Albert Cleaver, 2/5th Leicestershire, Monte Cassino, 16th Jan 1944

Discussion in 'Italy' started by hodgson64, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. hodgson64

    hodgson64 Junior Member

    I'm researching my local war memorial (Brompton-on-Swale, near Richmond, Yorkshire) and we have ALBERT F. CLEAVER, Corporal 4469886, 2/5 Leicestershire Regiment, 16th Jan 1944 commemorated.
    I see he fell at Monte Cassino on 16th Jan 1944. This was the day before the first main assault and a 2 more days before 46th Division assaulted as far as I know. I'd be grateful for any information surrounding the 16th Jan - especially any war diary photos. Thanks in advance everyone. Much appreciated as always.

  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Not quite correct as 46Div never assaulted Cassino - they were part of X corps attached to the US 5th Army and fought early in January to cross the

    Rapido and open up the Liri Valley- this assault failed but many of the dead were buried at Cassino later - the US 5th Army then puled back and left the

    2nd and 3rd battles to the Kiwi's and 4th Indians - the 4th battle was by most of 8th Army who finally cleared th Liri Valley and opened the door to liberate

    Rome, on June 4th - '44

  3. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    He is listed in the 2/5 Leicesters 'Missing Personnel' File - Italy (Ref: WO 361-853) mostly noting him as K.I.A.

    However, there is one handwritten statement in it concerning his fate. I will post a jpg of the statement when i get a chance but in the meantime here is a basic transcription

    4469886 - Cpl Cleaver A.F.

    This Cpl was last seen at approx 0100 hrs on 16 Jan 44, near VANDRA at 898118. Sheet 160 I Cassino

    He was leading his section in an assault on his Pl objective. His party was fired on by two or three M.G. 34's and he was seen to fall with four others including his Pl Comd.

    No.4462979 L/Cpl Carr, at present in Hospital, was with the party and saw him fall.

    It is considered that Cpl Cleaver is wounded and P.O.W. , as his body was not recovered with those of the other four next day.

    Field 17 Feb 44 ?Name Unclear ? for? OC B Coy 2/5 Leics

    The bit in blue seems to have been amended to the statement after initial drafting. The bit in red added by a another person at a later date.

    The CWGC & Royal Leicestershire Regiment database
    have his home address & place of birth noted as Nottinghamshire, so would be interesting to find out how he ended up on a memorial in Yorkshire.
  4. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    I am not sure how accurate the Grid Reference on the statement is, but if it is entered as 'rg898118' in this co-ordinate translator
    it gives a location as about 6km south of Cassino near a place called Marsella

    Latitude : 41° 24' 32'' N
    Longitude : 13° 52' 41'' E
    Latitude : 41.40895°
    Longitude : 13.87795°

    Afaik without checking, this seems to fit with the general area of the 46th Division around that time. I can't find any reference to VANDRA though but this could easily just be a British code name for an objective like river crossing or ridge or a small village.
  5. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    Scan of the original statement from WO 361-853 Missing Personnel File


    Also in the files' index it is noted next to his name 'KIA 16.1.44 Cat B GOT 201'

    Usually Missing Cases given the classification of 'Category B' were
    'Those where there is evidence which though not fully conclusive can be held to justify acceptance of death in view of the lapse of time'

    so i am slightly perplexed as to why (or in what scenario) someone who was given a burial would ever have been given a KIA 'Cat B' classification
    4jonboy and Owen like this.
  6. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    I haven't got the War Diary for the 2/5 Leics for this period, but i've just re-checked my poor quality reprint edition of the 'The Story of 46 Division 1939-1945' and found reference to 'VANDRA' (Not sure why i missed it first time around).

    It appears to be a village (or location) slightly to the west of the grid ref given in the original statement, over looking the junction of the Garigliano & Rapido Rivers.

    Have attached the relevant pages from the book and also added the map showing the Vandra location (circled in red)


    Attached Files:

    Drew5233, 4jonboy and Owen like this.
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Clanky Pencil

    So I was correct in my thinking that 46th Div et al NEVER did assault Cassino in January but failed in their attempt to clear the Rapido before being

    withdrawn making the US Commander of their 36th Div mad at ALL the British….thank you for the diary's entry

  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Nothing of note recorded in the regimental history on this day. Can anyone identify the Platoon Commander that was killed? There's no mention in the history and Cleaver appears to be the only man in the Cassino War Cemetery from the Leicestershire Regiment which is odd.
  9. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

  10. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    So the other four men killed along side him appear to be:-

    Pte King, Alfred - 4867097,%20ALFRED

    Pte Walker, Robert Henry - 14566856,%20ROBERT%20HENRY

    Pte Mallinson, Philip - 14508579,%20PHILIP

    along with the previously mentioned likely Platoon Commander

    Serjeant Amos, Harry Charles 4445131,%20HARRY%20CHARLES

    I still find it slightly puzzling that based on the CWGC docs all these men were concentrated from their original place of burial, and reburied at Cassino on 16/05/45.
    Yet Albert Cleaver is buried on the row before theirs and doesn't have a concentration report, where as all the adjacent graves to his appear to have been concentrated as well (i.e. the two men next to him were concentrated there in 1946)
    Cpl Hadaway and Drew5233 like this.
  11. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    not too surprising that they were reburied at Cassino as hundreds were brought in from even Sicily - Anzio etc to fill up the new cemetery - not all there were

    killed at Cassino - similar to many other cemeteries...

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