Beds & Herts Retreat To Dunkirk

Discussion in 'WW2 Battlefields Today' started by wamwig, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. wamwig

    wamwig Junior Member

    Hi

    Having spent the last few years retracing my ancestors WW1 actions I thought I would turn to a WW2 relative.

    My great uncle Stan Woor was in the 2nd Battalion, Beds and Herts (he has a couple of mentions in the Cap Badge book) and so I thought I might try and retrace their fighting retreat from Zaventem to Dunkirk.

    Wondered if anyone else had tried this and had any helpful pointers for me?

    Thanks
     
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  2. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Hi.
    My grandad was 2nd battalion from 33-37 then 1st battalion 37-44, I do however have the official history of the Beds and Herts written by their ex CO ( Barrow) the retreat ( with maps etc) is in the book.
    Where in the UK are you by the way?

    Alex.
     
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  3. wamwig

    wamwig Junior Member

    Hi Alex
    Yes I have just this week obtained a copy of Cap Badge and am finding the CO's account fascinating particularly as Stan is mentioned twice.
    I am in East Hertfordshire.
    Anthony
     
  4. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Hi.
    Yes I have cap badge by Medley, the book I’m referring to is Encyclopedia in size! I’ll post a pic.
    If you’re not to far from Bedford, the archive section at the council offices has a copy of the official history which will have the most detail you’ll find on 2 Beds and Herts. (I have what they have )
    Alex.
     

    Attached Files:

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  5. wamwig

    wamwig Junior Member

    Hi Alex
    Looks like I will have to make a trip to Bedford then, its not too far from me
    Anthony
     
  6. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Hi.
    Yeah that’s your best bet. Just out of interest was your chap stationed at Gravesend? The 2nd battalion were at gravesend from 1936 until after Dunkirk.
    I’m from there as my grandad met my nan whilst stationed there!

    Alex.
     
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  7. wamwig

    wamwig Junior Member

    I'm not sure I know he was in India with them pre-war, guess I had better get his service record. He was born in Norfolk but the family were in Hertfordshire by that time. I know he later served in Greece, and is believed to have lost a stripe there for some reason. Post war he was a bus conductor with London Transport at Hertford.
     
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  8. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Will be interesting to see. The 1st battalion was the “overseas battalion” the 2nd battalion being the “Home” battalion. After basic training at Bedford they went to the 2nd, and as and when the 1st needed more people they’d draft them in from the 2nd.
    2nd battalion did go to Palestine in 1936 and came to Gravesend after that.
    1st battalion were in India pre war and sent back to the UK not long after war was declared. However, with no real threat of invasion they were diverted to the Middle East ( hence they were at Tobruk). Anyway, would be interesting to see his service records.
    Also at Bedford they have pass out ( completion of training) photos, so if you know when your man was there you’ll find his pic.

    Alex.
     
  9. wamwig

    wamwig Junior Member

    I had better pay my £30 and get his service record then, hopefully it will answer at least some of the questions.

    Presumably that is the archive section at Bedford Council (now that Bedfordshire doesnt exist as an administrative authority any more) or do Hertfordshire Archives also hold some (duplicate) records as well?
     
  10. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Yes service records a must.
    The big boring grey looking building in Bedford is where the archives are. Can’t place the phone number at the mo but I’m sure it’s online.
     
  11. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi Anthony

    2nd Beds & Herts went to Greece on board SS Banfora on 13/12/44 and arrived at Neon Faliron (aka Phaleron) on 15/12/44. They were part of 10th Infantry Brigade, which was part of 4th Infantry Division.

    They were part of a sizable set of reinforcements from Italy and Egypt under the command of General Hawkesworth known as Military Command Athens (MCA).

    They were sent to Greece by Field Marshall Alexander to help stop the communist insurgency in Athens and Piraeus.

    4 Div fought their way into Athens from the coast moving up through the Piraeus Peninsula and linking up with ARKFORCE (General Arkwright) who had been defending the besieged Central Athens since 03/12/44.

    After the surrender of the insurgents in late Jan 45, 4 Div went to Northern Greece & Macedonia and stayed there until Feb 46. Beyond that not as clear. Apparently as 4 Div was withdrawing from Greece, it was replaced by 13th Inf Div which was made up forces pinched from 4th Indian Div and 4th Brit Inf Div and 3 fresh Infantry Battalions brought over from Italy.

    If you need any more about his time in Greece let me know as I have their war Diaries for Dec 44 and Jan 45 and a few other useful docs.

    Hope this helps

    Gus
     
  12. wamwig

    wamwig Junior Member

    I have some further records from a family member and while he was indeed with the 2nd Battalion in France 1939/40 and was wounded at Dunkirk on 3 June 1940, subsequently in hospital in Sherborne, it looks like he may have subsequently served with the 1st Battalion as his record puts him in Palestine (Sept 1940), Egypt (March 1941) and then India (March 1942) to October 1944 then to 3 Battalion in November 1945 prior to discharge to Z reserve, rejoining in March 1947, to India in June 1947 and then Middle East Land Forces in November 1947 being discharged in September 1949. He was awarded the Africa Star, Defence Medal, Burma Star and 39/45 Medal.
     
  13. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Hi.
    Definitely 1st battalion with those locations. Do you know if he was in a rifle company? I’m in contact with John Riggs who was a captain in the 1st. I’ll see if he remembers the name

    Alex
     
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  14. wamwig

    wamwig Junior Member

    Sorry Alex no idea what company he was in, if you could ask John Riggs that would be great, he might just remember him, he served from 1931 so had been with the Beds & Herts for some time, rising to the rank of Sgt.

    Anthony
     
  15. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Ok will do. I’ll get back to you ASAP. I’ve got some photos of groups of beds and Herts guys, obv I only know who my grandad is, slim chance but you never know, your man might be in them!
    Alex.
     
  16. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Spoke to Captain Riggs. He said names escape him after 70 odd years and a stroke!
     
  17. wamwig

    wamwig Junior Member

    Hardly surprising really, but thanks for asking, I have trouble remembering names from last week!!
     

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