2/5th Queens Royal Regiment @ Salerno

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Spencer54, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. Spencer54

    Spencer54 Junior Member

    Can anyone point me in the direction of some documents or shed some specific light on what actually went on here.

    My Grandfather was killed on the 9th here and I would like to know more.
    I have and old letter that was passed down to me and it states he was in D Company.

    I found an old Regimental history and it states something about D company running into some lagered German tanks - but its still a bit vague.

    Thanks in advance
  2. Rotherfield

    Rotherfield Senior Member

    Hi Spencer
    The 2/5th Queens History that I have states that:
    A and D Companies reached their anchorage (off Salerno) at Midnight on the 8th/9th September they were obviously the forst wave to go in. As ther craft neared tjhe shore sheels from enemy batteries fell among them, most unfortunately those containing the two assault company Commanders (Captain Rustad and Captain Fevez) both were hit and damaged. At 04.10 hrs they hit the beach and ramps went down, there was no trouble encountered here but beyond the beach the land had been flooded and te Company found itself in 3 feet of water with a muddy bottom so the platoon bicycles were discarded.
    Both companies (A and D) had been landed 300 yards too far South A company had afew casualties from "S" mines they ploughed on then they realised that they were walking up the River Tusciano. Meanwhile D Company after a nightmare of bogs and ditches reached a large agricultural building a mile inland.
    The only reference I can find about Tanks is as follows;
    Three tanks advanced diagonally across the font of C Company who along with B Company were in the second assault wave, these three tanks overran the two leading platoons of C Company. The anti tank detachments under Second Lt Boulton did magnificent work,two of the tanks were knocked out one by Cpl Collins who with the rest of his detachment casualties loaded the gun and fired his gun alone though badly wounded himself, the remaining tank took cover among the oak trees and continued to shell Company HQ all Cpmpany HQ personnel were wounded C Company put up a great fight but suffered heavy casualties.
    The story goes on with the accounts of A and B companies fighting the survivors of B and C Companies rejoined D company in Battalion HQ area where the 201st Guards Brigade ( who were in the second wave) came up and positioned themeselves on the left flank and took over the immediate front.
    The 2/5th Battalion had suffered so many casualties that it was reduced to two companies.
    Later that day at about 23.00hrs D Company were advancing up their road and about midnight (of the 9th) No 16 platoon saw what looked like a tank in the middle of the road, men went forward to investigate found a German self - propelled gun amd armoured car No 17 platoon brought up their Piat and knocked them out No 16 Platoon cleared a house on the right eveidently used by the Germans for a billet, the C.O arrived and ordered D Company to dig in there, the story continues and states that the morning of the 10th tanks were moving around and seeing that the whole Company would be cut off and lost Captain Fevez ordered D Company to braek out. The area came under heavy fire and soon after he started out Captain Fevez was kiled, Twenty survivors of Company HQ and 16 Platoon got through and rejoined Battalion HQ No 18 Platoon were right amongst the tanks and almost all were taken prisoner.
    To conclude it states that during the night of 9th / 10th September the 2/5th lost 173 Officers and men.
    As an aside to this story the 2/5th 2/6th and 2/7th Queens went on to fight another major battle in December 1943 on Monte Camino where after several attempts they took Monastery Hill, I have ben to this battle area every year for the last 21 years and looking at that Mountain makes you wonder just how they managed it.
    There is a terrific book (sadly out of print but can be obtained on Amazon) called "Salerno '43, Gulf of Hell" by Des Hicket and Gus Smith I advise you to try and obtain a copy it goes into great detail of the struggle at Salerno
    Good luck
    Mike Sterling aka rotherfield
    Owen likes this.
  3. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Spencer - the Tanks that the Queens ran into were probably from the 16th Panzer Division
    which finally gave up and were sent over to Termoli to try and stop the 8th Army's advance to the Sangro- Carlo D'este has a fair book on the Salerno Landings
  5. Spencer54

    Spencer54 Junior Member

    Just a bit more background - he was recently promoted to Sergeant I'm assuming after the battle at Enfidaville as his last letter home he's clearly a corporal.

    Would it be possible that he changed company with a promotion or is it unlikely? The letter was sent from India and I understand this is before they embarked on the longest march to battle of any unit in British history.

    I'll have a look tonight and find the old book I found and see if I can find the section I meant. As I recall, they (D company) bumped a section of laagered enemy vehicles in darkness, the story goes that one of them was relieving himself on it before they sussed what it was. Then all hell broke loose.

    Seems likely that if he was indeed D company and in the assault wave, and his company commanders vessel was hit he may have been in it.

    I went to Salerno on the 60th anniversary and met some veterans but only one was from the 2/5th and he didn't remember my Grandfather although he did point out the positions he was in and where the fire was coming from. Basically they were each side of the I18 and fighting across what is now the cemetery. Part of the beach is owned by the Italian army I think and out of bounds?

    Could anyone give me the co-ordinates of roughly where 2/5th were on the day. I have to go back next September and this time I'd like a bit more info.
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    If you cant get to Kew to copy the war diaries yourself, ask either Drew5233 (Andy) or Psy.war (Lee) to copy the war diary at the national archives.
    Their rates are reasonable.
    link>> National Archives
    WO 169/10280
    2/5 Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
    Covering dates1943 Jan.- Dec.
  7. Spencer54

    Spencer54 Junior Member

    Thanks Owen That I'll give a go, does anyone know how much it costs to copy the war dairies?
  8. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Speak to Drew. It is 10p per page. He runs a great service.


    Drew5233 likes this.
  9. Rotherfield

    Rotherfield Senior Member

    I see that you are returning to Salerno in September, I will be at Camino (about an hours drive North from Salerno) in September where if you have time I can show you where the 2/5 Queens fought my dates will be from 12th to 19th September
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Thanks Owen That I'll give a go, does anyone know how much it costs to copy the war dairies?


    Have a look in the thread below ref War Diaries:


    Its impossible to say how much a file will be due to the fact they vary so much in thickness. Italian Campaign files do tend to be thicker than most in my opinion-which is a good thing apart from the cost because they can contain so much more information.

  11. Spencer54

    Spencer54 Junior Member

    Thanks Andy I'll be taking you up on this I think.

    I'd also appreciate the war dairies of Enfidaville as I think his promotion was around this point, I know they took a bit of a battering againgst the remnants of the Afrika Korp and lost some key personell which might have created an opening for a sergeant if you catch my drift.

    While we're at it have you or has anyone got the War dairies for that battle at Abbeville in 1940? I never realised quite how bad that was, I assumed as they weren't at Dunkirk that they just fell back and were evacuated.

    I've been to Abbeville a few times but never knew the Queen's were in combat there.

    As for my return to Salerno I think it will be in 2013 on the 70th Anniversary
  12. Spencer54

    Spencer54 Junior Member

    Just realised it was in the April so it'll be in the same war diary
  13. Spencer54

    Spencer54 Junior Member

    Anyone know if the Assualt waves at Salerno would have gone in using LCA's or bigger LCI's.

    I've come across some pictures on the IWM site of the Queens on the Landing beach and there is something large burning in the background. Also some Pathe newsreel clearly shows a vessel close to the beach burning and ammunition going up?

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