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.