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. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Hi Carly,
    Charley is your man for this thread..

    If you would like the originals to the photos that i posted, then start a conversation with myself & i will email them on?

    Or, Charley should be able to do the same. I'm sure i sent him the originals?

    Stu. Edit: if you are not sure how to start one, then i will start one? Just say.
    Carly Nicholls likes this.
  2. Ah that’s interesting, thank you for your time. X
  3. Thank you! Yes I would like the photos if possible. I’ll be back on here later ;) best wishes
  4. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Carly Nicholls likes this.
  5. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles


    Your great uncle with 7 Platoon, A-Company, 1/4th Essex. The records I have show that he probably died on the 19th and not the 20th of March.

    At the time both 'A' & 'C' companies were defending a castle (an actual castle) atop a hill to the northeast of the famous Monte Cassino monastery. As the gateway for a proposed attack up the face of the hillside, it was considered a vital position that had been held by the battalion against multiple bloody counterattacks since they had relieved the New Zealanders who managed to snatch it from the Germans on 15/3/44.

    The castle was partially ruined by this stage, but 7 Platoon were occupying a position at the north-west corner of the castle wall. You great uncle was operating a Bren gun and remained unwounded when last seen at 1100 hrs on 19/3/44 by his comrade Private J. Rogers [3911276]. During a lull in the fighting, Pte Rogers went to fetch water, but four minutes later (movement was impeded owing to serious sniper fire) the wall behind which the platoon was sheltering was hit by a German tank firing from the road bend above Point 165. The wall collapsed, burying about ten men, including your great uncle.

    Among the others buried were:

    6022049 SGT NORTHEAST W
    6021528 CPL KERMODE W
    6021453 CPL HAMILTON R
    6019501 L/C BAILEY A [Survived]
    3911670 L/C WOOD S
    180247 CPT BEECH D J [Survived]
    203093 LT ULPH R A

    Their dates of death are recorded variously as either the 19/3 or 20/3, likely because their bodies were not recovered until later.

    By coincidence, another man, 6027970 Pte Keys E, was mentioned as having been present in the same location only the other day:
    Essex Regiment North Africa / Italy

    I will send you a message with my email address. If you drop me a line, I will provide you with more information to contextualise the above. I'll also search my records for more information.

    Your great uncle died doing his duty with his comrades in a very difficult spot. When the battalion was withdrawn, A-Company could muster only 21 men and C-Company had just 13 men and a single wounded officer--everybody else was killed, captured, missing or seriously wounded. You and your family have every right to be proud of his service. The fact that he was mentioned in despatches twice indicates that he was a conspicuously capable soldier.

    Edit: I have two photographs of him from 1942. I'm not able to post them online owing to copyright, but if you contact me via email, I shall send you copies.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  6. Dear Charley Fortnum,
    Thank you for this interesting but very sad information. My father Died a few weeks ago, it’s so sad for me personally I can’t share this with him about his uncle. Thank you so much. I’d love to pass on this information to my Aunt who I don’t think knows any of this either.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2020
    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  7. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Carly Nicholls

    Further to this, I've just sent you a copy of the following image that shows the state of the battleground a month after the fighting during which your great uncle was killed.

    As you can see, it resembles the surface of the moon more closely than any Italian town (note soldiers in the foreground for scale).

    04 Castle Hill and surroundings Cassino [24-5-44].jpg

    The castle in which he died, in its final state, looked like this. The photo is taken from (roughly) the east, the wall--you will recall--having collapsed on the north-west side.

    07 The Castle Cassino Italy.jpg
  8. Thank you.
    Apologies for late reply, had a crazy week. Amazing pictures thank you.
  9. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    No need for apologies--mine also chaos.

    Check your hotmail account for more.
    Carly Nicholls likes this.
  10. I’ve received your last email x thank you I’ll ask about my family to see if anyone can I’d the picture-unfortunately everyone that would have had family photos has passed and nothing was handed down to my side, not even ones of my grandma. Does look like members of my family as in some of my cousins “I think” ;)
    Thank you so much for your info and photos, I really want to keep his story alive.
    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  11. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    It will be kept alive. In 2007, soldiers from my Regiment erected a memorial to the men of 1/4 Essex within the grounds of the castle. 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment is a merger of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, the Suffolk Regiment and the Essex Regiment and their memorial will keep the memory of the endurance and terrible suffering of their forebears at the Castle in Mar 44 ver6 much alive.

    The Castle was what the Army define as ‘key terrain’. Key terrain offers either side a marked advantage and so both sides are very, very interested in owning it and are prepared to fight very hard for it. For the Germans, they wanted it because it blocked access to the monastery up the front of the hill and for the Allies they wanted it because it was a good launchpad for driving soldiers up the front of the hill into the German held monastery.


    Last edited: Dec 8, 2020
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  12. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles


    What do you make of this?


