1st British Infantry Division Histories - Digital Versions

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by dryan67, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    David, nice one for that. Apologies for the late reply. I'm working on the 10 Royal Berkshires time in the Anzio campaign .The only thing is, my resize app has taken the ball home & is not playing. :tank: (Its not cricket!)

    Regards
    Stu.
     
  2. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    The following scans are from the 10 Battalion of the Royal Berkshires time when they was under command of the 1 Division.
    The other two regiments of 168 Brigade was, 1 London Scottish & 1 London Irish Rifles. This brigade came to the rescue of the division when they most needed it.. Bless there cotton socks.. If any one requires the doings of the London Scottish, or the London
    Irish Rifles time in the campaign then give me nod. I've got both of there regimental histories.I'm willing to exchange if others have the war diaries for this period? I'll give more info on the 2/7 Middlesex Regiment in posts to follow. It concerns my Grandfather's 9 Platoon.

    282 & 283..jpg
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    288..jpg
    288.Map..jpg
    289..jpg
    290 & 291.jpg
    292..jpg
    Page 292 does not look good for this splendid Battalion. Thank-you chaps for all that you have done, but you are to be disbanded!
    Another book that is out there as the title of THE FIGHTING TENTH. A short history of the 10th Battalion The Royal Berkshire Regt.
    10 ROYAL BERKS REUNION COMMITTEE by DAVID R. C. WEST. Printed by J.W. GALE, HIGH STREET, MARLBOROUGH:
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2018
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  3. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Here we go with my typing skills with one finger. Its good job I don't use a keyboard for a day job! Nothing would get done.:). I'm going to start from the 1st February 44 & extracts will be from the War diaries of the 2/7 Middlesex, & the 6 Gordon's. I will also use a book called ANZIO 1944: AN UNEXPECTED FURY by Peter Verney. A book that is really worth obtaining with plenty of detail. Well & truly a balanced account.
    rsz_292map.jpg The map above has a box in the top right hand corner that I have highlighted in red. Grid reference numbers & instructions.

    01.02.44. 8 Platoon weren't far behind moving up to this area with the Loyals. At 13.00 hrs on 1st Feb 8 Platoon were relieved and at 21.00 hrs the same day they took up positions to support 1 Loyals at map reference 919308, firing north-east. This position was 100 metres east of 1 Loyals Battalion HQ. At 20.30 hrs, 7 & 9 Platoons were relieved in the River Moletta sector and assembled at A Echelon meaning a location map reference 837229.

    02.02.44. At half past midnight on the night of 01-02 Feb 7 Platoon moved up & occupied positions in the area 880345 in support of 6 Gordons. At 13.00 hrs 8 Platoon came under slight mortar fire. At 16.40 hrs orders were received for 9 Platoon to take up a new position on the front of 504 Parachute Regt.(U.S.) 3 Battalion I'm thinking? Lt. Fred. Wallwork of 2/7 Middlesex & a party set off to make a recce. Later that evening, Wallwork having found a suitable location, 9 Platoon occupied positions at 878339 firing north
    & north-east. At the same time B Support Group HQ moved forward to 904274, in the vicinity of 2 Infantry Brigade Advanced HQ.

    rsz_p4660739.jpg
    rsz_p4660740.jpg In the field with the 6 Gordons. Will carry on with the doings of the War diary of the "B" Bde Support Group, 2/7 Middlesex in my next post. WO. 170 / 1443. The following postcards are of the Factory before it got smashed.. Not sure what year they are?
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    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018
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  4. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

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    Its handy to re read a book again. Clock the Milestone 23 that I have underlined in red. It also shows the positions of the 6 Gordons.

    03.02.44. In the early morning, 7 & 9 Platoons arranged for night shoots in support of 6 Gordons & 1 Recce respectively. At 17.00 the 7 Platoon shoot was cancelled by the O.C. 6 Gordons. But at 22.30 a Liaison officer from 1 Recce reported to 9 Platoon & asked for the harassing shoot to be brought forward to 23.30. At 22.40 7 Platoon, who were in the 6 Gordons area, reported a concentration of enemy shell & mortar fire on the 6 Gordons Battalion H.Q. There was also considerable activity reported throughout the night by all platoons of the two forward coy's on the 6 Gordons front. At 23.10 7 Platoon received an SOS signal & fired on fixed lines. Twenty minutes later, 9 Platoon carried out its harassing shoot for 35 minutes. 9 Platoon's area was shelled intermittently in this period.

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    Before I carry on, I must doff my hat to a chap called John McLoughlin who is the author of a book that is called In The Company of Diehards: `B` Company, 2/7 Middlesex ( also called " No 3 Company, `B` Support Group" ). Not available on the internet. Its huge..
    I have had the pleasure of attending a couple of reunions that he holds once a year. Not many of them Old boys left. The above attachments are of the structure of the 2/7 Middlesex. More on Lt. Bartlett later on..
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    Not looking good for the Gordons! Clock the casualties at the end of 4th of Feb.. Will carry on when I get more time.

    Regards
    Stu.
     

    Attached Files:

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  5. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    By 00.45 of 4th Feb, an enemy attack was developing on the 6 Gordons front & the Germans had penetrated into the Gordons' forward companies, B company & D company. An hour later Lt Bartlett of 7 Platoon was told by the C.O. of 6 Gordons to contact Lt Wallwork's 9 Platoon to see if any enemy had penetrated south of his positions in the area 8833. Lt Bartlett sent Sgt Batchelor & three O.R.s. out. At 04.00 Sgt Batchelor & his patrol returned, having made contact with 9 Platoon & found everything in hand in that area.

