Rifle Brigade at Calais

Discussion in '1940' started by Rory, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. Rory

    Rory Junior Member

    What were these guys up to pre Dunkirk?

    I'm researching a chap who was with them, taken POW nad ended up a Beefeater at the Tower.

    Any help appreciated.


  2. handtohand22

    handtohand22 Senior Member

  3. Rory

    Rory Junior Member

    What a great start handtohand22

    Thank you very much. My chaps name was P Courtney, he was a W0II with the Rifle Brigade.


  4. handtohand22

    handtohand22 Senior Member

    When I was researching 'My Service Life, Marine Bill Balmer' I used 'Dunkirk:Fight To The Last Man' by H. Sebag-Montefiore and Dunkirk:Retreat To Victory by J. Thompson to comfirm Bills story.
    Both these books have short accounts of the Rifle Brigade.

    I'm sure there are other books that deal much more comprehensively with the Rifle Brigade?

    My site on Bill deals with the march to the POW camps. Probably similar to WO2 Courtneys experience.

    Also Google these four key words at the same time, Siege Calais Rifle Brigade.
  5. Rory

    Rory Junior Member

    Will do!

    Thanks again.


  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  7. Phillip

    Phillip Junior Member

    Good evening Rory, Sorry but I am a bit of a virgin at this lark, so please bear with me!!!
    My Dad was with the RB's and was due to go to Calais with David Niven. He did not go, but his friend Ken Gayler did - got captured and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. I have a letter from him and a photo of his hut mates. Let me know if I can help. Phillip
  8. ricardo

    ricardo Junior Member

    Hi Rory - My father was with the 1st Battalion, and was shot on 28th May? defending the canals and bridges in Calais. He was taken prisoner and spent 5 years in POW camps in Germany and Poland. He survived, one of the few, but lost his early years from the age of 20 to 25 in prisoner of war camps. I have many of my father's items that he had on him during his time in the POW camps, including his wallet, that was in his back pocket, that the bullet went through when he was shot. And, as Phillip has said, David Niven was one of his officers.
  9. Phillip

    Phillip Junior Member

    The Magazine "Britain at War" did a good article on Calais recently.

    I have a copy of Robin Hastings book on the Rifle Brigade - would you like me to transcribe the entry?

    Also check out the Greenjackets museum


  10. ADM199

    ADM199 Well-Known Member

    the Records show 6909168 C.S.M. Courtney P.F. as being a P.O.W. in Stalag 383 Hohen Fels in 1945. His P.O.W. No.was 9435
    I would have thought that with his Rank he would have made a Report when Liberated. That will be in The National Archives in the File WO 344/74/2 .

  11. idler

    idler GeneralList

  12. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    My Dad's brother was called back from the reserves and went with the KRRC to Calais where he was captured.

    I remember being told that it was quite some time before there was any news and the family had assumed the worst. When she heard, my grandmother ran out on to the street shouting "Albert's been captured"

    I 've had a small 1941 publication handed down to me - "The Defence of Calais" in the "Army at War" series and it is interesting because it must have been all that most families knew of what happened until after 1945.

    It closes with the line "No one seems to have come back who can tell of the actual fighting in the town itself"

    Well worth a read, even if only to understand how the event was viewed at the time. It is usually not expensive to buy (there must have been thousands printed and many people kept them).

    Idler you blackguard, you've beaten me to it !:) That'll teach me to keep my posts more concise !
  13. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Blackguard! Are we still allowed to say that?

    Anyway, while I'm on a roll, Airey Neave's Flames of Calais has been reprinted; someone who did get back eventually.
  14. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Do you know, I'd never thought of it as offensive, just archaic (that's probably the same thing these days).

    Etymology is apparently obscure :-

    1532, of uncertain application. Perhaps once an actual military or guard unit; more likely orig. a mock-military ref. to scullions and kitchen-knaves of noble households, of black-liveried personal guards, and of shoeblacks. By 1736, sense had emerged of "one of the criminal class."

    I'll write 'blaggard' in future :)
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    The units WD - WO 167/813 1 Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own) has a detailed account of what happened (That is all thats in the file) from deployment from the UK to Calais and back again to Dover for the lucky ones.

    There is also a mention of some accounts and recommedationd for medals etc in POW Box No.2 at the end of the file but I'm not aware of what's inside it.
  16. Tom Buck

    Tom Buck Junior Member


    I am in the process of complete what will be the most complete story ever written about the battle of Calais in 1940. As a former Green Jacket I started researching the battle for the regiment some 10 years ago. Since then I have put together the story based on over 140 personal accounts supplied by those who fought there.

    Despite this, and because few documents survived the battle I am still collecting accounts to feed into the main book. Where possible the battle is told directly by those who fought it, in their own words. So, I am still keen to add any accounts that may add more to the story.

    If there is anything I can help with in the meantime let me know and I will fill you in on the details as I understand them.


    Paul Bradford likes this.
  17. aldersdale

    aldersdale Senior Member

    Rory Hi,

    In May 1940 the 1st Bn were at Needham Market Suffolk, building defences for the invasion
    my Guy who joined in 1932 was posted as follows
    1st Bn
    10-12-1932_28-01-1934 Sudan
    sent to 2nd Bn
    29-01-1934 15-03-1938 Malta
    16-03-1938 11-01-1939 Home UK

    My Guy JE Blythe was captured at Calais and died in Stalag V111b Lamsdorf 12-12-1940

    I have the war diaries for 1st Bn when they were part of 30 Brigade if you want a copy
  18. PBI_1944

    PBI_1944 Member

    We would like to do a short history of those who served in RB during the war for our website. If anyone who has photos (j.pegs) and would like to post something about a relative or loved one who served, feel free to send it to us.

    We would like to cover three areas: Early War (1939-40) / North Africa (1941-43) and Northwest Europe (1944-45).

    Also, any war diaries (copies) would be greatly appreciated for 1 RB' service.

  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Unfortunately there is no liberation report under the name of P Courtney in the WO 344 series at the National Archives.
  20. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    I'll really enjoy reading your book when published as my Grandfather Robert Bradford was captured there. I understand that he was in HQ Company and a Temporary Sergeant.

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