14240886 Cyril Percy Powell 15th Recce Regt - looking for info/help

Discussion in 'Recce' started by WW2RecceNiece, Oct 2, 2017.

  1. WW2RecceNiece

    WW2RecceNiece Member

    Hi All,

    Firstly I just want to say I am absolutely blown away by the amount of information available within these forums provided by so many helpful members - I've already learned so much without even posting a question!

    Sadly we lost my uncle a week or so ago and in preparing for his funeral, since he had no children of his own, I have been trying to do some research on his time serving in WW2. We will be sending off an application for his military records from MOD tomorrow (now I've realise that is something that we can do) but I'm guessing it's extremely unlikely that we will receive the information in time for the funeral next week so I'm trying to do what I can myself based on a few old documents and what little information his remaining siblings have.

    My uncle did say very much at all about his WW2 experiences so I don't have much to go on but based on some old photos and some badges found in a tin, I believe his main service was in the 15th (Scottish) Regiment Reconnaissance Corps (there seem to be difference versions of the name depending on where I look so apologies if I haven't quite got it right). The badge on his arm in the photo is the same as that on my avatar and he has the 'RECONNAISSANCE' badge on his arm also.

    The main things that the siblings remember of his time serving were that he 'crossed the Rhine' and spent some time as a PoW but not for long. I know he was initially in the GSC when he joined/was called up, which tallies up with the service number he had (14240886) from what I've seen on the service numbers post elsewhere, then he seems to have been a Lance Corporal in the Recce Rgmt which I think became part of RAC and then he finished his time in RASC with the rank of Driver.

    To cut a long story short, I've had a look at the 15th Recce war diaries after finding a couple of records on the Findmypast website where he appeared ("14240886 POWELL L/Cpl C.P. 15 R. Recce Corps") on one of the casualty lists (1749), listed as missing following action on 15th April 1945. Given that date and from what I've read I believe he was involved in an 'incident' at Nettlekamp on 15th April 1945 and so probably was in 'C' squadron as they also seemed to play a part in the Rhine crossing. He then appears on another casualty list (1787) as 'previously reported missing, now reported not missing' but there's no further detail as to why/how he became 'not missing' :) and I'm also not able to tell what dates those casualty reports were filed on from the images I have (casualty list pages included below)

    GBM-WO417-091-0462.jpg GBM-WO417-093-0398.jpg

    Having drawn a blank on what happened after 15th April, I stumbled across this forum and found the media library of WO 361/543 – 15th Recce Regt missing personnel from Recce_Mitch (thank you so much Recce_Mitch you made my day with that library!) After looking through all the photographs, I found details of a report dated 4th May with information gleaned from some men who had either escaped or been liberated that claimed those named in the list on the first page of the report where PoW (links to thumbnails of relevant pages below)


    Not sure what the red writing at the bottom of the above page says fully, something like 'The above are all still missing on ???? ????' Someone also seems to have checked off most of the names an annotated it 'Located UK' not sure when that would have been.


    I haven't been able to find any record of him in any of the PoW records I searched and I don't have anything with a PoW number for him on, but he does have a small card called 'Identity Card for ex-Prisoner of War' which was issued at '33 R.H.U' on 6th May 1945. So it seems to tally with the information from the siblings that he was PoW but wasn't held for long. I think RHU means Reinforcement Holding Unit but I don't know where or when this would have been issued or even if it was a specific location or a unit of troops that moved around?

    Could anyone shed any light for me on how/when these cards were issued and whether the location it was issued at might give me a clue where he might have been held? Would it perhaps have taken time to be officially registered as a PoW and maybe given the short time between being taken and the German surrender, it may be conceivable that he may not have been entered into the official records I'm trying to search? I've drawn a blank with Google unfortunately.

    I also have one of his 'pay books' from 1944-1945 and wondered whether it would be possible to map the imprest numbers given for each pay entry to a unit or something like that? (might be asking a lot there though given how long ago it was) I think I can see where he has moved around in Belgium/Holland/Germany by looking at the currency they were paid in (absolutely fascinating!)

