12th Battalion Devonshire Regiment

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by lineman, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. arnhem2280

    arnhem2280 Member


    Just wondering if anyone can help. The son of L/Cpl Hodge has been in contact with me and is trying to find out some information regarding the 12th Devons in the Ardennes. Specifically he is interested in them guarding a factory in or close to Dinant. Originally he thought this occurred during Op Varsity but has now realised it was sometime after Boxing Day 1944 when the 6th Airborne were rushed to the Ardennes. I have tried to find the war diary for the 12th Devons on line with no luck at the moment. If anyone has a copy for the period December 1944 to February 1945 could they check on my behalf.


  2. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I only have the WD for January 1-25, 1945. I believe they were originally posted by Stolpi in this thread and then went missing or were removed after a software change over several years ago. The 12th Devons moved out of Dinant on January 1/2 so the period you are after could be late December 1944?

    DSC04059.jpg DSC04060.jpg DSC04061.jpg DSC04062.jpg DSC04063.jpg DSC04062.jpg DSC04062.jpg DSC04064.jpg DSC04065.jpg DSC04066.jpg

    Regards ...
    stolpi likes this.
  3. arnhem2280

    arnhem2280 Member

    Hi Cee

    Thanks very much for posting this it should answer the son's query.


  4. arnhem2280

    arnhem2280 Member

    Hi Cee

    Do you know where I can find the WD for the period 26th December to 31st December 1944 ?


  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    UnfortunateIy I only have the 5th Para Brigade War Diary for Dec 44; I do not have the battalion diaries for that month

    ... have to see if the Bde Diary has any specific info on 12th Devonshires.

    Will be back on here.
  6. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I can't think of anywhere they are freely available.The Pegasus Archive has them for a price here. Forum member Andy (Drew5233) also provides a document copying service.

    Regards ...
  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The War Diary of 6 Airborne Div is quite cursory re the hurried move from England to Belgium and the deployment of the division along the Meuse:
    WD 6th AB Div HQ.JPG

    Fortunately the War Diary of 5 Para Bde gives more details, though still not much about exact locations. According to the 5th Para Bde War Diary the 12 Para Bn was guarding the Meuse south of Dinant at Givet (France). See attached the Bde's Movement Order No.1 of 30 Dec 44 and the Bde's Confirmatory Notes of the next day.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
    Cee likes this.
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Just noticed I mixed up 12 Para with 12 Devons ?! o_O

    ... 12 Devonshires were at Dinant.

    However, since I don't have the battalion War Diary, I have no particular information of the tactical layout of the battalion's positions in that town. I only have the Airlanding Bde War Diary (Dec 44), part of which is attached. The Defensive Overlay 'Annex B', the diary refers to, is missing in my copy. The Airlanding Bde spearheaded the 6 Airborne Division and was the first to arrive at the Meuse, where it temporarily was placed under command of 53 Welsh Division (26 Dec); the 71st Bde at the time was already in position at Dinant and Givet, having taken over from 29 Arm Bde who in turn pushed out an armoured screen to the east of the Meuse. At the same time 32 Guards Bde took over at Namur. Hope this is of some help:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 10, 2020
    Cee likes this.
  9. arnhem2280

    arnhem2280 Member

    Hi Stolpi,

    Thanks for your help. I still really need the Devon's war diary for the time frame 26 December to 1st January. As I live a long way from the National Archives does anyone know of a researcher who might be able to copy the diary on my behalf ?


  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member



    Both are very capable and are placed in no particular order of preference.

    Drew5233 and Cee like this.
  11. David Woods

    David Woods Member

    The original question that was put to the forum was, "do the War Diaries show the 12th Devons guarding a factory in or near Dinant."

    They do not! If they had I would have posted them earlier.

    For a factory or building to be mentioned in the war diaries, it would need to have been of significance to the Battalion and worthy of a mention.

    The 12th Devons arrived in Dinant on 25th Dec. 1944 and deployed to the following positions:-

    A Coy 106888
    B Coy 017887
    C Coy 102877
    D Coy 986881
    Adv Bn HQ 104874
    Rear Bn HQ 991881

    I have joined map sheets 1/50,000 Nos. 90 & 91 together.
    Boy scouts will be able to pinpoint the above references on the map.
    To the east of Dinant you can find the woods (Bois) reconnoitred by Lt. Box.
    Also the towns of Sorrine (D Coy) and Celles.

