The Battles for Point 103 and St. Pierre (8th– 18th June 1944)

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Ramiles, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks for that "m kenny" - I wonder do IWM ever modify or enhance their captions - if "helpful" info is received? Both these captions could I guess be "enhanced" if some good additional info is made available (somehow?) to them.

    I guess however that they might prefer to keep some captions generic rather than getting too specific in telling people what it is that they actually show?

    But I suppose that there is always a chance that something in a caption might be just plain wrong, in which case they would at least want somehow to be told about that?

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    I visited the IWM Photo Archive a few weeks ago and asked a similar question. There are two aspects to a caption: the one written in the Citations Index (which is a multi volume bound series of books which provide the official location of where the photos were taken and the captions attributed to each photo) and the photos themselves. As you can imagine, there are many hundreds of photo albums but all the photos are carefully stored in vinyl pockets in ring binders with the favoured option being with the photo mounted on 6 x 4 filing cards. This means the system is quite inflexible. It also means that history can't be inappropriately modified. Having said that, the Librarian stated that, if anyone has any information specific to a particular photo, they can write to the IWM and they will ensure the information is filed accordingly. I got the impression that they are trying to be very proactive albeit with limited staff.

    Pity I had to write all this. A few photos would have been better....but photography is not allowed in the Archive building.
     
  3. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks SDP,

    "but photography is not allowed in the Archive building."

    Reminded me of that great quote from "Dr. Strangelove" - "Gentlemen you can't fight in here! This is the war room!"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Strangelove

    http://www.afi.com/Docs/100Years/quotes100.pdf #64 (!)

    I think that this was one of those things that stuck out in my Granddad's mind, that they were "at war" and kept running across people with camera's and in film crews trying to film it all. That would make a great story - a shooting war with 35mm film.

    I think that they were aware though that this was the sort of thing that "might be" seen back home, so were always willing to put on a brave face and give an effective thumbs up. I'm not sure though that they would ever have expected them all to end up kept in an "historic" archive though, probably wrapped around next week's fish and chips (in an old newspaper) was more like!

    I imagine one day it will all have to be digitised and put out on the web, and the temptation then would always be to get rid of all the old hard-copy stuff. There's only so many shelves (and old salt mines) in the world ;) .

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2016
  4. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    The IWM photo archive shelves occupy a surprisingly small area. The reading tables take up much more space. Excellent facility with brilliant, extremely helpful, staff. You need to make an appointment and they are not open every day so planning is certainly required. Well worth it though and I shall return soon.
     
  5. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    I feel like making a "wish" list: There has to be a decent plan of the camp at 103 or a recon photo from the middle of June perhaps out there, or else a few photos shot side by side that might be used to make a panorama of a type.

    I can imagine the German artillery OPs sketching out some plan as to where they thought that they ought to aim their mortars for best effect.

    There still seem a lot of possibilities, but I guess also it would make a lot of sense on the hill to keep shifting things around, as the tanks kept coming and going the whole while and I suppose if it looked like the German mortars were landing in any particular place it wouldn't have been very healthy there, so behind the lines things would probably have kept being shifted about.

    I'm wondering if Point 103 was very cratered or if the allies were able to keep the Germans at just enough distance so that on the whole Point 103 was actually thought relatively "safe" enough, and at least it was "healthier" than in St.Pierre or any closer to the "front".

    Some reports seem to suggest that the Germans on the whole were tending to use anti personnel mortars to target the Point 103 camp and as a result the tank crews felt relatively safe inside their tanks, and at night dug slit trenches, over which they parked the tank to sleep below, and sleeping out in the open, even in a tent was not a wise idea.
     
  6. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Rm, I gather you are collating this information to follow your Grandfather's movements with 24L.
    Is that a fair assumption?

    It occurs to me that you have amassed a great deal of information and it could be worthy of publication. Is this something you have considered?

    I helped an Australian friend with research for the book in my signature and since publication (even though sales are so far only through the website, internet and word of mouth) further contacts and information have steadily come in, filling in some gaps in our research. It seems that printing (or internet publication) opens interest in a particular subject and access to many more info sources than you would expect.

    I am still trying to put together some recollections from my SRY vet to email to you!
     
