Anyone recognise these men?

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Alisonmallen, Mar 20, 2019.

  1. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Active Member

    i have spent over thirty years researching, interviewing soldiers who fought in Africa and Italy and became part of a wonderful group of South Wales Borderers all sadly no longer with us. I just thought someone may like to see names with faces of some who were lost and a very special one who survived. The first is my beloved grandfather 4076193 Pte Thomas moss South Wales Borderers. Drummer in regimental band, boxer and started a choir to entertain the troops in Africa. A wonderful singer and master at reciting poetry in ‘vino dumps’ in Tunisia I am told. I was told so often of his bravery and how he looked after troops to keep them calm perhaps the one I recall most is strumming a mandolin whilst bombs were dropping. He didn’t mention it to me and was amazed when I received a letter out of the blue from a soldier who appreciated his humour and nerve. he went over to the artillery then from I believe 1943 having been in Norway and on various training camps helping train young recruits. His fellow Borderers were with him throughout Africa and Italy but as part of the 90th LAA Regt disbanded at wars end. He emotionally told me every name of those friends he lost and where they were lost and how. He was at Anzio not DDay as were other Borderers and so didn’t know who had survived that until the war ended. Their first reunion must have been fantastic because they continued practically to their last breath. He also visited their families in the valleys where he was from - so sad but having accompanied him to one he didn’t get to it was emotional. He would be annoyed to be considered special or a hero and boasted about but I think he - all of them - deserve praise and remembrance. However he was as were his friends a great bunch and an honour to know them. These are just a few.
    First two Pte Moss
    Gunner Raymond Hancock Kia Anzio
    Reggie Potts Kia Italy
    Pte J Cody Kia after D Day
    Original graves/crosses Norway of some close friends - a band member and one the son of a shoe manufacturer (Briggs) killed during air attacks. It Was poignant how he remembered them all then just sighed and moved on to a cheery note.
     

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    4jonboy, harkness, CL1 and 5 others like this.
  2. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Gnr Hancock was in 90 LAA Regt RA who were the integrated air defence unit for the 1st British Infantry Division - the air defenders went wherever the Div went. They endured the whole of Anzio - 22 Jan-5 Jun 44 and it was grim every single day.

    If you would like a photo of Gnr Hancock gravestone, I will get you one next time I am out there guiding a group in Jun 19. Either way, I will find him and tip my hat to him.

    Reggie Potts was killed in the dying days of the war in Apr 45 whilst serving with 10 Royal Hussars.

    When the air threat vanished completely in Aug-Sep 44, a lot of air defence units were broken up and dished out to the infantry or tanks.

    Regards

    Frank
     
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  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Frank
    "When the air threat vanished completely in Aug-Sep 44, a lot of air defence units were broken up and dished out to the infantry or tanks"
    Too bloody true mate ..........
    That's how I finished up in the Hussars !
    Ron
     
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  4. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Active Member

    Thank you I have a photo of Hancock’s grave but kind of you really and please say hello from Tom. There is another there who was a beautiful singer and close friend and his legs were blown off and he died having a fag gransha weeped telling me.i need to get the account I wrote and reread. Tommy Byrne or Jimmy Byrne I think. He said his wife said he had joined the choir of angels. Reggie Potts was in a tank, I was told by his comrades who were around at the time, when it was hit so very sad. My grandfather went to see ‘old granny Crouch’ when he went back to Wales as she had brought Hancock up. I assume they lived around where gransha was. He seemed to know everyone and everyone knew him so she was pleased he went. He said she cried her eyes out. I need to check my notes because I was given quite some detail as to where they were and how they died. Yes gransha was at Anzio with the boys from start to finish and some of the near hits were terrifying. He said you could put your hand out and a shell would land on it. He was somewhat annoyed when his 3 blankets were riddled with bullets! He seemed quite proud to have 3 blankets as he told me with a glint in his eye. Amazing in all that really. He had a motorbike one day and a blast blew him up a tree and GIs rescued him. He ended up writing to one for years. Both boxing fans. I always suspect his nightmares were Anzio and certainly relived when we did the interviews but it also got it off his chest. He was supposed to have been mentioned in despatches for a brave act running a line close to the enemy based on the speed he ran. He went between the shell bursts. However he didn’t know what happened to the officer who said it. He lost too many friends there but his best friend Killer Richards survived and became my adopted grandad! What a crew! If I recall rightly they disbanded prior to moving on to Austria. Gransha had done enough to get home straight away and he was in the papers in Derry where the SWBs were at the start of war. He was first back and the mayor offered a house and job but he took the family back to the valleys. He didn’t see some of those lads till they met 40 years on and what a time that was.
     
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  5. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Active Member

    Hello Ron yes I believe Reggie went to the Hussars and other lads to various units. My grandfather was older than some of the lads he fought with having been a regular. He was 26 when war started and had served in Palestine and NI. He talked of youngsters joining up with gas masks over their shoulder. I am so proud of them all and can see how the trust and camaraderie between them never died. I have written a book (not published) of his war and of course added all the anecdotes from his old friends. Amazingly when we arrived at Malton Camp where we held a reunion in 1990 I recall Wally Owen recognising g George Elliott by the back of his head! This was due to spending weeks driving through Tunisia behind him on the dodgy rocky roads. You must have memories like they did and they said they couldn’t believe disbelief they did all that!
     
  6. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Active Member

    When they got to Rome they had an audience with the Pope at some point and were given rosary beads. Were you in that Ron? Were you 90th LAA?
     
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Allison
    I should have been more specific, although, in my defence, my military bio is shown at the bottom of all my postings.
    My 1st unit was the 49th LAA Regt, I never met the Pope, but the late Tom Canning certainly did.
    Ron
     
  8. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Active Member

    I will have a look at all your postings it is fascinating to me thank you. I have been focussing on the Great War forum for some time for family history and returning to the second war now but so much to see and read!
     
    Ron Goldstein likes this.

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