Captain Jack Lee 14 Medium Regt RA D-Day+1

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Emanuel1940, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. Emanuel1940

    Emanuel1940 Member

    Can anyone help me find information on Captain Jack Lee, Royal Artillery who died on Wednesday 7th June 1944? His CWGC record is here CWGC - Casualty Details I'm guessing that his body was never recovered? Would anyone be able to help with the 14th Medium Regiment RA diary for that day?

    Jack attended Emanuel School in Battersea, SW London, between 1924 and 1930. Attached is a picture of Jack as a School boy with the Emanuel rowing team of 1937. Jack is seated first from right.

    Thank you.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    Emanuel 1940
    The 14th Medium Regt RA was never in France or N.W, Europe, it was always a Home Forces Regt, so the diary won't help unless it tells who he was attached too at this point.
    A lot off RA officers were sent over away from their regts on D-Day + to form OP's & act as spotters for the RAF Bases back in England.
    Best
    Rob
     
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    According to the notes I inherited from the late Will Townend, Captain J Lee of B Troop was the officer in FOB No 81 and attached to 2 Warwicks.

    On 7th June the 2nd Warwicks were ordered to attack Lebisey wood. They ran into strong German positions. Here is an extract from the History of the Gunners in Normandy which I am working on.

    "Some vehicles broke through to the open country beyond where they were hit by anti-tank gun fire including Capt Lee, the FOB controlling the cruiser who was last seen standing in the back of his half-track firing his Bren gun in support of the infantry. He was killed and support from the naval gunfire ceased. By evening the Battalion was surrounded, under tank attack and almost out of ammunition."

    It sounds as if he was a brave man whose body was lost in what became no mans land. If hsi body was recovered the following month after the allies took Caen it will probably have been buried as a soldier of the second world war.

    I don't want to raise your hopes of finding the grave, but you could ask the CWGC if they have records of where the unidentified dead were originally buried before interrment in the CWC. You may be able to narrow down the grave to one of a smaller number of unidentified soldiers who were found close to the site of this action.
     
  4. Emanuel1940

    Emanuel1940 Member

    Thank you very much Rob and Sheldrake. That's amazing Sheldrake, I appreciate that a lot. I will endeavour to get in contact with the CWGC. Thank you again.
     
  5. AJER

    AJER New Member

    Dear Emmanuel1940,

    I am a retired reservist officer who served with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the successor Regiment to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment after the 1960s infantry mergers.

    The overall picture of the battle in which Capt Lee died is reasonably clear, though many details are not. I have put that picture together from Regimental and other sources, including notes kindly sent to me by Sheldrake. The best account I have found of the battle concerned is a small booklet entitled "No Better Soldier" by Brig HC Illing MC, who was then Captain Illing, Officer Commanding A Company of 2 Warwicks. A copy can be obtained from the Warwickshire Museum of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Warwick.

    Capt Jack Lee RA was attached to 2nd Battalion of The Royal Warwickshire Regiment to control and direct naval gunfire in support of the Battalion. On D-Day the battalion had landed on Queen sector, Sword Beach but had been switched from being the Western battalion of 185 Brigade, which was advancing on Caen, to the Eastern flank to protect against an expected German counterattack across Pegasus Bridge at Benouville (which village the Warwicks also had to clear). By the end of D-Day, 6 June 1944, the Battalion had taken and held Benouville and was dug in on its edges.

    Overnight the Warwicks were ordered to take Blainville, the next village on the road to Caen, first thing the following morning. This they did without undue difficulty. They were then to attack across a valley from the ravine at the bottom, heading SW, to capture and clear Lebisey wood and then the village, from the South. This was the last major obstacle on the road to Caen, a key strategic objective. As vehicles would not be able to cross the ravine the bren gun carriers, anti-tank platoon, and, it seems the Naval Gunfire Officer's party (led by Capt Lee) were held back on the Battalion's right flank at the village of Bieville, ready to move forward and reinforce the battalion when it had secured the objectives at Lebisey.

    The plan ran into trouble straight away. Unknown to the Warwicks the wood and village had been reinforced overnight by the Germans who had moved in an SS Panzergrenadier (i.e. armoured infantry) battalion that had dug in. Snipers and machine gun nests delayed one of the attacking companies so the time for the attack ("H Hour") was put back and the planned artillery fire support plan was cancelled. The message doing this did not reach 2 of the attacking companies which advanced at the original time. The Warwicks managed to fight their way into the wood but were sooin surrounded and pinned down, losing their CO, Lt Col Herdon, in the battle.

    Back at Bieville someone (it is unclear who) ordered the waiting vehicles to drive forward up the road to Lebisey village and wood in the mistaken belief Lebisey had been taken. They drove straight into an ambush, probably at the top of the Lebisey ridge where the Bieville road goes over the crest. The column drove through the immediate ambush and turned to fight back to its rear. It is very probable that it was at this point that Capt Lee was killed, fighting with his small detachment alongside the Anti-tank and Bren Gun Carrier platoons in the cornfields that hen stood beyond the top of the Lebisey feature. The commander of the Anti Tank platoon was Capt Bannerman, who survived the battle and whose letters home and whose description of the battle were featured in a BBC programme about D-Day eye witness accounts on the evening of the 70th anniversary, 6 June 2014.

    The spot has been changed by urban development but the vestiges of Lebisey Wood are still there. The probable site of the ambush is now a dual carriageway and the cornfields beyond a commercial trading estate. However the high banks referred to in contemporary accounts can still be seen. At the site of the ambush there is a small memorial, easily visible from the road outbound from Caen, ostensibly to the 2nd Battalion Kings Shropshire Light Infantry, but with the text making clear it was to all those allied troops of 3 Division who died in the First Battle of Lebisey Wood.

    You may be assured that the gallant actions of Capt Jack Lee RA and his men were also in my mind when I paid compliments at that memorial, and left a fresh poppy from the fields nearby, around 10 days ago.