    04.02.44.There was shelling throughout the night of 3rd- 4th Feb on 6 Gordons area & Lt Bartlett's 7 Platoon received fifteen 88mm
    shells on this area. At 05.00 Bartlett received information that about two coy's of the enemy had penetrated 6 Gordons area with tanks supporting them. Also an enemy machine gun had been established on the main road near the railway bridge 880382. This was at Campoleone.
    rsz_ccf25022018.jpg
    If any one requires the War diary of 1 Loyals then please let me know.? It covers the period from the start of 44 through till the end of September 44. The file also covers scans of the original Regimental History that Frank de Planta lent me. Another scarce book!

    By 07.00 6 Gordons were counter-attacking with tanks in support. At 07.20 Bartlett's 7 Platoon opened fire on a an object believed to be a tank. There was much rain & mist in the morning, making visibility very poor. About 60 German prisoners were seen being brought back from the 6 Gordons area. (The C.O. of 6 Gordons expressed his regret at the cancellation of the harassing shoot by 7 Platoon the previous night, saying that he did so as he was under the impression that another platoon would be carrying out the
    shoot). Unfortunately, this other platoon was unaware of the positions occupied by the 6 Gordons.
    Fighting continued throughout the day on 1 Division's front and the five platoons of "B" Support Group, 2/7 Middlesex were in action intermittently. The rain, thunder & poor visibility continued.

    At 15.00 No 3 Company were warned that 6 Gordons would be withdrawn after a counter-attack by 1 London Scottish had been put in to relieve the pressure & again lost ground. 7 & 9 Platoons (No. 3 Company) were to cover the withdrawal & then move to a new area. Major Robotham O.C. No. 3 Company (see attachment below) arranged with C.O. 6 Gordons that 7 & 9 Platoons would remain in position for 15 minutes after 6 Gordons was clear. (However, the message could not be passed on to these platoons as a wireless communication had failed). What a bloody cock up.
    rsz_ccf07022018_0001.jpg

    The five platoons of `B' Support Group 2/7 Middlesex experienced shelling & mortar fire throughout 4th Feb, & although Lt John
    Friar's O.C. 8 Platoon jeep was hit by shrapnel & the wireless damaged, there were no casualties in the Support Group. 9 Platoon were due to cover 7 Platoon's withdrawal at night, but owing to a misunderstanding they withdrew at 21.00 & proceeded to the area to the north of the Lateral Road, at map reference 8928.7 Platoon then had to cover the withdrawal of ( what remained of the Gordons, who had been badly mauled). Blimey, or polite words to that effect! That's a under-statement if I ever read one..
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  6. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

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    Things went from bad to worse for the Gordons. A lot of kit lost to boot on the 4th. On the 8th the whats it hit the fan.The map below shows the Gordons on the morning of the 5th I'm thinking? (No maps in the war diary of the Gordons)..
    rsz_ccf25022018_0001.jpg

    05.02.44. At 01.00 7 Platoon withdrew to the same area as 9 Platoon. These two platoons were then held in reserve all day. There were rainstorms throughout the night of 4-5 Feb. The weather improved in the morning, however, & all ranks were able to dry out in the sunshine. The front was quiet apart from intermittent shelling. During the day Major Robbins (O.C. B Support Group) & Major
    Robotham (O.C. No 3 Company recced new areas for 7 & 9 platoons. At 19.00 orders were received for these two platoons to take up positions covering the flank of 1 Loyals. 7 Platoon moved to area 914285 & 9 Platoon to 913282. By midnight, both platoons were in position & digging was completed.



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    07.02.44. 8 Platoon stood to at 04.00 on the 7th Feb, but there were no further developments in the night. The attack which intelligence had said would come on the night of 6-7th Feb did not materialize. At this stage, 8 Platoon of B Support Group was to the east of the Factory, supporting 1 Loyals. To their left, closer to the Factory, were 1 Recce Regiment.
    There was spasmodic shelling in the B Support Group area generally throughout this wet Monday. Rain fell on the Beachhead all day. And in the morning eight shells landed on the 9 Platoon area, (three of which failed to explode). Lucky chaps this time around!
    Three enemy aircraft dropped spare petrol tanks at 8927. There were shells & air-bursts around the 7 Platoon area. ( It was decided at `B' Support Group HQ Conference in the morning that one machine gun platoon should take up a new position in support of 10 Royal Berkshires. This was 9 Platoon).
     
