1st Lothians & Border Yeomanry June 11 1940

Discussion in 'User Introductions' started by Neil Murray, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. Neil Murray

    Neil Murray New Member

    Hello I'm try to find out more information on my grandfather killed June 11 1940. His information that I have so far is

    Trooper James J Melville
    Service Number: 7876325
    Date of Death: 11/06/1940

    from the 1st Lothians & Border Yeomanry website I found this

    Tuesday 11 June 1940
    The perimeter around St Valery ran from Le Tot on the cliffs five kilometres (three miles) west to a point beyond the town of Veules-les-Roses seven kilometres (four and a quarter miles) east. The At Le Tot were the 2nd Seaforths and to their left were the 1st Gordons at Ingouville and then the 4th Camerons at Neville. The French troops, 2nd and 5th Light Cavalry, and remnants of 31st and 40th Divisions held the south front, facing inland. The 1st Black Watch were at Houdentot, 5th Gordons at St Pierre-le-Vigier and 4th Seaforths south-east of Veules-les-Roses, next to the sea. The French were due to take up the bottom or south side of the box but until they arrived the Lothian's, Norfolk's and the 6th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers (Pioneers) would cover the gap. The Division was in position early on the 11th June but the perimeter was never fully established.

    1100 hours: A and B plus 3 troops from C ordered to fall back and hold line covering Neville. German reconnaissance plane over our positions for at least ½ hour. Result violent shelling and several casualties.

    Woolward states: All day the French, broken and in disorder, without arms, carrying sticks with white handkerchiefs, passed through the Regiment from the south, pressing in a mass towards the coast. Only one French unit, recognisable as such, appeared: it took up position in the defence perimeter, stayed an hour, and then quietly passed back into St. Valery, which was by now seething with the remains of an army, and was under fire from high ground overlooking the harbour. German pressure was maintained on the defence perimeters; A Squadron in particular was busy. C Squadron, in repelling a severe attack, lost its commanding officer, Major Usher, mortally wounded.

    During the morning, the Squadrons ordered to withdraw to a new line, some 2 miles further back, in front of Cailleville.

    In the evening General Fortune, the Divisional Commander, visited the unit: the situation was grave, there was doubt about the possibility of evacuation from the harbour, and the question of splitting up, in the hope of getting away in small parties, was reluctantly mooted.

    At 10 pm the order was given for the destruction of all vehicles and equipment, with the exception of a few Bren guns which were to be retained, and for B squadron to rendez-vous at Cailleville before proceeding to St Valery for embarkation. The regiment reached St Valéry shortly after midnight.

    During the afternoon the 1st Black Watch at St. Pierre-le-Viger came under great pressure from the Germans and by 1800hrs had lost some 50 men wounded or dead. They were supported by French cavalry who dismounted and, leaving their horse in a wood, fought as infantry. The position was finally overrun at dawn.

    Towards the middle of the day on Tuesday 11 June Rommel approached from the west, finding, first, the Seaforths and then the Gordons and eventually the Camerons. ... So tenacious was the enemy defence that hand-to-hand combat developed at many points. Meanwhile the 25th Panzer Regiment had thrust forward [past the Seaforths] to the high ground immediately north-west of St Valery and was using every gun to prevent embarkation of enemy troops. To the west the perimeter was penetrated and the 2nd Seaforths cut off in Le Tot. Without their anti tank platoon, which was on the other side of St Valéry, the enemy tanks were able to bypass them but not without loss. There were many fires in the town which was under constant bombardment from artillery and air attack. In the town the Divisional HQ, the 51st Anti-Tank regiment, part of the Norfolks and a Company of Kensingtons secured the perimeter. An attack into the town was repulsed in the late afternoon but the town was now surrounded. Final plans were now made for the evacuation, beaches allotted and orders given but these did not reach the 2nd Seaforths cut off in Le Tot.

    LOSSES: L/Cpl Emmerson, Tpr Keighren, Tpr Melville

    He was in B squad and this picture i found on the website is the only image I have ever seen of him he is on the far left

    Any more information anyone has would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    ozzy16 likes this.
  3. Neil Murray

    Neil Murray New Member

    Thank You for the reply Tony56. I have not sent away for service records as I am located in Canada. I will need to look into that. I did get what information I could get from joining..www.forces-war-records.co.uk
  4. Tolbooth

    Tolbooth Well-Known Member


    Welcome to the site. My uncle Tom was in the Lothians and was captured just before St Valery (family legend has it by Rommel himself!) and my father went on to serve with them through Normandy, Holland and Germany. Fortunately my uncle Tom made it back after five years as a POW.

    The Lothians war diary of this period is, understandably, very rough but may give you some help.


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