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kingsman64

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  1. I do like it when a simple fairly common lot is lifted by an unusual item, a diary a splendid photograph, a personal possesion or in this case a souvenir pick up in France which leaves a lot of unanswered questions! BWM/Victory/Defence medal awarded to Percy John Hallett Sgt. MGC on the pair later served in the Devons. John was born @1895 Seavington St Mary, near Chard in Somerset the 1911 Census finds him aged 16 working as a Farm Labourer at Whitelackington, Ilminster, Somerset. I have not been able to trace his service papers but the WW1 pick up makes a simple group by an unusual addition of a nice quality Turkish Harp Madalyasi. The lot came with a small contemporary handwritten note saying "Taken in exchange for cigarettes from a officer POW". The Harp Madalyasi is certainly Officer quality Silver plated and enamel, other ranks tend to be painted so it supports the "taken from an officer" claim it is also a nice BB&Co maker marked which I is Binder Brueder & Companie out of Luedenscheid. I am only guessing of course but I wonder if this was taken off a German Officer POW in France who had served in the Balkans? If only they could talk
  2. I am sure you are right two brothers dying 8 weeks apart their mother probably made up both groups with a mixture to keep brothers together. That's my preferred view, but maybe she made a genuine mistake and just made up two groups based on the information on the back of the star. Amazing how many people do not even realise the BWM and Victory are named round the edge too!
  3. I missed a lot during a live auction which would have been "on theme" bit annoyed with myself and then suddenly a picture of a WW1 trio appeared on the screen, it looked mounted for wear many years ago and was described as a 14-15 Star trio to E M Hall 8th Battalion C.E.F. Despite being very much a Liverpool Regiment collector I was aware of the distinguished war service of the Manitoba Regiment and felt the name may be an easy research option, so I had a punt and won the lot. I immediately did some initial research and discovered quickly that E M Hall was in fact a Casualty and had died on the 1st December 1918, just a few short weeks after the end of hostilities, the exact cause of death was initially unknown. Research was halted until the group arrived and when it did I had quite a shock! the medals had indeed been mounted for wear a long time ago but as you can see all was not as it first appeared. The 14-15 Star is correctly named to 1071 E M Hall 8 CAN INF as is the BWM, however the Victory medal is named to 150104 L Hall CMGC (Canadian Machine Gun Corps). What was going on? I got a coffee and settled down to hopefully solve the puzzle. 1st point of call was the C.W.G.C. website and confirmation that 1071 Edgar Montague Hall died in the UK on the 1st December 1918 and is buried in Seaford Sussex also that Edgar was the Son of the late Alfred George and Agnes Helen Hall, of Barmoor Farm, Great Marlow, England. Born at Naphill, High Wycombe, England 23/05/1881. Now for L Hall was he also a casualty? Indeed 150104 Leonard Hall 1st Battalion CMGC is recorded as having Died of wounds 02/10/1918 and is buried IV C 16 BUCQUOY ROAD CEMETERY, FICHEUX. Frustratingly no mention of next of kin. I turned to the Canadian CEF Registers and the mystery was solved, well partly. These records confirmed that Edgar Montague Hall born in Buckinghamshire in 1881 was indeed the older brother of one Leonard Hall born in Buckinghamshire 1895 both registers showing next of kin as Mrs A G Hall (mother) of Barmoor Farm Great Marlow Buckinghamshire. Further details obtained from the registers are that Edgar died in the great influenza epidemic that swept Europe at the end of WW1 dying in the No14 Canadian Military Hospital Eastbourne of Influenza Lobar Pneumonia. Leonard had already died of his wounds Gun Shot Wounds Legs and abdomen when he arrived at the 33rd Casualty Clearing Station. So mysterey solved my missmatched trio appears to have been done deliberately? At least I would like to think so and there is another trio out there with the opposite configuration. Either way it feels humbling to hold a trio made up of two brothers medals who made the ultimate sacrifice who appear to have been united together for ever. I would of course be delighted to hear from anybody who has the opposite group!