    It's obviously post-battle, but I can't tell whether it's genuinely old or a deliberately 'oldified' digital product.

    More importantly, I'm still pondering the approach to the castle. Do you think this is on the north side of the valley/gulley looking across it to Castle Hill (from Pt. 175 perhaps), or is it part of the north-east slope of Castle Hill itself?

    And the building to the right among the branches? Does that look familiar? My suspicion is that it's a post-war construction.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2020
  13. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Post war but I cannot work out what angle it is taken from.


  14. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Good news.

    A new album of photographs has just been uploaded to Guwlo:

    Image Galleries | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

    The album belongs or belonged to Nicholas Roy Phillips, who appears to have served with 25 Field Regiment R.A. from 1948 to 1949.

    It's impossible to say for certain, but the dates and location lead me to suppose that he was either with the HQ battery of with 54 Field Battery.

    Dated Locations are:

    26/1/1948: Whitfield Barracks in Kowloon
    ?/8/1948: Ping Shan
    27/9/1948: Whitfield Barracks
    ?/10/1948: Lo-Wu Camp
    5/3/1949: Tai Lam Camp
    13/3/1949: Tai Lam
    23/6/1949: A-Troop [35 battery] at the Gun Club Barracks, Kowloon
    3/7/1949: Ping Shan.
    ?/8/1949: Ping Shan
    8/9/1949: Fanling Camp 'After the Typhoon'
    ?/10/1949: 'Vimmy’s Ridge' O.P. and Laffan’s Plain [Vimy Ridge]

    This is really excellent. It's the first I've heard of the unit being present at Lo-Wu Camp, and the images of Fanling Camp are the first that I've seen. There's also a variety of shots of Tai Lam Camp, where I previously had only one, taken from above.

    The 'typhoon' struck Hong Kong on 7/9/1949, which caused most tented camps to be struck and abandoned. This has narrowed the 'window' for the move of the entire regiment out of the Gun Club in Kowloon to Fanling: it must have taken place after 23/6/49 and before 7/9/49--it looks likely to have been in August.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
  15. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Going back to 1/4th Essex, I recently failed to purchase the following photograph, but the seller was sporting enough to include the notes on the back in the auction. It was brought to my attention by Mike Young, who may be interested in this.

    C Coy 1-4ER 1945 eBay.jpg C Coy 1-4ER 1945 eBay names.jpg

    As you can see, we have 15 Platoon, C-Company 1/4th Essex in Piraeus, Greece in January 1945.

    As gmyles points out, the AOS number of 55 represents the senior regiment in the Brigade (5 Indian Bde).

    I'm going to assume given that sign that the Essex Regiment Museum has a larger collection of similar shots taken at this time.

    The battalion War Diaries indicate that C-Coy was concentrated at 29814103, 29814110, 29804115 and 29854116 from 9/1/45 until the end of the month.

    On a contemporary map, again courtesy of Gus Myles, that is here:


    Which today looks like this:

    Google Maps

    It's a largely pointless activity, but I'm tempted to scour the street view images and locate the same building.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
  16. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    There are currently two possibilities for its location, my Greek friends are telling me.

    It has to be at 43 Vasileos Konstantinou Str (today IROON POLYTECHNEIOU), Piraeus. I don't recognize the name on the shop BUT two doors left should be the SIMANTIRAS (greek ΣΗΜΑΝΤΗΡΑΣ) jewellery (the last letters "...ΑΝΤΗΡΑΣ" are visible...


    Kostice Moj The background of the photo is number 45 of Vasileos Konstantinou Str (now Nufara Hotel) and at 47 is the neoclassical building of the Piraeus Bar Association, still in its place today...

    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  17. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I've played around with both locations and I can't quite convince myself which it could be--too much traffic obscuring the view doesn't help.

    We're pretty close either way--closer than I expected to be able to get.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
    gmyles likes this.
  18. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Number 47 Its a good match The door still has plaques on it.
    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  19. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Via the power of the Wayback Machine (an Internet archive that saves old pages), I've turned up the remnants of a now defunct Royal Artillery website. For my own purposes, although it's a little late in the day, there are a few photographs of 25 Field Regt R.A. at work in Malaya. I upload them here as they are not currently available online anywhere else and haven't been so for more than fifteen years.

    5.5" Howitzer of 25 Fd Regt in Green Cow Camp - Malaya c.1955

    Green Cow.jpg

    5.5" Howitzer of 25 Fd Regt in Muddy Hill Camp - Malaya c.1955

    Muddy hill Camp.jpg

    5.5" Howitzer of 25 Fd Regt in Bangi Camp - Malaya c.1956

    Bangi Camp Semenyh.JPG

    CTroop1-2.jpg Screenshot 2021-02-22 at 10.30.16 PM.png
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021

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