The Battle and Massacre of Wormhout - 28th May 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. Phil B

    Phil B Junior Member

    Could W. T. Webb be one the six men that Andy mentions from the Worcestershires?

  2. CL1

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

    Phil the trouble is finding a body which is why your cousin is on the Dunkirk memorial,sadly there are many casualties of the same ilk.
    You would have to really get into the research if you went that route.

  3. Phil B

    Phil B Junior Member

    Thanks again Clive,

    Please forgive my persistence, where Andy says, in post #26, - "It is now known there were at least six men from 8th Worcestershires in the barn" - can anyone tell me how this is known, where is the source for this fact? Does it come from the witness statements of those who survived?

  4. CL1

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

    Phil I have sent a private message to Andy he should along soon to possibly advise you further.

  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Phil- I can't remember where that info comes from. If you are researching an individual that is missing I wold start with the units war diary and missing men file.
  6. Phil B

    Phil B Junior Member

    Hi Andy, Thanks for responding.
    I've been down this route before, by obtaining war diaries, if you remember in another thread I was searching for my Uncle Harold Leslie Webb, who was also killed in 1940 at Calonne in Belgium. With the help of members I was able to put together the events around the dates he was killed but the diaries didn't give enough detail of what may have happened to him or any other lower ranked soldier.
    With my cousin Walter Thomas Webb I know even less about him. All I know is he was with the 8th Bn Worcestershire Regiment and he died on the 28th May 1940. I have looked at the Worcester's website and on the 28th they were in and around Wormhoult at this time, trying to make their way to Dunkirk. Will the war diaries mention the six that are known to be murdered at Wormhoult Barn? I have doubts they will mention missing soldiers by name unless they are higher in rank than a 'Private'.

  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    No, because no one knew about the murders until long after the diaries were written.
  8. Phil B

    Phil B Junior Member

    In the words of Brian Fahey...

    "I struggled to my feet and a lad about nineteen with a Birmingham accent helped me. We shook hands and took our places. He was at number four, I was at number five.

    The officer gave the command. "Eins"! A shot. After what seemed an eternity (in reality, about two seconds), "Zwei!" and another shot. It was surprisingly easy to show no panic. I could only stand on my good leg so movement was impossible. The situation was so hopeless that it was almost a relief to think that it would soon be over.

    "Drei!" The third rifle fired and despatched its victim. I tried to concentrate my thoughts on my past life and on my family.

    'Vier!" The fourth rifle fired and I saw from the corner of my eye the boy with the Birmingham accent fall. My mind was buzzing with half-remembered sights and sounds. My father practising the 'cello; the cricket nets on the middle playground at Colfe's; the smell of the fats and rags and bones in my uncle's Marine Store at Margate.

    'Funf" It was just like a sharp blow from a fist in my chest that knocked me over. As I hit the ground everything left my mind except the sensation of raging thirst and the certainty that I was dead.

    When I opened my eyes I saw the grass and the khaki of my battle-dress. The thought gradually came to me that I was not dead. I lay perfectly still and strained my ears. There was no sound, I raised my head from my arm and felt the pains in my chest and leg. My spectacles were close by and unbroken and that seemed more important. I put them on and looked at my watch. It was four o'clock. The massacre had taken place at noon"

    Is it possible the "boy with the Birmingham accent" could be Walter Thomas Webb, born in Clifton Place, Tilton Road next to Birmingham City FC football ground?

    We will probably never know. R.I.P.


    Bonjour à tous,
    Je viens de réaliser le tableau des pertes allemandes et notamment de la S.S. lors de la bataille de Wormhout le 28 mai 1940. Cette liste de 43 noms a été extraite des exhumations/inhumations en 1941 au cimetière de Bergues où furent centralisées toutes les tombes disséminées en Flandre française. Il n'est plus possible aujourd'hui de faire la distinction S.S. ou non au cimetière de Bourdon dans la Somme où ont été transférés tous ceux qui étaient à Bergues. Le total des blessés allemands à Wormhout peut-être évalué dans la fourchette 150/200.
    Je possède également la liste des allemands tués ailleurs qu'à Wormhout, notamment au niveau de la Basse Colme où se sont illustrés les bataillons britanniques du 29 mai au 1 juin 1940.

    Attached Files:

  10. CL1

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

    translated via Goggle

    Good morning all, I just realized the picture of the German losses and in particular of the SS during the battle of Wormhout on May 28, 1940. This list of 43 names was extracted from the exhumations / burials in 1941 in the Bergues cemetery where all the scattered tombs were centralized in French Flanders. It is no longer possible today to distinguish S.S. or not at the Bourdon cemetery in the Somme where were transferred all those who were in Bergues. The total number of German wounded in Wormhout can be estimated in the 150/200 range. I also have the list of Germans killed elsewhere than in Wormhout, especially at the level of the Lower Colony where illustrated the British battalions from May 29 to June 1, 1940.
  11. Wobbler

    Wobbler Patron Patron

    Andy, many thanks for this thread, I came upon it today as I start to fully acquaint myself with the forum and all its varied content.

