2/5th Battalion, The Queen's Royal Regiment, 1941-1942

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by elfinblues, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. elfinblues

    elfinblues Member

    As some people will know from my other posts, I'm currently trying to find out about Alec Horwood VC DCM. I've only very recently found out that he served a significant period of time during the war (Feb 41 to Nov 42) with the 2/5th Battalion, Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment (he'd originally been with the 1/6th Queen's, and at the end of 42 joined the 1st Northamptonshires). This is completely new news to me, and I know next to nothing about that battalion in that period. All I have are the dates and mention of Sittingbourne as the station. Is there anyone out there who would be able to give me any info about what the 2/5ths were doing in this period?
    Thanks so much in advance, and best wishes,
  2. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    From the Regimental History:

    "Early in February 1941..."
    "The 2/5th Queen's took over from the 2nd Buffs in the Dymchurch are! Where they lived in the dilapidated huts of the holiday makers and guarded the long stretch of open beach."

    "At the end of October ... moved into winter quarters ... In the barracks of Shorncliffe."

    "Meanwhile the 169th Brigade had been having a strenuous time in East Anglia. They were first at Ipswich with the different roles as G.H.Q. reserve, and in the counterattack of aerodromes. But the main preoccupation was now training. After a period of peaceful beet pulling the Brigade was snowbound till February, but then real hard modern training started both with long large-scale exercises and realistic and even dangerous individual training. The latter included the close follow-up of live marches... In May the Brigade moved for a fortnight to Essex, where they were responsible for a wide stretch of the marshy coast. It was comparatively restful, but training continued intensively.
    "In early June they returned (by way of a very strenuous exercise) to Suffolk, where for two months they were able to train hard. In July, however, orders were received to mobilize and re-equip on a tropical scale....
    "Mobilization was completed early August and after inspection by His Majesty the 169th Brigade left for Liverpool, where they embarked on or about 22nd August."

    More to come later.

  3. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    From Regimental History:

    "From Suffolk they entrained on 24th August and embarked at Liverpool on the 25th. The 2/5th and 2/7th Queen's with Headquarters of the 169th Brigade under Brigadier L. O. Lyne and 113 Field Regiment, R.A., were on the Johann Van Olden Barnvelt, a fairly new and spacious Dutch ship, but inevitably very crowded for other ranks...ships left Liverpool on the 27th, but moved only to the Firth of Clyde, where the convoy of nineteen ships with an escort of one cruiser and five destroyers assembled, and finally sailed on the 28th. Bad weather was encountered at once with much seasickness. As soon as everyone had their sea legs, intensive training became the order of the day and every inch of deck and other space was made use of. Companies were even able to carry out a daily hour's march on the Johann's wide decks.
    "There was no sight of land until 7th September , when the convoy entered the great natural harbour of Freetown...No troops were allowed ashore and the time was spent leaning over the rail, watching the tenders loading fuel and water and the bum boats selling fruit. Rain fell steadily and it was very hot, so everyone was glad to sail again on 10th September.
    "The main convoy reached Cape Town on 25th September after just a month's journey and received the usual enthusiastic welcome from the inhabitants. On the Sunday a strong as possible parade of the 2/5th with detachments of the 2/7th marched four miles to the Cathedral for a parade service."

    "The rest of the Brigade, still in the same ships, joined another convoy, and after a further uneventful voyage anchored on the 16th off Bombay, where they were disembarked.
    "...the 2/5th and 2/6th had only a day's stay before moving up to the big transit camp of Deolali.
    "The 2/5th and 2/6th had remained twelve days at Deolali. It was hot and dusty and there was little to do. Light entertainment was provided for the troops by the sight of the officers and sergeants being put through their paces by an ex-drill sergeant of the Guards...
    "On 31st October both battalions... returned to Bombay by train, and with 113 Field Regiment embarked the next day on the Rajula, a small but pleasant ship, which took them up the Persian Gulf over a sea of glass to Basra,nowhere they disembarked on 13th November."

    The rest of November was spent in "the foothills about fifteen miles north of Kirkuk". (P.211)
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    You didn't mention he joined them as a subaltern ;)
    BFBSM likes this.
  5. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Andy, could you check out November 1942 if you have access to it?

    When looking at the Regimental History, Horwood, is not in the list of Officers serving on arrival in Iraq. In fact the History is silent on him, except for being taken prisoner, receiving the DCM and a footnote on his death and awarding the VC.

    Fanks, Mark.
  6. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Andy's post above explains the move from 1/6th Queen's to the 2/5th it was his commission.

  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Mark - I don't have a copy of the 1942 war diary. With him holding a commission at this point in his career I suspect it will be documented in the diary though.
  8. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Andy, thanks for that.

  9. elfinblues

    elfinblues Member

    Thanks very much indeed, Mark and Drew - all wonderful information that throws light on a comparatively quiet part of Alec's war about which I've only known for the past few days. Very enlightening.

    No, Mark, I don't think you'll find mention of him in Iraq. If I'm understanding the sequence of events correctly (and I think that I am!), he was transferred from the 2/5th Queen's to the 1st BN Northamptonshire Rgt soon after arriving in India, so never went with the 2/5th to Iraq.

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