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  7. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Continuing from 07.02. During the afternoon orders were received for B Coy 6 Gordons to move up at nightfall & come under command of `C` Squadron 1 Reconnaissance Regiment. The rest of the Gordons were to move into Brigade reserve in the Padiglione area. At 1830 9 Platoon moved to a new position as arranged at 892314. 7 Platoon moved to an alternative position, 912284, covering the same arc.
    Enemy shelling had increased in volume, and concentrations of enemy tanks and troops were reported at intervals on I Division front while ME109s and FW190s bombed and strafed Allied positions in the general area of the Factory. At 20.00 the 2/7 Middlesex CO came to Group HQ for a planned visit round the platoon positions with Major Robins, Major Robotham and Captain Jenkins. This was cut short at 21.00 when heavy enemy shelling commenced. 2 North Staffs reported the enemy were infiltrating between the forward positions of A, B and `C` Companies on the Buonriposo Ridge on the western side of the salient. 5 Grenadiers were also slapped about on the ridge. Major Sidney was awarded the Victoria Cross for his antics. I know I'm getting away from the diaries of the 2/7 Middlesex, but one had to add the attachments below. They are from WYNFORD VAUGHAN- THOMAS book called ANZIO The Full Story of the Campaign. Published by Longmans. By all accounts, Alexander was not small in stature.

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    The last paragraph is some what interesting. I've been lucky to view were Sidney did his last stand.. But like a muppet, I left my camera on the coach.

    An attack had also started on the 1 Recce. At 22.30 a report was received that the enemy opposite 1 Recce appeared to consist of a strong patrol of 100 troops, with what appeared to be some mine detectors. The positions of 1 Recce were intact but some enemy appeared to have penetrated between 1 Recce and the left flank of 1 Loyals. There was increased shelling on the front of 1 Loyals, whose left flank, D Company, reported that they were being attacked by about one platoon. This was promptly broken up by the Divisional DF but the enemy continued to subject D Company's position to intense mortar fire. The 1 Recce Regiment was under fire, and the 2 North Staffs were heavily assaulted. The German attack had resumed. At 23.00 it was reported to Group HQ that all .five platoons `B` Support Group were intact, but there was heavy shelling and mortaring of the `B` Group's positions. The C.O. of the 10 Royal Berkshires ordered 9 Platoon to open fire on fixed lines. 30,000 rounds were expanded. It looks has if they gave them more than the (full nine yards).Photos below of 9 Platoon in easier days.
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    Top photo: left to right: Privates "Darkie" Martin, Jack Howkins and "Deary" Bryant. By accounts, Darkie could make a tune on any machine gun..
    Below: Private Dominic " Paddy" Bryan and Cpl Trevor "Timber" Wood. Photos were taken at Tivolia, near Rome, summer 1944.

    Regards,
    Stu.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
  8. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    08.02.44. At 06.00 there were reports of some enemy penetration on the front of 1 Recce. At 10.00 the three platoons of No. 3 Company were stocked with three days reserve rations & ammunition, to be used only if the positions were cut off. At 15.00 a fixed line was arranged for 7 Platoon to fall at 908332 across the road & stream. This was a point about two miles due east of the Factory. It was now increasingly clear that the Factory was in danger of being overrun. Just before midnight an intense enemy artillery concentration was heard and seen on the left of 2 Infantry Brigade's front lasting about 90 minutes. However, there were no reports of enemy attack from the areas of No. 3 Company, although 9 Platoon reported heavy shelling around them in 10 Royal Berks area.
    The "Strength returns" of the 10 Royal Berks give some idea of the fighting in which they had been involved.. In a battalion comprising some 700-plus soldiers, the 10th Berks had a fighting force of 340 all ranks at the end of 8th Feb.(Another Regiment taking a beating).. All of the above & more to come for such a small hamlet. In my opinion, you could not even call it a village!
    See attachment below. Apologies for those who may have seen some of the photos that I have posted or will.
    The Factory. 1944..jpg
    09.02.44. During the early morning of the 9th Feb enemy patrols were reported in the centre & on the right of the 1 Division's front.
    One was repulsed by 1 Loyals at about 01.20. By 02.00 the situation was quieter.Nevertheless, shelling continued from both sides & 8 Platoon had one man wounded. At 05.00 the shelling intensified and a attack was developing on 10 Royal Berks front.
    9 Platoon fired on fixed lines at targets map reference 915336 for 30 minutes, expanding 6,000 rounds. At 05.30 9 Platoon reported enemy infiltration between the two forward companies of 10 Royal Berks. Fifteen minutes later, two Allied tanks moved up through the 9 Platoons positions to support 10 Royal Berks. At 06.30 the situation was quieter, but there were still enemy reported in the area of the forward localities. The Germans were keeping up continuous pressure on the front of 168 Brigade and over the course of the morning gradually pushed 10 Royal Berkshires & their Middlesex MMG platoon back. With tanks in support, the Germans completely overran & eliminated `B ` Company 10th Berks. Leaving the right flank ( `D` Company ) of the Battalion badly-exposed, in the driving rain that made visibility so poor.

    A quote from Major Ralph Robotham (O.C. No. 3 Company). At Anzio one of my platoon commanders & I worked out the additional elevation required to get the beaten zone to fall 5,100 yards away to protect one of our O.P.s which was about to be attacked by the Boche. The fire fell visibly and satisfactorily in front of the O.P. and the Boche moved off elsewhere. (Near on 3 miles.The Wonderful Vickers.) Typed on the 4th May 1997. I will continue with rest of 09.02. when I've rested my right hand & my forefinger.

