Family Soldiers: 1/4th Essex (WW2) & 25 Field Regiment R.A.(Post-War)

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Charley Fortnum, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I've read several threads where the genealogical and military buffs among you have managed to produce a wealth of information from the most unpromising leads, so I thought to try my luck by posting some information of my own relatives - grandfathers to be precise - and seeing whether anyone can produce a rabbit from the hat. Both men have passed on and are sorely missed. I wonder whether anyone would be able to: first, tell me how and where to apply for official records such as service records (what else is available?) and, second, give any suggestions as to their broad whereabouts based on the information I have so far.

    On the one side of the family is:

    Pte. Thomas John Everett
    Service(?) Number: 6013556
    Date of Birth: 13/08/18
    Place of Birth: Kerry, Wales.

    He was called up and served in the Essex Regiment during the Second World War, but I don't have the details yet. I'm looking at a poor quality scan photograph of him in uniform surrounded by his medals and he appears to have (I've strained my eyes but am fairly confident) the Africa Star, The Italy Star, the 1939-1945 Star, and The War Medal 1939-1945. I know next to nothing about medals, but this seems all pretty standard and in keeping with my father having told me he fought across North Africa in the Eighth Army. He never spoke of his war service to me - he died when I was about twelve - but the last time I saw him he was on powerful painkillers and seemed convinced that the Germans were nearby and we weren't in a safe position. That probably sounds quite comical unless you were there to see the earnestness with which he told me this while ripping off his medical bracelet and telling me to make sure they didn't get hold of it - whatever part he played stayed with him right until the end.

    My other grandfather died less than a decade ago now and I had a much closer relationship with him. He missed the war but was in the regular army, having joined as a boy - again I have little as of yet:

    Gunner Frederick Newman
    Army Number: 14189713
    Date of Birth: 10th October 1928
    Royal Regiment of Artillery
    Enlisted at Croydon on 16th April 1946
    Transferred to Reserve: 30th June 1952
    Discharged: 15th April 1958
    Passed Classes of Instruction: Regimental Signaller (does this mean he was one or just qualified to be one?)

    It would be great if anyone could figure out precisely which battalion of the Essex Regiment he was in - or point me towards somewhere where I could find out.

    Handwriting for the scans [of his 'pay book' - it doesn't look like one] my mother has sent is hard to read, but the following seems correct:

    General Service Corps - Home - 16/04/46 to 16/04/46 - 1 day
    Home - ??/04/46 to 31/07/46 - 56 days
    Royal Artillery - Home - 01/08/46 to 08/02/47 - 192 days
    NWE (Northwest Europe probably, but where? BAOR?) - 09/02/47 to 08/04/48 - 1 year 59 days
    Home - 09/04/48 to 18/08/48 - 132 Days
    Farelf (hard to read - Far East Land forces?) - 19/08/48 to 07/06/51 - 2 years 293 days
    Home - 08/06/51 to 22/11/51 - 168 days.
    Melf/Cyprus (hard to read - Middle East Land Forces?) - 23/11/51 to 12/02/52 - 82 days
    Melf/Egypt - 13/02/52 to 30/05/52 - 108 days
    Home - 31/05/52 to 30/07/52 - 61 days

    I'd really love someone to provide some details of what he was likely to have been doing in the various places. He did tell me some things about his service, but it was very much a different part of his life (he married and started a family after being discharged) and he didn't like to bore anyone (as he saw it) with yarns about his travels. Now, of course, I dearly wish I'd asked more and written it all down. The only parts that spring to mind are his waiting in Malayan trenches - not being a terribly good shot (so he wasn't always on big guns) unless someone was heading his way - not having been a smoker until he reached Malaya and then being told he was a fool for not taking his share and picking up the habit - destroying/damaging some kind of artillery piece in Cyprus on icy roads (did he drive regularly) (!) - and being in the Canal Zone for one of the flare-ups that preceded the Suez Crisis. This man was a enormous influence on my life and I really want to find out what he was doing as a young man.

