14th Bn Sherwood Foresters: 27/05/1944, Anzio, Italy

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Neil Stone, Jul 31, 2022.

  1. Neil Stone

    Neil Stone Member

    Hi All.
    My uncle died May 27th 1944 and is buried at the Anzio beach head cemetery.
    I am trying to find out where he was likely to have been killed.
    Breakout was May 28th.
    I am visiting Anzio this September and trying to put a picture together.
     
  2. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Neil.

    The breakout started on 23 May 44 and coincided with Op CHESTERFIELD, the 1 (Canadian) Corps assault on the Hitler Line, six miles north of Cassino. The idea was to attempt to split the Germans' forces and keep German troops away from the Anzio breakout. 15 FORESTERS were part of 18 Infantry Brigade who were normally part of 1 Armoured Division but were detached and sent to Anzio in Feb 44 to be part of 1 Infantry Division. They stayed with that Division until rejoining 1 Armoured Division in Aug 44.

    The British sector at Anzio was on the left and the US sector on the right. For the breakout, 5 Infantry Division were on the left hugging the coast and 1 Infantry Division inland were around the Flyover. Off the top of my head, I cannot recall where 14 FORESTERS were on 27 May 44 but I can look it up.

    If you want to understand the battle in its entirety, I am taking a group to Anzio 14-17 May 23. You are welcome to join us. We will look at the landings, the attempted initial breakout, the German counter attacks, the stalemate and then the final and successful breakout. As with all battles, there is good and bad and controversy and brilliance.

    What your uncle endured in the 'wadis' prior to his death was something to behold. It was utterly grim.

    Regards

    Frank
     
  3. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Neil.

    Here you go.

    Regards

    Frank

    upload_2022-8-1_9-54-27.png

    upload_2022-8-1_9-55-6.png

    upload_2022-8-1_9-56-51.png
     
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  4. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Neil.

    The first page of 27 May 44 mentions a bridge at 893318.

    This is it on the map. That tells me that 14 FORESTERS were advancing to the east of Aprilia.

    Regards

    Frank
    upload_2022-8-1_10-8-16.png
     
  5. Neil Stone

    Neil Stone Member

    Frank
    Thanks for the amazing detailed information I now understand much more of what was going on.
    Tom’s diary was returned home and his last entry mentioned being stuck in some miserable trenches where he could here the Germans voices in nearby trenches if that helps.
    This information has been passed down to me.
     
  6. Neil Stone

    Neil Stone Member

    Frank
    Is the bridge the infamous Flyover or is it another bridge on the outskirts of Aprilia.
    Neil
     
  7. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Neil.

    Yes, if you look in the bottom left corner of the map - just above AM, you will see a blue rectangle with two blue dots/squares. That is the Flyover. 1 Inf Div was straddled either side of it.

    Does coming to have a look in May 23 grab you?

    The trenches - known as wadis, were miserable. Just like First World War but worse.

    Regards

    Frank
     
  8. Neil Stone

    Neil Stone Member

    Frank
    I can’t see that area on the map, I can go onto Google Maps to have a broader view but where should I be looking.
    My wife and I are visiting Naples for a week September 8th taking in a visit to Anzio, we would be the only family members to have ever visited the grave, a bit of a crusade on behalf of my father who always wanted to visit.
    I think another guided visit in May 2023 would be a good thing.
    Neil
     
  9. Neil Stone

    Neil Stone Member

    Frank
    How do I find out which Company he was part of does his Army number link.

    Reading through the invaluable reports you posted, if I know which Company I will know which event he was part of. D Company reached the Wadi Ficcosia in the early morning and suffered some casualties for instance.
    Neil.
     
  10. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Perhaps the 18 Inf Brigade war diaries may show a map for these dates of which I don't have! Another one on my list in time..Gary tankard may have it? I'm sure he copied all three of the battalions of this brigade for me?

    We must not forget that this Brigade replaced the smashed to bits 24 Gds Brigade with nothing left of the 1 Irish Guards that would take no further part in the Second World War. The two other battalions did..Will post the map from the 1 Division history later of which may be of use?

    Regards,
    Stu.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2022
  11. Neil Stone

    Neil Stone Member

    Thanks Stu that will be of great use.
    Neil
     
  12. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Hi Neil, what is your Uncle's full name? I was in the Beach head cemetery, Anzio, on the 17 May, this year. I ended up taking plenty photos of headstones that I did not intend to do. Tom surname? Good luck with visiting Anzio this September on your own if you manage to do so? If you do manage to pull this off on your own, then do come back and let us all know how you get on.:)

    I did it on my own at the end of 28th, 29th and 30th June this year ( of which was not cheap even with discounts via Frank from the Hotels that we use has a group) of which I'm not complaining at all.. Would I do things differently when it comes to saving cash? Yes, the Squire knows best. Do I have any regrets of being on my own? Not likely. Three days in the Anzio War Cemetery ( on my own) taking a photo of every headstone was well worth it, even if it was rather warm at times. Good pub down the road heading towards the port of Anzio and the museum.

    Visiting Anzio on your own will cost you some money, even in September. Taxis, buses etc are not cheap.
    1st Inf Div. No7..jpg
    1st Inf Div. No8..jpg

    Above are the two maps from 1 Infantry Division at the end of the Anzio Campaign.

    Regards,
    Stu.
     
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  13. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Neil.

    You will see from the last map that Stu has provided exactly where 18 Inf Bde’s axis of advance was in relation to Aprilia.