    Best Wishes

    Anthony
     
  6. Emanuel1940

    Emanuel1940 Member

    Dear Anthony,

    I can't thank you enough for doing this, so very kind of you. I am including Jack's story in the history of Emanuel School boys at War so this extra information is extremely useful. I notice that Alastair Bannerman's letters are available as an ebook and his obit is available here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/4934172/Alastair-Bannerman.html

    The programme you mention was on ITV, 5th June - If I Don't Come Home - Letters from D-Day.

    I hope one day that Jack's family will find this thread and that I'll be able to get in contact with them. I only have photos of him from his School days, so none in service uniform.

    Thank you for remembering him and laying the poppy.

    Best wishes,

    Daniel.
     
  7. I am pleased to report than Adrian Lee, son of Captain Jack Lee, has joined the forum. See: 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment June 6th-7th 1944

    Captain Lee apparently made the crossing with two other marching parties of his No.81 FOB on board LCI(L) LTIN 314 planned to land at H+150 (0955 hours) on D Day. The vehicles (most probably two one half-tracks with four two crew) were was to land from two LCT(4) LTIN 339 & 342 at H+240 (1325 hrs).
    [Edit 2 Nov 2017: I made an error here: there was actually only one half-track, which came with LCT(4) LTIN 339. The other half-track - in LTIN 342 - was FOB for 2 KSLI.]

    See IWM photos A24339 to A24353 below for examples of an FOB operating in the SWORD Area, including a couple (A24347 & A24353) showing partial views of their half-track, in this case a M14, which was one of the versions commonly in use with British troops in Normandy.

    This is No.83 FOB, commanded by Captain G. J. F. Burgess RA, (66752), as confirmed by the two digits "8" and "3" painted somewhat apart on a disk at the rear of the half-track on the last photo below. I have added the respective IWM captions in italics before each photo:

