Details of 8th Batt. Royal Scots during Operation Epsom?

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by Neil Jones, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. Neil Jones

    Neil Jones Member

    Hi Everyone

    I've just joined and this is my first post, but wondering whether any of you fantastic chaps can shed some light onto a dead end I appear to have hit. I'm about to go on a much anticipated pilgrimage to Normandy, the main aim of which is to hopefully visit the site where my great uncle fell during Operation Epsom. His name was John Fincher and he was a Private with the 8th Batt. Royal Scots (I've attached a picture of him). He died on the 29th June. I've already performed a fair amount of research to find out where he's buried and so on, plus the whole Overlord scenario, which has proved massively enjoyable, if very emotional at times. However, I seem to have now come to a standstill regarding his (and his mates) movements on that fateful day. I recently picked up a copy of the Over The Battlefield book on Epsom by Ian Daglish and, according to this, on the morning of the 29th, they pushed forward over the cornfields next to the Chateau Belleval, East of Rauray, one company going Westward to an area known as Shane's Orchard and the other going East to James' Wood, behind the Chateau. The book also states that the 9th SS. Panzer division came up from the south West, en route to Caen, and hit the 8th RS right in the face. I applied for John's diary details about a month ago as I thought this may tell me which company he was with, thus telling me which direction he went, but I've just received a letter informing me that there's currently a 12 month waiting list so I obviously won't get to find out before my upcoming trip. Were any of you guys actually there, or know of anyone who was, and can either confirm or dispel this book's version of events? Or can anyone provide any more details that may help me fill some of the holes? Possibly some aerial photos or documents of the time? I'd love to learn more about Epsom and the Scottish Corridor in general.

    Many thanks in advance!


    Attached Files:

  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    I believe that our member Captain Joe serve in that battalion so he will be along in the early sort that out - mention of Raurey reminds me that my cousin was killed with the DLI of 49th Div in that battle

    - Brigadier threw his company in against Panzers - with rifles .....wiped out - frightening

  3. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Sad to know that your Uncle, John Fincher, was killed during Op. Epsom. The Battalion - indeed, the 15th (Scottish) Division - suffered very heavy casualties.

    I joined the 8RS in May 1939 when the Battalion was reformed and served with them up to 1943 then Commissioned into the Regiment and thereafter was with the 7th/9th RS. You will see a picture of the Peebles Company in the Gallery and proud to have added a few notes about a very fine Battalion.

    Very glad we are now in touch. There are still two officers who were wounded during Op Epsom, though both (like me) are in their early ninties but sadly not keeping too well. I am in contact with them.

    I am sending a private message to you, and its arrival will be indicated by signal light next to your name.

    Meantime, warm regards.

    Joe Brown.
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    The Bn has a war diary at the National Archives that may help:

    WO 171/1362 8 Royal Scots Jan-Dec 1944

    Good luck
  5. daisie

    daisie Junior Member

    Hi sorry for replying on this thread but just wondering if you could help me also. My uncle was killed 26/06/1944. He was private James Leslie Duncan Fairbairn also serving with the 8th Btn r/s. Any information regarding what happened on that day would be much appreciated. We have only just located a photograph of him after all these years and the whole family is eager to try and find out more about his time during the war. Thank you for any information in advance
  6. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Dear Daisie,

    I will be pleased to help in whatever way I can. I am sending you a personal message.

