2 Middlesex Louvain/Leuven 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Eaw458, Mar 4, 2017.

  1. Eaw458

    Eaw458 Junior Member

    Here's just a quick "then and now" from my own collection of pictures relating to Louvain/Leuven in May 1940.

    These are men from 2 Middlesex.

    Walter

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  2. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Fascinating, Walter. How were you able to identify the unit ? Are there sources cross-referencing the location ?
     
  3. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    The attachment below is from The Middlesex Regiment (D.C.O.) Written by Lt. Commander P.K. Kemp. The buildings look the same to me. It looks as if its from the opposite corner.

    Walter, that's a nice picture.. Do you have any more?
    Regards
    Stu.

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  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Stuart, I believe that your picture was taken about five minutes away. It is a scene which also appears in a Pathé film and other shots in the same sequence appear to show bomb damage around the Diestsevest / Martelarenplein.

    The main road has now been tunnelled under the square so street view isn't very helpful here and there has been a lot of rebuilding on three sides.

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  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Another view from the Pathé sequence showing a Norton marked to 2 Corps close to the junction of the Diestsevest / Diestestraat. It looks as if road widening and the new bus terminal have removed the buildings where the machine gunners were photographed.



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  6. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    By chance, I had to be in a rather wet and windy Leuven this afternoon and with Walter's location of his photo, I decided to see if I could more closely replicate the orientation of the original. Unfortunately, the spot where the photographer stood has now become the entrance to an underground bicycle parking and I didn't have a step ladder so positioning was a compromise.

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  7. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Rich, it looks as if the Norton is your bag.:cool:. Not sure what you mean by five minutes away?(Your post 4) Pathe news is something I've not used. I'm some what behind the times. You & Andy know more than me, but I've a feeling that some photos have a stage element about them. It looks like a nice old lady pushing something. This photo is from the Iron Division, The History of the 3rd Division. By Robin McNish. I see your post six. Well done. Its handy if you are near by.
    Regards
    Stu.

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  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Any thoughts on a date?
     
  9. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Drew, I don't know about the date of Walter's photo. They are clearly queueing to mess and I assume that although GHQ troops, 2 Middlesex probably arrived on the Dijl on 10th /11th May together with 3 Div whom they supported. The sandbag sequences follow on in the Pathé film from the demolition of the bridege at the Tiensepoort...I believe that this was done as the Div Cav withdrew across the railway line on 14th May. It certainly can't be later than the 16th.

    Tiensepoort Leuven - Then & Now

    Stuart, my reference to '5 minutes' was to the time needed to travel between where the book photographs were taken out on the line of the old city wall, and Walter's original photograph at the Rector De Somerplein in the centre. Having walked it today, I can say that it is a little further than 5 minutes.

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  10. Eaw458

    Eaw458 Junior Member

    Hi all,

    I should have said "these are presumed to be from 2 Middlesex" - apologies. The photo is unambiguously dated as 11 May on the reverse, and having read the War Diaries of 3(UK)Div and 10(BE)Div in detail, the only British infantry deployed in the town centre on that date was this machine gun battalion. All of the other infantry was held back whilst the occupation of Leuven was being debated by the allied commanders and whilst Montgomery was quite happy to retain the bulk of his force on the heights to the west of the city. It was only from 12 May onward that 2 Middlesex was joined by the rest of the infantry. This location would then have inside 2 Royal Ulster Rifles' position.

    The sandbags predate the arrival of the BEF - these are definitely Belgian and part of air raid defence.

    The city archives have an original print of Rich's machine gun post and they too are clear on its location. Rich is right - the tram tracks are Diestsevest and the street leading into the distance is Diestsestraat.

    I have a few more of Leuven in May 1940. I'll start with a series of the area around Tiensepoort and the Tiensesteenweg road bridge, which was the junction between the positions of 2RUR to the North and 2LINCS. Most damage is from the numerous German air raids. The main road from Tienen crossing the main line from Liège made for a very popular target.

    These are not in chronological order. Some of these are copies of known press photograpgs ;-)

    Germans looking south from the Tiensesteenweg road bridge:
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    Belgian barbed wire just North of the brige, looking South towards the bridge. Direction of the enemy is towards the left. The lines under the bridge were blocked by 17 Field Company on 12th May 1940 by placing a series of goods wagons on each of the tracks, cutting the axles with standard 1lb charges. These wagons were removed very soon after the arrival of the Germans.
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    July 1940, looking East over the Tiensesteenweg road bridge.
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    Retreat of 15/19 Hussars on 14th May 1940. Direction of the enemy is towards the top.
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    253 Field Company blew the bridge on 14th May 1940 around 17:00 Belgian time.
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    Only the Eastern span was demolished. The central and western span remaining intact. The Tiensesteenweg was also blocked by a single row of undefended Cointet elements.
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    Tiensepoort
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    Sorry - odd one out - this is the rail bridge of the Leuven-Wavre line on Geldenaaksebaan. This bridge was mined by 17 Field Company on 11th May 1940.
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    The last six are all taken along Tiensesteenweg, in the short section between Tiensepooort and the road bridge where 253 Field Company positioned its demolition party / exploder on 14th May 1940 on the Northern side of the road next to the service station owned by the then famous cyclist Jef Scheerens. One of these is also a press photo and shows the moment of the explosion of the bridge. 253 Field Company had increased the charge laid by 17 Field Company and the resulting explosion was unexpectedly violent as is evidenced by the soldier of the demolition party legging it towards town!

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    Comments and additions welcome!

    Walter
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
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  11. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Above right: A Vickers detachment of 2 Middlesex in action in support of 2 RUR, Louvain, 14 May 1940./ Imperial War Museum.
    I should have said. Walter, thanks for more of the photos. Rich, if required I will scan the few of pages from the 2 Middlesex time in question? It does have a nice admiration by Lt- General Sir Brian Horrocks in his forward of the Regimental History.

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    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Stuart - what book is the map from?
     
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    One of the finer BEF war diaries as far as detail goes...
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  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    And the map:
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  16. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Hi Drew, thanks for that. You have saved me some scanning. The book has about 20 pages on chapter 6. The Road to Dunkirk.
    If its of any use then i will scan them & post. Page 69 is below the front cover. ISBN 0-7110-2820-6 It be should be no more than £25.
    There is about 250 pages.
    Stu.



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    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
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  17. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    It looks as if they had a type writer that worked. Excellent work by the typist. Drew, is the all file in type? I would be interested in obtaining a copy of it. The 2nd is not my bag, buts its worth having.
    Stu.
     
  18. Lion

    Lion Junior Member

     
  19. Lion

    Lion Junior Member

    Hi i think that you are correct on these men being from the 2nd Middlesex i am quite certain my father is in that photograph 5th from the right with his steel helmet tilted to the right great photo most of these men were regular soldiers before the war started my father joined the regiment in 1937 thanks Kevin
     
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  20. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Do you have any photographs of your Father in uniform, Kevin ? Always nice to see...especially pre-war for those of us who are fans of Service Dress.
     

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