Help finding my great grandad?

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Elliejae, Jan 12, 2021.

  1. Elliejae

    Elliejae Member

    Hi all, super new to all of this military researching so any help is greatly appreciated!

    I have been on the hunt for my great grandfathers but I am coming up short with them all.

    I am most interested in James Charles Willis. His son (my grandfather) has told me that he was a POW in Germany, but that is all he knows. There is a strong possibility that he was a part of the Royal Fusiliers 9th Bat.
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  2. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Hello Ellijae,

    There is a Fusilier J C Willis Army Number 6476137, POW number 33119 at Lamsdorf.

    Information from "Prisoners of War British Army 1939 - 1945"

    Good luck with your research.

    Kind regards, always,

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
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  3. bofors

    bofors Senior Member

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  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    As Jim has posted

    UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: J C Willis
    Rank: Fusilier
    Army Number: 6476137
    Regiment: The Royal Fusiliers
    POW Number: 33119
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 344
    Camp Location: Lambinowice, Poland

    The best bet is as Bofor says - obtain his service records with the forms he has linked - one thing extra though is that you will need a copy of his death certificate, something to do with data protection at the MOD
    If you let us know when and where he died or his date(year) of birth we can probably find the details of his death cert

    There are plenty of websites for the POW camp so perhaps some googling is in order

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  5. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member


    Your great grandad was indeed in the 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, C Company to be exact. He was taken Prisoner of War on 10th September 1943 at Battipaglia, just after the Salerno landings. The battalion was overrun by a German counterattack and a lot of men were taken prisoner.


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  6. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

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  7. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    I've transcribed the battalion war diaries. These are the entries for 9th and 10th September 1943.


  8. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

  9. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    These are reports on the death of Captain Maxwell who was an artillery officer from 64 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery who was attached to C Company 9 Royal Fusiliers on 10th September. The Captain Gaylard (erronoeously called Gayford/Gayland on the second page) was C Company commander as was wounded and also taken prisoner on 10th September together with your great Grandad and a lot of other members of C Company.

    Captain Maxwell's body was found on the slope below the castle on the left in the picture above.

    64_Fd_Regt_RA_Sep43_0078.jpg 64_Fd_Regt_RA_Sep43_0079.jpg
  10. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    And last, but not least, this is an aerial photograph of Battipaglia from July 1943. I think the castle is just out of shot at the top left but the hill where your great Grandad's company was overrun is there. You can see the town was much smaller then and the vegetation much more sparse. Hit unexpectedly by a German counter attack supported by tanks, the two forward companies of 9 Royal Fusiliers (A and C) didn't have much chance.

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  11. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Apologies, I overlooked this. One of the members of C Company reported on some of the missing from that company - your great Grandad is mentioned as being wounded early on.

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  12. Elliejae

    Elliejae Member

    James was born around October 1911 in Edmonton and died 1993 in Dagenham. Unfortunately I am unsure of the month he died.
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  13. Elliejae

    Elliejae Member

    Wow, thank you so much for all this information! Really interesting to see where he served!
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  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
    Name: James Charles Willis
    Death Age: 81
    Birth Date: 3 Oct 1911
    Registration Date: Jan 1993
    Registration District: Barking and Dagenham
    Inferred County: Essex
    Register Number: C13
    District and Subdistrict: 2181C
    Entry Number: 48

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  15. Elliejae

    Elliejae Member

    Does anyone know if there would be a picture of the battalion together? I've found pictures of other battalions in 344 but I am unable to find one of the 9th bat.
  16. Elliejae

    Elliejae Member

    Thank you TD!

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