2 Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

Discussion in '1940' started by battleofassche, Feb 6, 2019.

  1. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    Wondering if any members might have the officer returns for 2 Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry for May 1940. Just trying to establish who was the commanding officer and carry out some biographical research.

    Thanks in advance for any help.
  2. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Hi Steve
    Judging by the RWK regimental history, the names of the major players among the officers are quite often listed in regimental histories, so maybe the same for DCLI.
  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    According to the DCLI regimental history, a Lt Col E. R. Rushton. He took command in September 1939 because Lt Col Carkeet-James was posted to Aldershot Command (in June!?). He was detailed for beach duty on May 31 and handed over his command to Major Jolsen. Was never seen again, "presumed drowned during the later stages of evacuation".
    battleofassche likes this.
  4. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    Perfect thank you. Here is a little more biographical data on him.

    Lieutenant Colonel Eric Rooksby RUSHTON (4952)
    2nd Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

    Date of birth: 15th May 1892
    Date of death: 1st June 1940

    Killed in action aged 48
    Commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial Column 60
    Eric Rooksby Rushton was born at Southsea in Hampshire on the 15th of May 1892 the son of William Samuel Rushton, a Post Office surveyor, and Gertrude Jurin (nee Roberts) Rushton of “Sea View” on the Isle of Wight.

    He was educated at Lancing College where he was in Heads House from September 1907 to July 1910. He was a member of the Officer Training Corps. He went on to Emmanuel College Cambridge from the 10th of October 1910 to 1912 where he studied medicine.

    He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion Middlesex Regiment (Territorial Force) on the 9th of March 1912. Following the outbreak of war he was transferred to the regular army with the same rank on the 14th of August 1914 and was attached to the 4th Battalion of his regiment. He landed in France with his battalion the same day.

    On the 23rd of August 1914 the battalion occupied a line of one and a half miles from Auberge to Mons in preparation for an attack. The attack began at 10.15am but the surviving men were forced to retire to their original positions at 3pm. Eric Rushton was reported as wounded and missing but was not officially reported as missing on the 10th of September. He had been captured. From the 29th of December 1917 he was interned in Holland and was repatriated to the UK on the 18th of November 1918.

    He was promoted to Captain which was announced in the London Gazette of the 20th of June 1919; his promotion being backdated to the 1st of January 1917 and served with the 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment on his return.

    He married Doris Edith (nee Ford) at the Holy Trinity Church, Chelsea on the 15th of December 1919.

    On the 10th of January 1923 he transferred to the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry with the rank of Captain and served as Adjutant of the 4/5th Battalion from 1927 to the 1st of February 1931. He was promoted to Major on the 15th of March 1932 and to Lieutenant Colonel on the 3rd of July 1939. He was appointed as Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion in June 1939.

    Following the outbreak of war the 2nd Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry embarked from Southampton on board the SS "Princess Maud" on the 30th of September 1939, docking at 7am the following day at Cherbourg.

    Months of the "Phoney War" passed before the Germans launched their "Blitzkrieg" on France and the Low Countries on the 10th of May 1940.

    At just before midnight on the 18th of May 1940 Eric Rushton and the 2nd Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry arrived at the River Escault where they were allocated a mile of river frontage to defend from the advancing Germans. There were two bridges in his sector, one of which had been destroyed and the entire area was devoid of cover. After consulting Brigadier Barker, he withdrew the bulk of his battalion behind the Rijtgracht, a watercourse which ran parallel to the Escault. The enemy began shelling the battalion positions on the morning of the 21st of May in a bombardment which lasted for some six hours. At 10.05am A and B Companies were attacked and before long reports were received to the effect that the remaining bridge had been captured by them. A small patrol was despatched which reported that the bridge was still unoccupied. The battalion was relieved by the 1/6th Battalion East Surrey Regiment at 3.30am on the 22nd of May 1940.

    By the 31st of May the battalion was depleted and suffering from exhaustion as they approached Dunkirk for evacuation. On that day Eric Rushton was ordered to report to Divisional Headquarters from where he was despatched to the beaches to assist with the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and their French allies and he handed over command of the battalion to Major Joslen.

    He was last seen on the beach at De Panne, along with his batman and his driver, where they boarded the minesweeper HMS Skipjack (J38), which was evacuating troops from the beaches. At around 8.30am on the 1st of June 1940 HMS Skipjack, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Francis Babington Proudfoot RN, was attacked by ten enemy Ju88 dive bombers and was hit by two bombs which caused the ship to list heavily to port. Another three bombs hit her shortly afterwards and she capsized at 8.49am remaining afloat for a further twenty minutes before sinking. The survivors of the attack were attacked in the water by enemy aircraft, before a number were rescued by the Dutch steamer, MV Hilda. She was lost with nineteen of her crew and around two hundred and seventy five evacuated troops.

    He is commemorated on the memorial at St Peter’s Church on the Isle of Wight.
    Chris C likes this.

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