    Stu.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
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  9. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    09.02.44. Continued. At 1130 No. 3 Company HQ was shelled for about half an hour and two men were wounded. 8 Platoon was shelled intermittently throughout the day by 88 mm guns and received three casualties. No targets presented themselves to this platoon throughout the day,as there was little activity on 1 Loyals front. At 15.00 `B` Support Group was warned that 2 Infantry Brigade was to be relieved that night by 180 Regt. U.S. Orders for withdrawal were issued and the Group HQ prepared to move.
    2 i/c No 1 Company ( Mortars), Capt. Edward Kyte, was ordered to bring motor transport up to Platoon areas after dark. At 16.00
    Lt Fred Wallwork, O.C. 9 Platoon, was alarmed to discover that the infantry in front of his positions (10 Royal Berks) had been overrun. 30 minutes later the men of 9 Platoon watched as soldiers of the 10 Royal Berks retired past them. What a pisser has i continue typing on. Lt Wallwork immediately made preparations for withdrawal and reported the situation by wireless to Major Robbins at Group HQ. Major Robbins then ordered Captain Gilbert Jenkins, O.C. No 1 Company to take charge of the situation. Jenkins contacted Wallwork and indicated a new position, 891316 a mile s- east of the factory and targets for the platoon. At 16.45.
    Major Robbins gave orders that O.C. 1 Coy with 2 Platoon & 9 Platoon under his command would withdraw after dark as soon as the motor transport came up, and the remainder of `B` Support Group would withdraw as soon as relieved.
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    The Group was to go into reserve with the rest of 2 Infantry Brigade in area 8424. At 17.15, while Lt. Fred Wallwork was assisting in taking ammunition up to the guns of his 9 Platoon, the Germans started shelling once again & he was killed by an 88 mm shell. One of 9 Platoon's wireless operators was wounded, too. Its interesting that it says the Manchester Regiment on his gravestone.
    Service No. 278684. Anzio War Cemetery. More to follow on the rest of the 09.02. Cheers Frank for getting this headstone
    Stu.
    Edit to add map.
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    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
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  10. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    09.02. Continued.Capt. Jenkins placed CSM Bob Hebden in command of 9 Platoon,& Hebden directed the fire of the platoon. At
    17.30, as Wallwork's lifeless body lay at the 9 Platoon position, above him roared the engines of the Tactical Air Force Bombers, who were on their way to drop their deadly load on the enemy, in an attempt to stop the Germans from taking the Factory. It was
    in vain, however, as the allies were hour by hour losing their grip on this vital location. By the evening of 9th Feb the Factory was completely in German hands, and with its capture they had gained a formidable position from which they could observe the whole of the front.

    Memories, 9th March 1988 by Colour Sgt Aubyn Fairhead's ( No. 3 Company CQMS ) . On one occasion 9 Platoon were at the front but their O.C., LT Wallwork, was killed by a shell, and the whole platoon, ( all 28 of them, returned to Company HQ in ONE carrier, the other carriers having been blown up).

    At 1930 the 2 i/c No.1 Coy Mortars brought up the motor transport to the Platoon areas of 1 and 2 Platoons. Half an hour later 2 and 9 Platoons started to leave their areas as ordered. However, 9 Platoon were considerably delayed owing to the muddy ground, which bogged their vehicles. The Platoon was forced to leave two carriers and one jeep, while Capt Jenkins made arrangements to convey the stores and bulk of personnel on his transport. Four men were left behind with the bogged vehicles. The Platoon had acquitted themselves well, (firing approx 37,500 rounds) during the day from an area strongly attacked by the enemy & infiltration around their flanks. At 23.00 Capt Jenkins, 2 Platoon and 9 Platoon arrived in the rear assembly area, bringing with them all the stores except the vehicles that had been become bogged down at platoon positions. Major Robotham ordered 7 Platoon to take one section and go to assist in extricating these vehicles. The other section of the platoon was to remain in action & cover them if necessary.The Diary of the Gordons still in action until the end of the 13th. I will post more of them in time.



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    10.02.44. In the early hours of 10th Feb Lt Bartlett and one section moved over to the former 9 Platoon positions, but were unable to extricate all the bogged down vehicles. Meanwhile, at 02.00 8 Platoon were relieved & withdrew to Group assembly area with all their stores. Major Robbins returned to the Group assembly area at 03.30 hrs. At 04.30 7 Platoon, Bartlett having returned with one section to rejoin the remaining section at the Platoon positions, withdrew to the Group assembly area with some of 9 Platoon's vehicles and Major Robotham.

    The `B` Support Group assembly area on the 10th Feb was map reference 840227, 4 miles south of the Flyover & a mile west of the Via Anziate.

    At 05.00 Capt. Bruce went out to recover the body of Lt Wallwork, and at the same time made a second attempt to extricate the bogged down transport of 9 Platoon. Bruce and his party were shelled, but managed to bring back the body of the O.C. 9 Platoon.
    They were unable, however, to move a jeep that was stuck in the mud. The front was now held by troops of the U.S.45th Division.
    In the miserable wet weather at the Group area, the five platoons of `B` Support Group spent the morning of the 10th Feb taking stock of the last few days of the battle. They tried as best they could to rest and reorganise but this was made difficult by the heavy rain bogging the ground completely. All weapons of the Group were found to be complete but several men of 9 Platoon had lost personal kit. Lt-Col. de Chimay, the Battalion C.O., visited the Group area at 10.00.

    Another quote from Colour Sgt Aubyn Fairhead memories, 9th March 1988. I was ordered by Major Robotham to retrieve
    Lt. Wallwork's corpse. ( "Can't let a officer's body just lie there " ), he said. So we had to go up to the woods where Wallwork had been killed & retreive the body. Private Fred Tebb was one of the the comrades who helped out in doing this. More on him later.

