85th Anti Tank Regiment RA

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

  1. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    The writing you have put a question mark against is: " 211 Kilo ". This is measured from the Thailand end.

    However, be warned that during the war and upon further survey the Japanese engineers added no fewer than 17 kilometres to the distance of camps further north from 206 kilos so much confusion can arise ! There are experts in the field in the shape of the Thai/Burma Railway Centre who will probably help with a location you can then find with Google Maps or some other gadget I do not understand.

    "No 2 POW Camp Thailand" is not a specific place within Thailand but a grouping. The Allies invariably refer to Group II, or Group IV , etc.There were numerous camps, sub-camps, and mobile camps in Thailand concerned with railway construction, repair and maintenance. These "housed" POWs and civilian workers. All of the returning POWs said that the conditions faced by the civilians was far worse than they suffered, in other words, beyond description. It is not certain how many civilians died, estimates vary up to and beyond 100,000 ( one hundred thousand ) poor souls.

    I found the hospital records in WO 347 invaluable in finding my uncle ( died 21/9/44 ).

    The date your father-in-law went to Thailand may well be in WO361/2104 which I have a copy of so you can send me a PM with his name and I'll look him up.
  2. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    You may find some interesting information on the Thailand-Burma Railway here:
    Death Railway
    Without a name it is difficult to advise further. As well as WO 361/2104 (as above) he probably also appears in WO 361/2184-8 which are the RA Rolls. Once the date of leaving Singapore is established he may well appear in the lists in WO 361/2068 of 'Number' Parties transferred from Singapore to Thailand or WO 361/2069 'Letter' Parties transferred from Singapore to Thailand.

    Reg2, Tricky Dicky and bzaoral like this.
  3. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Sent you PM.
  4. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    I found this PDF of interest that relates to 251 Battery / 85th Anti-Tank Regiment. The document was published in 1994.

    Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars
    AutumnWinter 1994
    Volume 13 Number 1

    The Year of the Yeomanry 1794- 1994 begins on page 5.

    On page 9 Ben Pritchett’s story begins:

    I was promoted to B.S M and was transferred from 250 (Oxford) Battery to 251 (Banbury), the Battery Commander was Major J Turrill. Shortly after, on
    27th September 1941, 251 Battery, having been selected was given it’s posting instructions to depart from the Regiment and set sail for England - to Butlin’s Holiday Camp, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.

    The accompanying image is on page 11. The full text of Ben Pritchett’s story and images can be found here. https://www.banburymuseum.org/Cake and Cockhorse/VOL_13/V13NO01.pdf

    Banbury Historical Society 1994 Volume 13 Number 01 pg 11 - Copy.jpg
    timuk likes this.
  5. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    Does anyone know where I can find a high-resolution map of Thai-Burma Death Railway POW camps?

    The accompanying image prepared by Philip Cross in August 2001 was downloaded from Map. This map at 266 KB, is the best that I’ve found, but the image is not as crisp as I would like. Map-3.jpg
  6. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    I contacted The Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum about the 251st battery photo, their reference OXFYT 1012. I also asked about another photo but that one is not relevant here. This is the response I got

    I have found the two photographs you refer to in our archive, please read below for the answers to your queries:

    OXFYT 1012

    The back of the photograph is stamped with '251st Oxf Yeo, Anti-Tank Bty. R.A.' and features the date 8/11/1941.

    It features several names (although no indication of where they are placed on the photograph!) and the inscription 'Grooms Orphan Clacton' which upon a bit of research, I assume refers to the site of Groom's Orphanage in Clacton. I've attached a photograph of the back for your reference.

