Private Diary: CALAIS, May 1940, 1st Battalion RIFLE BRIGADE, Major AW ALLEN

Discussion in '1940' started by dbf, Feb 17, 2012.

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    TNA Catalogue Reference: WO 217/3

    Private War Diaries of Various Army Personnel, Second World War, British Expeditionary Force

    Scope and content: Private Diary of Major A W Allen, 1 Rifle Bde.

    Covering dates: 1940 May

    Courtesy of Drew

    NB. The full file has not been transcribed, only the first account. The second [original?] account has been added as images only at the end of the thread.

    See also

    Private Diary: CALAIS, May 1940, Colonel RT HOLLAND, G.H.Q. Adjutant General

    Private Diary: CALAIS, May 1940, 1st Battalion QUEEN VICTORIA'S RIFLES, Major TL Timpson
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
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    Readers of The Chronicle who followed in its pages for the 1st Battalion in the busy pre-war years of its pioneering activities as the first Motor Battalion of the Army, will have gleaned some idea of the magnitude of the task involved, as well as the success achieved. Much of the credit so justly given to the Motor Battalions of the 8th and other British Armies during the War years, can fairly be counted to the hard ground work of 1937/40. But, however their role was changed, the men of the old 1st Battalion took it in their stride, remaining essentially the same Riflemen as ever. The following pages are designed to give a short sketch of how this unit came temporarily to pass from ken in the days of the Defence of CALAIS, where such success as was achieved against GERMANY's best trained and equipped troops was attributable still in the main to the Rifle and the spirit of the men behind it.
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    On Tuesday 21st May 1940 the Battalion dispersed in SUFFOLK villages, had done a hard day's work constructing road blocks in the anticipation of the German invasion of ENGLAND then regarded as imminent. Orders received at 1900 hours for an immediate move to SOUTHAMPTON resulted in the whole unit being under weigh in fully packed vehicles at 2315 hours. An exhausting drive in pouring rain ended at SOUTHAMPTON at midday on the 22nd where a scratch meal was served to the men on the Avenue. Vehicles were taken straight to the docks and loaded as they were, with all ammunition, weapons, etc., (except for 40 round S.A.A. per man and 8 Bren guns) on to the vehicle ship. Some two hours later the Battalion marched in hot sunny weather to embark on a personnel ship S.S. ARCHANGEL, passing en route a cricket match, a typical scene of peaceful ENGLAND. The German armour thrust was then at, or approaching, ABBEVILLE. The men spent the night packed like sardines, only those not on duty being able to get a few hours fitful sleep, as the convoy of 2 personnel and 2 vehicle ships, with the 2nd Battalion 60th RIFLES, and 1 R.B. steamed up Channel to DOVER. Here, Brigadier NICHOLSON received his orders to move, on disembarkation at CALAIS, to operate somewhere beyond ST. OMER on the Right Flank of the B.E.F. It was known that 3rd Battalion R.T.R. had gone to CALAIS the previous night with similar orders. The third unit of 30 INFANTRY BRIGAE (1st Battalion Q.V.R., previously billeted in KENT), had crossed from DOVER on the 21st and were awaiting the arrival of the rest of the Brigade at CALAIS. The convoy sailed from DOVER under escort of one destroyer and during the crossing Brigade issued orders for Battalions for a move to dispersal areas clear of the harbour on disembarkation to await unloading of vehicles, etc. As vehicles arrived, units were to concentrate right and left of the CALAIS - BOULOGNE road; the first unit to disembark to take the right. This order had, in the event, the effect of determining the tasks of 60th and R.B. For, as the personnel ships steamed into CALAIS harbour at 1300 hours on Thursday 23rd May (after an ineffectual attempt by German aircraft to bomb them and depth charges dropped by the escort), the 60th ship berthed first.
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    From the moment of arrival it was plain that the battle for CALAIS was on. A MC Staff Officer, a DSTO, and a few khaki-clad figures were all there to handle the warps and one or two short gang planks. Broken glass from the Station and hotel buildings littered the quays and platforms, in which many bomb craters were visible besides overturned and bombed trucks on the lines. As he stepped ashore, Brig. was informed by MC Staff Officer that all telephone communications at the quay with ENGLAND or FRANCE were cut by 5th Columnists and Germans; that the town was full of snipers; that the location of B.E.F. H.Q., last hear of near HAZEBROUCK, had not been known for some time and could not be conjectured; and that German armoured columns were already operating between BOULOGNE and CALAIS. 3 R.T.R. were still unloading the last of their B Echelon, but the Regiment had already moved South of CALAIS, and were rumoured to have met opposition. The Brig. departed for the town to find the base commandant and Battalions filed off the ships to their dispersal area, the men gazing curiously at the piles of abandoned kit lying on the quays jettisoned by crowds of soldiers and airmen being shepherded on to the ship recently vacated by 3 R.T.R., homeward bound. These troops were in the main non-combatant personnel, R.A.F. ground staff, H.Q. clerks, etc., who had suffered a severe battering by the Luftwaffe on their travels to the coast. They bore every sign of this, and made a far from cheerful welcome to the theatre of War.

    The dispersal area for 1 R.B. was in the sand dunes to the East of the Harbour mouth. The C.O. was quickly called away and John TAYLOR, who had temporarily taken over Second-in-Command in the absence of that Officer on special duty, set Companies, after a hasty meal, to digging trenches. It was well that he dis so for such protection as was then prepared was used throughout the battle and it was in this area that the last rounds were fired. The afternoons wore on with the vehicles ships still churning up the mud in the falling harbour tide in the absence of tugs to haul them into the quays, and it was not until 1700 hours that the 60th Vehicle ship berthed and unloading began. She got the benefit of 3 cranes while the R.B. ship, last in, got only one. Soon after unloading began the first enemy shells fell on the far side of the harbour. This shelling, combined with an excited mob of civilians, yelling "Les Allemands", was in full view of the Battalion which could also see that some form of scrap was taking place down the coast towards BOULOGNE. Now came the news that 3 R.T.R. had fought an action only a few kilometres South of their position, and were not withdrawing into CALAIS itself, and Officers began to feel more than impatient for the arrive of their weapons and equipment. Unloading proceeded very slowly. The British stevedores had worked for 36 hours at unloading a supply ship of rations for the B.E.F. on to lorries, and were almost too tired to stand. There was no French dock labour, with the exception of the operators of the crane. Parties from each Company standing by to take away vehicles did what they could to help, but it was found that unskilled labour was more inclined to delay unloading than otherwise. So darkness fell, with little that was required ashore, and already there were new orders for the RIFLE BRIGADE requiring all transport urgently.

    It would be convenient here to anticipate a little and to explain that there were really four phases of the action at CALAIS, corresponding with fresh orders received by Brig. NICHOLSON. These orders varied in accordance with the information as collated by higher authority.
    -The first, as has been said, was the preparation for concentration South West of the town, with a view to advancing inland and operating against enemy light troops on the flank of the main battle. At this time it was believe that enemy armoured cars only were operating in the areas ABBEVILLE - CALAIS.
    -Next, the urgency of the supply situation for the B.E.F., now withdrawing on DUNKIRK, pressed for the delivery of the 350,000 rations unloaded on 22nd May at CALAIS, and R.B. was ordered to escort them half way to DUNKIRK, while 60th and Q.V.R. held off the enemy from CALAIS. The enemy was now realised to be stronger than formally supposed, (for BOULOGNE was now to be evacuated), but light armoured forces were still estimated.
    -Thirdly, early on 24th May orders were received for the defence of CALAIS, but Brig. was informed that evacuation of defending troops would probably be undertaken that night. Later, this evacuation was postponed until the 25th.
    -Lastly, some time on the 25th Brig. NICHOLSON received the order to hold out to the last, and that very moment the enemy could be held was of the utmost importance to the safety of the B.E.F.
    This last order reached 1st Battalion RIFLE BRIGADE some time shortly before midnight on the 25th and was repeated continually throughout the 26th by various means.

