85th Anti Tank Regiment RA

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Ravrick, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Might interest somebody.

    s-l1600-3.jpg s-l1600-4.jpg
    Ben Poole and timuk like this.
  2. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Charley. Indeed it has. Have passed the photo to a friend whose Dad was in the 85th A/T and he was extremely pleased to see it, so many thanks. Don't suppose you have any more?

    Chris C likes this.
  3. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    No, sorry. It was snagged online from an auction.
    If you PM me, I can supply details--its still for sale.
  4. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Thanks but no thank you.
  5. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    Charley, not sure which Battery in your photo. Probably not 251st Battery. I understand 251st battery detached from 63rd Anti-Tank Regiment and merged along with 45th, 270th & 281st A/T batteries into the 85th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery on September 22, 1941. This photo is 251st Battery (November 8, 1941?) 251st Anti-Tank Battery Royal Artillery 63rd Regiment 1941-11-08 - Roy Adkins - Copy.jpg
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  6. Reg2

    Reg2 Member

    Hi Everyone I'm a newbie.
    Came across the photo Charley posted at the top of this page, and was delighted to see my Uncle in it (second row from the back,3rd from the right) he was in the 85th Anti-Tank regiment going by the information I have collected whilst doing my family tree. sadly I never got to meet him as he died on board a Japanese POW ship the Hofuku Maru in 1944, not sure if he died in the bombing of the ship on the 21/09/1944 or if he died of malnutrition and dysentery before that. I have three different dates to his death which I find confusing. Looking at the photo above which bzaoral has posted, I'm wondering if that's my Uncle (second from back row, 7th from the left) there seems to be a very close likeness, if it is my Uncle I have no record of him being in the 251st Battery until now. Great stuff Guys, many thanks for sharing these photo's.
    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Reg2


    As with all newbies the first question is - do you have his service records? - if not suggest you get hold of them as they are the official basis of any military research on someone - the link is Request records of deceased service personnel

  8. Reg2

    Reg2 Member

    Looking closely at these 2 photo's, they seem to have been taken at the same place (i.e.: Clacton, Essex).
  9. Reg2

    Reg2 Member

    Hi TD,

    No I haven't got his service records, so many thanks for the link, I'll get straight on it.

  10. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Looks like photos were taken at same place. Note one is of Regimental HQ, the other is 251 Battery so unlikely anyone appeared in both pictures.

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  11. Reg2

    Reg2 Member

    Hi Tim
    Thanks for the info, that's probably why I have no record of him being in the 251 Battery, so I see your point and your probably right.

  12. Walter

    Walter Junior Member

    Hi bzaoral - Tim pointed me here. My Dad was in 281 Battery, but I've forwarded the pic/link to a friend whose Dad was in 251 Battery - hoping the resolution is good enough to recognise him.
  13. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Very glad this image has had so much interest--just posted it on the off-chance and it has come up trumps.
    timuk likes this.
  14. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    I had to reduce the size of the photo to less than 2 MB in order to post here.
    The resolution of the original photo isn't the greatest but my original scan is 10.8 MB. You can find it here: 251st Battery - 85th Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery 1941-11-08.
    Click on download (lower right) and select "Original" from pull-down.
    Reg2 likes this.
  15. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    There were 24 men from 85 Anti-Tank on the Hofuku Maru, of whom 20 were dead by the end of the day on 21st September 1944. My uncle ( RAOC) also died on the ship, but I am almost certain he died on 21/9/1944. There were 319 "British" survivors ( this term excludes the Dutch on board but includes men from over sixty different units some of which were from various British Empire outposts) alive at the end of 21st September 1944 but not all survived the war, in fact one of the 5th Beds & Herts was killed on a rescue boat the following day in a further attack.

    I am aware of one man from 85 AT who may have died before 21/9/44 but am unaware of the name of the witness to his death on board or the cause. Principal witnesses to events on board included survivors from the Cambridgeshires ( 1st and 2nd Battalions, the 2nd suffered the most losses on the Hofuku Maru ) and from 5th Beds & Herts, who provide exceptional and compelling evidence, and from the Royal Norfolks ( 4,5 and 6 Bn.) Most of these statements were not used in the war crimes trial.

    The men who were rescued and stayed in the Philippines were interviewed in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in April 1945. One brief statement from an 85 AT man is on the thread for the Hofuku Maru. Of course, all the units were deliberately split up by the Japanese when sending the men to the Burma/Siam railway ( as they knew it ) so new friendships were made with men from other units from about mid-1942 onwards.

    For my complete transcript of the war crimes case involving the ship see the thread Hofuku Maru There was no list of the men who died before 21/9/44 ( including Dutch the estimate is usually given as 100 ) put in evidence at the trial.

