6898432 Lance Corporal Leonard F. Webber, 2nd Battalion, Queen Victoria's Rifles, KRRC.

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Mar 8, 2010.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Lance Corporal Leonard Frank Webber, 2nd Battalion, Queen Victoria's Rifles, King's Royal Rifle Corps.

    [​IMG]

    :poppy: CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:



    Whilst researching I came across a reference to this chap and missed his headstone at Esquelbecq. Thanks to Dave (CROONAERT) for the headstone shot I can make a worthwhile thread for him.

    Near where the Roman road crosses the the Esquelbecq to Zegers-Chappel road. I assume they are the D62 and D17. According to 'The Forgotten Massacre ' where the story comes from there is a place called 'Huntsman's Rest' (Anyone ever heard of it?). Near the location described there is a small farm on rising ground.

    On 27th May 1940 there was two soldiers in this farm, one was LCpl Webber and the other an unidentified officer, one would assume of the same regiment. Their retreat to Dunkirk has been cut off by the advancing Germans and now they are pretty much surrounded. Unfortunately for them the unit that holds the area they are stuck in is the SS Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler. Aware of two British soldiers in the farm a fire fight breaks out and the two soldiers fight a retreat back into the kitchen of the farm when their ammunition runs out.

    What happened next is discovered two days later when the SS leave the area and the owner returns to his farm....

    The owner arrives at his house to discover a 'British Armoured Vehicle' outside (I assume this would be a Bren Carrier). Inside the house there are signs of close-combat and in the kitchen the nightmare begins to unfold. The owner finds blood splatted all over the kitchen walls and pools of blood on the kitchen floor. Such is the savagery of what happened even the cast-iron stove lids on the range have been used (one can only assume they were thrown onto the heads of the soldiers or used to cave their skulls in).

    The owner follows the trail of blood outside-It leads to the pigsty, where he finds whats left of the two bodies. The soldiers had been partially stripped, robbed of their belongings and fed to the pigs. Such was thecondition of the bodies when the farmer found them only LCpl Webber could be identified, all that could be ascertained for sure about the other man is that he was an officer.

    The culprits were members of the 1st Bn. LSSAH which gives more weight to the argument that Dietrich knew what was going on in his regiment. He wasn't hiding in a ditch on this day!
     
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    The soldiers had been partially stripped, robbed of their belongings and fed to the pigs. Such was thecondition of the bodies when the farmer found them only LCpl Webber could be identified,


    Ewwww , nasty bastards!
     
  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    1 & 2 QVR were also known as 7 & 8 King's Royal Rifle Corps. There is next to no mention of 2 QVR / 8 KRRC in the regimental history, save for a note that 8th Battalion remained in England until 1944 when it was disbanded for reinforcements.

    The mystery is: what were elements of 2 QVR doing in France? 1 QVR went to Calais as part of the garrison. Did elements of 2 QVR go with them and, if they did, how did they get out of Calais and end up in the Esquelbecq area?
     
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Andrew,

    Like you I did a seach on Geoff's Engine albeit a wider date range and there are quite a few 2nd Bn. buried in Calais which would suggest they were fighting with the 1st Bn. I wonder if the 1st were under strength prior to deployment and a company or two were attached from 2nd Bn. Some seem to be buired in Etaples too. That all said it doesn't explain why they were near Esquelbecq - If they were making for Dunkirk, why come inland?

    Good point too about the SS thinking he may have been Jewish.

    Regards
    Andy
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  6. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    This is my original entry about Webber

    Lance Corporal LEONARD FRANK WEBBER
    No 11 Military Mission (Phantom)
    6898432, 2nd Bn. Queen Victoria's Rifles, King's Royal Rifle Corps
    Who died age 19 on 27 May 1940 Drowned on "SS Aboukir"(Belgium) sunk by E Boat 8 miles off Ostend??
    Son of Leonard Albert and Cecilia Francis Webber, of Chelsfield. Kent.
    ESQUELBECQ MILITARY CEMETERY 2. H. 27.

    Note that the information was unsure where he died.

    Cheers
    Paul
     
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    If he was rescued and landed at Dunkirk amongst the survivors it's still strange why he should be so far inland at Esquelbecq.

    Even if he never made the ship at Ostend before it sailed its still strange how he would end up there.

