E W Bacon RSM 2/5th Queens Regiment

Discussion in '1940' started by GeorgeMog, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. GeorgeMog

    GeorgeMog Junior Member

    E W Bacon 6078669 RSM 2/5th Queens Royal Regiment 20May1940

    I am trying to figure out what happened to my grandfather in his last days, before he was killed 20May1940.

    He was promoted from CSM to RSM just before he sailed for France. He was stationed in London at a TA centre in Brixton and was in charge of TA reservists. They went to France to do "Pioneer" duties, digging trenches etc. He sailed to France 22Apr1940. The 2/5th, 2/6th and 2/7th were part of 35 Brigade under the command of Brig. de Cordova.

    On 18May1940 they were moved up to Abbeville. The 2/5th had been working on an airfield only 17 miles away from the town and marched. I am guessing that they were billeted in the Chateau de Bagatelle, Abbeville. From google maps this appears to be the only chateau around Abbeville and there is a story that my grandfather spent his last night in a chateau. He stayed at one end with half the troops and an officer stayed at the other end. These troops were poorly equipped, but the officer had a Michelin map of the area.

    19May1940 they set up defensive positions around Abbeville.

    20May1940 At 1100 a devastating air attack on Abbeville not only destroyed the bridges over the Somme and put the telephone system out of order, so that messages had to be sent by despatch rider or runner.

    Brig. de Cordova's 35th (Queens) Brigade were setting up in an arc that stretched from the Somme South of Abbeville to the St Omer road overlooking the airfield to the North. They established road blocks on the 3 main roads leading out of their position but their orders were "Positions are not to be tactical but areas are allotted with regard to the fact that the brigade may have to defend Abbeville". At 17:15 "Enemy reported at 1200 hrs today in vicinity of Doullens with AFVs.35 Brigade will withdraw across the Somme and take up positions on west bank covering roads Abbeville - Blagny and Abbeville - Eu. Right flank will be refused to cover approaches from South".

    Around that time 35th (Queens) Brigade had effectively ceased to exist. Trouble had started on their left where late in the afternoon 2/6th Oueens found Germans on either side of them but the whole battalion escaped, except for the rearguard platoon which was surprised by tanks as they crossed the St Omer road. The rest of the Brigade suffered more severely. 2/7th Queens in the centre of the position fired off all their A/T ammo to halt an attack by light tanks, but when battalion HQ sent out orders to withdraw the message was miscarried and only the HQ company and 2 platoons reached the river. The remainder stayed where they were and were rounded up the following morning. Even when a company which had been detached to guard an ammo dump near Amiens rejoined them, the battalion could not find as many as 200 men. The 2/5th on the right also held off some light tanks. They were required to hold on until 2/7th had fallen back behind them. When at 23:00 hrs the order to retreat was given it was found that the main road along the river bank was piqueted by tanks. Lt. Col. Young split the battalion into small groups and told them to make their own way across the Somme as best they could. 120 men escaped.

    My grandfather's group couldn't find a bridge and started trying to swim across the Somme river. The story is that none of the men in his group could swim except for him. He was in the river helping the men swim across and had got all the men across, when the advancing German forces got to the river bank. He was shot whilst crossing the river.

    There is no known grave, except for his name on a memorial in the Dunkirk cemetery.

    There is a lot of material here that has been borrowed from various other websites.
    Feldgrau.net • View topic - Abbeville - 27 May till 05 Jun of 1940.
    Axis History Forum • View topic - 2 Pz Div and The Destruction of 12th (Easter) Div - BEF
    Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment

    This September I am planning to travel to Abbeville and plan to try to retrace his last footsteps. If any body has any information that may help me, I would be appreciative. I am looking for war diary entries, family stories about how a relative who was in 2/5th Queens Regiment escaped etc.
     
  2. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

  3. CL1

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

    Hello George
    welcome
    There is a forum member who might be able to assist further once he reads your thread.

    regards
    Clive
     
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I've got the 2/7th Queens war diary on a disc Paul Reed sent me but not 2/5th sorry.
    I hope Drew our 1940-nut may have them.
     
