Battle of Rethem 1945 (Aller river crossing)

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Willem, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. that's amazing, thanks :) there is a V.J. Corkingdale as well, with a 'J' initial. Jacks were usually born John weren't they? Not sure how Johns became Jacks, but is there a way of knowing these 2 young men's full names? How nice it would be to send them my dad's poem & diary entry. How would I look for the Corkingdale man? Thanks again
    JimHerriot likes this.
  2. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Dear Dr Penny,

    Guy has likely used Service Number (the one closest to your father's) as a start, plus the late Private Roberts given middle name is John, so highly possible he was called "Jack" by his mates, as Johns often were back then.

    Keep up the good work, kind regards,

    Dr Penny Walters likes this.
  3. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    My current eyesight and typing speed render my post above superfluous!

    Guy, you are a better man than I.

    Kind regards,

    Dr Penny Walters likes this.
  4. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    14738062 Pte.Victor JAMES Corkingdale 2nd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment
    Dr Penny Walters likes this.
  5. Found Albert John Vivien Roberts' 1939 Register entry on FMP, using the parents' names on his commemoration page. Wow! Thanks :)

    Attached Files:

  6. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Dear Penny - what a touching poem and thank you so much for sharing it. Your father was very fortunate to miss the attack mounted by his battalion on Rethem and it was interesting to see how leave seemingly took precedence over everything. Maintaining morale was a critical aspect for the Army, so this probably explains why he was allowed to go on leave. His entry for 10 April mentions a town name that looks like 'Nomery'; it was in fact Nienburg, which the battalion occupied that day (it had actually been handed over as an open 'city' by the mayor to C Squadron 3 RTR the day before). The last word in his entry for 11 April would be ' A Echelon', which was the battalion's grouping to provide logistic support to the rifle companies and so the first port of call for soldiers being moved rearwards. As SDP mentioned above, my book is due to be published early next year and is on Amazon at I cover 2 Mons' action at Rethem in some detail so believe this would be of interest for you.

    Best wishes

    SDP, Dr Penny Walters and stolpi like this.
  7. Thanks for the extra info John. I can screenshot some pages from my dad's diary if it would add to your narrative for the book? I have photos of him and his parents as well. I lecture internationally in genealogy & family history and will be delivering a lecture in Salt Lake City next Feb, including one about the 1939 Register. I am including my dad's 1939 entry as a schoolboy in 1939 and comparing that to his war diary just a few years later. As an aside, my book ''Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy'' is available in paperback here - or on Kindle here -
    Are you coming to Roots Tech London, 24-26 Oct? They will have a stall by MOD there as well. I'm doing 3 lectures
    best wishes
  8. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Penny - Many thanks for your kind offer but I think your father would have been enjoying his well-earned leave during the period in which I am interested! Your book looks very interesting and I have always wondered about those aspects of finding out about relatives! Sadly I can't make the Roots Tech but all the very best for your lectures. John
  9. Phil Jones

    Phil Jones New Member

    Hi all,

    Just came across this thread and the discussions around Rethem which I find fascinating.
    I have recently found some pictures from my fathers old albums that relate to the battle.
    He was a tank troop commander in 5th RTR and had fought all the way from Normandy.
    He gets a mention in "no triumphant procession' (around page 180) for the action up the road in Geestefeld. He was awarded the MC.
    Louis Jones is the guy in the braces sat on the ammo box.
    He spoke occasionally of this battle, being that he and his crew were in their tanks for four days!

    upload_2019-12-2_12-30-40.jpeg upload_2019-12-2_12-30-40.jpeg
    Owen, Giberville, ecalpald and 7 others like this.
  10. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Many thanks for sharing the picture with us Phil. The boys look pretty dead-beat, which is not unsurprising as the action in the Weser-Aller triangle was very hard fought. Do you have any more information on your father's part in the fighting? I have to hand in my manuscript for my new book in about 6 weeks time but there is time to add information.

    Cleaning the Besa was clearly a crew task and they have stripped it down into its constituent parts to give it a very in-depth clean.


