Defence of Soex - May 26 to 28 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Peccavi, May 7, 2015.

  1. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    Which Unit was responsible for the defence of Soex?

    In have found this from the Ellis -

    In default of orders, General Thorne could not know how long the 48th Division was expected to maintain its extended position. Even if the garrisons of Soex, Wormhoudt, Cassel and Hazebrouck could hold out, enemy penetration between those places might seriously interfere with withdrawals taking place farther east. He appealed to General Headquarters for reinforcements, and Brigadier Norman's 1st Light Armoured Reconnaissance Brigade and the 1st Welsh Guards (both of whom had been sent the day before to strengthen the defences of Cassel) were put under his command, as were also the 6th Green Howards from Usherforce. Part of Brigadier Norman's brigade—the 1st East Riding Yeomanry—was left to help the 145th Brigade group at Cassel, but the rest, with the Welsh Guards, were moved north to hold the area Quaedypre, Vyfweg, West Cappel.[13]
    The enemy attacked all the 48th Division's strongholds during the day, and by six in the evening the road between Bergues and Cassel could no longer be used, Soex had been lost,

    Julian Thompson says the the German attack was the Gross Deutchland and 2nd Panzer - but I am sure it was 1st Panzer Division. So was it the 2nd regiment of 1st Panzer? Thompson goes on the say that the Welsh Guards evicted the GD and retook Soex but I can find no evidence of this.

    Nowhere have I found any mention of the Unit holding Soex originally - was it a French regiment?
  2. cesjak

    cesjak Junior Member

    The best answer I have found are elements of Usher Force that retired to Bergues after heavy German assault.


    Dunkirk: The British Evacuation, 1940
    By Robert Jackson
  3. cesjak

    cesjak Junior Member

    The Germans halted two miles beyond Soex. the dangerous gap was plugged by 1st Fife & Forfar Yeomanry, 1st Welsh Guards & 6th Green Howards quickly assembled for the task, saving the withdrawal route to Dunkirk. Quite an important engagement obviously overlooked.
  4. idler

    idler GeneralList

  5. cesjak

    cesjak Junior Member

    According to The Battle of Flanders by Ian Hay (War Office Publication 1941) Usherforce under Brigadier CM Usher consisted of 6th Green Howards and five batteries of heavy artillery acting as Infantry along with certain French troops of Secteur Fortifie des Flandres SFF. Socx was most likely garrisoned by troops from these units or a mixture of all.
  6. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    So did the 6th Green Howards fight rear guard actions at Socx and at Gravelines ?
    Quite a fight for a partly trained and equipped 'labour ' battalion .

    If only Uncle Jim was still around as he was with the 6th, needless to say never talked about it afterwards. Or Gazala, Poland , or the Long march.
  7. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    Yes - the Green Howards were involved in the Battle at Gravelines (Loon Plage) which the French call the "Cochon Noire" and it is a quite famous battle in France.

    The French threw in just about everyone they could scrape together inducing some airmen and more importantly marines from three vessels along with their 155 canons, SFF and 137th Division, 3 battalions and just arriving from the Boulogne battle, 48th Regiment of 21st Division. The RAF put in a successful attack. The Green Howards joined in. They came from Seclin and should not have been there but their orders redeploying them failed to arrive in time.

    Also four British tanks arrived from Calais and these and the marines 155's and blunted the German armoured attack on 24th May. The Green Howards were withdrawn on 25th May after putting up a good performance. The 225th Regiment of 68th Division (retreated all the way from Holland) was supposed to take over from the Green Howards but did not arrive until 26th May. This was no doubt the usual cock-up in communication but the French felt let down and had a tough time hanging on.

    The French marines and the 137th Division continued to fight and put in a "spirited" counter attack on 31st May and another on evening of 2nd June which undoubted helped the evacuation.
    Drew5233 likes this.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I'm pretty sure I have a little Green Howards book on this. Me and Rob (Ramacal) visited the cemetery a number of years ago to find it closed and I crawled under the gate to get in to photograph the headstones - Remember the look on that chaps face when I can out Rob 'Walking Dead' springs to mind :lol:
  9. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Phrased my question badly , what I meant was did the 6th Green Howards take part in the defence of Socx ?
    However always interested in stories of the 6th Green Howards as local lads. :)
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  10. cesjak

    cesjak Junior Member

    I believe the 6th Green Howards where part of a scratch force assembled to prevent a German breakthrough after the fall of Soex. It still seems a bit sketchy as to the actual units involved in the defence, but most likely troops of various units under Usher Force control, which included Artillery and support units acting as Infantry.
    CL1 likes this.
  11. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is all the Green Howard's regimental history by Synge 6thBnGH.jpg has to say about this period:

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