St. Venant War Crime against DLI during May 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    Translation reads; Painful and bloody memories of two Tommies, victims (or casualties) while on duty at their battle stations on the night of 25 to 26 May 1940. Given by Mademoiselle Claire Bonnet,Route de l'Aire, St Venant.

    Can't read the smaller writing clearly enough, sorry.
     
  2. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Translation reads; Painful and bloody memories of two Tommies, victims (or casualties) while on duty at their battle stations on the night of 25 to 26 May 1940. Given by Madmoiselle Claire Bonnet,Route de l'Aire, St Venant.

    Can't read the smaller writing clearly enough, sorry.

    I think that the pencil addendum is in English. It says 1st Burial Ground Presumably added when the photo was handed to the British authorities.
     
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers chaps - I have a sketch map of the exact location. I should be over there around Sept.
     
  4. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    Yes, thinking of the back of that photograph, although my French isn't great, I asked a French friend and she said douloureux - as in sad, grievous, sorrowful, you might expect, but sanglant is something stronger, gory, covered in blood even - certainly the hint of something more than being killed in action.

    In my own research I found that burying Allied soldiers was frowned upon by Germans to put it mildly. It was often expressly forbidden to bury English dead and/or to tend the graves of English dead. This was more the case with assaulting troops than later garrison troops, who of course were there to occupy and keep the peace. It would be an act of defiance to say the least to bury 'enemy' soldiers and to decorate the grave and was indeed the stuff of reprisals in some cases. In the case of French Colonial Tiraeilleurs the mayor of Hangest had to beg the German commander to let him bury the hundreds of corpses that threatened to pollute the water supply after they had been massacred by the Wehrmacht (not the SS) in June 1940.

    Officially you could be sent to a concentration camp for disobeying such an order. When I asked a French gentleman why French people would risk their liberty doing such a thing, he said, "Because we are all citizens".
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Witness accounts in the report say they were ordered to leave the bodies where they were murdered by the SS unit and they were left decompossing for several days before following units told them to bury the soldiers.
     
  6. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    They obviously weren't bothered about the possible discovery of their crime? Perhaps they didn't see it as a crime at all or were so over-confident about their victory that they assumed there wouldn't be any follow-up? I can understand assault troops not being bothered about burying enemy dead, but this business of expressly forbidding civilians from doing it has got to be a calculated act.
     
  7. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Sir,
    I have just had an interesting conversation with my Grandson regarding a French Book and thought this may be of interest to this particular thread;-
    La Bataille de St Venant 22-27 Mai 1940 by Dominique Faivre
    ...After 4 hours intense fighting, the Germans reached the Lys canal. The Battle of Saint-Venant is complete. The wounded and dead are lying in the fields. Executions are then committed. A survey conducted after the war deduce that about 60 were British murdered, but only four cases were investigated. After several days of
    refusals, the Germans allow the burial of the bodies of British soldiers to be buried in early June. 176 bodies will be buried on site before being deposited in 1942 within the local cemetery.
    This book is made from the testimony of many civilians and military personnel and from archives these recount a painful era in the history of the 2nd World War.
    The Battle of Saint-Venant is one of those unsung commitments that led to the
    success of Operation Dynamo.
    Book sale 20 euros + 5 euros for postage to Arham - BP 32-62350


    Best

    Clifford

    Nb.Also published under the title
    Les combats de Saint-Venant 22-27 mai 1940
     
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Do you know if the book written in English ?
     
  9. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

  10. acorkhill

    acorkhill Junior Member

    Hello Clifford,

    I am interested in the book and eager to know if it is printed in English. As you may have noticed I am trying to trace the unmarked grave of my uncle, Private Anthony Corkhill 2nd DLI. You say that the book is made up from testimonies of civilians and military personnel. There are already two witnesses to the killing of Case No6 in the record of the Saint Venant War Crimes. This victim may well have been my uncle and I would be very interested to know if this murder was seen by others in greater detail.
     
  11. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Do you know if the book written in English ?

    Hello Clifford,

    I am interested in the book and eager to know if it is printed in English. As you may have noticed I am trying to trace the unmarked grave of my uncle, Private Anthony Corkhill 2nd DLI. You say that the book is made up from testimonies of civilians and military personnel. There are already two witnesses to the killing of Case No6 in the record of the Saint Venant War Crimes. This victim may well have been my uncle and I would be very interested to know if this murder was seen by others in greater detail.

