51st (The Leeds Rifles) RTR 1944

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Ravrick, May 16, 2009.

  1. Ravrick

    Ravrick Senior Member

    Hi, I am reseaching a late member of the 51st RTR who was KIA in Italy 22/05/44, he is 7884955 Tpr Thomas Sidney James Kelly, all I know is that he served on the North west Frontier in India during 1937-39. I am trying to find out what the unit was doing on the day he was killed, what tanks they had and other casualties. Any help appreicated,
    Cheers, rick
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The 51st RTR was a member of the 25th Tank Bde in company with the North Irish Horse and the 142 RAC and all had Churchill Tanks - on that particular day they were attacking the Gustav Line in the Liri Valey supporting the 2nd Bde of the Canadian Infantry Division . Both the NIH and 51st RTR had wandered into Tank killing grounds and both lost 14 Tanks with 30 men in each battalion being killed and many more wounded. See Gerry Chester's web for more details...
  3. Ravrick

    Ravrick Senior Member

    Many thanks, do you have a web address for Gerry Chesters site?
    Cheers, Rick
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Ravrick -

    Not handy but "Google" him at Gerry Chester - NIH" - that should open up his very long web....
  5. JenniBell

    JenniBell Junior Member

    Hi Ravrick,

    For your interest my Grandad, Lt Harry Bell, was in the 51st RTR and was wounded on 19th May 1944 with concussion and blast injuries. This was part of the Monte Cassino battle.

    I have looked Thomas Kelly up on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site - here's the link to search for people,
    :: CWGC ::

    Thomas Kelly was the son of Thomas William and Beatrice Anne Kelly, of Bideford, Devon. He was buried in Monte Cassino War Cemetery and the grave reference is II.K.16.

    If you scroll through all the records for Monte Cassino you'll find names of other people killed on that day. I think the tanks they were in at that time were Churchill tanks.

    Hope that helps.

  6. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Rick,

    In a few days I will be returning to my home base in the US after a lengthy absense. One there I will check the 51st RTR War Diaries to see what happened on that particlular day.

    Cheers, Gerry
  7. Ravrick

    Ravrick Senior Member

    Hi Guys,
    many thanks for this and any future info, I am slowly building up a picture of the action in which he was killed,
  8. JenniBell

    JenniBell Junior Member

    Dear Gerry,

    I saw your reply to Ravrick in which you mentioned you had the 51st RTR war diaries.

    My Grandad was badly wounded for the second time on 2nd September 1944 and his tank crew were all killed. I would really like to find out their names - I have scrolled through all the records of all the war cemeteries in Italy trying to find 51st men who were killed on 2nd Sept 1944 but no luck. I wonder if you can help or point me in the right direction?

    Incidentally, I think my Grandad and his crew were the victims of 'friendly fire' - this is stated in an account of that day written by someone in the NIH and I think it might have been you?!

    Many thanks for any advice you can give me.

    Best wishes
  9. JenniBell

    JenniBell Junior Member

    P.S. Ravrick, was Thomas Kelly a relative of yours? If so you can print out a memorial certificate from the CWG website from his individual details page. Here's the link to it -

    CWGC :: Certificate
  10. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi JenniBell,

    Whlle London near the of my long sojourn away from home, I have found so much information about the six Churchill units that fought in Tunisia and Italy that is my intention to include it on my site.

    Without going into specifics this page from 25th Tank Brigade's Narrative of Operations indicates why and where 51st RTR went into action, together with my regiment, on the day that your GrandDad was wounded the second time. See:

    On Thursday I am returning to my home base in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I will dig into 51st RTR's War Diaries which will have the specifics of both woundings. I will post what I find.

    Wit best wishes to you and yours,

  11. JenniBell

    JenniBell Junior Member

    Hi Gerry,

    Thank you for the quick reply. Yes, this is what I've read. It was forwarded to me by an ex-trooper of 51st, Geoff Prater. I think you may have had some correspondence with him? I 'found' Geoff on the internet early last year and we've since become 'best mates' and have met up a few times too! I'm planning to forward him a link to this site as I'm sure he'd love it and he hasn't mentioned it before so not sure if he knows about it.

    Geoff joined the 51st after my Grandad was wounded in the September - Grandad spent 6 months in a field hospital and then was shipped home so he and Geoff never met but Geoff was in the same squadron and troop!

    Anyway, safe trip back to Arizona and I'd be so grateful for any further information, especially the 'holy grail' of the names of Grandad's tank crew. I just want to remember them for him.

    best wishes
  12. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Yes JenniBell, Geoff and I are old friends. After I had transcribed the 25th Brigade's narrative I sent the link to him - he then set about printinjg it and, as he states, it now occupies pride of place on his bookshelf.

    Has he told you about "Margo" which took part in the evacuation from Dunkirk? Geoff acquired her and, after renovation, crewed her to France on the 50th anniversary.

    'Tis a small world!
  13. JenniBell

    JenniBell Junior Member

    Yes, I've heard all about "Margo" and seen a photo. Has he told you about the inflatable castaway that ended up in Margo's rigging?!?!! Scurrillous trooper behaviour is all I'll say!

    'Tis indeed a small world and the internet is wonderful for bringing us all together.

    Ravrick - apologies for hijacking your thread!

  14. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    51st RTR War Diaries.

    Extracts 1 and 3 are for JenniBell, extract 2 for Rick.

    To get details and names I will photograph soonest possible the appropriate appendices for May and September. In the meantime here are the relevant extracts.


    von Poop likes this.

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