  11. Phil Jones

    Phil Jones New Member

    Hi John,
    Regarding Rethem itself, sadly I don't have anything from my dad Louis Jones. Other than he was Troop Comd, 2 Troop A Sqn 5 RTR.
    There are a couple of photos in his albums, and nothing else. I have some pictures of his tank. Considering the reputation of 5 RTR as not being a BS type outfit, his wagon is shown as in tip top battle order. interestingly he has been in battle with a tie on and white gaiters (all officers in the regiment wore these). He did tell me about his use of camouflage on the tank. There were times when the troop were driving fast through villages on the advance and passing german units waving at him as they thought they we're their own! He said he learned the use of effective cam from the germans in the Bocage of Normandy.

    The Cromwell as you may know had two Besa's. Quite an effective weapon apparently. He did mention that during action the tank and turret was chokingly full of smoke. Not only from the main gun but the Besa's as well. The german tanks had air extraction systems!
    Dad was an experienced tank crew. At the start of the war he was in India (NW Frontier), as the regiment were losing so many crews and tp comds he was singled out for commission and rather reluctantly, (we wanted to join his regiment in Africa and Italy) he was sent to Sandhurst and graduated in '43. Thereafter he was sent up to Scotland to prepare the tactics and techniques for amphibious landings (Loch Fyne, Argyllshire). So his war effectively started on 7th June on Gold beach. There is no doubt that his experience and affinity with his men contributed to their success as a troop in that they survived pretty much intact.
    He was wounded in France and again in Belgium. Crossed the Rhine and ended up at the River Elbe north of Hamburg.
    He did tell me a bit about his episode near Verden with the scrap at Geestefeld and I have his citation for the MC.

    My first posting as a soldier was Verden and I became very familiar on exercises with all of the towns and villages he would have fought through.
    His younger brother Alf was in the regiments forward delivery squadron. He told me of them being diverted to Belsen and the horrors there.
    His other brother Arthur was 4th RTR and he was taken prisoner at Arras in 1940 after the flanking attack on the german armour there.
    The miracle is that they all survived!


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  12. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Greetings Phil - very interesting, and many thanks for the additional details - I have added your father's first name and troop number to the manuscript. Was he awarded the MC for the action at Geestefeld? If so I would very much like to read his citation. I see you are wearing his medals, naturally including the MC, in the photo of yourself at the Thiepval monument. How smart to have worn a tie in battle! Bit different from today's uniform standards. Pause for harrumph. I too know the Verden area well and my first Germany posting was to Fally in 1981, hence my interest in the fighting in this part of Germany. My thanks again and best wishes.

  13. Phil Jones

    Phil Jones New Member

    Hi John, I can send a copy. If you ping me your email to, would be happy to oblige.

  14. Hoover

    Hoover Junior Member

    Finally I got my answer of the mystic brit. Halftrack behind the railway station. It was a simple truck. I talked to a citizen (who was a child in April 1945) and he told me that he remebers a burnt out truck. So the reports of a halftrack are wrong.
  15. Hoover

    Hoover Junior Member

    I am doing battle filed tours in Rethem. 3 hours and 3 km walk. If is there any interest, we will find a date.

    JimHerriot likes this.
  16. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    Hi Frank, my trip is arranged for 4/5/6 April 2020 - perhaps we could sort something out?
    JimHerriot likes this.
  17. Hoover

    Hoover Junior Member

    4 or 5 April 2020 would be fine for me.
    JimHerriot likes this.
  18. Hoover

    Hoover Junior Member

    Just another question the the carrier attack on the first day. Saft writes that one Wasp was destroyed in the centre of Rethem, is that correct?
  19. El-gordo

    El-gordo New Member

    Hi Willem..I came across this site whilst idly surfing the internet one evening..thought I would contact you to offer a second hand account of some of the fighting at Rethem.
    My father was a signaller in the 1/5 th Welch and was involved in the first action..he was one of the few from the company that made it back that day (obviously!)..however it was the last action he was involved with in the war..and due to his experience there it was something he talked about at some length.. I could recount the story to you wouldn't be very academic..but might be of interest..
    Finding the site tricky to negotiate as its new to me!
  20. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    wasps rethem wd.jpg

    War Diary 1/5 Welch says 1 Wasp carrier lost with 3 crew...
    stolpi likes this.

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