Fighting withdrawal to St.Valery-en-Caux

Discussion in '1940' started by John Lawson, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. chesterflyer

    chesterflyer Member

    John, I think it was taken in 1946 but I will ask Jimmy Charters as it was his brothers wedding that they were all attending
  2. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Cheers Chester,

    Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

    All the best, John
  3. jeeperz0

    jeeperz0 Junior Member

    I do know someone who was in this unit,it was a pre-war TA from around Oban.
    He was certainly not in Ark Force, managed to get out from St Valery after hiding in the caves under the cliffs for 3 days.
    Got back to the UK, then did North Africa, Italy and was finally captured at Arnhem. 51st Anti tank had by then become 2nd Air Landing Antitank Regt, RA , part of 1st Airbourne.
    By then there were very few left who had been in the original 51st Antitank in pre war days. There were a significant number of them who got away from St Valery though. Their biggest loss was on HMS Abdiel, torpedoed in Taranto harbour when the unit was aboard.
  4. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Hi, me again,

    As you may or may not know, I'm researching my grandfather, and his unit, 7Bn RNF.

    They went from muster, at Gosforth to training in Hampshire. Alton was where I've been lead to. However, on contacting Alton Council they inform me that Alton could just have been an umbrella name for a lot of camps around that area e.g. Bordon, Longmoor, Liphook etc.

    Does anyone know where I should look or who to contact in order to find out where units were based and trained before embarkation to France.

    Cheers hoping

    regards, John
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi John - There maybe some info it the UK Forces diary (Pre deployment) for 1939 if one exists. The WO 166 files can be very hit and miss. Either very thin with next to no info or very thick full of admin and standing order type papers.

    Ps Have you looked in the Regimental History?
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Just checked, there is no pre war diary so you have all the info available in the WO 167 Diary mate.
  7. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Hi Drew,

    Nice T shirt, sums it all up really.

    I have have read The History of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in the Second World War, by Brig CN Barclay but there is little on the 7Bn, other than what can be gleaned from the Bn diaries.

    How do I find out about what's in the appropriate WO166 file(s)? and I may not need all of 1st Bn BW, only the bit up to their attachment to Arkforce.

    Cheers mate

  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I checked, there isn't a 1939 diary in WO 166.
  9. alisonshorrock

    alisonshorrock Junior Member

    My Gt Uncle, Joe Gribben, was a machine gunner from the Kensingtons who was captured at St Valery en Caux and taken to Poland - first to Torun/Thorn and then to BAB 20.

  10. alisonshorrock

    alisonshorrock Junior Member

    A Coy of the Kensingtons (machine gunners) were also supporting 1st Gordons on the 4th June at Bois de Cambron.
  11. alisonshorrock

    alisonshorrock Junior Member

    Hi Niccar,

    Thanks for the info, it's all good stuff, especially the part that reminds me that the Kensingtons had seniority in the OOB, good point. I also do not wish to cast any dispersions on any of the units involved with the 51st HD withdrawal. I just find that because of the way in which it all panned out a lot of records were lost, destroyed or were not completed.

    My particular frustration is that as I dig further into the 7RNF I still cann't find my grandfather, even though I know he was there (I have photos of him prior to his deployment to France and in the POW camp). As a L/Sgt he must have had some command function, yet I still cann't fnd him.

    Divisional and Bde Diaries describe where actions were fought and, of course, the units mentioned are those closest to the parent formation or unit. The Northumberlands and the Kensingtons, as MG Bns were dispersed to Bdes as Companies and then further depoyed as Plt, so they tend to be included as part of the unit which was in the action. Although to make myself a liar the CO of 1st Gordons did personally congratulate 11Plt 7RNF for their dedicated and effective support during their attack on the Grande Bois at Abbeville.

    The reference to the Kensingtons was not intended to read like a failure of acceptance, on my part, as to what they did to support the withdrawal; it's just that at the end there was only what was left of two companies of them whilst there was what was left of a Bn of Northumberlands yet accurate detail is, as I said, hard to come by.

