Rifleman Robert Fulton, 2nd Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles

Discussion in 'User Introductions' started by wjames, Aug 2, 2013.

  1. wjames

    wjames New Member

    Hello all,

    I am related to Rifleman Robert Fulton by marriage (my Uncle's wife was one of his sisters) and am attempting to find information on the details of his military service/death.

    Robert died in action 16 May 1940 and is buried at the Louvain Communal Cemetery, Vlaams-Brabant, Row A, Grave 5. Service number 7011706.

    He enlisted in the army about 1934 and saw service in China, Egypt and Palestine before his time in Belgium. Robert was from County Antrim. His parents and siblings lived in Dervock village there at the time of his passing.

    On 25 Jul 1940 (some two months following his death) he was awarded the Palestine Medal and Clasp, together with other of his comrades.

    I would like to know the circumstances related to his passing - did he die in the field, in a hospital, and what caused his death. Any other details on his service would be appreciated.

    Any help in this regard would be much appreciated.

    Attached Files:

  2. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

  3. wjames

    wjames New Member

    Thanks for listing this information bexley84.

    I had seen these data earlier, but so far have not found any of the details therein for which I am searching ...
  4. wjames

    wjames New Member

    I am posting a record of Robert Fulton's final resting place - he is interred in Louvain Communal Cemetery, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium, Row A, Grave 5.
  5. wjames

    wjames New Member

    Robert Fulton, 2nd Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles, burial.
  6. CL1

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

  7. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    Apologies for delay, only stumbled across this when looking for something else, but hopefully better late than never...

    Extract of 2RUR activities from Dunkirk shown below - full version at 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles in WW2: Dunkirk


    On May 2nd, Lieutenant-Colonel Whitfeld was appointed A.A.G., G.H.Q., and Major F. Y. C. Knox took over command on May 6th, being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. The next three days were spent in long Company marches, which were to prove of value very much sooner than anyone expected. Considerable air activity occurred during the night of 9th/10th, and some damage was done on local airfields despite much noise from the ack-ack guns. In the early morning of May 10th, the Duty Officer was approached by scared French civilians, asking whether he had heard " it " on the wireless. " It " was the official news of the German invasion of Belgium and Holland received at 8 a.m. Fifteen minutes later the Battalion was put at four hours' notice to move. The drill for this had been rehearsed frequently and everyone knew what had to be done but there were, nevertheless, some hurried references to " PLAN D," which was unearthed from Captain J. Drummond's safe, and gave the details of the projected move into Belgium. The new C.O., in particular, was seen to be specially interested in the document, while the more impetuous young officers felt that they ought already to be metaphorically galloping up to the frontier "without this awful delay."

    During the morning a conference was held at Brigade EQ, when Brigadier W. Robb, M.C., gave his final orders for the move forward and confirmed that the Battalion would be responsible on arrival at Louvain for the defence of the two main routes leading into the city from the east. Alternative plans were discussed in case the Germans forestalled the Battalion in Louvain or were met somewhere west of the city.

    That evening the Rifles moved off in troop carrying lorries and crossed the frontier into Belgium about midnight. During the night and the morning of the 11th, sad-faced groups of Belgians gazed listlessly as the column passed by, many of them doubtless thinking of similar columns of khaki-clad men on horse or foot in 1914-18. (The C.O. and his driver, Lance-Corporal Loughlin, and batman, Lance-Corporal McCann, had a very different welcome when they traversed the same route with 21 Army Group on September 3rd,1944.)

    The move forward via Roubaix - Oudenarde - Alost and north of Brussels was uneventful except that some debris caused by bombing had to be cleared from the route near Alost before the column could get through. It was the first time that the younger members of the Battalion saw what a bomb could do. A railway engine was hanging crazily over a viaduct and the bodies of three Belgian civilians lay sprawled nearby. The Rifles spent the remainder of the 11th in the woods about two miles west of Louvain, while reconnaissances of the defences to the east and west of the city were carried out. That night the C.O. reminded the officers that they were going into war and that their promotion, or the reverse, would depend on their individual effort. This was the first time since 1918 that the 2nd Battalion had operated as a Battalion, as opposed to operating in company strength, and many lessons were learnt. Refugees were beginning to crowd the roads to Brussels from Louvain and further east, and the Rifles had their first experience of seeing the aged and the very young being pushed along on wheels while those fit to walk trudged painfully under loads of household chattels.

    At 11.30 on May 12th, after watching the city being dive-bombed, the C.O. with Tactical H.Q. and "A" and "D" Companies moved into Louvain to occupy the prepared defences along the main railway line on the east of the city. Battalion H.Q. and the two reserve companies moved later to positions west of the town.

