ox & bucks at dunkirk

Discussion in '1940' started by mudblood, Dec 12, 2006.

  1. mudblood

    mudblood Junior Member

    Hello all,does anybody know or where to get info on what and where the ox & bucks battalions were on to the lead up to and the evac from dunkirk,my grandad was captured there and i would like to try and follow what hi s battalion was up to
    cheers all
  2. 52nd Airborne

    52nd Airborne Green Jacket Brat

    Hello all,does anybody know or where to get info on what and where the ox & bucks battalions were on to the lead up to and the evac from dunkirk,my grandad was captured there and i would like to try and follow what hi s battalion was up to
    cheers all

    I have details of the 1st battalion, I will post it later.

    Have you contacted the Ox & Bucks Museum, I'm sure they will be able to help you with your research. I used them a couple of years ago and they couldn't do enough to help me.
    Regimental Museum of the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry
    Slade Park
    OX3 7JL
  3. mudblood

    mudblood Junior Member

    and again i take my hat of to you sir,reggy museum will be my next step
  4. 52nd Airborne

    52nd Airborne Green Jacket Brat

    On the 17th May 1940, the 1st Bn Ox & Bucks had moved into Belgium to Seignies, south of Brussels. Companies then spent an anxious night holding an extended line through the forest to cover the withdrawal of the second Division, expecting an attack that never came. This was followed by a 26mile march to Zavelberg to rejoin the 143rd Brigade of the 48th Division – the start of the retreat that ended at Dunkirk on June 1st. As in 1914, on most days and nights the men had to march long distances in hot weather and to be continually under arms; moreover on two occasions the 1st Bn was engaged in desperate actions with the enemy to stem a breakthrough, reminiscent of Ypres in 1914.

    It must be understood that the whole retreat was made under nerve-wracking conditions of a crumbling front with all the terrible congestion and confusion caused by pitiable sight of refugees. Troops were also often under shell-fire and the target of dive-bombers with there piercing shrieks.

    Colonel Whitfield, rather like Colonel Davies in 1914 wrote, “I should like to stress now, and shall refer to the matter again, that the men are very tired. For five days in section posts they have been guarding vulnerable points which entailed constant vigilance and little sleep. So far as myself was concerned I had a good night’s sleep on the 15th, but from then on until the 26th I had practically none – perhaps an hour or two or more in the 24hours except one or two nights when I had four to five hours. I did not know it was possible to go so long without sleep”. Colonel Whitfield wrote this account shortly after the retreat whilst a prisoner in hospital in Brussels. He gave it to a Belgian gentleman, Monsieur Georges Tiberghien for safe keeping until after the war.

    On May 22nd at 03:00 the troops, for the first time, had settled into some billets at Lesdain for a few hours rest when the Brigadier arrived and ordered a counter-attack at dawn, to restore the situation on the front of the 2nd Gloucestershire Regiment. Reconnaissance proved this to be unnecessary but the men had lost the chance of some precious sleep. Later in the morning of this eventful day General Thorne, Commanding the Division, ordered Colonel Whitfield to counter-attack in a wood near the village of Hallain on the canal, adding, “The situation is very grave and as your regiment attacked in 1914, so I want you restore the situation here. Remember Nonneboschen”.

    The Colonel then ordered Companies to move forward in artillery formations whilst he went forward to reconnoitre. 2nd Lieutenants Ingham and Duncan were killed at this stage. The counter-attack, achieved its object killing Germans and capturing a few. Captain Jephson later found thirty-five dead Germans in the corner of the small wood.