    Any units, and those soldiers personaly, involved in the fighting during the chaos and uncertainty of that withdrawal have my repect.

    And the other bit is, I should realy engage brain before selecting mouth, or in this case keyboard.

    Hope I haven't caused offence.



    Interesting as I have (from 'The Kensingtons - Second World War' by the Regimental Old Comrades' Association) the 1st Gordons CO congratulating A Coy Kensingtons for their support after the fighting at Grand Bois de Cambron on 4th June. Sounds like your grandfather and my great unlce were both with 153 Brigadee 1st Gordons.
  12. alisonshorrock

    alisonshorrock Junior Member

    Yes I've seen it Chester and good reading it is.

    Once again, reading regimental histories and accounts, it is shown how our county regiments seem to be that in name alone, as on mobilisation so many manning changes took place that perhaps the core of a unit remained, but the majority of places were filled by whoever was available of draughts from all over the country. Just as many British regiments, on return from overseas service, were initially billeted on the Curragh, where they made up their depleted strength from the overpopulated, tough and unemployed of Ireland.

    Quote from the 1st Lothian & Border Yeomanry.

    "During this time, all those under 19 were drafted to the second-line regiment and were replaced by over a hundred trained recruits from the RAC Depot at Catterick. These men hailed from all over England. Other drafts were received from 4/7 Dragoon Guards and Inniskillings and there was a temporary exchange of one officer and 4 other ranks with 13/18 Hussars".

    As we have mentioned earlier, with 7RNF, at the muster of 1939 at Gosforth Park, close to 50% of the unit returned to their reserved occupations and their places were filled by Duke of Boots, Durhams and (London) Rifles.

    My great uncle was from Great Harwood in Lancashire but volunteered for the TA when working in London and ended up fighting with the Kensingtons.
  13. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Hi Alison,

    The objective of the assault was Mont de Cambron and Vaux, the 1Gordons were on the left of the attack, supported by A Coy 1 Kensingtons and 11Plt C Coy 7RNF.

    I believe that all the MGs were congratulated as the Gordons was the only success that day and they would have been 'shot in' and then covered out by the supporting MG troops.

    Obviously needed a lot of firepower to get them in. It also shows that in the emerging 'modern' style of warfare units had to be flexible to be used with inmagination and initiative to construct battle groups as and when needed with the required blend of weapons.

    Regards, John
  14. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Also with your great uncle coming from Lancashire (my wife is from Rochdale, but we don't talk about it) and then serving with the Kensingtons, due his voluteering in London, it brings to mind the Northumberlands motto Quo Fata Vocant - 'where the fates will us' - or the Geordie translation - 'we gans where wees telt' (for those who cannot get their heed roond the translation - we go where we are told too)
  15. billminer

    billminer Member

  16. billminer

    billminer Member

  17. Coley

    Coley New Member

    My grandfather ( George Simpson)was a WO2 in the 7th Northumberland fusiliers and was captured at St Valery, he was fond of recounting an incident where Rommel assured those captured that their families would be informed of their safety and well being once the invasion and occupation of the UK was accomplished, anyone else have any info on this event?
  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi and welcome to the forum. Do you have a copy of his service records? I have quite a bit of info on 7 RNF but never heard of that before, I suspect it was Rommel or his officers just showing a bit of bravado and trying to humiliate the PoWs that little bit more. I suspect there are many stories of German officers saying they'll look a soldiers wife up when they were marching through a particular British city.

  19. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Hi Drew, didn't know how else to contact you. Was wondering if you could give me any information on reinforcements to 7NF from either an Infantry Base Depot (perhaps 5 & 6) and the Machine Gun Training Centre (MGTC) (WO 166/4568 maybe?) as these are where the Kensingtons recieved their reinforcements from.

  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi John - Nice to hear from you. I've only got 1 IBD and 2 IBD diaries and neither seem to give anything away. As for the WO 166 diary I don't have a copy of this but I'd be surprised if it has any mention on BEF matters as WO 166 is the serial for Home Forces.

Share This Page