    The 12th Devons departed Dinant on 2nd Jan. 1945.

    HQ and Support Coy's are not mentioned until 6th Jan. 1945. Probably had to catch up.

    I live 12,000 miles from the National Archives, but I wouldn't hesitate to spend a few pounds to get information on my father. Mark Hickman's war diaries are cheap and readily available.

    Attached Files:

    stolpi and Cee like this.
  12. arnhem2280

    arnhem2280 Member

    Hi David,

    Thanks very much for posting the copies of the 12th Devons war diary for me. I agree if it was for me I would be happy to pay for the diary. It is for a gentleman who is trying to learn more about his father's movements at this stage of the war and tie them into some letters he has of his. I just took the easy and quick route in case anyone already had them and was willing to share before getting copies from the National Archives which thanks to you worked out.
    Once again thanks for posting them.


  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    30 Corps dispositions on Christmas 1944

    The Airlanding Bde spearheaded the 6 Airborne Division and was first to arrive at the Meuse, where it was temporarily placed under command of 53 Welsh Division (26 Dec). The Airlanding Brigade took over from the 71st Bde who at the time were already in position at Dinant and Givet, having taken over from 29 Arm Bde whose armoured regiments (2 FFY, 3 RTR and 23 H) in turn pushed out an armoured screen to the east of the Meuse. Namur being guarded by the 32 Guards Bde. On Christmas Day, 71 and 32 Bdes had been rushed forward from the original 30 Corps 'stop-line' west of the Meuse to reinforce the defense of the river.

    Initially 30 Corps was deployed west of the Meuse with 53rd Welsh division, along the River Dyle, acting as a 'Long Stop' and the rest (43rd and Guards Armoured) poised to roll up from the flank any enemy formations that might make it across the Meuse; the Corps plan accordingly was named 'Operation Smash'. The Meuse river line being lightly held by the Recce Regts of the respective divisions and, between Namur and Givet, by the 29th Arm Bde. When it transpired that the Germans would not penetrate across the Meuse, 30 Corps troops started the forward concentration to reinforce the Meuse River Line on Christmas Day mentioned afore.

    30 Corps x-mas 44.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
    brithm and Tricky Dicky like this.
  14. David Woods

    David Woods Member

    14332879 Cpl. Victor Douglas Drewett

    I've been reading the service record of 14332879 Cpl. Victor Douglas Drewett.
    Of interest is the period up to the end of the Normandy campaign.
    In particular, the date of his arrival in Normandy.

    Transferred to Devonshire Regiment from 64 P.T.W. and posted to 14 I.T.C. 17.12.1942
    Posted to 12th Devons from 14 I.T.C. 05.05.1943
    War Diary confirms 15 O.R's transferred from 14 I.T.C. on this date. 05.05.1943
    Paid A/L/Cpl. 20.09.1943
    Embarked for Normandy 03.06.1944
    Disembarked Normandy 08.06.1944
    Embarked for England 02.09.1944

    The above record shows he sailed (embarked) to Normandy and did not fly-in with 'A' Coy
    as stated in posts.
    'A' Coy did not carry any A/Tk guns to Normandy.
    Parkerforce providing one Troop of the 3rd Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery.
    All 8 A/Tk guns of the battalion being carried to Normandy aboard M.T.C.'s.
    I was intrigued by the fact that he disembarked Normandy on 08.06.1944, a day late.
    I believe the following document explains what happened:-





    The vehicles were to disembark at H + 25½ on D + 1 at Queen Beach, and it was understood
    the landing would be practically "dryshod" as they were to be off loaded onto "Rhino" craft.
    Actually all vehicles parties were late getting ashore and one ship, M.T.C. 3128 was ordered to
    another Beach, namely NAN. "Rhino" craft were not available, L.C.T's and L.C.M's being used
    in their stead.