    On the 25th May the 1st Bn were back in France at Vertbois where a French regiment took over and companies went into billets for a few hours rest; but by 14:00 they were on the road again and marched a further 20miles to Sainguin, which they reached at 03:00 on the 26th May and there relieved the 4th Gordon Highlanders on the Comines canal. On the march companies came under particularly heavy shell-fire with catastrophic congestion caused by motor columns meeting head-on with French Army horsed transport. It was here, just before dawn that, owing to cruel misadventure, Colonel Whitfield was severely wounded by a bullet from one of the forward posts whilst on reconnaissance. He might have reached Dunkirk but remained with other wounded men in an ambulance that fell into the enemy’s hands. On this same day occurred the greatest crisis of the retreat on that part of the front, comparable to November 11th 1914, every available soldier in the 1st Bn had to man frontline positions to prevent a German breakthrough. Soon after the attack started Captain Godman, commanding B Company, reported the enemy to be crossing the canal on his left apparently unopposed, but on the right Major Edmunds, Commanding D Company, reported the front to be holding firm. All telephones lines to A (Major Conant) and B Company then broke down; C Company (Major Richards) was also out of touch. Soon after this Major Edmunds reported the enemy was over running the frontline and advancing towards Regimental Headquarters. Captain Godman is known to have been killed fighting to the last. Major Colvill, now commanding the 1st Bn, at once disposed all the men in Headquarters for defence and Captain Jephson with all the cooks and orderlies dashed across the Comines road to line the railway. Meanwhile Captain Rowland Hill, with the signals and anti-tank rifle platoon organised the defence of Regimental Headquarters and Sergeant-Major Rowlands soon had the mortar platoon dropping bombs into the covered approach of a stream. Major Covill and the Adjutant, Captain Warner moved into the neighbouring field to cover the right flank, and for the next three hours the whole regiment was fighting hard to maintain the front. Headquarters suffered a number of casualties including Colvill and Jephson being wounded.

    No further news had come from any of the companies and with Brigade and Division Headquarters out of touch the situation was as uncertain as it could be.

    Headquarters could do little but hold on, but at 14:30 Major Edmunds got a message through to say that the enemy had more or less by passed his front and that Major Conant had been killed leading an immediate counter-attack.

    Covill then withdrew Headquarters and D Company to Warneton. He also regained touch with Richards of C Company. They had been almost over ran but an immediate counter-attack had saved the front there, Lieutenant Clutterbuck, last seen firing his pistol at point blank range, was killed.

    On 30th May the 1st Bn at last reached the Dunkirk perimeter south of Houthes, 9miles from the port, where all vehicles were destroyed. The 31st May was a day of tension and orders, counter-orders, and much bombing, but at 19:00 instructions came to march to Dunkirk for embarkation. At the mole the men waited in closed ranks for 4 hours before embarking, but in spite of heavy bombing casualties were few.

    At dawn HMS Worcester and the channel steamer Maid of Orleans rushed alongside and the troops doubled on board; a total of 9 Officers and 320 NCO’s and men.

    The Reverend W H Cox, Chaplain of the 1st Bn wrote of May 31st
    “Bombing and machine gun attacks were frequently made of the woods (in the Dunkirk perimeter) and we found our slit trenches invaluable, some of the men having made marvellous escapes. And all the while our Artillery crept nearer. We hoped, of course, that we would be evacuated, but some of us wondered if it could be done, as the thousands of men we saw early Thursday morning made us realise the magnitude of the task and we knew it was a fight against time. All our men kept cheerful, however, and there was much good humoured banter. Then, on June 1st, Dunkirk itself was in terrible state. Stray horses galloped up and down the streets, shells fell all around, the oil store at the docks blazed furiously while enemy aircraft by the light of the fires continued to bomb the city and the docks”

    At Dover the men piled into trains for unknown destinations and too tired to care. At 19:00 four Officers and 93 men woke up to find themselves at Porthcawl in Wales; various other parties arrived in the neighbourhood and in the next few days the whole 1st Bn was concentrated in Hereford.

    Thus ended a retreat in many ways comparable to the Retreat from Corunna, in that on both occasions they were mainly caused by the failure of Allies. The men of the 1st Bn throughout this ordeal well upheld the standard of discipline and fortitude set by their ancestors in the Peninsula.

    Source – The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry by Philip Booth
    Owen likes this.
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    If he was with 4th Bn they were at the famous engagment at Cassel with the Glosters.
  6. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    This link from the British Pathe archive might be of interest

    British Pathe Limited

    Scroll down to "it's a long long way" - It is captioned as Ox & Bucks in 1940 and I am prety sure that it is France (House type and car driving on the right)

  7. turenne

    turenne Junior Member

    There are three battalions:
    1st Bucks Battalion (TA) who were to hold HAZEBROUCK.