    Men of the FOB going down into a captured enemy deep shelter with everything necessary for a good night's rest.
    [​IMG]
    NORMANDY: IN FRONT OF THE NAVY'S BIG GUNS, FOB'S IN ACTION. 21 AND 22 JUNE, IN THE SWORD AREA. MEN OF THE "FORWARD OBSERVATION BOMBARDMENT" AMONG WHOM ARE NAVAL TELEGRAPHISTS, VOLUNTEERS FROM HM SHIPS, THAT THE GUN CREWS OF THE ROYAL NAVY RELY UPON FOR CORRECT RANGES AS THEY BOMBARD ENEMY STRONG-POINTS AND GUN-NESTS ASHORE.. © IWM (A 24339)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    Naval telegraphists Crooke, Sherry, Rose and Winch, of an FOB unit (Forward Observation Bombardment) with Captain J F Burgess, RA, moving forward to an observation post in the Sword area. The gun crews of the Royal Navy rely on them for correct ranges as they bombard enemy strong-points and gun-nests ashore. Note two of the men carrying a spool of telephone wire in the foreground.
    [​IMG]
    THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR: THE CAMPAIGN IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944. © IWM (A 24340)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    At work in one of the forward observation posts.
    [​IMG]
    NORMANDY: IN FRONT OF THE NAVY'S BIG GUNS, FOB'S IN ACTION. 21 AND 22 JUNE, IN THE SWORD AREA. MEN OF THE "FORWARD OBSERVATION BOMBARDMENT" AMONG WHOM ARE NAVAL TELEGRAPHISTS, VOLUNTEERS FROM HM SHIPS, THAT THE GUN CREWS OF THE ROYAL NAVY RELY UPON FOR CORRECT RANGES AS THEY BOMBARD ENEMY STRONG-POINTS AND GUN-NESTS ASHORE.. © IWM (A 24341)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    Men of an FOB unit (Forward Observation Bombardment) at work in one of the forward observation posts in the Sword area. The gun crews of the Royal Navy rely on them for correct ranges as they bombard enemy strong-points and gun-nests ashore.
    [​IMG]
    THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR: THE CAMPAIGN IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944. © IWM (A 24342)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    The wireless set being manned by telegraphists from a Royal Navy FOB unit (Forward Observation Bombardment) in the Sword area. The gun crews of the Royal Navy rely on them for correct ranges as they bombard enemy strong-points and gun-nests ashore. It is from here, the forward HQ of the FOB, that the spotting teams move forward, and it is also from where messages are sent to HM Ships and shoots are co-ordinated.
    [​IMG]
    THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR: THE CAMPAIGN IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944. © IWM (A 24343)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    J T Rose a volunteer (Tel) nicknamed "Good-o", from Bethnal Green, engaged in cookhouse duties when off duty.
    [​IMG]
    NORMANDY: IN FRONT OF THE NAVY'S BIG GUNS, FOB'S IN ACTION. 21 AND 22 JUNE, IN THE SWORD AREA. MEN OF THE "FORWARD OBSERVATION BOMBARDMENT" AMONG WHOM ARE NAVAL TELEGRAPHISTS, VOLUNTEERS FROM HM SHIPS, THAT THE GUN CREWS OF THE ROYAL NAVY RELY UPON FOR CORRECT RANGES AS THEY BOMBARD ENEMY STRONG-POINTS AND GUN-NESTS ASHORE.. © IWM (A 24344)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    W J Crooks, a volunteer from Leeds, having a shave in a Normandy backyard.
    [​IMG]
    NORMANDY: IN FRONT OF THE NAVY'S BIG GUNS, FOB'S IN ACTION. 21 AND 22 JUNE, IN THE SWORD AREA. MEN OF THE "FORWARD OBSERVATION BOMBARDMENT" AMONG WHOM ARE NAVAL TELEGRAPHISTS, VOLUNTEERS FROM HM SHIPS, THAT THE GUN CREWS OF THE ROYAL NAVY RELY UPON FOR CORRECT RANGES AS THEY BOMBARD ENEMY STRONG-POINTS AND GUN-NESTS ASHORE.. © IWM (A 24345)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    A friendly exchange. A few cigarettes and voila! out comes the egg. Window-sill barter in progress.
    [​IMG]
    NORMANDY: IN FRONT OF THE NAVY'S BIG GUNS, FOB'S IN ACTION. 21 AND 22 JUNE, IN THE SWORD AREA. MEN OF THE "FORWARD OBSERVATION BOMBARDMENT" AMONG WHOM ARE NAVAL TELEGRAPHISTS, VOLUNTEERS FROM HM SHIPS, THAT THE GUN CREWS OF THE ROYAL NAVY RELY UPON FOR CORRECT RANGES AS THEY BOMBARD ENEMY STRONG-POINTS AND GUN-NESTS ASHORE.. © IWM (A 24346)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    In a rest billet less than two miles from the front line. Seen through the doorway of a damaged building Captain J F Burgess, RA, briefing his party of FOBs (Forward Observation Bombardment) before setting out for the observation post. The party will move off in an armoured lorry for a certain distance while the remainder of the journey is made on foot.
    [​IMG]
    THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR: THE CAMPAIGN IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944. © IWM (A 24347)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    Three more of the Royal Navy (Tels) off duty in a Normandy Farmyard. Bombardier T H Digings, from Dedham, Essex, cleans a Bren Gun. Sergeant L Sherry, from Wimbledon, writes home, and Telegraphist G W Winch, from Birmingham does some reading.
    [​IMG]
    NORMANDY: IN FRONT OF THE NAVY'S BIG GUNS, FOB'S IN ACTION. 21 AND 22 JUNE, IN THE SWORD AREA. MEN OF THE "FORWARD OBSERVATION BOMBARDMENT" AMONG WHOM ARE NAVAL TELEGRAPHISTS, VOLUNTEERS FROM HM SHIPS, THAT THE GUN CREWS OF THE ROYAL NAVY RELY UPON FOR CORRECT RANGES AS THEY BOMBARD ENEMY STRONG-POINTS AND GUN-NESTS ASHORE.. © IWM (A 24348)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    Naval telegraphist W J Crooks operating from a forward observation post in the Sword area. He is sending back the range of a vital enemy target situated on the outskirts of Caen. It is men of the "Forward Observation Bombardment" among whom are naval telegraphists, volunteers from HM ships, that the gun crews of the Royal Navy rely on for correct ranges as they bombard enemy strong-points and gun-nests ashore.
    [​IMG]
    THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR: THE CAMPAIGN IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944. © IWM (A 24349)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    A general view of the enemy front line. Smoke can be seen in the distance, result of a direct hit from the guns of the Royal Navy on an enemy dump. This picture was taken between Colville and Bieville and facing the Caen district.
    [​IMG]
    NORMANDY: IN FRONT OF THE NAVY'S BIG GUNS, FOB'S IN ACTION. 21 AND 22 JUNE, IN THE SWORD AREA. MEN OF THE "FORWARD OBSERVATION BOMBARDMENT" AMONG WHOM ARE NAVAL TELEGRAPHISTS, VOLUNTEERS FROM HM SHIPS, THAT THE GUN CREWS OF THE ROYAL NAVY RELY UPON FOR CORRECT RANGES AS THEY BOMBARD ENEMY STRONG-POINTS AND GUN-NESTS ASHORE.. © IWM (A 24350)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    Major R A H Arnolds, RA, (left) in charge of the Forward Observation Bombardment Unit talking to Lieutenant Colonel Seccombe of Combined Operations as the pair consult a map in the Sword area. It is men of the "Forward Observation Bombardment" among whom are naval telegraphists, volunteers from HM ships, that the gun crews of the Royal Navy rely on for correct ranges as they bombard enemy strong-points and gun-nests ashore.
    [​IMG]
    THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR: THE CAMPAIGN IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944. © IWM (A 24351)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    The team of Telegraphists in a garden at Normandy, with them are some French people with whom they had already cemented a friendship.
    [​IMG]
    NORMANDY: IN FRONT OF THE NAVY'S BIG GUNS, FOB'S IN ACTION. 21 AND 22 JUNE, IN THE SWORD AREA. MEN OF THE "FORWARD OBSERVATION BOMBARDMENT" AMONG WHOM ARE NAVAL TELEGRAPHISTS, VOLUNTEERS FROM HM SHIPS, THAT THE GUN CREWS OF THE ROYAL NAVY RELY UPON FOR CORRECT RANGES AS THEY BOMBARD ENEMY STRONG-POINTS AND GUN-NESTS ASHORE.. © IWM (A 24352)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    An FOB unit (Forward Observation Bombardment) armoured lorry in operation in the Sword area. The telegraphist inside is protected from snipers by a colleague with a Bren Gun whilst the ranges are sent through to HM Ships. Sometimes a land-line is run from the lorry for a mile forward where the observation post is in action. It is men of the "Forward Observation Bombardment" among whom are naval telegraphists, volunteers from HM ships, that the gun crews of the Royal Navy rely on for correct ranges as they bombard enemy strong-points and gun-nests ashore.
    [​IMG]
    THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR: THE CAMPAIGN IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944. © IWM (A 24353)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    One other aspect of the story of the COBU, whose role is not as well recognized as it should be.

    The soldiers and sailors who currently carry out the same role serve in 148 “Meiktila” Commando Battery. 29 Commando Soldier - British Army Website This is one of the sneakiest and beakyest parts of the British Army - Commando and parachute trained working with the SBS; controlling guns, aircraft and naval gunfire.
    BC Coast
    Sailorts still serve with this combined operations unit. Navy News - Reporting from the Fleet

    There is a degree of hero worship about the WW2 predecessors of the parachute Regiment and SAS. This doesn't seem to extend to the COBU whose role is not well understood and whose dead are not always correctly identified.
     
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  9. Adrian Lee

    Adrian Lee Member

    Everyone
    This is amazing to find this thread. I am Jo Lee's son and I have written the attached story about how I found the Medical orderly in whom arms he died! I would love to be contacted by the gentleman from Emanuel. Also those amazing photographs. I have letters from Burgess and Arnold to my mother discussing Jo's death. I also include a photo of Jo in his uniform
     

    Attached Files:

    timuk and Emanuel1940 like this.
  10. A few more details about Jack 'Jo' Lee, from the London Gazette.

