Infantry assault by 600 (5th battalion, Duke of Wellington's) (West Riding) Regiment - 15 april 1945

Discussion in 'War Cemeteries & War Memorial Research' started by Paul Reed, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Came across some graves to this unit in Cassel (France) this week. They all date from April 1945. Anyone know anything about this unit?

    It was formed from 5th Bn Duke of Wellingtons is all I know at present and was a TA RA unit.
     
  2. CROONAERT

    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    Paul.

    600th regiment (previously the 43rd Garrison Regiment) really ceased to exist after feb 1945 , but a man on my local memorial was in 600th Battery (guess where he's buried!) - same lot you are enquiring about by any chance? (and I know what the CWGC lists them as!)

    Dave
     

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  3. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Thanks Dave. Just been having a look round and it seems this is the history:

    43 (5 Duke of Wellington’s Rgt) Garrison Regt RA
    Locations

    Oct 44
    Oct 44
    Nov 44


    UK

    Formed from 43 S/L Rgt
    Home Forces
    Became 600 Rgt RA
     
  4. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    Whilst in Cassel Communal Communal Cemetery the weekend before last, I was intrigued by a long line of Headstones of one Royal Artillery Regiment, 600 (5th Battalion, Duke of Wellington‘s) (West Riding) Regiment, RA.

    There were 15 headstones in total and I thought I would look up their war diary at Kew yesterday to establish what had happened to these men and why they had died so far from the front lines in Holland and Germany.

    Much to my surprise, a detailed after action report revealed that they were taking part in an assault on a mill to the south west of Dunkerque, which of course had still not surrendered, was cut off and isolated.

    I cannot understand why, when the end of the war was in sight, did there seem to be a need to commit a Royal Artillery Regiment to an infantry assault supported by a squadron of Czech Armour on a mill and it’s surrounding buildings.

    An intelligence report estimated that there were approximately 40 enemy troops within the small complex. The assault commenced at dawn on the 15th April 1945 starting with an artillery barrage and 3 Platoons of inexperienced RA men then advanced with terrible consequences.

    To cut a long story short, the action was a miserable failure at a cost of 2 officers and 12 Other ranks killed that day with 3 Other ranks dying of wounds shortly after. The Regiment also had 2 Officers and 60 men wounded.

    2 weeks later, Officers and NCO’s were sent for extra “infantry training” following this debacle.
     
  5. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Yes I flagged that up in another thread somewhere on the forum after I went there a couple of years ago. I suspect Owen will find it...
     
  6. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    The men who died from that fateful action.

    WESTHEAD, THOMAS MAURICE
    Rank: Major
    Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 35
    Date of Death: 16/04/1945
    Service No: 143081
    Additional information: Son of William and Mary Westhead. Librarian.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 7.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    DAVIES, JOHN ARTHUR
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 30
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 14680197
    Additional information: Son of Ebenezer and Sarah Davies, of Llanelly, Carmarthenshire.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 16.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    DAVIES, WALTER JOHN
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 37
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 1078723
    Additional information: Son of William and Annie Elizabeth Davies, of Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: I. B. 24.
    Cemetery: COXYDE MILITARY CEMETERY

    [​IMG]

    ELLIS, GAYBRIEL
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 44
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 14586039
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 10. Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    HACKWELL, ARTHUR EVERRITT
    Rank: Bombardier
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 33
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 1698212
    Additional information: Husband of Zillah Emily May Hackwell, of Battersea, London.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row B. Grave 12.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    HARPER, WITOLD RALPH
    Rank: Bombardier
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 28
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 6017302
    Additional information: Son of Ernest and Maria Harper.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 21.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    HAYHURST, FRED
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn.The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 36
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 1760870
    Additional information: Son of William and Elizabeth Hayhurst, of Blackburn, Lancashire; husband of Annie Hayhurst, of Blackburn.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 9.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    JOHNSON, LEONARD
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 34
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 1689795
    Additional information: Husband of Florence E. Johnson, of Hull.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 13.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    LOCKYER, FRANCIS ERNEST
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 40
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 11060164
    Additional information: Son of Thomas Augustus and Mary Lockyer; husband of Kathleen Edith Lockyer, of Worcester.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 11.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    MORELAND, ALFRED THOMAS
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 31
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 1652000
    Additional information: Son of Alfred John and Florence Maria Moreland; husband of Doris May Moreland of Hornchurch, Essex.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 18.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    MURPHY, MICHAEL
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 34
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 1714109
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 20.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    PATE, TOM
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 32
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 1825511
    Additional information: Son of Tom and Violet Pate; husband of Nora Pate, of Burnley, Lancashire.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 8.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    PHILLIPS, WILLIAM
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 37
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 1718619
    Additional information: Son of Walter James Phillips and Laura Phillips; husband of Lilian Nellie Phillips, of Bisterne, Hampshire.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 17.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    SAMMONS, DAVID NICHOLLS
    Rank: Bombardier
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 32
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 1656435
    Additional information: Son of William and Ellen Sammons; husband of Violet S. Sammons, of Burntwood, Staffordshire.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 15.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    SNEESBY, CHARLES ERNEST
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 1554957
    Additional information: Son of William Henry and Mary Ann Sneesby, of Sheffield; husband of Edith Holberry Sneesby, of Sheffield.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 19.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

    [​IMG]

    NEWBERRY, WILLIAM HENRY
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt [West Riding]) Regt.
    Date of Death: 17/04/1945
    Service No: 1761526
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Plot 4. Row AA. Grave 26.
    Cemetery: LONGUENESSE (ST. OMER) SOUVENIR CEMETERY

    [​IMG]


    EMBLETON, FRANK
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 27
    Date of Death: 20/04/1945
    Service No: 11005140
    Awards: Mentioned in Despatches
    Additional information: Son of Frank and Mary Jane Embleton, of Leeds, Yorkshire; husband of Ivy Embleton, of Leeds.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Plot 4. Row AA. Grave 27.
    Cemetery: LONGUENESSE (ST. OMER) SOUVENIR CEMETERY

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    Trace Map of the area where the assault took place.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Pete Keane

    Pete Keane Senior Member

    Odd, but the RA site i use for reference shows 600 Regt RA(TA) going into 'suspended animation' in Feb 1945.

