The Battle and Massacre of Wormhout - 28th May 1940

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

  1. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    This is familiar ? Not at Wormhout but definitely a British soldier burned alive in an I have to recall where :(

    Drew5233 likes this.
  2. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Found it.
    WAR CRIMES 113.jpg

  3. roodymiller

    roodymiller Senior Member

    Holy shit
  4. Incredibledisc

    Incredibledisc Well-Known Member

    I’m sure I’ve seen reference to the beheading incident in one of the books I’ve read about Dunkirk but can’t remember which one.

    Goes to show that War is a dirty and brutal business and that there will always be those who go beyond what is considered acceptable by the “rules” of warfare.

    I can understand to an extent instances of prisoners being shot out of hand in the heat of the moment but this kind of deliberate and barbarous treatment shows the depths some of us will sink to when the normal bounds of society are stripped away.
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  5. vac

    vac Active Member

    Thank-you Kyle for searching out this information. I was astounded when I heard about the burning of the officer (which the film seemed to imply was an event in a town square). I couldn't believe it was true but reading these it seems that if it didn't happen there were certainly those who were capable of doing it.
  6. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    Such a well researched account of the remarkable bravery of the English defenders.
    Drew5233 and Incredibledisc like this.
  7. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    Unbelievable cruelty.
    Drew5233 likes this.
  8. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    My pleasure to post these up for you and others...

    Standard regimental level report of LSSAH efforts 27-30 May 1940 written up a couple later and sent up the CoC.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Special report on the 'Einsatz Wormhout' written up at the end of June 1940
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I./LSSAH (1st Battalion, LSSAH) war diary for 28 May 1940
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    II./LSSAH (2nd Battalion, LSSAH) war diary for 28 May 1940
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    III./LSSAH (3rd Battalion, LSSAH) war diary for 28 May 1940

  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Excellent - so who's volunteering to translate :lol:
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    That's jogged my memory now. I think I started a thread on the beheadings and it didn't have any legs research wise. Do you have a ref for the file page Kyle? I really should focus on getting all the war crimes files on 1940 copied.
  11. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    Sadly I know very little about the circumstances of LCpl Oxley. I suspect he was fighting earlier in the day in or near Cassel. The 4th Chesires were spread around the Divisional locations at Ledringhem for example and not just Wormhout. A platoon arrives half way through the fighting and helps to defend the town. The Platoon is under the command of Lieutenant Ravenscroft and I think it is most likely that Oxley is part of this platoon. By the afternoon though he is in Wormhout and gives and account that is well worth adding to this thread."

    Forgive me for giving a minor correction to the above, which is taken from Rommelaere's book and is not accurate.

    L Cpl Oxley was part of 15 Platoon, D Company, 4th Cheshires, commanded by Lt Ravenscroft. Oxley was transport\supply and not part of any gun crew. D Company did not arrive from Cassel, although the combined remnants of A and C Company (making approximately one Company) had been dropped off and fought at Cassell. In fact, D Company were setting up on the Dunkirk Defence perimeter at La Panne when they received orders to proceed to Wormhoudt, presumably because of the deteriorating situation on the South West of the Dunkirk pocket.

    Passing via Bergues they entered Wormoudt from the North (Dunkirk direction) via Rue Verte and set up a position on the north side of the Esquelbecq - Wormhoudt Road on the evening before the Battle supporting an anti- gun manned by the Worcestershire Yeomanry (Oxley says two in his report but my father thought there was only one). In the early part of the battle, this gun successfully shot up two German tanks (probably light tanks). However after this set-back, the Germans threw all their tanks into the battle. This AT gun fired at three approaching German tanks but missed - a shot in reply from one of these tanks killed the AT crew. Bereft of anti-tank support 15 Platoon was now very vulnerable to the tanks and with SS massing on his left (ie cutting of any retreat on Wormhoudt) Ravenscroft withdrew, splitting his platoon and sending one half lead by himself on to the Dunkirk Road and other half on to the south side - with the Transport of two lorries parked in the street North side of the Church and the two machine guns (of which my father was firing one) on the South side of the Church firing down the Cassel Road.

