170 Bty., 57 Lt. A.A. Regt., Royal Artillery

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Stocks55, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. Stocks55

    Stocks55 Junior Member

    I'm trying to find out what happened to a great uncle, Terence Gallagher, who died in WW2. His date of death is given as 'between 2 February 1942 and 20 May 1942' and he was presumed killed whilst a POW.

    Please can anybody help me to find out where the 170 Bty, 57 Lt AA Regiment, Royal Artillery was at the beginning of 1942? Any ideas as to why Terence would have been taken prisoner and where he may have been killed would be appreciated. The family story is that he was on a hospital ship which sunk.

    He is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial.

    Many thanks for any help.

  2. bofors

    bofors Senior Member

  3. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    HI Sandra

    According to "Royal Artillery Attestations 1883 to 1942" on www.findmypast.co.uk, Terence Gallagher died between 02/02/1942 and 20/05/42, "Presumed killed at sea whist Prisoner of War".

    The same info exists on "Royal Artillery Other Rank Casualty Cards 1939 to 1947" also on www.findmypast.co.uk. There is no record however of him being a Prisoner on British POWs 1939-1945 on www.ancestry.co.uk.

    I have emailed someone who has a copy of "The Short History of 57 LAA Regiment by Major J.P. Allen" to see if there is anything mentioned in the book. We might get lucky there.

    If I get anything back I'll let you know.

  4. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi Sandra

    Big thanks goes to John who supplied a transcript of page 50 of "The Short History of 57 LAA Regiment" by Major J.P. Allen.

    On the 25th January 1942 the sad news came through that the Division was to withdraw to the Derna-Mechili line. Later in the day these orders were cancelled and that, coupled with the
    fact that the gates of the NAAFI store at Benghazi were thrown open wide for all to take what they could carry, caused a consequent rise in spirits, both moral and alcoholic. There
    were far more tins of beer than tools in most vehicle lockers that night. However, by the 28th January 1942 the position around Msus had worsened and the original plan was put into operation.
    171 Battery had, in addition to its own four troops, a troop from each of 169 and 170 Batteries and was responsible for the protection of 7th Brigade. 169 Battery was placed in
    support of 11th Brigade and 170 Battery in support of 5th Brigade and Divisional Headquarters. Almost from the beginning the story of the withdrawal divides into separate
    episodes and experiences as the enemy succeeded in getting round 7th Brigade and cutting their line of retreat along the coast road north of Benghazi.
    The Division, less 7th Brigade, withdrew along the main roads to the Jebel, and 170 Battery with 5th Brigade and Divisional Headquarters had a comparatively peaceful move as far as
    Tmimi. 169 Battery with 11th Brigade, however, had a harassing time and were, at various stages of the journey, subjected to rearguard actions and shelling by the enemy. On the 2nd
    February 1942 "A" Troop, 170 Battery, who were under command 169 Battery, were protecting 11th Battery, 1st Field Regiment, in positions about eight miles west of Carmusa cross-roads.
    The position was attacked by one or two tanks and some German infantry, who, arriving in captured British vehicles, surprised and quickly overran the position. 2/Lieut. G. E. P.
    Fawcett, the Troop Commander, succeeded in disengaging two of his guns and placed them in action to cover the withdrawal of the vehicles which had managed to avoid encirclement.
    He stayed with the remaining gun, which was subjected to heavy fire from an anti-tank gun. This gun alone fought a rearguard action which delayed the enemy lorried infantry and
    caused them to call up their anti-tank gun. This delay, though of short duration, enabled the rest of the Field Battery and other vehicles to get clear. When the gun tractor was put out of
    action by a hit in the engine and the eventual capture of the gun became a certainty, the Troop Commander, assisted by the detachment commander, removed the breech block, although
    under heavy and accurate short-range fire, and then ran northwards. After about half a mile the Troop commander buried the breech block and continued in a north-easterly direction, to
    be joined later by Gnr. Gallagher and three Indian soldiers. Gallagher was unable to keep up with the party, and when night came he decided to rest until dawn and then to follow on.
    After doing all he could to make Gallagher comfortable, Lieut. Fawcett pushed on with the three Indians to Derna Aerodrome, where they learnt from some Arabs, who also gave them
    food, that our forces had evacuated the town on the previous evening. Two German officers were seen to arrive on the aerodrome in a car, so the party withdrew and discussed their
    future plans. It was decided that an attempt should be made to get back to Tobruk. The Indians set off immediately, but Lieut. Fawcett returned to the aerodrome to try and find
    some food and to see if a bicycle he had found could be repaired. The latter proved unsuccessful so he rejoined the Indians. They met several parties of Arabs, who gave them
    food and information. Their food ran out on the morning of the 4th February 1942 and they were fortunate in finding a tin of biscuits and some fresh water. They lay up all day on the 6th in
    some scrub near the coast and then broke through the enemy lines after dark and reached the 1st South African Division. Lieut. Fawcett's action undoubtedly saved the greater part of his Troop from capture, and for
    his bravery and leadership he was awarded the Military Cross.

    Hopefully someone on the forum might have details of axis hospital ships operating in the area at the time.

  5. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

  6. Stocks55

    Stocks55 Junior Member

    Thank you all for your replies. I shall certainly look into ADM199s threads as suggested.

    Gmyles - Please give a big thank you to John from me for the transcript. It was far more than I expected to learn about Terence Gallagher and I'm very grateful for all the information I've received.

    best wishes

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