    10.02.44. Continued Brigade gave orders for the occupation of a reserve position and to this end at 14.00 Platoon Commanders
    proceeded on recces, which were completed by 17.00. That evening 7 & 8 Platoons moved out to occupy their new gun positions,
    the move being completed by 22.00. 7 Platoon were slightly east of the Flyover crossroads in 1 Loyals' area, covering the front of the 6 Gordon's area, covering the right front of the Brigade. 9 Platoon had not yet fully reorganised so were permitted to wait until the following morning. See map below. Their position was to be in the area of 2 North Staffs, about a mile behind 7 Platoon. Group
    HQ moved back about one mile to the area of "A" Echelon 842228, where the state of the ground & tracks was better.
    rsz_ccf10032018.jpg
    More to follow.
    Stu.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
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  11. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    I thought these memories would be interesting to those who are following this thread.. Not something you get to read in most, if any regimental histories? I'm typing these whilst I work on some more maps & war diaries. I think most Regiments had characters.

    CRIME IN THE COMPANY. Corporal Peter Crosby, as told to his son, Phil.
    We came across a factory once, & inside there was a safe. We blew it up with hand grenades, and we got the equivalent of 30 quid each. But the amount of money we blew was about 10 times more than we got! In shops, after Anzio, soldiers used to go into shops and just nick stuff in full view of the shopkeepers and practically laugh in the faces as they left .

    Private Ted Powell's memory, 19th September 2010.
    Yeah, that sort of thing went on a lot. Many safes were blown out there, not only Anzio, but in Florence. And nicking from shops, too. I remember in Rome, the soldiers took what they wanted. There was a big shop near the Vatican City, beautiful place, it was, near the steps, getting into the main part of city,stationer's etc.Expensive pens,like in the West End,pens,velvet stuff,like in Harrods,
    top quality jewellers, Parker pens. That happened, and the soldiers just walked in and took what they wanted. Bare faced, it was. The shopkeepers could do nothing. Beautiful pens, they were.

    Before I carry on typing with what the authors views are, I do agree with him. No point thinking that a infanteer did not get up to much whilst out of the line. Some of them like my Grandfather paid the price for doing something he should of not been doing.
    120 Days Xiii for being in possession of a civilian type pistol. He earned 40 days remission. I'm thinking it was a bit hot in Palestine in the summer of 45. He paid the price for getting caught with something he should have not had..

    War changes many things, one which is accepted rules of behaviour. Things a man would never have dreamed of doing in peace-
    time, suddenly become, if not acceptable, then far less worthy of reproach. Certain acts, namely stealing, cross over from the realms of unacceptable, into an area where his new morals call the taking of others' property " scrounging", "liberating" or "perks".
    The Military Police in any campaign were ill-equipped & far too understaffed to tackle the problem. The actions should always be viewed in the context of war, where a man may see the simple taking of a object as totally unimportant in the struggle he has to stay alive on a daily basis. Whilst never condoning these thefts, we must try to understand the circumstances that allowed the man to relax his code & values. I will start my next post with another memory from Sergeant Aubyn Fairhead, as told to his son Robin
    in the 1970s.

    Stu.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  12. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Just before i carry on with crime in the company, i would just like to add that my Grandfather never mentioned anything about his time in the Second World War. When I was about 14, he mentioned something briefly about another Regiment. I did enjoy going around for tea with him. A plate full of buttered bread was always on the table. He had suffered from hard of hearing before he went to war. It was ace in seeing him turn off his hearing aid & lip read, especially when my Grandmother was getting on his nerves. Probably a case of selective hearing on his part.:glare: from my Granny. He passed away just before my eighteenth birthday on the 23rd of April 1990 (that being St Georges Day). Emphysema got the better of him. He was only 66. It was horrible watching him waste away.

    Memory of Fairhead from the 70's. At some point in Italy we were detailed to take this " fancy goods factory" that the Germans were occupying. The factory made women's hair brushes and the like. So I took a group of men from `B` Company & we drove up to the factory in a Bren carrier, parking tight against the wall to get maximum protection from the Boche inside. I ordered the men to dash inside & get the Germans out. The Germans were shelling, it was a dangerous situation. So imagine my surprise when I saw one of our men go into the factory & walk out with (two Olivetti typewriters) & put them in the back of the Bren carrier! He did it again. On his third trip he came out with a cotton sheet, it turned out to be the wage packets that they were preparing for the workers! It must of been the equivalent of hundreds of pounds. He did not have to draw army pay for a while.
    Below is memories from Fairhead & Cpl Fred Gazzard 8 Platoon. It speaks for itself.
    CCF18032018_0004.jpg
    More to follow.
    Stu.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
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  13. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    11.02.44. Around 10.00 on the morning of the 11th the 7 Platoon area was shelled and the bogey wheel of a carrier was damaged.
    Later that morning Major Robotham ordered a recce for a new Platoon area. By 12.15 this recce had been carried out & so Bartlett took his platoon to their new positions at 873286, with an arc of fire to north & north-east. This position was Carne Farm and was to be the last action most 7 Platoon soldiers would see. For some, their last days on earth were to be spent here.

