3530919 Sydney Leonard BARWICK, 44 Royal Tank Regiment, RAC: 14/04/1943

Discussion in 'Italy' started by dave1212, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. dave1212

    dave1212 Junior Member


    My first post since becoming a member. I have many questions but each time I visit I end up reading & reading & reading...getting myself sidetracked due to the very interesting subject matter. I hope I've posted this in the correct section.

    I'm tracking a soldier - Lance Corporal Sydney Leonard Barwick who died April 14, 1943 while serving with the 44th Royal Tank Regiment RAC. Place of death is listed as Italy & he is buried at Florence War Cemetery, Italy (I.E.2). Syd was 33 years old.

    My first question to the Forum: Where specifically was the 44th Royal Tank Regiment in April 1943? Syd's DOD & location doesn't make sense to me. From the Regiment's Roll of Honour I counted 30 men who died in 1943:
    March -1 man in Palestine
    April - Syd on the 14th in Italy & another man on the 24th in Egypt
    July - 10 men in Sicily
    August - 2 men in Sicily
    October - 1 man in Sicily
    November - 5 men in Italy
    December - 9 men in Italy

    If anyone could provide some insight to this puzzle I would be grateful. I understand that whether felled by illness, accident or in battle, combatants are often buried in temporary locations then relocated to permanent sites later on. I just can't figure out Syd's story.

    More background on Syd:
    He was born in 1910 in Bodmin, Cornwall. He came to Canada with his family early in 1914 when his father Frederick transferred from the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry to the Royal Canadian Regiment. Raised in Saskatchewan & Manitoba Syd found himself in Halifax, Nova Scotia looking for work when he heard that men were being recruited for the British Army. Nearly one hundred young men including Syd took up the challenge.

    Syd enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment (M.G.) April, 1939. While at the Recruit Depot at Ladysmith Barracks in Ashton Syd was middleweight boxing champ & finished 2nd in the best shot competition. He returned from Dunkirk & sometime after that would have transferred to the RAC. He married a girl from Nottingham late 1941.

    I thank you in advance.

    Dave from Halifax, NS

    Attached Files:

    A_Proper_Cuppa likes this.
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    your best bet is to get his service records from Glasgow - meanwhile someone will be along with the details on that..as it's getting late I shall have a dig around in my books and let you have some answer to your queries in the a.m.

  3. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    You are quite right to be confused which makes his service records all the more important - so if we take your date of April '43 - the main fighting was still going on in Tunisia - although I can

    find NO record of 44RTR being around there at that time although they had been in the desert but with whom is another mystery as it wasn't 7th Armoured div Or 4th Armoured brigade.....so perhaps

    April'44 - Nope - fighting was around Cassino at that time before the fall of Rome in June '44 - buried at Florence April '43......as a POW most likely having been captured in the desert as the 5th US

    Army never got to Florence until August of '44...

    44th RTR joined 4th AB after Sicily as 7th AD had taken off for the UK after Naples - 44th RTR also went back to the UK for Normandy in January '44...

    I rather suspect that he might have been captured at the Gazala Gallop in June / July '42.... this is why his service records are so important..tricky one this

  4. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Hello Dave and welcome
    My first thought that if he was badly injured he was probably taken to a hospital in Italy and died of his wounds there and buried in a temporary grave nearby.

    This note taken from the CWGC for Florence War Cemetery - "The site for the war cemetery was selected in November 1944 for burials from the hospitals established in and around Florence but the greater part of those buried here lost their lives in the fighting in this area from July to September 1944."

    Perhaps one of the other members have the war diary around the period your man died.
    Sorry not to be of much help

  5. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Tom's got it. The roll of honour in their regimental history lists Syd's location as "Italy (Ex Western Desert)". Whether he died of illness, some POW-related escapade or, possibly, his body was recovered from the sea after a POW transport was sunk (there are a few "At Sea" entries in the roll, but nothing for this date) may or may not be answered by his service records.

    Incidentally, his name was included on the regimental memorial plaque in the Drill Hall on Old Market Street in Bristol; I don't know if either of those still exist.
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Army Roll of Honour states theatre at time of death, or in some cases where last known to be serving:
    I can't find him listed as a POW. Maybe someone else can verify that.

    I wonder if he appears anywhere in eg The Times in Army Casualty lists. This might confirm his status, KIA, DOW, Missing, POW, etc. Updates of status can be published over several lists, and it would be helpful to know what was recorded at the time.

    It might also be worthwhile checking with CWGC, if in this case they might be able to help.
    4jonboy likes this.
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    One of the problems of attempting to trace a soldier is the surfeit of information which many well intentioned people send in as facts - usually nothing wrong with that BUT - from what we

    have seen in this case is a typical reaction.....from what we have so far - a great deal can be discounted such as the loss at sea by POW's as being not likely as most ships from Africa were aiming at

    Taranto - Bari or Naples - long way from land locked Florence..we do know that 44th RTR were "floaters " from Egypt - Palestine - Tunisia - Sicily - Italy and France and Germany with two sessions

    attached to 4th AB.....the one constant is in Diane's posting with the fact that his death was recorded as being 14th APRIL 1943 and buried at Florence...

    Objective history - from all sources - inform us that the Allies i.e. US 7th and British 8th Armies - landed in Sicily- for the first time on 10th JULY ' 1943..and invaded Italy by 8th Army of 3rd

    SEPTEMBER 1943 at REGGIO and by the US 5th Army at SALERNO on the 9th SEPTEMBER 1943.....both of these Venues being a long way from Florence....the same history informed us that the

    US 5th Army reached the Florence area at or about August 1944 - with two British Army Corps attached neither of whom had 44th RTR on strength - which seems to confirm my thinking that he was a

    POW at the time of his death.