    On the way into Louvain the first of many alarmist reports was received. Most of these originated miles behind at Corps or Division and were passed on without proper investigation. All, without exception, were proved to be false. This one was to the effect that the enemy was using gas; even the type of gas was known -chlorine. One officer rubbed protective white powder on his hands. It was not possible to stop this alarm becoming known and most of the Battalion arrived in Louvain wearing respirators, much to the astonishment of the few residents who were still there. The reason for the smell was that a factory making electric batteries had been hit. Subsequent alarmist reports of parachutists, arrows pointing at H.Q.s, enemy dressed as nuns and infiltrating German columns, were usually buried at Battalion H.Q. and did no harm. They were, perhaps, a natural phenomenon at the beginning of a campaign, but no better method could be devised of lowering morale. More care in sifting information before passing it on would have avoided the possibility of causing alarm and despondency.

    The front allotted to the Battalion was about 2,200 yards in length and extended from the cemetery, inclusive, on the right, to one hundred yards north of the bridge over the main Diest - Louvain road. The other main entry into the Battalion position was over the railway by the bridge on the Tirlemont - Louvain road. The approaches to this bridge had been heavily bombed on May 11th and 12th. Both bridges had, of course, been prepared for demolition by the Belgians. They were big, heavily constructed affairs, and written orders for their destruction were hurriedly produced. The sappers put in additional explosives just to make certain, and Major G. H. K. Ryland and Major Reid, commanding "D" and "A" Companies, rehearsed the drill for the final order to blow, which was not to be given until our own troops had all crossed, OR until the enemy had arrived.

    The position was an interesting one. A boulevard ran along most of the western side of the railway, which, on the south of the Battalion front, was in a cutting. Section posts could only be dug along the top of the bank. On the north, where the railway was on an embankment, the posts had to be sited within two or three feet of the rails. Fields of fire nowhere exceeded fifty yards and in the railway station and to the north dropped to fifteen or twenty yards in places. The station, where Lieutenant P. B. Garstin's platoon had an unusual battle later, provided some difficult defence problems, which had to be solved.

    Moreover, on the extreme left of the Battalion a platoon position had to be perched on top of the bank where the near railway line acted as a rifle rest and the only method of access to the position was by a stout ladder with twenty-four rungs. This delectable spot was overlooked at a range of twenty yards by a tall building on the other side of the rails. It became known later as the Bala -Tiger post in honour of the subalterns who commanded it in turn Lieutenants Bredin and Lieutenant W. D. Tighe-Wood. The siting of reserve sections and platoons was not an easy task in such a position and on such a wide front, and the final result must have greatly resembled the " thin red line " of the 2nd Battalion at Mons in 1914.
    Lieutenant "Bala" Bredin Lieutenant "Tiger" Tighe-Wood

    On the right of the Battalion were the 2nd Lincolns, old friends who were to fight many actions on one or the other flank of the Battalion throughout the war. On the left was the 7th Guards Brigade. A cyclist unit of the Belgian Army arrived sometime during the 12th and insisted upon moving into unoccupied section posts along the Battalion front. They were very welcome but neither then nor at any later time could any information be obtained as to how long they proposed to stay.

    During May 13th many units of the Belgian Army withdrew through the city; the Battalion defences were improved, mines laid and patrols sent out. Information from the east was remarkably scanty, but heavy fighting was thought to be in progress some miles away. The few inhabitants still left made up their minds to go or stay. The Belgian Liaison Officer searched for would-be quislings and refreshment for the Officers' Messes. As ' for the troops, they learnt how much, or how little, could be said on a Field Post Card and handed in many for despatch. Regimental-Quartermaster Serjeant Cadden, with a party of men, rejoined the Battalion from leave in U.K. after an adventurous journey, which included an unpleasant road accident, on their way up from Lille.

    The C.O. and Second-in-Command, with memories of the 1914-18 war, knew roughly what to expect within the next twenty-four hours or so; the remainder of the Battalion allowed their imaginations to tell them, but all waited confidently for the arrival of the Hun.

    Throughout the early part of the 14th the withdrawal of Belgian units and some British recce. elements along the two routes into Louvain was almost continuous. A regrettable accident occurred on " A " Company's front, where a Belgian ammunition lorry drove through a fence surrounding a small anti-tank minefield on the side .of the road and blew itself up, killing one N.C.O. and wounding five men. The lorry caught fire and exploding ammunition caused a thoroughly successful roadblock for the next two hours. Fortunately, a nearby street led directly to the southerly bridge which coped successfully with the added traffic. One casualty was caused by bombs dropped round Battalion H.Q. by low-flying enemy aircraft.

    In the afternoon traffic began to thin out and by 1500 hours, as a result of much questioning of the withdrawing units, it became reasonably certain that all our own troops and the Belgians had gone through. For an hour the deserted city was quiet until two very loud bangs indicated the destruction of the bridges. Shortly afterwards two Germans in a motorcycle and sidecar slowly rounded a bend in the road and ran into an accurately placed burst from a Bren. First blood to the Rifles.

    By dusk the same evening the Battalion was in contact all along the railway line and the enemy was trying to find a soft spot somewhere. The troops were introduced to the noisy spandau and to cleverly ranged mortar bombs which fell much too accurately on the forward posts of both companies and the Belgian cyclist unit. After dark there was a tendency to continue firing rifles and Brens whether or not a target was visible, and for a short time some ammunition was wasted. However, nerves were very quickly got under control, and. before the night was halfway through, both companies were as steady and reliable as their fathers and uncles had been twenty-five years earlier.