  5. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

  6. Rotherfield

    Rotherfield Senior Member

    Hi George
    I have the History of the 2/5th Queens manily because of their involvement in the wnd Battle for Monte Camino Italy
    However with regard to their service in 1940 which by reading your account yopu already know it states that the German break-thrugh at Sedan threatened to cut off the BEF in Holland and Belgium from the French In an attempot to fill the gap the 12th Div were moved up to an area North of the Somme stretching from Abbeville to Amiens. On the 18th May te 2/5th matched 25 miles with full packs to the woods North of Pont Remy and early next morning moved into 2 neighbouring villages A.B.D and HQ Coy's were in Bellancourt establishing a road block on the Abbeville - Ailly road, C Coy blocked the road to Pnt Remy at Epagne and the Bn HQ occupied the Chateau d'Epagne (The owners were English and had driven away that morning) leaving a fine house overlooking the river.
    It goes on to say that the Germans bombed Abbeville on the 20th May and at 18.00 hrs the observation post saw tanks firing on Vauxchelles which was held by the 2/7th
    The Brigade Commander arrived at Bn HQ at 19.45hrs and ordered a withdrawal, it was hoped that they could withdraw over the bridge at Epagne which was held by a platoon of the 2/7th but it was confirmed that it had been taken by enemy tanksBn HQ were then ordered to withdraw to Bray but 3 German tanks had cut off the route by this time a German tank had burst through the wall of the garden at Bn HQ it was only possible for small parties of men to get away across the Somme.
    31 men of whom 3 were wounded reached the Somme Major Moore sent out patrols to look for boats or a bridge but there were none and since only 7 of the could swim he made a rope of rifle slings and 2 volunteers took it across, Major Moore himself crossed the river 3 times to bring over wounded and arms and was the first Officer of the Bn to be awarded the M.C.
    With the rest of the Bn it was the same the survivors moved back in ssmall parties through rivers and marshes Enemy tanks were moving down roads and had siezed all bridges over the river the Bn HQ found a ramshackle footbridge some others swam acroos some were drowned most never reached the river.
    From the Somme to Rouen there wre 50 ,iles of marching. The main party which had collected together after crossing the Somme arrived at Rouen on the afternoon of 23rd May 3 days later they entrained for Pietin and marched to camp in a wood at the Chateau Pont Pietin, on the 7th June the Bn moved to Cherbourg and embarked for Southampton Out of 596 all ranks there were only 209 left.
    That is a very brief account
    Regards
    Mike (rotherfield)
     
    Sandra Doran likes this.
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi George,

    Glad to see you have posted after the PM you sent me and your thread is getting some attention. As mentioned I do have the diary and will post anything that maybe of use-Still no broadband here but I have saved this thread.

    Welcome by the way :)

    Andy
     
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    At 1600hrs on the 22nd April 1940 20 Officers and 575 Other Ranks Paraded at Southampton after leaving Guildford in the morning and then sailed to Havre, France on the SS Lady of Man. They arrived at 0800hrs on the 23rd April and docked alongside the Quai Transatlantique.

    From the Quay they assembled in the customs sheds and then at 220hrs they marched as a Bn to the Gare Centrale (Central Station). The Bn entrained at 2300hrs in 3rd Class Carriages and at 0300hrs on 24th April left for Senqueux (?).

    More to follow....
     
  9. GeorgeMog

    GeorgeMog Junior Member

    Thank you to all who have posted information.

    Talking to my mother last night about the new information, she said that my grandfather had with him a pair of silk pyjamas with him that my grandmother had made him and that he had buried them in the grounds of the Chateau that they were staying at. He sentiment was that he was determined that no German was going to have them.

    I am assuming that they will be in the grounds of Chateau d'Epagne, if somebody hasn't dug them up.

    Thanks again to everybody.
     
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    At 0745 hrs on 24th April 1940 the battalion arrived at Senqueux (?). Detrained and marched to Forges le Faux and went into billets on arrival. HQ and B Company were housed in the twon and the remainder of the battalion were accomdated in farms on the outskirts of the town.

    On the 28th April at 0900 hrs the CO Lt Col A F F Young assumed temporary command of 35 Brigade due to the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Baby being evacuated to No.1 General Hospital Dieppe with appenditis. Major D L Bathgate assumed command of the battalion.

    At the end of the month the battalion strength in France was 20 Officers and 593 Other Ranks.
     
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    During the first two weeks of May there is no details in the diary regarding what the battalion was doing (I suspect digging and other labour tasks). The diary for May starts on the 13th May.

    At 2100 hrs on the 13th May the battalion receives orders from brigade that they should send two companies the next day to guard six landing grounds.

    At 0400 hrs on the 14th May B Company left for Fresenville, Airaines and Soues landing grounds whilst D Company left for Rambures, Grosjacques and Brutelles landing grounds.

    With the main part of the battalion still in Forges les Faux on the 15th May they received orders at 1130 hrs from brigade to move to Rambures. Both the Bde and Bn commanders were away visiting C and D Companies and the battalion under the command of Major D E Bathgate left in MT at 1630 hrs and 1745 hrs. The two parties arrived at Rambures around 2000 hrs and went into billets. Along the route there was considerable refugee traffic on the roads and congestion in Blangy.

