Queen's Regiment TA

Discussion in '1940' started by DirtyDick, Jun 22, 2004.

  1. DirtyDick

    DirtyDick Senior Member


    My late grandfather was a pre-war territorial with the Queen's Regiment (West Surrey's) who served in France with the BEF April-May 1940.

    According to on-line research, his battalion was partially trained and equipped and despatched to France in early April to act as pioneers whilst they completed their infantry training.

    From 10 May they were assigned to Petrie Force, an emergency formation composed of many such units; he was evacuated from Dunkirk on May 31 1940.

    Does anyone have any more information about this unit, its actions, and whether it reached Dunkirk as a formation or whether it was a case of every man for himself?

    Clive Wiley likes this.
  2. MalcolmII

    MalcolmII Senior Member

    Send me an email off list and I'll send you the BEF 1940 orbat. A book you might find information in is:
    The Day of Reckoning by Donald Edgar - the story of 12th 23rd and 46th Divisions up to Dunkirk.
    Basically, they were sacrificed. Sent into battle when they were supposed to be line of communication troops minus artillery and transport support units.
    The Queens were in 35 Brigade of 12th Division.
    IanFinlay likes this.
  3. DirtyDick

    DirtyDick Senior Member

    Thanks Malcolm, email attachment received.

  4. Kieron Hill

    Kieron Hill Senior Member

    I came acroos this account in the many books I've read while researching my
    Granddads Regiment, which was 1/6th Queens West Royal Regiment.

    In 1940 the 1/5th, 1/6th and 1/7th Queens landed in France on the 3rd April, and a month later the 1/7th was detached from 131 Brigade and transfered to th 50th Division. The remainder of 131 Brigade was deployed on the line of the Escaut River.

    The Germans launched their invasion of Holland and Belgium on the 10th of May, and reached, and attacked, the Escaut River positions in force ten days later. Afetr two days of fighting, the Queens battalions were withdrawn to defensive positions between St.Omer and La Bassee, where the 1/6th, which had suffered many casualties, was in reserve while the 1/5th held the of Strazeele. Here they repulsed determined German attacks made in considerable strength. Both battalions then withdrew to Dunkirk and were evacuated on the 31st of May - men of the 1/6th, in the traditions of the glorious first of June, rowing themselves out to the transports.
    The 1/7th, which had been holding part of the line of the River Dendre not far from Brussels, covered the withdrawal of the main body of the British Army, and was then ordered to fall back to the Bassee Canal. From here it withdrew to Dunkirk and crossed the Channel on the 30th May.

    The Bearing, good order and discipline of The Queens Royal Regiment on its return from Dunkirk,'wrote the Naval Commander-in-chief,'was an example and inspiration to us of The Royal Navay.'

    I hope this helps.


    Clive Wiley likes this.
  5. DirtyDick

    DirtyDick Senior Member

    Cheers, Kieron, that is excellent.

    Do you happen to have the name of the book/author to hand?

  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    There was 6 battalions of Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) in France during 1940. Do you know which Bn he was in?
  7. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Would it be possible to get additional information about the 1/6th Queens in the period of 1940? Especially for the period leading up to Dunkirk and after when they were posted to Dover, my grand-uncle was said to have been a participant at this time.
    Clive Wiley likes this.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    There is a battalion diary at the National Archives that will cover the period from being ordered to France until their return to the UK.
  9. Kieron Hill

    Kieron Hill Senior Member

    This maybe a little late in the day drew looking at the date
    but it was taken out an official old comrades association newsletter
    from the 6th(bemondsey)Bn, of which I was sent back in 2000.