  7. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks Mike,

    But I'm just enjoying the process of getting to grips with some facts and trying to see what's what out there. I'd love to get through all the 24th L (just a couple of months in action there! and I thought that bit would be the easy bit to research !!!) and then on into the long route to Bremen and Hanover with the SRY.

    Much more fun reading ahead, but I think that in terms of a book my granddad was too shy to ever make much of a thing about being there and I'm loving the fact that we can finally find out a bit about his "bit" of the war. I don't think that we even knew that he was in the SRY until we found out for sure on here! Despite having the badges:

    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28013]


    To the uninitiated they don't make much sense, incl the enamel 24th L one - which we've always thought was a template sample for a unmade 24th L "sweetheart" badge, and I've still yet to track down the "true" origin of the East Surrey one in there. Some other relative of mine, I might guess perhaps?

    It would be lovely see some new definitive books on this all though out there, or any errors in existing books corrected in any future editions ;) . Though sometimes the market is quite narrow and it seems only Hollywood thinks it knows for sure what the market will buy, and the detail and facts (I'm most interested in) apparently - to the public - don't rate all that high (or even seem to be necessary at all!). ;)

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  8. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Rm, They can't all be his own badges can they, maybe collected or from friends or post-war?

    The whole situation of units (Armoured and Infantry) moving around in the relatively small area of Normandy is very confusing during the period you are researching.

    Some books might claim to be the best sources of the actions but there is always another way to present more recent discoveries. That is what fascinates me - my area is LCTs, but I also follow D-Day, Arnhem and wider Normandy threads.
     
  9. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Mike L,

    My granddad had a fairly long army career, he joined up I think in 1928 and most of those above were "indeed" his from different regiments he served in until 1946 past the end of the war.

    I think he spent the first years of the war actually training new recruits, building the British army up. By the looks of it they probably just got used to one tank design before inevitably moving on to the next one, which was typically something much better, but inevitably took a bit of getting used to, in the Cropper book "Dad's war" there's a nice section on what it was like for a tank crew that went from a more regular Sherman to a Firefly, and getting used to the differences there, and finding things good and bad in the changeover to get used to there.

    I imagine that the gunners took a lot of time looking at silhouettes of allied and enemy armour (and I'd hate to have to play 20 questions with any of the silhouettes of allied armour in here: http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/23819-armour/ )
    ....as if must have been a real bother (especially since the Germans ended up "using" so much "captured" kit) knowing what was something to shoot at and something not to. Even shooting at something shooting at you didn't always make sense - as there was no way always of knowing if the other chap wasn't on your side and was himself making some awful mistake. There's actually a few snaps of "British" tanks captured by the Germans with German markings out there, and I suspect that this was to protect them from other "Germans" not to make them "better targets" for the Brits (!).

    When you see the way the troop positions map out it is hard to imagine fighting under those conditions, particularly somewhere like Point 103 where the Germans for a long time were on 3 sides, and fierce in counterattack, all around but allied troops were then "behind" them, attacking inwards so it was like an "unpleasant" layer cake in the Bocage rather than discrete lines of control out there. The stories of people "getting" lost make sense, but this seems to give all the most reason to me why there must be some contemporary maps/guides out there to give the soldiers on the ground some kind of a clue as to what was what. How did they find out where their unit was? Was it all just by word of mouth? Or did you just stick to your group like glue and hope not to get separated? And hope for the best?

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  10. dfielder

    dfielder Junior Member

    A couple of other books that has some information about St. Pierre during this period:

    D-Day; Gold Beach by Simon Trew (2004); Part 3, Battlefield tours, St. Pierre

    Overlord; D-Day and the Battle for Normandyl Max Hastings (1984)



    David Fielder

    (Grandfather - Frederick Fielder (Freddy) - B Squadron; died June 11, 1944 near Pte. 103, buried Buyeux)
     
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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  12. dfielder

    dfielder Junior Member

    Thanks Drew,

    Attached is his gravestone in Bayeux cemetary. I spent one week a few years ago, tracing the 24th Lancers movements from Gold beach to St. Pierre and Tilly-sur-Seulles. I've also added the only picture of my grandfather in training with his fellow soldiers. It's a long distance shot that even my father can't recognize his father (although he was 10 when his father was killed in action).

    I've got the full 24th Lancers war diary photographed but I'm sure you already have it.

