Sgt V S Woodward MM 56th Anti Tank Regt Royal Artillery

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Ian Chadwick, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. Ian Chadwick

    Ian Chadwick Member

    I am currently researching Vivian Stanley Woodward who was initially recommended for a DCM but was awarded the MM in June 1944 for gallantry in Burma whilst serving with the 56th Anti Tank Regt Royal Artillery. He was a pre-war regular soldier with the RA having been transferred to the army reserve in January 1938.

    The 4th Kings Own Royal Regt (Lancaster) were a Territorial Army Infantry battalion with head quarters in Ulverston (then Lancashire), which converted to a Royal Artillery Anti Tank Regt in 1938 forming the 56th (Kings Own) Anti Tank Regt RA. The Regimental History of the Kings Own Vol III records no DCM's and only 3 MM's awarded to the 56th AT Regt.

    I have applied for a copy of his service papers from the MOD, which will hopefully add more detail to his service but I would be interested if anyone can add anything to what I have managed to research to date. I would be particularly interested if anyone has any photographs of the 56th AT Regt.

    Vivian Stanley Woodward was born on the 17th March 1914 and his birth was registered in Aston, Warwickshire during the second quarter of 1914.

    The absent voters list for St Bartholomew’s Ward, Birmingham in 1937 shows Vivian Stanley Woodward of 71 Cattell Road, Birmingham as ‘815250 Gnr RHA’.

    Vivian S Woodward married Lily J Ryder and their marriage was registered in Birmingham during the first quarter of 1938.

    The 1939 electoral roll for St Martin’s and Deritend Ward, Birmingham shows Vivian Stanley and Lily Julia Woodward residing at 2 Court, 7 Monmouth Place, Benacre Street, Birmingham.

    The 1939 register shows Vivian S Woodward born 7th March 1914 and Lily J Woodward born 2nd February 1917 living at 2/35 Banacre Street, Birmingham. In the occupation column for Vivian it states ‘Gnr 815250 50 Anti Tank Regt (Bus Conductor) and in the adjacent column it states ‘Gnr 815250 50 Anti Tank Aldershot’.

    The 1959 electoral roll for the Yardley Constituency, Birmingham shows Vivian S and Lily J Woodward residing at 219 Wharfdale Road, Birmingham.

    Vivian Stanley Woodward died in 1990 aged 76 years and his death was registered in Birmingham in August of that year. His death certificate gives his date of death as the 13th August 1990 at the General Hospital, Birmingham due to bronchopneumonia. His home address at the time of his death was 219 Wharfdale Road, Birmingham and the informant was his widow, Lily Julia Woodward.

    Military Service

    Royal Artillery attestation records show that Vivian Stanley Woodward attested into the RA with service number 815250. The records state that he was transferred to the Army Reserve on the 4th January 1938, the Z Reserve on the 19th February 1946 and he transferred to the REME on the 6th November 1951.

    The 1939 register states that he was serving as a Gunner with the 50th Anti Tank Training Regt RA in Aldershot and at some point following his training he was posted to the 56th Anti Tank Regt RA, which was a Territorial Army unit with it’s peacetime head quarters in Ulverston. The 56th Anti Tank Regt RA had previously been the 4th Kings Own Royal Regt (Lancaster) TA, which converted to Royal Artillery in August 1938.

    The 56th Anti Tank Regt RA served with the BEF in France from April 1940 until they were withdrawn from Dunkirk on the 30th May 1940. They then served in India from 1942 through to the end of the war. (See separate history sheet).

    Sgt Woodward was awarded the Military Medal in the supplement to the London Gazette dated 31st August 1944. He was original recommended for an immediate DCM and the recommendation dated the 3rd June 1944 was written by Major E C Ankers RA, which states the following: -

    “On the 30th May 1944, on the Imphal-Kohima Road, No 815250 Sgt Woodward V S, while in command of an A Tk gun showed outstanding courage and leadership.

