6980520 Thomas KERR, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers: May 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by lelebells, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. lelebells

    lelebells Junior Member

    can anyone help me my grandfather KERR, THOMAS

    Casualty Details | CWGC
    Rank: Fusilier
    Service No: 6980520
    Date of Death: Between 01/06/1940 and 04/06/1940
    Age: 29
    Regiment/Service: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 2nd Bn.
    Grave Reference: V. AA. 2.
    Cemetery: OOSTTAVERNE WOOD CEMETERY
    Additional Information: Son of Hugh and Ellen Kerr; of Belfast, Northern Ireland; husband of Margaret Kerr, of Belfast. would like to no where he was killed
     
  2. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Hi lelebells and welcome to WW2Talk.
    Andy (Drew 5233) is the resident expert on BEF/1940 army operations along with many other helpers but have you applied for Thomas's service record?

    service records army

    That is the usual place to start and will provide much of the info you need.
    It will take up to 9/12 months to get a result and be sure to ask for a copy of the FULL record. It will cost £30 but it will be well worth the wait.

    Good luck and keep us posted with updates or any other information you can find.

    Mike
     
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hello - I will come back to this later (remind me if I don't ;) ) unfortuantely off the top of my head the regiments war diary has little by way of info and May/June may even be missing. That siad I think that Battalion was in the UK before that date so he may have been captured and or died of wounds.
     
  4. Nicola_G

    Nicola_G Senior Member

    Good luck with your search. Perhaps if you change the title of your thread to include some details such as your grandfather's name, it make help more people see it :)
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Now I'm awake I can see its the RIF not RRF....I'll be back after work :)
     
  6. skimmod

    skimmod Senior Member

    The 2nd RIF were the battalion on the right of the 2nd RSF along the Ypres-Comines canal between the 26th-28th of May. I have detailed diaries from locals and BEF sources for the action.
    Once I'm back in the office I'll have a look at the distances etc. From oostervanne etc.
     
  7. skimmod

    skimmod Senior Member

    Just checked the locations. The inniskilling HQ was based about 500 metres from his final resting place (between two forrest blocks towards Palingbeke.) Also the farm across the road is where I suspect the 13th brigade casualty clearing station was based.

    I'll dig out the diary extracts when I get in tomorrow. Do you have a photo of Thomas?

    I will be returning there in May to do some more investigations and will take a photo of his headstone for you.
     