  4. Dear Forum I love the fact that this hobby of ours can reawaken the memory of a forgotten soul. Indeed the bottom of the World War 1 Casualty scroll states: LET THOSE THAT COME AFTER SEE TO IT THAT HIS NAME BE NOT FORGOTTEN Sadly with the passage of time the death of next of kin or the kind of apathy from descendants that I will never really understand, they are often forgotten. We however as collectors, do get the opportunity to be temporary custodians of history and in that time remember, record and pay our own tribute to the fallen and the survivors those who served and returned. My hope is that my efforts in research and the respect I show will carry forward to the next custodian of my collection, hopefully in many years time! So please forgive the long post and indulge me this is a story worth telling. I was delighted last week to receive a WW1 British War Medal, Victory Medal pair and Casualty plaque. Described in the auction catalogue thus: "Pair WWI service medals to 2nd Lieutenant W R G Mills together with Death plaque to the same" Nothing more no notes, no history, no basic research nothing at all, so to put the record straight here is William Robert Granville Mills story. WILLIAM ROBERT GRANVILLE MILLS (BILLY), the eldest child of Granville Mills, of the Public Works Department India, and Cordelia his wife, was born at Secunderabad, Deccan, on December 31st, 1897. He was educated at l'Ecole de l'Ile de France, Liancourt, France, at Hartford House, Winchfield (Mr. Lloyd's), and at Eagle House, Sandhurst (Mr. Lockhart's), where he obtained a Foundation Scholarship at Winchester College in June, 1911. Both at his preparatory schools and at Winchester he won many prizes. At Winchester, in 1913, he won the Headmaster’s Prize for French; in 1914, the Warden and Fellows' Prize for English Verse; and in 1915 the Warden and Fellows' Prize for English Essay. He was a College Prefect and played in College fifteens and ran well in Junior and Senior Steeplechase. At Christmas, 1915, he was elected to the Senior Classical Scholarship at Christ Church, Oxford. On leaving Winchester he was given a commission in the Royal Field Artillery, Special Reserve, and was gazetted in February, 1916. On June 30th, 1916, he went to the front and was there all through the battle of the Somme and at Contalmaison, Martinpuich, Mametz Wood, and Le Sars. The Battery moved to the Ypres Salient and he was home on leave from January 5th to January 15th, 1917. Returning to Ypres, he was killed by a shell in the front line trench on the afternoon of February 16th, 1917. He was buried next day at Transport Farm, Zillebecke. Billy was just 19 years old his grief stricken father gathered his poetry and his letters home to his beloved mother and the letters of condolence and sympathy received from the front. He had them private published in a small volume “The poems and letters of W R G Mills”. I have managed to find a digital copy on line but of course would love to find a copy of the original work to place side by side with his medals and plaque. If anybody should find a copy of this small volume anywhere for sale please let me know immediately. Letters sent to his parents from the front THE COMMANDING OFFICER No doubt by this time you will have heard from the War Office of your sad loss. I am dreadfully sorry to have to confirm it. Your son was killed this afternoon whilst doing his duty. He is a great loss to me. He was a most promising and trustworthy young officer and I cannot tell you how much it grieves me to have to write of his death to you. I can only convey to you my most sincere sympathy and regret. FROM HIS BATTERY MAJOR I was very sorry indeed to hear the sad news, and I am sure you have my deepest sympathy. All this happened while I was away from the battery, and it was a bitter blow to me when I heard that I had lost two of my best officers. During the time your son served under my command he proved himself a very capable officer. On several occasions he accompanied me on very difficult and dangerous operations. I really cannot speak too highly of his gallantry and untiring work. He died a noble death while performing a very difficult task. He was very popular with the men and I am sure they will miss him very much. He learnt his work as acting officer very quickly, and I could always rely on him to carry out any task that was given him, I can candidly say he was a most brilliant officer. We all miss him very much. I am sure you must have been very proud of your son, for he was a real