    When the guns were being manhandled into position they were engaged by intense enemy mortar and shell fire. Regardless of the danger, Sgt Woodward guided his gun into its position and coolly ordered the engagement of enemy bunkers. While carrying out his duty he was continually exposed to direct fire. One of his detachment was killed and one wounded. Sgt Woodward however continued with the gun layer, Bdr Squires, to serve the gun and engage the enemy. Their coolness and courage resulted in four enemy bunkers being destroyed and another one damaged. Sgt Woodward and the layer, still under heavy fire, fought their gun until a direct hit exploded the ammunition and wounded them both. His example and judgement under difficult circumstances was outstanding and was responsible for the successes achieved.”

    5624077 Bdr Victor Horace Squires was also awarded the Military Medal for this action.

    Sgt Woodward and Bdr Squires are recorded within the casualty list for Burma as having been wounded on the 30th May 1944.

    The book ‘The King’s Own the story of a Royal Regiment’ volume III 1914-1950 by Col J M Cowper states the following on pages 438 and 439 under the heading Kanlatongi: -

    “As the Japs launched their final attack on Blackpool, 5th Indian Division assaulted the road block on the Imphal-Kohima Road North of Kanlatongi. The ridge on the right of and overlooking the road was taken, and preparations were made for the next offensive on the left, in which two guns of E troop 222 Anti Tank Battery were to take part. Lieutenant W E Baskett took over the troop the day before, and his reconnaissance showed the Japanese bunkers on the far side of a chaung in a position to prevent any further advance up the road. Before the guns could be brought up it was necessary to cut a way through solid jungle, they had then to be manhandled into position and sited, only twenty feet apart, no more than a hundred and fifty yards from the enemy. No sooner did they reach their positions than they came under intense mortar and machine gun fire and one detachment was knocked out, every one of the crew being wounded. The other gun was commanded by Sgt V S Woodward, who continued to guide it into position and opened fire. One of the detachment was killed and another wounded, but with the help of his gun layer, Bdr V H Squires he continued to serve the gun and engage the enemy. They destroyed four enemy bunkers and, still under heavy fire, fought their gun until a direct hit exploded the ammunition and wounded both of them.”

    Thanks for reading.

    V S Woodward MM group copy.JPG
  2. Ian Chadwick

    Ian Chadwick Member

    Attestation papers

    Copies of Vivian Woodward’s attestation papers and service records have been obtained from the MOD.

    He attested into the Royal Regiment of Artillery on the 31st August 1931 at the recruiting office in Birmingham and his date of birth was incorrectly given as the 17th March 1913. His occupation is recorded as ‘assembler’ and he was 5’9” tall, weighed 138lbs with brown hair and eyes.

    The statement of service contains the following information: -

    31/08/1931 – Attested gunner

    02/09/1931 – Posted Depot Bde, Depot RA

    08/09/1931 – Posted 2nd Training Bde, Depot RA

    19/12/1931 – Posted ‘M’ Battery RHA

    01/12/1932 – Posted ‘F’ Battery RHA embarked on HT Dorsetshire for Egypt

    12/12/1932 – Posted ‘O’ Battery RHA

    06/10/1937 – Posted Depot Bde, Depot RA

    08/10/1937 – Elects to delay transfer to army reserve to 04/01/1938

    04/01/1938 – Transferred to army reserve as gunner

    02/09/1939 – Mobilized

    The military history sheet gives the following information: -

    Service: -

    Home – 31/08/1931 to 30/11/1932

    Egypt – 01/12/1932 to 05/10/1937

    Home - 06/10/1937 to 04/01/1938

    Qualifications: -

    17/09/1931 – 3rd class cert of education, Woolwich

    18/11/1931 – 2nd class cert of education, Woolwich

    07-12/05/1934 – Local course ‘sanitary duties’

    Injuries: -

    08/02/1932 – Fracture left knee

    Next of kin – Father Vivian Woodward address unknown, brothers William and Edward.