    Landings were made as follows. QUEEN Beach - D + 1

    M.T.C. 3125 - 1200 hrs.
    M.T.C. 3123 - 1400 hrs.
    M.T.C. 3126 - 1800 hrs.

    NAN Beach - D + 1

    M.T.C. 3128 - 2350 hrs.

    The off loading and move ashore was by no means an easy task.
    The sea being choppy and the Navy repeatedly trying to put jeeps off in far too deep water
    and a number of shell holes being encountered. Nevertheless the landing was a successful one.
    At QUEEN Beach two vehicles drowned (1 Pioneers, 1 M.T. Pl.).
    Later one was recovered but the Pioneer jeep had to be considered a total loss.

    The last vehicle of the QUEEN Beach party reached Battalion at 2330 hrs D + 1.

    At NAN Beach the landing at night was even more difficult and two vehicles drowned, but were
    recovered the next morning. This party reached the Battalion at 1800 hrs D + 2, a day late.
    This late hour might have had dire consequences.
    So of the 48 jeeps put ashore 47 eventually reached the Battalion.

    From this information, it seems to me that 14332879 A/L/Cpl. Victor Douglas Drewett sailed to
    Normandy aboard M.T.C. 3128, carrying Capt. T. Bridgeman, 2i/c 'E' Coy, 11 Jeeps, 2 M.M.G's
    and 2x6 Pounder A/Tk guns. Being forced to land at NAN Beach at 2350 hrs on 07.06.1944,
    would explain why he didn't disembark until 08.06.1944.

    I know a book about Victor Douglas Drewett was published in 2016. I haven't seen or read it.
    I don't know how it explains A/L/Cpl. Victor Douglas Drewett's travel to Normandy.
    My only intention with this post, is to look at the facts, as stated on his service record and
    attempt to solve the mystery of his late arrival.
    Cee likes this.
  15. David Woods

    David Woods Member

    There has been some discussion on Canloan Officers serving with the 12th Devons in previous posts.

    The following three did serve with the 12th Devons as stated on the list,

    CDN204 Lieutenant Hubert Charles Cox (K.I.A. 24.03.45)
    CDN207 Lieutenant Harry H. D. Barons (1st posting of two)
    CDN372 Lieutenant Harold G. Gibson

    Another Canloan Officer, CDN374 Lieutenant Donald A. MacMillan, is listed as serving with the 11th Devons - 1st Infantry Division.

    However, CDN374 Lieutenant Donald A. MacMillan, is also listed on the 12th Devons, Field Return Of Officers, 16th September, 1944, along with CDN204 Lieutenant Hubert Charles Cox. They are both shown as being taken on strength 12th May, 1944 and becoming platoon commanders 5th September, 1944. This information is contradicted by the Field Return Of Officers, 6th Jan, 1945, which has Lt. H. C. Cox becoming a platoon commander 12th May, 1944. The service record of Lt. H. C. Cox shows he was on the Y (IV) list 12th May, 1944, which may indicate he was not a platoon commander on that date. He is then hospitalized for more than 28 days between 21st July and 21st August, 1944 and was presumably S.O.S. He is posted back to 12th Devons on 21st August, 1944. With the battalion still in Normandy, it makes sense he received his command on 5th September, 1944, as part of the battalion reorganization. Lt. H. C. Cox is shown as serving in the Ardennes, Holland and Germany. Have no evidence of what happened to CDN374 Lieutenant Donald A. MacMillan, other than he was transferred to the 11th Devons.

    CDN414 Lieutenant Clarence Foster Heald was also mentioned, so I include his service record for anyone who is interested.

    The same posts refer to an officer who is wearing wings on his left breast in the photo of the 12th Devons, Officers Mess, November, 1944. I believe these are Glider Pilot wings and I suspect they are being worn by Major Gerry Edgcombe Palmer. I have no evidence of when he may have qualified for them, but the London Gazette shows him being transferred to the G.P.R., 28th June, 1945. The notification was later cancelled, but he was probably attached to the G.P.R. No proof, but it shows a connection.

    Lastly, I would like to take an educated guess at who is sitting on the front row of the 12th Devons, Officers Mess, November, 1944.