good boy. FROM A BROTHER OFFICER It is with very deep regret that I write to you concerning the death of your son, who was killed in action yesterday. He was in the front line observing with the captain when an enemy shell burst in the trench near them. He was buried this morning in the Military Cemetery by our Chaplain, who knew him at Winchester, the Colonel and as many officers and men of the Brigade as could possibly be spared attended, the officers and men and myself deeply sympathise with you in your bereavement. We feel keenly the loss of our comrade, who was a most efficient and trustworthy officer, and a great favourite with us all. FROM THE CHAPLAIN I feel that I would like to be allowed to write to you a few lines, as being the Chaplain to the artillery in this Division, in which your son was serving, partly to tell you how very sorry we all are, and also to tell you one or two things which I feel sure that you would like to know. My own acquaintance with your boy went back to the days before he came out here, when he was at Winchester. I was working at the Winchester College Mission in Portsmouth, and being a Wykehamist myself and also in College, used very often to see him when I was over at the School. I can't remember now, whether he ever actually came to spend a week-end at the Mission with us; my impression is that he did. Then he came out here and joined this Division, and it was so very delightful to find him carrying out the same habits and principles which no doubt he had learnt at home and at school. As perhaps you know, it is not easy for those who work with the guns to get many opportunities of Church Services: they are always working, and it is often unsafe to gather the men together for services. But when we did have them, he was always present; and I remember so well, at Christmas, the Holy Communion Service which we held in the 10ft of a big barn (we were resting for a week before coming into the line here), and he was one of the little group who came for their Christmas Communion. I think that was probably the last chance that he had out here, as ever since then his battery has been continually engaged. He was always quiet and a little reserved; but I have heard so many comments during the last few days with regard to the excellence of his work; and I am sure that his ·example and influence with the men must have been for good. I hope you will not mind my writing to you. I would just like to add this, if I may, that there must surely be a great future of usefulness for his gifts and powers in God's service in the new sphere to which he has gone. FROM HIS SERVANT Excuse me these few lines, but I thought that I could not let this pass without sending my personal sympathy in your great sorrow, for as I was packing up his personal belongings I could not help but think of you and the one we both have lost, and I hope and trust you get all his things quite safe. As he was a dutiful son to you, he was a great friend and master to me, and I shall never forget him as long as life lasts. FROM THE MEN IN THE BATTERY I have been in the Mess just about as long as Mr. Mills would have been with us, remembering quite well when he joined us. Yes, he was liked immensely, and we often recall many little -episodes of his cheery ways and his undisturbed demeanor. We miss him very much indeed. These times we could well have done with the work of Mr. Mills, I assure you. All the drivers say how he has been missed by them and also the gunners. He used to break into a song every morning as soon as he awoke, and then the saying used to go: 'Hello, here comes Billy!' (Excuse the familiar word ' Billy'). It was always the same song: 'If you we’re the only girl in this world and I were the only boy. FROM THE HEADMASTER, WINCHESTER Your boy was such a very gentle, peace-loving fellow that his sacrifice comes with an additional shock. His photo, which you sent me, has kept him continually before me and I feel as if I had lost a very near friend. One could not but love the boy -he was so genuine and pure and honourable. I suppose what struck me most was the way in which he went forward and went out without a murmur of doubt or hesitation. He had lots of grit behind his gentle manner and a really fine-cut character. Assuredly it is well with the child. How wonderful and devoted is the service of these boys and how it wins the hearts of all kinds of men. I do praise God for your boy's good service: such things help us all. FROM THE DEAN OF CHRIST CHURCH, OXFORD May I take this