    Regards

    Frank
     
  14. Neil Stone

    Neil Stone Member

    Stu, Frank

    Thanks for your continued support it is really appreciated I was completely in the dark but now I feel I am making some progress.
    My uncles name is Thomas Henry Morgan he started the war in the Royal Artillery guarding London from the blitz but wanted some action he certainly found that in this campaign. His brother Fred died at Dunkirk and his other brother made it home from Malaya as a Sargent.
    My understanding is 14 btn Foresters were part of 18 Brigade which was part of 1st Infantry Division.
    In Franks 14 btn Foresters intelligence reports it mentions the various company’s having different tasks in different areas on the day of 27.05.44 the day he died so it is pivotal to find out which company Tom was part of.
    This Flyover or what the Yanks called Overpass keeps popping up and we know it consumed a huge amount of casualties my gut feel is this is where it happened but I will persevere to get to the bottom of it.
    My wife and I are taking a break in Naples in a hotel chain that we have discount with, the flights were not too bad with Easy Jet. I will take the train to the Cemetery on Sunday September 11th unless you advise otherwise and get back to Naples by evening.
    My Warmest Regards
    Neil
     
  15. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Neil.

    By 27 May 44, 1 Inf Div was well forward of the Flyover. The Flyover was a high point in an otherwise flat area so it became an iconic symbol for those in the beachhead.

    Do not bother with the train. It will get you to Anzio but the Beachhead CWGC cemetery is quite a long way north. You would do better to hire a car at Naples Airport.

    Regards

    Frank
     
  16. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Neil,

    Unfortunately the on-line records of the burials at Anzio War Cemetery do not seem to include copies of the “concentration reports” - these record the field burial sites of individual soldiers before the battle moved on and Grave registration units could move in. The latter would search the battlefield graves, create records of the field burial sites and then collect the dead into larger cemeteries. It may be worth contacting the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to ask if there is a concentration report for your uncle as that would likely give you a map reference for the location of his field grave. That wont always tally with the location at which he was first wounded - I think many front-line casualties were collected at Battalion aid posts and, those that died of their wounds en route or before evacuation to casualty treatment units further back would probably be buried near the RAP (Regimental Aid Post).

    Regards

    Tom
     
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  17. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Turn the page

    I have been looking in at this thread occasionally whilst battling Covid. You are corresponding with tour guides, experts in their field but busy people who flit between the UK and Italy, particularly at this time of the year.
    Somewhere along the line you got the idea that 14th Sherwood Foresters were in 1st Division this is incorrect it was the 2nd SF in 3rd Infantry Brigade.
    Frank recommended me as a reference "Fatal Decision" Anzio & the Battle for Rome by Carlo D'Est I have that book in front of me as I write.
    Page 437 clearly lists the 2nd Foresters as being in 3rd Infantry Brigade part of 1st Infantry Division. I also know from my own research this to be correct
    Page 438 lists 14th Foresters as 18th Brigade in the 56th Division. This Division arrived as reinforcements over a short period of time being sent straight to the front.
    I am not anywhere near as expert as Frank or Stu so the 14th SF may have sent men as replacements to the 2nd SF thus being involved in a later engagement.
    Food for thought maybe or revisiting your information to date.
    The Flyover was not only a recognisable iconic location. It contained an Artillery Observation Post cut into the embankment by Engineers early on in the battle and virtually bomb and shell roof .
    On the "friendly side it was quite large but as it progressed through the embankment it was heavily fortified so that only a small aperture was to be seen with difficulty on the other It was manned by the 67h Field Regt amongst others.
    Units were moved into and out of line or across the front to allow them some respite so it is difficult to say who was where on actual dates. War Diaries are often written days later so a certain amount of guesswork took place. After all there was a war on you know. Bodies appeared and disappeared during the fighting as they did in WW1 so initial burials were not necessarily recorded no matter how the burial parties tried.
    I wish you luck in your visit. I have never been there and often wonder how on earth one can imagine in a modern landscape what actually happened all that time ago. Your thoughts will be your own.
    God Speed you in your endeavours..
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2022
  18. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Neil, I'm guessing you do have Thomas Henry Morgan's Service Records? Any chance you can show them? Hope you don't mind me asking?

    Just wondering how you know that he was with 14 Sherwood Foresters? Don't take the above questions the wrong way. Neil, has for finding out which Coy he was in, is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. You have more chance of winning the lottery with out a ticket. Other ranks rarely get a mention in any War diary.

    I would go with Frank's advise for the car for driving North to Anzio. Not sure how long it will take you? Probably a couple of hours to get there? That wise chap Frank will tell you how long! May be more?.. It will be if my memory is correct?

    Regards,
    Stu .
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022
  19. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Good job I've not had Covid. If I did have it, then its news to me. I must put my specs on and read (much more of the First Division History in the Anzio Campaign). Of which I've taken much time to scan and is the only rare original copy that I have ever seen that is not falling to bits. I spent years trying to find this book (never mind the rather different size maps that come with it that i spent much more time in getting them scanned)

    If my memory is correct, I'm sure 18 Infantry Brigage left this splendid Division and was transfered to 56 Division? I'm sure Tom O'Brien, or Gary Tankard will correct if I'm wrong?

    More wine is needed Uncle Target. Will have a glass for you when I'm next in Italy. You are a saint.

    Regards,
    Stu.
     
  20. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Turn the page

    Don't Panick Chaps! Covid does weird things to you.
    You and Frank are correct just dug this out (see attached)
    18 Brigade centre stage!
    From A History of the 67th Field Regt

    Photos Courtesy Shepherd Family Collection
    Taken after the Breakout
    Top: Carroceto Below: What was left of The Factory

    Anzio The Breakout.jpg Carroceto Anzio.jpg What was left of the Factory DCLS.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2022
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