6976983 Sgt Frank McALEER, DCM, 6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Alisonmallen, Jun 19, 2018.

  1. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Well-Known Member

    i am hoping that someone may be related to this man who was killed in Italy in 1944. He wrote an account of a disastrous nighttime patrol in which my great uncle was killed. This was during the battle at Medjez el Bab my uncle being Serjeant Ernest Reid killed 1943. sgt McAteer was married and I believe his wife may have lived in Aldershot though he was, like my uncle, from N Ireland. If anyone knows anything at all I would be grateful. I have not accessed the war diary myself but have been given some info and there is a strong chance this account exists. It would give my family info they have never known - just what did happen to Ernie. Thank you

  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    I assume that your uncle was Ernest Albert Reid, 6979641, 6th Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

    You will do a lot worse than looking at the following site, compiled by a forum member, in particular a transcript of the diary for 24 Feb 1943 plus a great deal of further information:


    The expert on this site is bexley84 and he may well have a copy of the report you mention, I am sure he will be along soon, in the meantime you might like to look at the following:

    The first port of call for any research into a soldier’s military history should be his service records and well worth obtaining:


  3. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Well-Known Member

    Hello, yes that is my uncle. I was given that info by the chap on the Irish brigade forum as it happens and he told me it wasn't something he actually had. I have never had an opportunity to visit the archives though having written several times to enquire I got no response. I have been spending several years on the first war forum having completed my grandfathers second war and prior to that as a regular South Wales Borderer history. I found info about Ernies burial place because he wasn't originally buried in that cemetery and my gran, his sister told me the family didn't know where he was. This was back in 1989. Since then the family tree has produced a lot of soldiers so each one had been researched but there are no more Reids left to ask and Ernies wife remarried. It would just finish off what I have recorded to read that report by someone who was Ernies friend. Thank you very much though.
  4. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    Richard here - just been out to Sicily for a week so haven't been able to respond to your note sooner.

    As you have said, Sgt McAleer had written a report about his attempt to find out more about the patrol of 24th February 1943 as noted in 6 Innisks' war diaries and this would be found as an attachment to the Feb 1943 diary entries held at Kew.
    Nov 1942 to Jun 1943 – WO 175/505.

    24th February – IN THE FIELD.

    Lt Curphey, Lt Bokanowski, Special Detachment 5 Corps and 4 NCOs did not return from patrol last night. We are all sorry indeed to lose Lieut Curphey. He was a Canadian sent out for 3 months to gain experience from the Canadian forces in England. He was a born leader.

    0915 OC D Coy received a letter from Sgt McAleer to say he had come out to see if he could find any trace of the patrol. It did not seem very hopeful that he would return from this errand.

    0945 Sgt McAleer returned with two fusiliers and a machine gun. His report is attached.

    Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)

    A/SGT MCALEER. FEB 1943 – HILL 286/279.

    “On 24 Feb 43 No 6976983, A/Sgt F McAleer, at about 0800hrs, proceeded from MINEFIELD Fm 657058 to Pt 286, a hill known to be occupied by enemy with strength about one Platoon. His military mission was information, but his own object was to obtain revenge for the loss of a patrol on night 23/24 Feb 43. He spotted an MG post, went to the flank of it, surprised the crew of two, collected the MG and disabled the two prisoners a matter of 1000 yards back to MINEFIELD Fm. This was in broad daylight. The daring act resulted in obtaining information, which when later used, caused about 30 casualties to the enemy.”

    Richard Doherty's brigade history notes some of Sgt McAleer's report details - sufficed to say, his actions that day went beyond the call... an excerpt from Clear the Way ! :
    "Sgt McAleer heard at 6 o'clock that a friend of his (Sgt Reid) had been scuppered on a patrol the previous night. He sat down and wrote a letter to his Company Commander, apologising for what he was going to do.."
    Sgt Frank McAleer DCM died a a result of wounds suffered at the end of the Tunisian campaign.


