Cathel Sutherland Melville kia 6th April 1945

Discussion in 'The Brigade of Guards' started by allancathel, Apr 25, 2015.

  1. allancathel

    allancathel Member

    I have always been interested in the life of the uncle I was named after, Cathel Sutherland Melville, Lance Sergeant Scots Guards, who was killed in action on 6th April 1945. Along with my family I visited his grave in Sage War Cemetery, Oldenburg 70 years to the day after his death. It is a lovely spot and it was a moving experience.

    However, I have a major question about his place of death. He is recorded on my mother's gravestone as dying at Backum while much fierce fighting took place around the 6th April at Lingen and the very close by settlement of Baccum. Baccum is approximately 50 miles from Sage while Backum is as far away again and I am uncertain as to where he actually died. There are other small errors on family memorials so I cannot make up my mind regarding the place of death.

    I have a photograph of his temporary grave but the correspondence received by his widow at the time of death does not say where this was. Incidentally, his wife and son are both now deceased and I was responsible for arranging their funerals.

    I would really like to clear up the matter of place of death and wondered if anyone could tell me where soldiers buried in Sage mainly came from, if he could have been taken all the way from Backum or more likely from Baccum and where the temporary grave was located.

    Any other information about the cemeteries in question would be very much appreciated.

    Cathel Melville Temporary grave 005.jpg

    Attached Files:

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  2. Lotus7

    Lotus7 Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome to the forum Allen, good luck with your research. Just a thought do you have his army records? Always helpful if you have.

    All the best
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi and welcome to the forum - you can obtain his service records from

    [Edit, dbf: Anyone reading this who wishes to apply for copy Guards records should apply to Wellington Barracks, see this link, post 2 ]

    Once you have them then I would suggest a copy of the relevant War Diary for the date(s) you require should tell you exactly where they were at that time. There are several members of the forum who provide a copying service cheaper than the National Archives quote.

  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    CWGC Entry,%20CATHEL%20SUTHERLAND :poppy:

    The key is identifying if he is 2nd or 3rd Battalion. I suspect he was 3rd battalion without checking anything. DBF may be able to help but if not Service Records would be the way forward. If you apply though, you'll need to apply to the Guards HQ rather than Glasgow - They arrive a lot quicker than the rest of the army records held in Scotland.
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  5. allancathel

    allancathel Member

    Thanks for replies.

    Lotus - I have his info from CWGC and I also have his leave book which has good interesting information but I am still missing a lot though I have quite a number of photos from his service days.

    Tricky Dicky - Thanks for suggestions. I have just sent an email to war records Glasgow but some suggestion I should go direct to Guards records. I am interested in war diary suggestion and would be interested to have more info on this suggestion.

    Drew5233 - Service book and CWGC did not give battalion but temporary grave appears to say 2 Scots Guards. I am very much into family history but this area ia new to me. What is DBF?! Do you have info on Guards HQ such as email or address?

    Thanks everyone.
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    Re War Diaries - see Drews post and the info in red

    Re Service records - I do not have the details but would suggest contacting the Scots Guards Museum/Regimental Office/Records, I assume they keep copies as well as the general records office (as per link provided)

    DBF is another member of the forum, they may have the info that Drew talks of to hand


    edited to add:
    Link to Scots Guards info -
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    DBF (Diane) is a forum member and she's the most knowledgeable on all thing Guards on here.

    The link posted above regarding service records should mention that anyone serving in the Guards will need to apply to them and the details should be there. If not let me know and I'll dig them out for you.

    2 Scots Guards were in NW Europe at some point in 1945 as I noticed yesterday they have a war diary in this campaign covering 1945 when I checked.

  8. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member


    Found this in 21 Army Group Log Files: "Gds Armd Div passed the 2 Welch and 2 SG through at 0800 hrs on the axis Lingen - Freren. They lost two tks fitted with bulldosers and found a few 88s and many rd blocks and many fallen trees across the road on reaching 755352. At 1600 hrs they tried the axis Lingen - Lengerich and by 1800 hrs had reached the 79 Grid."


    With regards,
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  9. allancathel

    allancathel Member

    Thank you very much. This answers a number of questions. The spelling on my grand-mother's grave recording the death of Cathel Sutherland Melville is Backum as it is on the map you posted to me. On the present German map and on the area there which I visited on 6th April the spelling is Baccum but they are clearly referring to the same place. The post also confirms that the 2 Scots Guards were involved in this action and that they had losses at Baccum/Backum - it seems likely that my uncle was one of those casualties and in/with one of those tanks - do you think this is a reasonable assumption?
    The other Backum I found was too far away for me to think it the place of death so this Baccum/Backum with the alternative spellings solves this proble.
    Once again thanks for this helpful information.
  10. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    Glad to help.
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Welcome to the forum

    Regarding copy service records please see post 2 on this link for application details

    The Scots Guards regimental history by Erskine states that your uncle was serving with 2nd (Infantry) Battalion when he died, so the temporary marker is backed up by something. Once you obtain copy records you could contact CWGC and ask them to amend their online records to include his correct battalion designation. I'd imagine that his headstone would not be amended for a while as the info included at the moment is correct; generally they wait until a stone needs replacing.