    L to R:- Unknown, Capt. C. J. Snell, Capt. T. D. D. Bowman, Capt. W. A. R. Wright, Capt. J. H. W. Pengelly, Maj. K. J. T. Stoneman, Capt. T. Bridgeman, Maj. J. P. Haythornthwaite, Maj. E. J. Warren, Lt. Col. P. Gleadell, Capt. L. A. Salt, Maj. W. F. Barrow, Capt. J. R. H. Fawkes-Underwood, Maj. G. E. Palmer, Capt. B. D. Carey, Maj. P. R. Dobbin, Capt. Revd. J. W. Hall.

    Other Possibles:- Maj. D. C. Nation, Capt. E. J. Harding, Capt. E. Strawbridge & Capt. R. W. Hartland.

    Attached Files:

    Cee likes this.
  16. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I love how you go over old posts and offer corrections and other possibilities. Funny thing is I was looking at the photos of Lt. H.C. Cox and the plump man with wings recently and thought nope they are not the same person. As well I couldn't find any evidence that Lt Cox was with the Canadian Paras at any point from his service files on Ancestry. I agree the wings do appear more likely to be those of the GPR. Your choice of Major Palmer seems much more likely.

    According to the orbat for Operation Varsity on Pegasus Archive Lt. Cox was Commander of the Pioneer Platoon, part of HQ Company. He was killed when struck by a glider not soon after landing on March 24th which leads in a roundabout way to the well known photo of Pte. Owen "Nick" Hillier taken not long before he was killed by gun fire while attempting to remove the tail of his crashed glider. Pte. Hillier may have been with the Pioneer Platoon although not with his unit on the flight to Germany? See Edward Horrell's account. I really should update as new info on that particular photo and crash has since come to light.

    Have you seen the IWM photos taken by Sgt. Christie, AFPU, before take off on Op Varsity. They run from H41544 to H41563. (Photos H41564 to 41567 may actually have been taken by Sgt. Lewis rather Sgt. Christie as claimed?). There could be a few photos of the 12 Devons in amongst them. Being slugs the quality is not that great.

    Operation Varsity occurred 75 years ago today. In remembrance of all the men who lost their lives on March 24th, 1945 and the many afterwards in the advance across Germany.

    Regards ...
  17. Neuron

    Neuron Member

    I was the original poster of this thread under my old name of Lineman. I am still trying to trace and info on my father-in-law Albert Rand who served with the 12th Devons in France and Germany. I have his battledress and beret plus some other items that my wife is going to donate to the airborne museum in Ranville.
    Any info will be gratefully received.
  18. reddevon

    reddevon Member

    brithm likes this.
  19. princesspeach

    princesspeach Member


    maybe I can find here anybody that can help me.
    First, sorry for my bad english :)

    I am looking for further information about 12th Devonshire Regiment and I think especially the D company.

    I don’t know the correct English word for this but I am working with our local office for archeology as honorary ground monument curator (I have the permission for searching with metal detectors for example).

    While research about special happenings during ww2 in our region, I found an article on pegasusarchive.org from Captain Laurence Athelstan Salt

    Unit : Battalion Headquarters, subsequently "D" Company, 12th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment.

    Completely surprising for all of us, he wrote about a concentration camp near our village which absolutely no one knows about. We spoke with our local archeologist and even they have never heard about this and were searching all old documents since some days but found nothing about.

    We spoke to some over 90-year-old inhabitants of the village and they also never heard about.

    So now I am trying to find anything about this single information from his report, someone else from his unit who has seen it or other documents from himself to make sure that he really meant this village.

    From the diaries on the pegasus site I found only one other man who wrote about a concentration camp near this villages : Commanding Officer : Lt Col P. Gleadell
    But he didn’t even write the exact villages name as Mr Salt did.

    So we and our archeologists are very interested to uncover such a bad thing which seems to be forgotten or hushed up (we live in the former German Democratic Republic where much things were hushed up)

    The concerning period is from 2nd May 1945 they arrived in north Germany a village called Hohen Viecheln. I try to attach screenshots of the reports.

    I really hope that somebody here can help me.

    kind regards
    Alex1975uk likes this.
  20. princesspeach

    princesspeach Member

Share This Page