Private John Lungley. 5th Bn. Royal East Kent Regiment, The Buffs

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I came across this chap in 'Dunkirk-Retreat To Victory'. His story is as follows and I can't seem to find any mention of a award which from what I can gather he deserves. I have read a less deed receiving a VC.

    On 20th May 1940 Private J A Lungley was in the village of La Herliere of the Pas-de-Calais region of France when he refused to surrender to an overwhelming German force. He kept firing his Bren gun at the enemy despite repeated demands from the Germans for him to surrender to them.

    He was eventually killed by a round from a tank/anti-tank gun and was buried by the explosion in the slit trench that he was defending.

    His grave was visited each night by the local villagers who laid fresh flowers with every visit. Sometime later he was to be re buried in the local cemetery at La Herliere but such was the attendance by the French the Germans stopped the ceromony because of the numbers attending. He was buried in the cemetery sometime later in secret at night.

    I think this chap was worthy of some recognition and hopefully I just can't find it yet.

    :poppy: CWGC - Casualty Details :poppy:
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Attached Files:

  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Well found that man. Nice of them to give him a 'Mention'
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Edited version of events taken from 5th Buff's War Diary.

    Night 17th-18th May Battalion in Quevenvilliers.

    1400hrs 18th May Battalion arrived at Doullens and in conjunction with 6th Royal West Kent Regiment. Prepared to block all roads leading to the town and to defend the town against AFV's.

    1900hrs 18th May Road Blocks completed

    0330hrs 20th May 5 Buffs moved from Doullens and took up position on Arras-Doullen Road. From the right inclusive, Pommera to left inclusive, cross roads at La Herliere, a front of six and half miles. Battalion HQ was at La Belle Vue, 36th Brigade HQ was at Lucheux and 6th Royal West Kent's were on the battalions right flank upto and including Doullens. There were no troops on the battalions left up to Arras and no support troops. There were three Bren guns and three A/Tank rifles per company. One 2" Mortar per company without ammunition, and no carriers, heavy mortars or guns.

    0500hrs 20th May Battalion in position: 'C' Company - Captain Hilton, Lieutenant Harwood and 2nd Lieutenant Money on the right, Pommera area. 'A' Company - Captain Findlay, 2nd Lieutenant Fergusson, 2nd Lieutenant Willey in the centre, area south of the railway line between Mondicourt and La Belle Vue. 'B' Company - Captain Hart, Captain Rawlings, 2nd Lieutenant Haselden and 2nd Lieutenant Blackbourne on left in the area of La Herliere. 'D' Company - Major Parry, Captain Smithers, Captain Tyrrell, 2nd Lieutenant Pickard and 2nd Lieutenant Van Ammel was in reserve with Battalion HQ. Battalion HQ consisted of Lieutenant Colonel Allen, Major Penlington and Adjutant. Captain Scott took over Adjutant from Major Parry at 1100hrs.

    Approx 1130hrs 20th May 'C' Coy and then almost immediately afterwards 'B' Coy reported they were both under attack by enemy AFV's.

    1300hrs 20th May CO ordered the withdrawal of the battalion after receiving orders from the Brigade Commander. Major Penlington took Battalion HQ and the CO took 'D' Company. At this point the battalion HQ had lost contact with its forward companies. 'D' Comapny withdrew to Humberbourt and at this time it was assumed that all of 'A', 'B' and 'C' Companies less one section had either been killed or taken prisoner.

    There is no further mention of 'B' Company in the units diary and around the 21st May the 5 Buff's ceased to exsist as a unit what was left of them along with the remainder of 36th Brigade were dispersed by the brigade commander with orders to try and head north to link back up with the BEF. By the 26th May around 50 men from the brigade had foound their way back to the division. The 5th Buff's returned to the UK with 80 men all ranks and had suffered 525 men all ranks missing or casualties.
  5. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Great stuff Andy.

    My Friend's dad (Private G Button) was also at La Herliere in the same Company as Lungley and was badly wounded in the first attack (later captured and became a a POW) at the same place on 20 May. Lungley's serial number is 6284660 on this sheet and was probably why you could not find him on the LG site. Also has the initial L and not J. Checked the other sheets and there is no other Lungley in the 5th Buffs.

  6. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Here is a sketch map of the place (From the Personal Diary of the CO of the 5th Buffs). It says disposition of C Coy, but someone has added a note top right which says it is B Coy and not C. The description that Private G Button gave his Son, is exactly as the map describes the location and from where the attack came.

  7. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Drew5233, Message #4:

    A day later on the 21 May 1940 and only a few miles to the east, the Arras-Doullens Road was the start point for the Arras Counter attack, involving the 4th and 7th Royal Tank Regiments Matilda MKI and II tanks, 3ieme's Somua tanks, the 6th, 8th and 9th Battalions, Durham Light Infantry of 151st Infantry Brigade, 50 Div, 4th Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusliers reconnaisance troops, 50 Div and supporting artillery and anti-tank guns of 50 Div.