    Now, as the evening of the 23rd drew on, Lieutenant Colonel HOSKYNS gave out orders to A. and I. Companies for concentration areas North of the CALAIS - DUNKIRK road preparatory to picketing the route for some 12 miles, after which protection would be taken over by troops from DUNKIRK. B Company was detailed as Escort to the Supply Column, with a detachment of 3 R.T.R. under command. The column was to start at midnight. These orders were not destined to be carried out for various reasons, the first being the desperately slow rate of unloading of vehicles. A Company's scout platoon (2nd Lieutenant ROLT) was made up to strength, and drove to its rendezvous some 7 miles to the East. On arrival there, local information indicated that enemy tanks were already in the area and surrounding the platoon. A dispatch rider arrived from Peter PEEL, who had take over A Company, with withdrawal orders, but, as the D.R. only gave these orders verbally, ROLT asked for confirmation and laagered for the night with all-round defence. During the night, a number of fires were lit in his neighbourhood on all sides. These proved to be the enemy forward tanks, lighting signals to show their aircraft the limit of their advance. It was only by the exercise of considerable skill that this Platoon extricated itself without loss the following morning after receiving confirmatory orders to withdrawn. Meantime, as vehicles slowly became available, HAMILTON-RUSSELL (O.C. B Company) with Micky SMILEY as his Second-in-Command, received 4 composite Platoons made up from all Companies, and was ready at the appointed hour, for his escort duties. The Tank Commander however, insisted on delaying the start until first light, and it was not until nearly 0500 hours on the 24th that the Column got under weigh. (3 R.T.R. had, as stated, fought an action on the outskirts of CALAIS on the 23rd in which they had lost about a Squadron in strength of their tanks).
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    R.B. Companies still awaited their vehicles but I. Company's Scout platoon (2nd Lieutenant SLADEN) mounted in trucks, and 2/Lieutenant WELD FORESTER's Platoon (dismounted), were placed to the East of CALAIS, the 60th having by now taken up position to the West and South West on the outer defences of CALAIS with their left about the ST. OMER road. 1 Q.V.R. still head the thin line of advanced positions West and South of CALAIS to which they had been directed on arrival. During the night a complete hiatus had taken place on the quay; all the staff having gone away to sleep in utter exhaustion, and the essential men who worked the cranes had disappeared after several shell splinters had landed in the holds of the ships. It was mainly by the superhuman efforts of Robing GORDON-DUFF that the cranes were got working again, and unloading resumed slowly. Sundry ships of the ROYAL NAVY came in during the night, one destroyer bringing Major General McNAUGHTON, commanding 1 CANADIAN DIVISION, to reconnoitre. Despite desultory shelling and bombing during the hours of darkness the Battalion suffered no loss so far as is known, and the first casualties occurred in "Boy" HAMILTON-RUSSELL's Column. This met opposition within some 2 miles of CALAIS amongst the suburban "ribbon development" and allotments. A strong enemy road block defeated the advanced guard tanks, which found flanking movement impossible. A gallant effort by John SURTEES, which carriers, was also unsuccessful, but while he pinned the enemy so far located, Edward BIRD's Platoon of B Company was sent round the Right Flank, while P.S.M. STEVENS' covered the Left Flank with I. Company troops. Touch was lost with BIRD (who in fact had become involved with enemy infantry posts South of the road) and several casualties were incurred from well-directed enemy mortar fire on the reserve Platoon, a motley mounting truck receiving a direct hit. HAMILTON-RUSSELL's orders were interrupted by accurate fire whenever his command post was moved.

    The C.O. and Brigadier were present during a considerable part of the 5 hours effort to break the passage, and, after reports from David SLADEN's and other posts, which strongly confirmed that the "Boy's" command was rapidly being surrounded by superior forces, he received orders to withdraw. BIRD's Platoon rejoined just as the withdrawal began, well-pleased with having inflicted ten or more casualties on the enemy. They had lost, however, Corporal [Gilbert David] CROSS killed and three of four Riflemen carried back wounded.
    :poppy: CWGC - Casualty Details
    The column was back in CALAIS by 1100 hours on 24th and B Company (less 6th Pn.) now took up positions in reserve near the Cellulose Factory, while the remainder joined their Companies.

    Much had occurred during their absence. 60th vehicle ship, which carried Brig. H.Q. vehicles, completed unloading at about 0430 hours and was then filled with wounded from the first of 2 hospital trains which had been standing in the Station before its arrival. Unloading of R.B. ships continued, but at 0730 hours orders were given by Quay Staff, who stated that they had Brigadier NICHOLSON's permission, to close down the holds and load with the wounded of the second Hospital Train. Both trainloads of patients were transferred by R.B. personnel, but more than 20 men who had died in the train were left on the quay, which had now for some hours, been under shellfire . [My bold.] The stevedores and their officers, and some of the quay staff embarked, and the ship sailed at about 0830 hours followed some time later by the 60th vehicle ship, which carried the remainder of the quay staff (except DSTO), as well as Brigadier lately commanding BOULOGNE base and other persons who had escaped from that place. The ships were shelled from a South East direction as they left the harbour, but not hit.