    I have done a little work on this particular TA Bn., from its origins as 5th bn., through its AA and SL period,and stopped at the above date.

    Obviously it did exist.

    What date does the war diary start?

    Ps Sorry to go slightly off-topic.

    Pete
     
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Ramacal-
    One has to look at the Brigadier's orders in these cases as some of them were not the brightest stars in the firmament - some were also under great pressure to "clear things up " and thus threw in anything they had to do the job -

    Over at Raurey near the end of June'44 the Brigadier threw in a whole battalion of DLI of the 49th Div. with rifles - against the 12th Panzers - he lost 200 men ! Still kept his job !

    Then there was US Gen. Mark Clark over in Italy throwing the 36th (Texas) Division against the small town of San Pietro - he lost nearly 2000 men - 0r throwing the British Xth Corps against the Garigliani River ........0r throwing the US 34th Div and the French against Montecassino in the first battle -
    he was promoted !

    As they wont to say over here - go figure !
    Cheers
     
  10. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    Hi Pete

    The war diary I looked at was:-

    WO171/9172 covering the period February to December 1945. There is one for 1946 numbered WO171/9172 from January to June 1946. I presume this is when they finally became disbanded.

    Hope that is of some help.

    RobOdd, but the RA site i use for reference shows 600 Regt RA(TA) going into 'suspended animation' in Feb 1945.

    I have done a little work on this particular TA Bn., from its origins as 5th bn., through its AA and SL period,and stopped at the above date.

    Obviously it did exist.

    What date does the war diary start?

    Ps Sorry to go slightly off-topic.

    Pete
     
  11. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    Tom.

    You are quite right to say go figure. The age of most of the guys who died also stands out, as it seems that when you were over the age of 30, you were considered old for infantry. Would this be correct?

    RobRamacal-
    One has to look at the Brigadier's orders in these cases as some of them were not the brightest stars in the firmament - some were also under great pressure to "clear things up " and thus threw in anything they had to do the job -

    Over at Raurey near the end of June'44 the Brigadier threw in a whole battalion of DLI of the 49th Div. with rifles - against the 12th Panzers - he lost 200 men ! Still kept his job !

    Then there was US Gen. Mark Clark over in Italy throwing the 36th (Texas) Division against the small town of San Pietro - he lost nearly 2000 men - 0r throwing the British Xth Corps against the Garigliani River ........0r throwing the US 34th Div and the French against Montecassino in the first battle -
    he was promoted !

    As they wont to say over here - go figure !
    Cheers
     
  12. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The Dukes' history implies that the German garrison of Dunkirk were quite active and sallied out in strength on 3/4 April. Some French positions were taken and the Dukes' attack of 15 April was to retake these.

    The unit had been renamed 43 Garrison Regt RA around 14 Oct 44, then 600 Regt RA in Feb 45.

    It's worth bearing in mind that Dunkirk didn't surrender until 10 May 45, a couple of days late.
     
  13. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    The Czech units must have taken some casualties as well. Saw some of their headstones at Coxyde and possibly Cassel Communal and was wondering how they came to be there. Now I know why.
     
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Ramacal -
    I would agree that an Infantryman at 30 knew where all his joints were - and his stiffening muscles

    In the Tanks it was recognised that for an OR - the age of 37 was time to send him to a desk job, although there were some sloppy record keeping clerks around as our Troop leaders W/op was 37 - he forgot he said !

    Cheers
     
  15. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    When I started this thread, I was a bit perplexed as to why this particular regiment of the Royal Artillery seemed to be fighting as infantry. I also could not find what sort of artillery hardware they were using, nor come to that, any of the 600 Series Regiments.

    Finally found the answer this morning.

    In L.F.Ellis's Victory in the West - Volume 2 the following RA Regiments are listed as Infantry:-

    600, 601, 606, 607, 608, 609, 611, 612, 613, 614, 616, 617, 619, 623, 625, 630, 631 & 637.

    A small note states the men in these units were retrained as Infantry. I wonder if they came from those disbanded troops of various LAA Regiments from August 1944. Seems highly likely.
     
  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  17. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    Paul.

    600th regiment (previously the 43rd Garrison Regiment) really ceased to exist after feb 1945 , but a man on my local memorial was in 600th Battery (guess where he's buried!) - same lot you are enquiring about by any chance? (and I know what the CWGC lists them as!)

    Dave

    A photo of the headstone of T Pate to go with the newspaper article posted above.

    PATE, TOM
    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 600 (5th Bn. The Duke of Wellington's Regt. [West Riding]) Regt.
    Age: 32
    Date of Death: 15/04/1945
    Service No: 1825511
    Additional information: Son of Tom and Violet Pate; husband of Nora Pate, of Burnley, Lancashire.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row E. Grave 8.
    Cemetery: CASSEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION


    [​IMG]
     
  18. CROONAERT

    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    A photo of the headstone of T Pate to go with the newspaper article posted above.


    ...and a (crap) photo of his name on the Padiham war memorial...
     

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  19. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    Hopefully a better one of that part of the WM and one of the whole monument.
     

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  20. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Great stuff gents, thanks.
     

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