Regiment Identification - Possible Parachute Regiment

Discussion in 'General' started by eddie chandler, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    Hi Robert you and Eddie just keep them coming Arnhem is a magic word to some of us on here;) anything you can tell us on your Uncle then we will try and do as good a job as we hopefully have on your Grandad.And any chance you can post a pic of the knife?

    Considering I knew my Uncle Gordon Owen, I know less of his history than I know of my Grandfather, whom I never met.

    He was born and lived in Leicester. Both he and my other grandfather were quite close although Gordon was my grandmothers, mother's brother they were similar ages. This grandfather was in the TA before the War and was called up into the Leicester Regiment (Royal Artillery). Gordon might have been in the TA as well and also might well have joined the Leicester Regiment. I have seen a photo of him (Gordon) with a Sten gun and in what might be a desert type uniform. As it appears the Parachute Regiment was something that was volunteered for he must have transfered but when I do not know when. As stated perviously, it is known he was at Arnhem and that he did get back from it but no other details are known. People like Gordon and my Grandfather didn't talk about the war. Trying to get infomation out of them was virtually impossible. Gordon would have stood out in a parade though, as he was well over 6 feet tall.

    It will take me a little while to find the knife, as it might be with my other bits of ordnance that have come to me. The photo is probably in the same box so I will post it if I can find it although it might take me a week or more to find them. If I remember correctly it is matt black except for the nut section which has worn to reveal brass and the sheath is a dark tan colour with two odd bits of leather at right angles half way down.

    I guess this really isn't very helpful, sorry.

    RL
     
  2. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Robert I look forward to the pics should be some makers marks on the Knife, as for the pic of your uncle I dare say we will all deduce what we can!:D
     
  3. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    Robert I look forward to the pics should be some makers marks on the Knife, as for the pic of your uncle I dare say we will all deduce what we can!:D

    I have asked one of his daughters for some information which she will send me shortly. Of the top of her head she confirms:

    1. Arnhem, not captured.
    2. Not a member of the TA
    3. His unit was attached at one point to the Canadians (Polar Bears?).

    I guess the last one would mean more to you than it does me.

    The photo I think is taken in the UK as it has rows of temp' building in the back ground and looks like a very quickly built barracks or a training camp.

    RL
     
  4. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    Well it appears that family history is not entirely accurate in this instance. Gordon was in Arnhem but he wasn't in the Parachute Regiment. I think because the Arnhem tag has been remembered it was assumed at some point in the past that he must have been a Para, wrongly.

    From the notes I have been passed he was deffinately in the Royal Artillery from 42 to 44 he was on Coastal defense and A.A.

    He was in Normandy by 17/6/1944 and attached to the Candian Polar Bears (49th Infrantry Div' ? / 1st Batt 'A' Coy, Leicestershire Reg') and was probably involved in the Capture of Le Havre. He was among the troops who fought the second battle of Arhem and eventually captured it. After this he was part of a Garrison of an Island between Arhem and Nijmigen during the winter of 1944. After this he was in Germany (Hemer) but this does not mean very much to me.

    The only comment that came from him is that the fighting (In Arnhem) was very close and hand to hand on occasion and that the Germans could be heard in the next houses/gardens/rooms on occassions from where they took cover.

    Hope this is useful. In this instance I have also been paseed his service No.

    RL
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  6. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    Well I am no expert. I am trying to decyphers notes and clippings which could be right or wrong. I found this on Wikepedia though. It would seem to confirm the presence of the Leicestershire Regiement under the 147th Infantry brigade (being part of the 49th Infantry Division ?). The Canadians seem to have provided the Armour support.

    Allied Order of Battle

    [​IMG] 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division GOC Major General Stuart Rawlins
    Added - Have I just repeated the previous reference? Some of the abreviations mean nothing to me. Although I assume TA means Territorial Army, unless someone tells me different.
     
  7. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    At the risk of introducing yet more complexity, while reading the Wikipedia references on Arnhem, I see it mentions the Army Service Corp. I have another relative (another Unlce) who was in the Army Service Corp, a career soldier who joined the Canadian Army in the 1930's and transfered across (I think) at the beginning of WW2. I think he retired about 1970 with the rank of Leftenant Colonel. I think he was in Europe after D-day but where, I do not know. He also served in Aiden and the Far East after the War. I have a lot of his cap badges, pips and crowns plus one of his dress swords. I suppose there is an outside chance he was also involved in this 2nd Arnhem battle?
     
