British Soldiers Murdered at Forêt de Nieppe / Nieppe Forest 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Nov 29, 2009.

  1. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Excellent piece of detective work!
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    273 dead Lexes on the German War Graves site but no unit information to narrow the field and point the finger.

    There's no questionnaire to fill in now, though.
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive


    There was a official mention of him in a Wormhout file too. It was a kind of progress report on the investigations regarding Wormhout, Paradis, Saint Venant and Nieppe Forest. The update came to the conclusion that Lex was the senior 'shooter' but the update also implied that they were going to go after his superiors.

    As yet I have not found any information in the files regarding how they discovered Lex was the main culprit.

  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Finally, here's his MM for Escape and Evasion in France:

    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details

    Corporal Bell was captured on the 28th May, 1940 in the Foret de Nieppe between Hazebrouck and Balluel (Bailleul). He was marched into the woods with six others, who were then shot by the Germans. When the first shot was fired Corporal Bell feigned death. After the Germans had left he found that the others were dead, and on hearing the Germans returning, made for the centre of the wood. He remained in the wood for five days, and kept alive on leaves and a bottle of rum he had found. On leaving the wood, he met a British Officer and two other ranks in a barn, and together they set out for the coast. Failing to find a boat at Wissant, South of Calais , they turned inland and southwards. From Frevent, where they stayed about five months, a young French women took them to Lille, and two weeks later they went to Vierzon by passenger train, and crossed the line of demarcation on a goods train with the help of railway officials. From Chateaurous (Châteauroux) they went by train to Marseilles, where they arrived on the 29th November, 1940.

    Corporal Bell was interned in St. Hippolyte for about a month , and then after hiding a fortnight in Marseilles crossed into Spain with a party of twelve. They reached the British Consulate in Barcelona on the 25th February. When within an hour of Madrid on the 27th February Corporal Bell was arrested and imprisoned for two months, but was released for repatriation and reached Gibraltar on the 21st April, 1941.

    Corporal Bell took just shy of 11 Months to reach Gibraltar and covered over 2,000 miles on his journey to reach freedom. A truly remarkable feat of human endurance in my opinion.

    Harry Ree likes this.
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    4th Battalion, The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment were in the 132nd Infantry Brigade, 44th Home Counties Division.

    A major attack developed on the 27th May along the line of the Aire Canal which included the 132 Bde's positions in the Foret de Neippe, Morbecque and Hazebrouck areas. The 5th RWK's outpost positions on the edge of the forest were driven back and the 6th Bde in the south withdrew which resulted in the 132nd Bde's left flank being exposed. This forced the 5th RWK's to to withdraw again and by the evening they were situated just south of the 4th RWK's near La Motte. The 4th RWK's had a company in Morbecque and the rest of the battalion were in positions along the Hazebrouck canal from La Motte heading north towards Hazebrouck itself. The 4th RWK Compant at Morbecque was surrounded and cut off from the rest of the Bde early in the attack and the Germans pushed onto the canal line through Bois Clebert. They attacked the rest of the 4th RWK's at La Motte but were held. Numerous counterattacks were made by the carrier platoon into the Foret de Nieppe and the Germans were eventually pushed back. The 4th RWK's then continued to conterattack the Germans in attempt to break through to the isolated comapny at Morbecque. Most of the village was taken but to late in the day for the comapny that was originally holding it, they had already been overrun earlier in the day. The village was then recaptured by the end of the day by the Germans.

    At the end of the day the Germans had started to break into Hazebrouck and the 44th Division was forced to leave the town and all the available infantry would make their way to Mont des Cats over the next couple of days. The men mentioned in this thread that were captured the following day (28th May) were well behind enemy lines at this point.
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I received a rather nice PM at the end of last year and I'm hoping the member will get back in contact and post some further details to this thread. Sadly after replying I haven't heard anything as yet.