  8. skimmod

    skimmod Senior Member

    25th may 1940
    X
    14:30 - At about 1430 hrs on the 25th all 2nd in commands of coys + coy guides, and the c.o went back to the scarpe area. An advance party of the battalion who were going there to relieve the french. At midnight on the 25/26 they waited at RV for debusage(?). The advance party were still waiting at 0600 hrs on the 26th. While it had been waiting the battalion had received orders to go into Belgium. but nobody had told them about it, and it was only by sheer good luck that they met a Wiltshire p.v Xwho gave them the news at about 07.00hrs.
    X
    21:00 - Meanwhile in the evening of the 25th the battalion had orders to move. It was not however until midnight that it actually set off in RASC transport. It was a pitch black night which made things most awkward. Lights however were allowed as German aircraft were dropping flares overhead the whole time.
    X
    X
    26th may 1940
    X
    05:30 - the route lay through Lille – Quesnay – Warneton – Oostaverne and Ros near Wytschaete. At Oostaverne we debussed at about 0530 hrs and set off on foot to Hollbeke. Orders were received to hold the line of the Ypres – Comines canal and railway embankment. 13th brigade right, 17th brigade left. On our right will be the Cameronians, and our own sector will be held by A coy right, B centre, D left adjoining 17th Xbrigade where the canal turns west, c in reserve behind Hollbeke and battalion HQ in a big wood behind C coy. The forward coys were all on forward slopes which meant that they were very exposed.
    X
    07:00 - They immediately collected all the rest of the party and tried to find the battalion. They crossed into Belgium at Armentieres which was being heavily bombed, then after much searching and much question asking they eventually found the battalion occupying the Ypres-Comines canal round about Hollbeke.
    A busy morning was spent on digging in and on recognisance. The inhabitants all left the village almost as soon as we came into it.
    X
    16:00 - By 1600 hrs it was evident that things were beginning to warm up. Columns of troops began to move west from Zandvoorde and although we shelled the columns no one was sure whether they were Belgians or Germans. As darkness fell rifle and M.G. fire broke out on the 17th Bde front. This continued during the night and was supplemented by shelling from both sides.
    X
    23:00 - The night 26 / 27 was spent on a state of alertness, everyone fully expecting an attack.
    X
    27th May 1940
    X
    05:30 - When dawn came there was a lull until 08:00
    X
    08:00 - When the Germans began shelling our positions.
    X
    10:00 - At 1000 hrs a big German attack was made on the Cameronians who withdrew leaving a coy in the air. This coy, unable to stand the pressure also withdrew, but was sent forward again by Col. Leroy, they were unable to retake their positions and sustained some losses. During the course of this action Capt. Cunningham and in fact all the other coy officers were either wounded or taken prisoners. Efforts by the Germans to widen this gap to the north were frustrated by the refusal of B coy to leave their positions. In this they were supported by a battery of 25 pounders which were able to bring down very accurate fire on German troops hiding behind the embankment. Meanwhile Germans were pouring through the gap in the Cameronians sector, which caused considerable misgivings to B and D coys as to their flank and C coy was moved to face more to its right.
    X
    13:00 - At about 1300 hrs the 17th Bde was seen to be retiring and more determined attacks were made on B coy accompanied by heavy fire from their guns. – D coy also came in for some of this shell fire. At about 1300 hrs B and D coys commenced withdrawing in the process of which 2/Lt. Coakes and several NCOs and men of B coy were wounded. The top of the hills behind Hollebeke were reached with great difficulty owing to mg fire and shelling, but after that these coys were able to retire along dead ground. in withdrawing through the extensive woods between Hollebeke and the St. Eloi - Warneton B and D coys lost touch and there was a great deal of confusion. Many platoons and sections went back beyond the St. Eloi road and were misdirected and never rejoined the battalion at all.
    X
    16:00 - By 1600 the Bn less A coy had been collected and was placed along the St. Eloi road and then ordered forward towards Hollebeke Xand resumed its place in the line in touch with the Wilts on the right and the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers, 17th Bde on the left.
    B coy with the rest of the battalion took up a position in the woods behind Hollebeke at about 16:00hrs For some unknown reason we were unable to get any information about the other coys or about the Bn on our left
    X
    18:00 - This move was carried out and by 1800 the battalion was in position with B coy on the right, C centre and D coy left. We were in touch on both flanks. The defensive line ran along the eastern edge of the long woods above mentioned. XBn HQ was situated on the rear edge of one of the long woods near the Wytschaete – Hollebeke road. On arrival in this new position a German attack could be seen moving forward towards the Wilts.
    X
    18:30 - About 1830 shell fire opened on the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers and immediately after Germans were seen moving forward to attack them and also the frontage held by C and D coys. The Royal Scots Fusiliers, whose position was difficult one with a long wood leading into it, withdrew, thus allowing the enemy to move around the left flank of D coy. Soon the fighting became very confused, posts sited 100 yards apart could not see one another. German troops filtered through the posts firing Tommy guns as they went. These isolated posts of C and D coys gradually withdrew through the wood to Bn HQ and back across a wide clearing to another wood where a hasty position was taken up with such men as had found their way there. B coy which had not been attacked and unaware that the other coys had withdrawn stayed its ground.
    X
    19:30 - At about 1930 hrs or 2000 hrs a considerable force of enemy suddenly appeared out of the woods and surround Bn HQ, which was obliged to surrender to superior numbers. The remains of the battalion, about 150 strong made their way back to Wyschaete under Major B.H. Butler, O.C. D coy, in a very exhausted state.
    X
    21:00 - That night was spent manning road blocks on a road leading towards the enemy. XAfter about 1900hrs we could also not get any information about Bn HQ. We spent a quiet but dismal night dug in underneath a pine wood, and the only sounds to be heard were the stealthy movements of men creeping about, and the patter of rain on the roofs of the dugouts.
    X
    28th may 1940
    X
    04:00 – The next morning at about 0400 hrs patrols were sent out but no trace of any troops could be found, where upon it was decided to withdraw back towards Wyschaete, this we did having to pass through the Germans to reach the village.
    At dawn orders were received from the brig to go forward to the St. Eloi road astride the crossroads at Oostaverne. Breakfast was issued and the battalion was organised into two coys B (A+B) under Capt. Shaw, and C (C+D) under Capt. Nugent. Pushed forward towards the main road without much opposition. C coy was on the right in touch with the Cameronians and b coy on the left astride the crossings with its left in the air.