    1st Battalion RIFLE BRIGADE's deficiency in equipment was now severe. All scout cars and the 6 Bren guns they carried, had been handed to 1st ARMOURED DIVISION just before embarkation, and the premature departure of the vehicle ship left some 50% short of weapons and equipment; the Signal Officer, (Lieutenant DUNCANSON) had only one (No. 9) truck; only B Company had its W/T truck; carriers were barely enough to make up two Scout Platoons; the Medical Officer had no medical stores or transport, and B Echelon no tools. Fortunately, the reserve ammunition had come ashore. A lot was done to remedy this state of affairs. By Dick TRYON's (TO) and other's efforts vehicles were, in many cases, replaced from the mass of abandoned material in CALAIS; several Bren guns even being "scrounged" and at least one scout car. "Wally" STRAIGHT was most successful in finding rations in various places under sniping and other fire, and in distributing them. The men, in fact, were never short of food but rather of time in which to eat any. A limited amount of 3" mortar ammunition (not issued to the Battalion up the the time of embarkation) was brought in by the ROYAL NAVY as well as quantities of petrol, and gelignite for demolition. The ROYAL NAVY demolition party reported, however, that the primers brought were the wrong size, and at about 1300 hours they, as well as the DSTO, and the Admiralty wireless ship, left CALAIS; the quay now being entirely deserted of officials. For some time, the increasing enemy fire had added considerably to the difficulties in movement and "sorting out". Fires were blazing everywhere; oil tanks smoking. GORDON-DUFF, who had been put in charge of the protection of the quays with 2 scratch platoons of spare drivers, was hard put to it to keep them clear of refugee civilians. He and his men also succeeded in saving some light tanks out of several set on fire, but 3 R.T.R. were already sadly reduced in tank strength by the afternoon of the 24th. One Squadron had been sent to reconnoitre the coast road through GRAVELINES. The Germans had already reached the coast and this squadron, after a sharp action in which it is believed the Germans lost heavily, was absorbed into the DUNKIRK defences. During the morning 60th had been fighting in the outer defences of CALAIS in extended positions interspersed with two Companies of Q.V.R. The remaining half of that Regiment was put under Lieutenant Colonel HOSKYN's command, and was reinforced by Platoons of 1st Battalion RIFLE BRIGADE. Francis REED, with 10 Platoon of C Company, had put himself under command of Captain BOWER of the 60th at the point of junction with that Regiment, and here at 0500 hours two German prisoners were taken and at 0600 hours two light tanks driven off. Nothing is known of the adventures of Lieutenant WELSH's 6 Platoon (B Company) posted on the DUNKIRK exit, from the time the Column returned, until 1600 hours. 2/Lieutenant SLADEN (13 Platoon) reported about 1100 hours large enemy forces moving from South to North across is front, and C.O. ordered this and 14 Platoon posts to be withdrawn to the line of battlements. This was effected by 13 Platoon withdrawing through 14 Platoon (who also towed in an anti-tank gun taken under command) and covering its retirement in turn. Enemy took no action. At 1145 hours, after Q.V.R. had reported outer perimeter no longer tenable, C.O. ordered I and A Companies to occupy inner perimeter: I Company on Right rom end bridge under Marie clock tower (in touch here with 60th RIFLES) then Southwards 400 yards to canal junction, thence 800 yards Eastwards to junction of battlements with canal (here I Company in touch with A Company). A Company held from this corner (inclusive of the bridge) facing West along the battlements to the BASSIN DES CHASSES, with their Scout Platoon (2/Lieutenant ROLT) from there to the sea, but this Platoon in C.O.'s hand. Both Companies had an uncomfortably long frontage and 2/Lieutenant FITZFLETCHER's Platoon of B Company (about half strength only) and later Willy WELCH's Platoon also, were sent to Peter PEEL. H.Q. and the remaining two Platoons of B Company were held in reserve near a large heavily bombed building South of the quays, known as the Cellulose Factory. C Company (Vernon Knollys) were digging in on the dunes, held in reserve, while Harry COGHILL, with H.Q. Company was never required to leave his original position ot the East of the harbour entrance throughout the battle.

    Before midday on 24th the 30 BRIGADE was clearly involved in Phase 3 referred to above; that is, in a desperate attempt to defend the town and harbour of CALAIS. To do this, Brigadier NICHOLSON had few troops and all too little material. There was no artillery. Some execution had been done the previous evening and earlier this day by French shore artillery turned inland, but the personnel manning these weapons had put them out of action and departed to sea in a fleet of tugs before midday. A detachment of an Anti-Tank unit under a ROYAL ARTILLERY Officer had arrived with eight 2-pounder Anti-Tank guns. These were all out of action by the afternoon of the 25th. 1st Battalion RIFLE BRIGADE had two or three 3" mortars and 60th presumably one per Company. A few anti-tank mines were landed by ROYAL NAVY and distributed by Tony BAMPFYELD equally between the two Regiments' fronts on a lorry drive which he must have found somewhat hectic. For the rest, apart from the machine guns in the few tanks left, and two Vickers brought by the ROYAL MARINES, reliance had to be placed on Bren guns, "Boy's" Anti-Tank rifles, and the Rifle.

    Large numbers of troops continued to make their way into CALAIS on the 24th from L. of C. bombed out A/A and Searchlight positions, RASC units etc., but the large majority of these were unarmed, except for revolvers. Useful work was, however, done by many in the heavy fighting to come. It was clear that demolition material was of the first importance, for CALAIS was intersected by canals which in those days made excellent A/T obstacles if the bridges could be destroyed or well-blocked. It had been arranged that demolition would be the responsibility of the French, with the exception of the docks area for which the ROYAL NAVY were to make arrangements. The French had no material and no demotions were in the event carried out. Most of the many bridges were, of course, of heavy masonry and considerable size and the plan advanced by the French commander at the Citadel for attempting their destruction by placing under them some prodigious shells, which he said existed in his store, and having them fired in some mysterious way by officers prepared to sacrifice themselves "Pour la Patrie" was adjudged to be, at that stage of the battle, impracticable. H.M.S. WOLFHOUND tied up to the outer jetty during the early afternoon with a view to spotting for some destroyers which were engaging German batteries on the coast between BOULOGNE and CALAIS. At least one such battery was put out of action. The C.O. went aboard with the Adjutant, (Tom ACTON), to ask for demolition material and was offered the ship's complement of gun cotton, with any other assistance the Captain could give. Unfortunately, so many urgent calls on the C.O.'s attention intervened then, and for the rest of the day, that the matter was not pursued. H.M.S. WOLFHOUND remained until the evening, several times coming into action against attacking enemy aircraft.

    At about 1800 hours a M.T.B. brought the PSTO Channel Ports, a Commodore, who took over once more NAVAL control of the docks and, having brought the necessary primers, wirelessed for the Naval demolition party to return. Now a swing bridge over the docks was prepared for demolition, and the party returned home, the Commodore himself remaining until the 26th. During the afternoon the enemy attacks on the 60th front had intensified to such a degree that Lieutenant-Colonel HOSKYNS deemed it necessary on several occasions to send assistance from his reserves. GORDON-DUFF took a Platoon of spare drivers with which he held a section of the 60th front until about the last to be withdrawn from the outer perimeter at dark. At 1600 hours HAMILTON-RUSSELL with 8 Platoon (P.S.M. EASON) and half his Scout Platoon, was sent in trucks through I Company's position into the town to support 60th and Q.V.R. There was sniping by Fifth Columnists in I Company's area at this time, and a part of Brigade H.Q. withdrew past the Mairie to its new location at the Gare Maritime. At about 1600 hours also 2/Lieutenant received an order through the Intelligence Officer to take his mortar section and 11 Platoon C Company (P.S.M. CRISS) to the 60th area. There he was to get into touch with O.C. 60th (whose H.Q. were not known at 1st Battalion RIFLE BRIGADE) and put down mortar fire on an area of the Rue Gambetta which 2/Lieutenant PRICE showed him on the map. On passing through 15 Platoon ROLT was told that enemy tanks were already in the 60th area, and that he was likely to meet them at any moment. All parties of 60th and Q.V.R. met confirmed that the enemy had got a footing in the town. After reconnaissance the area indicated was plastered with 30 bombs at long range from the gardens near the Mairie Square.