    Dear Drew5233

    This might be a bit weird, but I have been reading your posts on the incident that you were investigating I think this time last year about Bertie Bell... well I grew up listening to the stories that you had investigated - as he was my Grandad.
    Look am still reading all the posts as some of the photos of paperwork are hard to read. But I wanted to introduce myself to you incase you had any other information not posted on this site.
    I have a copy of my Grandads journal as my Dad and Uncle gave it to me when I moved to Australia. Also I have wanted to take my Dad, Uncle and Sister to the sites you have been to, out of respect for my Grandad and his story. I was hoping to get back to England next year 2011 and try and organise a trip to these places as I have wanted to do in past trips - just had no idea where to start!!!
    Am amazed at the info you have found - truly amazing!
    Thank you.
    Kind Regards
    James Bell

    I will, of course, remove the message if asked to do so by James.
  7. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron


    Although we did that trip nearly a year ago, this one particular place we visited stands out in my memory. A cold crisp frosty day with blue skys and a really interesting look at this subject.

    Brilliant trip and thanks again for inviting me to tag along. It was a pleasure to see you in action.:)

    I hope your recovery from the leg problem does not take as long as your posts indicated the other day. I can see you grinding your teeth in frustration at not being able to get out there again soon.

    Kind regards - Rob
    Drew5233 likes this.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I have just found a SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Alfred Lex and was killed on the Eastern Front in 1944.

    Lex was born on 10 June 1913 in Fohnsdorf, Germany. Lex joined the SS at the age of 20 and later transistioned into the SS-Verfugungstruppe. After receiving military training and ear marked for officer training, SS-Unterscharfuhrer Lex fought in SS-Standarte 'Deutschland' in France 1940. He proved himself there, especially in the leadership of the men assigned to him. For proven bravery in battle several times over, Lex was awarded both classes of the Iron Cross, as well as the Infantry Assault Badge in Silver. At that point nothing stood in the way of his becoming an officer.

    Extracts from The Face of Courage.
  9. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    I have just found a SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Alfred Lex and was killed on the Eastern Front in 1944.

    Extracts from The Face of Courage.

    SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Alfred Lex;- Alfred Lex was born on the 11 March 1913 at Fohnsdorf near Steiermark in Austria. He was serving in the II.Battalion, 4th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment Der Führer, 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich when he was awarded the Knight's Cross. Knights Cross 10th December 1943. (SS Hell on the Western Front by Chris Bishop, Michael Williams) same Lex? Killed in action west of Shepetowka in Russia 11th March 1944
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers Jim-The book has all his military service in it including all his medals and decorations. He is by way of his awards in a elite group of only 98 Germans during WW2 who were awarded the Knights Cross and Close Combat Badge in Gold.

    I'll scan some pictures of him later-Assuming this is the Lex. It would be a small world though if it was someone else wouldn't it? Same name, same unit, same place, same area of death?

  11. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Born 10 Jun 1913 Fohnsdorf

    6 years Volkschule
    2 years Realschule
    Sep 1930 Hitler Jugend
    Jul 1931 NSDAP
    Apr 1933 Allg-SS
    1 Jan 35 SS-VT

    SS-132 147

    EK2 30 May 40
    EK1 27 Jul 40
    Promoted Ustuf 9 Nov 1940
    Inf.St.Abz 23 Nov 40
    Ostuf. Chef,3./Pz.GR.4 in Jan 42
    Verw.Abz.Schwarz 17 Feb 42
    Verw.Abz.Silb 17 Feb 42
    DK/Gold 27 Oct 42
    2 Pz.Vernicht.Abz 25 Mar 43 and 25 Jul 43
    Promoted Hstuf 20 Apr 43
    Verw Abz Gold 15 Aug 43
    Hstuf. Kdr.II./Pz.GR.4 in Dec 43
    Hstuf. Kdr.III./KG "Reich" in Mar 44

    †11. 3.44 Arkadijewzy

    Info from John Moore's Fuhrerliste and SS-PA

    There is also a HAUPTMANN HANS LEX awarded a EK1 11/01/1942? Received the KC on 10.09.1943 (at Werchopenje in Russia)
    Unit: 7./Pz. Rgt. Grossdeutschland ??

