1st Dorsets 15th June - 12th July 1944

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Eric H, Feb 2, 2020.

  1. Eric H

    Eric H Remembering 21 Areley Kings (Worcs) War Dead.

    Hi, All,
    For some years I have been researching the War Dead of Areley Kings, Worcestershire in the Great War (15), the Second World War (5) and the Falklands (1).
    I am currently working on 5735454 Pte George Edwin Leslie White,1st Battalion, The Dorsetshire Regiment, who was killed in action, age 20, 12th July 1944. He was originally buried somewhere in Lingèvres before reburial in Bayeux War Cemetery (XXVII, D, 4).
    Had falsified his age to join up in March 1942 but was posted to the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion of the Dorsets, used in home service duties, had a spell in hospital; was posted to the 9th Battalion, again for home service duties; and finally, after a spell with 32 RHU; was posted to 1st Dorsets in France on 15th June, 1944 - the last entry on his Service Record before "Killed in Action - 12/7/44".
    My library is pretty thin on this particular field so any kind of helpful summary of his likely experiences with 1st Dorsets between 15th June and 12th July would be very gratefully received. The best I can manage after hours of largely confusing rummaging online is the possibility that he was killed somewhere in the region of Hottot.
    I hope that's not too ridiculously vague.With thanks and best wishes,
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Eric

    Have you spoken to The 1st Battalion The Dorsetshire Regiment in World War Two - The Keep Military Museum, Dorchester, Dorset

    Then there is War Diary - 1st Battalion, The Dorsetshire Regt, June 1944

    Followed by 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment

    If all else fails then we have a couple of members who provide a service of copying War Diaries from TNA at Kew


    Battle of Lingevres June 1944 he may have died of wounds following this battle and been buried in a grave near to a CCS or Hospital etc
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
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  3. Eric H

    Eric H Remembering 21 Areley Kings (Worcs) War Dead.

    Many thanks for the incredibly swift response TD.
    I've probably been a bit pessimistic not to have contacted the Keep but I've generally found that regimental museums aren't normally able to help with enquiries about individual servicemen (with good reason, because they are obviously snowed under with such queries - especially with the centenary of the Great War and now the 75th anniversaries of WWII). I'll give it a go, though.
    I had looked at the Keep's summary of the 1944 actions (and previous history) of 1st Bn, as well as spending frustrating hours trawling through the generally flimsy bits and bobs otherwise available online about 1st Bn in late June and July (including whatever I could find for 50 Div. and 231st Infantry Brigade).
    I'd also looked at the Keep's bookshop, in which the book most likely to be of help ("Three Assault Landings") is out of stock. I would certainly have bought that.
    The link to the War Diary photos is wonderful and will certainly help with what George was up to from his arrival in France to the end of June. Again, I'd love to have access. I wonder if anyone has done a similar job for July because the Second World War diaries haven't been digitised and, being a doddering 80 year-old in Worcestershire (albeit a confirmed Lancastrian exile) with a wife with Alzheimer's, I'm not really up to dashing back and forth to Kew.
    I do know what wonderful research aids the war diaries are and over the years I've bought from the National Archives all the war diaries of the battalions in which 'my lads' served during WWI - and they really are beyond price.
    If the worst comes to the worst, I'll follow your suggestion and, if you can provide names, get a member of this forum to do the rummaging at Kew for me.
    I had found the existing thread here that you suggest, but there wasn't anything of value other than the likelihood that Steve Mac might well be a source of expertise - and I see that it would be possible to start a conversation with him.
    Finally, George was k.i.a. so the Battle for Lingèvres was too early to be relevant.
    Once again, I am most grateful for your swift and generous response.
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Three Assault Landings - AbeBooks

    £9.50 here THREE ASSAULT LANDINGSThe Story Of The 1st Bn. The Dorsetshire Regiment In Sicily, Italy And N.W. Europe by Lt-Col. A.E.C.Bredin, DSO., MC.: 9781845749675 - Naval and Military Press Ltd

    To some extent you are not researching a single soldier more a section of war diary so they may show you the direction to obtain that

    Drew5233 and PsyWar.Org are the 2 gentlemen who do the copying in general at Kew, but its best if you know what file reference and the dates you need copied to save them time. I have placed them in no particular order they are as good as each other


    PsyWar.Org has this web site - War Diary Search Engine - www.arcre.com
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  5. Eric H

    Eric H Remembering 21 Areley Kings (Worcs) War Dead.