    Jack was with either 162nd, 164th, 165th or 166th OCTU (Officer Cadet Training Unit), and was made 2nd Lieutenant on 15 March 1941 in the Bedforshire and Hertfortshire Regiment (then an Infantry unit).
    Source: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/35121/supplement/1890

    He then received an Emergency Commission as War Substantive Lieutenant on 22 June 1943, still in the Beds & Herts Regt, but now as part of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, and therefore in 14 Medium Regiment which was formed from 8 Beds & Herts in December 1942.
    Source: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/36177/supplement/4170

    Michel
     
    Emanuel1940 likes this.
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I've taken the liberty of pinging Daniel / Emanuel1940 an email. His blog is still live:

    Emanuel School at War
     
  12. Adrian Lee

    Adrian Lee Member

    Thanks for that. This is all very interesting. I will have to change the document I wrote. Had much wrong.
     
    Emanuel1940 likes this.
  13. Emanuel1940

    Emanuel1940 Member

    Hello Adrian,

    Daniel here. I am so pleased that you have joined the forum. I went to Emanuel School between 1994-2001 and was Captain of Boats. After leaving School I wrote two histories one was the history of the School Boat Club. There is a blade that hangs in the Emanuel School archive with your father's name on. Then after the Boat Club book I wrote the history of Emanuel School boys who fought in two world wars. It was a 5 year project and I interviewed many veterans who were still with us but who are sadly no longer now but thankfully we have their memories.

    I tried to find you in 2014 but to no avail.

    I will send you a private message and give you my details. It would be wonderful to talk to you.

    Best wishes,

    Daniel.
     
  14. First of all, I made an error transcribing the Landing Table for SWORD: there was only one vehicle identified as "FOB for 2 WARWICK" (LTIN 339). The other (LTIN 342) was actually "FOB for 2 KSLI". Probably another stupid case of copy-paste on my part :blush:. I should have noticed this earlier, because the numbers did not add up, with No.81 FOB having two members too many :rolleyes:. I have now edited my various posts accordingly and will upload the amended version of the Landing Table soon.
    This means that No.81 FOB Party was planned to land on QUEEN WHITE as follows:
    H+150 LCI(L) LTIN 314 - Capt Lee plus 2 others
    H+240 LCT(4) LTIN 339 - 1 half-track with 2 crew


    Secondly, I copied some definitions covering the respective roles of FOsB, BLOs etc. from the Combined Operations Staff Notebook (1945). I reorganised the paragraphs, which were originally in alphabetical order, to a (hopefully) more logical sequence, but kept the paragraph numbers. I added a few notes [betweens square brackets] and most highlights in bold characters are mine:

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    53. Combined Operations bombardment unit [COBU]—A unit responsible for the shore observation of naval gunfire in a Combined Operation. It consists of a headquarters and three troops, and is commanded by a lieutenant colonel RA known as the chief bombardment liaison officer [CBLO]. One troop is normally allocated to a divisional front.

    144. Chief bombardment liaison officer [CBLO]—A lieutenant colonel RA commanding a bombardment unit. He is on the staff of the naval task force commander as adviser on naval bombardment in support of troops ashore. He assists the senior officer with the military force and the squadron gunnery officer in co-ordinating the joint fire plan.

    52. Combined Operations bombardment troop [Bombardment Tp]—Is responsible for the shore observation of naval gunfire, normally on a front of one division. It is commanded by a major RA as senior bombardment liaison officer [SBLO] and includes one staff officer bombardment [SOB], seven forward observers bombardment (FOBs), seven bombardment liaison officers (BLOs), together with NCOs and naval communications ratings. FOB parties are for attachment to assaulting battalions and the BLO parties are for liaison with gunnery staffs of bombarding ships.

    148. Senior bombardment liaison officer [SBLO]—A major RA commanding a bombardment troop. He is attached to the staff of the naval commander assault force. He is responsible for:—
    (a) Commanding and administering his troop.
    (b) Organising initial attachment of forward observers bombardment to assaulting battalions and ensuring that bombardment liaison officers are embarked in their allotted ships.
    (c) Assisting the commander, Royal Artillery, while he is afloat, and the naval force gunnery officer, in co-ordinating the divisional fire plan.
    (d) Working in the combined support control room of the LSH(L) during the assault, and maintaining close liaison with divisional headquarters, after it has landed, through his second in command, the staff officer (bombardment).

    149. Staff officer (bombardment) [SOB]—A captain RA, second in command of the bombardment troop. In an operation he is embarked in the LSH(L) as assistant to the senior bombardment liaison officer. When the division goes ashore he is attached to the commander, Royal Artillery, as his adviser on the suitability of targets for the various types of ships available to give supporting fire. He also controls all forward officers bombardment [FOsB] on the divisional front by means of their spotting frequencies, issuing fresh orders for attachment or detachment according to the situation.

    145. Forward observer bombardment [FOB]—A bombardment unit officer (captain or lieut RA) who is specially trained to observe naval gunfire on shore targets. He asks BCHQ [Bombardment Control Headquarters] for the allocation of a bombarding ship, calls for fire to meet the needs of the army formation or unit to which he is attached, and observes the fall of shot. He also reports frequently the tactical situation ashore, particularly the positions of our own forward troops.

    141. Bombardment liaison officer [BLO]—A bombardment unit officer (captain RA) embarked in a major war vessel of a bombarding squadron as military adviser to the captain; a BLO is also embarked in each LCG(L) flotilla. His particular duty is to interpret calls for fire received from an FOB with whom his duties are interchangeable.

    9. Bombardment control headquarters [BCHQ]—A naval headquarters which is set up to control naval support during the assault. It is commanded by a commander naval bombardment [CNB]. BCHQ will operate afloat, in the LSH(L), until the naval commander orders it to proceed ashore, when it will continue its functions at the highest army headquarters with which the naval assault force is operating.