    I attach a view from Hill 286 taken in March this year and a photo of Sgt McAleer's final resting place taken during a previous visit

    343-McAleer - Copy.JPG

    best wishes

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
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  5. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Well-Known Member

    Thank you so very much for this. I will show our family. We were not sure if Ernie had been shot, blown up or what and I cannot imagine how my late gran felt never knowing quite what happened to her dearest brother. Thank you
  6. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Well-Known Member

    So very sad and very brave but I guess both Ernie and Frank are buried in the same cemetery and I hope met again. I tried to find family of his but I dnt think there are any.
  7. FrankMcaleer

    FrankMcaleer New Member

    Hi Alison, This is the son of Frank Mcaleer, the nephew of Sgt Mcaleer. I have created this account so that he can give you some information regarding what happened. I will give him the details of this account as soon as possible and then he will post on this thread. I'm not sure exactly what he knows about Ernie's unfortunate death but I know he was touched to see this post! Thanks for reaching out. I'll try and sort it out soon. I hope you see this post with it being Remembrance Sunday tomorrow. Hope all is well.
  8. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Well-Known Member

    Oh my goodness I am amazed and touched and cannot believe there are family out there. Thank you very much indeed. My gran Evelyn Moss nee Reid was never able to find where Ernie was buried and from my research I got a photo of his grave back in the 80’s. My grandfather had fought near Ernie and established what he could but I now know Ernie was moved from his original burial site. To learn that Sgt McAleer (my phone keeps amending to McAteer apologies) went out for revenge was perhaps one of the most brave and poignant things and I truly wish gran had known this. If it is possible to privately email I can tell you a little more of Ernie which the family want to be private but anything that we can be told is just wonderful thank you.
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  9. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Just for completeness, here is a photo I took of the final resting place of Sergeant Reid. Given the different periods of their deaths, Ernie and his friend Frank McAleer are buried in different plots - 2 and 12 - at Medjez CWGC Cemetery.

    170-Reid - Copy.JPG
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  10. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Particularly interesting are the written comments made by Brigadier Nelson Russell and the Corps Commander on the DCM citation for Sgt McAleer .. by the time the DCM award was formally published in the London Gazette on 22nd April, the Commanding Officer of 6 Innisks, Heaver Allen, and who had made the original recommendation for the DCM had been killed.

    best wishes

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
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  11. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Well-Known Member

    Thank you for that photo. 31 years ago when I found Ernies grave the cwgc sent a photo and I gave it to my gran as she nor any family had seen his grave. I dnt know what happened to that photo when my grandparents passed. It means a lot. I have written an account of gransha’s war and what he told me of the corn fields at Medjez el bab was heartbreaking. He never told my gran of the carnage because he was never sure tanks had not churned Ernie up. However when I found out It was a recce and likely machine gun fire it was dreadful but perhaps not as horrific as we had originally believed. The letter Winston Churchill sent Ernies parents has disappeared too. They could not accept he had gone and during the period when it seemed his grave was lost he apparently helped organise a search. My mother read the letter as a child but it probably went to a long passed relative. I think that must have been around the time he was reported locally as missing then Kia. I doubt they ever saw his final resting place being so far away.
    bexley84 likes this.
  12. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    I'm now added above the original DCM citation with the personal comments...and I attach a photo of two of the gardeners who tend the Medjez CWGC cemetery.

    Attached Files:

  13. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Well-Known Member

    An award bravely earned and his family must be so proud. Thank you
    bexley84 likes this.
  14. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Well-Known Member

    How nice to see the people who lovingly tend war graves a great photo!
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  15. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Well-Known Member

    How do I contact Sgt Mcaleers family please because I would like to pass info on and see if they know more of Ernie personally plus I have a photo they may be able to identify. On the 1st War forum you can PM members is that possible here?
  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    This software calls a PM a ''conversation''.
    Click on their user name & then ''start a conversation'' that I've high-lighted on this screen-shot.

    start a convo.JPG
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  17. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    One more reference to Sgt McAleer in the Skins' war diaries referring to the circumstances of his death...hope you can read it.

    Attached Files:

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  18. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Well-Known Member

    Thank you for that does it say Sgt McAleer was killed by a truck? Struggled to read some of it. How awful after everything he had done.
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    "killed by a truck in an accident there"

  20. Alisonmallen

    Alisonmallen Well-Known Member

    Thank you

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