The Battle and Massacre of Wormhout - 28th May 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Thank you
  2. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    Jack Creed says that he met up with Major Wiggins - Since Wiggins retreated by the Wylder Road, Creed must have taken the same route. With the Peene Becq as a barrier it is difficult to see how this is possible without either crossing the stream (surely that would be mentioned) or by crossing the north part of the town.

    The final "stand" of the British was made at the Brigade HQ (marked), a chateau, after which the main force retreated North East to Wylder where a further action took place the next day.

    Here is a map from 1943 (scale 1000 metres to each square)


    As can be seen, the current cemetery (position circled in yellow) does not appear. The one that is shown dates from at least 1600 but seems to have been moved after WW2 and now is housing development.

    If this is the graveyard that Jack Creed says was 50 yards behind their position that puts Creed and hence Nichols on the Esquelbecq Road, close to the Sanatarium. However it is then difficult to see how "Frank" was positioned 200 yards on Nichols' left, firing up the Dunkirk Highway, with Nichols firing across Frank.
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  3. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    Frankly there is so much that this thread has unearthed over the last few years that a re-write. possibly a new book, is required to get the facts correct.

    As a little addition, I now believe that (Lance Sergeant) Hamilton who was in charge of two Cheshire machine guns did not die on the Esqulebecq Road but in fact was "killed?" on the South side of the Church firing down the Cassel Road.

    Having shown my father the picture of the "Bank" (which turns out to be the Presbytery), he remembers that Hamilton was taken into that building and pronounced dead.

    Readers of this incredibly long thread may recall that I wrote that Hamilton,had apparently been hit by shrapnel and at first the gun crew wondered what had happened since there was just a small hole and no blood. This leads me to think that maybe he did not die in Wormhout after all but may have survived (at least as hospital case) since he is buried in a cemetery near Dunkirk on the Belgium border.
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  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I'd happily help with the book if you are volunteering?
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  5. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    BOOK?? Just one problem Andy - took me two attempts to scrape a pass in GCE O Level English.

    However thanks to a French contact I think I have the answer to the position of Nicholls, Creed and Frank's guns at Wormhout.

    There was a cemetery on my previous 1940 map at the position shown with the yellow dot.

    Creed says this graveyard was 50 yards behind him.

    And the white building in the Google shot below was a Cafe in 1940.


    So everything seems to fit quite nicely which puts Frank's gun on the Dunkirk (Bergues) road out of Wormhout in the position I have marked in the Google map below.

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  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    O level English? I didn't even get a CSE in English :lol:
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  7. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    Amazingly, the ex mayor of Esquelbecq, Guy Rommelaere, who wrote the book, Forgotten Massacre published in 2000 about Wormhout and Ledginghem battles and massacre, has contacted me.

    He has researched the subject extensively and is of course very knowledgeable about the area. He has offered his help in providing any information concerning this topic.

    If anyone is interested, please send me a personal message.
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  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Indeed, his book was the foundation for this thread. I did contact him sometime ago though regarding help about Webber and identifying the unknown officer next to him in Esquelbecq Cemetery. I believe I know who it is but sadly he didn't seem interested when we exchanged emails-Feel free to mention it again to him and let me know if he is interested.
  9. CJB

    CJB Member

    From CJB. I have not been on the site for some time and spent a lot of 2017 having surgery, visiting out-patients and being offline having having computer compromised. I am still in the process of writing a "book" about my father's military career from pre-WW2, Dunkirk, D-Day, Ardennes Breakthrough and Op. Varsity. My father Frank Bentley was actually promoted to L/Bdr then Bdr 210 Battery same day early May 1940.
    Re- the gun positions, my older brother still says he remembers our father saying his gun was possibly in a field alongside a road dug in.
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  10. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Wot no poppies any more !?

    I wanted to respectfully mark the recent passing of a massacre survivor by adding to an old thread of mine - Llandudno World War II veteran 'Ambush Alf's' memories saved in a time capsule - WW2 News Articles - but it seems to have disappeared - not even merged into this one on the same topic AFAICT ...

    So this seems the best place to instead log the follow-up obit posted by the Daily Post yesterday ...