    WW2 service

    Form B.200b gives the following service details: -

    Home – 01/09/1939 to 16/04/1940

    BEF – 17/04/1940 to 31/05/1940

    Home – 01/06/1940 to 05/01/1942

    India – 06/01/1942 to 10/09/1945

    Home – 11/09/1945 to 19/02/1945

    Class Z reserve – 20/02/1946 to 10/02/1954

    Army general reserve – 11/02/1954 to 17/03/1958

    The statement of service gives the following information: -

    04/09/1939 – Posted Gnr 18/4 AA

    18/09/1939 – Posted 50 AT

    22/11/1939 – Posted RHQ 56 AT

    29/12/1939 – Posted 222 56AT

    01/08/1940 – Promoted u/a/Bdr

    01/08/1940 – Promoted p/a/Bdr

    30/10/1940 – Granted W/Bdr

    01/02/1942 – Promoted p/a/Sgt

    30/05/1943 – Granted W sub Sgt

    10/11/1945 – Proceed on leave pending release to class Z reserve

    19/02/1946 – Released to class Z reserve

    25/04/1946 - £20 gratuity paid in respect of MM

    06/11/1951 – Transferred REME W/Sgt

    Additional information: -

    Wounded Burma – 30/05/1944

    Awarded Military Medal – 31/08/1944

    Medals awarded – 1939/43 star, Burma star, war medal and defence medal

    Next of kin – Lilly Julia Ryder married Birmingham 26/02/1938 address 219 Wharfdale Road, Tysely, Birmingham.

    Service and casualty form (part 1) records the following details following his posting as a Gunner to 56th Anti Tank Regt RA: -

    14/04/1940 - Proceeded to Port of embarkation, Wantage

    18/04/1940 – Disembarked France

    31/05/1940 – Evacuated from BEF

    11/11/1941 – Admitted to 1st Canadian General Hospital Birmingham

    18/11/1941 – Discharged 1st Canadian General Hospital Birmingham

    12/11/1941 – Specialist qualification A/Tk duties, Norwich

    06/01/1942 – Proceeded to port of embarkation, Thorpe ??

    09/03/1942 – Disembarked India

    21/06/1942 – Attached to Animal Transport Mule Training Regt whilst on course of instruction at Animal Transport School Jullunder

    12/07/1942 – CTBA ‘A’ Tpt Mule Training Regt

    23/07/1942 – Attended animal management training course at animal tpt mule trg Regt Jullunder from 26/06/1942 to 23/07/1942 result practical “very good” theory “excellent 100%”.

    01/11/1942 – Promoted u/a/L/Sgt and granted p/a/Sgt

    08/03/1943 – Admitted 119 India GH Ranchi to 19/03/1943

    30/05/1943 – Granted war substantive rank of Sgt

    25/09/1943 – Posted to 56 AA/ATk Regt RA

    15/01/1944 – Admitted to 76 MDS sick

    29/01/1944 – Re-joined unit

    30/05/1944 – Wounded in action, admitted to ADS

    29/07/1944 – Re-joined unit 222 Bty

    24/09/1944 – Awarded 1939/43 Star

    11/10/1944 – Awarded the Military Medal for gallant and distinguished services in Burma authority 11 Army Group RO No. 235/44 dated 03/08/1944 and LG No. 36679 dated 31/08/1944.

    18/08/1945 – SOS 222/56 A/Tk TOS India command on repatriation to UK

    23/08/1945 – Embarked Bombay (Python) for UK and SOS India command

    06/11/1945 – Depot RA AFW3149 dispatched

    10/11/1945 – Depot RA posted Y list releases

    19/02/1946 – Released to class Z army reserve

    I thought the above may be of interest to fill in a few gaps relating to Sgt Woodwards military service.
    Drew5233, Tricky Dicky and dbf like this.

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