78th British Infantry Division - "The Battleaxe Div"

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by Ron Goldstein, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. Ian Taws

    Ian Taws New Member

    John Williamson. other 2 unknown 20161205_212216.jpg
  2. Ian Taws

    Ian Taws New Member

    The photos are to large to post I'm doing this on my phone so I'm limited I will try with the rest on the computer when I get time thanks.
  3. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Just an annual reminder of the disturbances that took place in Cairo in early August 1944.. I know that Ron Goldstein noted in his diary that the date of the affray was 9th August 1944.

    The only addition to the previous conversations on the subject is this small section that I had recently noted in the 'Quis Separabit' journal dated May 1945.

    Faugh a Ballagh !

    FullSizeRender_1 (2).jpg
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  4. Chris Cunningham

    Chris Cunningham New Member

    Hi Paul
    I noticed this thread while researching my father who was in the 159th Field Ambulance during Operation Torch (I have the regimental diary of that period) However in Ken Ford's book of the 78th Division it lists the RAMC as you have above in the Order of Battle. Can you tell me what the source of your OOB is?
    I wonder if this is a typographical error and they meant the 159th rather than 152nd? I haven't confirmed where the 152nd were in 1943 but they were attached for much of the war to the 51st Highland Division which makes me think this may be an error? Any help gratefully accepted
  5. 5th buffs

    5th buffs Member

    Good eaving all

    Does anyone know if the 78th div had its own newspaper?

    Many thanks

  6. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  7. 5th buffs

    5th buffs Member

  8. Widnesmike

    Widnesmike New Member

    I notice that noone has commented on this in a while, but searching through for information i came across this forum, John "Jack" Eustace was my dads uncle and although i never got to meet him I'm proud of his accomplishments and would appreciate any other information anyone can give :)
  9. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    apply for his service records Get a copy of military service records
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  10. pearlyred

    pearlyred Member

    Hi all, I've recently started putting together a history of my grandfather who served in WW2. As he died when I was 10, I've never had the chance to ask him the questions I'd love to ask now, so am piecing together his life and service as best I can.

    Please excuse my lack of knowledge for everything military. It's not an environment I've been exposed to previously.

    Anyway, my grandfather was Leslie John Biggs, born 16 Aug 1922 in Birmingham, England. I believe he was part of the Royal West Kent Regiment, 6th battalion, 78th division? (unsure how the regiment/battalion/division thing works).

    He may have been taken POW sometime in late 1943. He didn't die during service, he returned home eventually. I'm told he may also have been involved in the Korean war, but I have no details on this at all.

    Am I in the right place, with this 78th division thread? Is anyone aware through their current material of any references to a L.J. Biggs in this division?

    I really appreciate any help you all can provide,
  11. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Welcome to the forum. There is only one place to start researching a soldier and that is to apply for their service records:
    Get a copy of military service records

    This will give you the information to start researching the campaigns and theatres he was involved with. From there you can head for the war diaries to get detailed information.

    You are correct in that the 6th Bn, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment were part of 36 Infantry Brigade who were in turn one of the three brigades in the 78th (Battleaxe) Infantry Division.
    78th Infantry Division (United Kingdom) - Wikipedia

    There is record of L J Biggs, service number 5509677 from the RKWs being taken POW, possibly him.

    When you apply for his service records remember that you do not need to have the army number, just date of birth and death certificate. When you have them start off a new post under his name & number with copies of the documents and the helpful people around here will help you interpret them.
    Good luck.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
  12. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    5509677 BIGGS Pte L J 6 Bn Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment:

    Casualty List No. 1300 Dated 25 November 1943
    Missing 18/10/1943

    Casualty List No. 1351 Dated 25 January 1944
    Previously reported missing now reported POW in German hands

    Casualty List No. 1436 Dated 3 May 1944
    Previously reported POW now reported wounded and POW in German hands

    Casualty List No. 1823 Dated 1 August 1945
    Previously reported wounded and POW now not POW

    Record set Prisoners Of War 1715-1945
    Archive reference WO 392/11
    First name(s) L J
    Last name Biggs
    Year -
    Service number 5509677
    Rank Private
    Ship name R W K
    Country of imprisonment -
    Nationality British
    Ship or corps R W K

    Record set Prisoners Of War 1715-1945
    Archive reference WO 392/1
    First name(s) L J
    Last name Biggs
    Year -
    Service number 5509677
    Rank Private
    Ship name Rwk
    Country of imprisonment Germany
    Nationality German
    Ship or corps RWK
    Prison camp or ship -
    The National Archives
    Document details Lists of POWs in Germany or German-Occupied territory (WW2)
    Category Military, armed forces & conflict
    Subcategory Regimental & Service Records
    Collections from Great Britain, UK None

