Searching for my Dad; 78th British (Battleaxe ) Division

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Ironbridge, May 7, 2019.

  1. Ironbridge

    Ironbridge Member

    I'm trying to find any details relating to my Dad but have very little information to go on. I have a photograph of him with a white Battleaxe symbol on his sleeve together with a white rearing horse below it. I know he trained for amphibious landing in Scotland, where he nearly drowned, and was later in North Africa and at Monte Cassino. I have no service number or regiment for him so not sure if I can apply for military records as the Government website says that the service number is essential.

    His name was Thomas Alfred Preston and he was from Ironbridge in Shropshire, date of birth 19.8.18. Any help at all or advice on where to look next would be much appreciated.

  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. Ironbridge

    Ironbridge Member

    That's a promising start, I'll try for the service records but the details of the West Kents is great.

    Thankyou so much!
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Link to forms - Request records of deceased service personnel service number is NOT essential [might be useful but not essential] but you will need a copy of his death certificate - if you cant find the details if you provide his date & place of death plus his full name we can help out

  5. Ironbridge

    Ironbridge Member

    Thanks for that, I had searched the Government site but it said not to submit forms without the service number. The link you've provided is really helpful so I'll give that a try. I do have access to his death certificate so that will be fine.

    Not sure why he would have been in the Royal West Kents if he was born and living in Shropshire? Was it usual to be in a regiment from another part of the country?
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Yes - men where moved to wherever they were needed

  7. Ironbridge

    Ironbridge Member

    Right, thanks again, that makes sense, I was just expecting it to be a local regiment.
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    You dont require his service number DOB and death cert required
  9. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    Welcome -you are about to undertake a fascinating and rewarding journey
  10. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    6 RWK were involved in the Third and Fourth Battles of Cassino.

  11. Ironbridge

    Ironbridge Member

    Thanks for the info and encouragement, will apply for his service records and see what they reveal. Looking forward to finding out as much as I can.
  12. Ironbridge

    Ironbridge Member

    IMG_2782.JPG IMG_2783.JPG

    These are the only photos I have of my Dad in uniform, is there anything else anybody can see from these apart from that he was in the Royal West Kents and the Battleaxe Division? I know the photos are black and white but do the stripes on the pocket indicate anything?

    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2019
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  13. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    It looks like the bar for his Africa Star - Africa Star - Wikipedia


    I could be wrong - it does happen from time to time

  14. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Agreed . Africa Star ribdon.

    Great photos.
  15. Ironbridge

    Ironbridge Member

    Great, thank you. Anything from the vehicle photo at all? Anything to indicate where it might have been taken?
  16. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Welcome aboard !

  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Well from the Wiki link

    The institution of the Africa Star was announced on 8 July 1943 and in August it was announced that the first uniform ribbon bars would be issued to qualifying personnel later in that year. The medals themselves were not intended to be available until after the cessation of hostilities. Some ribbon issues to overseas troops were delayed, but many had been received by the end of 1943.[2][16] By March 1944 1,500,000 personnel had received Africa Star ribbon bars, with further awards made by the end of the war.[17]

    So my guess would be that he received his sometime late 1943 or early 1944

    Sicily was July - Aug 1943 then onto Italy so I would guess he was somewhere in Italy, but I would suggest you wait for his service records, as he may have continued to serve in North Africa or elsewhere for some reason

  18. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    He would have been in action on the Trasimene Line 20-29 June1944.

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  19. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    Great picture of your Dad in uniform with a clear insignia combination. Good reference, as I must say I have not seen badges mounted in this fashion and then sewn on a KD shirt; slip on shoulder boards are more common on KD.
    Perhaps he was a driver, as he poses proudly in front of his truck. Is there a bullet hole in the windscreen or is it a mark on then photo? Anyway, another great photo.
  20. Ironbridge

    Ironbridge Member

    Thanks for all the information. Yes it is indeed a bullet hole in the windscreen, and it's certainly possible he was a driver. Waiting on an application for his service records now.

    I've found out some really interesting information already on this site so thanks to everyone for their input.


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