3771350 Pte David COLEMAN - 1st Bn ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by colin coleman, Jul 24, 2021.

  1. colin coleman

    colin coleman New Member

    Hello, one and all. First-ever post and I am sure you get plenty of these. I'm ex forces (army) myself of 24yrs myself so know how to apply for service records etc. I have come on here to see if there is any information that I can learn about my Grandad. So here goes.

    David Coleman
    Born Belfast 1909
    Enlisted into The King's Regt at Liverpool 26th Oct 1937
    Discharged at Perth, 13 Nov 1945
    WIA on day of landing OP VARSITY 1945


    King's Regt UK 26 Oct 37 - 19 May 38
    King's Regt Gibraltar 20 May 38 - 23 Dec 38
    King's Regt India 24 Dec 38 - 30 Apr 39
    RUR India 01 May 39 - 17 Jul 40
    RUR UK 18 Jul 40 - 22 Dec 44
    RUR Europe 23 Dec 44 - 07 Mar 45
    RUR UK 08 Mar 45 - 23 Mar 45
    RUR Europe 24 Mar 45 - 19 Apr 45
    RUR UK 20 Apr 45 - 13 Nov 45

    My Grandfather left Belfast and went to Liverpool. There he joined the King's Regt. During his time in India, he transferred to the RUR (on account that, in his own words, "They were my people".). He saw active service on the Northwest Frontier and was awarded the India General Service Medal 1936 with clasp North West Frontier.

    During the war, he saw active service in Belgium and took part in OP VARSITY. He was badly wounded during OP VARSITY. He had a limp for the rest of his life and became an alcoholic but lived to the ripe old age into his mid-80s. All of the tales he told are fragmentary and have been relayed to me by my Dad and his brother. My Grandad very rarely ever spoke of his wartime experiences, although he did tell me a few things over the years.

    I am hoping, other than applying for his service records (I already have a copy of his certificate of service) if anyone on here can help me with any information about him, particularly the 1st Bn on the first day of OP VARSITY. I would like to try and find out which Coy he was in, his landing zone, and any links to a casualty list for that day. Or anything about where he was, India etc.

    What I know about his experience during OP VARSITY, as told by him, over many years to his two sons is this:

    He was sitting at the back of the glider where the ammo barrow was stowed. They got hit by flack and started to go straight down. Many of the lads, including himself, were hit by shrapnel. He believed that they were going to crash and die but they levelled out. The glider cashed into an orchard with branches piercing the canvas sides of the glider caused injury to many more of the lads. The ammo barrow broke loose and fell on top of him, pushing him onto the floor, pinning him down (He attributed this to saving his life as he did not get hit by gunfire soon afterward). The glider came to a stop and came under fire and started to burn. He crawled out with two other lads, who both caught fire, he could not do anything for them. He dragged himself away to a nearby bush and kept lapsing in and out of counciencounous. He remembers the Germans coming forward and shooting whatever there was lying around. He then only remembers two other Ulster lads finding him and dragging him away after the Germans had left. He had shrapnel wounds to his lower legs and shoulders, was hit by several rounds in one leg, and had a damaged back due to the weight of the ammo barrow.

    It took him a lifetime to tell that information in a way for me to write it in such a way as if it is a war time tale in one go.

    Thanks in advance for any replies etc. As I will be away from home due to work for a few days.

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  2. CL1

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

    Welcome to the forum

    As you are aware apply for the service records as soon as you can.
    I imagine the war diaries would help you further understand his war service.

    If have not got already
    The Rifles are There’ 1st and 2nd Battalions RUR in the Second World War by David Orr and David Truesdale published by Pen and Sword 2005.

    Assume you have seen the below
    1st Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles

    D Company landed at LZ-U1 and captured the bridge over the River Issel. Company Commander Major Dyball landed in a glider that crashed only 150 yards from the bridge. The impact threw those in front out through the nose. Those in the rear exited through the doors under heavy fire that killed the Wireless Operator and destroyed the radio equipment. A group of 7 Riflemen occupied a trench cut into the earth by the glider wing and deployed a Bren Gun. This silenced one enemy machine gun and under fire of a second, Dyball sprinted to a nearby wood where he rounded up 2 glider pilots, 2 members of 2nd Battalion Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and some Royal Engineers. They provided fire support until Dyball’s 1st and 2nd Platoons returned from house clearances with 25 prisoners of war. With limited resistance, D company cleared the houses, woods, and took the bridge with only 2 platoons rather than 4 as planned.

    1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles: Operation Varsity - Crossing The Rhine - WartimeNI
    Names of dead might ring a bell for you
    A few state died after landing
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021
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  3. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    I put something together for someone else a little while ago regarding the RUR on Varsity. Send me a message with your email and I’ll send you it!

    colin coleman likes this.
  4. colin coleman

    colin coleman New Member

    Thanks Alex. Not sure how to PM on here. My email addy is coleman2595 (AT) gmail.com

    Alex1975uk likes this.
  5. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Casualty list, 1st Batt RUR.

    Attached Files:

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  6. Wobbler

    Wobbler Well-Known Member

    Welcome Colin and all the very best with your research.

    Just to say if you do ever want to send a PM, simply click on the name of the member you wish to message and you will see “start a conversation”. Click on that and away you go. :)

    I would also recommend that when applying for your Grandfather’s service records, if you send a cheque leave it undated - the backlog in Glasgow is such currently that quite a few people have had their requests and cheques returned because the six months cheque time limit has elapsed.

    They don’t seem to hold your place in the queue while you send a newer cheque, I think you go straight to the back of the line again. You may already have had a look at this thread about it all:

    Service Records application - MOD response timescale
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