Hamminkeln Sign - Ulster Rifleman

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by brithm, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    In Alan Cooper’s book Wot! No Engines F/Sgt. John Crane, an RAF Glider pilot, identifies himself as the man on the left of the Hamminkeln sign opposite a rifleman from the 1st Battalion (Airborne) Royal Ulster Rifles. Crane was with F Squadron took off from Earls Colne on the 24th March 1945 landed in a Horsa glider taking passengers from the Ulster Rifles with a jeep and trailer his was co-pilot was fellow RAF Glider pilot F/O. John Arnold.

    The photograph was taken on the 25th March 1945 by Sgt. Christie, if the dope sheet is correct. I am not sure but I think I have seen somewhere the rifleman identified but just seeing if anyone else knew who he is. I assume he was one of Crane's passengers; he could be an officer but there are no pips on the smock, that doesn’t mean definitively he is not an officer.

    Also it looks like Crane has the hammer back on his pistol! Maybe when they were photographed they were not out of the woods yet.
  2. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    I looked on Pegasus and paradata but no names. Maybe in a book? Go to it etc etc?

  3. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    The only 1 RUR Officer I've come across that wears glasses is Capt. Bob Sheridan and he was transferred to 2nd Para Battalion prior to Op Varsity. F Squadron GPR flew out of RAF Gosfield and the 1 RUR left from Gosfield, Birch and Rivenhall. I have yet to come across an RUR Officer group photo taken just before Varsity.

    The photo turns up on a few sites that discuss the pistol that F/Sgt. John Crane is holding, a 9mm Inglis (Browning) semi-automatic, which has an interesting history and went by a variety of other names.

    Canada to replace 1940s Browning Hi-Powers with new pistol
    Was the Inglis Pistol or the Patchett Machine Carbine at Arnhem 1944?

    Odd, is the man to the right holding something in his mouth? I could be seeing things ... :)

    Hamminkeln Sign Crop.JPG

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  4. Blutto

    Blutto Banned

    Zooming in closer, it looks like a dangling shoulder epaulet. I think that light mark is the button hole.
  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Yeah that makes more sense. He may have lost a button and his slightly opened mouth lines up with the dangling epaulet. Thanks!
  6. Theobob

    Theobob Senior Member

    I have a candidate
    officer of 2FOU
    How about Tommy Giles?
    Right time,
    Right Place,
    Not too sure about the cap badge though,can anyone make it out? 2FOU Officers.JPG
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    chap in post #1 has a RUR cap badge , Giles has a Gunner officer's flaming bomb cap badge.
  8. frg7700

    frg7700 Junior Member

    There was a Padre Hourigan who was bespectacled, can see no sign of a clerical collar in the pic though.
  9. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I think Padre Hourigan would more likely be wearing the Chaplain beret badge rather than the RUR one. There is a white stripe beneath his Adam's apple but it could be me seeing things again ... :)

    Regards ...
  10. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

  11. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Although possibly a false lead here is some information on the Padres belonging to 1 RUR. According to the book "The Rifles Are There" the battalion had three Padres - Padre John Johnston (Presbyterian), Captain/Reverend James McMurray Taylor (Church of Ireland) and Father Hourigan (Roman Catholic).

    I can't find a full Battalion photo. There is one of Padre Hourigan in a 1942 Officers photo and another of an unnamed Padre in a June 1944 Officer group without a beret badge.

    Padre Hourigan 1942.JPG Unknown Padre 1944.jpg

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
    Guy Hudson and brithm like this.
  12. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Going by an online article I suspect the Padre shown in the June 1944 Officer photo is Rev James McMurray-Taylor. For some reason they cropped the photo and missed the Padre seated extreme right. Of the three Chaplains he strikes me as the one most resembling the man in the Hamminkeln photo. Still looking for evidence of his participation on the Varsity drop.

    The Fermanagh minister who was padre on D-Day - The Fermanagh Herald

    A photo of Capt. Rev. J.W. Johnston who may have also been attached to the 6th Airlanding Brigade HQ?