    Ist Battalion Ox & Bucks Light Infantry (43rd Light Infantry), which is here.

    4th Battalion Ox & Bucks Light Infantry (TA) who were to hold CASSEL.

    Deatils on the first and third in Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, Dunkirk. Fight To The Last Man (2006). Details on all in the 4-volume Ox & Bucks War Chronicle.
  8. turenne

    turenne Junior Member

    143rd Brigade—Brigadier James Muirhead MC (1892 – 1973)

    a) 1st Battalion The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Regular) CO: Lt Col E H Whitfield; Major E C Richards OBE War Diary: WO 167/805

    [They had originally been in 11th Brigade, 4th Division, but were transferred in January/February 1940 as part of a scheme to mix Regular and Territorial battalions. The 5th Northamptonshire Regiment was transferred from this brigade to 11th Brigade, 4th Division.]
    b) and c) 1st/7th and 8th Battalions The Royal Warwickshire Regiment (TA) CO: (8) Lt Col Reginald Baker; War Diaries: WO 167/840 and WO 167/841

    144th Brigade—Brigadier James Melvill “Hammy” Hamilton DSO (1886 - 1972)

    a) 2nd Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Regular) [WORMHOUDT; massacre] CO: Lt Col Piers Duncan Williams Dunn DSO MC (1896 – 1957); Major, later Lt Col, P W Hicks MC ( - after 1966) War Diary: WO 167/839
    [They were transferred to the brigade in January/February 1940 from 2nd Division.]

    b) 5th Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment (TA) [LEDRINGHEM] CO: Lt Col Guy A H Buxton ( - between 1946 and 1953) War Diary: WO 167/743

    c) 8th Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment (TA) [WORMHOUDT] [see Worcestershire Regiment History (29th/36th of Foot) CO: Lt Col Johnstone? War Diary: WO 167/847

    145th Brigade—Brigadier Archibald Cecil Hughes (to 15 May 1940) (1886 – 1961)
    Brigadier The Hon. Nigel Fitzroy “Slasher” Somerset (from 15 May 1940) (1893 – 1990)

    a) 2nd Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment (Regular) [CASSEL] CO: Lt Col Nigel Fitzroy Somerset (1893 – 1990); Major Edward Maurice Blunt Gilmore ( - after 1963) War Diaries: WO 167/741 and WO 167/742.

    [They were transferred to the brigade in 1940 from 8th Brigade, 3rd Division.]

    b) 4th Battalion The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (TA) [CASSEL] CO: Lt Col Geoffrey Walsham Kennedy (1895 – 1984) War Diary: WO 167/806

    c) 1st Buckinghamshire Battalion The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (TA) [HAZEBROUCK] CO: Lt Col Ronald Davidson Reed Sale (1904 – after 1952); Lt Col Alexander Denis Burnett-Brown MC (1894 – 1966); Major Brian Kay Heyworth (1907 – 1940) War Diary: WO 187/804

    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    I've got the (very detailed!) War Diary for 1/OBLI between 23rd and 31st May if anyone needs anything specific looking up.

  10. adam180

    adam180 Senior Member

    my grandad was with the 1st oxford and bucks with the BEF, and the 7th batt north africa/italy and a stack of letters doc etc if your interested
  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Welcome to the site Adam,
    Yes we are interested if you don't mind posting them?
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Welcome to the forum Adam.


    I took this picture at Cassel earlier this year its in memory of the 4th Battalion fighting in the area.
    If memory serves me well theres a map of the area at the infamous barn at Wormhoult showing where all the Battalions were by date.

  13. adam180

    adam180 Senior Member

    Hello Dave
    Have you got anything on B company 1st bucks battalion Oxford & Bucks (TA) at hazebrouck.
    My grandad was there i have letters from him on the 2nd and 12th
    may 1940, to my nan
    all the best adam
  14. Deano

    Deano Junior Member


    New here!

    I'm looking into finding out a bit more information about my uncle and my girlfriends grandfather. Both were killed at Dunkirk (Within 15 days of each other).