opportunity of saying how deeply sorry I am that he has not lived to take up his Scholarship here. I did not know him, but I remember that our examiners were well pleased at the election they had made, and would have looked forward to his coming here with great hopefulness. FROM THE HEADMASTER OF HIS PREPARATORY SCHOOL I was very fond of Billy and had the greatest opinion of his ability and of his determined character. I always think he was the best boy I ever taught in all my more than thirty years’ experience. I always like to think of his big strong calm head and face as he took up the points of difficulty and his excellent clear English in which he rendered the Latin authors, I don't know which is the greater grief, to think that I shall never have the pleasure of welcoming him here again, or to think of the cutting off of that brilliant career which I am sure lay before him-a grievous loss to his country, both in public and in private life Now a final word from a talented scholar a bright young talent extinguished like so many others in the war to end all wars. A poem by W. R. G. Mills Over the marsh where the wild pigs wallow Over the fiats where the curlews cry Over the green-black bog Will I follow under a purple sky Into the land of the last, awaking Into the land of the last long rest Into the land where the waves are breaking Over the shores of the west There may I seek for the end of sorrow There may I find the long, day done There may I rest in the shade' of tomorrow Under the setting sun REST IN PEACE BILLY, NOT FORGOTTEN
  5. Yes of course! Thanks for the reminder Paul. Home on leave couple of pints with a chum then catapulted head first into a telegraph pole having survived WW1 and Persia.
  6. I have had a rather resounding success today in preventing a medal group being split at auction I purchased two 14-15 Trios 1 RAMC and 1 King's Own Royal Lancaster and then managed many lots later to purchase the G.S.M IRAQ to: 11425 Lance Corporal Thomas Lowes K.O.R.L Later Private Ordnance Corps S/9604 Later Acting Sergeant Army Ordnance Corps 7575160 MIC confirms one and the same man and the issue of the 14-15 Trio and G.S.M. Iraq. While I was not surprised at the split (different number and regiment) the auction house had clearly not checked very carefully as there can not be many T. Lowes, not a common name. While awaiting delivery I began my usual research his service number puts him in the 6th Battalion King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment and then with a simple Google search this! http://s574.photobucket.com/user/Doodle1964/media/146115528_1430927725_zps1mvmbymz.jpg.html Transcript from the headstone reads: To the memory of 7575160 Lance Corporal Thomas Lowes Royal Army Ordnance Corps Who was accidentally killed on 8th March 1924 aged 31 years 10 months “Erected by his comrades of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps at Bovington Camp – R.I.P.” Appears that Thomas having survived WW1 and Iraq lost his life in a tragic accident in the UK. A trawl of online newspaper archives finds This: Western Gazette 14 March 1924: SOLDIER'S TRAGIC END WHILST PILLION RIDING Lance-Corporal Thomas Lowes (aged 31), of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (No. 18 Section), Bovington Camp, whose home was at Newcastle, was killed instantaneously, on the Dorchester-road, Winfrith, on Saturday owing to changing his position whilst riding on a motor-cycle, which caused the machine to skid. Deceased either fell or was thrown off the cycle into the hedge against a telegraph pole, striking it with his head, which caused a fractured skull and a fractured arm and other injuries. THE CORONER'S INQUIRY Dr C.H. Watts Parkinson, the coroner for East Dorset, held an enquiry respecting the case on Monday, at the Military Hospital, Bovington (to which the body had been removed). Formal evidence of identification was given by Isaac Alfred Taylor, a lance-corporal of the R.A.O.C. Deceased, he said, was a single man of steady disposition. James Rendle Penn, a lance-corporal of the same section as deceased, who was driving the bicycle (a 3½h.p. Triumph), stated that deceased was an old friend, with whom he had come home from Constantinople. On Saturday afternoon, at two o'clock, he left for Dorchester with the deceased on the carrier. They arrived at the county town about an hour later. They went round the town and had drinks there. They left Dorchester about 3.30 to return to camp, and about 4.10, when about half-a-mile from Winfrith, he saw a light