KOYLI 2/4th BN - 1944 Baker Brothers

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Daryl Baker, Jun 4, 2022.

  1. Daryl Baker

    Daryl Baker New Member

    Hi all,

    I am a newbie poster to this fantastic site!

    I was hoping for some help gathering more information about my grandad and great-uncle who were both in the KOYLI 2/4th battalion.

    William Baker PTE 4542160 my grandad died in Italy on 10th December 1944, and my great uncle Thomas Baker CPL 4694009 died on 2nd February 1944 in Italy.

    My grandmother was pregnant with my dad when my grandad was killed so he never got to meet him, my dad said my grandmother would never speak of my grandad - I guess it was too painful for her.

    I know pretty much nothing about my great-uncle Thomas Baker, I don’t even know what he looks like, however, I have a few bits about my Grandad William Baker and a fair few photos.

    Both William and Thomas are from Keighley, Yorkshire, however, my grandad moved to South Shields to be with my grandmother (who is from South Shields). Here is where they married, lived together, and had my father.

    I have been told that my grandad's number is a Durham Light Infantry, again I am guessing this is where he must have signed up to fight after moving to the North-East of England. I can also only assume that he got a transfer to the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry so he could service alongside his brother Thomas Baker.

    I have the original telegram my grandmother was sent which reads that my grandad died of wounds, I also understand although he died on the 10th of December he was actually wounded sometime before that.

    My grandad and great-uncle are buried in Faenza, Italy although I have a graves concentration report form which says my grandad was exhumed from another site. – There is a map reference, I have tried googling it without much luck.

    It was thought that they tried to bury the two brothers side by side in Faenza, although I have been out to visit the graves and Thomas is buried next to another Baker. Sadly, this Baker was a soldier from New Zealand and not my grandad, my grandad’s grave is on the other side of the cemetery.

    I have attached some photos of documents I have and a photo of my grandad, I have a few more of him with other soldiers which I am assuming are of the 2/4th. I will upload those also in time.

    Thanks in advance for reading and for P1020557.JPG P1020590.JPG IMAG0254_BURST002_COVER.jpg IMG_20200508_151253.jpg doc3761384.JPG doc3728331 (1).JPG P1020557.JPG P1020590.JPG IMAG0254_BURST002_COVER.jpg IMG_20200508_151253.jpg doc3761384.JPG doc3728331 (1).JPG any help or information.
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  2. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Welcome aboard. The expertise here may be along to help you in this quest. Their first advice is always to apply for the Service Records, there is a long wait currently (details on a PM to follow).

    In due course getting a copy of the 2/4 KOYLI War Diary might help, either for the circumstances of their death or the context beforehand. Depends what you seek. The Diary will be at The National Archives, in London and there are members who offer a paid service to copy the file(s).

    Being "Other Ranks" unless they had been awarded a medal it is unlikely they will feature in an online search, that does not mean there is nothing out there, it just might be one line.

    It is worth searching here to see if their names / service numbers already feature.

    On a quick look using the search terms "2/4th KOYLI" + "ww2talk.com" with or without site:ww2talk.com does find a number of threads to look at.

    Wiki has almost nothing on them, perhaps the text bold indicates what happened on 10/12/1944?:
    From: King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry - Wikipedia
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2022
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  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Couple of pages from 46 Division history for some info on 10th Dec '44.
    Sadly nothing really for Feb 44 regarding 2/4 KOYLI.

    Attached Files:

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  4. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    From an old 2010 thread the 2/4th were part of the UK 46th (North Midlands and Yorkshire) Division and its 138th Infantry Brigade. they landed at Salerno. See: British units involved in Salerno Landings

    A brief history of the brigade: 138th (Lincoln and Leicester) Brigade

    A useful 2012 caveat:
    From: Salerno Landings

    An interesting account of the battalion when they had a new CO in February 1944; note the book is not about the 2/4th. See: From a Hard Place to a Rock

    Your great uncle's CWGC details: Corporal Thomas Baker | War Casualty Details 4694009 | CWGC

    Looking through the CWGC records in February 1944 the 2/4th lost twelve men and in December 1944 sixteen, fourteen 1-9/12/1944 and one on 16/12/1944. So he was the only death on 10/12/1944.

    Checking Wiki and elsewhere you may be able to plot what happened after that up till your relatives death.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2022
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  5. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    For your Great-Uncle Thomas Baker it appears he was part of the Pioneer platoon of 2/4th KOYLI and was initially posted as missing on the 2nd February 1944 and subsequently reported as killed in action.

    The battalion was on the north bank of the River Garigliano at this point and in the late afternoon on 1st February a section of the Pioneer Platoon (to sweep for mines) had gone forward with the Carrier Platoon on 1st February to secure a ridge line but came under fire and the Pioneer officer and two men were cut off.





    I've marked on the map below where this happened and also provided the Google link.


    Google Maps

    The Pioneer Platoon officer (Lieutenant Watson) was wounded and taken prisoner of war.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 4, 2022
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  6. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Hi Daryl,

    For your grandfather William Baker, he was wounded on the 9th December 1944 and, as you mentioned, died of his wounds on the 10th December.

    I believe he may have been a member of D Company as they were heavily engaged on the 9th of December in defensive fighting all day for a location/houses (I would hesitate to call it a village) called Rinaldina, located to the south-west of Faenza. The WD calls in Rinadlino but this is because they often misread the 'a' for an 'o' on the GSGS maps.





    This is location I believe Rinaldina is below. The link from Google is Google Maps



    Hope this is of interest.

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  7. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    The location where your grandfather, William Baker, was originally buried is wM264212, this is SW of Faenza at a place named ERRANO, it is roughly here:

    Modern satellite here:
    Google Maps
  8. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    I am confused why Thomas Baker is buried in Faenza CWGC cemetery. If he died on 2 Feb 44, I would have expected to see him in either Minturno CWGC cemetery or Cassino CWGC cemetery.

    I suspect that he was captured and was being moved to Germany when he died.

    It does not make sense to move a body half way across Italy and I have never heard this being done before.


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  9. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member


    Normally, they would have him down as 'Prisoner of war now died of wounds etc..' in the casualty lists. Also if he died on 2nd February 1944 even as a prisoner of war he'd have been buried somewhere closer than Faenza?

    Unfortunately, his CWGC record doesn't have the grave concentration attached but I had the bright idea of looking for other casualties from that time period. I quickly found one (Corporal Nunn, 2/4 KOYLI) who was killed on 1st February and is buried in Cassino. On the grave concentration Thomas Baker also appears and it looks as if he was originally in Plot 19 D 4 in Cassino but then confirms he was indeed transferred all the way to Faenza.

    I assume a relation must have asked for them to be buried together and this was done (surprisingly).


  10. Daryl Baker

    Daryl Baker New Member

    Thanks for the warm welcome, and the information - I will check out those things.

    I did apply to the national archive for information a couple of years back - but unfortunately, lockdown happened so it well be either lost or in a very long queue.
  11. Daryl Baker

    Daryl Baker New Member


    I can't thank you enough that's amazing information!

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