Royal Norfolk 5th Bn 1940/41

Discussion in 'User Introductions' started by holyboy, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. holyboy

    holyboy Member

    Oh well, in for a penny.......

    As a child of the 50's, I can remember my Dad telling us the odd story about his time in the War. As a Territorial he was called up immediately at the outbreak, and was posted to the Norfolk Coast on invasion watch. It was only after my Dad died in 1982 that I became aware of a photograph that existed of my Dad that appeared in a newspaper in 1941 . I have never seen this picture and have been searching for it for over 30 years on and off.
    In the picture he is in battledress, porting a Thomson sub machine gun and running through bombed buildings with smoke billowing.
    according to the official history of the Regt, the 5th Bn were in Scotland in 1940 moving to Northwich in 1941. My Mum heard that a picture had been in the paper from a chap who had been home on leave and she sent away to the newspaper to get a copy, which she apparently did. This picture has been lost.
    One detail that we did have was that Dad had said there was a strong smell of burning sugar in the air at the time of the picture, which made me think that perhaps it was in Liverpool somewhere near the Tate and Lyle factory in Bootle which was hit during the blitz. The regiment did send troops to Liverpool after heavy raids.
    I have visited the Collingdale Newspaper Library, without any success.
    Being a new member to WW2talk, I have been amazed to read some of the accounts and to see how sympathetically questions are answered. There is such a wealth of information out there.
    Dad was one of the lucky ones from the 5th as he was transferred before embarkation to Singapore,he ended up in 5th Railway Operating Coy, taking trains from Caen to Paris and on into Holland, but that's a whole other project!


    Attached Files:

  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I've had a look through The Pride of Norfolk: An Illustrated History of the Territorials and it's not in there, I'm afraid.

    Assuming that the chap on leave saw the photo in a local paper: have you tried the EDP, they might have an archive and they aren't listed on the Colindale site? If that draws a blank, there were probably very local papers that could have carried the photo. The book mentioned above identifies 5 Bn's recruiting areas as:

    A Coy: Swaffham with detachments at Methwold, Stoke Ferry and Downham
    B Coy: Fakenham
    C Coy: Aylsham, detachments at North Walsham and Sheringham
    D Coy: Dersingham, detachment at Hunstanton

    Also, have you approached the regimental museum yet?

    The downside is that either avenue is likely to require a manual search which won't be easy from Dublin (this is where the sympathy comes in! ;) )
  3. holyboy

    holyboy Member

    Thanks Idler,
    I'm fairly sure that the pic was taken in the vicinity of either Liverpool or perhaps Glasgow. I have been to the Regimental Museum in Norwich and also correspond with veterans. Although the picture has always been the focus for my interest, I must say that it's been an enjoyable and moving experience especially a trip to Normandy on the 50th Anniversary of D Day with 1st Norfolks.The search continues,
  4. RCG

    RCG Senior Member, Deceased

    Hi Holyboy Sometime next week I am going to look through some local papers at Norwich Library. It so happens that the years I am researching are 1941/2 so will keep my eyes open for such a photo.

    Re photo Westwick. I am assuming this was taken at Westwick nr North Walsham Norfolk, so If I spot any thing relating to Royal Norfolks will let you know.
  5. holyboy

    holyboy Member

    Thanks RCG, that's the joy of the Forums, you don't feel that you are completely alone. Yes anything Royal Norfolk is of interest. Dad's brother was in 2nd Bn, killed 1940, Dunkirk. Grandad was CSM and ran Territorials in North Walsham and later on OC North Walsham Home Guard. I have quite a few pictures if anyone is interested.
  6. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I think my assumption was wrong. Is the correct interpretation that the chap saw the photo in a paper local to the battalion's location, then he went on leave and told your mum?

    If that's the case, and the photo was taken while part of the battalion was practising street fighting in a blitzed area (certainly not uncommon later in the war), the training might get mentioned in the war diary and help to confirm the location. You've clearly done a lot of work on this so apologies if I'm teaching you to suck eggs!

    Andy (Drew5233), our BEF obsessive, has more than a passing interest in 2 Bn so you might want to check out 'his' 1940 area.
  7. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Try the Britishnewspaper archives website or findmypast for news articles. The Glasgow Herald is also available on google newspapers but for those years you would have to look through them page by page. Can u post your Dads full name?
  8. holyboy

    holyboy Member

    Thanks Idler/Amberdog45
    yep, you have it in one. I think I really need to get hold of a copy of the war diary for that period. Looks like a job for Andy.