    Does anyone in the family have his medals? The campaign stars will confirm in which theatres he saw action. Do you have a photo of your uncle, it's always nice to put a face to a name on a thread, and if you have a squad photo that might just be what other researchers need for their own family research.

    As a bit of background:
    The 2nd Bn had previously fought in North Africa and Italy before returning to UK on 23 April 1944. Their numbers, like those of 1st Bn Irish Guards had been depleted by the campaign in Italy, so as part of the 201st Guards Brigade in UK which took on 1500 reinforcements from RAF Regiment, 2SG received 300 reinforcements. The Battalion embarked for Ostend on 2nd Feb 1945 to become part of GAD. Some men from X Company, Scots Guards, who had already served in Normandy attached initially to 3IG and then later to 1WG, were also transferred to 2SG.

    As soon as I can, I'll add the page from the Regimental History covering the action by 2nd bn for that date. Afraid I don't have a copy of the war diary.

    I've checked CWGG entries for that date, using Geoff's search engine, quite a few have no battalion designation, some of whom are in the same cemetery as your uncle. Apart from Major Kemble, whose death is mentioned in the SG History, I can't determine if some of these men were KIA on that date, or if they died of wounds received earlier.

    001 ABBOT GW 2703215 - 06/04/1945 SCOTS GUARDS
    002 CULLING H 2703085 2ND BN 06/04/1945 SCOTS GUARDS
    003 GRAY W 2702893 - 06/04/1945 SCOTS GUARDS
    004 HOUSTON W 2703101 - 06/04/1945 SCOTS GUARDS
    005 KEMBLE DHA 53962 - 06/04/1945 SCOTS GUARDS
    006 MELVILLE CS 2699964 - 06/04/1945 SCOTS GUARDS
    007 MOON JW 2703112 2ND BN 06/04/1945 SCOTS GUARDS
    008 OWEN J 2703067 - 06/04/1945 SCOTS GUARDS
    009 ROBERTSON DG 14688133 - 06/04/1945 SCOTS GUARDS

    (TD, I've edited your earlier post since those googling this for info may not read further down the thread. :) )
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  12. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi dbf

    The edit to my post is great thanks - I was initially trying to help the member, but on matters such as this my experience is still 'general' and not specific as you have - so thanks for that.

  13. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

  14. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    From The Scots Guards 1919-1955, David Erskine, page 434:

    April 5
    The 5th was chiefly notable for an ineffective low-flying attack by fighters on the Group’s rest positions along the Nordhord-Lingen road at a moment when the Brens were being cleaned - a Company Commander with a razor in one hand and a pistol in the other, was sent to deal with the situation - and by the 3rd Division clearing enough of Lingen area to make a further advance possible.

    April 6
    In the morning of the 6th the Group set off once more, crossed the Coldstream bridge, and moved out along the axis road by the Forest of Lingen towards Furstenau, with the object of seizing a crossing over the Hase. F Company in the lead almost immediately ran ito considerable opposition from mined road blocks, S.P. guns, and infantry in the woods, and in trying to clear it the Company Commander, Major Kemble, was killed by a burst of Spandau fire, and Lieutenant H.R. Tempest wounded. The impracticability of further advance along narrow roads through thickly wooded country was at once apparent. The two-day battle in and around Lingen had given the enemy, whose courageous resistance led to their being described as fanatical, ample time to prepare their defences, and the nature of the ground made the tanks an easy mark to concealed guns at close range. Colonel Windsor-Lewis therefore switched the line of advance to a more northerly axis in an attempt to reach Lengerich, and F Company was with some difficulty extricated.

    The loss of Major Kemble was a particularly heavy blow; he had been wounded and awarded the Military Cross when seconded to the King’s African Rifles in the East African campaign, and had again been wounded, losing the sight of one eye, while serving with the Battalion in North Africa. A great personality and leader of men, he was leading the Company in the attack when he was killed; he was succeeded in command by Captain JS. Burn-Clerk-Rattray.

    The new route was little better, and further opposition, during which the Group lost a tank and a carrier on mines, Lieutenant Mannock was wounded, and four enemy 88-mm. guns were knocked out by the Welsh tanks, led to the Group still being short of Lengerich at nightfall. The day had been typical of many there were to follow: a fighting withdrawal forcing frequent deployments and infantry assaults, in circumstances which allowed just enough mobility to warrant the use of tanks, over eighty of which were to be lost before the close of the campaign.
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  15. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    Nice to piece bits of history together. Pretty good forum.
  16. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Just looked at numbers around your uncle's and found this chap who died in 1941. So an indication of how long he would have been in SG.