    This somewhat doubtful shoot actually had helped a party of Q.V.R.s according to information later given by an Officer present, to Tony ROLT. However, he rightly decided to use no more ammunition and withdrew to report to the C.O. HAMILTON-RUSSELL returned through I Company at about 1730 hours to the road block near the Cellulose Factory. His Company (B ) still had two platoons detached (6 and 7) and was destined to remain so for the remainder of the battle. At 1900 hours these Platoons were both in position with A Company and at about the same time 12 Platoon C Company (2/Lieutenant FELLOWS) and 11th Platoon C Company (P.S.M. CRISS) were sent to reinforce I Company. Both these Platoons were placed by Major BRUSH in reserve about 200 yards in rear of 16 Platoon on the transverse road, (and yet they were in a front-line position as RIFLE BRIGADE was forward of the 60th line hear from now onwards). 60th were fighting in the Rue Gambetta about 300 yards South West of I Company while withdrawals from the battlements South West and South of the town were taking place. Q.V.R. less two Companies were withdrawing to neighbourhood of H.Q. RIFLE BRIGADE and the 60th (the majority of whose retirements did not take place until dusk) were brought back to the shorter line in the old town ordered by the Brig. By 2100 hours the new positions were taken up, leaving as arranged I Company RIFLE BRIGADE in a forward salient with the nearest 60th post in view of 15 Platoon bridge over-looking Hotel de Ville. At midnight enemy activity in the town ceased apart from isolated bombing and shelling, RIFLE BRIGADE H.Q. having some close "overs" of heavy stuff which fell in the Bassin nearby at about 0100 the 25th.

    Friday the 24th had been a day of great tension. At about 1900 hours the C.O. sent a message to Companies that positions then occupied were to be held to the last man and the last round. Privately informing Second-in-Command that there was now no possibility of evacuation before midnight of 25th he expressed the opinion that the chances of holding the enemy until then were remote in the extreme. Apart from enemy action the general confusion as tot the situation; the fantastic stories put about by enemy agents; (in a letter to the Colonel-in-Chief from hospital in ENGLAND Lieutenant-Colonel HOSKYNS drew particular attention to the effect of the so-called "Fifth Column" activities on this and the next day); and the fact that no Commander ever had a moment from the time of landing to look around him and think and plan for more than the immediate future all tended to intense fatigue. Nobody had slept except for a few hours on the ships, or ceased to work hard since the morning of Tuesday the 21st. In the circumstances, the high morale and offensive spirit shown as well as the prompt and efficient action of all ranks throughout the day in taking up positions of a somewhat unfamiliar character and rapid movement under great difficulties reflect the highest credit on all concerned.
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    1st RIFLE BRIGADE stood to at 0350 hours on Saturday 25th May. After the successful repulse of the enemy on Friday, and the lull of the hours of darkness, Brigadier NICHOLSON asked 60th and RIFLE BRIGADE whether there were signs of enemy withdrawal. BRUSH reported that he had himself patrolled the Rue Gambetta from 0530 hours in a car and discovered no sign of the enemy.

    PEEL reported little activity on the Eastern face, and 60th reported similarly. Sundry forward moves were ordered by Brigadier, but these soon met German A/T guns and infantry. Advance Brigade H.Q. had left the Gare Maritime for the Citadel with a view to close liaison with the French Commander there at 0600 hours. At 0700 hours Germans in the Rue Gambetta were reported by I Company. Sniping began from the Western side of the canal, and a bombardment of A Company's position also at about this time, as well as certain amount of small arms fire from the woods to its front, coupled with Fifth Column sniping from the houses behind them. ROLT's 3" mortar (Corporal BLACKMAN) engaged Germans in Rue Gambetta at 0745 hours from 11 Platoon position. At 0800 hours Peter BRUSH was shot through the throat by a sniper, but refused to leave his H.Q. At 0830 hours a German tactical reconnaissance 'plane flew along I Company's positions and indicated them to their artillery by a line of smoke. At 0930 hours the enemy strafe came down with accuracy. At 100 hours John TAYLOR arrived with orders to send BRUSH to the R.A.P. and to take over his command. All positions were now intense fire, except the North East portion of the defences from which the Company of Q.V.R. extending A Company's left nevertheless reported observation of considerable enemy movement. Throughout the remainder of the morning, enemy pressure was very strong at the Southern face, and 2/Lieutenant CLAY (Liaison Officer with 30 BRIGADE) took a situation report to the Citadel at about 1130 hours with a map marked by the C.O. Apparently a German W/T message was intercepted by the French indicating that if the attacks now being launched failed they proposed to attack heavily on their left, i.e. 60th right. Brig. decided to attempt a distraction in rear of the enemy from RIFLE BRIGADE's left, and at 1300 hours 2/Lieutenant CLAY returned with Colonel HOLLAND (formerly Base Commandant) with duplicate orders to Lieutenant-Colonel HOSKYNS to take a mobile column of all AFV's (tanks and carriers) and at least two motor platoons through the perimeter East of the Bassin des Chasses, and to sweep round to attack the enemy's right rear in order to relieve pressure on the 60th. All reserves had become involved from the previous day with the exception of H.Q. and two platoons of C Company. I Company relied particularly on their three carriers and Corporal BLACKMAN's mortar section of ROLT's carrier platoon to cover bridges on their extended front, and both these and A Company bridges were now in momentary danger of being forced. The C.O. made a formal and energetic protest which was rejected by Colonel HOLLAND and preparation for collection the necessary troops was put in hand. Lieutenant Colonel HOSKYNS stated that he would try to start at 1430 hours. The Adjutant, having written the necessary messages, made a personal reconnaissance of the route along the South edge of the Bassin des Chasses, and, finding it impracticable, returned to report and to get the vehicles now collected turned round and in order (for the only other way out was by the sand dunes and beach), a very difficult task on the narrow road past the railway yards, which was all this time under heavy fire. At this time, 2/Lieutenant ROLT, while engaged in collecting 2/Lieutenant SANDERSON and his carriers from I Company's line, became involved in the streets behind the main poison, with enemy infantry, who had infiltrated and meeting three light tanks of 3 R.T.R. led them with his carriers in a successful counter-drive to clear the streets, inflicting several casualties, and finding particularly good targets down the streets across the canal to the West of David FELLOW's houses, and South of the 60th left. Lieutenant DUNCANSON shot down a German Recce plane with a Bren Gun in ALAGI area. Meanwhile, C.O. had already sent KNOLLYS with C Company (less two platoons) on foot along the dunes to the Eastern end of the bassin, but now realising the practical impossibility of taking wheeled vehicles through the heavy sand, he at last succeeded in getting through to Brigade by wireless and receiving Brigadier NICHOLSON's permission to cancel the column. The leading tanks and carriers had already started, wand were in trouble in the sand. Where possible the return of troops to their previous locations, began, but the damage was already done when the defence was weakened by the collection of the column and the C.O's attention distracting from fighting his command, and Battalion H.Q. never really assembled and functioned as such again. Indeed, before the C.O. left finally to start the movement (taking practically all Battalion H.Q. with him) he had already received reports that breaches had been made in the front line, and left Second-in-Command to organise another position through B Company's main road block. This was accomplished, troops used being H.Q. B Company with one Bren gun section; H.Q. and one Company Q.V.R.; the remains of any A/A/ battery half armed with rifles; about thirty men of a searchlight battery; and rear Brigade H.Q. The enemy had by 1500 hours succeeded in breaking through the forward positions in two places, and, working through the streets getting round the back of Company's H.Q. and Platoons holding the front line. Desperate close fighting took place, during which John TAYLOR was severely wounded, and David SLADEN killed while attacking the enemy in one of the many small counter actions which took place as the fighting surged to and fro.
    :poppy: CWGC - Casualty Details