    118. Commander naval bombardment [CNB]—A naval officer in command of the bombardment control headquarters. He is responsible to the naval commander assault force and, after his departure, to the appropriate senior naval officer, for the control of naval support to meet the needs of the army ashore.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Note: For a more concise description, see Sheldrake's post here: D Day Hertfordshire Yeomanry

    Note the last sentence in para 141 above (BLO): "His particular duty is to interpret calls for fire received from an FOB with whom his duties are interchangeable."
    This explains why Jack Lee was trained as a BLO but employed as an FOB.

    The above descriptions, together with the captions of the IWM photos, enable us to put a few probable names on the hierarchy in 1 COBU as follows (using Sheldrake's composition of an FOB party):

    1 COBU — commanded by CBLO Lieutenant Colonel Lionel Sidney SECCOMBE, RA (98110) (see IWM A24351)

    ‘A’ Bombardment Tp — commanded by SBLO Major Richard Andrew Humfrey ARNOLD, RA (145702) (see IWM A24351), who on D Day was probably the SBLO to be carried by LCH 185 (LTIN 501).

    No.81 FOB party:
    Captain RA (FOB) — Captain Jack "Jo" LEE, RA (177616) - KIA 7 Jun 44
    Artillery NCO (Observation Post, Assistant = OPA) — Lance Bombardier HYDE - WIA, PW 7 Jun 44
    Naval Telegraphist (WT Operator) — Ordinary Telegraphist John "Jack" ROGERSON (P/JX 282400), also driver of the half-track - KIA 7 Jun 44
    Naval Telegraphist (WT Operator) - PW 7 Jun 44
    Naval Signalman (for Visual Signalling) - PW 7 Jun 44

    No.83 FOB party:
    Captain RA (FOB) — Captain Geoffrey James Foster BURGESS, RA (66752)
    Plus some or all of the following:
    Sergeant L Sherry, from Wimbledon
    Bombardier T H Digings, from Dedham, Essex
    Naval Telegraphist G W Winch, from Birmingham
    Naval Telegraphist W J Crooks, from Leeds
    Naval Telegraphist J T "Good-o" Rose, from Bethnal Green

    No.83 FOB party was initially attached to HQ 185 Brigade, and all five members were to land with their half-track from LCT(4) LTIN 337 at H+240 on QUEEN WHITE Beach.

    Neither of these two FOB parties initially had a bombardment ship attached, so that no BLO could be initially alloted to them either.

    Michel
     
    Tolbooth and Tricky Dicky like this.
  15. Adrian Lee

    Adrian Lee Member

    Dear All

    I have put all I learnt from these posts together to tell what I think is the whole story. Here it is . I acknowledge Michel Sabarly who edited a previous version getting ride of a number of errors or speculative comments not supported with evidence. Further corrections are welcome.


    Lebisey. The whole story of Jo Lee and Jack Rogerson and their last days together


    For two years or more leading up to D Day on June 4th 1944, soldiers of the Royal Artillery, 14 Medium Regiment trained in Dundonald Camp Scotland near Troon in Ayrshire for the big day, not that they knew it at the time. They undertook combat training and practiced wet landings in preparation for Sword Beach which had already been selected as an invasion site. In other areas of Scotland troops from the 2nd Warwick also honed their skills.

    One of the RA Regiment, Captain Jack “Jo” Lee, my father, previously of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, in a letter to my mother commented Big Day tomorrow –I take my whole troop (Guns and all) on a little scheme its going to be chaotic. Another comment in a letter gives a clue to one of the questions thrown up by this discussion thread. And now I can tell you what guns I’ve been training on for six months. Did you see the photos on Thursday in all the papers? The 5.5 Gun it’s a grand looking gun and I hope you saw the photo.

    Jo never got to use this gun as closer to D Day he was transferred to HMS Excellent on Whale Island in Portsmouth where he undergo training so they could be a part of the Combined Operations Bombardment Unit (COBU). This was a unit responsible for the shore observation of naval gunfire. He trained to be both a BLO (Bombardment Liaison Officer) and a FOB (Forward Observer Bombardment), special training to observe naval gunfire on shore targets. He was given command of No 81 FOB for the Normandy landings initially attached to 2 Warwick but not part of them as FOB 81 could be attached to any other unit as the situation required. This is why other Officers who participated in the Lebisey attack, e.g Alastair Bannerman, did not refer to Jo in their writings, they did not know each other well. The task of an FOB was to get to the frontline, in Jo’s case with the 2nd Warwick’s and observe the fall of shells from. Also, he had to report frequently to a BLO on board a warship on the tactical situation leading towards Caen. He was helped on this task by Danny Hyde, the Observation Post Assistant. The Naval telegraphist whose task was to transmit the message to the ship was Jack Rogerson who also drove the half-track they were travelling in, he was aided by another Naval Telegraphist and a Navel Signal man for visual signalling. Another FOB, FOB 83 was the reserve for the attack group. This was led by Captain Burgess. It was Burgess who wrote to my mother informing her of information on Jo’s death in the attached article. They would have trained together and known each other well.


    On D Day, the 2 Warwick specific task was to rapidly Capture Caen. The three battalions of the 185th Infantry Brigade assembled near Hermanville at 11.00 am where they were then ready to advance on Caen however they could not go as the proposed support of Sherman tanks was not available, they were stuck on Sword Beach. Under attack, the Brigade moved forward and spent the night in the town of Blainville. My sense is they had no idea what was awaiting them. Some say the 125th Panzer grenadier regiment came in overnight. That cannot be right as we now know that the area of the Lebisey Wood they were getting close to was a tank larder. In the woods, there were hidden 128 Tanks of the 21st Panzer Division, one of Rommel’s crack tank squadrons and a huge dugout communication centre with six soldiers on telephones coordinating the German defence of Caen. To protect this area, they had mined the open field leading up to the woods where the Germans would have known any advance was going to happen. Also at the top of the ridge they had built numerous dugouts each containing three German soldiers, one holding a machine gun, another to feed in the string of bullets and another to pass on the next string.


    With this trap set, the stuff ups started. The Officer in charge, Lieutenant Colonel Herdon decided to delay the main attack on Lebisey by an hour. The order got to A company but the radios of companies B&C were not able to receive the order so the 340 infantrymen moved forward with the Germans watching and holding their fire until about 9.00 am when they were only 200 yards away. It was a slaughter. One platoon of B company led by Lt Dockerty got within 10 yards of the Germans and were all (37) were killed or wounded. This fighting continued for 5 hours. The Commander Colonel Herdon was shot in the head.