    My Uncles details are:-

    Initials: C H J
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Private
    Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
    Unit Text: 4th Bn.
    Age: 25
    Date of Death: 30/05/1940
    Service No: 5381285
    Additional information: Son of Walter Henry and Rose Cox, of Oxford.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Column 92.

    From what I can gather from the net, it seems as if he was at mont cassel, and died the day after the retreat began, so may have been Watou. I know from my father that he was in a tank that got hit. Apparently a neighbour of his was in another tank and saw this. It would be nice see if i can find a few more details. My father went to Dunkirk and has seen the plaque bearing his name, but it might be nice to find out the location where his tank was hit.

    My girlfriends Grandfathers details:

    Initials: J W
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Private
    Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
    Unit Text: 1st Bn.
    Age: 34
    Date of Death: 15/05/1940
    Service No: 5378427
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row A. Grave 9.

    I have found a website with a picture of his grave. Other than that I don't have much information. I have read an account of soldiers cheering when allied pilots bailed out (here World War 2 - RAF 53 Squadron, May/June 1940 plane serial no L9399, PZ) on the day of his death, which is quite interesting as there is a pilot buried in the cemetery with the same date of death.

    So I guess what I really want to know is where can I go next. I am assuming I can go to Caversfield (details I found here Army Museums Ogilby Trust) to look at records that were previously held at the Slade. Is there any other online records I can search through? I had a link to a council records area that had some details of the regiments collection , but there was nothing there. I've also seen some posts where people are saying they need next of kins permission to see records (Which won't be a problem), is this for certain specific records?

    I am hoping to take my girlfriends mother to visit the grave as until I found details on the Commonwealth war graves site a cuple of years ago, she had didn't know where he was buried even).

    Thanks in advance.

    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    Hello Dave
    Have you got anything on B company 1st bucks battalion Oxford & Bucks (TA) at hazebrouck.
    My grandad was there i have letters from him on the 2nd and 12th
    may 1940, to my nan
    all the best adam

    Unfortunately Adam, I haven't got anything on them prior to 1944.


    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    Hello Dave
    Have you got anything on B company 1st bucks battalion Oxford & Bucks (TA) at hazebrouck.
    My grandad was there i have letters from him on the 2nd and 12th
    may 1940, to my nan
    all the best adam

    Have you come across the book entitled "Hazebrouck 1940", about the Bucks Bn here? it's by Michael Heyworth and includes the transcribed battalion war diary amongst other gems.

    The author's father was a Major (and CO) in the Bucks Bn and was killed by a sniper in Hazebrouck on May 28th.


    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    here's the section from the diaries covering 28th May at Hazebrouck (from the book mentioned above).......

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  18. JohnT

    JohnT Junior Member

    I've just joined the site having found some of my father's old papers (he died in 1992) amongst my mother's papers (she died recently). My father was captured at Hazebrouk and subsequently transferred to Stalag VIIIB. I have a brief written account of his experiences from sailing to Le Havre to his eventual capture. In addition, I have a notebook from his time in Stalag VIIIB which contains several names, presumably of fellow POWs with whom, I assume, he made friends. It may take a short while to transcribe his account, but I'm happy to do it if it will be of interest.
  19. LesCM19

    LesCM19 "...lets rock!"

    Welcome to the forum & yes, John, not only the Hazebrouk incidents would be useful to us but Stalag VIIIB as well for me as the camp gets a number of mentions in my collection of POW escape books
  20. Pete Croombs

    Pete Croombs Junior Member

    Another newbie here.

    I'm a bit vague about things as I know little about my Dad where he served & which Batallion etc.

    Anyhow my dad served with the Ox & Bucks, have his Army number & was a prisoner during WW2, but know little else. I don't know which Batallion, Company or anything whether he was part of the TA's or not. He was a Lance Corporal.

    Was told by another member of the Family he was in Stalag Luft3 but as far as I can tell that was a Luftwaffe Camp for RAF & US Air Forces.

    Don't know anything about when & where he was captured or how long he was there (told it may have only been around 6 months but not sure of the accuracy of that)

    Been surfing and found the Ox & Bucks 4th were captured at Dunkirk & wondering how I can find out more info about whether there's any list of POW's for the Ox & Bucks.

    Any help/guidance would be much appreciated.

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