    Oxley was part of the group with the transport on the North of the Church.

    The SS entered this part of Wormhoudt down the Rue d' Eglise effectively cutting the gun crews from their transport. It seems likely that Warwickshire infantry would be driven towards the Cheshire transport and this is probably why Oxley speaks of Warwicks in the trucks with him. The two Cheshire gun crews were left to find their own way to Dunkirk.

    The remainder of Oxley's story fits quite well with the circumstances. His truck would have veered sharply right a the North of the Square since SS were also entering from the direction of the old Railway Station (Sgt Johnny Haynes in northern section of 15 Platoon managed to turn a gun on them but Ravenscroft was shot in the ankle, drew his pistol and order them to leave him behind - survived as a prisoner of war).

    So Oxley would have fallen out on the North Side of the Square and on waking up should have been able to see the Clock on the Church, across the Square.

    There was rain later and a carrier commanded by a Worcestershire Infantry ran around the Square shooting up the SS which led to them dispersing as Oxley describes.

    With the Square cleared of SS temporarily, Oxley makes good his escape (with a Warwick) down the Dunkirk road.

    Major Kissack had ordered Oxley to make this report and this is rather an unusual request. Since Oxley is reporting on "naked , half naked and clearly maltreated" victims, it is my guess that this is the reason why Oxley's report was made was in connection with a German attrocity.
    Drew5233 likes this.
  12. Rosie1066

    Rosie1066 Member

    7F752B04-DE43-48EA-96CD-28AE2D310E59.jpeg Long time since I have posted here. Wormhout earlier today . . . 28 July 2018. Still very peaceful.
    Wobbler, AB64, Koen and 1 other person like this.
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Those tree's look great now, I can remember when they were all but saplings. Thanks for posting this image.
    Rosie1066 likes this.
  14. idler

    idler GeneralList

    There is a tale of a British 'officer' who was tied to a chair and set alight in Oignies. My great-aunt's twin sister was apparently one of the locals who witnessed the aftermath. I believe attempts have been made to identify him over the years but without success. From memory, there are a handful of war graves in the town cemetery from 2/5 Sherwood Foresters.

    And that's in addition to 80 locals who were shot...
  15. Rosie1066

    Rosie1066 Member

    Another view of the trees . . . Again taken this morning.
    ERYL WILLIAMS and Wobbler like this.
  16. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Widow of 'Dunkirk martyr' causes red faces in a small French town
    I read the unfortunate man was identified by the remains of a uniform and a watch found the next day suggesting it was Lieutenant Keith Davenport of the Sherwood Foresters.However his widow Catherine Davenport who was a guest of the village in 2002 was astonished to hear the story of how her husband was killed...because he had escaped from France,survived the war and died at home in 1989! She did however confirm her husbands watch and possessions including his uniforms had been left behind in Oignies ?

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  17. vac

    vac Active Member

    Thank-you Idler and Mr Jinks for shedding more light on this.
  18. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    The trees do look good, But there is a drawback.

    One of the first things people do after erecting a monument is to plant trees around it.The only problem with this is that it changes the sight lines over the landscape,making it much harder for the visitor to understand what happened.- and why that particular piece of ground matters.

    Why does that matter? Esquelbecq isn't just a massacre site .It was the site of an engagement where a BEF rear guard gave a bloody nose to the German armour and SS men. Before the memorial was built I used to use the area as a TEWT,and introduce the massacre as the matter arising form the battle. This is much harder with avenues of trees.
  19. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    I quite agree with you, Sheldrake, but landscape changes and has always done so. You can't expect us over here to live preserved in aspic :) If it was Belgium, there'd be an industrial unit on the site by now.
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I agree Rich. When I photographed the area for this thread I went back a few years later to find houses had been built along one of the defensive positions. Wormhoudt especially has changed dramatically since 1940.

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