Captain Richard Annand, Vc. River Dyle Belgium, 1940.

Discussion in '1940' started by Meyer, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. Meyer

    Meyer Junior Member

    Another fine brave and modest gentlemen I have had the greatest pleasure to meet.
    We will be celebrating his and other DLI VC's at the memorial stone in the grounds of the DLI Museum, Sunday 6th November 2005.

    ADDRESS BY MAJOR GENERAL ROBIN BRIMS, COLONEL THE LIGHT INFANTRY AT THE MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR CAPTAIN RICHARD WALLACE ANNAND VC 2ND DLI
    DURHAM CATHEDRAL – 7 FEBRUARY 2005

    He was nicknamed Jake after a cartoon character of the time, because whenever his platoon created a defensive position he would take off his coat, roll his sleeves up, and dig with his troops – those great miner–soldiers. On the 14th May 1940 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry were in such a defensive position in Belgium. Dick’s platoon was astride a blown bridge on the banks of the River Dyle, just south of Brussels.

    I think it right to tell of Dick’s heroism through the words of his platoon. The men had been under attack all the previous day, hit by the lightning advance of the German army and continuous air raids from the Stuka dive-bombers. The Germans had already tried to break through but Dick’s platoon had driven them back.

    Shortly after dawn the enemy attacked again and at 11am, in the thick of the battle, they pushed forward a bridging party. Once again his platoon counter attacked, but soon ran out of ammunition. Dick then went forward himself over open ground with utter disregard for the fierce mortar and machinegun fire. Reaching the top of the ridge, he drove out the German bridging party with hand grenades, inflicting more than 20 casualties. Although wounded he managed to rejoin his platoon.

    The following evening the Germans launched another assault and Dick, armed with grenades went forward again and forced the enemy to retreat, taking heavy casualties. His platoon sergeant said later: “Mr Annand came to me at platoon headquarters and asked for a box of grenades as they could hear Jerry trying to repair the bridge. Off he went and he sure must have given them a lovely time because it wasn’t a great while before he was back for more. Just like giving an elephant strawberries.

    “The previous night while both sides were sending over the heavy stuff, he realised he had not received word from our right forward section which held a pillbox about 250 yards to our right front, so he decided to get out to them and see how they were fixed. He had been gone about two hours or so, and we had come to the conclusion that they had got him, when something which I found hard to recognise came crawling in. It was just Jake – that is the name by which we knew him. He looked as though he had been having an argument with a wild cat. His clothes were torn to shreds and he must have been cut and bruised all over. How he got there and back God only knows, because he had the fire of our own troops to contend with as well as Jerry. I don’t suppose he knows the meaning of the word fear. He never asked a man to do anything he could do himself. I can quite understand he wouldn’t talk much about it. He isn’t that kind. It was just another job of work to him.”

    As Dick led the survivors of his platoon away from the bridge in the early hours of May 16, he discovered that his batman, Private Joseph Hunter, from Sunderland, had been wounded in the head and legs and unable to walk was left behind. Despite his own wounds sustained in the previous days’ fighting, he returned again, found a wheelbarrow, lifted Hunter into it and wheeled him to the rear until their way was barred by a fallen tree. Now without the strength to lift he left Hunter in an empty trench and set out to find help. He collapsed from exhaustion and loss of blood shortly after finding his company HQ position abandoned. Hunter was captured by the advancing Germans and sent to a Dutch hospital, but died of his wounds a month later.

    What an astonishing story. No account such as this can be accurate in every detail. When awarded the VC there was an inference that Dick had saved poor Private Hunter. Typically, Dick said to his Commanding Officer that as this was not so, the VC must be returned. That would have been a real injustice. To my mind Dick had won more than one VC in those days of May 1940.
     
  2. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Hi,
    Just like to bring these couple of things to this thread the South Shields Branch of the Durham Light Infantry Association along with assistance from the people of Gastuche unveiled a commemorative plaque on the main bridge crossing the River Dyle to honour "Lt Richard Annand" and the men who fought along side him and died defending the bridge from the German advance during Those dark days in 1940.
    In attendance at the unvieling were the Mayor and Mayoress of South Shields (councillor Alex Donaldson and his wife Mrs Brenda Donaldson), Sir David Chapman as well as local dignitaries and local ex-servicemen from the local town of Gastuche
    [​IMG]
    A bronze statue of Mr Annand also stands at South Shields Town Hall The statue along with that of Pte Thomas Kenny VC also of the Durhams was unveiled back in May 2007 Capt Annand, who died in 2004, ignored enemy fire to rescue his batman, using a wheelbarrow, during the retreat to Dunkirk in May 1940.
    They have been immortalised by sculptor Roger Andrews to make sure their bravery is never forgotten.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Mr Annand......................Pte Young
     
  3. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    South Shields seems to like it's bronze statues. This one of Annand is a lot better than the one of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, another hero of the town who died at Gallipoli. I once made the mistake of drinking in the neighbouring pub, bearing his name...
     
  4. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Hi,
    Paul just to complete your nostalgic view of South Shields(Though I doubt thats the right term in this case.Pub and memorial statue! Your right they do seem to like their bronzes theres many more dotted around the place!

    [​IMG]
    Regards
    Verrieres
     
  5. Korps Steiner

    Korps Steiner Senior Member

    I was very priveledged to know Dick and his wife Shirley as friends , what a wonderful couple they were , Shirley was a remarkable woman in her own right.

    Dicks courage didn't stop with his VC , when 2 DLI deployed to Kohima he did not go as he was to be profoundly deaf for the rest of his life following his VC action but he carried on as before and spent much of his time involved in Forces charities and founded a local Adult training establishment.