    Whilst I had heard about the massacre, I have never read such an intense, detailed and moving account before. It has held my attention for most of the day especially, and I don’t know why, the fate of poor Captain Lynn-Allen’s body. It surely cannot have disappeared in what I assume to be not too deep a pond, thus I presume it must have been removed from the pond by his gutless murderers and buried along with the other missing soldiers in an unknown grave.

    I truly hope his and all the other missing will one day be found and interred properly and with the respect and dignity they deserve.

    Thank you again for your account.

  12. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    I believe the source of this information is the Worcs website:

    Worcestershire Regiment (29th/36th of Foot)

    Maybe they have some back-up information which could help you.
  13. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    80 Years.
    Staffsyeoman and JimHerriot like this.
  14. jonheyworth

    jonheyworth Senior Member

    Indeed . I’d have been there on the 80th anniversary Dunkirk commemorative march I was organizing . Just hopefully have to be the 81st now
    JimHerriot likes this.
  15. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    On 28th May 2020 and exactly 80years since the battle of Wormhoudt, my father, Samuel Burke, decided that he was prepared to risk entering hospital to have his trigeminal neuralgia, which he had suffered from for 20 years and is extremely painful, stabilized. The current bout had been borne with increasing difficulty for over a month.

    Readers of this thread and the "Research thread on Wormhoudt" might know that my father was a "green" machine gunner in the Cheshire regiment and as he told me "was not a real soldier - the Germans were". Nevertheless, he became a real soldier, signing up for a further 21 years after the War and serving in multiple nasty places in the Middle East as the former Empire was granted independence. He loved the Army which saved him from a life of drudgery as a labourer in an evil print works.

    At the end of his service he transferred to the Education Service and completed a one-year Technical Teacher's Training course. After a short while teaching in a Technical College, he sought out his old Commanding Officer, Colonel Mat Porteous, and spent the remainder of his very enjoyable life training boy soldiers at Bramcote Royal Artillery College, retiring at 65 years old - with over 40 years Army life.

    On the 30th May and on the 3rd June he was tested Negative for Covid19 but on 6th June and his eighth day in hospital the result was Positive.

    He lived on his own for the last 20 years, independent, bloody-minded and refusing assistance - a tough man. On 12th June he died 7 days short of his 102nd birthday.

    I had the privilege to be with him in his last hours. Sadly the NHS failed him badly.
  16. idler

    idler GeneralList

    So sorry to hear that. It's not much consolation but at least it was body before mind and he was still your dad to the end.
    Thank you for taking the trouble to let us know.
    JimHerriot likes this.
  17. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father.

  18. Paul Phillips

    Paul Phillips New Member

    Hi Andy,

    I did not know about this until a few years ago too. I was undertaking research into both my grandfathers military history and whilst at Kew came across reference to this. My Maternal Grandfather was with the Royal Warwickshire Regt. as part of the BEF and was finally repatriated on the 6th June 1940 and like many, seriously injured. He never spoke much about his encounters as was the case for most. In 2019 I finally made the journey to Esquelbecq and Wormhout to visit "La Plaine au Bois". I have to say that whilst trying to take in the horror of it all and the enormity of the work undertaken to restore the barn and create the memorial, I struggled to contain my emotions. Not necessarily for my Grandfather, (as I still do not know if he was involved in this massacre or not) but ultimately for all of his colleagues and friends with whom he would have been closely associated prior to his deployment as part of the BEF. Although from a military background (father Royal Corps of Signals and myself Royal Navy), I found it very difficult to even begin to try and comprehend this atrocity and the torture that these poor soles endured. Even today, whilst conducting more research and finding this site, I can't help becoming tearful during my reading and reflecting.

    At this stage I am unsure if Sgt John (Jack) Henry Stevenson Royal Warwicks was part of the 2nd Battalion as most of those killed and wounded escapees have been named and accounted for but from what I have established there are poss 4 escapees unaccounted/not named and final outcome not recorded. I did purchase a copy of the translated version of a book by a frenchman Guy Rommelaere, which I have read as it was a compelling read, but I keep going back to it as a reference book. I too plan to return as soon as I am able to pay my respects again even if "Jack" wasn't caught up in this event to his comrades.
    JimHerriot, Drew5233 and CL1 like this.
  19. Paul Phillips

    Paul Phillips New Member

    Andy, fabulous thread and excellent work. I know that some of these images have been posted before from previous dates etc., some are new to this thread I believe.
    Taken 11th July 2019 on my first and thus far only visit. Apart from the emotion of the visit in trying to ascertain if my Grandfather was one of the escapees, I was impressed and overwhelmed by the amount of respect shown by a large number of school children, scouts and cadets who had visited in numbers and placed messages of respect and remembrance from the U.K. Excellent work by their families, teachers and leaders.
    Below is a selection so as not to overload but may be of interest to readers. If you feel it is overload, let me know and I will delete them.

    UX3A8814.jpeg UX3A8811.jpeg UX3A8819.jpeg UX3A8823.jpeg UX3A8827.jpeg UX3A8829.jpeg UX3A8831.jpeg UX3A8861.jpeg UX3A8866.jpeg UX3A8886.jpeg
    Drew5233, ecalpald and JimHerriot like this.

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