car ahead. The car kept to the left and witness to the right, travelling about 23 miles an hour, deceased riding astride on the pillion. Deceased appeared to move his position, causing the bicycle to skid. Witness tried to keep the bicycle under control, but it mounted the grass by the side of the road, and he was thrown. He was dazed, and when he recovered he found that the occupants of the car had stopped, and were examining the deceased. They told witness he was dead. Joseph Fooks, dairyman, and Fred Budden, of Steeple, the latter of whom was driving the car home from market, also gave evidence. Mr Fooks, who had been given a lift, said they left Dorchester about 3.30 p.m. Mr Budden's young son was sitting in the front with his father, and witness's father was riding behind with him. They were travelling about 18 to 20 miles an hour, when the bicycle was heard behind. Mr Budden drew into the left hand side of the road. The bicycle passed on the right side, and when eight or ten yards ahead witness saw the pillion rider sway to the right, and he seemed to throw his arms round the driver. The bicycle mounted the grass, on which it ran about ten yards, when the front wheel dropped into a somewhat deep water-table, the rear wheel rose up and threw deceased against the telegraph post. Witness considered the accident was due to the pillion rider swaying to the right. P.C. Spiller's information was to the effect that he found the deceased had been placed in a field. His face and head were covered with blood. Deceased's cap was in the field over the hedge. The distance from this point to where the motor-cycle stopped was 13 yards 2 feet, and the width of the road was 18ft 2½in. Shortly after the accident Dr Anderson, of Winfrith, happened to be passing by, but he could only pronounce life to be extinct. The motor-cycle (B.K.5,336) was slightly damaged. The Coroner returned a verdict of "Accidental death" So a tragic death for a WW1 veteran home on leave, a few beers and a fateful ride back to camp. Medals now back together http://s574.photobucket.com/user/Doodle1964/media/Medal%20Forum/DSC_0201_zpsrbeqx8zo.jpg.html
  7. Dear Forum just wanted to share the outcome of my latest research project. I am again really pleased to have been able to uncover the story of the man behind the medals and accurately record his service and ultimately his untimely and sad demise. I recently purchased a nice condition mounted for wear Q.S.A. and 14-15 Trio to W A Harvey Pte. 6897 Manchester Regiment on the Q.S.A. TS-4990 Driver. W A Harvey, A S C on the Trio. His medal index card shows his WW1 medals were not applied for till 1935 and gives his address as 9 Cedar Road Stockport Manchester. I like the way he has mounted the group for wear clearly preferring the wording to be seen on the Victory Medal. I was drawn to the death certificate with the medals which intrigued me and I was hoping nobody else at the viewing had seen it! If you collect to line infantry regiments or the more glamorous units a Q.S.A. with two state bars and two date bars in combination with a A.S.C trio may not seem very attractive to some, but I thought there may be a story to tell and what a story! William Alban Harvey was a Lancashire lad by birth born in Heaton Norris Stockport on the 5 Jan 1884. The Harvey family had a well established local business having a Leather Goods harness and Saddlers store on Heaton Lane Stockport. Indeed on William's attestation paper for the Militia on the 30th of January he gives his occupation as a saddler however he lies about his age claiming to be 18 years and 1 month old, he had in fact just turned 16! William enlisted into the 3rd Militia Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and he is quickly transferred to the 5th Ardwick Volunteer Battalion having immediately volunteered for service in South Africa where he was to earn his Q.S.A. and 4 clasps a nice hallmarked silver football medallion engraved to him as a member of the 4th VB in 1906 shows he continued to serve as a part time soldier after his return from the 2nd Boer War. Williams skills as a saddler I am sure must have been very useful to the A.S.C. transport unit he served in WW1 with and after war service he returned to Stockport to a quiet hard working life with his beloved Hilda. However the horrors of war had not ended for William he was to suffer a very cruel twist of fate. As I said earlier I was drawn to his death certificate which was in the little wooden chest containing his medals, it clearly stated his occupation