    Dad is 5772395 JD Chandler

    Thanks for the info on Glasgow papers. I did try The National Newspaper archive but did not manage to find anything.

    Appreciate your help
  9. RCG

    RCG Senior Member, Deceased

    Sorry holyboy did not find anything. but then again I only found 1 news item out of the four I was looking for.
  10. holyboy

    holyboy Member

    Thanks RCG, these searches are never a complete waste of time, I think we always learn something new, though I have to say it would be lovely to get a positive hit! One of these days.
    Just received an album of pictures regarding my Uncle Chris, he was in the REME, but did'nt actually know that until he was de mobbed. He was responsible for fixing the vehicles that towed the searchlights used for Monty's moonlight. Always said that they were the best years of his life.
  11. Brian Smith

    Brian Smith Junior Member

    I very rarely have anything to contribute and spend most of my time asking questions. I have been trying to find where 10 DTC RASC were based early 1940 in Cromer and obtained the following from the local museum. Most is not relevant to your query but the beginning covers a few publications which may be of interest.

    Cheers Brian

    There are many books about WW2 in East Anglia and Norfolk, but most feature detailed accounts on the activities of local regiments, evacuees and specific events. There is very little on billeted troops. The most helpful ones are Cromer at War by Del Styan (published by the museum), Norfolk at War by Neil Storey (mainly photos of WW1 and WW2) and Coastal Towns At War by Peter Brooks (concentrates on Sheringham and Cromer).
    Officers and troops were billeted in hotels and unoccupied houses in Cromer because of the huge military training camp at Weybourne. The hotels, requisitioned included The Metropole, Tuckers, Malborough, Newhaven Court, Royal Links and the Lyndhurst, all of which have been demolished while The Imperial in Church Street and The Cliftonville still stand.
    The NAAFI was in the Town Hall (Prince of Wales Road), the food office was housed in the Old Police Station on Church Street (now an accountant’s office and flats), the Officers Mess was in Newhaven Court and the Troops Cook House and Mess Hall were in buildings on the site of Merchants Court in Church Street.
    A private account, written by a local resident remembering the war when he was aged 10, does mention the Royal Artillery coming to Cromer. He states that they took over the town and left their vehicles all over the place. He remembers them joining in activities held in the community and spending locally. Fearn’s Field in Suffield Park was used as a training ground by the 482/117 Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery and Happy Valley was used as an ammunition dumping ground. Guns were strategically placed around the town and the Royal Mechanical Engineers repaired the vehicles. There are few dates in this account but the date of February to March 1940 would be when the “friendly invasion” started.
    dbf likes this.
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    To save me a little time do you want to know where the 5th Bn was located from 1940 to 1941? I have the regiments history by Kemp on my lap right now and I'm being too lazy to read through the thread.

    After Dunkirk the Bn was in Weybourne

    In September they moved to Holt, where Gresham's School was taken over and a assault course was constructed in the School woods.

    In October they moved to King's Lynn and were billeted in the warehouse's on the docks

    In January 1941 the Battalion moved to Castle Douglas with one day in Glasgow after a heavy air raid.

    In April they moved to Northwich, near Liverpool.

    Brigade attacks were made on Carlisle and Birmingham in August.

    October they went back to Glasgow.

    On the 22nd October one officer and 55 men went to Crewe Hall for an inspection by the King.

    At the end of October the Bn was in Gourock and on the 28th October 1941 they sailed to Canada.

  13. holyboy

    holyboy Member

    First of all thanks to Brian, your contribution is very gratefully received. My Dad was actually in Weybourne camp at the beginning of 1940 as rightly stated by Andy. I am always interested to learn of events in Norfolk at the outbreak.
    Thanks also to Andy, I do in fact have the Kemp History and this is why I have been particularly interested in the Bn's stay in Northwich. Even though Mum sent away for the picture to a Newspaper in 1940 she was not able to tell me which newspaper she cotacted. The only thing that she was able to tell me was that Dad remembered that there was a smell of burning sugar, which I thought perhaps indicated Liverpool and Tate and Lyle in Bootle and the Blitz.
    Will the war Diary be able to give me any further information? I presume that the Kemp history was taken from the War Diary. I have a note in my diary that Dad was in C Company.
    I have asked my brother to get Dad's service record so that may offer some further help.
    I would appreciate if you would advise me of your next visit to Kew, Andy. I do not see any alternative at this stage!

