49th West Riding Division - Brigadier Ekins

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by smdarby, Jul 21, 2014.

  1. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    Visited Bergen-op-Zoom cemetery in the Netherlands at the weekend and saw the grave of Brigadier Maurice Ekins (d. 4/11/44).

    I had a quick look online and he was CO of 56th Brigade, 49th Div. Other than that I can't find anymore information.

    Does anyone have a unit history? I'd like to know the circumstances of his death.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    When he landed in Normandy in June 1944 he was CO of 131 Inf Bde, 7 Armd Div before, in July 1944 he swapped with the commander of 56 Inf Bde. I'm not sure exactly why, perhaps to move experienced commanders around? I think there is a bit more detail in the recent book about 56 Bde.


    dbf likes this.
  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    From memory, it wasn't much more scientific than Pepper being considered to have a more dashing style, and therefore better suited to an infantry brigade in an armoured division. Ekins, as more of a 'plodder', was given the ordinary infantry brigade.
  4. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    Just found an extract online from the 56th Brigade book. Says Ekins died of a gunshot wound fired at close range to the right side of the head. There was no enemy action that night and he was found seated in his car. Also, some men at brigade HQ were sworn to secrecy.

    This no doubt explains why there is so little info about him online.

    Is his death mentioned I Delaforce's book (Polar Bears), or any other unit history?
  5. idler

    idler GeneralList

    No mention in Polar Bears, the Glosters' Cap of Honour (which tends to be a bit thin) or the Essex history. The latter makes the point that the operation to cross the Mark was towards the end of a hard six-week period in the line.
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    all it says in Delaforce's Polar Bears is on bottom of page 171.

    Lt-Col Mackay-Lewis , CO of the 185th Field Regiment , took over command of the 56th Brigade , as Brig MS Ekin died on the night of 3 November.
  7. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I was thinking the same thing :unsure:
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I'm intrigued now...I'll look him up in the Brigade War Diary when I'm at Kew next

    WO 171/650 56 Brigade HQ 1944 Mar-Dec
  10. idler

    idler GeneralList

    185 Fd Regt might also be worth a look if it took their CO away.
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Tut, You could have posted the ref !
  12. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    WO 171/1001

    185 Regt.
  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    an ex-member of the forum has transribed it here.

    3 November 1944: H Hr for Crocus, Village of Stampersgat bombarded for 30 mins previous to 2 Glos attacking from East, opposition was heavy, especially from dug-in tank in village. After 10 min firing the enemy withdrew.

    4 November 1944: Major R.Hudson assumed command the Regiment.
  14. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I'd be interested in whatever people find about Ekins. I certainly didn't discover much when I was digging into 50th Div, other than one or two negative comments about his ability. Pepper was highly regarded by everyone from Montgomery down, but 56th Bde had a tough time under him. The 56th made its best attack of the Normandy Campaign under Ekins, in BLUECOAT, so perhaps he should get some credit for that.
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Any chance you took a photo of his headstone Shaun that you could post on this thread?
  16. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Photo Credit `Astrid`

    Drew5233 likes this.
  17. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    Many thanks for the info guys. I'd be interested in what you dig up at the National Archives, Andy.

    Seems like everything was hushed up - probably for the sake of unit morale and to preserve Ekins' honour (although I'm sure word quickly got around as to what happened). Even in later accounts posted above the "S" word is never mentioned and Ekins' death is brushed over. Makes you wonder if his family ever found out the true story (provided of course that what we all seem to think happened is the true story)?

    There is also the question of why he would do such a thing? Was it for professional reasons i.e. had he made some tactical errors prior to his death? Perhaps someone out there who knows more about 49th Div than me can speculate?
  18. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Again, much easier to say than do: but the Royal Fusiliers may have had a journal which may have had an obituary?
  19. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

  20. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    Maybe that was the official line. The problem is that I (and no doubt most of you) have read lots of unit histories. Whenever a senior officer is KIA, there is nearly always a description of how he died. A brigade commander would especially warrant a write up, but there seems to be little about Ekins' cause of death, other than that he died.

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