T/Capt GS Pritty Coy 2 i/c (I Coy) Gerald WIA 14/6
    T/Capt CF Milner A Coy 2 i/c Christopher
    T/Capt AM Parker Adjutant
    T/Capt GC Johnston Tech Offr
    Capt EC Dudman MBE QM
    Lieut WPL Rogers Pl Comd
    Lieut RS Warwick Tpt Offr
    Lieut JW Bourne Sig Offr
    Lieut DE Burnett-Stuart Int Offr
    Lieut CE Christian WTO
    Lieut JD Bates MC Pl Comd
    Lieut GT May MC Pl Comd (I Coy Geoffrey KIA 14/6
    Lieut RM Butler Pl Comd (A/T Pl) Roger KIA 13/6
    Lieut CH Melville Pl Comd
    Lieut DCW Watkin Pl Comd
    Lieut JJ Poole Pl Comd (MG) John
    Lieut TJ Foreshaw Pl Comd
    Lieut DM King Pl Comd
    Lieut CB Campbell Pl Comd (A Coy) Bruce PoW 13/6
    Lieut ABR Hopwood Pl Comd
    Lieut DH Matthews Pl Comd(I Coy) Dennis WIA 14/6
    Lieut IP Bancroft Pl Comd (MG) Ian
    Lieut AN Mather Pl Comd
    Lieut AW Green Pl Comd
    Lieut NB Griffiths DCM Pl Comd (B Coy) Norman
    Lieut JR Baker Pl Comd
    Lieut J Averill Messing O
    Lieut AP dePass Pl Comd (A Coy) Alfie KIA 13/6
    Lieut CGA Parker Pl Comd (A Coy) Charles PoW 13/6
    Lieut JNK Young Pl Comd
    Lieut PC Riviere Pl Comd
    Capt WF Carpenter RAMC RMO
    Not listed:
    Lt P Coop Pl Comd (A Coy) Peter MIA 13/6

    Return of Officers 17 JUN 44

    1st Btn Rifle Brigade
    Lt Col AGV Paley OBE CO
    T/Maj The Hon MG Edwardes MBE 2i/c
    T/Maj JC Watt Coy Comdr
    T/Maj WJ Apsey MC Coy Comdr
    A/Maj BW Jepson-Turner MC Coy Comdr
    T/Capt AM Parker Adjutant
    T/Capt GSW Talbot Coy Comdr
    T/Capt GC Johnston Tech Adj
    Capt EC Dudman MBE QM
    T/Capt FA Dorrian-Smith Coy 2 i/c
    T/Capt PAC Luke Coy 2 i/c
    T/Capt CF Milner Coy 2 i/c
    Lieut DE Burnett-Stuart Coy 2 i/c
    Lieut RS Warwick Tpt Offr
    Lieut JW Bourne Sig Offr
    Lieut JNK Young IO
    Lieut CE Christian WTO
    Lieut JD Bates MC Pl Comd
    Lieut WPL Royce Pl Comd
    Lieut CH Mieville Pl Comd
    Lieut JJ Poole Pl Comd
    Lieut DM King Pl Comd
    Lieut ABR Hopwood Pl Comd
    Lieut JV Caesar Pl Comd
    Lieut IP Bancroft Pl Comd
    Lieut AN Mather Pl Comd
    Lieut AW Green Pl Comd
    Lieut NB Griffiths DCM Pl Comd
    Lieut JR Baker Pl Comd
    Lieut CGA Parker Pl Comd
    Lieut PC Riviere Pl Comd
    Lieut STB Forbes-Adams Pl Comd
    Capt WF Carpenter RAMC RMO
    Paul Reed likes this.
  14. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Excellent - thanks!
  15. Lautris

    Lautris Junior Member

    Perfect. Many thanks for that. Much appreciated.
  16. KatyKay

    KatyKay Junior Member

    Please see the thread that I have posted on the Unit History Forum - perhaps some of you can help me.

  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive


    For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On 31st August 1942 at about 1830hrs at Map Ref. 42968774 his platoon was attacked by 20-30 German Tanks. He held his fire until they were at close range and succeeded in knocking out five at least, and damaging others. Although it appeared likely that his position might be over-run he continued to direct the fire of his gun in the coolest possible manner. His gallant conduct and good shooting was undoubtedly largely responsible for preventing German Tanks breaking into the position before it was possible for our own tanks to arrive. Throughout the action which lasted for about three quarters of an hour he was continuously under heavey fire.

    Recommened for MM

    Gazetted 5.11.42
  18. jjrc1991

    jjrc1991 Junior Member


    I know this thread dates back a few years but I wonder if anyone can help. I am researching the men of my local war memorial. One of those listed is TJ Foreshew who, as I have discovered earlier on in this thread, was killed instantly along with his crew when his 'carrier' was hit by an enemy shell on the 15th June 1944. I'm assuming that the 'carrier' in question was a bren-gun carrier?

    Can anyone shed any more light on this individual and his military service?


  19. Just found this photo on Getty Images. It shows Carriers of 1 RB crossing (going East) the Canal de Caen à la Mer over LONDON 1 bridge "in July 1944", most probably on 18th July at the start of Operation GOODWOOD. These Carriers presumably belong to the Scout Platoon of one of the Motor Companies, because of the 4" smoke discharchers on the nearside corner:
    Carriers 1RB crossing Canal eastwards over LONDON 1 br, Jul 44 - Getty 78953155.jpg
    Carriers 1RB crossing Canal eastwards over LONDON 1 br, Jul 44 - Getty 78953155 vs BP 2107.12.jpg


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