    'Ambush Alf' - The Llandudno war hero who narrowly missed one of the worst massacres of World War Two passes away

    As usual, due to the impermanence of press links, I'll back that up by quoting the RSS version which alerted me ...

  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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  12. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Thanks all the same, TD, but, unfortunately, your link is is a red herring which merely points to the older DP article instead of my still-missing original post which linked to it ... not that that really matters now I've latched onto this more appropriate thread at the sadly-definitive conclusion of Alf's remarkable good luck story.

    The link I saved to my old post, as cited above, simply dumps me back at WW2T's home page in all 3 of my browsers. This is the stereotypically-lazy usual modern default off-the-shelf web-server treatment of dead/broken sub-links rather than more strictly return a 404 "Page not found!" error to constructively aid troubleshooting. Thus 'papering over the cracks' to 'dumb down' the Web only exacerbates IT illiteracy.

    FWIW, I rather suspect you failed to notice and pick the right option to limit your search to this site ? The site search function correctly defaults to local mode, for me, so that would seem unlikely but it's the only logical way I can see for you to have so directly picked up an external link.

    Best, Steve
  13. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

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  14. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Thanks for that, Adam - I note the altered URL structure and find it a shame that the new forum software can't recognise and automatically convert one into the other but, sadly, retro-compatibility seems too much to expect for the sake of continuity ...

    It's also a matter of usability concern that normal, non-admin, site search techniques seem to have severally failed here - begging the same question, "Why ?", as has recently been raised by someone else, on another forum of which I am a member, re searches via "Gurgle" (as I was pleased to recently hear it mispronounced on BBC R4).

    And finally, seeing the post is still an orphan, I'll happily leave you to decide whether to temporally merge it into this thread ... assuming that's even possible.
  15. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I used no special search. There isn't one.
    Typed 'ambush Alf' into it.

    I hope the thread can now return to Wormhout.
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  16. CL1

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

    During Operation Dynamo, the British regiments stationed in the villages of Wormhout and Ledringhem were ordered to delay the progress of the Germans towards the coast and to fight until they ran out of ammunition, thus allowing British and French troops to reach the evacuation beaches and to establish a defensive corridor around the town of Dunkirk.

    On May 28, 1940, at 7 am, a fierce battle engaged between the British and German troops, by 4.00pm the SS had completely overrun the position. Having suffered lots of casualties and out of ammunition, the remaining British forces surrendered to the fanatical Nazis of the Infantry Regiment Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, under the command of one of Hitler’s top henchmen, Sepp Dietrich.

    Over a hundred men were stripped and herded into a barn. It is believed that 'Haupstumfurher' Wilhelm Mohnke had issued the order that no prisoners were to be taken. 80 British troops and 1 French soldier were executed that day in the barn at La Plaine au bois.
    Fifteen British soldiers survived by lying very still or hiding under the bodies of their dead comrades. They were taken prisoner a few days later by the regular German army. For several years, the massacre remained unknown, until some of the survivors of this tragic episode, who were among the British veterans who had come to commemorate the anniversary of Operation Dynamo, went to look for this site of the massacre and told of what they had lived through. Based on these harrowing stories, a local amateur historian Guy Rommelaere, wrote his book titled "The Forgotten Massacre".
    Wormhoudt massacre site and museum - Dunkerque Flandre Côte d'Opale
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  17. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Copies of the war diaries of I./ II./ and III./LSSAH for this period have come into my possession.

    The quality is not the best due to wartime fire and water damage. Worse still, they are handwritten in squiggly German.

    From another file I also have a 1 and 1/2 page typed 'Gefechtsbericht' for 'Einzatz Wormhout' - badly fire damaged but most is legible.

    Drew5233 and Peccavi,
    Would you be interested in me posting up digital images of the appropriate pages or not?
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  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Mark - It would be interesting to see them, especially if someone translates them so feel free to post them on this thread. Thank you.

  19. vac

    vac Active Member

    The museum in La Coupole near St Omer also has information including a film that may be the same film referred to in The Wormhout massacre site museum website (mentioned above). The film at La Coupole also refers to a British Officer burned alive. Does anyone know any more about this?
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Never heard of anyone burned alive and I've read a few witness accounts from survivors.

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