    One night a Burglar decided to try to break into Dick and Shirleys home by battering at the front door only to be confronted by Dick who was well into his seventies brandishing his officers sword !!!

    On another occasion when they were both in their sixties Dick and Shirley had attended a function on a ship in the River Tyne, as they were returning to shore Shirley slipped on the gangplank and fell into the River , with everyone else wondering what to do, Dick promtly dived in and pulled her out !!!

    Shortly before his death i was involved in recording a film with Dick and Shirley at their home regarding his VC action but the main thrust of what Dick wanted to say was not about himself but that he hoped his father , who had been killed at Gallipoli , would have been proud of him .

    To all who met him he was a remarkable man and a true Gentleman in every sense of the word.

    regards

    Paul
     
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Anyone know the exact location of this action by any chance?

    Picture of a map would be fab ;)

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  7. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Andy, this one shouldn't be too difficult to find, with its modern memorial.

    You could always try the commune :-

    http://www.grez-doiceau.be/grez-info/GI30.pdf

    If you're stuck, I'll pop down and find it for you. There is a nice period picture on the official site

    Rich
     
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers Rich,

    Ideally I'd like a WW2 map (Etc) and then get some shots from Annand's position looking to where the Germans advanced from.

    I assume they were attacking the bridge itself before the DLI retreated to the North bank?
     
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    The previous night while both sides were sending over the heavy stuff, he realised he had not received word from our right forward section which held a pillbox about 250 yards to our right front, so he decided to get out to them and see how they were fixed.


    Anyone know if the pillbox is still there?
     
  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    The only wartime map that I have showing the area is a 1944 1:250000 series so hopeless for what you want.

    Did you see the photo of the bridge on p.11 of the pdf ?

    Apparently a local author has written a book about it. I'll see what I can find.

    Hmm...think that I might have to buy a copy of "L'enfer de la Dyle" - It deals with the May 1940 period around Wavre. My Norton carried 2nd Div markings and it's where I intend to start my trip to Dunkirk from (assuming I can get the blasted tin chaincase fitted, it's giving me grief at the moment !)
     
  11. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    [​IMG]

    Positions of 2nd DLI May 1940 Mr Annand was with `D` Company at this time.
    The Pill Box was commanded by A/Cpl William Hanwell Thompson 4454256,the men inside ran out of ammunition and despite A/Cpl Thompsons efforts to get his men back all were either Killed or captured.

    Verrieres
     
    Drew5233 likes this.
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers Jim, where was the pill box in relation to the other landmarks on the map?

    Andy
     
  13. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Drew the reference I have states A/Cpl Thompson was in charge of one of the Pillboxes which were situated down by the river.In the book In Search of Tom the Pillbox is mentioned as the foward Pill box by the river bank, in another its on the left flank of `D` Company.Sorry I cannot be more precise I`ll have another look .

    Verrieres
     
  14. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers all, some great info !
     
  16. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    If it helps The Bridge over The Dyle is officially at Gastouche in Grez- Doiceau.

    [​IMG]
    Heres the same picture in Rich`s file
    [​IMG]
    and one for comparrison `Beyond the Bridge` taken in 2007 at the memorial dedication

    Verrieres
     
  17. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

  18. frederick

    frederick Junior Member

    Shirley Annand was my landlady as a postgraduate student at Durham University and for several years beyond. She provided the basic minimal amenities to her tenants. Heating via asbestos filled electric storage heaters and a washing machine complete with mangle. And for cooking facilities two gas hobs! Well how complete WW2! Her husband Richard Annand VC, I always found to be a perfect gentleman. She however as far as I wittnesed them together spent most of her time shouting at him at the top of her voice and I mean screeching. I know he suffered injuries during the war which affected his hearing, but her attitude towards her husband , a man who despite his own serious injuries tried against all odds to save the life of a fellow human being, was nothing short of appalling. A magistrate and pillar of the community ? No she was not! She was an evil woman and he deserved better. Everyone loved my late father and he saw the best in everyone. But even he could not find a good word to say about this money grabbing bitch who ripped myself and my fellow tenants off for so many years and that says it all for me. Every tenant hated her! This web site should be aware of this so called ladies failings!
     
  19. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Shirley Annand was my landlady as a postgraduate student at Durham University and for several years beyond. She provided the basic minimal amenities to her tenants. Heating via asbestos filled electric storage heaters and a washing machine complete with mangle. And for cooking facilities two gas hobs! Well how complete WW2! Her husband Richard Annand VC, I always found to be a perfect gentleman. She however as far as I wittnesed them together spent most of her time shouting at him at the top of her voice and I mean screeching. I know he suffered injuries during the war which affected his hearing, but her attitude towards her husband , a man who despite his own serious injuries tried against all odds to save the life of a fellow human being, was nothing short of appalling. A magistrate and pillar of the community ? No she was not! She was an evil woman and he deserved better. Everyone loved my late father and he saw the best in everyone. But even he could not find a good word to say about this money grabbing bitch who ripped myself and my fellow tenants off for so many years and that says it all for me. Every tenant hated her! This web site should be aware of this so called ladies failings!


    Hi Frederick,
    Welcome to the WW2 Talk forum strange first post ? The topic was Captain Annand VC and not his wife Shirley ? Who incidentally died on February 18th 2006 best to stick to WW2 related topics, here`s not the place to air old grievences.Captain Annand a very brave man won a VC in 1940 attempting to rescue his batman Pte Hunter who subsequently died in German captivity The Captains personal life was his own ,both are gone let them rest in peace.Back to the War;)

    Best Wishes
    Jim
     
  20. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

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