  8. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    For those of you who might be waiting on information....

    Army Personnel Records have replied quoting 6 to 8 months for the search for Robert Lunn's records. So hopefully something before the end of this year.

    I have also contacted the Airborne Assault museum archive and am starting a search of their records for the 44th Div, 15th Bn for Robert.

    I have also been informed that the War Diaries are with the National Archive, so a trip there will also be planned.

    I have now also found the knife mentioned in another post so I will take a photo and put it on soon.

    RL
     
  9. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Thanks for the update Robert I await the outcome with intrest!
     
  10. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    After some more checking of information sources and rechecking, I am now beginning to suspect that Robert's first Regiment was indeed the Queens Own Royal West Kents. More specifically the 161st Brigade, 4 Battalion who were in Burma as early as June 1942 (source RWK Museum online documents). The place that connects the 4thBn RWK and the 44th Indian Airborne Div. is the battle of Kohima where both were present (see Battle of Kohima Museum online) where one of the 4th Bn/RWK's received the VC.

    Does anyone know if the 161st got taken into the 44th Airborne Div. after the battle or maybe Robert just transfered on request?

    RL
     
  11. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    Attached is the photo of the knife as promised. I think the sheath has either been lost or thrown away due to falling part.

    Some of the other items are:

    Royal Artillery badges/buttons - These were my other grandfathers who was in the Leicestershire Regiment - AA Guns Portsmouth and other places. He was also in the TA in the 1930's hence the TA medals.

    The RASC badges, Crowns and Pips were one of my uncles who joined a Canadian Cavelry Riegiment in the 1930's, I believe he was in REME or equivalent in WW2 and RASC until retirement c1970. Although I think he may have been in 6 or 7 regiments during his life. My mother has a copper tray that has the cap badges of all his regiments attached to it, 6 at least I think.

    The cap badge which once looked like it had a Prince of Wales Feathers on it came from my other Gandfather but it is a bit of a mystery as to what/who it belonged to. Other buttons and bits and pieces came from odd jars and tins of relatives when clearing houses out. Some are Navy, Civil Defence, ARP, RAF etc

    The knife is the same, found in an old tool box in the garage wrapped up in a type of oiled paper. It came to me about 30 years ago. I think the sheath was given to me by someone who had one, but no knife to go with it, about the same time.

    Fortunately the loft all this was in was warm and dry and surprisingly the blade is almost as clean and sharp as it was 30 years ago.

    I have other items as well but these were in the box with the knife.

    Any questions? RL
     

    Attached Files:

  12. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    Robert I look forward to the pics should be some makers marks on the Knife, as for the pic of your uncle I dare say we will all deduce what we can!:D

    WTID45

    I thought the photo was in the same tin as the badges etc but it isn't. I will have to keep searching for it.

    The only mark I can find on the knife is "England" which impressed on the finger guarde.

    RL
     
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    :lol: OK OK!

    I've been looking at the pic of the knife and it seems to me as if the scabbard/sheath of the knife has a slight curve at the bottom. As the Gentleman was posted to the Far East could it be some sort of khukri? I admit it doesn't look curved enough to be a 'proper' khukri but it's just a thought. :unsure:

    Hi Paul,

    The knife isn't a khukri, I think it only looks curved by the way its hanging off the belt.

    Robert: The picture of the 'knife' you posted is a Fairbairn Sykes or a copy of one.

    Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  14. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    After some more checking of information sources and rechecking, I am now beginning to suspect that Robert's first Regiment was indeed the Queens Own Royal West Kents. More specifically the 161st Brigade, 4 Battalion who were in Burma as early as June 1942 (source RWK Museum online documents). The place that connects the 4thBn RWK and the 44th Indian Airborne Div. is the battle of Kohima where both were present (see Battle of Kohima Museum online) where one of the 4th Bn/RWK's received the VC.

    Does anyone know if the 161st got taken into the 44th Airborne Div. after the battle or maybe Robert just transfered on request?

    RL
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/44th_Airborne_Division_(India) this should explain the formation of Para batalion creation from Chindit brigades and it does not include 161 Brigade.
     