    An interesting development during the evening was the withdrawal of the Belgian unit, which, it will be remembered, was interspersed throughout the two companies. This was done as a result of sudden orders from higher authority, at a time when enemy mortar fire was particularly unpleasant. At about 2100 hours each section ran back fifty yards, leapt on its bicycles, and disappeared, leaving at least twenty dead along the front. This somewhat unusual operation was accepted quite calmly by the Rifles.
    Belgian cyclist unit in 1940

    By midnight several attempts to penetrate the line had been made by the enemy. Each was repulsed, but a Company- Sergeant Major and one Rifleman were reported to be missing, presumably captured. At 2300 hours it was decided to move " C " Company (Captain A. W. Ward) into the city to be available for counter-attack, and next morning " B " Company (Lieutenant R. A. Davis) also moved up into position in reserve in Louvain. Battalion H.Q. opened at the Town Hall at 05.30 hours.

    Dawn broke on May 15th with enemy artillery shelling the Battalion area. After heavy fire the enemy penetrated the position at the railway station, but an immediate counter-attack quickly restored the situation. Apart from intermittent shelling and mortaring the day passed quietly except at the Bala-Tiger post where there were some short but fierce engagements in which the platoon inflicted considerable casualties on the enemy, mainly by using hand grenades. Corporal Gibbons, in particular, displayed conspicuous bravery in these actions. On two occasions he broke up attacks on the platoon post by moving to an exposed position on the flank and opening fire with a Bren on the enemy forming up behind some railway wagons. He also rescued, under heavy fire, one of the platoon who had been wounded on the railway line. Corporal Gibbons was, unfortunately, killed later in the day.

    The 7th Field Regiment, in support of the Battalion, did some magnificent shooting in these and other actions, and the Battalion mortar platoon, firing from the centre of the city at their maximum range of sixteen hundred yards with O.P.'s in houses overlooking the railway line, also gave prompt response to all calls for assistance. A heartening sight during the day was Captain M. L. Cummins riding through the streets on a white horse when visiting the Battalion Antitank Platoon. Lieutenant H. G. J. Coddington's two-pounders were well dug in and their crews most anxious to fire their pieces at worthwhile targets which, however, failed to present themselves.

    During the late evening an S.O.S. was received at Battalion H.Q. from " A " Company to say that the enemy was infiltrating through a gap between them and the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. There was some confused fighting in this area during most of the night, but by dawn on the 16th the situation had been fully restored. Captain Ward was severely wounded in the late evening and Lieutenant Garrett took over command of " C " Company.

    In the railway station the Rifles held the entrance, together with the subways and one platform (barbed wire was nailed to the sleepers), while the enemy held the other platform twenty-five yards distant., Every now and then Lieutenant Garstin would dart up from a subway, fire a burst from his Bren and dash away again, only to reappear somewhere else and repeat the same manoeuvre. The enemy also held a lofty embankment and the houses which surmounted it. Other Boches took up positions behind the railway wagons at a point where there were five or six sets of rails. From this cover they threw grenades, sniped, and directed machine gun fire, which smashed the glass roof of the railway station, sending cascades of glass splinter on the Rifles. German machine gun fire penetrated down the boulevard leading to the station and on one occasion both Lieutenant Garstin and Lieutenant Bredin, with their men, were completely cut off. Lieutenant Tighe-Wood distinguished himself by firing his rifle from various points, pretending to be at least a section in himself, while Lieutenant Codrington saved an anti-tank rifle in spectacular fashion.

    On the second day the enemy, after heavy artillery fire, penetrated the station yard, but were slung out within the hour, the Rifles counter-attacking with grenades and Brens. No further attempts were made by the Boche to advance at this spot.

    The most unpleasant post was unquestionably the narrow trench in the cinders and slag on the embankment which was commanded by German snipers in a warehouse opposite. At one moment, enemy fire was striking it from both front and rear and no internal sounds emerged. It looked as though all the occupants had been wiped out. But suddenly Lieutenant Bredin's voice was heard, followed a moment later by his Bren. The slit trench was never abandoned until the order to withdraw from Louvain was received.

    The communiqué issued by G.H.Q. early on May 17th, stated, briefly enough, that " the B.E.F. are in contact with the enemy and fighting is in progress. Attacks on Louvain have been repulsed."

    About 0800 hours the Divisional Commander, Major-General Montgomery, arrived at Battalion H.Q. to express his appreciation of the way in which the Battalion had occupied and held Louvain. During the remainder of the campaign the same officer gave clear proof of his belief that a Commander should be seen frequently by his troops. His presence in the Battalion's area always acted as a refreshing tonic. Colonel Rufus Lorie also visited the Battalion at Louvain.

    Quis Separabit

    P.S. I've taken the liberty of adding the photo of Rifleman Fulton to the site, let me know if you rather it be taken down again....
    dbf, ozzy16 and Tricky Dicky like this.

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