5th Bn Dorsetshire Regiment & Montgomerys Chosen Few. info on Wilkie Coker

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Abi coker, Aug 26, 2017.

  1. Abi coker

    Abi coker Member

    My grandad has recently given me my great grandfathers military medal. All we know about Wilkie Coker is that he was in 5th Dorset. The most interesting thing he ever said to my grandad was that he was one of 'Montys Chosen Few' but wouldn't discuss anything further!
    I've researched Montgomery for days but can find nothing about a chosen few! does anyone have any info on this or about Wilkie?
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  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Wilkie John Samuel Couch Froude COKER
    Born : 9th September 1909 Totnes, Devon.
    Died : 2Q 1995 Plymouth, Devon.

    Is this your great-grandfather?
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  4. Abi coker

    Abi coker Member

    Yes it is! Is there anymore information you have on him? Thank you for replying so quickly
    t I
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  5. Abi coker

    Abi coker Member

    hi Owen. I have purchased this for my grandad as the original was given to his sister and sold on. My grandad also told me Wilkie received a letter from the King which they have seen and read, but that also got given to his sister and is now 'gone' so I assume sold! Thank you for replying
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  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  7. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    "Chosen few"... Maybe Montgomery's Phantom unit? Don't know much about is but might be worth investigating.
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  8. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Their formation badge:

  9. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    There is a CSM Coker here:


    Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery (black beret) visits the troops in "Hoetendoeve", Douvergenhout before embarking on their first attack on German territory. He took a lot of time and spoke with men and officers. With left (front row): Capt. Brown, Capt. Docherty, RSM Horton, CQMS Guest, Pte. Gray, CSM Coker, Major MRJ Hope-Thompson, MC.
    Source: IWM

    Onderbanken [Translated]

    No idea whether this is the soldier in question. I think there was a Coker MM in the Parachute Regiment--was there a Dorsetshire Regt component to one of their formations?

    Edit: there is a link:

    In late September the 43rd Wessex Division was moved forwards to support Guards Armoured Division in its battles beyond the Waal at Nijmegen in the drive up to relieve the Airborne forces at Arnhem. By the time the Dorsets crossed Nijmegen bridge the 2nd Parachute Regiment holding Arnhem bridge had been overwhelmed and German troops and armour were pouring across to block any advance towards the Neder Rijn. Nonetheless the 4th and 5th Dorsets forced their way up to the south bank of the river west of Arnhem near Driel, where plans were made to reinforce the Airborne troops across the river around Oosterbeek. When the operation was abandoned the 4th were ordered to cross the swollen river, under heavy fire, to rescue their Airborne comrades. Of the 315 Dorsets who reached the north bank only 75 returned. The 4th Battalion’s sacrifice was recognised by the award of an Airborne Pennant and they were the only non-airborne unit to win the battle honour Arnhem. For the second time in ten weeks the 4th Dorsets had effectively been destroyed. Meanwhile, the 5th Dorsets took to the water and ferried the Airborne survivors back across the river.

    The 4th and 5th Battalions The Dorsetshire Regiment in World War Two - The Keep Military Museum, Dorchester, Dorset

    Edit: I reckon this picture is a possible: 5th Dorsets were part of the 43rd Wessex Division and although the shoulder badge isn't clear enough to say for certain, it's the right kind of shape and size.

    Bingo: Maxwell Richard Julian Hope-Thomson (also pictured): From November 1944 to February 1945 he was second-in-command of the 5th Battalion Dorset Regiment (43rd Division).

    : 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment 1944-45 - Awards and Citations - Lieut.-Col. M. R. J. Hope-Thomson
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2017
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  10. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    That image is IWM, but it looks like an old physical print (not very sharp), and no copy appears on their website (that I can find). You would need to contact them about it, but--frankly--that's pot luck. I've been in touch with one fantastic individual there and one chocolate teapot when researching.

    Here's another nudge to start your research:

    Audio Interviews with 5th Dorsets Soldiers:
    Dore, Harold Norman Stanley (Oral history) (23147)
    Fielder, Jack (Oral history) (24654)
    Ridout, Leslie (Oral history) (22915)

    I haven't listened, but the second looks the most promising from the descriptions.
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  11. Abi coker

    Abi coker Member

    Wow. Thank you so much! I will show my grandad this picture and I'm sure he will be able to tell me whether this is him.
  12. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    It's probably worth saying that if he is in the photograph and it is indeed an IWM image, you'll likely be able to get a high-resolution digital scan of it--at a significant cost, mind you. Assuming the original is all right, it will probably make even the distant figures a lot clearer.
  13. Abi coker

    Abi coker Member

    I have just shown to my dad who doesn't really remember him and he is almost certain that's him. Thank you so much!
  14. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Brilliant--what a stroke of luck.

    Which figure is he, incidentally?

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