Advice Needed / Queens Royal Regt

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Al London, Nov 21, 2005.

  1. Al London

    Al London Member


    I really want to research my grandfather’s WW2 history, but I’m having real difficulty moving forward.

    I think what I need to do, in order to be able to more forward, is establish which regiment he was with. (All these “regiment”, “battalion” “division” etc words have me so confused sometimes though I’m not even sure that is the right word for what I’m trying to establish!)

    In utter layman’s terms though, what I want to do is work out where he was in the war, and so I can then draw up a list of places and events to read about and research further that are relevant to his war history.

    I’ve just found this site and it seems to be full of posts by very knowledgeable people, so I’m really hoping someone can help me.

    I actually found this site via a Google search that led me to a post from someone quoting the war diaries of his grandfather’s regiment. That is the sort of thing I’d love to be able to do myself.

    My grandfather died 15 years ago now. He didn’t really ever speak of the war. I know he was in India with the army for a number of years prior to WW2, as he did talk about that a lot, but once you get to WW2, all I can really be sure of from what he actually told me is that he was at Dunkirk and he was a Desert Rat also.

    A couple of years ago I found an old legal document that noted his Army service number and obtained his service records via this.

    They told me the following:

    He joined the Scotts Guards in London in 1930. However, he was discharged after only 52 days, this being due to him having lied about his age (He was really 17 when he claimed to be 18).

    Then, in 1931 he joined the Royal Fusiliers, again in London.

    There is nothing to suggest he didn’t stay with the Royal Fusiliers until he was permanently discharged in 1945, i.e. There is no record of him being transferred or joining anywhere else after 1931.

    There are also two sheets that give some interesting information about his time in the Army, dates and notes as to where he went.

    These show how he spent his time in terms of where he was for all his service days, e.g. “Country: India, Service to count as British or Indian: Indian, From: 3rd February 1933, To: 29th November 1937”.

    They also show him as having been “Mobilized Hounslow 1 September 1939” and “2nd” is marked in the column next to that note.

    His WW2 service dates info reads as follows:

    France B.E.F.: 5/10/39 - 31/5/40
    Home: 1-6-40 - 25/5/42
    Middle East: 26/5/42 - 9/9/43
    North Africa: 10/9/43 - 5/1/44
    Home: 6/1/44 - 3/6/44
    North West Europe: 4/6/44 - 14/6/44
    Wounded In Action
    Home: 15/6/44 - 12/11/44
    North West Europe: 13/11/44 - 7/12/44
    Home: 8/12/44 - 18/5/45

    I got an appointment with an Archivist at the Royal Fusiliers museum in London early this year, hoping he would be able to help me understand these service records better. He looked at my grandfather’s service records and told me it was his opinion that my grandfather must have been transferred out of the Royal Fusiliers in 1939, even though there is no note of this in the service records, because the above details do not match up with him being in the Royal Fusiliers, e.g. The Royal Fusiliers were not at D-Day but clearly my grandfather was? He told me it was very common for ordinary soldiers like my grandfather to be moved elsewhere without proper notes being kept in 1939, if this was what suited the Army.

    The Archivist also pointed out that in the bottom corner of one page of my grandfather’s service records, there is what looks like “2nd Loyals” scribbled. He told me he reckoned, based on this scribble, that my grandfather went over to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment in 1939, and that’s where he’d suggest I try next.

    Not living anywhere near Lancashire, I wasn’t straight up to the museum there to get their Archivist’s opinion, but something just told me this didn’t feel right also. My grandfather was a London man (Lewisham, South East London), it just didn’t sit right with me that he’d have gone to a Lancashire Regiment, even though the Archivist in London told me this was a perfectly plausible scenario.

    Then, I stuck a bit of gold. I obtained my grandfather’s marriage certificate (he married in September 1944) and it says on this certificate “Sergeant Queens Royal Regt (motor transport fitter)”.

    I quickly surmised to myself the scribbled reference that looks like it reads “2nd Loyals” on my grandfather’s service records that the Royal Fusiliers Museum Archivist had been so sure to think meant my grandfather must have gone to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment in 1939 could perhaps actually read “2nd Royals”?

    I also did a lot of googling on “Queens Royal Regt” and it seemed to me the history of this Regiment could perhaps match my grandfather’s. They were at Dunkirk, North Africa and D-Day?

    Also I got a book on the Desert Rats (the one by Major-General C.L. Verney DSO, MVO) and read in it that “the Queens Brigade were in the King’s Lynn district” January to May 1944. I know my grandfather’s mother died of cancer in King’s Lynn in August 1944 and my grandfather was there with her when she died. This had always been something of a mystery to me, as, though I can find some very sparse connections between my family and King’s Lynn perhaps, I really couldn’t ever get my head around why it might have been that my great grandmother (a staunch South East London lady through and through all her life) had died in King’s Lynn? If my grandfather had been based there January to May 1944 though, that might explain this? He adored his mother and I’m sure if he were based in Norfolk and knew she was dying, he’d have got her out of London and up to where he was if that were at all possible?

    For all my reading of books and websites though, I don’t understand: How do I find out whether he was 1/5th Queens Royal Regiment, 1/6th Queens Royal Regiment, 1/7th Queens Royal Regiment or what? (I’m getting those name from by the way.)

    I really have got the max information I can from other family members at this stage I think. I know he was a motor mechanic for all his life after the war, and I presume he may have done something like that during WW2? Also, my grandfather was a very gentle man (not a coward at all but very unsuited to war perhaps) and my mother told me she thinks he really took Dunkirk very badly, and she always got the feeling that he may have taken it so badly that he would have been barely fit for service after it, and, she always imagined in her head that he may have actually done something medical after it, as helping the wounded would have been all he was able to do well. That is just her imagination though I guess.