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Petreforce was formed on the 18th May 1940 in Arras under the command of 12 Divisions commander, Major-General R. L. Petre, it consisted of:

    23 Division
    36 Brigade which included 6th and 7th Battalion, The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
    GHQ Chemical Warfare units
    1 Welsh Guards
    HQ 2 Light Armoured Reconnaissance Brigade
    8 Royal Northumberland Fusiliers - 20th May

    By the 25th May Petreforce only consisted of 1 WG and 8 RNF. Petreforce was completely broken up and ceased to exist as a fighting formation after the HQ repoted to GHQ.
  11. IanFinlay

    IanFinlay Junior Member

    44th Home Counties Infantry Div - 131st Brigade 1st line Territorials consisting of 1/5 1/6 1/7th
    12th (Eastern) Infantry Div.- 35 Brigade 2nd line Territorial army - consisting of 2/5 2/6 2/7th

    I've just come across this book:
    "Retreat and Rearguard - Dunkirk 1940: The Evacuation of the BEF to the ... By Jerry Murland ay."
    That outlines in detail what happened but doesn't mention "Petrie"
    url: Retreat and Rearguard - Dunkirk 1940

    Here's extracts relating to the 35 Brigade :

    "..If the 36 Brigade orders had lacked clarity then those issued to the 35 Brigade smacked of almost total incompetence. Consisting of three Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) battalions, they had been labouring at Abancourt since mid-April. On 17 May the 2/6 and 2/7 Queen's - possibly mistaken by movement Control for the 46th Division - were ordered to Abbeville where they were surprised to discover they had been diverted to Lens. Reaching Lens in the midst of an air raid they learned to their dismay that the original orders had been a mistake and they were to return to Abbeville where at least they were reunited with the 2/5 Queens. On 20 May it was decided to withdraw the brigade across the Somme, but in the confusion of the Panzer Division assault on Abbeville, Brigadier Vivian Cordova's orders went astray.

    Trouble began when Lieutenant Colonel Edward Bolton commanding the 2/6 Queens, noted that the tanks he had seen crossing the airfield south-east of le Plessiel were not British, as first thought, but German, and what's more, were heading for the mouth of the Somme. Having failed to make contact with the 2/7 Queens he wisely decided to lie low and remain where he was until darkness fell before he led the battalion across the Somme at port-le-grand. Apart from the rearguard platoon, which was surprised by German tanks crossing the St Omer road, the battalion was south of the river by dawn.

    The 2/7 was less fortunate. Deployed around Vauchelles the same German tanks were first seen approaching the lines at 5:30 pm and after a short engagement with all the available anti-tank ammunition Lieutenant Colonel Francis Girling gave orders to retire. In the confusion of battle, those orders only reached HQ Company in addition to two platoons which succeeded in crossing the river, the remainder being killed or captured.

    The only battalion that received Cordova's orders to retire was the 2/5 which was told to wait until the 2/7 had crossed the Somme before moving. The battalion was eventually split into small groups by Lieutenant Colonel Alex Young and told to make their own way to the river. About 120 officers and men escaped death or captivity. By midnight on the 20 May 35 Brigade had practically ceased to exist as a viable formation, a tragedy that may have been avoided if the 6 and 7/ Royal Sussex Battalions had been deployed on the south bank of the Somme opposite Abbeville as originally intended, where they might have been able to assist the Queen's brigade by holding the high ground which overlooks Abbeville from the south. ...."
    JERICHO likes this.
  12. IanFinlay

    IanFinlay Junior Member

    I have just gone through the Commonwealth war graves and marked up every grave of a Queen's Royal Regt (West Surrey) to help establish actual movements in April-May 1940 .

    I have attached:
    - a *.kmz google earth map file attached with cemeteries containing fallen members of the Queen's Royal Regt. (West Surrey)
    - a *.pdf list diagram of each grave and soldier.
  13. IanFinlay

    IanFinlay Junior Member

  14. nickgrace1

    nickgrace1 Member

    I should imagine he was in the 2/5th, 2/6th or 2/7th Queens. I find it interesting men from this battalion being near Dunkirk as the 3 battalions went the other direction. Although there was a book about the 2/6th and mentions some men reaching Dunkirk. There is a war diary for the 2/6th. I've not read it yet but might give details of troop movements.

Share This Page