Guardsmen Fenwick and Seymour, 2nd Bn Coldstream Guards, 14.05.1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Dirk, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. Dirk

    Dirk Member

    Hello,

    Company Quartermaster Serjeant John FENWICK and Guardsman Charles Albert Vincent SEYMOUR both of the 2nd Bn. Coldstream Guards were killed on May 14th 1940, when German aircraft bombed the rural village of Leefdaal, situated near Leuven (Louvain), Belgium. My great-grandfather, the blacksmith of Leefdaal, he too was killed as a result of this aerial attack. His wife got wounded and died a year later.

    Their grave is situated next to that of the two Guardsmen in the Leefdaal churchyard. I assume my interest in the British Expeditionary Force is rooted in this coincidental sad fact. My father often takes the time to tend the graves of the two Guardsmen while tending that of my great-grandparents. So I have known the graves of Fenwick and Seymour all my life.

    I'd dearly wish to put a face to the names of the two Guardsmen.
    Hence the following questions:

    1. Where can I find, or do I have the best opportunity of finding a portret photograph of both Guardsmen?

    2. Apart from the Battalion's War Diary, is their any other literature or war document in which reference is made to the bombing of Leefdaal on 14.05.1940?

    I thank you for any help you can give me
    Regards,
    Dirk
     
    Rich Payne likes this.
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Dirk
    You could try asking about old squad photos on Shiny Capstar forum

    or, write explaining your interest and how your family tend the graves, to :
    The Regimental Archivist, H.Q. Coldstream Guards, Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London, SW1E 6HQ

    Who knows maybe a relative will come across your post one day and reply.


    From The Coldstream Guards 1920-1946, Howard & Sparrow, pages 41 - 42

    May 12
    It was on this journey that they first saw the soon-to-be-familiar procession of refugees: they were streaming westwards, filling the roads, and so delaying the column that the last vehicle did not reach the suburbs of Brussels till dawn on 13 May. The guardsmen hardly had time to take off their equipment before they were on the move again, this time on foot, marching in small parties to Duisburg, twelve miles east of Brussels, which they reached at 9 a.m. They were very tired, and glad of a rest in the little town before moving on, in the late afternoon, to their assembly area three mils away at Leefdael, a little straggling village by the side of the main road from Brussels to Louvain.

    At Leefdael they went into billets, but they did not get much rest, for one platoon from each company had to dig through the night, and at 5 o'cock next morning the whole battalion began to dig in in earns on their position. 1st Guards Brigade was in Divisional reserve, south of Louvain, the Coldstream being the left-hand battalion of the Brigade. All four companies were in a straight line, covering a frontage of 3,000 yards from the southern corner of Wieberg Bosche to the main Louvain-Tervueren road. On their left was a battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, the right-hand battalion of the Reserve Brigade of 3rd Division.

    The day did not pass without incident. Interminable streams of civilians trekked back through the battalion's lines, carrying with them large numbers of Belgian soldiers. During the afternoon a gas alarm was given - but it was due to nothing more than several lorry-loads of Belgian soldiers who had driven at a panic-stricken speed through the village, wearing their respirators.

    During the day the battalion suffered its first casualties, when an enemy aeroplane dropped a bomb on 3 Company's billets in Leefdael, damaging the cook-house and killing C.Q.M.S. FENWICK and Guardsman SEYMOUR, one of the cooks.

    For the next two days the companies, who had been moved out of billets to their actual defensive positions, continued working on their defences.

    The positions were within view of the enemy, and intermittent shell-fire fell upon them which damaged 4 Company's lines.



    :poppy:
    CWGC - Casualty Details
    FENWICK, JOHN
    Rank: Company Quartermaster Serjeant
    Service No: 2655394
    Date of Death: 14/05/1940
    Age: 28
    Regiment/Service: Coldstream Guards, 2nd Bn.
    Grave Reference: Grave 1.
    Cemetery: LEEFDAAL CHURCHYARD

    :poppy:
    CWGC - Casualty Details
    SEYMOUR, CHARLES ALBERT VINCENT
    Rank: Guardsman
    Service No: 2655565
    Date of Death: 14/05/1940
    Age: 32
    Regiment/Service: Coldstream Guards, 2nd Bn.
    Grave Reference: Grave 2.
    Cemetery: LEEFDAAL CHURCHYARD
    Additional Information: Son of Charles Thomas Seymour and Florence Maud Seymour, of Upton Park, Essex.
     
