6th KOSB - Lt Col Charles Richardson

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by Tom OBrien, Mar 9, 2020.

  1. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Max Hastings (Overlord, pp.169-170) quotes excerpts from an interview (July '83) with 'Major Charles Richardson of 6th KSOB [who] came out of EPSOM , his first battle, overcome with horror and disgust' about the Bn's experience during Op EPSOM and which includes (on p.170) the remark that:

    After the battle [the KOSB] talked about 'the spectacle of the Royal Scots Fusiliers cresting a hill to find the Germans dug in on the reverse slope, "something we had never envisaged".

    This was later used [and page referenced by Russell A. Hart in his hatchet-job on the British Army in Normandy (chapter 8 of Clash of Arms) on p.313 in the following terms:

    'EPSOM clearly demonstrated the inexperience of British troops and the weakness of their training as poor coordination and a failure to comprehend German defensive tactics marred the operation. Soldiers of the Scottish Division, in particular, suffered heavily when the enemy surprised and ambushed them from a classic reverse-slope position. […]'

    However, there is nothing in either the KOSB war diary/regimental history that reports on this "event" and although the war diary of 6 RSF describes their difficult fight for ST MAUVIEU on 26 Jun 44, it doesn't match up at all with the "reverse-slope" reference.

    The 6 KOSB regimental history lists the Battalion officers who went to Normandy on p.16 and Major Charles Richardson was the 2nd-in-command during EPSOM. It later records him being promoted to Lt Col on 18 Jul to replace Lt Col Shillington who had been wounded at Evrecy on 16 July 1944.

    My tentative supposition is that either Charles Richardson was recalling the events of a different battle (not surprising perhaps after 40 yrs) or that Hastings mixed up the order of his memories using them where he felt they best fitted his narrative. Or, of course, there is documentation out there that refers to this episode giving a confirming source.

    So my question is does
    anyone recall seeing comments on the "reverse-slope" surprise ambush in any contemporary documentation?


    Tullybrone likes this.
  2. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And strangely, having just looked at the 44 Bde narrative here:


    And thinking that the appendices might be useful, I find on TNA Discovery a record that states for WO171/646 HQ. War Diaries for June, July and August 1944 not included. Reported, September 2014

    Is that right? If so, does anyone know where they might have gone too? Maybe a different folder! :)


  3. EdSav

    EdSav Member

  4. EdSav

    EdSav Member

    Three Days in June

    Charles Hanaway

    6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers

    "We moved out of the field immediately the shelling commenced and in file we walked through the little village, passing a church where a piper was playing bagpipes, standing on the raised steps. Due to the tremendous deafening noise, we could not hear what he was playing, the symbol was enough, and we just raised a hand in acknowledgement. We were next in a cornfield, the corn was waist high, and in a line left and right, we started to move across the field to meet the ‘Cream’.

    Our shelling is exploding juts a hundred yards ahead of us, we are to advance a hundred yards every three minutes. Of course this brilliant plan failed as shells where falling short and we sustained our first casualties. Holding our weapons over our heads we walked to meet the enemy. They were everywhere popping up behind us and we were in one hell none of us could have possibly imagined. The fanatical young German SS men were certainly proving to be a force to reckon with force. Nevertheless, due to tremendous barrage of gunfire pouring on them, we made progress to reach our target the village of St-Mauvieu."
  5. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Thanks for the responses. I think our links are to the same page. And that is a brilliant site. I was wondering if there are more details (op orders, sitreps, intreps, etc) at Kew and found it peculiar that one site has a transcription of a diary that is apparently missing.

    thanks too for extract - almost all accounts seem to describe snipers and pockets of resistance left behind by initial British advance on 26 Jun but that is not the same as a “reverse-slope ambush”.


  6. adbw

    adbw Active Member

    All I can say is that I copied the file in question on 24 October 2014, which then produced the above transcribed version, and all seemed to be present and correct, as far as I remember. I'm guessing the issue had been resolved by the time I got there in that case. I'll have another look at what I have but I don't think I copied the HQ 44 Bde appendices at the time. Someone else might have though ..

    Just had a quick look at Robert Woollcombe's book (Lion Rampant) and he talks about the RSF attack on St Mauvieu (pp. 58-67) but with no obvious mention of a "reverse slope" issue. Martin's The Fifteenth Scottish Division talks of "reverse slope" difficulties encountered by 43rd Division up at Point 112 later in July but nothing during Op Epsom, as far as I can see.


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