    The Second-in-Command of I Company, Adrian [John Bates] VAN DE WEYER, was eventually killed defending the point of junction with the 60th where P.S.M. [Ivan John] WILLIAMS had already lost his life, and 2/Lieutenant [George Ambler] THOMAS in circumstances not known.
    CWGC - Casualty Details
    CWGC - Casualty Details
    CWGC - Casualty Details

    Small detachments continued to defend houses in this area, after being surrounded, and P.S.M. STEVENS (16 Platoon) with some 16 men of I and C Companies having fought until all their ammunition was exhausted, hid in the houses round their positions for 14 days before starvation forced them to surrender. Few of I Company and the two Platoons of C Company attacked, were extricated from this imbroglio in spite of a determined effort on the part of BRUSH, who had left the R.A.P., and received the C.O.'s permission to attempt to retrieve the situation on his Company's front with the assistance of Lieutenant BIRD's Platoon of B Company (now returned from the cancelled column), and the remaining tanks. None of the latter were however made available and the small party were brought to a stop a short distance beyond B Company's block by intensive L.A. fire. While trying to deal with a French camion appeared full of wounded men belonging to I Company in charge of Corporal LANE, and driven by a Fifth Columnist at the point of the revolver. In spite of being waved on, the driver stopped under fire, and while the wounded who could were getting out to try to crawl across the road, [Lieutenant] Edward [Arthur] BIRD ran forward, climbed into the driver's seat, and endeavoured to restart the lorry. In this gallant effort he was shot in the head, dying soon after.
    :poppy: CWGC - Casualty Details

    After this, Major BRUSH, having only a handful of 5 Platoon's unwounded men left, was forced to abandon the attempt to reach the original company area. A Company although suffering many casualties, was still fairly intact, and was fighting the enemy on three sides of it; P.S.M. JOHNSTONE [JOHNSTON] being killed at the road block formed to protect the rear of Captain PEEL's H.Q.
    :poppy: CWGC - Casualty Details

    But the two attached platoons of B Company were overwhelmed by enemy tanks on this evening while attempting a flanking movement to retake the bridge which had been lost at the junction of I and A Company's front. Willy WELCH was killed in circumstances not yet known during this counter-attack.
    :poppy: CWGC - Casualty Details

    At about 1530 hours a shell had landed in one of H.Q. Company's trenches were the C.O. was with COGHILL, and TAYLOR who had been brought there. TAYLOR was again wounded as was C.Q.M.S. CLIFTON by the same shell and [Lieutenant Colonel Chandos Bendict Arden] Chan HOSKYNS received such severe wounds that he subsequently died in ENGLAND.
    :poppy: CWGC - Casualty Details

    A young D.R. reported to the Second-in-Command, near the Cellulose Factory, that the C.O. was killed, and BRUSH and ACTON "blown to bits". Second-in-Command duly reported to Brigade that he had taken over, and in time he, HAMILTON-RUSSELL and BRUSH became aware of each others' presence; each having received false reports that the others were casualties and believed himself to be the senior officer left. This was a critical moment in the battle. Between 1530 and 1630 hours ROLT's carrier platoon (dismounted after the cancellation of the column) was now remounted and sent by A/C.O. on a foray into the old town across the Place de l'Europe because of reports that enemy tanks had broken in and the danger of a break through between the two regiments. At about 1630 hours the bombardment intensified upon the whole Brigade's position, and soon the Citadel was a vast sheet of flame. From this time advanced brigade H.Q. were out of touch on W/T. While 2/Lieutenant ROLT was away, HAMILTON-RUSSELL reported with a well worked out scheme for ordering and covering the withdrawal of A Company, the Company of Q.V.R. extending A Company's left, and as many elements of I and C Company's Platoons as possible to a shorter line behind the Cellulose Factory. He already had arrangements in hand at his H.Q. and A/C.O. now approved the plan and ordered HAMILTON-RUSSELL to take charge of this operation, while he himself dealt with the point of pressure of junction with the 60th and O.C. B Company's right flank. Subsequently withdrawal proceeded with little interference from the enemy, Captain SMILEY, directing Platoons to their new positions as they came back. Q.V.R. reported that they would not be able to get all their men in before dark, and in fact some elements did cross the canal in the wrong direction, and becoming involved with the Germans on the dunes to the East, were not recovered. Terence PRITTIE came back via the beach with a few men of A Company and, reporting to DUNCANSON with H.Q. Company was ordered to join SURTEES in C Company's old trenches. SURTEES, after his carriers had become stuck in the sand had been informed of the cancellation of the column from the dunes East of the bassin, where in C.O. had sent them early in the afternoon. KNOLLYS, joined by some Q.V.R. from the Eastern perimeter referred to above, had moved to positions further East for the night. On the following morning he engaged the enemy, who had AFV's in this area, for some hours before being surrounded and overwhelmed. During this action 2/Lieutenant KANE carried out a most successful fighting patrol amongst the sandhills, in which he, with Rifleman EAGLE as his Second-in-Command, destroyed three enemy L.A. Sections. KANE was severely wounded when disarming a fourth with an empty revolver by a German N.C.O. who appeared from behind a knoll at the wrong moment.

    At about 1700 hours A/C.O. who had failed to speak to Brigadier did succeed in speaking to Lieutenant-Colonel MILLER (O.C. 60th) and ascertained that he was being very hard-pressed everywhere, and was still very nervous about his right flank. Not long after this enemy aircraft dropped showers of leaflets on and around the Gare Maritime giving an hour's grace for surrender from 1800 to 1900 hours. In the hot weather of these days and the dust and grime of battle, drinking water was of importance, and trouble was caused from Saturday onwards by damage to the mains in the town and Gare Maritime area, but these difficulty was overcome by recourse to wells, which were found, and by constantly repairing main supplies. Water had to be carried for some distance to sand dune positions. As on previous nights, enemy activity died down at dark, and the Battalion, now settled in its new positions for the night, breathed again. Enemy attacks had all but succeeded this evening, and great credit is due to the 60th for their magnificent defence of the old town. HOSKYNS and TAYLOR were found in the R.A.P. at the Station, both in a bad way, but the former expressed his delight in the holding off of the enemy. It is difficult to write more of this fine officer who had now seen the last of the Battalion he had loved and commanded so well. TAYLOR, who had been a tower of strength throughout, was a grave loss to the Battalion at this time. Though damaged beyond repair, he fortunately recovered enough to do much more for the Regiment during the War. At about 2330 hours W/T communications with the 60th was again got with difficulty, for many batteries were now low. Lieutenant-Colonel MILLER had gone to the Citadel to find the Brigadier whose fate had not been known for some time. The Brig. however, at this moment arrived at the Station yard and expressed himself in the most complimentary terms on the Battalion's efforts. He then received C.O.'s rather meagre reports (for patrols sent out to locate troops beyond the Bassin and on the beach were not yet back) and approved his proposed dispositions for the following day. Brig. now gave the latest order from home that CALAIS was to be held to the last and this was duly repeated during the night to responsible commanders. He then asked if C.O. considered it possible in the even of 1st Battalion RIFLE BRIGADE and other troops in the vicinity being heavily attacked, to withdraw them all into the town and make, with the 60th, an all round defensive ring to include the Citadel. C.O. replied that he did not think it would, and the Brig. agreed that it would be most difficult, especially in view of the failure so far to locate the remnants of 3 R.T.R., C Company RIFLE BRIGADE (less 2 Platoons) and some of the Q.V.R. Permission was given to wireless for a hospital ship and this was done by Commodore, ROYAL NAVY later in the night. Brig. wished the Battalion luck and said good-night, returning to the Citadel. No further order was received from Brigade, except for a repetition of the Government of War Officer message to hold to the last, brought by Colonel HOLLAND the next morning.
  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    At dawn a small yacht took off HOSKYNS, TAYLOR and other wounded from the R.A.P. on the quay, where Surgeon-Lieutenant WAIND had done wonderful work, and was to do more on the 26th when he was the only Medical Officer present. The R.A.P. in the tunnel was shared by Captain CAMERON, ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS the RIFLE BRIGADE Medical Officer, and Lieutenant GARTSIDE, Medical Officer of Q.V.R., who helped by the two Padres, WINGFIELD-DIGBY and HURD, where they had been intensely busy for two days and all their efforts deserve the highest praise. Unfortunately, this R.A.P. had been moved, together with its patients by oder of an officer of 3 R.T.R. urgently expressed along the beach during the afternoon without the knowledge of the respective C.O.s of RIFLE BRIGADE and R.V.R.