    Do you have any back ground info on who/what No 11 Military Mission (Phantom) were? They sound like a liasion unit similiar to Swayne Mission.
     
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    General Headquarters Liaison Regiment was tasked with gathering battlefield information and using their own communications net bypassing normal channels of communications sending reports straight to the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief.

    Royal Signals - Contact Site


    After reading the role of the unit I think he may have been operating independantly gathering intel on the battlefield with the officer in an armoured car when captured and killed.
     
  9. idler

    idler GeneralList

    From the Special Forces Roll of Honour, it looks like an assumption that missing 11 Military Mission personnel went down with the Aboukir. Webber and his mate may simply have been separated from the unit and making their own way back.

    Two awards are listed as 11 Military Mission: an MM for McGee WB and an MC for Warre TA. Will see if I can find them...
     

    Attached Files:

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Having seen some files recently at Kew stating some Rifleman from the Rifle Brigade were being used as batmen for Royal Engineer officers in a Corps Engineer unit I'm wondering if Webber was a batman for the unidentified officer found with him. That is assuming L/Cpl's were used as well as privates.

    I wonder if he is in a war diary. I can't seem to find anything on the units listed.
     
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Further to my last post:

    I think the unidentified officer murdered with Webber is Second Lieutenant Piers Richard Edgcumbe. The only officer with 11 Military Mission killed on the same day and has no known grave, Not enough to get CWGC to change his headstone at Esquelbecq but the pieces do fit - don't they ?

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

    I really want to find a diary now !

    Cross ref with Recce Mitch (Paul's) thread below:
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/recce/27235-ghq-liaison-regiment-rac-phantom-roll-honour.html


    Thread I started to try and identify the unmarked grave.
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/allied-units-general/28159-no-11-military-mission-unmarked-grave-possibly-identified.html
     
  12. jonheyworth

    jonheyworth Senior Member

    Flip, wouldn't that be nice if he could be named, I can only think of two others so named, Needs and McQuarqdale.

    Does it help when reminded of the TV docudrama DUNKIRK where signals units were ordered too and from Esquelbecq chateau ?? Perhaps they were involved in this signals activity ?
     
  13. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Andy, reading your R.Sigs link, the presence of a QVR is becoming a little clearer. The page states that motorcyclists from 2nd QVR were attached and this makes sense as they were trained and equipped in the reconnaisance rĂ´le as a Motorcycle Battalion. They would have been a logical recruiting pool for motorcyclists for such a mission.

    The link further states that the 'Aboukir' was carrying No.3 Air Mission - no mention of No.11 - could this have been a sub division working under No.3 ?
     
  14. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Andy you maybe have correctly identified the officer involved but without further proof it isn't enough. Hope you can find a War Diary entry to confirm it.

    Cheers
    Paul
     
  15. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Andy,

    Put these on your list for next time:

    WO 193/841 Air Missions: Howard-Vyse and Hopkinson 1939 Oct.- 1940 Apr.

    WO 361/3 Casualties at sea, Europe: sinking of SS Abukir and reference to 'Hopkinson' and 'Needham' missions 1940 Jan 01 - 1940 Dec 31

    WO 197/116 Operations in Belgium 9 May to 29 May: report by Captain Newton Dunn, Hopkinson mission 1940 June

    Grabbed all the "military mission" references in WO but none relevant (except a No.17 Military Mission WO 106/1652 which might just be a typo). I noticed that some were referred to by name so searched on "Hopkinson"...

    Edgcumbe is listed as a XII Lancer in 1939 but nothing else on him.
     
  16. aldersdale

    aldersdale Senior Member

    Drew,

    Hi if you do find any refs to the Rifle Brigade being used copy me in please, still trying to piece together the path of my John E Blythe 1st Bn Rifle Brigade died in Lamsdorf 12-12-1940, so any snippets greatly appreciated

    Aldersdale
     
  17. Tom Buck

    Tom Buck Junior Member

    Drew,

    I am in the process of complete what will be the most complete story ever written about the battle of Calais in 1940. As a former Green Jacket I started researching the battle for the regiment some 10 years ago. Since then I have put together the story based on over 140 personal accounts supplied by those who fought there.