as "Inspector of Army Equipment for the Army Ordnance Corps". I was fascinated to see his cause of death given as "Due to War Operations"! Was William at 57 still serving in the armed forces in 1941 in some capacity? He was certainly engaged in war work, however his demise was far more tragic William Alban Harvey the Lancashire Lad who at 16 lied about his age to serve in South Africa, who then served in France throughout WW1 actually lost his life at home at 9 Cedar Road Stockport on the night of the 2nd June 1941 when the Luftwaffe scored a direct hit on his house during the Manchester Blitz. He is remembered on this web site: http://www.greatermanchesterblitzvictims.co.uk/index.php?sold_id=s%3A11%3A%22665%2Cvictims%22%3B&letter&soldier=Harvey&district_id=28 KINGSMAN64
  8. Wow thanks for pointing that out pabzlito yes it is the same officer. Oh I wish I had the space to store that trunk I would have it in a flash. Too big for my little den! I have told J L STRONACH's nephew about the item it may end up back with the family! Best regards Paul
  9. Dear Forum Just thought I'd share a new acquisition which has grown even more impressive in the last few days. I recently purchased from auction a nice condition pair of medals the BWM Delhi Durbar medal to Captain John Lindsay Stronach. I believed the name was sufficiently uncommon to offer good research potential. I was not wrong! John Lindsay Stronach was born in Canada educated in England married in India and served with the Imperial Police Service and was commissioned into the war raised and short lived 2nd/131st United Provinces Battalion Indian Army. (raised from punjab police volunteers). Returning to the police after WW1 Stronach rose to Superintendent before retiring. Returning to the UKforhisretirement. I Was horrified when research began as realised that due to not reading the catalogue properly I had in fact missed Captain Stronach's insignia including some very nice hallmarked Silver items earlier in the auction! After a quick call to the auction house I was put in touch with the buyer and yesterday we completed a deal which means that I have been able to reunite all Superintendent Stronach's medals and insignia. Thanks to Ancestry I also have a picture of my man! Best regards Paul
  10. Hi traveling due to work commitments will post some more pictures shortly, thanks Paul.
  11. Dear Forum not sure how the link got broken above here are Carl's Medals How amazing to have a response from a living relative forum power! Paul
  12. Dear Forum Had a good couple of days in Prague despite mother natures attempt to kill me! The rain and thunder and lightening was awesome I am pleased to report all the CWGC graves are in superb condition and it looked like school children had laid flowers that very morning on the graves of those killed in the factory bombing 21/07/1944 and private L E Francis grave. Unfortunately the rain was so heavy I couldnt get a better picture than the one I have already posted above. However a real bonus when I arrived home in direct response to the Newspaper article this has been sent to me. Best regards Paul
  13. This article was printed in a British regional paper this weekend as tomorrow 21/07/14 is the 70th anniversary of the tragic events that have been uncovered researching a simple group. A chance discovery by a keen amateur historian and medal collector has led to the uncovering of a remarkable tale of gallantry, hardship and finally the ultimate sacrifice paid by a local lad from Dedham Essex during ww2. Paul Dwyer has been collecting medals since his Granddad entrusted him with his WW2 awards over 35 years ago. “Having researched my Granddad’s WW2 service, you could say I was bitten by the research bug”, explains Paul; “Those small postage boxes of medals never worn, left in a drawer or cupboard have fascinated me ever since and I have become a bit of a history detective fascinated by the man, or woman behind the medals”. Recently in a North West auction house just such a neglected group came up for sale Paul was immediately interested for two reasons, one the postal address was Dedham Essex an area well known to Paul due to many happy childhood holidays spent in the area as family live in Tiptree and Layer De La Haye, also the fact that the document with the medals indicated they had been sent to the next of kin of a soldier who had not survived the conflict. “I could see in the auction catalogue the medal issue certificate stated that they had been posthumously issued to the family of Private L. E. Francis and the vendor had told the auction house he had been killed in action in North Africa. This all tied up with the four medals they were the 1939-45 Star, the Africa Star, the Defence Medal and the 1939-45 War medal, a typical group for a soldier who served and died in the North Africa campaign.”