    Anyway, if anyone is still reading this post (thank you for your patience!), I made an appointment to see someone at the Surrey History Centre ('s+Royal+Surrey+Regiment?opendocument) a few months ago, really hoping someone there would be able to look at my grandad's service records and help me move forward, but that was just a complete disaster really. I made an appointment weeks in advance, then spent several hours driving to get there only to be told they could get me specific records if I filled out their slips but they couldn’t possibly comment on my grandfather’s service records at all. Great!

    What does a girl have to do to work out what Regiment her granddad was in? ;-) This is basically my question here.

    I’m willing to travel to records offices, I willing to pay for professional advice if that is what it needed, aside the fact I don’t understand all this very well obviously, I’m not actually completely dim etc ;-) But I just don’t know where to go from here.

    Thanks in advance for any advice anyone can offer.

  2. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor

    Welcome to the forum Allie, it looks like you have a lot of information already so I'm sure the forum will be able to help you.
  3. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    (allondon @ Nov 21 2005, 04:27 AM) [post=41865]All these “regiment”, “battalion” “division” etc words have me so confused sometimes though I’m not even sure that is the right word for what I’m trying to establish![/b]

    In the British Army, an infantry regiment consists of one or more battalions which do not automatically serve together. During WWII, these battalions were normally formed into brigades of three battalions each, usually but not always drawn from more than one regiment. Three of these brigades plus supporting troops made up a division. In turn, a corps consisted og two or more divisions and an army of two or more corps. I have used the past tense because the size and composition of each of these has changed over the years.

    At the start of WWII, the Queen's Royal Regiment consisted of two battalions of the regular army, the 1st which was in India and the 2nd which was in Palestine. There were also four Territorial Army (TA) battalions and a number of "home service" battalions were created during the war.

    We can discount the regular and home service battalions, because their movements do not match your grandfather's and also one of the TA battalions, the 4th, which was a searchlight unit and remained in Britain.

    In 1939, three TA battalions, the 5th, 6th and 7th, were each split into two, to form the 1st/5th, 2nd/5th, 1st/6th, 2nd/6th, 1st/7th and 2nd/7th battalions. This process obviously involved posting in large numbers of personnel and it might be how your grandfather entered the regiment.

    Being TA battalions, made up of part time "weekend soldiers" in the main, they had to be mobilised, or to use the official term, embodied. This was done on 1 September 1939, the day the Germans invaded Poland and two days before Britain declared war.

    The 2nd/5th, 2nd/6th and 2nd/7th battalions were formed into the 35th Brigade, part of 12th (Eastern) Division, a TA division of the BEF. 1st/5th and 1st/6th battalions, together with 2nd Battalion the Buffs (a regular battalion), were formed into 131st Brigade in 44th (Home Counties) Division, also a TA division of the BEF.

    To have served in the BEF with the regiment, your grandfather would have had to belong to one of these battalions.

    To move on to 1944, 131st Brigade, now consisting of 1st/5th, 1st/6th and 1st/7th battalions, was the infantry brigade of 7th Armoured Division, which landed very shortly after D-day and was certainly in action by the date your grandfather was wounded.

    131st Brigade was transferred from 44th (Home Counties) Division to 7th Armoured Division on 1 November 1942, during the battle of el Alamein (2nd el Alamein to be picky about it). 44th Division had arrived in Egypt in the summer of 1942 and saw its first action there at the battle of Alam Halfa at the end of August.

    You said that your grandfather called himself a Desert Rat. Although the term is sometimes misused and applied to all members of 8th Army, it was actually the nickname of 7th Armoured Division. So, this would fit.

    Assuming he served in the same battalion throughout, the probability is that it was 1st/5th or 1st/6th. It is only a probability though.

    I hope this helps.
  4. spidge


    Welcome to the forum Allie,

    Good luck with your quest.
  5. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Allie, get your hands on "Churchill's Desert Rats" and "Churchill's Desert Rats 2," by Patrick Delaforce, and "The Desert Rats," by Robin Neillands, all excellent histories of the 7th Armoured Division. They might help with your quest.

    Battalion war diaries will help, too. They will list his name when he was wounded and taken off the line.
  6. Al London

    Al London Member


    Thank to all who replied, Angie999 and Kiwiwriter especially for your tips.

    Angie, what you have said is very interesting and useful and thank you so much for explaining some of the basics so clearly... It is not easy to get straight talking help like this I've found!

    I think I have the Churchill books recommended on order from Amazon already, but I will check that out now.

    Regards, war diaries, how do I get my hands on these? Is there somewhere you can buy them?


  7. Al London

    Al London Member


    I have this photo of my grandfather. It is the only one I have of him in Army uniform.

    I just thought I'd add it here in case anyone has any interesting comments on it.

    My grandfather is the middle one of the soldiers sitting at the front.

  8. Al London

    Al London Member

    I am also posting here scans of 3 sheets of my grandfather's service records.

    These 3 sheets are the only ones I got that I think may have insight into his WW2 history to offer.

    Incidentelly, annoyingly, it seems I may be missing some text on one of them, due to the way they were photocopied.

    I thought I'd add them here in case anyone here has any interesting comments on them.


  9. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    I would say that the photograph confirms 7th Armoured Division (flag and black RAC berets) and the dates shown for 1939 show him joining one of the TA battalions after some years out of the army in the reserve.
  10. kirkes lamb

    kirkes lamb Junior Member

    The Quens Lancashire Regiment wasnt formed until 1970 in Dover. So some dough info given along the way!

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