    It is now about 4.00 pm and Captain Alastair Bannerman of the support Company, S Company, was ordered south having been given the terrible misinformation that Lebisey had been captured and was in the Warwick’s hands. So off goes the impressive convoy of 36 carriers and two halftracks, one containing my father at 100 yard intervals with motorcyclist outriders alongside. One cyclist crashed in a narrow section of the road and as he was seriously injured blocked the convey’s progress. The vehicles in front of this cyclist kept going forward to disaster. Two half-tracks one with Jo and five gun carriers with Bannerman in the lead. After about half a mile on in Bannerman’s words, all hell broke loose. His carrier was not initially hit but all the vehicles behind him were all destroyed. All thought of communicating with their warship was now gone and Jo with Jack driving was standing in the back of the half-track with his Bren gun blazing trying to support the poor ambushed infantrymen. In Danny Hyde’s dramatic words:

    We entered the village, but to our surprise we met a veritable hail of fire from all sides. The adjutant’s half-track was knocked out by a shell from a “Tiger” tank and we had no alternative but to bypass it and get out of range of the tank. We managed to evade the tank but the road had been mined at this point and we were unlucky in striking one.

    I was fortunate with a fractured leg but I regret to say that Capt. Lee and Rogerson one of the naval ratings sustained injuries from which they died shortly afterwards. The other two ratings were taken prisoner and marched away………As to their injuries - Capt Lee and Rogerson both had severe leg injuries. In the case of Capt. Lee his left leg was off below the knee and Rogerson’s legs were so severely blasted that they appeared to be just being held together.


    Bannerman got further ahead but his vehicle was also hit but not before they had managed to fire backwards and hit the tank that had caused the original damage. By this time, they were all in the midst of the Germans who took them prisoners. Jo and Hyde were carried into the woods with the solders and commanding Captains of the other vehicles i.e. Captains Bannerman, Pike, Waterworth and Healy. Unfortunately, Jack Rogerson’s body was left by the side of the road

    Somehow the word got out to the Battalion command that there were 28 injured Warwick soldiers in the woods. So, the command was given to the Warwick’s medical team to go and fix them. It was not realized that the injured Warwicks were now all prisoners. In a jeep laden with blankets and bandages and a Red Cross on the side, Major Oxley, medic in charge, and male nurses, Graham Rogers and offsider Ken set off to find them. They soon find trouble driving past three German occupied dugouts with soldiers pointing their machine guns at them but presumably not firing because of the Red Cross. They turned around a corner straight into a group of Germans, a Staff Sergeant with a Spandau machine gun and three with their Schmeissers. The four Germans dropped to the floor until they saw the Red Cross sign when they quickly got up and took Oxley, Rogers and Ken prisoner and escorted them down to the injured Warwicks. The Staff Sergeant spoke good English, having been at Cambridge for three years! As he and Rogers were both were in dance bands they struck up a friendship. Danny Hyde’s diary states that Jo was taken care of by Major Oxley but this is not true, as Rogers tells the story of Oxley running away only to be brought back by the Staff Sergeant firing about his legs. As Rogers said to my father, must have been the best shot in the German army! Oxley surrenders but it was Rogers and Ken who bandaged up all the injured Warwick’s and Rogers tended my father, giving him morphine and being with him as he died.

    Amazingly just at the time this was happening, there began one of the biggest bombing raids by the Royal Airforce of the whole war that is apparently not well recorded. The prisoners were taken into the huge protective dugout with the soldiers on telephones coordinating the German Defences. There is no way this was constructed on the night of June 6. The naive idea that Caen could be taken quickly was never a possibility with this huge group of Panzer’s tanks dug in. Caen, or what was left of it did not fall until a month passed on July 8th.

    Apparently, Montgomery had ordered this attack with the words I want 1000 Lancasters with 10 tons of bombs with every other Gun turned on Caen. This included 16 Cruisers and 26 destroyers. In that raid, while my father died and left one family in despair, 7800 people were killed. Rogue bombs were dropping on the Lebisey Wood and this was the stimulus for Rogers to move the body of my now dead father. He called on the Staff Sergeant to help and they laid him under a tree.

    So, I conclude this sad story of the abortive and chaotic attack on Lebisey Wood that had little chance of success was full of communication stuff ups and left 154 of the Warwick’s to be buried somewhere near Caen including Jack “Jo” Lee and John “Jack Rogerson”

    I am proud to be the son of Jo and Emma is proud to be the Grand Niece of Jack. Thank you to all contributors to these threads, it has been satisfying to fill some of the gaps. The first story I told is attached and will now be rewritten in the chapter in my memoirs I still intend to call the chapter: The Power of Google; In the footsteps of my father as two googling episodes, ten years part have ended up with what I think is close to the real story. I also attach a picture of me and my son, Andrew with the wonderful Graham Rogers, now deceased who went back every year for the celebration of the D Day landings.


    Adrian Lee
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
    canuck likes this.
  16. Capt Jack LEE's half track must have been the same version as FOB 83's as seen in IWM A24347 and A24353 above, i.e. a Lend-Lease M14 with its twin .50cal MG mount removed and some sort of internal fittings, including radio set(s), installed instead..

    Was there a special version for the FOB (or FOO?) role? Or did they use something similar to the "M14 Command" version as in Trux's posts here (but without the rear stowage bin and with a rear door added):
    Trux Models. 1990 to 2005.
    and here:
    Trux Models. 1990 to 2005.

    or perhaps a more standard wireless version similar to the "M5 Wireless" one?

    What would the internal arrangement look like?

    Michel
     
  17. Arty

    Arty Member

    Adrian,

    Just how far do you want to go with analysing these events? I’ve got some doubts about some of the evidence/memories provided by various parties.

    Having said that, here’s some analytical conjecture about the moment Capt Lee was injured:

    Driver, Telegraphist Rogerson driving the M14 half track ie. seated front left.