    Attached Files:

  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  13. soren1941

    soren1941 Living in Ypres

    Hello Drew

    Where is the Nieppe Forest?
  14. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Hello Drew

    Where is the Nieppe Forest?

    Surprised you don't know that, lots of fighting nearby in April 1918 Soren .
    Just south of Hazebrouck & west of Vieux Berquin.

    vieux berquin - Google Maps
    see map post #34.
  15. Pete W S

    Pete W S New Member

    Horace Theroux was the brother of my mothers aunt Rose Lintott (nee Theroux)
    I have a photo of Horace that Rose kept on her sideboard. He actually lived in St Mary Cray in the borough of Bromley and was part of the local TA Royal West Kents . His father also Horace a French Canadian was the RSM and was a WW1 veteran who had won the MM serving with the Canadian machine gun corps . I grew up believing he had been killed trying to reach Dunkirk . And only discovered the truth by chance when reading the book Dunkirk The Men They Left Behind . I visited his grave in 2011 , its in a small graveyard in the Nieppe Forest .
    I did some research and discovered the murders are official documented war crimes .
    Drew5233 likes this.
  16. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    It's a shame that Andy's photos are now all missing from this thread and the links to image shack lost. :(
  17. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Though the posts have mentioned (correctly) various battalions of the Queens Owm Royal West Kent Regiment (RWK) as the units involved in the battle at the Forest of Nieppe, there has been some confusion about 132 Brigade. Up to early May 1940, it had consisted of 1/6 East Surreys, plus 4 and 5 RWK. In May 1940, brigades were changed around so that every brigade had at least one regular battalion in it. In the case of 132 Brigade, 1 RWK replaced 1/6 Surreys so that, at the time of the battle, 132 Brigade was all RWK, 1st, 4th and 5th Battalions, and known as the Queens Own Brigade. The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) were not involved in this battle, and 6 brigade of 2 Division, on 132 Brigade's left flank, contained no Home Counties regiments..

    It is indeed a pity that so many of the pictures in this thread have been deleted!

    Incidentally, the regimental history of this period of the RWK (published 1954) does not mention the plight of Cpl Bell and his companions.

  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I drove through Nieppe Forest this week and thought of these chaps. Imageshack have indeed lost everything I suspect. After several emails they have told me they can not put them back - Non techi answer from me. I will endeavour to start replacing all the lost pictures - I think I have most still somewhere. I have to start with the Crested Eagle thread though.
  19. smdarby

    smdarby Patron Patron

    Very interesting. My great grandfather is buried on the edge of the Nieppe Forest in Aval Wood military cemetery near Vieux Berquin. He was KIA on 28/6/18 during The Action of La Becque, which had the goal of advancing the line away from the forest which was suffering badly from gas attacks. I've visited there several time, but never knew about the events in WWII.
  20. vac

    vac Active Member

    This is a very late addition to this thread so perhaps no-one is reading it anymore. But I searched West Kents on this forum as we had accidently come across the Nieppe cemetery on our recent trip. Our drive from our BnB to Hazebrouck took us through the forest. Seeing the cemetery we stopped out of general curiosity and respect. I became intrigued as the cemetery holds an Ox and Bucks LI infantry corporal -- but not a Bucks Battalion man I thought (my particular interest). Research has confirmed that Cpl Lawley was indeed a Bucks man but buried with the bugle horn insignia and not the Bucks Maltese cross. Obviously separated from the unit. I then read in Jerry Murland's book about the murder of the West Kent men.

    According to the OBLI War Chronicle it seems that a small party of the Bucks Battalion after breaking out from Hazebrouck on the night of the 27th found themselves in the same area as the West Kents and spent some hours in defensive action before getting away. Whilst Cpl Lawley died it seems the rest of the Bucks party made it to Dunkirk. A lucky escape.

    I found reading Private Shilling's fate vey moving, especially as he was only 19.

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