Libya campaign 1942

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by djj267, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. djj267

    djj267 Junior Member

    Can anyone please help in locating details regarding my family member.

    James Thomason (Pvt)
    East Yorks 4th Btn
    4345349
    Died 1 June 1942 buried Acroma Cem

    We know very little about what battle he was participating in when he died as we cannot seem to locate the btns history

    Can anyone shed any light on this for us?.

    Thanks
     
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    djj267
    If you were to google for the "Battle of Gazala"- May '42 you will find that the 4th East Yorks were in the 150th Bde of 50th Division which was wiped out almost entirely by Rommels Africa Corps- The 150th was never replaced

    To get the whole story I would adviose that you borrow from you local Library the book by Barrie Pitt entitled " The Crucible of war"
    Cheers
     
  3. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum djj267.

    Tom has given you a flavour of what happened to the 150th Infantry Brigade at Gazala in late May to 1st June 1942, but as he recommends you really need to read a detailed account of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division's actions to understand the bigger picture of what happened; including the 150th Infantry Brigade being overrun, and the 69th and 151st Infantry Brigades' breakout.

    Originally in the 50 Div (and with the BEF in Flanders in 1940) was the 150th Infantry Brigade - 4th and 5th Bn's Green Howards and 4th East Yorkshire Regiment - and 151st Infantry Brigade - 6th, 8th and 9th Bn's Durham Light Infantry. The latter brigade was with 50 Div throughout WWII.

    At Gazala, virtually all of those of 150th Infantry Brigade that survived went in the bag. Rommell actually stopped to congratulate the CO, Brigadier Haydon, on the Brigade's ferocious defence but found that the Brigadier had been killed.

    The 69th - 6th and 7th Bn's Green Howards and 5th Bn East Yorkshire Regiment - joined 50 Div in late June 1940 - and together with 151st Infantry Brigade were ordered to withdraw from the Gazala line in mid-June. This was the breakout.

    The breakout at Gazala was truly amazing. The 50 Div was the last to leave the Gazala line (boxes really), with the rest of the 8th Army in full retreat eastwards eventually to the Alamein line and it did so by attacking the Axis forces to the west. When it had punched a hole through the Axis forces it swung to the south around Bir Hackeim and then east eventually to the Alamein line.

    You may wish to invest in copies of any War Diaries that survived the action. However, there are a couple of books - which I don't yet have - that you may also wish to look at:

    A History of the East Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of York's Own) in the War of 1939-45 by P.R. Nightingale

    150th Infantry Brigade (50th (Northumbrian) Division) in the Middle East, June, 1941 - June, 1942 by W. E Bush

    Just ask if you need any further information about 50 Div and if I know or have I will provide!

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  4. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey Patron

    These are their war diaries held at the National Archives:
    WO 167/851, 4 East Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of York's Own) (1940 Jan.-June)
    WO 169/1753, 4 East Yorkshire Regiment (The Duke of York's Own) (1941 Apr.- Dec.)
    WO 169/5075, 4 East Yorkshire Regiment (The Duke of York's Own) (1942 Jan.- Apr.)

    Only up to April 1942 though.

    Lee
     
  5. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Sound advice from the above posts, While you are waiting to get the books, war diaries etc, have a look here for a good website about the Gazala battle or "Battle of the Cauldron" as it is sometimes referred to.

    PS Welcome to the forum.
     
  6. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    To add a bit of information about events preceding this, 150 Brigade was stationed on Cyprus during the winter 1941/42. They moved into the western desert in January 1942, and provided a backstop at Gazala during the retreat of 1 Armoured and 4 Indian Division from el Agheila. So it's likely your relative would have had a few months of boredom interspersed by being Stukaed, prior to the battle for the Gazala line starting at the end of May.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  7. mark dobson

    mark dobson Junior Member

    In the description of the Battle of the Cauldron on the web page link in REMEDesertRat's post above, reference is made to Rommel 'contemplating surrender' around 31st May 1942 whilst holed up short of fuel and ammunition near the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division box on the Gazala line. Can anyone provide a citation for this piece of information?
     
  8. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    In the description of the Battle of the Cauldron on the web page link in REMEDesertRat's post above, reference is made to Rommel 'contemplating surrender' around 31st May 1942 whilst holed up short of fuel and ammunition near the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division box on the Gazala line. Can anyone provide a citation for this piece of information?

    Hello Mark,

    The 50th (Northumbrian) Division, of three three brigades - 69th, 150th and 151st - occupied three separate defensive boxes in the Gazala line. It was only the 150th Infantry Brigade, which was in an isolated position, that was overrun. There was no 50 Div box!

    Please clarify your request...

    Best,

    Steve.
     

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