    At 13.00 a thick smoke screen was in the forward areas, but there were no developments at the front. At 15.00 Major Robotham recced a new position for 8 Platoon. By the early evening most of the Brigade had not yet occupied their areas but at 18.00 1 Loyals moved into positions at and to the east of the Flyover. Half an hour later 8 Platoon occupied the position they were to hold in the German attack most were convinced was about to be unleashed on the Allied troops. The 8 Platoon position was at 880285, which was 700 meters east of 7 Platoon, on the extreme right of 2 Infantry Brigade's front.

    The Germans were, of course, well aware of the importance of the Flyover and consequently, it was receiving the attention of their artillery throughout the day, shelled every clock hour. At 18.30 No. 3 Company HQ moved to the vicinity of Group HQ at 842229.
    (At the same time 9 Platoon were ordered back to "A" Echelon for rest and refit by half-platoons.)

    12.02.44. Apart from the undoubtedly cheering sight of the Allied bombers pounding the enemy to the north, 12th Feb was a relatively quiet day for No. 3 Company, though there was intermittent shelling of the Via Anziate and the Flyover, and during an enemy air raid a stick of small high explosive bombs fell near Group HQ at 21.00. Fortunately, there were no casualties in the Group. Meanwhile, over a hundred miles away, in the Naples area, the 2/7 Middlesex reinforcements waited and wondered how their fellow Die-hards on the Beachhead were fairing.

    One of them was soon to get the chance to ask them in person. Major George Hodding, 2nd-in-Command 2/7 Middlesex, approached Lt James Hill. Lt Hill assumed ( it was to do with the football match being organised).. If only that was the case. The reality was a little more serious. Hodding mentioned that you have been called by name. Hill would command 9 Platoon for the rest of the Anzio Campaign.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  14. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Will start again. Edit.... Don't hit the wrong key.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  15. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    13.02.44. While Lt Hill sat on the ship taking him to Anzio and wondered how he would react to his second taste of war, it was business as usual on the Beachhead. At 12.00 7 Platoon reported that the Flyover was being shelled. This area was becoming increasingly dangerous as the battle for Anzio was reaching its climax. At 14.40 six Focke Wulf 190s strafed the ground area to the right of 9 Platoon's positions a mile or so south of the Lateral Rd. The platoons of B Group were visited by the Battalion C.O. at 15.40, as the Germans put a smoke screen over the Factory area. What were the enemy planning?


    The day had seen the Battalion receive 60 men from the Rear Details at Gragnano, in the Naples area. Over half went to A Support Group. Eight to B Support Group. These were men from No.2 Company, the Anti Aircraft Company, who had been trained in the Vickers machine guns to be reinforcements as casualties occurred. Shelling continued intermittently throughout the day over
    2 Inf. Bde. area.

    14.02.44. That morning Lt-Col. de Chimay, Battalion C.O., took Lt Hill, along with a new officer for No.1 Company to Group HQ.
    Another officer, Lt T.A. Griffith was evacuated sick. Lt Hill then moved up to 9 Platoon position. B Support Group platoons spent the day improving defensive positions & communications. The reserve area being occupied by 2 Infantry Brigade was known as the
    "Corps stop line". The name said it all. The fate of the Beachhead rested on this being held at all costs. There could be no German penetration beyond the Lateral road.

    The Brigade Commander ordered a recce for a new machine gun platoon in the area of the Flyover, so at 14.30 Majors Robbins and Robotham made a recce for possible sites. However, no satisfactory position was found & the Brigadier agreed to leave B
    Support Group machine gun platoons where they were. 8 Platoon's fixed line changed, however, to fall, out of the arc, on the area of the houses at 872298. See map below. At 15.30 three enemy fighters bombed the Flyover. Two hours later the Flyover was shelled and the enemy fighters returned to bomb the Lateral Road immediately behind 7 Platoon.
    rsz_ccf18032018_0003 (1).jpg


    At 23.00 Captain Bruce took out a recovery lorry & recovered the last carrier which 9 platoon had been forced to abandon on their withdrawal on the night of 9th /10th February. The night of 14th-15th Feb was quiet, apart from intermittent shelling near No.1 Coy
    HQ. As men of the three machine gun platoons stood on guard duty, they could see the many flares fired high in to the air through-
    out the night at the front lines less than a mile away, hear the Allied bombers in action further north and feel the damp cold biting into their weary bones.

    Before i jog on with the 15.02.44, i thought that i would had a paragraph from Peter Verney's book. Operation 'Fisch Fang' pages 169-170. Of all the battalions of 1 Division, the Loyals were the least battle-scarred. Although they had been continuously in action since arriving at Anzio--indeed, prior to moving to the Flyover, they had been in the line for seventeen days on end-but on fairly quiet parts of the front. They had suffered casualties, a total of 137 including five officers, but these had been made good by reinforcements and on the 15th Feb the Loyals mustered thirty one Officers & 747 men. Of greater import, though, was the fact that their original team of officers & NCO'S-- good solid leavening of tough (fighting Lancashire men)--was still in tact. The 1 Loyals was a hardened, experienced and supremely self-confident battalion & although tired like everyone else in the beachhead, they were the freshest battalion in the Division.(It was well they were.) I'm not being biased here! Me being a Lancastrian.:smug:


    15.02.44. In the morning 7, 8 and 9 Platoons were inspected by Lt- Col de Chimay. At 11.00 Major Robotham discussed defensive works with a Royal Engineer officer. The day was spent preparing platoon positions and improving the defensive layout. There was no doubt in the minds of any men in No. 3 Coy that a serious assault was to be unleashed on the Corps Stop line. At 17.00 7 Platoon's Despatch Rider was wounded by a splinter from a bomb dropped near the Flyover. The Flyover was under constant observation by the enemy from his commanding heights further north. At 22.00 Royal Engineers stores were delivered to the three platoons to improve defence at the guns positions.

