Fighting withdrawal to St.Valery-en-Caux

Discussion in '1940' started by John Lawson, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    All of those files are at the National Archives

    Private Diary of Lt. Col G E Fenwicke-Clennell, N.F. 1940 May, June

    Private Diary of Lt. Col. H.R. Swinburn, 51 Highland Div. 1940 May, June

    Movement of 51 division and attached troops during period April 16 to June 12
  2. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Thanks for the detective work Drew.

    What's the best way of me getting hold of these?
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    3 options mate. Visit the National Archives, ask the National Archives to copy or pay someone to copy them for you.

  4. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Cheers Drew

    Regards, John
  5. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Does anyone out there know what the prefix number of this reinforcement depot was

    ? Infantry Base Depot at EVREUX

    Thanks in anticipation

  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I just noticed the town is spelt incorrectly in thread title, have just corrected it.
    It's 'St Valery-en-Caux' not '-en-Caen'
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    There were three Infantry Base Depots in France - 1,2 and 5.

    All were, from what I can tell, part of Rouen Base Sub Area.

    Some extra details on No.5:

    No.5 (MG) Base Depot (formed from No.6 Company of No.1 Infantry Base Depot on 11th May)


    No.5 Infantry Base Depot formed from the permanent staff of No.6 Company of No.1 Infantry Base Depot and first reinforcement personnel of all MG units and Infantry Pioneer reinforcements from No.2 Infantry Base Depot.
  8. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Thanks for that Owen.

    In mitigation, I am a Geordie, so what I can't say right, I can't spell right either. The're all Cor to me!

    However, I'm getting some very good informaion, from people who also cann't spell or care, about British troops doing wonderful things in the wrong place! Nothing new there then!

    Cheers, Owen
  9. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Cheers Drew,

    What a hive of info you are. It's either my eyes or their writing in these accounts but sometimes I just cann't make out the wurds.

    I take it that (MG) is Machine Gun, just checking? would the following have been from No1 Base Depot/No 6 Coy as it is before 11th May. Below taken from 7RNF Diary:

    8/4/40 GRUCHET LE VALASSE No developments. 1st reinforcements provided (to?) Infantry Base Depot EVREUX with approx 13 att(ached?)

    Stuff in brackets not quite sure of what it reads.

    All the best,

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I take it this is in the 7 RNF CO's diary? If so what page is it on?
  11. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Unfortunately not, Drew, it's on page 1 of the Bn War Diary

    This can be read on Facebook - 7th Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers St Valery 1940
  12. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    I was just thinking (mmmm thought I could smell wood burning!) on reading in various books, with regard to the reatreat and evacuation at Dunkirk and St.Valery, what a marvelous and Herculainian job the RASC and other support arms did in continuing to supply Ammunition, Fuel and food to what remained of the BEF. Apparently there was even 500 gals of fuel at St Valery, pity the troops had been ordered to destroy their vehicles.

    As an ex-REME man, I know that support is often taken for granted and has always gone unsung, but without it all those teeth arm chappies would just be a herd of starving, cold, weaponless, walking, misdirected people. It is a credit, not only to the Corps, but also to the RQMS's and CQMS's who daily had to find ammo, rations, POL and parts to keep their units moving. It's something that seems to get forgotten but without it, the wheels come off!
  13. nigelblue27

    nigelblue27 Member

    Hi John,
    I know a guy in Scotland a Dr Tom Renouf who is/was secretary of the 51st Highland Division veterans association.he went on pilgrimage to St Valery last year and he knows many people.I'm sure he could help.
  14. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Hi nigelblue27,

    I (and Chesterflyer) am making slow progress with putting together the company actions of 7RNF so I have asked on this site if anyone knows of anybody who was connected with any actions that invoved the MG sections, platoons, companies of 7RNF, and the Bns of the 51st may know. I mentioned to Chesterflyer just yesterday that the Kensington's are mentioned on a regular basis, even though only a company, or two remained to the end with the Div, whilst the whole 7RNF Bn were in actions up to the end in St Valery. I have no intentions to downplay the Kensington's but Chesterflyer informed me of an action, described in Saul Davids book, where an MG section of the Kensington's fought to the end, it was however, a section of 4Plt A Coy 7RNF. Detail is hard to come by, but there's a massive jigsaw out there that requires putting together, and I need some help.

    Grateful thanks to anyone who can contribute, enlighten or inform,


  15. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Perhaps Drew has 4th Camerons war diaries for May/June. There is reference to RNF in the 4th Camerons regimental History, for 3rd June where one gun was put out of action due to heavy mortaring. I believe I posted the relevant page in a earlier post.
  16. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Thanks 51 Highlander,

    I get so absorbed in new postings I forget to look back, I'll do that in a sec'. I've already had Drew on the case and I now have the Diaries of 51 Div and its AT Regt as well as 152, 153 and 154 Bde, my next move is to get young Drew on the Bn diaries but only for 152 and 153 as 154 were lucky enough to get out through Havre.


  17. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Anyone have any info on the Field Hospital in/around Rouen 1940 BEF


  18. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Would a CQMS in the army of 1940 be a Staff Sgt as today or a Sgt?

    Cheers, John
  19. Niccar

    Niccar WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi john

    It seems you have some problem with your acceptance of the role of the Kensingtons your post 94 the two companies you mentioned were all that was requested for ARK force for the withdrawal to St Valery a company with 3 platoons 4guns to a platoon =12 guns two companies =24 guns any more could have been an hindrance that’s why only two companies covered the withdrawal and I have the Battalions war diaries and can assure you they were there right to the end and many went into captivity two managed to escape and made it back to England 3 months after the withdrawal unfortunately one of them was killed in action in Italy during that campaign the reason why the Kens were mentioned so much they were first in the order of battle
    for the 51st Highland division so obviously they were used as required this in no way
    means that 7btnNFs did not do their fighting they were just as much involved as anybody

    regards niccar
    Drew5233 likes this.
  20. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Hi Niccar,

    Thanks for the info, it's all good stuff, especially the part that reminds me that the Kensingtons had seniority in the OOB, good point. I also do not wish to cast any dispersions on any of the units involved with the 51st HD withdrawal. I just find that because of the way in which it all panned out a lot of records were lost, destroyed or were not completed.

    My particular frustration is that as I dig further into the 7RNF I still cann't find my grandfather, even though I know he was there (I have photos of him prior to his deployment to France and in the POW camp). As a L/Sgt he must have had some command function, yet I still cann't fnd him.

    Divisional and Bde Diaries describe where actions were fought and, of course, the units mentioned are those closest to the parent formation or unit. The Northumberlands and the Kensingtons, as MG Bns were dispersed to Bdes as Companies and then further depoyed as Plt, so they tend to be included as part of the unit which was in the action. Although to make myself a liar the CO of 1st Gordons did personally congratulate 11Plt 7RNF for their dedicated and effective support during their attack on the Grande Bois at Abbeville.

    The reference to the Kensingtons was not intended to read like a failure of acceptance, on my part, as to what they did to support the withdrawal; it's just that at the end there was only what was left of two companies of them whilst there was what was left of a Bn of Northumberlands yet accurate detail is, as I said, hard to come by.

    Any units, and those soldiers personaly, involved in the fighting during the chaos and uncertainty of that withdrawal have my repect.

    And the other bit is, I should realy engage brain before selecting mouth, or in this case keyboard.

    Hope I haven't caused offence.



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