    Any ideas?
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  3. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I'm on it - the younger grandfather will not be a problem, but I'm not sure I can get a copy of Tom's death certificate - is it an absolute necessity when applying?

    Would still be fascinated to hear anything anyone can deduce from what I've turned up so far.

    Edit: Thank you to whoever moved my post to the correct forum, by the way.
  4. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Charley F,

    Your grandfather Everett's service number is certainly from the Essex Regiment block of numbers: Essex Regiment 5998001 - 6076000.

    From the information you have provided I do not think he would have been in either of the 1st or 2nd Battalions, more likely the 1/4th, 1/5th or 2/5th. Do you know if he ever served biefly in, either, Greece or North West Europe late in WWII?


  5. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Greece, I couldn't say.
    NWE seems unlikely given that he wasn't awarded the star from that theatre. His son, my father, certainly doesn't recall it having ever been mentioned.

    I'm really most grateful for your help.
  6. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    More than likely that Pte Everitt was in the 1/4th battalion which served in 4th Indian Division from El Alamein to Italy

    and Greece…no medal was issued for Greece...

  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Ref the death cert you just need proof of death. A photo of the grave or a undertakers invoice for example is acceptable.
  8. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Thank you, Tom and Drew - much appreciated. Amazingly, I've just found a photo of Tom's grave online - and it bears an inscription from the Essex Regiment and his service number. I now have relatives combing lofts and cellars - I don't live in Blighty these days.

    Does anyone here have any information about the Royal Artillery in Malaya during the emergency?
    (Wrong forum, I know).

    Pure speculation, but the oft-dodgy wikipedia has this:

    He was probably there in '48 from what I have.
    Perhaps this is why he told me about trenches and rifles instead of artillery pieces.

    Edit: I've found that the 2nd, 25th, 26th & 48th Field Regiments of the Royal Artillery were present at various times.
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    "Google" for "Monte Cassino - Ten armies in Hell " see what 4th Indian Division was up to with 1/4th Essex……

  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Thomas John Everett:

    Thomas John Everett

    Birth: August 1919 (Aug 1919) - Wales
    Death: July - Stanford Le Hope, Essex, England

    If you do need to apply for a copy of his death cert then I believe the details of him are:

    Name: Thomas John Everett
    Birth Date: 13 Aug 1918
    Date of Registration: Dec 1991
    Age at Death: 73
    Registration district: Thurrock
    Inferred County: Essex
    Volume: 9
    Page: 3512

    The family tree info does not show a source for his birth, hence, probably, the discrepancy between 1918 and 1919, it could also be that he was born in 1918 and baptised in 1919

  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Checking a little deeper I think this would be his birth cert, its the only Thomas J Everett born 1918 in Wales - in fact anywhere within the UK

    Name: Thomas J Everett
    Mother's Maiden Surname: Moon
    Date of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep 1918
    Registration district: Merthyr Tydfil
    Inferred County: Wales
    Volume Number: 11a
    Page Number: 1357
  12. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Thanks, Tricky Dicky,

    The death certificate is certainly correct (and useful); the birth certificate I can't verify - although if you say it's the only one under his name, it probably is his. I'll check my great-grandmother's family name if I can (Moon doesn't ring any bells with me). My mother has already been through some of this kind of stuff on the other side of the family, but she came up against a brick wall when it was discovered that my great-great grandmother came across from Ireland while pregnant and married a man who raised their son as his own despite the boy being biologically someone else's and all links with the mother's Irish family were severed.
  13. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Interesting that your info says born Kerry Wales (which is Mid Wales near Newtown) and his birth details show registration in Merthyr Tydfil which would be South Wales ??????

    Perhaps they moved from South to Mid Wales when he was young and family stories say that was where he was born??