    On the 18th May at 1030 hrs the battalion left Rambures and marched to Pont Remy and bivvied in woods two miles north of the town. The day was extremley hot and the men marched in full packs, the battalion arrived very tired.
     
  12. GeorgeMog

    GeorgeMog Junior Member

    Thanks Drew.

    Looking at google maps it must be Serqueux, Seine-Maritime, Upper Normandy, France that they traveled to from Le Havre. It has a railway station and within just over a Kilometer away there is a town called Forges-Les-Eaux. This would have them ~60Km south west of Amiens.
     
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    The next bit gets interesting and I'll try and post it later for you with some additional info I have found. I'm currently on bookshelf building duty so I can release the 1940 books from their boxes !

    Andy
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    19th May 1940:

    At 0700 hrs HQ, A, B and D Coys marched to Bellancourt with orders to establish a road block on the Abbeville-Ailly road. C Coy marched to Epagne and established a road block on the Abbeville-Pont Remy road. Bn HQ was at Chateau D'Epagne (see post 9). The rest of the battalion billeted at their respective locations. At this time communications between the units was by DR or (?) telephone. Information received stated that the Germans had broken through the French on the Belgian and Luxemburg frontiers with armoured divisions. 35 Bde was covering Abbeville: 2/5 Queens as above, 2/6 Queens Drucat and 2/7 at Vauchelles. Brigade HQ was located at Epagnette.

    Around 2100 hrs on the 20th May the Bn HQ and C Coy were withdrawing across the River Seine.
     
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    From WO 167/808 2/5 Queen's Royal Regiment war diary:

    [​IMG]

    There's a good possibility that RSM Bacon was killed by the air raid.
     
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    001 ANDREWS FA 5674879 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    002 BACON EW 6078669 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    003 BINKS P 6085591 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    004 CLARK CG 6094094 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    005 DENYER JT 6089881 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    006 DURRANT JD 5674490 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    007 GRICE LVJ 6092968 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    008 HOWARD WG 6088110 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    009 HURST A 6092762 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    010 JARVIS A 6084066 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    011 LACEY WJ 5674231 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    012 MARCH G 5671656 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    013 MURPHY TF 5674253 2/5 BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    014 NEAL EB 90898 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 - - 21/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    015 NEDEN MA 6092938 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    016 ROSE R 6084887 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    017 SEARS DF 6088141 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
    018 THORNE RG 5674033 2/5TH BN 20/05/1940 THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGIMENT (WEST SURREY)
     
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Just out of interest when the battalion returned to the UK in June 1940 their strength was recorded at 16 Officer and 172 Other Ranks. The battalion had lost over 400 men in France in less than 30 days.

    It may be worth getting a copy of the following file as the RSM is recorded on the Dunkirk Memorial:

    WO 361/65 British Expeditionary Force, France: The Queen's Royal Regiment; missing men
     
  18. idler

    idler GeneralList

    This version of the events of 20 May is from Foster's History of the Queen's Royal Regiment Vol VIII published in 1953:

    Lieut.-Colonel Young divided his Hequarters into two, under Major Bathgate and Lieutenant Rickett, and ordered them to begin to withdraw while he himself collected as many as he could from "C" Company's posts on the road. There was suddenly a roar of approaching tanks and three of them turned down the road towards the bridge. Lieut.-Colonel Young took his party down to the river bank and left them under cover while he reconnoitred the bridge to see if the tanks were holding it. A tank turned its headlight on him and a gave a burst from its two-pounder gun. He therefore retired and worked along hte bank to find the narrowest place for swimming. In doing so, he met, and was shot at, by Lieutenant Rickett's party.

    The combined parties, about thirty strong, made a rope of rifle slings, but the current was swift and it proved too short. Only about ten of the men could swim, so Lieut.-Colonel Young could only advise the non-swimmers to remain hidden in the hope that the tanks would move away next day. He then swam the river with the remainder, several of whom, including the R.S.M., were, unfortunately, drowned in the attempt.

    Major Bathgate's party had seen the tanks turn down to the bridge and realised that it would be impossible to get accross it. After floundering about in the marshes for a couple of hours they discovered a half-constructed bridge (not marked on the map) about half a mile down-stream and crossed by it about midnight.
     
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Bloody hell-Well done Andrew !

    I think I need to start collecting these Regimental Histories that cover 1940 !

    I don't suppose you fancy doing a list ;)
     
  20. GeorgeMog

    GeorgeMog Junior Member

    Thanks again to everybody who contributed. I feel now as though I can trace my grandfather's last steps. When I get some quiet time, I intend to pull all this information together into one text. Once I have done that I will post it.
     

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