    Joe Brown.
  7. Neil Jones

    Neil Jones Member

    Hi all. I've been trying to trace the final movements of my Great Uncle on 29th June, 1944 for about a year now, though the trail appears to have gone somewhat cold and I wondered whether any of you would know anything further of this paricular battle than I already suspect, or maybe hold some photos taken near the time, Company ones perhaps? I've attached some images to hopefully help matters. The first two are scans of my Ian Daglish Epsom book, showing the battle in question, the third is my Great Uncle (Private John Fincher, 8th Batallion, The Royal Scots) when he signed up and the final two are from his war diary. As things currently stand, if all times and dates are correct, then it would put John somewhere on the field of battle of the first image when he died. The main problem I have is that I don't know which Company he was with at the time so I can't tell which direction he would've gone from the start point and the diary doesn't appear to say. Am i mad to continue a quest for such detail?!
    If anyone happens to hold any info or photographs that they would be willing to share with me, I can be contacted directly at: , or as a reply to this post.
    A million thanks in advance!
    8RS1.jpg 8RS2.jpg 8RS5.jpg 8RS7.jpg 8RS8.jpg
  8. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    The photo Daglish used was taken June 24th and here it is joined up with another to give all of Grainville. If you want the full double image at 8 mb them contact me via PM

  9. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Neil,

    You may well have an uphill struggle to ascertain the Company of the 8th Bn Royal Scots your Great Uncle served in, as it would appear that he was only with them for two days before he was killed in action. Some battalion War Diaries carry this sort of information, but they are very few and far between.

    I suggest that you send a PM (personal message) to Joe Brown, a WWII veteran who is active on this very forum. Joe started WWII as a Pte in the 8th Bn Royal Scots, but was posted out of the battalion on being Commissioned. However, he served in NW Europe with the 7th/9th Bn Royal Scots and I believe from something I read that he is active in the Royal Scots Veterans Association or similar. He may be able to help track down the information you are after. If you decide to contact Joe send him a link to this thread so he can see what you are looking for...


  10. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    merged thread with your earlier one as it covers the same ground
  11. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    I understand your concern and your wish to know more but it is very difficult to know in detail about the two days your Great Uncle Private John Fincher was with the 8th Royal Scots. When we first got in touch with each other a year ago, I mentioned your Great Uncle’s name to a number of Veterans, but they were unable to help.

    The graphic picture is that the 8th Royal Scots whilst in the Normandy bridgehead needed to be reinforced five times to replace the 288 casualties of officers and men, either killed or wounded, as they with other Infantry and Armoured Units took part in the severest fighting imaginable. They had to face a tenacious and desperate enemy continually being reinforced in their relentless effort to drive us back into the sea. The Battalion’s 288 casualties were nearly a third of its normal strength of highly-trained Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men.

    It was a fine Battalion and having trained with them, knew them well. So your Great Uncle would be welcomed into its ranks and would be well led and as he took his place in a Section of ten men in a Rifle Company. Friendliness would be there for him as the ethos of the Section was reliance and dependence on each other in what ever faced them.

    Neil, I am sure you know all this or could guess what it must have been like for the your Great Uncle, who looked so young. But then we were all young in years but the difference of a couple of years service been 19 and 21 years could make you feel and look very much older. But the moment Private John Fincher joined the Battalion he was at once a Royal Scot and the 8RS Bn. HQ Orderly Room would have recorded which Company your Great Uncle was posted. These records with the details of the 288 officers and men who were casualties and those who replaced them, would be passed back to the Second Echelon of the Army. If these records still exist and can be researched, they will provide the answer.

    M Kenny.

    Thanks for posting the great aerial photo. As Battalion I.O. tried hard to get aerial coverage of enemy terrain and positions for briefing on objectives. Low oblique photos were particularly useful, almost as good as a personal recce. Also used Aerial Photographic Interpretrations Maps by APIS which contained lots of information, such as possible nebelwefers positions (?nbwf)