    Keep up the great work

  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Chris, sorry didn't realise you have the book. Ref the diaries, I honestly don't know. The thing with war diaries is you never know what you'll find in them until you look. Some of the Home Forces ones can be very thin on pages and info and some can have lots of info in them.

    I suspect this would be the diary = WO 166/4560 5 Royal Norfolk Regiment. 1939 Sept.- 1941 Dec

  15. holyboy

    holyboy Member

    Hi Andy
    thanks for your reply, I think I will go ahead and ask you to look into getting me the War Diary that you mention if you can manage it. I see from above that Idler says that you have 'more than a passing interest in the 2nd Bn Norfolks. Dad's brother was with the 2nd Bn and was killed in Dunkirk around the 21st May. My brother and I have visited The Dunkirk Memorial and have visited Le Paradis also .
    You may wonder why the picture was never kept at home and why my brother and I never saw it. Well Dad was a very quiet, self effacing chap and would not have been the type of person to display such a picture. Most of his pals in the 5th Bn ended up as POW's on the Thai Railway.
    I have also had a relative visit the Regimental Museum and looked through the records that they have there.
    The search continues. .....
  16. RCG

    RCG Senior Member, Deceased


    "Dad's brother was with the 2nd Bn and was killed in Dunkirk around the 21st May."

    That date sparked something in my memory.

    A quick flick through "At the sharp End" by Peter Hart. The 2nd Royal Norfolk Regiment 1940-45 reveals that A coy 2nd Norfolk's were in the thick of it.

    If your Dad's Brother was there, then he was with an Elite bunch of men.
    And a great Company Sgt Major.
  17. holyboy

    holyboy Member

    Thanks RCG
    It would seem that the 2nd Bn were blessed with their Non Comms and their Officers. Following the evacuation from Dunkirk a Company Commander wrote:-
    I wish I could write and tell the story of the unselfish heroism of those men who fought, and laughed, and died without complaint, although they knew they had no chance of getting home, and that all they could do was to fight to the end and give time to the others to get home instead. Frankly I love them and their unconscious gallantry, so very much what I imagine their fathers must have shown in the great retreat from Mons and in the salient in the last Great War. '
    Just ordinary chaps asked to do an extraordinary job.
    Our bill likes this.
  18. RCG

    RCG Senior Member, Deceased

    Holyboy Just maybe we have been looking in the wrong area for the photo?
    According to battalion history.

    A move to Kings Lynn in October had the battalion billeted in the uncomfortable warehouses in the dock area. They stayed here until January 7th 1941, having seen a few air raids on the town, they then moved by train to Scotland for advanced training. The troops were developing into a fighting unit under the Scottish route marches, and apart from helping in Glasgow after a heavy air raid it was all training.

    So could this photo be in a local Kings Lynn paper or a Lincolnshire paper.
    The picture could have been taken anytime between Oct 40 and Jan 7th 41, then actually published anytime in 41.

    Oct to Feb is when sugar beet is harvested and processed. and the aroma emitted from the sugar factory is unforgettable.
    Kings Lynn Sugar factory was situated in poplar Avenue Saddlebow beside the river Ouse (now a paper factory)So if the wind was in the right direction the aroma would be wafted straight up the river into the dock area.
    Just a theory I know, but another place to look.
    holyboy likes this.
  19. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member Patron

    Been following this topic and I think RCG has an idea with the sugar beet factory. You need to scour the local Lynn press. Liverpool would seem a likely area too as this was heavily bombed, more so than KL.

    I can tell you that the 6th Norfolks were at Liverpool docks as this is where my father told his young officer that he wouldn't tell his men to shoot looters. Being a regular soldier of fourteen or fifteen years experience the officer listened to his advice. The 6th were at Glasgow too as this is where father was hospitalised which saved him from going to Singapore with the rest of them. I'm not sure if the 6th were part of the same brigade as the 5th but as you probably know they were all 18 Div.

    holyboy likes this.
  20. holyboy

    holyboy Member

    Thanks RCG that's a very good idea, I have always thought of Tate and Lyles but what you are saying makes sense,The number of times tha I have read the history but the sugar beet idea didn't click! it gives me another avenue of search certainly.
    Yes Lionboxer the 5th and 6th were brigaded with 2nd Cambs to form 53rd Brigade. Your's is the first indication that I have had that they were actually in the docks at Liverpool/ The training must have have been pretty full on as my Dad also ended up in hospital and missed going to Singapore too. Lucky chaps I think.

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