  3. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    I am in london at the moment en-rout to Italy, so I won't be able to reply to this properly for a bit (at least a week), but I will have a look in Quilters No Dishonourable name. It has a few photographs from 2 CG in the BEF, and a few images of individuals KIA but they are usually officers. Still, you never know.... I seem to remember reading out Fenwick somewhere.
     
  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Good Luck with your research Dirk. We can sometimes too easily forget the innocent civilian casualties.

    Do you know the buildings that were bombed or have they been entirely rebuilt ? Are you able to place some photographs of the locations and the memorials ?
     
  5. Dirk

    Dirk Member

    Hi,

    Diane - Thanks for your advice and the quotation from The Coldstream Guards 1920-1946, Howard & Sparrow, pages 41 - 42.

    Pheaton - I'd highly appreciate if you could check Quilters No Dishonourable name once you have returned. Thanks for the help.

    Rich Payne - I'll make some photos to put on the forum.
    I spoke with eye-witnesses who told me that one of the unfortunate Guardsmen was bleeding from the neck as a result of a fatal shrapnel wound. This unlucky Guardsman was killed in a street named Eksterenberg in Leefdaal (this casualty was either Seymour or Fenwick).

    Regards
    Dirk
     
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Just incase you hadn't seen the diary Dirk. It looks like the Seymour was a cook:

    [​IMG]



    Edit: Transcript, and for reference link to WD thread.
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/coldstream-guards/32647-war-diary-2nd-battalion-coldstream-guards-bef-sep-1939-jun.html#post325410

    1940 May 14
    This day work on the positions started in earnest at 0500 hours.
    1st GUARDS BRIGADE was in 1st DIVISION reserve with the GRENADIERS on the right, HAMPSHIRES centre and COLDSTREAM on the left.
    All four Companies of the Battalion were in one straight line with No. 2 Company on the right, No. 3 Company in the centre and No. 4 Company and No. 1 Company on the left.
    The Battalion frontage which was part of a DIVISIONAL Reserve Line extended 3,000 yards from the Southern corner of WEEBERG BOSHE, 790527 to inclusive the main LOUVAIN - TERVUEREN road.
    There was a large gap between our left and the right of the SUFFOLK’s who were the right-hand Battalion of the Reserve Brigade of the 3rd DIVISION.
    This day one GERMAN aeroplane bombed LEFDAEL and hit No. 3 Company’s cookhouse.
    C.Q.M.S. J. FENWICK and one cook were killed, and the cooker completely destroyed.
    CWGC :: Casualty Details
    CWGC :: Casualty Details
    CWGC :: Cemetery Details
    This was our first interference from GERMAN aircraft.
    During the day there was a false gas alarm due to the fact that lorries drove through LEFDAEL at some speed carrying some BELGIAN soldiers in gasmasks.
    Throughout the day the civilian population was streaming back through out lines, and mixed with it a large number of BELIGIAN soldiers.
    We began to collect food from empty BELGIAN houses and shops, and cattle, which had been abandoned by their owners, and badly wanted milking.
    Drill Serjeant ROBINSON was appointed head cowman and at times was dealing with 60 animals.
     
  7. Dirk

    Dirk Member

    Hello Andy,

    Thank you very much for the War Diary page shedding a light on the circumstances of the deaths of Fenwick and Seymour.

    Dirk
     
  8. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    I will be honest here and say that I totally forgot about this. I was in italy to sort out my wedding next year, so my mind was a bit on other things (sorry about that).

    Anyway, I do have the diary pages for the BEG 2nd Bn. But so do about umpteen other people here, including the eseemed Andy who did my job for me, so I won't posty anything extra on that :wink:

    Here is a photo of a sergeant Fenwick from No dishonourable name. Bear in mind that when NDN was written, it was done so by the late David Quilter (Bristol Uni) who was predominently a 3rd Bn man, and who relied upon what resources they had from late in the war after the two Bns were amalgamated. As a result any reader will notice that there is a distinct lack of 2nd Bn BEF photos. Images of ORs being in extremely short supply.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    "Tuesday 14th May. This morning we had our first experiences of bombing. Some whistling bombs and incendiaries were dropped on the east end of the village. They fell on No.3 Company headquarters and blew the cooker and the mens dinners to bits. Fortunately, the company was digging in, but CQMS Fenwick was killed with one of the cooks, Gdsmn Symour, and another man wounded."