    Prisoners Of War 1715-1945
    First name(s) L. J.
    Last name Biggs
    Service number 5509677
    Rank Private
    Regiment The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
    Year -
    Prison camp or ship Ludwigsberg
    Camp type STALAG
    Camp number 5A
    Camp location Ludwigsberg
    Country Great Britain
    Conflict World War 2
    Archive Infantry and Army Physical Training Corps Record Office, Stanwell Road School, Ashford, Middlesex
    Record set Prisoners Of War 1715-1945
    Category Military, armed forces & conflict
    Subcategory Regimental & Service Records
    Collections from Great Britain, UK None

    On the 18 October 1943 36 Bde were in the area of Montecilfone, Italy:
    Google Maps

    An extract from the 56 Reconnaissance Regt diaries (they were also part of 78th Division,) states:
    17/10/43 2000 hrs
    A Sqn Assault troop under command 36 Bde enter Montecilfone but are attacked before consolidated & withdraw. Casualties 1 killed 1 missing. B Sqn encounter & lift mines on track patrols in Larino area operating with 6th Lancers (82nd Division).

    18/10/43 0900 hrs
    C Sqn & RHQ move harbour 8 miles E of Petacciato in preparation for operations against Petacciato under commd 38 Bde. A Sqn OP E of Montecilfone shelled but no other activities.

    19/10/43 0130 hrs
    Attack opens on Petacciato. Intense artillery barrage.

    1230 hrs
    Operations successful and town occupied. C Sqn & RHQ proceed through town to recce Montenero, find enemy in occupation & after controlling our artillery fire onto positions & vehicles return to harbour 1m E of Petacciato. A Sqn move into Montecilfone after attack by RWK. Enemy counterattack beaten off after stiff fighting. Casualties - nil.

    1300 hrs
    Enemy shelling of Montecilfone KO 3 carriers & 1 m/cycle wounding 10 other ranks. Defensive positions 2m East of town taken up at dusk. 1 White scout car blown up on mine in withdrawing, 1 OR killed & several wounded & shocked. Night patrols - no contact.

    [Note that the casualties mentioned would be that of 56 Recce and not other units]

    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
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  13. pearlyred

    pearlyred Member

    Thanks Tony! I will attempt to send off for the records. Paying for them from overseas feels like way more of a challenge than it should be. Who doesn't take a credit card these days??

    Thanks so much for the extra information. I didn't realise that the unit he was in was also part of the 36 Infantry, so that's another avenue of research.

    I presume by your last statement, that the 'missing' soldier from the 17th October couldn't have been him.. ?

    Many thanks,
  14. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Lee, that's correct, the diaries were from a different regiment so would have been their casualties, link to page here:

    resized P2000014 | WW2Talk

    As one of the 78th divisional troops it was not uncommon for one of 56 Recce's three squadrons (A, B or C) to be attached to one of the three infantry brigades (11, 36 or 38) consequently their diaries, that are available on this site courtesy of RecceMitch, to contain references and copies of the brigades operational orders.

    RWK casualties may be mentioned in their own diaries. Note that it is unusual for 'other ranks' to get a mention by name but killed. wounded & missing often given as total numbers.

    As far as the service records are concerned they do not have any online or plastic card means of payment but can accept an International Money Order from your bank.
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  15. pearlyred

    pearlyred Member

    Again, thank you very much for the information. It will all help paint a picture of what my grandfather went through during those years.

    I'm amazed that such detailed notes/logs are available, but assume this is more a rarity than it is common? Are there other logs/diaries such as this that would detail other elements of the 78th movements?

  16. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Most regiments kept war diaries, similar to the link I posted previously, these documents can run to many hundreds (thousands) of pages and are a treasure trove of detailed information enabling researchers to gain a comprehensive picture of a soldiers time in the war.

    Firstly, remember, that it was not unusual for servicemen to be transferred between regiments and/or battalions, or spend time in hospital etc so you need to a little careful (patient) until you have received the service records or you could spend a lot of time looking at the wrong unit.

    IF the soldier identified above, service No 5509677, is your grandfather then his service number indicates that he enlisted with the Hampshire Regiment, only his records will explain when he went from one to the other, and if there were others in between!
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  17. pearlyred

    pearlyred Member

    Thanks Tony. May I ask where you found the reference to the Hampshire Regiment?

    I'm waiting for the bank draft to be drawn up and will be sending off the forms as soon as it arrives.
  18. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  19. pearlyred

    pearlyred Member

  20. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

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