  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    One more suggestion - in the absence of any confirmation of POW listing from the usual published sources (still hoping someone else will check if you can confirm you haven't done so yourself), it might be quicker than the usual MOD service records route to apply to ICRC. Perhaps see if they can confirm that he was POW and if so also specifics about his movements as such. MOD records are unlikely to have much about latter, though they will provide all the usual data concerning his training / transfers / promotion &c.

    Your call :)

    Details here

  9. dave1212

    dave1212 Junior Member

    Thank you all so much for this. I appreciate it. The POW scenario certainly makes the most sense. Syd's service record would fill in the gaps so I'll keep you posted on that front. Until then you've given me much information to read up on & explore. I am unfamiliar with the Gazala Gallop in June/July '42 & I wonder what POW camps/hospitals were in the Florence area in April 1943?

    Thanks again.


  10. dave1212

    dave1212 Junior Member

    An update to share; still searching for Syd's family but did come across these two clippings from the Winnipeg Tribune from June 24, 1942 & May 19, 1943.

    I realize 'details' from such clippings can be suspect but some aspects can be spot on. The family info is fairly accurate - his father Frederick Joseph Barwick was RSM 65th Battalion (Saskatchewan) when he went overseas in WW1 & finished the war as a Captain 214th Battalion (Saskatchewan). The names of Syd's eldest sibling George & youngest Freda are omitted from the article - as was his time in the 2/Mancs.

    CWGC lists Syd's DOD as April 14, 1943 & I believe this is accurate & not May 14 as stated in the article. I have been unable to confirm he received the DCM or MID.

    The reference to the POW camp (Camp 202) could be accurate. P.G. 202 was located in Lucca, Italy which is not far from Florence where Syd is buried. It was a hospital camp located in a monastery.

    My question today - Does the June 2, 1942 date & location listed of Syd's capture tie in at all with where the 44th Royal Tank Regiment might have been?

    I thank you in advance & I do feel we are getting closer to finding Syd's family. His birth in England & service with a British unit at the time of his death, has caused his name to be overlooked for the Canadian Books of Remembrance. This brave young man spent 27 of his 33 years here & he should be included. That's my goal once we find his family.

    Thanks again.
  11. dave1212

    dave1212 Junior Member

    Why can't I attach a file? Oh well, 'til resolved: 1st article (June 24, 1942) he is believed to be a POW having been reported missing in the Middle East June 2, 1942. The 2nd article (May 19, 1943) states Syd was wounded & captured by the Italians at Benghazi June 2, 1942.
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    From the regiments war diary
    CL1 and Owen like this.
  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  14. dave1212

    dave1212 Junior Member

    Cheers Owen for the update & Drew, I appreciate the war diary posts. Still attempting to decipher the handwriting but look forward to reading them. Thank you.
  15. dave1212

    dave1212 Junior Member

  16. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    PG202 Lucca was one of a number of POW Hospitals established in June/July '42 to deal with the numbers of wounded POW from North Africa in Italian hands. I have just come back from the NZ National Archives and found some Red Cross Reports on POW camps, some for Lucca, and I will, once I have sorted out the 200 odd pages I copied while there, see if your man was recorded.
    By the way Wikipedia is WRONG! PG 202 Lucca was located in part of the old civil hospital in Lucca, not in a monastery! Also there is no district of Bergamo in Lucca, that I can find. I will be posting more on the Lucca Hospital once I have completed my research.
    Drew5233 likes this.
  17. dave1212

    dave1212 Junior Member

    Thanks for this Geoff, I appreciate it. Away from main computer @ the moment but will comment further when I return.
  18. dave1212

    dave1212 Junior Member

    I'm hoping this is a fairly accurate transcription of the June 1-4 1942 war diary entry:

    Date June 1/2 - See appendices 'B', 'C', and 'D' to war diary for
    May 1942

    Date June 3 - The person now in charge Major F.E. Whitaker
    cmds the rest of the Bn, with Capt
    Martin acting as Adjutant other officers
    are Capt Burnett (padre), Lieut. Rankin,
    2/Lt Reid-Henry and 2/Lt Connor. The Bn 'B'
    echelon is practically complete but
    nearly the whole of the fighting echelon
    was captured in the '150 ??? Box' on
    June 1. The approx strength of the Bn is
    2/Lt Dodwell returned to the Bn having
    escaped from the '150 ??? Box'.

    Date June 4 - Nothing to report.


    I cannot decipher '150 ??? Box'. Any ideas what this description may represent as occurring on June 1, 1942?

    The entry ' The Bn 'B'
    echelon is practically complete but
    nearly the whole of the fighting echelon
    was captured...'
    Does this mean Bn 'B's fighting echelon was captured?

    As always appreciate any insight. Thanks again.
  19. idler

    idler GeneralList

    It's '150 Bde Box' which is short for '150 Brigade Box'. A box was an all-round defensive position in the desert which was manned by an infantry brigade plus supporting units like artillery and armour. I'd need to look up who 150 Bde were, can't do that from memory...

    The B Echelon were the lucky ones, it looks like they weren't in the box when it was attacked so didn't get captured, or worse. There's no mention of the A Echelon, but the implication is they were forward in the box at the time. Echelons are discussed here (which saves me some typing):

    A, B and F Echelons ?
  20. dave1212

    dave1212 Junior Member

    This is wonderful information. Thank you so much. Attached are the photos we have of Syd. Top middle was taken from the Winnipeg Tribune articles & the other three were from photographs taken during recruit training at Ladysmith Barracks Ashton-under-Lyne 2nd Manchesters May/June 1939.

    You've all been fantastic in helping me discover more about this young man's journey. It is appreciated. Syd Barwick Photos.jpg

Share This Page