    Joe Brown
  12. Neil Jones

    Neil Jones Member

    Thanks to all who have responded. And also to Owen for merging it with my previous post. I always find it very interesting to hear of others' sometimes strikingly similar experiences and quests. I must apologise for the repeat posting but I actually ended up having to delay my original plans to visit Normandy, as stated in my first post last year, though I am now very pleased – not to mention lucky - to be currently touring the area in a camper van for several weeks, in order to get that greater, ground level perspective (a tad better than Google!) and take as many photos as I can. I’ve so far toured the majority of the sites, from the Hillman bunker and Merville battery, to the Odon crossing, Falaise pocket and Hill 112, and across to Pointe-Du-Hoc and the Bayeux/St. Lo area. My major interest however has always been the Epsom battlefield and this is where I currently am. I just a few days ago finally managed to get to visit my Great Uncle’s grave, next to his fellow Royals who died on the same day, at the very peaceful Fontenay-Le-Pesnel war cemetery and I'm now hoping, while here, to visit the grounds of the Belleval Chateau Estate, central to the movements of the 8th Bttn RS on the 29th June (centre, near top of m kenny's beautiful aerial shot), though I may just get a pair of steel gun barrels waved angrily at me! One thing’s for sure though, having been in Normandy for a few weeks now, I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone, either on a similar quest to mine, or of similar interests, and who hasn’t done so already, really should visit some, if not all of these sites. It really is a fascinating insight, so much more than any book can ever give you, and seeing it all for real, at eye level has certainly given me a whole new form of respect for what these lads were up against. I realise that a lot of the terrain has changed somewhat in the past 70 years (for instance, the area of 'Shane's Orchard', centre left of m kenny’s aerial photo, is now a large alfalfa field as it was apparently completely obliterated during the fighting that took place there on the 29th June and never replanted), but many areas also haven’t changed at all, remaining just as they were, which I find even more interesting and all the more moving.

    Joe –

    Thanks once more for your informative and very thoughtful reply. I decided to repost after recently arriving in the area, with feelings and questions being reignited, so apologies for any deja-vu. A year on, and having read a lot more about Epsom, I now feel a bit wiser and am thus satisfied that this is as far as I’m likely to get regarding the final movements of my great uncle. Walking through the same fields as him is enough for me.

    M Kenny –

    Many thanks for posting such a great aerial photo. I have wondered in the past, as the image in Daglish’s book shows the date it was taken, whether previous fighting took place on the same spot, due to what appears to be a cluster of bomb or tank shell craters? The book doesn’t mention anything though. I’d love a full res copy of it if at all possible. My personal email is I’ve got very sporadic internet at the moment (from the back of a camper) so I may not respond for a while! Cheers in advance!


  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Lucky begger, have a great trip & hope you'll share some photos with us.
  14. Neil Jones

    Neil Jones Member

    It would be rude not to! Won't be for 3 or 4 weeks though I'm afraid.
  15. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    If you are refering to the series of 'holes' running through the middle of the air photo I am pretty sure it is an AA emplacement. A total of 3 pits then 3 more and lastly a group of 4.
  16. Neil Jones

    Neil Jones Member

    D'oh! So obvious now you've pointed it out. Thanks.
  17. ChrisS

    ChrisS New Member

    Please forgive my re-opening a 2 year old thread.

    I have just joined and am trying to find any information regarding my great Uncle who died on the same date referenced by the original starter of this thread. My great Uncle was also in the 8th RS and is also buried in Fontenay le Pesnel.

    His name was Corporal Dennis Hudson. He was 28 years old.

    I have found his grave but am awaiting a photograph of him from other relatives.

    I know the details of Operation Epsom and the activity between 26-30 June but, as mentioned by Joe Brown in the thread, I am also patently aware that it is incredibly difficult to pin down (with any real accuracy) the movements of individuals or the precise circumstances of their losses.

    All I would ask is that if any of the original posters in this thread, or indeed anyone else, has any information or recognises the name (difficult after all this time and with such limited people with first hand knowledge), that they let me know.

    I would be immensely grateful for any replies.
  18. amassang

    amassang New Member

    I have been to Normandy recently and noticed your Great Uncle is next to my Great Uncle (Corporal Dennis Hudson) in the war cemetery at Fontenay-le-Pesnel. He too was killed on 29th June. It’s quite comforting to see some of Royal Scots killed that day next to one another in the cemetery. It’s a beautiful place and is kept so lovely.

    SDP and Drew5233 like this.
  19. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    The fog of war:






    stolpi likes this.
  20. amassang

    amassang New Member

    Thank you for posting

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