  15. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    Hi Drew5233,

    Well I hope it isn't a copy but I suppose it might be. I can personally account for it back to around 1980 or a little earlier. My father thinks he also saw it when he was a school boy in the late 1940's although he doesn't know if it was the same one because he thought it had disposed of. My grandmother had a habit of hiding things she didn't want children to get hold of, especially items that young lads were very interested in. For example, I remember my grandfather had a 303 round in one of his tins in the 1960's (the one with his name on! ha ha), when I started to be interested in it she claimed she had thrown it into the canal. We found it just before last Christmas in the bottom of a sowing box that looks like an occasional table. She died in 1982 and it has remained hidden for about 40 years. My guess is she did the same with the knife to keep it away from my dad. It does look very un-used though with most wear being on the nut at the top with a little bit wear on the ridges of the handle. The metal underneath seems to be a copper/bronze sort of colour. The blade has a black finish which isn't paint but seems like part of the metal itself. The handle does appear to have a matt back finish which could be paint.

    All I can say for certain is that it is not Roberts knife, it might be Gordon's being the only other family member with who my grandparants were very close to. I don't think it would have been my other grandfather's because he had no need for it as an AA gunner who served the whole of WW2 in England (unless there is something I don't know). Maybe he bought it in preparation for something that never happened or he was given it as souvenir, it might account for its quite good condition. He did take the austerity idea to unprecidented levels. You might be surprised at some things he had tuck away. He was the original 'Blot' from 'Blot on the landscape', the book by Tom Sharpe

    RL
     
  16. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/44th_Airborne_Division_(India) this should explain the formation of Para batalion creation from Chindit brigades and it does not include 161 Brigade.

    Hi WTID45,

    Thanks for that info. Yes the mystery continues. Was he a Chindit because he was or was he called a Chindit because he served in Burma? My grandmother said he was a Chindit but that doesn't prove anything.

    Is it possible that there was another regiment he was in between the RWK and the Parachute Regiment? Although my guess is still he probably volunteered. Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't the Parachute Regiments built on volunteers and they didn't start recruiting directly until after 1945/6?

    Below is the info I got from the RWK museum

    4/RWK
    Home
    08.1939-03.1940
    BEF - 132 Bde, 44 Div
    04-05.1940
    HOME
    06.1940-12.1941
    N.Africe - 132 Bde, 44 Div
    01-05.1942
    Burma - 161 Indian Bde, 5 (Indian) Div
    06-12.1942
    01-03.1943
    10-12.1943
    01-12.1944
    01-12.1945
    01.1946

    Regards - RL
     
  17. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Robert, it would make more sense that he was in the 77th Brigade at time of transfer being as they had two regiments that converted to a Parachute role dont see how this ties in the RWK though:confused: and this might help explain the Chindits Chindits Special Force Burma 1943-1944
     
  18. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    Maybe it is tied in with his specialisation. He was an expert in un-armed combat and is reported as being an Army Trainer by the end of 1944, something he continued with well after the war and into civilian life deffinately through into the 1960's and possibly into the 1970's. This information has been proved correct.

    RL
     
  19. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Robert,
    The knife is a classic Fairburn Sykes (or copy)
    If genuine, and I don't know how to tell that, I suspect that the Fairburn Sykes knife was as a result of him being an unarmed combat instructor. If you look into early days of Commando forces you should find refs to Fairburn and Sykes who were the original Commando unarmed combat instructors who designed the knife. A fascinating story in itself. Mainly related to Commando and SOE ops rather than Airborne as far as I know. There were also, reputedly, many copies made (as already mentioned) and some might have found their way to other 'special' units.
    The scabbard on the pics doesen't appear to match the F-S knife though.

    Mike
     
  20. RobertLunn

    RobertLunn Junior Member

    Robert,
    The knife is a classic Fairburn Sykes (or copy)
    If genuine, and I don't know how to tell that, I suspect that the Fairburn Sykes knife was as a result of him being an unarmed combat instructor. If you look into early days of Commando forces you should find refs to Fairburn and Sykes who were the original Commando unarmed combat instructors who designed the knife. A fascinating story in itself. Mainly related to Commando and SOE ops rather than Airborne as far as I know. There were also, reputedly, many copies made (as already mentioned) and some might have found their way to other 'special' units.
    The scabbard on the pics doesen't appear to match the F-S knife though.

    Mike

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your post. I am puzzled by your last line because the photo I posted doesn't have a scabbard?

    For clarity, there does appear to be some confusion which I think I should try to clear up. Robert was my maternal grandfather. The knife came via my paternal grandfather, although why he had it is another mystery as he was in the RA as an AA Gunner in the UK all of the War. That is why I thought it might be my Uncles knife, the one that was at Arnhem.

    I shall have a look for the SOE references. I live not far from Chichley Hall, so the SOE has a local history interest for me.

    Thanks again - RL
     

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