    Some of these men may possibly have been in his training squad, though difficult to say for certain which ones.
    See unofficial nominal roll:

    2699951 Guardsman STOTHARD LAWRENCE 1st Bn. Scots Guards Overseas Acquittance Roll, No. 1 IRTD as of 4 Feb 1944
    2699957 Lance Corporal BEATTIE JAMES 2nd Bn. Scots Guards
    2699963 Guardsman MELROSE ALEXANDER GEORGE ARCHIBALD Scots Guards
    2699964 Lance Serjeant MELVILLE CATHEL SUTHERLAND Scots Guards
    2699969 Lance Serjeant McCLURE ANDREW 1st Bn. Scots Guards
    2699975 Guardsman JOHNSTON A C Scots Guards
    2699980 Lance Corporal BROOM GEORGE MILLS 2nd Bn. Scots Guards
    2699986 Lance Corporal DEVLIN J 1st Bn. Scots Guards Overseas Acquittance Roll, as of 24 Dec 1943
    2699987 Lance Corporal THOMSON WILLIAM W 1st Bn. Scots Guards
  17. allancathel

    allancathel Member

    Hello DBF and others

    just noted the extra information coming 'flying' in. I will settle down to reading it in detail again! Great forum.

    Thank you very much for that interesting and valuable information and I really look forward to receiving anything further you can send to me.

    I have his medals and his leave book with his leave entries. Almost all are privileged leave and I think that may relate to his sporting activities as a member of the British Army football team. I have a number of photograph including one of the team of professional footballers, including the late Sir Matt Busby, and the Army team that Cathel played in. He is seated front row centre.

    I can send photos if you can tell me where and how as I am just getting used to this forum.

    I have a large family website, which Nijmegen has obviously come across and mentions above. One of the pages under the Biographies heading give some information and a selection of the photographs I have relating to Cathel Sutherland Melville. It has needed updating for some time but now certainly needs work on it with the new information.


  18. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    There are a couple of ways to do it...

    here's how to attach within a post

    and here's how to create an album of your own on the forum and link to it or images within a post

    I'm afraid that's just about my limit for information. The way to proceed, should you want to learn more about your uncle's service is as advised earlier - copy records to determine when he transferred to any given battalion, and then respective war diaries. Whilst officers are more likely to be mentioned, it is possible he'd feature in a war diary somewhere; particularly as he was involved in a team sport. Very keen on their sports, often covered in the Appendices.

    Which campaign stars were awarded to your uncle?
  19. allancathel

    allancathel Member

    Attaching files of Cathel Sutherland Melville's leave book which may interest some members and which give a little more of the information I have. My greatest gap was always what he did outside the info in the leave book and particularly the events surrounding his death.


    Attached Files:

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  20. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    ​From Welsh Guards at War by Major LF Ellis, page 277, an account of the day from the perspective of 2nd Bn Welsh Guards:

    Without a knowledge of the country or close study of a large-scale map it would be impossible to follow the movement of often widely dispersed squadrons through the next few days. Each has its own story and a full account of even one of them would need a long chapter to itself. But extracts from a single squadron-leader’s diary will give some idea of the nature of the fighting at this time, provided the reader remembers that in order to form a picture of the whole Battalion’s work, even in outline, this one account should be multiplied by three and work of the Light Squadron and Headquarter Squadron should then be added.

    “6th of April. -
    (2 a.m.) Am just going to bed after a long series of ‘O’ Groups. Our first task is to make a break-out from the Lingen bridgehead and then go to as fast as we can to Bremen, eighty miles away ... Some task! when letters from home talk of the war being over.
    (8.15 a.m.) We are off.
    (9.15 a.m.) Leading tank knocked out on a mine. R.E. are clearing the road.
    (10 a.m.) Advance resumed. Leading tank fired on from the right - and missed - but the second tank hit and knocked out. Have sent the troop to the right in a flanking movement.
    (10.30 a.m.) This was successful.
    (10.45 a.m.) Leading tank of the troop who have taken over the lead has been knocked out by another bazooka and simultaneously hit a mine. There is another road-block in front with bazooka men and anti-tank gun manning it.
    (10.50 a.m.) A severe stonking ... my scout car was hit and put out of action.
    (11.15 a.m.) An infantry attack on wooded area to our front is going in - ‘F’ Company Scots Guards, supported by my leading troops and some artillery. This is Bremen in one day - an advance of two miles with three tanks knocked out to show for it! ...
    (1 p.m.) The infantry are having bad casualties ... David Kemble, commanding ‘F’ Company has been badly wounded ...
    (2 p.m.) Have just heard that David Kemble has died of his wounds/
    (3.15 p.m.) No. 2 and No. 3 Squadron Groups are to put in a joint attack.
    (5 p.m.) They have made their attack successfully and are now pushing on, with No. 2 Squadron leading.
    (5.10 p.m.) Leading tank of No. 2 Squadron reported hit by a self-propelled gun.
    (6.15 p.m.) No. 2 Squadron report two 88’s in their area and our air O.P. reports that at least three more are a little farther on.
    (6.30 p.m.) Leading troop of No. 2 Squadron have knocked out no less than three of the anti-tank guns.
    (7 p.m.) They have knocked out a fourth.
    (10 p.m.) In harbour just off the road. I have been lucky. I was sent for to an ‘O’ Group ... when I got back I found my own tank had been hit by one of the moaning minnies and my gunner, sitting on my seat, exactly where I would have been, had been very badly wounded.”

    Two officers nearby were also wounded and the crew of a Scots Guards carrier were killed.
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