    More to follow..
    Stu.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
  16. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    rsz_rsz_panorama_1.jpg View attachment 220505

    The above map is from a excellent book or booklet of 122 pages. It contains (121 Illustrations & 25 maps of which the illustrations are of the sharpest quality). If my memory is correct, i think i paid about £30.00 for it?. All the way from America. It is called ANZIO
    BEACHHEAD HISTORICAL DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY. (22 January-25 May 1944) American Forces in Action Series. I had to re size the map to show it. Click on it to expand. In time, I may show some of the rather rare illustrations.

    16.02.44. Letter from Colour Sgt Fairhead, written mid-November 1993.... I remember it well,the morning of the 16th, which happened to be my birthday,_16th February was their big push and this ran on into the following few days. I do recall thinking "What a bloody fine way to celebrate your birthday!"

    The second and decisive phase of the battle for Anzio began at dawn on the 16th Feb, on one of the first sunny days in weeks. At 05.15 there was a sharp air raid over the 2 Infantry Brigade area lasting half an hour. High explosive and anti-personnel bombs caused damage in the vicinity area of `B` Support Group HQ but luckily no casualties. At 06.30 the 9 Platoon area was shelled and one man was wounded. At 08.40 the 8 Platoon Despatch Rider was wounded by a shell burst at the Flyover. Shelling had intensified and a report of an enemy attack developing on the left of 1 Division front over to the west of the Flyover. All platoons stood to and communications were fully manned.

    At 10.35 twelve Focke Wulf 190s bombed the area of the Flyover yet again. At 10.45 7 Platoon reported suspected armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) moving 600 yards south of the factory area less than two miles away. These were subsequently reported stationary and of action. Meanwhile Allied fighter bombers hit the enemy once again. At 12.50 five shells landed near 9 Platoon HQ and one man was wounded. At 14.20 Lt D. Fairhead of 2 Platoon reported enemy AFVs and infantry around the Factory area. These were dispersed by a heavy artillery concentration.

    Extract from the diary of Lt James A. Hill O.C.9 Platoon..
    16th Feb - Shells landed all around - an exhilarating experience which I soon get accustomed to.
    Two bits of shrapnel got a man and he had to be sent back.

    This could have been the shelling mentioned in the above war diaries at 06.30, 16.30 or, more likely, that of 12.50. It is quite possible the man referred to in the 12.50 entry was Pte. Fred Tebb. The 2 Field Ambulance moved to 849212 at 12.00 on the 16th.
    They took a direct hit at 20.30 that night. Source: War diaries of 2 Field Ambulance.
    rsz_img_20160526_152947_[847961] (1).jpg

    Private Harry Dopson's 9 Platoon memories, early Feb 1987.
    The house just behind our position that we used for cooking and resting was hit a few times and the wall facing the Germans was 8- ply board. One day, one of our drivers, a lovely little fellow named Tebb, sat up and keeled over. He was rushed for medical aid, but died. A tiny piece of shrapnel had penetrated the board into his back and he bled to death internally. That shook us to pieces for Tebby was so full of life, like a little sparrow.

    More to follow.Edit. The map expands has should.
    Stu.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  17. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    16.02.44 continued. At 14.30 a formation of Mitchell bombers flew overhead and plastered enemy positions further north. As if in retaliation, enemy fighter bombers came over half an hour later and bombed the area of 1 Platoon (mortars). At 15.10 a formation of Boston bombers and fighter bombers bombed the enemy positions once again. This was followed by Baltimore bombers & fighter bombers dropping their loads on the Germans.

    At 16.30 nine enemy shells crashed down on the 9 Platoon HQ area. At 1710 Lieutenant D. Fairhead of 2 Platoon reported an enemy AFV at 876313, less than a mile north of the Dead End Road.

    At 18.00 soldiers of 8 Platoon were surprised to see teams of the American machine guns move into their area. These were men of the 1/ 179 Regiment.(See map below.) Their C.O. later agreed to move his men, & 8 Platoon stayed in position. There was intermittent shelling during the night, also bombing by single enemy planes. 16th Feb had seen intense air activity on both sides but this was just the prelude of something even bigger.
    rsz_ccf08042018_0002.jpg

    17.02.44. Enemy shelling recommenced at 06.00 and 7 Platoon's area was mortared. Shelling from both sides continued through out the day & there was once again intense air activity. By 09.30 the first American wounded and stragglers of 2/ 179 U.S Inf Regiment were passing through the A Company of 1 Loyals positions near the Flyover. At 10.00 7 Platoon reported enemy AFVs heading on the either side of the Via Anziate 200 yards north of the Dead End Road.

