14339178 Tpr M J R Waplington, B Sqn, 44 RTR.

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by S54, Apr 10, 2020.

  1. S54

    S54 Junior Member

    Afternoon folks I'm trying to find out some info on the guy named in the title! He was a crewman on a DD Sherman and on or around about the 24/25 Mar 45 his tank was knocked out and everyone except him was killed, however he did lose a leg in the engagement. Apparently people have said they've seen footage of the incident or the aftermath on something like Pathe News. Can anyone on here shed any light on this or at least point me in the right direction in trying to find footage of 44th RTR during that period at least!
  2. Frank Flattery

    Frank Flattery Well-Known Member

    Hi, I've tried the Pathé site, and couldn't find anything, but maybe what people saw was this, the famous Panther v Pershing incident in Cologne, where you can clearly see how the poor US Sherman tank commander bailed out with half a leg missing...
  3. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    Had a look at civil records & online trees on ancestry to see if I could find him in England & Wales. This was the only candidate, which confirms if it is him, that he survived the war:

    Michael John Richard WAPLINGTON
    born 8 May 1924 Chapel-en-le Frith Reg Dist Derbyshire
    married 1946 Wandsworth London to Dorothy CHANDLER
    1961 working as a Publicity Manager
    1970's lived in Harmondsworth
    died age 48 on 17th Nov 1972

    In the search also saw the name misspelt at WHAPPLINGTON etc.
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  4. Frank Flattery

    Frank Flattery Well-Known Member

    Came across this, but as I'm not signed up on the site, couldn't see any details, but they have something on him:
    Record Details for M J R Waplington (Royal Tank Regiment)
    Maybe worth your while...
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  5. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    When things get open again RAC Movement cards for individual soldiers are at the Tank Museum, Bovington (fee of aprox £ 10 ?):
  6. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    This article may confirm he is Trooper Waplington if it mentions his war record:

    ........ East Stour in which a woman pillion passenger received serious injuries was recalled during proceedings against Michael John Richard Waplington. Genoa-avenue. Putney °JL on - Wl, driving a motor-car without due care and attention He pleaded not guiitv and .........
    Published: Friday 22 July 1949
    Newspaper: Western Gazette
    County: Somerset, England
    https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/search/results?basicsearch=michael waplington&retrievecountrycounts=false&page=0

    Sorry I don't have a BNA account to read the whole article.
  7. Digging through the 4th Armoured Brigade Tank Casualties list, I dug this up. Not sure if it's correct, or if it helps, as there are only two tanks reported in the list to be knocked out on the date(s) you specified. Although there is no mention of a leg lost, rather a compound fracture below the knee.
    4th Armoured Brigade, Tank Casualties, 1945
    Regiment: 44 Royal Tank Regiment

    Serial No.: A.97

    Mark: III DD

    W.D. No.: 152943

    Date: 25 March 1945

    Photo No.: -

    Figure No.: -

    Range: 1200 yards

    Cause of Damage: A.P. 75 mm. penetration

    Fire Damage: None

    Other tanks involved in same incident:

    Circumstances: Moving slowly forwards 2 - 3 m.p.h. when fired at by a gun, the flash of which was seen by witnesses. The first shot missed, the second hit. Turret at 12 o'clock.

    Position of Hit: Penetration through left side turret from half left rear.

    Course & Effect of Projectiles: Passed through the Operator and hit the breech of the 75 mm. gun.

    Remarks: Tank not seen. Information from Squadron Leader.

    Fate of Crew:
    Driver and Co-Driver: Unhurt
    Commander: Wounded - compound fracture upper ⅓ right tibia. X-Ray shows no fragments. Discharged hospital to sick leave 9/52. Category D. Final Category Not Known.
    Gunner: Died of Wounds - multiple fragment wounds upper and lower limbs.
    Operator: Killed. A.P. shot passed through chest.

    I did dig up the names documented of those K.I.A on the dates you specified. It is possible some may have been in the same tank as Trooper Waplington, and others mentioned in the information above. They are as follows;

    Corporal Martin Leslie Amson 24/03/1945
    L/Sergeant Geroge Thom 24/03/1945
    Lieutenant Lionel Burse Chapman 25/03/1945
    Corporal Maurice Colley 25/03/1945
    L/Corporal William George Joy 25/03/1945
    Trooper Denis Kent 25/03/1945
    Trooper Hugh Williams White 25/03/1945
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  8. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Hello Andy! (Feels weird not calling you sir!)

    B Sqn 44 RTR were detached from the other Sqn’s and sent in support of 6 Air Landing Brigade up at Hamminkeln. This was so they could have decent Armour support as the 6 Airborne Div moved off over the River Issel after consolidating after the initial assault ( Op Varsity) this is from 44 RTR war diary...

    0950 - B Sqn arrived at 189497, one tk having gone up on a mine during the move. Here they were ordered to come in support of 6 AIR LANDING BDE who were at 198486 and whose Bns were holding brs at 215505, 216500 and 212485, these were being counter attacked and stonked at regular intervals, but had some SP's in support.

    I have the correct map for the grid references. Message me on FB and I’ll send you what even you need for more info.