    I will send a PM to Reg2.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
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  16. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    The same picture is in the photo section of “Life on the Death Railway – The Memoirs of a British POW” by Stuart Young.
    The caption under the photo says:
    “HQ 85th Anti-Tank Regiment RA. The photograph was taken in Clacton-on-Sea in October 1941 not long before deployment. Stuart captioned the original ‘Lambs to Slaughter’. Gunner Stuart Young is second from right, back row.”
    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  17. Reg2

    Reg2 Member

    Hi bzaoral,

    Thanks for the information, I have just received this book in the post yesterday and haven't had the time to look at it as yet, but will definitely have a look when I get back home.

    Kind regards
  18. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    Hi Reg,
    I just received the book in yesterday's mail too!
  19. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    I found a “Brief History” of the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars (QOOH) here Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars and extracted the following:

    World War 2 was declared on 3rd September 1939, by which time the QOOH had been predesignated the 63rd (Oxfordshire Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery (TA) with its Headquarters in Oxford, with 2 Batteries (249 and 250) in Oxford and 2 Batteries (251 and 252) at Banbury. Along with this change in title came the decision to make them a second-line regiment and charged with the responsibility of home defence and of training men to feed into the first line. The Worcestershire's however retained their title of the 53rd Anti-Tank Regiment RA (TA), becoming a first-line regiment and to go to France with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). This decision for the QOOH must have had some demoralising effect as several occurrences happened to them over the next couple of years. The first was that all the anti-tank guns were taken away to feed the 1st-line units as equipment was scarce. Then they were sent to numerous locations throughout Britain on guarding duties. Equipment eventually started to trickle through allowing them to continue with their training. There was a number of postings-out due to casualties being taken in France. With the return of the survivors of the BEF from Dunkirk in June 1940 - without any of their guns and equipment - the country was to rely much more now on the 2nd-line forces. Under equipped as they were, they were then deployed to repel any invasion. Eventually this threat never materialised, but thoughts swung towards N Ireland to counter any attempt by the Germans to invade the British Isles via the Republic of Ireland, so off they were posted to several locations around N Ireland. This posting lasted until February 1943, following rumours of another assault on mainland Europe.

    In September 1941 came the order to designate one battery for immediate service overseas. It was to become part of 85th Anti-Tank Regiment RA, which was being formed at Butlin's Holiday Camp at Clacton-on-Sea. Banbury's 251 Battery was selected. There was no hint of where they were to be sent apart from all their equipment had been painted the colour of desert sand. They boarded ships at Glasgow and sailed, via Iceland, to South Africa. Whilst at a stopover at Durban for Christmas something quite momentous happened. The Japanese had entered the war, with the attack on the USA in Pearl Harbour followed by their invasion of Malaya. So, the newly formed 85th Anti-Tank Regiment, with its 2pdr anti-tank guns and sand-coloured lorries, were diverted to Singapore, arriving on 13th January 1942. There followed numerous battles with the Japanese, but being heavily out-numbered, by both men and equipment plus fighting a type of war (jungle warfare) for which they had not been trained, eventually on the 15th February 1942, all units in South East Asian Command where ordered to lay down their arms and capitulate. This then presented a problem to the Japanese as they didn't know what to do with all these prisoners and it wasn't until October 1942 that they heard that they were to be sent to Thailand to build a railway.. This was later to be known as the 'Railway of Death'. They were set to work at a number of POW camps along the railway including the notorious "Bridge over the River Kwai". The work was hard, rations were sparse, as was the medical care, and they were treated as slaves resulting in large numbers of deaths. All this lasted until early August 1945, when the Americans dropped the first Atomic Bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On the 14th August 1945, Japan officially surrendered, and the war was over. Eventually all the ex POW's were rounded up, making long journeys by rail and air, interspersed by numerous medical inspections and treatments, one group of QOOH men arrived at Rangoon. They boarded a UK-bound ship, which left Rangoon on the 19th September 1945 and arrived at Liverpool on the 14th October 1945.
  20. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    This image was extracted from my father-in-law’s Liberation Questionnaire. I’ve managed to recognize most of the details except for the camp name in May 1943 with Col. Swinton.

    Some of the postcards home say that my father-in-law was interned in “No 2 POW Camp Thailand”. One of them has a faded date the appears to be 17-1-44. On this one he scratched off usual and poor, leaving good, as the answer to “My health is” information. He also scratched off “I am ill in hospital”. This contradicts the Liberation Questionnaire that says he is Nakhon Pathom in January 1944. Even more confusing is that the postcard says No 2 POW Camp and not Sanitorium like a postcard dated June 3, 1944.

    I checked Lt.-Col. Swinton’s Liberation Questionnaire and see that he noted Chungkai, Kanburi (Kanchanaburi) and a 3rd camp name that I can’t decipher in the years 1942-45.

    I’m trying to document my father-in-law’s movements from service with the 251st Battery, 63rd AT Regiment in Northern Ireland, to 251st Battery 85th AT Regiment capture in Singapore, to POW camps in Thailand, to Rangoon and home to Coventry. Anyone have ideas for further research?

    Attached Files:

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