    During Saturday, 1st Battalion RIFLE BRIGADE had used all its ammunition, including reserves, and had issued 20,000 rounds more brought by ROYAL NAVY most of which had been used up. There was besides a grave shortage of weapons available for the next day's battle, a shortage more serious than manpower, which in itself, so far as the Battalion was concerned, was now serious. Expectations of an enemy dawn attack on the 26th were frequently not realised. Apparently the two defeats suffered by the enemy on the Friday and Saturday imposed on the Corps Commander such caution that he decided to relieve his forward troops (probably for the second time) and stage a new full-dress attack with extended artillery preparation, continuous dive-bomb attack, and heavy mortar and machine gun support. - Certainly a compliment to the tired defenders. Subsequent accounts of German origin made much of the resources called upon. A complete corps artillery was stated to have been in action since early on the 24th, and a lot was made of the fine supply effort which replaced their ammunition expenditure. In consequence of this extended preparation, some measure of reorganisation was possible on the RIFLE BRIGADE fronts. New forward positions on either side of the Bassin des Chasses were manned by the least tired of the troops available, with as much advantage taken of cross-five positions as possible. Bren guns were very short, and though thoroughly cleaned during the hours of darkness became, like the rifles, badly clogged with sand in the positions held on this side of CALAIS, and many excellent targets must have been inadequately dealt with on this account during Sunday's fighting while weapons were reclined again and again. Ammunition however was now so short that few rounds can have been wasted; and the capable efforts of R.S.M. GOODEY, Sergeant PHILLIPS and Sergeant WELCH, of the new skeleton H.Q. formed, eked out what was left for replenishment to the best effect. The last 3" mortar rounds were fired during the morning with accurate results by Sandy SANDERSON, who had, with Corporal MORTON already done good execution with a salvaged machine gun. There were no other weapons to use. It can be stated with some pride that the heavy German strafing preparation referred to above had the minimum effect on the Riflemen, who fired from their exposed positions at the attacking Stukas as coolly as participants in a pheasant shoot. That some positions became, as the day drew on, untenable, goes without saying, but on no occasion was a withdrawal made of more than a few yards, and on more than one the original position was retaken. The space between the two portions of the defence on the battalion's front entailed rise to great difficulty of control and communication, and distances between sub-units were greatly increased by battle obstacles. In this kind of fighting a man often knows nothing of what is occurring within ten yards of him. Smoke, fires, dust and failing masonry; line after line of track, holding scores of goods wagons and other rolling stock; thin, but high cement walls; heavy sand on the dunes and bunds; made movement as fatiguing as observation was difficult. In spite of all, the defence, by no means badly damaged or deterred by the preparatory bombardments, continued throughout the morning to hold the enemy's attack now being pressed very strongly at all points: but from about 1300 hours onwards the situation deteriorated. Accurate German heavy mortar fire was mainly responsible for helping on their infantry.

    It had been hoped that these and other enemy support weapons would be dealt with by naval bombardment and this had been asked for at 1045 hours 26th, in the last message sent over the air from the Gare Maritime. Targets considered easily recognisable were indicated as well as a clear line beyond which it was safe to shoot. In the evening an effective bombardment was in fact carried out by the ROYAL NAVY on this line, but it was by then too late. Lieutenant MILLET, ROYAL CORPS OF SIGNALS who, with his section of Brigade H.Q. Signals had been of inestimable value throughout, was ordered to be prepared to destroy all W/T installations and files early in the afternoon. Later this was done for him, before the final order was given, by enemy mortar fire, all vehicles of value in the station yards being burnt out. By 1630 hours or thereabouts, the last rounds were fired, and all organised resistance ceased. The enemy infantry had indeed treated the exhausted defenders with respect and taken their time in coming to grips. This they eventually did at all points simultaneously, from the 60th right, into the Citadel itself, and all along the circle of attack to the beaches in the rear of RIFLE BRIGADE positions. Men of the RIFLE BRIGADE were shot from across the harbour mouth at the end.

    Much more could be written of the fighting on this last day; of the tough resistance put up on the right by ROLT's Scout Platoon; P.S.M. [James] EASEN's Platoon of B Company (he later Died of Wounds) and others; of Arthur [Gustavus Lindsey] HAMILTON-RUSSELL in an attempt to gain observation from the most exposed point near him receiving his mortal wound after as hard a four days' fighting and work as ever [a] soldier did;
    CWGC - Casualty Details
    CWGC - Casualty Details [see this other thread]
    of Tony ROLT's final gallant effort, almost alone, to seize a possible point of vantage; of the accurate fire still being directed from the French shore battery emplacement by men of A Company, ROYAL MARINES and others, including Major COXWEL ROGERS, the Staff Captain, who was killed here while firing a Bren gun at Germans on the beach behind this position; of the hours of steady and accurate shooting put in by Peter BRUSH's command on the sand dunes based on SURTEES' trenches were Rifleman GURR, one of the Battalion's best BISLEY shots, badly wounded in the leg he was to lose, Sergeant WELSH, show through the jaw, Rifleman MURPHY who had found and got into working order a Lewis gun, David FELLOWES of C Company with a large hole in his head from the fighting in I Company's area the day before, Peter PEEL and John SURTEES, both wounded, and BRUSH wounded again, with FORRESTER, PRICE and a few other other Riflemen sniped and hit (for that was all that was now possible) to the end - until [Lieutenant] Jerry [Jerome Pender] DUNCANSON who had never for a moment ceased to chivvy the enemy at every possible opportunity and enjoying every moment of it, stood up to kill the last German to be shot in this area and inevitably received his mortal wound.
    :poppy: CWGC - Casualty Details

    But it is surely invidious to dwell upon individual efforts when all did their utmost. Of those who died, although the deeds of some are not yet known in full, it would be impossible to write too much. They will be remembered.