. Paul’s next step was a visit on line to the commonwealth war graves database. http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead.aspx “Based on past experience I was expecting dozens of records for casualty’s called L. E. Francis however there was just one with that exact naming”. The record states: Private No: 6016265 Leonard Edward Francis Son of James and Agnes Francis, of Dedham, Essex. Date of Death: 21/07/1944 Age: 23 Regiment Essex Regiment 2/5th Bn. Grave Reference: I. C. 10.Cemetery: PRAGUE WAR CEMETERY “I knew I had found my man but something was very wrong, the date of death and the final resting place made no sense whatsoever for a 1942 North African casualty, however I had a hunch which proved to be correct with a terrible twist, I knew instinctively this was a group that needed and deserved further investigation”. This is Leonard’s story. A quick check of the 1911 Census finds the Francis Family living in Threadneedle Street Dedham Essex the head of the Household is James Francis a 40 year old gardener with his Wife Agnes aged 32. At this time they have three sons William 13 Leslie 11 and Stanley aged 6, Leonard Edward was to be born in 1921. Leonard began his ww2 service in a war raised 2nd line territorial battalion of the local county regiment the 2nd/5th Essex Regiment, as in 1939 with the outbreak of war the 4th and 5th Battalions had to be doubled in size with the rush of volunteers, thus forming the new 2/4th and 2/5th Battalions. The 2/5th Essex (TA) battalion was to be overwhelmed in the North African campaign at Deir-El-Shein in 1942. The Essex men were part of the18th Indian Infantry Brigade and where allocated the suicidal task of holding up Rommel’s rapidly advancing troops to give Monty and the Eighth Army a chance to regroup, hopelessly outnumbered the rearguard action was completed with the utmost gallantry and the Brigade suffered appalling casualties, the survivors became prisoners of war including Private L. E. Francis. However, the north Essex men had the satisfaction of knowing that the 24-hour delay their dogged resistance against Rommel's Africa Korps was an essential factor in gaining time for the withdrawing Eighth Army to reorganise and stand on the line as they dug in and prepared defences at a little known railway siding called El Alamein. This was to be the launch point for a major allied attack and a decisive victory marking the beginning of the end for the German Army in North Africa. The next official sighting of Leonard is in 1943 when he appears on the Prisoner of War roll of POW's held by the Italians in August 1943, he is recorded as present in Campo 70, Monturano near Fermo. This would be just prior to him being moved along with all prisoners held in Italy to Germany due to the allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and then the invasion of the Italian main land. Red Cross records then show Leonard as being transferred to Germany with kriegsgefangen number (prisoner of war number) 250960, to Stalag IV B, Lager 22a at Mühlberg Germany’s largest WW2 POW camp. Leonard then had the misfortune to be sent as slave labour, in complete contravention of the Geneva Convention to a chemical/synthetic oil refinery Sudetenländische Treibstoff Werke in Brux Czechoslovakia. It was here that the final tragic act of Leonard’s war service was to take place. The 21st of July 1944 is a day that will be familiar to many students of WW2 as the day of the failed assassination attempt on the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler. News travelled fast throughout the Reich and emotions were running very high, the radio whipped up public emotions explaining that a conspiracy by treacherous dogs had failed to kill the glorious leader of the German people and promising swift retribution against those responsible. On this very day a massive advance was made by Stalin’s Red Army crossing the Polish border for the first time and this was also the day chosen for an air raid to be carried out by B24 bombers of the 456th Bombardment Group United States Army Air Force. Their target was the industrial complex around Brux 900 high explosive and incendiary bombs fell on the refinery causing DM 21,200,200 worth