    The Germans were smashing through the US 45 Division at an alarming rate and the British 2 Infantry Brigade noted with little concern that the area to their front had been overrun. The situation at midday, however, was confused and no major penetration had been reported of the U.S. troops ahead of 2 Inf Brigade. 168 Brigade of 1 British Division were holding on to the left of the Flyover. But it was clear the U.S. forces in front of 2 Brigade were giving ground in the face of terrible casualties. By noon on the 17th Feb, the Germans had pushed the front back two & half miles wide & one & quarter miles deep.

    Colour Sgt. Aubyn Fairhead's memories, 9th March & 25th August 1988.
    I remember the time Captain Bruce, 2 i/c of our machine gun company, saw American soldiers on the south side of the Lateral Road, heading south. He saw them in groups of about 3 or 4, about a dozen in all, at separate times. "Where are you chaps going?"
    he asked in his posh voice. "We're all washed up, we're buggin' out!" they replied. " No, you're not," he said, & sent them back to the Lateral Road to fight. By including these memories, i do not wish to under mind the part that the 45 U.S Division played in the Anzio campaign. It was huge.

    Sgt. Ron Walker's 8 Platoon memory, 26th October 1988.
    I remember towards the beginning of the big German attack, we saw three Americans were coming through this wood, and you could see they didn't know where they were going. They were going back to Jerry's lines, round this wood. We shouted at them as they came across, telling them to get in with us. They told us they were the only three left as they could remember out of their Regiment, cos when the big attack came in they all got cut off. These three stayed with our platoon till we got relieved.

    The Lt was from Missouri , one was from Illinois and one from Ioha. Apologies for the miss spelling on the latter if that is the case? At the time, Walker jotted down the address of the soldier from IIIinois:- Robert S. Perry, 401 East Franklyn, Mount Sterling, IIIinois.
    Private S. Perry was born on the 20th Feb 1944 ( I'm thinking a type error has happened) May be 1924? He was killed on the 2nd June 44. His body was returned to the U.S. in March 1949 and he now lies in the Cemetery, Brown County, IIIinois. I normally do not like to find fault, but how has this chap got back to the States? Weird. That one has left me scratching my head.

    Stu.
    More to follow when i get chance.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
  18. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Thank to forum members Stuart Avery and Gary Tankard, I have the war diaries for the 2nd Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment for January to December 1944. The files are organized into monthly PDF files. If you start a conversation with me and provide me with an email address in the conversation and what months you are interested in obtaining, I will send you links to download the files.
     
  19. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    In addition too what David has mentioned.. I started looking for the complete set of the above diaries a while back, but to my alarm, one half was missing. Thanks to Gary who goes down to Kew on a regular basis found the missing file. Its rare that the doings of a Regiment does not go into a decent History. Both of them was in one.

    Letter written by Major E.M. Bruce to Private Tebb's parents, 20th March 1944.
    I wanted to write to you about your son, Private F. Tebb. You will have received notification of his death from the War Office by now. Your son was wounded by shell shrapnel while in a house on the 17th Feb ( He his mistaken, its the day before) & died in hospital the following day. I understand he suffered very little pain. I felt Fred's death particularly as he and i, along with two of his comrades had done many dangerous jobs together recovering transport in full view of the enemy and he always displayed the utmost courage and he was a man one could rely on.
    rsz_panorama_2.jpg

    Continued. 17.02.44. At 13.20 twenty FW 190s attacked the 2 Infantry Brigade area and the artillery further back. 25 minutes later German fighters attacked No. 1 Company area. Fifty mortar bombs were destroyed by fire and one mortar was damaged. Three men were wounded. All three died later in the day. Privates George Fox, George Sherwin and Jack Hingley.
    rsz_img_0039.jpg
    rsz_img_0041.jpg
    I was convinced that I had Jack Hingley's headstone (the joys of having to resize everything!) Moving on. At 13.15 2 Platoon's O.P. reported seven enemy tanks on the Via Anziate, about a mile north of the Dead End Road. At 14.25 the same O.P. reported a German force of about company strength (100 or so men) at 867308 moving south-west towards the Via Anziate. This was only half a mile north of the Dead End Road. Then an hour later the air seemed to reverberate with noise that filled the PBI ( Poor Bloody
    Infantry) with cheer. Bombers on their way to drop death on the enemy.

    At 16.00 2 Platoon engaged four enemy tanks which were attacking on the Via Anziate south of the Dead End Road, only half a mile from the Flyover! At the same time troops of the U.S. 179th Regiment reported to 8 Platoon that the enemy had broken through on the Dead End Road 800 yards east of the of the Via Anziate. 8 Platoon fired on a fixed on a fixed line, as the 179 Regt. troops battled to re-establish the situation. Fifteen minutes later enemy fighters attacked the 2 Infantry Brigade positions. Meanwhile, at 16.00 eleven American tanks later trundled along the Lateral Road from the east, turned right at the Flyover and joined the battle a few hundred yards up the Via Anziate. At 16.25 Allied planes swooped overhead and attacked the enemy north of the Flyover.
    See map below.
    rsz_the_first_overpass_above_anzio.jpg
    If any one has a sharper photo of the above, then that would be most appreciated?
    rsz_ccf30032018_0002_2.jpg
    John is normally spot on with his information, but I have not seen the Map in the above War Diaries. I'm just glad that i have a copy that has not been drew on. Over the years, I do think he sent it to me? More to follow.
     
  20. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Active Member

    I'm pretty sure I have one somewhere - the 'German tank' is an M10 from what I recall, the others all Shermans.
     

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