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  9. I was going to ask about the grid references. I am currently going through them myself, reading up on the fighting in Belgium to be specific, and wondered how to regard the grid references. I too would be interested in any maps, etc, if that is ok?
  10. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    the map I have is for the area of Hamminkeln / Wesel and is the correct one for this action on 25th March 45.
    Are you trying to find maps for Belgium?
  11. Hi,

    Yes, anything that you might have would be great. My own relative served with them throughout the war and I have been trying to dig deeper. I have the Regiment's History which is great, and just last night received their Regimental Diaries which I am flicking through. The more info I can gather, the better.
  12. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Your relative was 44 RTR? Send me your email on a direct message on this site and I’ll see what I can help you with.

  13. I sent a PM.
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  14. S54

    S54 Junior Member

    Alex it shouldn’t tbh! Thanx for the info.
    Alex1975uk likes this.
  15. S54

    S54 Junior Member

    Lt Chapman, L/Cpl Joy, Tpr Kent & Tpr White were on the same crew as Tpr Waplington!
  16. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Just for clarity the link above will show nothing more that any other subscription site (Ancestry and/or FMP etc), it does not hold his service records, they are only available from the MOD -forms here if required - Request records of deceased service personnel

  17. Philip A Green

    Philip A Green 2-1-Alpha to 6-3...

    Mike Waplington's crew, summer '44 (2).jpg 44RTR DD Shermans approach the Rhine at the start of Op Plunder, 24.3.45.jpg B Sqn 44RTR Rhine crossing & attack on Vissel.jpg 44RTR in support of 8RS.jpg Herr Otto Börs Chapman, Joy & Kent.png Grave Conc Report Form Chapman Joy Kent.jpg Chapman LB (3).jpg Joy W (3).jpg Kent (3).jpg White (3).jpg I would like to publicly thank both Alex1975uk & S54 for their input into this thread, plus any other members who have contributed indirectly. Tpr Mike Waplington was one of my Scoutmasters when I was a lad in the early 60s. Despite losing his leg in WW2, he led an active life until his premature death at the age of 48.

    This thread is a tribute to his service, and to his crewmates from a DD Sherman of B Sqn, 44RTR. The first pic above was of Mike's crew, probably in the summer of '44 somewhere in France. There are sadly no names on the reverse of the pic, although Mike is second from left, and I believe the tank commander, and troop leader, is in the centre of the pic, at the rear. The second pic is of 44RTR DD Shermans approaching the Rhine on the 24th March 1945.

    The third image is a map showing: (i) At 'AX' where the tanks of B Sqn exited the Rhine at c. 05:45, 24.3.45. (ii) At 'XB' is where I believe Mike's tank was knocked out at c. 09:45, 24.3.45, whilst in support of B & D Coys, 8th Batt. Royal Scots during the attacks on Vissel & Jöckern.

    The fourth image is an extract from the War Diary of the 15th Scottish Div., which notes that the attack on Vissel was supported "by a Sqn of 44 R Tks which was moving west along the bund in support of 46 (H) Bde, and which temporarily diverted to assist 8RS. Vissel was cleared by 10:00 hours...". The bund in question can be clearly seen on the aforementioned map.

    The fifth image is a report from a Graves Record Unit (GRU) which notes three members of a 44RTR tank crew, killed allegedly on 25.3.45, with LCpl Joy's name misspelt. Herr Otto Börs title is also misquoted as 'Sir' instead of 'Herr'.

    The sixth image is a Graves Concentration Report Form dated either 28.10.46 or 9.12.46, i.e., the date that Lt Chapman's, LCpl Joy's and Tpr Kent's bodies were reinterred in the CWGC Reichswald Forest cemetery. The important detail on this form is the "Place & Map Ref" of the "Previous location of the grave" i.e., GR 135445, 'XB' on my map.

    The seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth images are of the graves of the aforementioned three crew members, plus Tpr White who also died on 25.3.45.

    My enquiries to the CWGC elicited the following details:
    44th Royal Tank Regiment
    64937 Lt Lionel Bruce Chapman, 25th March 1945. CWGC Grave Ref 54. A. 7.
    5509519 LCpl William George Joy, 25th March 1945, age 32. CWGC Grave Ref 54. A. 5.
    14745914 Tpr Denis Kent (badged Reconnaissance Corps), 25th March 1945, age 18. CWGC Grave Ref 54. A.6.
    7957656 Tpr Hugh Williams White, 25th March 1945, age 26. CWGC Grave Ref 46.H.13.

    My contention is that these crew members were actually KIA on the 24th March 1945, and whoever buried them just south of Vissel, entered the incorrect date of death on their temporary grave marker. Either that, or Herr Börs entered the incorrect date of their deaths on his report to the GRU. This mistake then followed their bodies to the final resting place, and from there to the CWGC HQ.

    The latter's further response to my enquiry was as follows: “I would explain that these are the only 4 casualties of this precise regiment, unit and date of death, commemorated in Germany. We cannot tell from our records I am afraid, if casualty White was part of the same crew. This particular casualty (White) was not found too far away, but again, potentially he was from another crew all together, or he simply died of his wounds later, away from the others - we simply do not record circumstances of death”.

    I further contend that either Tpr White was the fourth member of the crew, who helped Mike Waplington to bail out of the tank, and who later died of his wounds, probably in the same aid station as Mike was treated in. By the time Tpr White's body was reinterred in the Reichswald Forest cemetery, no one was aware that he was a member of the original crew, hence he was buried in row #46, instead of adjacent to the other three in row #54, as would have been the normal practice if all members of the same crew were known to have died at the same time/place.

    If anyone else can add any further detail to this thread, I would very much appreciate it. Phil Green
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