Padua - The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)

Discussion in 'Italy' started by johnpughe1959, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. johnpughe1959

    johnpughe1959 Junior Member

    Hello all ,
    this is my first message. I have been researching my family tree for several years,and only this week found that my great uncle's name and that he was killed in the battle around Padua,Italy.
    His name was Martin Stanley Harry Burchell, pte6404683
    Listed as Queens Royal Regiment(west surrey). He was born in Charlwood,Surrey 1916. My late mother alas did not have much contact with her Surrey side of our as she lived in Wales(Tywyn)

    In the CWGC :: Casualty Details it gives the grave number as I.V.E.13
    As I am not next of kin,and do not no any contact of living Burcell relations, can any one help please
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Hello and welcome John

    You can apply for his records without consent of next of kin - fee is £30, enclose a copy of the CWGC certificate.
    Forms available to download here:
    Ministry of Defence | About Defence | What we do | Personnel | Service Records | Making a Request for Information held on the Personnel Records of Deceased Service Personnel

    I should point out that unless you know otherwise, no-one should assume that he was killed in action on the date he died. He may have died of wounds received earlier.

    Another line of research would be to get war diary from Kew.

    Private MARTIN STANLEY HARRY BURCHELL 6404683, The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) who died age 29 on 25 April 1945
    Remembered with honour PADUA WAR CEMETERY
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    Any Italian experts know what the Queen's Royal Regiment Battalion might have been?

  4. johnpughe1959

    johnpughe1959 Junior Member

    Hello dbf,
    thank you for info.I was told that Martin was killed by an accident. A truck was on a ridge above his unit . The spare wheel rolled down the embankment and killed him outright.I once had a picture of him. Do not know much more,except mother said he was a regular soldier not a conscript.
    Regards John
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Under WO 170 War Office: Central Mediterranean Forces, (British Element): War Diaries, Second World War ITALY 1945

    these files

    Detecting your browser settings
    WO 170/5059 2/5 Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) 1945 Jan.- Dec.

    Detecting your browser settings
    WO 170/5060 2/6 Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) 1945 Jan.- Dec.

    Detecting your browser settings
    WO 170/5061 2/7 Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) 1945 Jan.- Dec.

    There is also this : -
    Detecting your browser settings
    WO 204/8327 2/5 Battalion Queens Royal Regiment: operations on the Senio River 1945 Apr.
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  7. johnpughe1959

    johnpughe1959 Junior Member

    Hi dbf, not realy sure want the block numbers mean yet.I should have introduced my self first.Although both my father and grandfather were in the army,I was an Amulance officer now retired, so not up on military terms. Father,national service, Grandfather RE 1940-1946 8TH Army .Will bring him up on another thread later.
    Thanks again will look in info tomorrow.
  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Sorry John should have explained, in a bit of a rush.

    His no. falls in the allocation given to another regiment. Soldiers transferring between units kept their original no.

    It means that he enlisted originally with Royal Sussex Regiment.

    CWGC might be able to check their original records to see if there was a unit recorded against his regiment. Otherwise I'm afraid that without his records, everything else is supposition.

    The Second World War 1939-1945 - The Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment

    The Territorial Battalions
    The Territorial Force was disbanded after the First World War, but reconstituted as the Territorial Army (TA) in 1921. In 1938, the TA battalions were ordered to double their strength. The Queen’s battalions formed into two brigades; 131 (Queen’s) Brigade consisted of 1/5th, 1/6th and 1/7th Queen’s and 169 (Queen’s) Brigade was made up of 2/5th, 2/6th and 2/7th Queen’s. All six Territorial battalions fought in France in 1940. Two years later, both brigades were ordered overseas and fought in the Eighth Army in the Western Desert. 131 Brigade became the Lorried Infantry brigade of 7 Armoured Division (the “Desert Rats”) after the Battle of El Alamein. 169 Brigade joined 56 London Division (the “Black Cats”) and took part in the capture of Tunis in May 1943.

    Both brigades fought in the allied landing at Salerno, Italy in September 1943; one relieving the other. They then took part in some of the bloodiest fighting in Italy. When the Battle Honours were awarded for the Second World War, seventeen were awarded to the Queen's. "Salerno", "Monte Camino", "Anzio", "Gemmano Ridge" emblazoned on the Queen's Colour, whilst "Monte Stella", "Scafati Bridge", "Volturno Crossing", "Garigliano Crossing", "Damiano", "Gothic Line", "Senio Pocket", "Senio Floodbank", "Cusa Fabri Ridge", "Menate", "Filo", "Argento Gap" and "Italy 1943-45" were awarded as Battle Honours.
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Martin was indeed with the 56th Division and in 169 Brigade and had passed Padua - in fact on the 29th April '44 they were very close to Venice when he was killed - as you say - probably by an accident - and taken back to Padua - later for burial.

    This was the culmination of the Spring offensive when 8th army broke out of the Winter line of the Senio River with an attack on lago Commachio along with 78th Div and 56th - 6th Armoured were heading west to join up with 5th US Army who were coming east the through the Argenta Gap.The Cities of Ferrara and Padua
    fell on the way to Venice and Trieste

    The really bad thing was that the surrender terms were being signed in Caserta that day and the fighting in Italy finished three days later on May 2nd...
  10. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member


    A general overview of the end of the campaign in Italy can be found here: HyperWar: US Army in WWII: Cassino to the Alps [Chapter 29].

    I really do suggest that you should get hold of your great uncle's records as they will shed a deal of light on his actvities - the copy I got for my great uncle has enabled me to delve deeper into his time in the 1/6th Queen's prior to his death in the Salerno region of Italy. Also getting copies of the war diaries referred to by dbf will be a great help also.

