Northumberland fusiliers BEF 51st battalion

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Janwalk, Jul 28, 2018.

  1. Janwalk

    Janwalk Member

    image.jpeg Hi, my Dad Joseph English (diseased 2003 aged 89) was in the Northumberland fusiliers in the BEF attached I believe to the 51st battalion.
    I don't know too much about it as he never liked to talk about the war save for a few amusing snippets but he never told of the horrors other than to say most of his friends were killed around him and he was captured and sent to a POW camp and worked down a salt mine.
    I'm not sure which one however have been trying to find out.
    I also know he was repatriated home I think it was 1944 due to a burst stomach ulcer, I don't think he was expected to survive but he did.
    This is him on the right, not even sure where this photo was taken or who the man to his left is.
    Was watching a programme tonight about the men who were left behind at Dunkirk.
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  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Welcome. A look through this forum will produce a large number of requests for information on service personnel and the main piece of advice we can give is to obtain a copy of the individual’s service records from the MOD.

    Researchers should bear in mind that although the individual may be recorded as serving in one unit or another at a particular time, it was not unknown for service personnel to be transferred between battalions or regiments so you need to be sure you research the correct unit.

    Unless you are unlucky, service records will give a timeline showing units, promotions (and demotions!), embarkation/disembarkation dates, award entitlements, hospitalisations (although not medical records) etc etc.. This will enable further research via the relevant unit’s war diaries or other sources of information thereby building a complete and accurate picture of their service.

    The process for obtaining records can be found here: Service records

    Also worth using this forum’s search facility once you are sure when and where they served. Most importantly it is useful to know what records/sources have already been investigated – that will save a lot of fruitless searches.

    This is possibly him:

    4271559 Fus J English 7th Bn Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

    WO 417/19 British Army Casualty List No 339 dated 17 Oct 1940
    Reported POW

    WO 417/68 British Army Casualty List No 1285 dated 8 Nov 1943
    Previously reported POW in German hands now repatriated

    Good luck.
  3. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    7th battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers were the Machine Gun battalion for the 51st Highland Division.
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  4. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Welcome to the forum Janwalk. I can only echo what Tony has mentioned. If it does turn out that your Father was with the
    7th Battalion, then it may be wise to see if you can obtain the War diaries? The only problem is, I'm thinking that they may have been destroyed, or captured. Probably the latter.

    The scans below are taken from The History of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers 1919-1945. By Brigadier C.N. Barclay, C.B.E;
    D.S.O. Please make a note of the NOTE at the bottom of page 48. It makes me think that the diaries was captured..


    P.S. Before i forget, i will try & scan the map that goes with it.. Its rather on the large size.. Will have to do it in two parts.
    Edit. Map added. Click on it.
    MAP NO 111.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    There is very little detail about any repatriations that happened during WW2 except some of the ships names. I would also suggest that you need to contact the IIRC and obtain [somehow] any records they have on your father, I have to say it will not be easy but you should fight through the system to reach your goal

    Requests for information about people held during Spanish Civil War or the Second World War: Quarterly limit reached

    There is some information in this site 19th October 1943: Disabled PoWs repatriated in Prisoner Exchange

    There were 2 Swedish registered ships used Gripsholm and Drottningholm using the Red Cross umberella for protection
    The Gripsholm WWII Exchanges | Densho Encyclopedia
    SS Drottningholm - Wikipedia

    I think as mentioned before the Intl Red Cross should hold records of where your father was and how/when he was repatriated

    Good luck
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  6. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum, Janwalk.

    You may also find the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers Museum at Alnwick Castle are able to assist with information: Research

    As TD states, the International Red Cross should have a record of his incarceration: Requests for information about people held during Spanish Civil War or the Second World War: Quarterly limit reached

    He may also have completed a PoW Liberation Questionnaire on his return to the UK and if so, this will be held at the National Archive: British prisoners of the Second World War and the Korean War - The National Archives There are forum members who can search for this for a moderate fee and if interested in doing this just ask.

    A couple of online personal stories about men of the 7th Bn Royal Northumberland Fusiliers: BBC - WW2 People's War - Retreat to Dunkirk: With the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

    Royal Northumberland Fusiliers 7th Btn in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

    Good luck with your research!


  7. Janwalk

    Janwalk Member

    Thanks all.
    My mum obtained my Dads war medals and got his service book before he died so I do have some info, although they are now all in a frame which my husband did for me a couple of years ago.
    That's how I knew he was invalided home before the end of the war.
    It says when he arrived in France and returned home to hospital I believe, only wish I had chance to take photos of the info before it was framed.
    i will try and contact the Red Cross it's worth a try.
    Very interesting read Stu and thanks for all your help and comments everyone.
  8. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

  9. Janwalk

    Janwalk Member

    What does that mean Rich ?
    He wasn't invalided out straight away, I know he spent at last 3 years in the POW camp working in a salt mine.
  10. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    It may be wise to take photos of the frame, & show them in a your next post? It will be a difficult task. Having said that, you could take the frame apart? It sounds like a sacrilege, but at least you will have copy's of the original info. It is really important that you get your Father's Service Records. It will cost you about £30.00.. The service book ( is not the full SP.)

    Keep going with your research.

    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  11. Janwalk

    Janwalk Member

    Ok thanks
    Here's some pics of his war book

    Attached Files:

  12. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Simply that in terms of evidence of what the battalion were doing in June 1940, immediately prior to his capture, you're going to be relying on secondary sources such as Barclay as the War Diaries do not appear to have survived...They were probably destroyed to prevent them falling into enemy hands.

    There have been regular suggestions that a quantity of BEF diary material fell into Russian hands when they were allowed to capture Berlin and that they still have it...As things stand at the moment, we're unlikely to find out in the near future.
  13. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Friday, October 29, 1943
    English 02.jpg
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  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  15. Janwalk

    Janwalk Member

    OMG !
    Thank you so much, I literally have tears streaming down my face right now ❤️
  16. Janwalk

    Janwalk Member

    I remember my Dad telling us how he was so embarrassed getting home with everyone cheering and calling him a hero.
    He said he never felt like a hero so found it hard to deal with
  17. Janwalk

    Janwalk Member

    image.jpeg image.jpeg Ok you've all been so helpful I wonder if you can put my mind at rest about this photo I found googling 7th battalion.
    Whether or not you think the man far right on the back row could be my Dad.
    Typically there's a fold on his face so hard to tell !
    Here's another pic of my Dad to help.
  18. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    It could be him, Janmark. Same side parting, ears, mouth...

    How tall was your your dad? The chap in the photograph is stood further back than most if not all and is taller than them all!
  19. Janwalk

    Janwalk Member

    Yes was wondering about that but through since he was stood on a higher bit of ground maybe that's why.
    He was 5ft 9 according to his war book but seem to remember him being taller !
    Although my mum was only 4 ft 11 so he towered above her anyway
  20. Janwalk

    Janwalk Member

    This is him with my mum although she would have been wearing heels almost certainly which adds a few inches.

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