    This was (I think) written by Lt.Colonel Bootle-Wilbraham, CO of the 2nd Bn, who died much later in a Japenese POW camp after the fall of singapore.
     
  10. Dirk

    Dirk Member

    Pheathon,

    Thank you very much for the photograph, and comment.
    Is the book No Dishonourable Name still available?

    An Italian wedding ...

    Thanks,
    Dirk
     
  11. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Pheathon,

    Thank you very much for the photograph, and comment.
    Is the book No Dishonourable Name still available?

    An Italian wedding ...

    Thanks,
    Dirk

    Its pretty rare mate, and usually expensive, but copies keep surfacing now and again. You never know...
     
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  13. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Humber utility woody with first divisIon triangle ? and aos 14.
    Seems to be new film on PATHE and some old favourites are much longer, this looks like shelled British position in Belgium town. Guy quad with 2 limbers also appears .
    TROOPS IN BELGIUM - MAY 1940 - British Pathé

    Craig
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Fantastic stuff from Pathé now. Detail that I've never seen before. I think that I'm going to be busy for about a month !
     
  15. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Yes 'wasted' a lot of time on Pathe today already ! The stills appear a lot clearer
     
  16. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott Junior Member

    That humber shooting brake is a really early (pre-war one) it's got all the civilian type moldings in the wood and the pre-war bonnet sides. It's the only picture of one like that being used by the army that I have seen ...ever, I think. All other pictures seem to show cars from the October 39 contract or later which have simplified military quality coachwork....interesting for this Humber anorack!
     
  17. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    It's the detail that makes it interesting isn't it , Alex ?

    The census number does indicate a 1939 contract but I'd guess fairly early in 1939. Too early, I think, to be a panic contract of civilian stock on the outbreak of hostilities. A quick look at the list shows it was only a very small contract - 35 vehicles so it's perhaps not surprising that there is little surviving photographic evidence.

    Contract V3332 - M392353 - M392388 so this one (M392387) was the penultimate build.

    If the triangle is indeed a dirtied-down 1st Div sign then the '14' (on red) indicates 2nd Btn. Coldstream Guards. They could well be Guardsmen. They're big enough.

    It looks as if a casualty is being moved to the Humber from the building with a Union flag. The bonnet looks to have been peppered with fragmentation.

    [​IMG]

    I suspect from the other films and the scenery that it's probably between Leuven and Brussels.
     
  18. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    If the triangle is indeed a dirtied-down 1st Div sign then the '14' (on red) indicates 2nd Btn. Coldstream Guards. They could well be Guardsmen. They're big enough.

    It looks as if a casualty is being moved to the Humber from the building with a Union flag. The bonnet looks to have been peppered with fragmentation.

    [​IMG]

    I suspect from the other films and the scenery that it's probably between Leuven and Brussels.


    He certainly looks like a casualty , wonder if he's from the bombed out building the soldiers appear to be searching and pulling out their own gear. Agree on the height , they're all as tall as the Humber . Wonder if Drews diaries pin down 2nd Coldstreams location ?
    The Morris is an 8cwt with AOS no. 35, Their's also a brief glimpse of a staff car ( Humber ? film crews?) and a despatch rider with AOS no. 6 , here's the vehicles;-
    Craig
     

    Attached Files:

  19. Blanket Stacker

    Blanket Stacker Junior Member

    Think you're right about them being Guardsmen, the two helping the old man along the road have s.d. caps dangling from their bayonets.
     
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Think you're right about them being Guardsmen, the two helping the old man along the road have s.d. caps dangling from their bayonets.

    There's also a very quick clip of a chap wearing a SD Cap in a bombed building salvaging kit.

    I haven't got Andrew's book to hand but there isn't a 6 LAA Diary but I have the 6 HAA Diary. Just let me know if you want any look ups doing with an idea of the date if you know it.

    If the Fenwick part of this thread moves on some more I'll copy the related pages onto the Thread started by Dirk sometime ago.

    Cheers
    Andy
     

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