    I've ordered the 'Scottish Lion on Patrol: 15th Scottish Reconnaissance Regiment' book which is arriving tomorrow but have skimmed the kindle version a little already to try to confirm some of my findings plus I've ordered the 'Only the Enemy in Front (Every Other Beggar Behind....): The Recce Corps at War 1940-1946' book from the library so I'm trying to cover all bases!

    I have so many questions, if only I had thought to try asking him when he was still with us, but I would really like to find out as much as I can so that my brother and I can talk a little about what we've found at the funeral and show our respect and thanks for his service.

    If anyone has any tips on where to go for further information or can help with the questions within my long rambling post (sorry for the length!) then I would be eternally grateful.
  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Firstly a warm welcome and congratulations on a very comprehensive post, hopefully you will be able to add to your uncle's service. As a start have a look here:
    Reconnaissance Journal
    The index shows where the 15th get a mention, there may be something for you.

    I have a copy of 'Only the enemy in front' and the index shows a fair number of mentions for 15th, and anyway will be a good read.

    Osprey Publishing also have some good books:
    The British Reconnaissance Corps in World War II
    Humber Light Reconnaissance Car 1941–45
    World War II Combat Reconnaissance Tactics

    Best of luck, and again welcome.
  3. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum, great to have another Recce on board. Glad you found my library useful.

    CL1 and WW2RecceNiece like this.
  4. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    By the way the publication dates for the two casualty lists you mention were:
    List No. 1749 - 5/5/1945
    List No. 1787 - 20/6/1945
    CL1, WW2RecceNiece and Recce_Mitch like this.
  5. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Was Cyril a Policeman before he joined the Army?
  6. WW2RecceNiece

    WW2RecceNiece Member

    Thanks Tony and thanks for the welcome. Vol 2 No.2 of the journal has a piece on the Rhine crossing and the Nettlekamp incident by the 15th, which will be very useful! I managed to get hold of a PDF version of the the first Osprey book in your list on my journeys around the web the other night so good to know that's a good one to look at - will check out the others too. Thanks for all the recommendations - I have a lot of reading to do :)

    Thanks also for the publication dates of those lists - the picture is gradually taking shape!
  7. WW2RecceNiece

    WW2RecceNiece Member

    Thanks for the welcome Paul - it was amazing to find that document amongst the photos you posted, I can't tell you how much it meant.
  8. WW2RecceNiece

    WW2RecceNiece Member

    Not as far as I'm aware - he worked as a 'Corn Merchant' according to his army papers that I have, which from speaking to my family meant that he loaded bags of corn off a barge to be processed at a local Miller!
  9. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    You mention that he had no children but was he married? I believe that this may be him in which case the RASC is mentioned:

    Ripley & Heanor News, Friday, July 12 1946
    The engagement is announced between Miss Nora Chesham, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs J A Chesham, 254 Nottingham Road, Ripley, and Mr Cyril Powell (RASC), eldest son of of Mr and Mrs P Powell, 44 Wilson Marriage Road, Colchester, Essex

    Q2 1947 Married at Amber Valley (Ripley) Register Office

    1939 Register
    254, Nottingham Road
    Chesham John A / dob 23 Dec 1906 / Rigger (Getting coal)
    Chesham Lucy M / 29 May 1907 / Unpaid domestic duties
    Chesham Nora / 31 Aug 1927 / At school
    + others

    44, Wilson Marriage Road, Colchester
    Powell Percy Wm / 15 June 1899 / Lorry Driver
    Powell Florence E / 27 Dec 1903 / Unpaid domestic duties
    + others records closed
  10. WW2RecceNiece

    WW2RecceNiece Member

    Yes that's him! How on earth did you find that from the few details I posted!!!

    Yes he finished his time in RASC as a driver, I'm guessing he was redeployed to them after his regiment was disbanded in March 1946?
  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Ve ave our vays unt meens

    I doubt there will be anything 'official' regarding his POW days, it was a massively chaotic time for all and filling in forms or arranging visits from the International Red Cross would have been the last things on peoples minds

    By being reported 'missing' it means that his unit does not know where he is or what has happened to him, as time passes and more information becomes available he would then have been reported 'Wounded', 'POW', 'Killed in Action' etc etTD
    WW2RecceNiece likes this.
  12. WW2RecceNiece

    WW2RecceNiece Member

    There sure are some members on here who can work magic :D

    So from another thread on this forum I found the @rcre site (which I think is run my a forum member PsyWar.Org big thanks for such quick turnaround!) and he was able to get me a copy of my uncle's liberation questionnaire, which he completed on 11th May 1945. From articles I've read I believe this would have been completed when he returned to UK. The questionnaire confirms he was captured at Nettlekamp on 14th April 1945.

