Looking for information

Discussion in '53rd (Welsh) Division' started by SteveW1982, Jun 13, 2015.

  1. SteveW1982

    SteveW1982 New Member


    My name is Steve Wood, my grandfather was drafted to the 53rd Welsh and I'm looking for people who are relatives of some of his friends, squad mates etc.

    His name was Samuel Richard Wood (Sam) originally from Abertridwr, he had moved to Edgeware in London, he enlisted at Warley on the 3/12/1942. I know he was on the second wave of D Day landings but I don't know which beach.

    Recently I've been sent Sam's service book and a couple of photos by my Mum as I'm trying to get some background on what my grandfathers involvement in the war was. I will upload the photos shortly and hopefully someone will be able to identify some of the men that are with him in the photos.

    My father died in 2011 and I had only asked about my Grandfathers service life and experiences a few times, it wasn't something my father enjoyed talking about.

    I also have a extract of a news paper story by the Herald about the 53rd Welsh (Link - http://53rdwelshdiv.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=189303844)

    The only story my father could tell me without being brought to tears was about Sam's first days in France, I'm looking to validate this story -

    Sam rolled off the troop transport with his squad and a 6 Inch gun (I think), unfortunately the landing craft had not got close enough to the beach so as soon as the Land Rover/Jeep pulled off the gun sunk into the sand and was not able to be retrieved.

    They decided to push on regardless and traveled to their rally point, unable to do much else they set up camp.

    Some time later in the night they heard noises coming from the adjacent field, either Sam or another member of the squad went to have a look and a German quad with a field gun position was being set up. They re-grouped and tried to decide what to do, before they could do anything there was a barrage of artillery fire (Dad thought allied navel? but I don't think Sam cared to ask questions at the time!) so they scattered to find cover.

    Sam took up in a crater created by a barrage the day before they had arrived, Dad always said Sam was never a believer in things like luck etc but he thinks the reason was "Lighting Can't Strike Twice etc". Anyway, the barrage continued into the night and early morning, during the night Sam heard a scrambling from the opposite side of the crater. Unable to speak Sam sat quietly, after the shelling had stopped and the air cleared he could see that it was a German soldier in the opposite him. Whom when seeing my Grandfather immediately surrendered, Sam didn't have anything on him that would help taking a prisoner so they got to talking. Luckily Sam didn't have to try out his German and he spoke very good English.

    They spoke about their lives before the war, what they did, their families etc The German guy was a butcher by trade, my Great Grandfather was a green grocer by trade so they had plenty to talk about!

    Sam swapped addresses with this soldier, my Dad could remember getting Christmas cards from this soldier and his family but they eventually stopped. I'm guessing Sam sent them one back until they stopped.

    Anyway at day break they shook hands and went their separate ways, Sam went back and met up with the rest of his squad, they surveyed the field next to them and discovered that the German squad had not returned but had left their field gun all set up and ready to go.

    A spotter came over the Radio and informed the squad of a line of German vehicles making their way to the beaches. Getting their co-ordinates they used the German field gun to strike the convoy, they disabled and destroyed a number of the vehicles causing the spotter a bit of confusion. Sam recalled the conversation - "What the bloody hell are you using, no 6" gun I know can do that" the response was - "A German field gun (make model etc) ours is too busy taking a swim" Or something like that.

    If anyone knows of a similar story I would be very grateful if someone could fill in the blanks for me.

    Many Thanks,

    Steve Wood
  2. Lotus7

    Lotus7 Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome to the forum Steve thanks for the posting, good luck with your research hope you get some responses.
    Just a thought do you have his army number, have you got his complete army records from the MOD. Always helpful if you have.
  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    He could not have been with 53rd Welsh Div if he landed on D-Day.
    53rd Welsh Div made the sea journey from England between 23rd & 27th June.
    That is from their Div history.
    We'd need to see his service records to help you anymore to see what unit he was actually as anything else is guess work.
  5. SteveW1982

    SteveW1982 New Member

    Thank you for responding, I will request his service records, I have his book but the hand writing is worse than mine!

    Thanks Owen especially, do you know where they landed as he was definatley the 53rd?
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    sorry don't know where they landed but ..to quote the div history..

    by 28th June the 53rd Div was concentrated in the following areas:

    Headquarters 53rd (Welsh) Division, Bulk of Divsional Troops, 160th Brigade - Around Soubles near Bayeux.

    71st Infantry Brigade - Around Beny-sur-Mer
    158th Infantry Brigade - Around St.Andre.

    Once you get service records & find out which unit he was in you can then get their war diaries from The National Archives for more specific detail .
  7. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Is his army number Not in his service book?
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    My Dad with the 53rd Welsh Division embarked the UK 21st June 44
  9. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Unfortunately the above story certainly doesn't fit with anything I've found. (Incidentally that is my very old website, superseded here: jonathanhware.com )

    That slip was issued throughout the Division after the Reichswald campaign.

    Most of the Division arrived late, mostly by 28 June (as already said) but no elements arrived before 19 - 22 June. So saying 'Second Wave' may actually mean 'Follow-Up' who went in the days after.

    There were rumours about some personnel on attachment on 6 June, bar one Officer attached to an Air Landing Regt, these seem to mostly stem from a fictionalised account of the campaign.

    Part of the issue is that initially they were committed to quiet sectors and certainly with no threat of a drive on the beach, unless he refers to Epsom, and I'm not aware of any 25 Pounders bogging on landing. I also don't recall anything on 6 Pounders (or 17 Pounders) doing the same. Another issue is Jeeps were not towing anti-tank guns/arty, it was all Quad based (even for 17 Pdr) or Carrier based.

    Frankly we need more information, to a Regiment or Battalion, as without a rough idea of where he was I can't say anything. It reminds me of one incident with 71 ATR, but clearly isn't that one, unless it occurred later in the campaign - towards Falaise... or perhaps during the Great Swan...

    More information please ;) Service records really area must on this one! Great story, but currently... need much more!

    Any photographs could help here.

    [The obvious 10.5cm that leaps to mind... unlikely to be that one owing to Scots involvement, unless he was the one who discovered a working 37mm AA gun soon after arrival... but again, not arty.]
  10. SteveW1982

    SteveW1982 New Member

    Thanks all for your responses, I do have his Army number in his service book but I can't see a reference to a specific I will scan the two pictures I have and will upload, I'm just waiting to have a spare £30.00 to get Sam's records.

    Thanks Swiper, I did post on the 53rd forum the same spiel, I did wonder if the story was slightly embellished! Would really love to get to the truth of it and also find out what other campaigns that Sam was involved in.
  11. SteveW1982

    SteveW1982 New Member

    One thing that I don't know if it would help, in his service book after enlisted at Warley it says for the - W. (or N) S.AET.DOFE, also is noted MDU Zone 4.

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