    David
     

    Attached Files:

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  13. dfielder

    dfielder Junior Member

    Hello All,

    Not sure if this is the place to post additional material about the 24th Lancers.

    Attached are the following photographs:

    • The 24th Lancers on the Wall of honour at the Bayeux memorial without a grave
    • The tracer and casualty cards for my grandfather, Frederick (Freddie) William James Fielder (B Squadron)
    • A photograph of my grandfather and his fellow soldiers on training. The picture was taken quite far back that even my father can't recognize his father (he was 10 when his father was killed in action). Perhaps some lister may recognize some of the faces?
    • An article I found on-line about Scriven Camp and the early training days of the 24th Lancers.

    Thought this my be of interest to those researching the 24th Lancers


    David
     

    Attached Files:

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  14. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    David

    Can't remember whether I've told you this before but the tanks and troops photo is part of a series taken while 24L were based in Bridlington.

    Steve
     
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  15. dfielder

    dfielder Junior Member

    Thanks Steve,

    Would it be a series that was 'given' out to all the troops?

    David
     
  16. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Not 'given out' as far as I'm aware but I have seen several of these over the years hence 'part of a series'.
     
  17. Korps Steiner

    Korps Steiner Senior Member

    Another good book which covers the St Pierre fighting is Tilly sur Seulles by Stephane Jacquet , ( Heimdal; ) , Into Battle with the Durhams by Ian English and The Panzers and the Battle of Normandy by Georges Bernage,

    cheers

    Paul
     
  18. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    First letter back... as because of the news blackout over D-day there had been a bit of a gap in the correspondence. Presumably letters could be received, however none could be sent? There was also of course though the logistics of merely getting mail out during and just after the invasion to overcome, partly alleviated by the swift commissioning of the advanced landing strips, such as Brazenville, as the first letters back (he sends) all seem to be flimsier / airmail?

    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:29464]

    It's interesting (for me) to read in the context of the other events on the 10th June, noted above. i.e. post #3.

    Seems readable to me, but I'll transcribe it with how it looks to me, below:


    Dated: 10-6-44 (10th June 1944):
    Co-signed/censored(?) by W.A.C.Anderson. Lt.Col and Commander of the Regiment.


    Dearest Phyl & Rob,
    It is some days since I have written so I expect you are worrying. Keep your chin up my dear.
    The details of our job over here will probably be sent by the 24th Lancers news bulletin so I won’t go into details.
    The crossing was quite good, except for the ship rolling. We had very good food, three good cooked meals each day.
    The fair land of France is still lovely; it’s a pity it has to suffer so.
    I do hope things are more settled with you now. Knowing all the details of this job before we left made it impossible for me to get leave, one slip of the tongue might have given too much away, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
    Now I’ll say cheerio and hope they will continue to let us write now we’ve started.
    I still love you dearly, so take care of yourself for your Ben.



    All the best,

    Rm.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2016
  19. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Dated: 10-6-44 (10th June 1944): Co-signed/censored(?) by W.A.C.Anderson. Lt.Col and Commander of the Regiment.

    Dearest Phyl & Rob,

    It is some days since I have written so I expect you are worrying. Keep your chin up my dear.

    The details of our job over here will probably be sent by the 24th Lancers news bulletin so I won’t go into details.

    The crossing was quite good, except for the ship rolling. We had very good food, three good cooked meals each day.

    The fair land of France is still lovely; it’s a pity it has to suffer so.

    I do hope things are more settled with you now. Knowing all the details of this job before we left made it impossible for me to get leave, one slip of the tongue might have given too much away, it was a bitter pill to swallow.

    Now I’ll say cheerio and hope they will continue to let us write now we’ve started.

    I still love you dearly, so take care of yourself for your Ben.



    And this one (below) dated: 12th June (1944) and this time co-signed/censored(?) on the other-side/front by W.A.C.Anderson. Lt.Col and Commander of the Regiment (24th L).