    His ex-POW ID card was issued on 6th May 1945, though I'm not sure whether that would have been issued when he was still overseas just after he had been liberated but am guessing that might be the case given it says on the front that the card 'must be retained until collected at the Reception Camp in the United Kingdom'.

    On another note I called the MOD disclosures dept today and a very nice lady there took the details for my uncle and said she would try to request the archive files in preparation for our application appearing in the system (application was delivered to them today). So fingers crossed we may be able to get some additional detail from that.
    Recce_Mitch and PsyWar.Org like this.
  13. WW2RecceNiece

    WW2RecceNiece Member

    Scan 1 copy.jpg
    Found this photo amongst his things - no idea when taken, where or who the others are but am guessing it might be his section (if that's the right word). My uncle is the tall guy standing in the middle at the back :salut:
    4jonboy likes this.
  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I am very much guessing here but I would assume that your Uncle was 'lucky'. He was captured 14th April 1945, and by the 6th May 1945 he had been liberated by Allied troops and moved to a centre that issued him the POW ID card. This card provided him access to a trip back to the UK asap, and by the looks of it he was back in the UK (at a reception centre) on or before the 11th May 1945, so he was effectively a POW for 3 weeks.

    The site you mention is run by one of our members

    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
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  15. WW2RecceNiece

    WW2RecceNiece Member

    Yes I would agree - his siblings say he didn't spend long as a PoW and the records seem to match with that. From some of the accounts I've read other members of C squadron appear to have been held for something like 4 - 8 days before being liberated. Although he wasn't detained long and seems to have managed to avoid the horrors that many others went through, it's good to be able to give a little detail to them of what happened as they literally know nothing at all.
  16. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    The soldier (2nd left front row) appears to have a R.A.S.C. cap badge. There was a R.A.S.C. Transport school at Ripley, Derbyshire during the war. I believe they trained drivers there. It might explain how he met and married Nora Chesham of Ripley, Derbyshire?
    All will be confirmed with his service records.
  17. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Condolences on the passing of your uncle.

    It looks like you will be able to describe his wartime experiences in some detail with the information you've gathered this week.

    Well done to all concerned.

    If you have a minute could you possibly upload the image of the released POW ID Card you mentioned please?

    I've heard of such cards but never seen an image.


    Steve Y
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  18. WW2RecceNiece

    WW2RecceNiece Member

    oh wow!! that's brilliant - you have some sharp eyes! No one seems to remember how they met so that's a great lead - do you have any references/pages where the Transport School in Ripley is mentioned?

    According to the mini service record card he has for when he joined the RASC Regt/Corps Association he was in RASC from August 1945 - May 1947 so it makes a lot of sense that that's how they could have met.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2005
    Name: Nora Chesham
    Mother's Maiden Surname: Wheatcroft
    Date of Registration: Oct-Nov-Dec 1927
    Registration district: Belper
    Inferred County: Derbyshire
    Volume Number: 7b
    Page Number: 983

    England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
    Name: Nora Chesham
    Date of Registration: Apr-May-Jun 1947
    Registration district: Belper
    Inferred County: Derbyshire
    Spouse: Cyril P Powell
    Volume Number: 3a
    Page Number: 174

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  20. WW2RecceNiece

    WW2RecceNiece Member

    Thank you - yes I'm starting to form quite a picture here, we have not told his siblings we are doing this so they will be amazed to hear all the details we've gathered.

    I haven't got the card to hand right now to scan it in but if you take a look on this page and scroll down to the 4th and 5th photos you'll see an example of an ex-POW ID card - it's slightly different in style to the one I have but might give you an idea for now.
    Tullybrone likes this.

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