    Bn HQ was in a German cemetery behind the Wyschaete road. The position was a dangerous one to hold as the Germans had been firing on the St. Eloi road, particularly around the cross roads, all the previous day, and in consequence had the range accurately registered. On our left flank were a number of farms and other buildings which overlooked our position. These to begin with were all occupied by the Germans. XB coy were able to deal with the nearest of the farms but owing to its weak strength were unable to push on. A platoon of the Bedfordshire and Herefordshire regiment also occupied the road in our sector and proved themselves of the greatest of assistance.
    X
    07:00 - At about 0700hrs the Germans occupied on of the farms on are left and succeeded in bringing accurate MG fire and shelling to bear on B coys left platoons, so that we had to evacuate the farm we had been occupying. Shortly after this heavy artillery fire from our own guns was brought down on this same farm, which had been occupied by the Germans immediately after we evacuated it, and after about 15mins of this a German force of about A coy was seen to withdraw to the woods to the east. The German artillery now retaliated with a very heavy bombardment all along the main road and behind. Many men were wounded but all positions were maintained.
    X
    13:00 - At about 1300 hrs about 60 men of mixed coys arrived up from ‘b’ echelon. These men had got lost the previous night and had been rounded up by the QM + MTO. This addition was of the greatest value. A platoon was at once formed under 2/Lt. Dane and ordered to occupy the first farm to our left. This was done with ease and then 2/Lt. Dane attempted to push on and capture an enemy machine gun post in a house 300yards further down the road. In doing this 3 of his men were killed. Two carriers were then sent for and under covering fire from a bren gun firing towards the first farm, although the carriers pushed up to within 100yards Xof the farm and fired with their brens on all loopholes in the house more casualties occurred. Directly forward movement was attempted – one of the carriers was hit by an anti tank bullet, but was driven out. 2/Lt. Dane was himself killed, gallantly attempting to advance.
    X
    20:00 - It was not until dusk that it was possible to evacuate the survivors. That afternoon it had come to rain and intense discomfort was undergone by everyone lying in road drains full of running water. XExcellent work was continually being done by the carriers, time and time again they were sent forward when attacks had threatened to patrol the road. They also proved invaluable in bringing in ammo and carrying messages. During the day Wytschaete suffered severely from heavy bombardment rendering communications with brigade and b echelon very difficult indeed.
    X
    21:00 - XAt about 2100hrs the order to withdraw arrived.
    X
    21:30 - By 2130 the carriers covering the withdrawal evacuated the position. The enemy made no attempt to follow up and appeared to be unaware of our actions. We were shelled going through Wyschaete but suffered no casualties. At Vierstraat the battalion transport together with that of the rest of the brigade awaited us. All equipment and loads of every kind had been destroyed in order for us to be carried.
    X
    29th may 1940
    X
    00:00 - The column left Vierstraat at about midnight and proceeded Xin the black darkness without lights through Poperinghe to Pollinchove behind the Yser canal arriving at about 0500 hrs. X
    X
    05:00 - We were billeted in the village together with those of the Wilts and some Grenadier Guards. The morning was spent resting, owing to the number of German aircraft it was decided to move out into the fields in the afternoon. Unfortunately a shell landed right in the middle of a section standing round a truck, there were unfortunately some nasty casualties as a result of this.
    X
    19:00 - That evening the battalion was organised into two coys under Capt. Nugent and Lt. Foulkes, and was told to go into reserve behind a french regiment holding loo bridge which was to be held by them until 0530 hrs,30th may. XWhen our recce party went up to look at the position we were just in time to see the french withdrawing !!! The time being barely midnight! XWe at once pushed to the bridge and got there just as the Germans reached the other side. Fortunately the bridge was blown and also the Germans made no immediate attempt to cross.
    X
    04:30 - Nothing of any great importance happened during the night and we successfully withdrew at 0430hrs on the 30th. X
    X
     
    Lisa Koppens likes this.
  9. skimmod

    skimmod Senior Member

    Apologies for all the X's copy and paste on the iPad seems to be replacing spaces with X's
     
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    He is listed in the Missing Men file and is struck through with acc u.p. 207 next to his name - I haven't a clue what that means.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    He was in A Company !

    This is the form listing his last payment in France. Follow down the list to his name and if you look on the right you will see his signature - not everyday you see these kind of documents ;)

    [​IMG]
     
    Gooseman and 4jonboy like this.
  12. skimmod

    skimmod Senior Member

    Wow!! It's amazing that these two documents have so much info! Acc UP 207? perhaps a form number? Wish the RSF had forms like this!

    Nice find Andy!
     
  13. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Well done Andy!

    Lesley
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I'm wondering if its a wounded in action form. The Bn left France at the end of May.

    I copied a few 1944 RAMC diaries this week end and one had what looked like casualty details in it (I don't look at the pages when I'm copying) - I'm sooooooo hoping when I get to copy all the 1940 ones they deliver the goods.
     
  15. skimmod

    skimmod Senior Member

    If any of the RAMC files talk about the 17th brigade, I'll be the first in the que!!
    The local journal that includes the German interviews, talks about HQ and the remainder of the companies being surprised between the two woods and roughly handled resulting in most of them being captured.
     
  16. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    In the context of an entry higher on the page, I'd suspect that "acc" is accepted but what is UP 207 or 20Y ?
     
  17. skimmod

    skimmod Senior Member

    Agreed on the acc. Was there a 207 surgical unit, ambulance or chaplains unit?
     
  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    RAMC formations tend to start at Div level but I think each Bde had a CCS.
     
  19. skimmod

    skimmod Senior Member

    Here's a thought. The German 207th div was part of the 18th army group. I can't get at my books from here. Wasn't the 18th going through that area as a follow up to the 54th IR?
     
  20. skimmod

    skimmod Senior Member

    Or perhaps acc. Stands for accounted for?
     

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