  14. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Curious. My father is adamant that it was Kerry. My grandfather himself could have been wrong, of course; I doubt he had much memory of it!

    I half recall playing around with the searches at (I think) to see if they had him on there (I don't have a subscription - was just curious) and I THOUGHT I turned up something for him in Kerry... Can't be certain about that though.
  15. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Do not bother with Ten Armies in Hell. It has more faults than a second hand Alfa Romeo.

    The book to read is The Battle of Monte Cassino by Matthew Parker.

    1/4 Essex were the unit that was assigned to take over the Castle from a Company of New Zealanders and then to hold it as the gateway for the rest of the 5 Indian Brigade to pass through in order to get to the Monastery via Hangman's Hill. They took a horrific battering because the Germans realised that the Castle offered the holder a marked advantage in the battle but they did hold on against wave after wave of German assaults. It is quite a story of immense courage.

  16. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    If anyone wants the real account of Cassino - they should be reading John Ellis' "Cassino -the

    Hollow Victory",all others have many faults…

  17. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Thank you both Tom and Frank.
    Intriguingly, Monte Cassino is the single thing I recall him mentioning about the war in my presence (I was only a lad - I probably thought it was in Africa at the time because that was all I knew about his war service)- could be a coincidence, but perhaps he was there. I'm now very excited by the prospect of seeing his service records, although it'll take me a while to deal with.
  18. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles


    Tom was born on 13/08/1918 in Derry in South Wales - not Kerry!
    His mother Evelyn Meen - not Moon!

    I haven't yet applied for his service records, but I have ascertained from some paperwork we've discovered that he was indeed (as some people speculated) in the 4th Battalion and served in North Africa and Italy. Interestingly (to me, at least), he served at some stages as a batman for a Captain whose name I do not have to hand but will also be enquiring after.

    I'm now most excited to learn more from his records as his battalion really was - it seems - in the thick of things.

    Thank you to everybody for the help so far. I have this as a starter:

    The 1/4th Battalion, The Essex Regiment (Territorial Army) was mobilised in
    Sep 1939 and assigned to 161st Infantry Brigade in the 54th (East Anglian)
    Infantry Division until Jul 1940. The battalion spent much of 1941 in
    Sierra Leone, where the main enemy was disease - over 300 cases of malaria
    in the battalion. The 1/4th Battalion moved to the Western Desert before
    Alamein. The 1/4th Battalion faced a particularly difficult series of
    battles, at El Alamein, Akarit and Enfidaville in Africa. In 1944 it was
    in the Allied force invading Italy. It was prominent in the first failed
    attempt to break through at Cassino. So heavy was this last encounter that
    two minor battle honours Castle Hill and Hangman's Hill - were won in
    addition to the one borne on the colours.
  19. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    More requests:
    Can anybody manage any information about the following?

    Captain Bill Randall
    Captain (Later Major) Mathews (sorry, no Christian name).

    Both, presumably, Essex Regiment during WW2, both, presumably 1/4.
  20. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    After hearing suggestions that applications were routinely taking eight or nine months to process, I was impressed to receive both sets of these within ten weeks of finally getting around to submitting the papers. I hope to upload some of the scans here for further decoding, but - in the meantime - I am now sure that Tom was indeed part of 1/4th Battalion, The Essex Regiment, and I've read everything I can find about them on the board. The papers are not actually in my hands now - I'm overseas and my father is sending them out to me - but I did wonder how easy it is to get more specific information. Would, for instance, the regimental museum be able to tell me which company of the battalion he was in? How much more detailed information about postings and duties is to be had from the war diaries, and how can I get hold of copies of them?

    One final query: I understand the idea of battalions being duplicated during the First and Second World Wars, but how would they actually be read: my guess would be that 1/4 is "First of the fourth", but I've no idea whether this is correct or not.

    Fred, it seems was in the 25 Field Regiment R.A. with stints all over the place but notably in Hong Kong and Malaya ('48-'51).

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