    Of those who survived a great number were wounded, most of whom had to recover as best they could in German hands. If all ranks of the 1st Battalion who had reached by keenness and hard work such a high standard of training for mobile warfare with armoured divisions, were disappointed of their fun in a war of movement, they at least still enjoyed the excitements of the early stages of this action and in the grim discipline and fighting qualities as Riflemen under any conditions of war, took pride in them. It would not be easy to find any who regret the days of CALAIS.
  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    [This seems to be the basis for the first account in the file, and is more detailed]

    On Tuesday 21 May 1st Battalion RIFLE BRIGADE at 6 hours' notice, were busy digging trenches to cover road blocks. In the evening Lieutenant-Colonel CAMPBELL and O.R.Q.M.S. NEWTON arrived from BLANDFORD with the peace time documents etc. which had been left to go to 2nd Echelon and TIDWORTH. At 1820 hours orders were received to be prepared to move overseas at 2300 hours. All vehicles were packed and the Battalion actually moved at 2315 hours. Although such a hurried packing can hardly have resulted in all loads being correct they were more or less so. Mobile equipment left 6 Bren Guns short (owing to the fact that all scout cars had been transferred to 4 ARMOURED BRIGADE 2 days previously and these had to be made up from Companies. There was no Mortar ammunition).

    After an exhausting night driving in pouring rain, and a hurried breakfast at HERTFORD Bridge flats the Battalion arrived at SOUTHAMPTON about mid-day on Wednesday 22nd May. Vehicles were immediately taken to the docks and loaded on to the ship as they were packed, petrol in tanks, by 5 p.m., men embarking on the personnel carrying ship (S.S. ARCHANGEL) between 6 and 7 p.m. after a hot meal in the rest camp and a 3 mile march to the docks. That night, packed like sardines on the decks a few fitful hours of sleep were secured by those not on duty. At 1300 hours 23 May, greeted by German aircraft which dropped two bombs near the ship, the 1st Battalion arrived at CALAIS followed into the harbour by the 60th RIFLES. The Battalion had with it their first reinforcements (60th had not). The men had their rifles and 40 rounds S.A.A. and Companies each 8 Bren Guns with magus. All other arms and equipment were on the vehicle ships following. It will be obvious that the troops, after such a journey, undertaken at 6 hours' notice, could scarcely be expected to show their highest morale and fighting order: and a few hours in which to settle down, with vehicles and equipment, and to fit into the situation, if not to rest, were highly desirable. No time, however, was forthcoming for the battle for CALAIS had already begun.

    3 R.T.R. and 1 Q.V.R. and 8 A/T guns under Captain ???EY, ROYAL ARTILLERY had left ENGLAND 24 hours ahead. The former were under orders to --- [sic] the latter were holding the outer perimeter round CALAIS based on the various French Forts and posts designed to defend the place. Q.V.R. were a M/C Battalion brigaded some few weeks previously with RIFLE BRIGADE and 60th under Brigadier NICHOLSON, who, until this day, had not seen much of them, nor had the other Battalions met them. On the passage across the channel Brig. issued maps and explained what little he knew of the situation. His orders were shortly to act offensively, probably with 3 R.T.R., in direction of BOULOGNE against enemy armoured columns. He ordered the first Battalion that should disembark to proceed to dispersal areas at the East end of the Bassin des Chasses, and the following Battalion to disperse North of the Bassin, during such time as the vehicles were unloading. In effect such time as the vehicles were unloading. In effect this took the 60th to the dunes East and South East of the Bassin and RIFLE BRIGADE to the sea shore sandhills with Battalion H.Q. at the fort North of the Gare Maritime. As vehicles were unloaded Battalions were to move out to the West and South West of CALAIS to concentration areas preparatory to a move South (see map) Brigade H.Q. to move South East of Bassin.

    Before landing Major ALLAN, Second-in-Command RIFLE BRIGADE had been detailed for liaison duties between Brigadier NICHOLSON and G.H.Q. channel ports, which was to be situated on a destroyer and put in from time to time to get the situation. Major J.A. TAYLOR, M.C. took over Second-in-Command and Captain PEEL took command of A Company. An attempt will be made in the following narrative to separate the picture as seen from the Gare Maritime and journeyings about CALAIS and the situation of 1 R.B. during the remainder of Thursday until 6 p.m. Friday 24th.

    The situation as explained by the Lieutenant General at DOVER was known to be briefly that enemy armoured columns were heavily attacking BOULOGNE were Colonel FOX-PITT and 2nd Battalion IRISH GUARDS and WELSH GUARDS had landed the previous day. 1 Q.V.R. were holding CALAIS, 3 R.T.R. had been sent from CALAIS in direction of ST. OMER where an enemy column was reported, which might cut communications between B.E.F. and channel ports.

    B???'s plan (called Plan I) orders for which had been given on the ship, were for Battalions to move to concentration areas astride the CALAIS / BOULOGNE road as soon as vehicles were available (see map).

    There is no map included in the file.
    The rest of the account has not been transcribed but is attached]

    Attached Files:

    Anthony Forrest likes this.
  10. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Courtesy of Geoff's Search Engine, search results for: 1 Bn RIFLE BRIGADE, 01/05/1940-31/07/1940, alphabetical order