    Once again, many thanks. I can never get over how helpful and generous with your time and talent people like you are, on sites like this and the Great War Forum.
    I’ll get the book and, as I said, I’ll give the Keep a go.
    Thanks to you, I already feel as though there might even be a glimmer at the end of a long tunnel.
    Which would be lovely, not least because George’s younger brother, who had to give the news of his death to their Mum, is still going strong, in his nineties.
    Very best wishes,
  6. graeme

    graeme Senior Member

    Unfortunately, the ARCRE site is still down,


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  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    The War Diary reference you need I believe is

    1 Dorsetshire Regiment | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 171/1284
    1 Dorsetshire Regiment
    Date: 1944 Jan.- July
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

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  8. Eric H

    Eric H Remembering 21 Areley Kings (Worcs) War Dead.

    Thanks, both. I love wallowing in all the help you get on fora like this one. I'd been getting really frustrated with all the online dead ends. When I have some real progress to report on George's final days, I'll post something.
    Keep smiling,
  9. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Pte G White is mentioned only in the Roll of Honour in Three Assault Landings (Bredin).

    The 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment, 231st Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division, was indeed involved in the advance on Hottot on 11/12 July 1944 - ‘Operation Maori’ - ‘D’ Company being particularly heavily engaged.

    Impossible to tell how Pte White met his fate from a reading the aforementioned book.
  10. Eric H

    Eric H Remembering 21 Areley Kings (Worcs) War Dead.

    Many thanks, Steve. I'd already taken your name in vain, after seeing your contribution to another thread. You've saved me getting in touch.
    Frustrating isn't it, knowing such a lot about a lad who served - but being unable to isolate details such as his Company?
    I'll buy 'Three Assault Landings' nonetheless, to give me a better idea of what he went through as a green reinforcement in his few weeks of active service in Normandy.
    One is bound to wonder whether his almost total lack of experience contributed to his early demise. So many veterans who survived have commented to me over the years about how vital was the first month or two in the line, in learning how to 'keep your head down'.
    These included one of George's mates from the village [a tanker with the Reconnaissance Squadron of the Essex Armoured Reg't, who landed on D+5] who happened to bump into George when they were both on embarkation leave before leaving, at different times,for Normandy.
    Thanks to you, too, T.D. and Graeme for ARCRE, that was news to me, and I thought I'd come across most of the online resources. I've registered (the site was up - at least enough for me to do that) and I'll try to have a crack later tonight (most of my days are taken up with Nursey duties for t'wife.
    Thanks again. Keep smiling.
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  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I have both 1944 1st Bn Dorset diaries. Let me know if you want a copy of either at my usual rate of 10p per page. I'll donate all the money to my six year olds fundraiser this year in Dunkirk.
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  12. Eric H

    Eric H Remembering 21 Areley Kings (Worcs) War Dead.

    Thanks, Drew.
    Sounds like a good cause!
    If the Jan - July diary covers up to 12th July including any relevant addenda such as maps, orders etc. I’d be happy with that one. Otherwise, I’ll have both and hope that whoever filled them in had tiny handwriting!
    Thanks again,
  13. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Just in case others might want to know about your men....
    Areley Kings War Memorial

    and I assume you had a hand with this?
    Men Who Served - Areley Kings Great War
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I'll send you a PM Eric
  15. Eric H

    Eric H Remembering 21 Areley Kings (Worcs) War Dead.