    I would guess that the outcome for the 5th Buffs would have been totally different if the aforementioned force had attacked a day earlier i.e. someone in BEF HQ had pulled their finger out. What a waste!

    I understand from previous reading that the French had up until around this time been looking after this sector, but had not kept very close contact with the Germans; hence a possible reason why the Buffs would have had a gap on their left!!

  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers Rob,

    I've just been looking at the other maps in the CO's diary and the second one is dated 1941. Looking at the map you posted and I think Lungley may have been in 10 or 11 Platoon. Apart from some extra buildings the area is very similiar. Even the hedges used by 10 and 11 Platoons still exsist.

  9. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    I don't think the railway line is there, although you can see the impression on the ground of what used to be the track, in the satellite imagery on Google Earth.

    May visit one day. Who knows.
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Extracts from the Private diary of Lieutenant Colonel E H Allen, Commanding 5th Buffs that mention B Company.

    At 1200hrs information was received from B Coy that a report had been received that AFV's were advancing from the direction of Arras and at the same time OC C Coy reported that the ridge infront of his position was being shelled.

    At 1230hrs an officer of Tyneside Scottish (Lt. Macgregor) reported to OC B Coy and stated that his Bn. was coming to Saulty and that he had seen no AFV's. (This move did not take place, though the CO of the Bn has stated theat it had been intended).

    At 1315hrs the leading platoon of B Coy became engaged with tanks. At 1230hrs C Coy reported that 7 tanks had been sighted on his left front. At 1400hrs tanks entered the position held by the right latoon of C Coy.....

    At 1415hrs the situation was that the enemy had penetrated between A and C Coys. B Coy was also cut off. Orders were therefore issued for the Coys to carry out their withdrawal according to instructions already issued. The DR taking the order to C Coy was wounded and therefore was not able to deliver instructions either to that coy or to A.....

    No.12 Pl of B Coy held out till 1515hrs under Sgt Elson.

    From the battalion only 5 officers and 74 OR's returned to the UK.
  11. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    I did a further bit of research on B Company for my Friend, whose Dad was captured.

    Of the 106 Officers and Other Ranks of this Company, 78 were captured, 27 don't appear on the Ancestry POW database, so presumably they got back to the UK.

    The majority were imprisoned in Stalags XX-A (Torun), XX-B (Malbork) or 344 (Lambinowice) in Poland.

    Lungley appears to be the only one killed and I found one other guy who died in captivity a couple of months after being captured.

    2 of those who got away died later in the war, one having transferred to the Maritime Royal Artillery (died 1941) and one who remained with the 5th Buffs (died 1944).
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    There is some talk of an Arras Battlefield Tour this year with two other forum members, I will be sure to put Private Lungley on the agenda if it happens. :D
  13. Vikings

    Vikings Junior Member

    Great stuff Andy.

    My Friend's dad (Private G Button) was also at La Herliere in the same Company as Lungley and was badly wounded in the first attack (later captured and became a a POW) at the same place on 20 May. Lungley's serial number is 6284660 on this sheet and was probably why you could not find him on the LG site. Also has the initial L and not J. Checked the other sheets and there is no other Lungley in the 5th Buffs.


    Thank you for posting this. My Grandfather Frank Bewley 7616201 appears on the nominal role for B Company. I heard stories as a child how he had been captured but no one had been able to confirm how it happened. The real version of events is far more interesting than the account that other family members told me.
    my grandfather was captured and spent the rest of the war in Poland and Germany. He mentioned the Lungley story. He also talked of a pair of twins who were a Bren gun team, said they put up a fantastic fight before a tank round smashed into them. Last he saw of them they were both strapped to a German Sidecar and taken away. one of the lads had lost the side of his face. He always wanted to know what had happened to them.
    He is no longer with us but was very proud to see both his son (my uncle) and his son in law (my Father) and both his Grandsons (myself and my brother) serve in the Army.
    My Dad, Uncle and myself all serving in the Royal Anglian Regiment.

    Any information on the 5th Buffs and this particular action would be greatly appreciated.


    Richard King
  14. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Hi Richard & welcome.

    I did the original research on G Button, whose name is a few down from F Bewley on the list. Sadly Gordon passed away not that long ago.

    I did find out however from the POW records on Ancestry, that F Bewley was in Stalag XX-A at Torun in Poland.

    If you would like a copy of the 5th Buffs War Diary for their short time in France, I would be happy to send you a copy. Reply by Private Message if you do, to keep your details confidential.

    Regards - Rob

    PS - If you click on the POW link. Click on Camps, then Stalag, and scroll down to XX-A, there are photos and some stories about life in that place.

    Prisoner of War
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  17. Guy Thatcher

    Guy Thatcher New Member

    I would love a copy of the war diary. Please feel free to email one to me, my grand father was in C company. Thatcher1989 (at)
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2018
  18. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Welcome to the forum.

    You may want to remove the @ from your email address and replace it with “at” - that will prevent bots picking up your address and bombarding you with spam - or worse.:excl:

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2018
    peter thomas and Guy Thatcher like this.
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Ah, just sent you the link to this page on the Stalag FB page :lol:

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