    Capt. Rev.  J.W. Johnston.jpg

    Anyway there's a run down though I'm not entirely confident it actually is a Padre shown?

    Regards ..
  13. frg7700

    frg7700 Junior Member

    Nor am I by any means, the name just suggested itself as an officer attached to 1 Bn. who wore glasses.
  14. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    The lanyard/cord around the neck of the man on the right loops into his smock and could possibly have a holstered pistol attached to the other end? If so it doesn't seem a very practical arrangement if the weapon needed to be drawn quickly.

    Regards ...
  15. S McMurray-Taylor

    S McMurray-Taylor New Member

    Having had his grandson look at both photographs the second man in the photograph would be Rev James McMurray-Taylor
    Cee and brithm like this.
  16. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hello S McMurray-Taylor,

    Wonderful! Thank you so much for confirming the identity of the man to right in photo as Rev James McMurray-Taylor.

    Next question - where was the Hamminkeln sign in photo BU 2292 located?

    Regards ...
  17. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Thanks for confirming S McMurray-Taylor and well done Cee on identifying him early on.

    James McMurray-Taylor was born on 17th May 1916 in Ballymena. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and joined the Church of Ireland in 1939. When war was declared he enlisted and became Padre of 1st Battalion the Royal Ulster Rifles. – He was 23 years old. On the morning of 6th June 1944, D-Day, McMurray-Taylor conducted a Service which was attended by every man of the Battalion before thoughts moved to the matter in hand. McMurray-Taylor was to go into battle in a glider.

    8th June 1944 A temporary burial ground had been established on the lawn behind a house which had become the Battalion Headquarters. Shallow graves were dug by men from the Pioneer Corps and, although vulnerable to mortar attack, McMurray-Taylor carried out a brief service for the dead from both sides.

    13th June 1944 In the centre of Breville village was once a village green however it was now covered in German dead.
    A small bulldozer was used to dig a long trench and after some hours of work the German bodies, which had been wrapped in blankets, were laid to rest with a brief burial service and Cross positioned to mark the location. It is important to note that in each case McMurray-Taylor went through the pockets of every one to recover personal belongings as well as the soldiers Identity Disc and all of these were individually bagged and labelled for them to be returned to relatives.

    Years later whilst on Holiday with his family in Normandy McMurray-Taylor learned of the death of Arlette Gondree, (of Café Gondree at Pegasus Bridge) and he attended the Funeral and read the Lord’s Prayer in French.

    Second World War in Northern Ireland

    Attached Files:

    Cee and Guy Hudson like this.
  18. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Hi Cee.
    Good question. The RUR were situated on the south side of Hamminkeln so my bet would be somewhere close to the level crossing on Bruner Straße. There is a building in the background but doesn’t stand out as anything I know for now. Another one for the next trip!
    Cee likes this.
  19. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I noticed all of Jim Christie's Varsity photos are dated March 25th, 1945 which can't be entirely correct as they include photos taken by him just after his glider crashed landed below Mehrhooger Strabe west of Hamminkeln. He takes a number of photos in that area and then he and his cine partner Sgt. Harry Oakes head east into Hamminkeln on Mehrhooger.

    Various photos document their progress as they enter the village including one (BU2290) which I believe is just west of where the sign photo was taken. It's not very clear but if you look carefully you can see similar features with perhaps the sign itself to extreme middle right? The Evangelical Church steeple is seen in background with the brewery buildings before it. The building behind the German half track is 3 to 4 stories tall and similar to the one in the sign photo (BU2292) above.

    BU 2290-1.jpg BU 2290-2.png

    So very close to what is today the heart of the village. Hamminkeln has expanded considerably since then with many new buildings.

    Regards ...
  20. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    I know that spot. Just further down that street ( in the distance of that pic) is the famous spot where the 716 ind coy are patrolling out. I’m not sure the brewery there is as big as that building in the pre-mentioned picture?


Share This Page