    I cropped the photo that they sent to show just the 251st stamp. OXFYT 1012 - Copy.jpg
    timuk likes this.
  7. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    The photo of the 251st Battery is in the "Lost Souls of the River Kwai" book by Bill Reed (Bill Reed was in the 251st Battery 85th AT Regiment RA). The caption under the photo says:
    "Men of 251 Battery at Clacton prior to embarkation aboard SS Narkunda
    Front row seated: 7th from left is BSM Ben Pritchett, 9th from left is Lieutenant Carpenter. Seated behind his dog is Major Turrell, Battery Major.
    2nd row down from top: 4th from left is Squad Thompson, 5th from left, next to Thompson is Bill Reed." Photo: Bill Reed
  8. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    I recently received from Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum a photo of the back of their copy of the 251st Battery photo. The 251st stamp, 140 men, the date 8/11/1941 and Grooms Orpahanage Clacton are clear. I can't decipher a few of the names. The following is written in pencil and pen randomly all over the back of the photo:

    Sgt H Chapman Bty Clerk
    3 rows from back
    just to the right of crease.

    Fletcher Bedworth
    Greville Turrill Major
    Osborne, Carpenter and McKenzie

    I did a search on Find My Past and found the following:

    Harry Chapman (Battery Clerk) of the 85th 107892 and 108792
    Lt Charles Gerald Carpenter of the 85th 153515
    2/Lt Harold Jack Lewis Osborne (Osbourn) 204173
    Lt Douglas McKenzie -153662
    I could not find the Service number for Captain RC Greville.
    I could not find the Service number for 2/Lt JJ Hatchett.
    The Service Number for Gunner Thomas Douglas Fletcher of the 85th AT Regiment is 1511162. (Note: not sure why a Gunner would be noted on the back of the photo. The name Fletcher is beside Bedworth so maybe it's not a Soldier's name) I could not find a Bedworth in the 85th AT Regiment.
  9. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    Service Numbers from Find My Past:
    Ben Pritchett - 793752
    Charles Gerald Carpenter 153515
    Major John Patrick Turrill 63080

    Cyril "Squad" Thompson is 1499023
    Bill Reed
  10. oxlade

    oxlade Member

    Thank you so much for research bzaoral its helped me greatly to document a member of my extended family from Banbury William J H Blencowe 1920-1999 . See his photo attached. I believe he is 4th from right in back row of the 8 Nov group photo of the 251st Battery.

    Attached Files:

  11. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    I did some restoration on the photo of William J H Blencowe
    William J H Blencowe.jpg
  12. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    Is this William J H Blencowe? 1941-11-08 251st Battery - 85th Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery William J H Blencowe Crop b.jpg 3rd row from top, 7th from left.
  13. oxlade

    oxlade Member

    Thank you for a great job on this photo!
  14. oxlade

    oxlade Member

    No I believe this is William John Blencowe
  15. oxlade

    oxlade Member

    This is him I believe

    Attached Files:

  16. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    Ah. I was looking a different group photo - the '251st Anti-Tank Bty. R.A.' photo taken November 8, 1941. 1941-11-08 251st Battery - 85th Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery 01.97MB.jpg
  17. Ben Poole

    Ben Poole New Member

    Thank you for this thread! I discovered it whilst searching for information on my grandfather, John Graham Sauvage. Born in 1917, he was a lieutenant in the 85th (I think that's him fourth from the right, second row from the front in the attached), and he made it back to Liverpool in 1945. Grandpa passed away in 2002, and rarely spoke about his wartime experiences, so this research I've just embarked upon is fascinating.
    85th ATR - 1941.jpg
    timuk, dbf and Charley Fortnum like this.
  18. bzaoral

    bzaoral Member

    In your photo, the fellow on the far left, bottom row, looks like the soldier (name unknown) standing on the left in this photo. Roy Adkins (251st) is seated. The photographer's stamp on the back of the C1940 post card says "C.V. Shorthouse, 410 Ravenhill Road, Belfast". Roy Adkins - 241 - CV Shorthouse Photographer 410 Ravenhill Road Belfast C1940 a - Copy.jpg
  19. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Welcome. I can see your grandfather was captured and remained a FEPOW in Singapore. What information do you have so far? Do you have his Liberation Questionnaire and Japanese Index Card? If not I can post them up here for you.

  20. Ben Poole

    Ben Poole New Member

    Many thanks Tim, that's very kind. I have my grandfather's index card, not tracked down his liberation questionnaire yet. Still trying to determine whether that's definitely him in the picture, but certainly looks like him!

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