    FOB, Capt Lee - seated front right.

    Ack – L/Bdr Hyde plus two RN telegraphists seated in the back.

    M14 hits an anti-tank mine with left front wheel ie. blast comes from front left hand side of vehicle - Rogerson loses both legs, Capt Lee loses left leg, whilst L/Bdr, in the back, has his right leg broken.

    There was probably an assortment of small arms in the vehicle, including a bren gun. However, the suggestion that Capt Lee “was last seen standing in the back of his blazing half-track, firing a bren gun”, given his injuries, was almost certainly just hearsay.

    Insofar as 2nd Bn Warwickshire Regiment is concerned, Will Thatcher is working on a detailed version of events. If you haven’t already done so have a look at Royal Warwickshire Regiment Re-enactment Group

    Regards

    Arty
     
  18. Adrian Lee

    Adrian Lee Member

    I have a letter from Geoff Burgess to my mother. He was a close friend of Jo and in charge of FOB83. This is what he said:
    “I was the last to see Jo about ten o’clock on the morning of the seventh. His battalion were closing an attack. We had been together at the OP doing some shooting to support. Jo said he was going to look for a better OP. He then went to his truck and joined the advancing infantry. ...I have questioned scores of people in his battalion. Two ORs came back to see me a few days later and they
    said they had seen Jo blazing away with a bren gun from the back of his truck. The enemy fire was terrific and his truck received a hit and burst into flames. Jo got out and was seen running for cover. That is definite. Nobody has any more news. His battalion had a very rough time and many were taken prisoner. ..... As you know Jo and I were great friends and I well understand how you will be suffering. I’m deeply sorry about it all. Please bear up and hope for the best. Strange things happen in battle and perhaps I can solve this one before I write again..., yours very sincerely, Geoff Burgess."
    This was a private letter to my Mum. Yet I have seen other reports in these threads who talk about Jo and the Bren Gun so I am not sure it is hearsay. Without a leg he was unlikely to be running for cover and we know Hyde and Jo were taken for medical care into Lebisey Wood.
    Thanks for confirming he was in a M14. I had assumed it would be an English Vehicle. I now feel I have finished here. I have the info I want and am rewriting the chapter for my memoirs. Interestingly in the journey stimulated by these threads I have found and spoken or written to the sons of AJM Bannerman and PB Waterworth both Captains in the Warwicks and in S Company and taken prisoner in this battle. Pretty amazing. Thank you for all your contributions.
     
  19. This sounds quite logical, although Capt Lee might still have been at the back of the half track.

    This precise quote “last seen standing in the back of his blazing half-track, firing a bren gun” apparently comes from Sanders' book (see My great uncle), not from Adrian, who wrote "standing in the back of the half-track with his Bren gun blazing", himself re-phrasing the account by the two ORs to Capt Burgess as quoted in his 22 Jun letter to Adrian's mother:

    "Two ORs came back to see me a few days later and they said they had seen Jo blazing away with a bren gun from the back of his truck. The enemy fire was terrific and his truck received a hit and burst into flames. Jo got out and was seen running for cover. "

    Capt Burgess was apparently the source for this part of Sanders' book but whether he gave him a slightly different wording or his was rearranged by Sanders I do not know.

    But this does illustrate the risks of re-phrasing instead of quoting the exact original words, which thus become lost, and results in confusion about the actual meaning, if not in outright misinterpretations.

    Now to L bdr Hyde's account:
    "The vehicles then proceeded along the road with the adjutant’s half track leading and our half track following. At this point we were informed by the CO of the KSLI that the village had been cleared of enemy and we therefore continued with confidence.

    We entered the village, but to our surprise we met a veritable hail of fire from all sides. The adjutant’s half track was knocked out by a shell from a “Tiger” tank and we had no alternative but to bypass it and get out of range of the tank. We managed to evade the tank but the road had been mined at this point and we were unlucky in striking one."

    Apparently, the vehicles leading the column were the two half tracks, followed by sundry carriers. The two ORs must have been in one of those carriers, and could therefore have seen someone shooting with a Bren gun from the back of a half track, logically the one nearer them (Capt Lee's), and moments later see the Adjutant's half track being hit by a tank shell and bursting into flames - but probably not Capt Lee's half track hitting a mine, because by then it was hidden from their view by the burning adjutant's half track - and a man escaping from it (obviously not Capt Lee).

    At this point, it is difficult to find out whether the evident confusion in this account came from the two witnesses talking each about a different half track, or if they (or Capt Burgess) are mixing up the two.

    As such this account is indeed hearsay, i.e. a testimony (or rather, two testimonies) made by direct witnesses (the two ORs) but related by a third party who was not there (Capt Burgess). This does not mean that it must be rejected outright or wholly, but that it must be checked against other sources in order to find out what's what.

    In this respect, the account by another (?) direct witness, a serjeant who was in the same vehicle as Capt Pike, the Adjutant, seems to add yet more confusion (courtesy bamboo43: My great uncle):
    Capt PIKE MIA account - 2 WARWICK 7 Jun 44.JPG

    STATEMENT IN RESPECT OF :-

    130313 T/Capt W.PIKE
    5110726 Pte J.JOHNSON
    5342965 Pte G.WALTERS

    Posted as Missing - 7 JUN 44

    The above-named were travelling with me as passengers in a vehicle on 7 JUN 44, which formed part of BN HQ Convoy. We were travelling SOUTH on the main road towards LEBISEY WOOD, an enemy position which we believed at the time to be occupied by our own troops; it was, however, still in enemy hands.

    On approaching LEBISEY WOOD the enemy started to fire on the Convoy with automatic small arms. The Convoy continued down the road until clear of the WOOD. Pte Johnson spotted an enemy tank come on to this road from a concealed position. This tank fired and blew up a vehicle behind us. Pte Johnson shouted this to Capt Pike, who was travelling in the passenger seat with the driver.

    The truck stopped and we all baled out; Ptes Johnson and Walters dived into a ditch WEST of the road. I never saw them again. I cannot say whether Capt Pike left the vehicle or not.