    Hello ,I`m sorry my Grandfather will have no idea but I am told the earlier work Robecq-St Venant is.The original was published in 1995 translated in 2001 I think:)unsure:) This deals with much more than St Venant and has a little in about the `Russo Incident` (SS patrol cut off in Merville they shot dead a West Yorks officer:)unsure:) and as a result 6 SS men were shot in a field.Hope that helps?

    Kyle
     
  12. acorkhill

    acorkhill Junior Member

    Kyle, sorry for the delay. Many thanks for your reply. Tony
     
  13. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Kyle, sorry for the delay. Many thanks for your reply. Tony

    Hello Tony,

    Wish I could help more,I am following this on the RWFF and thought for a while that you had cracked it but you will succeed I`m sure of it.

    Just to bring people up to speed here in regard to Tonys search for his uncle

    • Ferme Boulet was not the DLI headquarters this was the British aid post.
    • The DLI had their HQ at Ferme Taverner near the cemetery and bridge at St Venant
    • At least two new diaries have come to light in addtion to the official DLI diary one by Captain Townsend (Adjutant 2 DLI)the second by Lt Michael Farr (Hq Signals 2 DLI) The later is yet to be read as it is in the form of a Autobiography with a section or chapter on Lt Farrs capture at St Venant
    If theres anyone still searching for those German war dead I`m sure some are named.Von Bismark seems to ring a bell perhaps by tracing one you can find others?


    Kyle
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    From what I have read so far in the War Crimes files they were not DLI men murdered and the use of St. Venant seems to be incorrect as the murders were not there, they took place to the west of the town. At this early stage I believe the name of St Venant is used as the men are buried in the cemetery at St. Venant.

    One victim has been identified and he is from the Berkshires who were on the DLI's right flank at the time of the fighting which fits in with the Battalions AOR and where the murders were committed.

    I've only just started the research and will post a full account in due course after I have been to the area etc.
     
  15. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Interesting theory and on the surface this seems correct however it has now been established that both B and D Companies DLI plugged the gaps in the defences and fought in the area of the R Berks .A and C Companies fought around the railway embankment with Hq Comp at the bridge.There are both Royal Berks and RWF named in various files and publications but these files do not name all of the victims so it is quite possible that some DLI were amongst the victims.There are 2nd DLI men at Haverskerque,St Pol,and Merville those at St Venant were moved from their field graves in 41-42.DLI dead were found at two different bridges amongst these you also have men of the Manchesters ,Royal Artillery etc . The Mayor of St Venant compiled the original lists forwarded to the Red Cross.If you are in France soon take a look for M.Faivres book St Venant-Robeqc I was there in June and was lucky enough to read a copy.The information above is a simple summary from an ongoing discussion elsewhere on the net with new facts being discovered every day it seems, so I am not in a position to argue/debate the overall position as the data is not mine.

    Kyle
     
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Details here: http://arham.monsite-orange.fr/page3/index.html

    With links to the story of Tom Rodgers?

    Brian - Many thanks. I don't suppose you could help me get a copy of the following book advertised in the link?


    Les combats de St Venant 22 - 27 mai 1940


    My French stops at hello and goodbye-Drop me a PM if you can help. It would be greatly appreciated and any costs etc would be covered.

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  18. acorkhill

    acorkhill Junior Member

    Drew, I believe you are going to Saint Venant next month. Would it be possible to get me some photographs of the general area of the bridge, lock keepers cottage, cemetery and anything relevant to my uncle's disappearance. I would be extremely grateful and will be more than happy to pay any costs. Thanks,

    Tony
     
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Tony,

    I've had to put all the reading research on hold for the time being which will now delay my trip to the area as I'm studying for a medical exam this month.

    I am however carrying on with collecting data and still have all of 6 Brigades citations to collect -(easy enough job), POW questionnaire and E and E reports for all three battalions, Missing Men files for Royal Berks and Royal Welch, 2 DLI's history (hopefully to be delivered this week) and finally trying to get some 1940 RAF recce photographs of the area which is proving rather difficult.

    I'm planning on spending two days in the area photographing key points from all the info I have gathered. It maybe and idea to screen print a google map of the area and print it off-Mark the locations you specifically want on it re scan it and email it to me-I'll take it on the trip to make sure I get all the pictures.

    My email address is my user name on here 'at hotmail dot com'

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  20. TijgerB

    TijgerB Member

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