    Despite this, and because few documents survived the battle I am still collecting accounts to feed into the main book. Where possible the battle is told directly by those who fought it, in their own words. So, I am still keen to add any accounts that may add more to the story.

    If there is anything I can help with in the meantime let me know and I will fill you in on the details as I understand them.

    Regards

    Tom
     
  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Drew,

    I am in the process of complete what will be the most complete story ever written about the battle of Calais in 1940. As a former Green Jacket I started researching the battle for the regiment some 10 years ago. Since then I have put together the story based on over 140 personal accounts supplied by those who fought there.

    Despite this, and because few documents survived the battle I am still collecting accounts to feed into the main book. Where possible the battle is told directly by those who fought it, in their own words. So, I am still keen to add any accounts that may add more to the story.

    If there is anything I can help with in the meantime let me know and I will fill you in on the details as I understand them.

    Regards

    Tom

    Hi Tom,

    This chap wasn't at Calais and neither were quite a few of the KRRC. Prior to the Defence of Calais it appears from many I Corps diaries at Kew quite few volunteered/ were selected to be attached to other units to make up the numbers. I've seen the most attached to units to be Batmen for Officers but the above chap was attached to the Hopkinson's Military Mission for his motorcycling abilities along with quite a few others. Some also appear to have been used as Riflemen too.

    In short this thread is a red herring for what you are looking for.

    Good luck with the book and will it be better than 30 Brigades's Defiant Defence, May 1940?

    Regards
    Andy
     
  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Had this email in the forum Admin account.

    Dear Sirs,
    I work at Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park in Cornwall. In searching for information about Piers Richard edgcumbe (Second Lieutenant 12th Royal Lancers R.A.C) my google search threw up this web site and a conversation about his possible demise alongside Lance Corporal Leonard F. Webber (Queen Victoria Rifles KRRC).
    I write to inform you that should Piers have survived the 2nd WW he would have (through tragedy elsewhere during the war) become the 6th Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. As such he is of very great interest to us and a deal of research has been done here to try and understand more of his death.
    We have a letter on file here at Mount Edgcumbe from a Major J.A.Warre MC (dating from July 1989) describing the following:
    "Piers Richard Edgcumbe - At the beginning of the war he was an officer in the 12th Royal Lancers which was an Armoured Car Regiment. In February 1940 he was seconded with his troop of armoured cars to a newly formed small force known as the Hoptanson Mission which was stationed on the French/Belgian frontiers in the French Zone with the role of going to the Belgian front line in order to give information to the R.A.F bomber command as to the positions of the Allied and German forces.
    With the collapse of the Belgian Army - the Mission which consisted of two troops of armoured cars and a platoon of Motor Bicyclists came under the direct orders of Lord Gorts HQ and took an active part in the retreat to Dunkirk.
    Piers Edgcumbe was killed on either the 28th or 29th May whilst carrying out a long distance reconnaisance in the area of Cassel. It was reported to me that his car had been hit by a shell and he had been killed together with his crew.
    When got this information it was impossible for me to send anyone to investigate and we were almost surrounded by the Germans.
    The details of his death were radioed to me and I don't think his body was ever found - I feel that he must have been burnt with his car - You will appreciate that during the evacuation from the Dunkirk area information was hard to come by and I evacuated the Mission on May 30th from La Parme."
    We are still keen to discover if Piers has been laid to rest - and I would be grateful if this further information about Piers' final movements could be passed on to those who were discussing his possible whereabouts.
    If I could be informed of any further thoughts on the matter I would be very grateful.
     
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    The family need to contact CWGC. They won't talk to me about him or any details they may have.

    Someone told me last year he died in an artillery barrage but could not prove it to me other than saying that was the case, no hard facts just hear say. My account come from an author who got the story for a local who's father, If I remember correctly, owned the farm.

    I am still convinced in my heart and head that he is at rest in the grave next to Webber but sadly I can't prove it unless I get any further leads that uncover some fact, I've exhausted all the ones I can think of.

    There are two many coincidences in my mind for it not to be him but sadly no hard facts, so it will always be Lt. Edgcumbe in that 'Known unto God' grave until someone proves otherwise to me.

    Owen - feel free to pass on my email (my forum name) @hotmail.com to the family should they wish to contact me privately.
     

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