    FIELD (SIGNED) Sjt
    25 JUNE 44. 5343360


    Was this "vehicle behind us" Capt Lee's half track? A carrier? Yet another half track? No mention is made of Capt Pike's half track being hit and burning in this narrative...
    Maybe this un-named serjeant was one of the two ORs who reported to Capt Burgess?

    It looks like there are a few loose ends around still, especially about which vehicle was destroyed by what and when...

    Will visibly has not updated his page with the information from this and the related posts, because he still calls Capt Lee's vehicle a "carrier" :).

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  20. Arty

    Arty Member

    Michel,

    First of all, I was not planning to add anything further to this particular thread on this subject ie. not wishing to cause angst.

    However, secondly, these historic events apparently still require further investigation….

    Yep I saw, read and digested all the above ‘evidence’ quite some time ago. Since then I’ve been looking at the events at Lebisey on 07June in considerably more detail - both the British and German sides of the story. Mind you there’s 70 years of misinformation to wade through.

    My mistake in my previous post though, I should have stated outright that Capt Burgess’ story was either confused hearsay or a complete fabrication.

    A problem here is that people have ignored the events, correspondence and stories in their chronological order.

    1. Approx 0845 07Jun44 – the infantry companies of the 2nd Warwicks assaulted the North East corner of Lebisey Wood – the assault failed. The companies eventually withdrew in some disorder later that night.

    Officer Casualties incurred in Infantry Assault:
    Lt Col Hugh Owen Seymour Herdon 31965 – OC 2nd Warwicks KIA
    Capt Harry Charles Illing 109514 - OC A Coy WIA
    Lt Alan Dockerty 262441 (from Leicester Regiment) - B Coy KIA
    Lt Kingston St Barbe ADAMS 237877 - A Coy WIA
    Lt Victor Charles Walton 293733 - D Company KIA

    Lt Arthur George Wilson 249181 - OC Pioneer Pl, S Coy KIA

    2. Approx 1530 07Jun44 - Brigadier KP Smith ordered S Coy 2nd Warwicks (plus elements of Bn HQ, including the attached FOB 81) up the road into Lebisey.

    Nb. Brigadier Smith was later sacked for this and other f’ups…(call a spade a spade people!)

    3. Approx 1600 07Jun44 – S Company (et al) was all but destroyed by elements of 21 Panzer Division. FOB 81 were, then, missing in action ie. nobody outside Lebisey Wood, at that time, new what injuries the team had sustained. For those personnel near FOB 81’s halftrack at the time it was clearly bedlam – engaged at close quarters my MG’s, armoured vehicles et al – this was clearly an utterly confusing situation with vehicles being destroyed and men being killed & wounded. Those who managed to escape, or lay ‘doggo’ then escape later that night, are likely have to been in a somewhat stressed state of mind. Most of the Officers and OR's in the vicinity of FOB 81's halftrack when it was knocked out were likely killed, wounded or captured.

    Officer Casualties incurred near village of Lebisey:
    Capt Walter Pike 130313 - Adjutant MIA (POW)
    Capt Alastair James Macleod Bannerman 463860 - OC AT Pl MIA (POW)
    Capt Peter Baillie Waterworth 114107 - OC Carrier Pl MIA (POW)
    Lt Philip Marshall Healey 226559 - OC Mortar Pl MIA (POW)

    Capt Jack Lee 177616 – FOB 81 – MIA

    That is, all four of S Company’s platoon commanders were gone. Maj Ryan, OC S Company, became OC A Coy the next day (just where he was when his Company was destroyed I have not established).

    4. 22Jun44 - Capt Burgess wrote a letter saying amongst other things…

    "Two ORs came back to see me a few days later and they said they had seen Jo blazing away with a bren gun from the back of his truck. The enemy fire was terrific and his truck received a hit and burst into flames. Jo got out and was seen running for cover. "

    Who were these unidentified OR’s that claimed they saw Capt Lee "blazing away with a bren gun", then, "running for cover"??? Capt Burgess was not aware of what injuries Capt Lee had sustained on the day, however he seems to have believed and passed on this cockamamie story. Or did he make it up himself? A bit of bluster on behalf of his missing colleague perhaps? eg. 'He was seen giving the bloody boche I right seeing too' sort of thing???

    Capt Burgess was apparently the original and only source for the passage later written in “Soldier, Sailor” by Geoffrey Sanders.

    Unfortunately such apparent misinformation can create confusion when it is quoted over and over again without it being challenged.

    5. August 1944 – L/Bdr Hyde of FOB 81 and Pte Rogers 223 Fd Ambulance ‘reappeared’ having both been POW's at Rennes hospital. They both write letters confirming Capt Lee’s death on 07Jun44. Importantly, the letters written by L/Bdr Hyde of FOB 81 apparently provided the best first person account of what actually happened to FOB 81 near the village of Lebisey.

    6. Now, ie. 23Nov2017, let’s have another look at IWM A24353 shall we? In the photo we can see into the back of the M14 – we can see what appears to be a No. 18 Wireless Set at the left rear ie. back of the M14 with an RN Telegraphist sitting opposite. Clearly there was not a lot of room in the back of the M14. Clearly that’s the position where one of the RN telegraphist sat in the back of the M14. If you had been firing a bren gun from the back of the M14 you would have been sitting on the RN Telegraphist’s friggin lap!

    Of course someone could argue that the back of the M14 was anywhere behind the driver, and if the vehicles tarp was off you could thus fire a weapon from there. Although there was still not a lot a room in this vehicle which was FFR ie. fitted for radio, plus there was the equipment/kit of five men. However the commander of the vehicle would have almost certainly, and routinely, been sitting next his own driver!

    But of course all this is irrelevant, as whoever it was those two mystery OR's allegedly saw firing a bren gun from the back of a halftrack, also allegedly saw that same person running from the same halftrack - it was clearly NOT Capt Lee. Capt Burgess’ story was either confused hearsay or a complete fabrication.

    Captain Jack Lee was nevertheless a hero.

    Regards

    Arty
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017

Share This Page