978293 Andrew COLONNESE, 1 East Lancashire Regiment: 23/09/1944

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by B_3920, Dec 29, 2019.

  1. B_3920

    B_3920 Member

    I am interested in operation Beecher, the crossing of the Escaut canal,
    in the night of 17-18 September 1944, and the fighting the days after.

    One of the items that is mystery to me, is the tombstone south side of the canal.
    The text on the tombstone:
    “Here died a British soldier. He was buried here September 1944
    and reburied June 1946.”

    The single person I found, who was reburied, and fell on that particularly place is:
    Private Andrew Colonnese. - 1 battalion East Lancashire Regiment- Casualty
    CWGC Archives say he died 23/09/1944,
    - unidentified at that time and 6 days after the crossing.
    His regiment (1 ELR) was on that moment in battle 10 km on the other side.-
    When locating the CWGC coordinates
    Andrew died on the other side (north) of the canal, some 100m in the wood.
    Yet the grave is on the south side…
    So what happened with Andrew.
    Was he killed in action on the other side and found 6 days later when the British had moved?
    And why is the tombstone on the other side of the canal?
    Did he drown and was fond 6 days later and the south canal side.
    This means the CWGC coordinates would be incorrect. (Doubtable)

    Who buried the English soldier? And who organized the tombstone?

    A former researcher (Mr Proth) had an interview in 1998:
    “Henri Alen a member of the resistance had duty few days after the crossing
    to inspect the canal bank south.
    He found (saw) the corps of a British soldier on the side of the canal.
    Besides the corps was a motorcycle;
    The British army had left Lommel, he did not bury the soldier, nor did he know who buried the soldier”
    The persons do not live anymore…

    Can anyone help me with the story of Andrew Colonnese.
    ozzy16 and CL1 like this.
  2. CL1

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

    Hello Peter

    Possibly carried across the river
    Possibly still injured then died
    Anyone could have buried him including the enemy or local folk
  3. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

  4. B_3920

    B_3920 Member

    thanks for your reply

    As far I know, possible:

    After the fighting, if the area was occupied by the British, the RASC unit gathers British soldiers,
    wounded or dead : named casualties...
    and wounded adversary
    And the Red Cross came and took care of the German soldiers.
    (not noted in civil records in cityhall)

    There is also a list of British soldiers buried on the spot. (75 soldiers)
    These soldiers were buried (temporally) on a nearby place,
    usually a road and the place was listed.

    978293 was noted "sand quarries bridge XII" and unknown.
    (Also in CWGC documents)
    The sand quarries are south of the canal. The bridge 700m east.


    If the soldier was found North of the canal,
    why all the effort to move him to the South side to a temporally grave. (need of a boat?)

    If the soldier drowned and was found in the canal 6 days later,
    why the incorrect CWGC coordinates.
    I suppose these people were accurate in taking notes.

    And what about the story of the motorcycle found at his side.

    Was Andrew a motorized messenger and hit while driving and not found?
    Or did he have an order the 23rd, and what did happen?

    And why the 23rd noted when 1ELR left the 20th

    If there is someone who can tell me more about Andrew and his function,
    casualty list, please.
    Otherwise this will stay a mystery
  5. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Royal Artillery attestations 1883-1942:


    British Army Casualty Lists 1939-1945:


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