    Thanks for the interest, Kevin,

    'Men Who Served' is a part of a larger project which grew out of the colossal and much-publicised success of a major production in the Parish Church at the time of the centenary in 2014 and the desire to look at the effects of the Great War on the whole village, not just the men who died. However, because that project really began to come to fruition, once a Lottery Grant had been secured, in the last three years, I had to step right back because of Beryl's Alzheimer's and the work was done by a group of half a dozen friends. I therefore did little more than provide hugely abbreviated summaries of the fatal casualties. However, having set the project going, the fully expanded story of the village in the Great War is a source of great pleasure and satisfaction, especially as recorded in the form of a book edited by my good friend Bill Wood and based on the hard work of that small group (which included his wife, Sue, who first suspected something odd about the story of Vincent Bowen.

    Your list is right for the World Wars but omits Darryl Cope (who was at school with my older son), killed on HMS Sheffield in the Falklands.

    Also, the first name on the list is Bowen, not Owen. He alone is worth a thread on its own. He did appear in the village's full Roll of Honour, compiled at the end of the War, of all who served. However, Sue came across some oddities about his case and handed it to me. Whereupon it turned out that he was killed in action in the Hundred Days' campaign in 1918. The village, though, clearly hadn't learnt of his death by the time the 3 memorials (cross, tablet in church and village school memorial board) were created c.1920.
    He had in fact emigrated to Canada with his family in 1909, volunteered in 1914 and served throughout the War with the 18th (Western Ontario) Battalion, C.E.F., winning an M.M. and Bar on the way. The village clearly knew about that - but not that he'd been killed.
    It's worth recording that since I discovered the anomaly, the help I've received in Canada (from the local newspaper in Guelph, Ontario; via a Facebook group on the 18th Battalion; to the office of the Speaker of the House of Commons in Ottawa!) has been staggering.

    Apart from all that, I'm particularly pleased that I have managed to have three names added to the Memorial Cross: In 2019, those of Vincent Bowen & John Rogers, both from WWI (again, John Rogers' is another story. - perhaps later); and in 2012, 30 years after his death, that of Darryl Cope from the Falklands.

    Something else that anyone who has been carrying out the kind of research that's kept me off the streets for the last couple of decades will know that misspellings can cause no end of problems - and there are 3 biggies just on the list you've seen! Not to mention the use of completely different Christian names!

    At which point I must shut up, as none of that is relevant to this thread and I'll be drummed out of the forum for being long-winded, rambling and boring.
  16. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Yes, the production of books about the men who served and returned, not just a List of the Dead is turning to be a major project in many places.
    Didn't know a Lottery Grant could be available.
    Here I produced a list of Names for WW1 for "Battle" which then was whittled down to just those from the Town itself, not the many outlying villages, many of whom used Battle as an aid for their postal address.
    The Brave Remembered by George Kiloh ISN 978-1-903099-01-8 from Battle & District History Society

    The sobering thing when you read is the number of times men were wounded, patched up and went back, wounded again (and again) until the final blow. That seems to be the major difference between casualties in WW1 and WW2 - they went back into the mincer time and again...
  17. Eric H

    Eric H Remembering 21 Areley Kings (Worcs) War Dead.

    Exactly. This was one of the reasons we decided to try to widen our studies beyond just those who died. Of course it’s so much easier to find out about those who were k.i.a., d.o.w., or
    just ‘died’ (as one of mine - from dysentery in Mesopotamia). Finding out about lads who came home but with life long problems is, especially at this distance, damn near impossible.
  18. Eric H

    Eric H Remembering 21 Areley Kings (Worcs) War Dead.

    To return to the topic (!), I now have Col. Bredin’s book and it’s already moved my work on by leaps and bounds. The detail and clarity are impressive and, with the War Diary I’m buying, via Drew, will give me as much as I could possibly hope for.
    Many, many thanks to all of you who so quickly and generously gave advice and help.
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