    001 Link BACON EB 6914120 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    002 Link BILLINGHAM JE 6912383 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT J. GRAVE 15.
    003 Link BIRD EA 72963 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 130.
    004 Link BLAND RH 6912156 1ST BN 23/05/1940 - - 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    005 Link BOWLEY JC 6913263 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    006 Link BROWN EW 6139230 1ST BN 24/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    007 Link BRYCE M 6911962 1ST BN 24/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    008 Link CHALMERS JC 6914450 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    009 Link COOPER WW 6914100 1ST BN 25/05/1940 - - 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    010 Link COTTELL JW 6911801 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT J. GRAVE 13.
    011 Link CROSS GD 6912077 1ST BN 24/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT O. GRAVE 8.
    012 Link CUMBERS LF 6911461 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT O. GRAVE 12.
    013 Link DIXON BDV 6912336 1ST BN 24/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT O. GRAVE 7.
    014 Link DUNCANSON JP 55992 1ST BN 28/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT N. GRAVE 10.
    015 Link DUNGAY HJ 6912760 1ST BN 24/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT O. GRAVE 21.
    016 Link EASEN J 6908637 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 130.
    017 Link EDGAR A 6911677 ATTD HQ 1 CORPS TROOPS, 29/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    018 Link ELLISON H 6913500 1ST BN 23/05/1940 - - 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT K. GRAVE 5.
    019 Link FAWCETT FJ 765452 1ST BN 27/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT L. GRAVE 2.
    020 Link FOLEY JB 6967972 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT K. GRAVE 4.
    021 Link FRAZER D 6911189 1ST BN 22/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    022 Link GAFFEY H 6913575 1ST BN 23/05/1940 - - 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT N. GRAVE 31.
    023 Link HAMBLIN J 6912019 ATTD 1 AIR FORM SIGS 23/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    025 Link HOCKLEY EB 6914457 1ST BN 28/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT N. GRAVE 11.
    026 Link HOSKYNS CBA 9657 1ST BN 18/06/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE N.W. PART.
    027 Link HUMPHERY EAM 57380 7TH 1ST BN THE LONDON RIFLE BRIGADE BN 25/05/1940 - - 28/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT 5. ROW C. GRAVE 31.
    028 Link JEBB L 6914206 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT M. GRAVE 24.
    029 Link JOHNSON F 6911951 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT N. GRAVE 2.
    030 Link JOHNSTON SC 6913246 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT M. GRAVE 1.
    031 Link JOHNSTON RAV 6792048 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 130.
    032 Link JOLLIFFE FM 6912926 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT L. GRAVE 23.
    033 Link JONES OG 6912340 1ST BN 23/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT 9. ROW C. GRAVE 10.
    034 Link KELLY JD 6913961 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    035 Link LEWIS WE 6912039 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT P. GRAVE 3.
    036 Link LINCOLN J 6912055 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT J. GRAVE 22.
    037 Link LITTLECHILD SR 6912100 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT M. GRAVE 2.
    038 Link LUCHFORD SH 6911832 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE GRAVE 4.
    039 Link MEDHURST FN 6912041 1ST BN 23/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT P. GRAVE 6.
    040 Link MILLER CD 6913892 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    041 Link MOSS JW 6913159 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT L. GRAVE 24.
    042 Link NICHOLSON H 6914194 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    043 Link NICHOLSON H 4446029 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    044 Link PACE TH 6912094 1ST BN 02/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT P. GRAVE 2.
    045 Link PALMER VH 6914486 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT M. GRAVE 3.
    046 Link PALMER WA 6914181 1ST BN 22/05/1940 - - 04/06/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE
    048 Link RADWELL DA 834251 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    049 Link ROWLING C 6912914 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT N. GRAVE 4.
    050 Link SCHAFFNER E 6913861 1ST BN 25/05/1940 - - 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    051 Link SIMS SJ 6909290 1ST BN 25/05/1940 - - 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    053 Link SLADEN DR 77698 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT L. GRAVE 1.
    054 Link SQUIBB WJ 6912683 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    055 Link TAYLOR HSJ 6911980 1ST BN 28/06/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE 3. D. 1.
    056 Link THOMAS GA 117303 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT N. GRAVE 3.
    057 Link THOMPSON CC 6911010 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT N. GRAVE 1.
    059 Link VAN DE WEYER AJB 89505 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT K. GRAVE 2.
    060 Link VINE EW 6912496 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT K. GRAVE 24.
    061 Link WARNER AF 6912600 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    062 Link WARWICK BW 6912293 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    063 Link WELCH WM 58854 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT M. GRAVE 5.
    064 Link WILKINSON FJ 6913091 1ST BN 28/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE SEC. 46. GRAVE 227.
    065 Link WILLIAMS IJ 6908671 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE PLOT N. GRAVE 5.
    066 Link WILLIAMSON TGC 6912010 1ST BN 27/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE SEC. C. GRAVE 5888.
    067 Link WILLIAMSON HG 6911779 1ST BN 25/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
    069 Link WILSON EJ 7010006 1ST BN 11/06/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE 14. E. 1 1.
    070 Link WOOLFENDEN J 6912405 1ST BN 26/05/1940 RIFLE BRIGADE COLUMN 131.
  11. Phillip

    Phillip Junior Member

    Hi there, nice piece of work. My Dad was in the RB and due to go to Calais but was stopped at the last minute going to Egypt instead. His mate, Ken Gaylor went and was captured and I have a postcard sent from his PoW camp. Reason for writing is that Carole McEntree-Taylor has just written a book called "The Weekend Trippers" based on her father-in-Law's diaries. Still waiting for my copy so cant say anymore. Regards Phillip
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Phillip - Is the book being sold privately ?
  13. Phillip

    Phillip Junior Member

    Hi Drew, No I ordered my copy from Amazon as I had a voucher for my birthday, otherwise I would have tried the Green Jackets museum. It seems as if the first printing run sold out and I am due to get my copy between the 10th and 14th March. I understand that 75% of the profit is going to Rifles Benevolent fund. Let me know if I can help further. Regards Phillip
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Is this the book?
    taylor - may 1940 - AbeBooks

    When Ted asked Brenda to marry him during his Christmas 1939 leave he had no way of knowing how long it would be before the wedding would actually take place. Sent to France as part of Calais Force Ted endures some of the heaviest fighting of the war before finally being taken prisoner. But his ordeal is just beginning as the Germans force march them across Europe with little food and water, casual brutality never far from the surface. Meanwhile Brenda has no idea Ted has even left the country until she begins treating wounded wearing the same regimental insignia as Ted. Frantic with worry she has no way of knowing if he has survived the heroic last stand in Calais. Realising Brenda has no idea whether he is alive or dead Ted hatches a plan to let her know he has survived. Enter Marcel, a young Frenchman trying to find his missing brother, whose escape from Europe places him in Ted's path. Whilst the details of Ted's plan are real, the circumstances and story of how it succeeded are unknown and can only be guessed. The romantic in me would love to think it was someone like Marcel who came to his aid.The Cat The Nightingale Saga is the docu-drama version of 'The Weekend Trippers', the true story of Rifleman Ted Taylor's war. Written in several volumes The Cat The Nightingale Saga is based on the diaries and conversations of both Ted and Brenda, and continues throughout the war. 'A Week in May 1940' is the first book and 'The Pencilled Message' is the second. Whilst these are available separately on kindle, I am conscious that print is more expensive so I have combined the first two volumes into one for the print version.

    I think the author tried to do some research on here if I'm not mistaken :unsure:
  15. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    As usual I am in awe of the joint efforts of Drew and Diane.
    Drew the TNA finder and Di the transcriber.

  16. Chrisleslie

    Chrisleslie Junior Member

    My late father was with 1Bn Rifle Brigade at Calais in May 1940, and was captured and taken prisoner ( Stalag XXb Marienbourg). All the characters mentioned in the above narratives my father had mentioned to me on many an occasion. Mentioning Major Brush, whom my father said, was a damned fine officer. I also had the pleasure of meeting him many years ago. My father was given the choice when he went to collect ammunition from a departing ship, the Captain said get on board as there was no hope. Of the party of three my father was the only one to return with the sorely needed ammo.
    Paul Bradford likes this.
  17. Owchita

    Owchita Junior Member

    Hello Diane,
    I found Major Allan's diary very interesting, both in itself and as a powerful description of an intense battle. I have an interest - my father, Rifleman J E Barrett, was a machine-gunner in the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade and also batman to Major Allan. My father was captured and spent the next 5 years in Stalag XXb, Marianberg (now Malbork), working on farms. In Jan 1945 he was one of the "Long Marchers" who were herded westwards, walking 670 miles across the north of what is now Poland, thence southwards to en eventual liberation by the Americans in April near Halle.

    Major Allan used to send Dad a hamper (actually a wicker basket) every Christmas in the 50s and 60s, with pheasant, Stilton, etc. Dad died in 1978, a year after Major Allan. He was too ill to go the the latter's funeral, although he would have liked to attend.

    I'm sure that you know that Tony Rolt married into the Allan family, and subsequently became a racing driver, winning at Le Mans. He taught Dad to drive, reaching 100 mph, quite a feat in those days!
    Tony Barrett
    Paul Bradford likes this.
  18. I have been researching my father Louis Forrest 1st Btn Rifle Brigade who was wounded and captured at Calais May 1940, for some years now. I have the transcript of Major Allan's Diary WO 2173, but I've just discovered the original draft in this forum. Unfortunately there seems to be around 10 pages missing from the attached JPG files. I would very much like to compare the 2 documents, does anyone know about the missing files. I'd be grateful for any info.
    Anthony Forrest
  19. The 23 JPG files in your post are they part of WO 167/813 , did you get them from Drew5522
  20. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD


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