    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:29465]

    Dearest Phyl & Rob,
    I had to move away (
    just) as they were sorting the mail yesterday so don’t know if there is any for me, I’m expecting about six.
    Don’t be surprised if you get a kitbag of mine turn up with some junk in it, we could send them free so I wouldn’t be out done.
    At the moment we are having a rest, I have Willy and L/C Lambourne with me and I hope to get young Beddow soon, I had to lend him out. Yesterday we had a run around to find the right place to go, we still haven’t found it, but they have given us some food and looked after us very well here, suits us fine. We have a Daily Express for Saturday the 10th, the news is accurate, so is the B.B.C. news. We have acquired a radio and are praying the batteries hold out.
    You can expect a letter from Spud, when you write back tell him I said for him to get in touch with Eric, if he hasn’t already seen him, and please tell him I’ve seen Aggil, Aggil is a bloke by the way, and Spud will be very pleased indeed with that spot of news. I’d write all this myself but I’ve lost the address, so send it on when you write.
    How’s our Rob, give him a big kiss from his Daddy. I trust the family are more disposed to be happy than you all were a few weeks ago*. I hope you are keeping cheerful my dear; after all you have a responsible job soon** so you mustn’t over worry yourself. I’m O.K., but I would like some leave!
    Cheerio darling all my love to you from your loving husband Ben.


    *Their not having heard from Ben and having been (writing) for a while wondering why ???
    **Gm was pregnant at this time with my mum ;)

    Note from above: "Don’t be surprised if you get a kitbag of mine turn up with some junk in it, we could send them free so I wouldn’t be out done" ???
    Bit of an odd one this, possibly things he had on his person in England, prior to departure, but wasn't allowed to take with him off on the invasion to France? I don't think though that these were tourist souvenirs he'd just picked up on his first days in France ;) but might be I suppose unwanted personal kit he thought he needed for the invasion and was thereafter allowed to repatriate home.

    Unfortunately he doesn't usually refer to people by their full names, but Spud for instance, in this case is a Sgt.Taylor (a wounded friend who was also a tank commander in C squadron 24th L with whom he kept in touch). I have some knowledge of the fates of others too, but regretfully not much.

    And re. "I had to move away as they were sorting the mail yesterday" I don't think he had to move away as (because) they were sorting the mail ;) but If they did this first thing it would make sense chronologically and in terms of the structure of the letter written on the 12th. For as in post#3 above: "Most of the 24th L were involved with perimeter defence of Point 103 during the day (11/6/1944) while ‘A’ Sqn 24th L supported a 4/7th RDG and 6th Green Howard's attack on Cristot, a village to the West"

    Incidentally on the 12th June "24th L were engaged by enemy anti-tank and tank gunfire from the areas of Fontenay and North of Fontenay and had one of their worst days' losses of the whole war with reports of 15 wounded including six officers and ten men killed." The 24th L wardiary states that they were attacked by almost an entire company of Panzer Gren. Regt 901 (Lehr) and estimates that most of this company was wiped out. This letter of Ben's was presumably written whilst under such circumstance whilst on a defensive position on Pt 103 during a brief moment of rest, perhaps listening to the radio at the end of the day...

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  20. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    This one from Wednesday 14th June 1944 -

    Sgt.B.Symes
    24th Lancers
    A.P.O. England.
    14th June

    Dearest Phyl + Rob,

    There isn’t a lot I can say, your letters haven’t caught up with us as we are not with the Reg. at the moment. I don’t mind that though, and will be happy to be left just here in this field ‘till the war is over, unless of course they are big hearted and give us some leave!

    Things here are not quite the same as they were last time. There are a few eggs going but those nearest the farms are first in so until they open out a bit we shall have to…

    P.T.O.

    Page 2:..do without those luxuries. There’s no wine either, that used to help a lot, as for Rum! It’s a thing of the past, Beer nil. The people are well fed; they would be, being farmers.

    When you write to Spud tell him I have the pen and wallet. There are five envelopes in the wallet, most useful, but no ink in the pen, quite useless, tell him to send on the ink.

    Don’t forget to keep hammering at the Welfare, they can do plenty now things are easier, previously they were tied as I was by the need…


    Page 3: …for secrecy, that’s done with now.

    The weather here is quite good, sometimes a spot of rain makes us cover up, but that’s nowt.

    The news was very good on the radio this morning, I just can’t understand the Germans continuing with this losing fight. I shall be glad to see this over with so that I can come home and take care of you and Rob. Oh well, such is war, but I still think I’ve had too much of it.

    All my love to you my darling from your loving husband. Ben XXX.
     
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