    Although this doesn't apply to the period you are asking about - but I am sure you will be interested - check out this post:

  11. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    I hate to add to your problems but I feel that I should let you know that just because he is burried in Padua, does not mean that he was killed in action near it. I know of a few Guardsmen interned there, who were killed south of the PO, even interred at other locations and then moved north for Burial near the town. Padua was the logistical base of operations for the allies in the area once it had been captured, so it was used as a centralized grave site, with hospitals etc nearbye.

    I went to Padua Cemetary a year or so ago. Its sad to say that its not kept in the best state ever for a CWWG site, but its far from being terrible if you get what I mean. Its a funny, quite small, cemetary and for better or worse no one local seems to know it even exists.
  12. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    I hate to add to your problems but I feel that I should let you know that just because he is burried in Padua, does not mean that he was killed in action near it. I know of a few Guardsmen interned there, who were killed south of the PO, even interred at other locations and then moved north for Burial near the town. Padua was the logistical base of operations for the allies in the area once it had been captured, so it was used as a centralized grave site, with hospitals etc nearbye.

    An interesting point, that I should have thought of, as this happens quite a deal with war graves.

  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    A good clue to this being the case is a good mixture of different units/cap badges on the headstones.
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Drew -
    I don't understand your reference to many unit cap badges in cemeteries - this was not at all unusual as the graves held those whose units had fought in the regions and were gathered from many miles to the main cemeteries for that area-

    for example at Cassino there 4000 odd graves representing all of the units which fought there in that four months long battles and that are from British - Canadian - New Zealand while the Polish dead have their own cemetery and MOST Indians were cremated - and there are 14 x 15foot high Marble pillars showing the dead who have no known graves - from as far away as Sicily - Salerno - Anzio et al.

    Where many of my Brigade are buried at Coriano Ridge there are 2,000 graves - BUT in the same battle area there are another six cemeteries -total of 14,000+ - again many different badges. That cemetery at Coriano Ridge is immaculate.....

    That is one hell of a lot of regimental badges.
  15. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    John et al,

    I'm not adding much more to other notes suggesting you consult the details within war diaries and getting hold of your great uncle's Private Burchell's service record from MOD.

    The 169th (Queen's) Brigade crossed Lake Commacchio in Buffaloes on the morning of 11th April and were in continuous action with the 56th Division from that day to the 29th April when they entered Venice.

    On the 25th April, the date your great uncle died, the Queen's Brigade crossed the Po on DUKWs and Buffaloes along with the 167th Brigade, and advanced 10 miles to the Adige river.

    Good luck with your further research,

  16. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Padua War cemetery spreadsheet added to post 4 here

    Placing the cemetery reports in plot order can sometimes give a sense of how the cemetery developed: gives a general idea only, when checking dates against those in same plot. As Phaethon has already stated this looks like it was mainly used to concentrate field graves and the like, into one area.
  17. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Just to sum up this for you John:

    You need to get his records in order to make any further progress with research. Currently a 9 to 12 month wait for copy papers, so if you are serious about finding out more, you need to apply as soon as possible.

    This should tell you the unit he last served with, as well as medal entitlement etc.

    Armed with that information you can get that War Diary and check it to see what they did and where. He may even be named, though this is rare for anyone other than an officer.

    However as you already have a family account of the circumstances of his death, you are a lot further along than some.

    Good luck and should you apply let us know what's in the records. You may need some help deciphering the various abbreviations.

  18. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Thanks to Bexley here for letting me know that the Queens were in the 56th Division.

    I have the war diaries for the Division, according to this, the crossing was on the 26th, but early mornings are often called the night before if you get my drift.

    The 169th Bdes Crossing over the Canale Bianca [objective after crossing the PO] is at 45° 01' 22'' N, 11° 48' 09'' E according to the attacjed 56th Div diary, but at 44° 59' 40'' N, 11° 43' 39'' E according to the 24th Bde: bear in mind these are four digit grid square coordinates, so the possible locations stretch a mile to the north east of the these locations, which are the bottom corners of the grid. Its a peculiar artifact of either the Northern Italian grid, or the echo delta site, that means that locations in the north Italian Maps are much more accurate then elsewhere, so these coordinates look pretty good to me.


    Hold on, I have more. The 24th Guards Bde diaries have the locations of the queens on the 25th...

    Attached Files:

  19. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Attached is the 24th Gds Bde diary for the early morning of the 26th, which was operating in the same area as the Queens. I'm affraid I dont have anything useful (i.e. unit names) for the 25th but this will let you at least let know where they were on the 26th until you can get the Bn Diary to confirm what occured on the previous day.

    To get you started here are some of the translated coordinates from the attachment.

    2/6 queens with rwo trps tanks: +45° 30' 56.00", +11° 47' 59.00"

    One Coy directed on: 45° 01' 10'' N, 11° 48' 23'' E

    One coy: 45° 00' 55'' N, 11° 49' 42'' E

    2/5 Queens at Seloa: 44° 59' 48'' N, 11° 50' 30'' E

    Attached Files:

  20. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I am beginning to think that no one bothers to read my stuff these days - especially my posting # 9 -where I thought that I had explained where his brigade was at the time of the man's death.

    MOST cemeteries took time to build and thus MOST of the graves are re-interred from field and other graves as an example some of my friends were buried at Riccione in the Canadian graveyard on October 1st 1944 - after the main battles - then in 1954 - the Coriano Ridge Cemetery was finished and so all of those graves were transfered to Coriano.....and the Canadian cemetery reverted to the city.

    Do hope that everyone can read and understand this posting....

Share This Page