of damage and stopping essential production for over a month. Part of the industrial complex anti-aircraft defences was the creation of artificial fog over the target area and as a result many bombs landed on civilian areas and 195 members of the local population died. Anti-Aircraft fire brought down four American aircraft many of the crew members successfully bailed out of their stricken aircraft, tragically the local population was in no mood for respecting the rights of prisoners of war and at least 8 crew members were beaten to death and lynched on the spot, one was even tied to a motor car and dragged around the area until he died British prisoners working as slave labour where not permitted access to the air raid shelters they were in fact locked outside the shelters and expected to find their own cover wherever possible as a result several died in the air raid. The Red Cross returns record the same details cause of death, date of death and burial for the following British servicemen enslaved at the oil refinery all records are identical with just one exception: Archibald William Burt 275252, Stalag IV B, Lager 22a 5440072, 9th battalion Durham Light Infantry, died 21 7th 1944 buried 27th 7th 1944, Cause of death bombing air raid (USAAF). Edwin Joseph O’Flanagan 223889, Stalag IV B, Lager 22a 5504777, 5th battalion the Hampshire Regt. died 21 7th 1944 buried 27th 7th 1944, Cause of death bombing air raid (USAAF). Alan Lewis Goslett 224321, Stalag IV B, Lager 22a, 19686 4th Field Regiment South Africa Artillery, died 21 7th 1944 buried 27th 7th 1944, Cause of death bombing air raid (USAAF). Robert Ward 275249, Stalag IV B, Lager 22a, 1533335 Royal Artillery HQ 4 A.A. Brigade, died 21 7th 1944 buried 27th 7th 1944, Cause of death bombing air raid (USAAF). Then Finally the record for Private L. E. Francis: Leonard Edward Francis 250960, Stalag IV B, Lager 22a born 21st 10th 1921 Dedham Essex , 6016265 2/5th Battalion, the Essex Regiment Died 21 7th 1944 22nd buried 27th 7th 1944 Cause of death GUNSHOT WOUNDS Under the cover of this intense air raid Leonard made the fateful decision to attempt escape the full facts will probably never be known but the fact remains he was shot dead by his captors. Unarmed and no doubt weakened by years of enforced hardship this was nothing short of murder, a despicable cowardly way to end the life of this brave 23 year old man. Leonard’s final sacrifice however did not go unrecognized and in the London Gazette April 1945 we find the following record. The KING has been graciously pleased to approve posthumous award Of a Mentions-in-Despatches to the following in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the field Essex Regiment 6016265 Private L. E Francis. This official recognition of Leonard’s sacrifice took the form of a Certificate and a Bronze Oak leaf to be attached to the ribbon of his 1939 -45 War Medal as shown in the now correctly mounted group. These awards are extremely rare as awards for executed escapee's and the official recognition of escapers gallantry can be traced to November 1943 when the Imperial Prisoners of War Committee decided that prisoners of war belonging to the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force who were killed while trying to escape shall be regarded as eligible for consideration for the award of a posthumous Mention in Despatches. So finally an almost complete history can be reunited with the medals of Leonard Edward Francis of the 2nd/5th Battalion the Essex Regiment (M.I.D.) From the rush to arms in 1939 as a young 19 year old “terrier” to the blazing heat of a gallant rear guard action in North Africa. Transported across Europe through Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic as a POW only to have his young life ended the night he attempted to flee an air-raid and captivity in 1944. I will be visiting Prague Cemetery on the 21/07/1944, 70 years to the day of this terrible incident, I will pay my respects and lay some flowers on his grave.
  14. Dear Forum as an added bonus another KLR expert has traced Private Fallon! James Fallon Gender: Male Birth Date: abt 1895 Birth Place: Liverpool, Lancashire, England Age at Enlistment: 18 Regimental Number: 1871/305274 Regiment Name: 8th Irish Battalion The King's Liverpool Regiment One of only two Fallon's in the K.L.R. who earned the 14-15 Star and the only one of the two in the 8th Battalion. Now what a reunite that would be would love to put those two groups together!
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