The Buffs - Italy 1943

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by Kevin Fuller, Apr 8, 2021.

  1. Kevin Fuller

    Kevin Fuller New Member

    I am posting this in the hope I can shed some light on my Grandad's war experiences. What I do know is his Service Number: 6022791 - James William Garner - Buff's (East Kent Regiment) and that he was taken prisoner in Italy in 1943. I have a Postcard from the German authorities, dated December 22 1943 (from Transit Camp for POW FP. Nr. 31979) and I know he was moved to a Prisoner of War Camp in Germany. He never ever mentioned the war or anything about his experiences. I am planning to request his full Military Service from the Ministry of Defence, which I believe I can do? My aim is to find any Testimonies or Books written by anyone who was a prisoner with him in 1944 / 45. I would be extremely grateful for any help or advice on how to find more information.
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  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    You can indeed apply for his official records, and you should, that is the only way to get a full picture of his service.
    Get a copy of military service records: Apply for the records of someone who's deceased - GOV.UK (

    You will need his death certificate.

    You should also bear in mind that his service number (presume you are 100% certain?) means that he enlisted with the Essex regiment, only his records will confirm his transfers. The 5th Bn Buffs, served in 36 Brigade of the 78th (Battleaxe) Infantry Division.

    Casualty lists state he went 'missing believed POW' on 21/11/43, seek out the war diaries for that day. They were in the River Sangro area.

    His POW No. was 125571, Camp 7A Moosburg (Isar)
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
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  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Page 99 from Algiers to Austria by Cyril Ray.
    The 78th Div history, 5 Buffs lost a few men the night of 19th/20th November 1943.

    Attached Files:

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  4. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

  5. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Hmm, for some reason the files keep getting shrunk on when uploading them.

    But these are the WD pages from 21st November. Major D Milton and 37 ORs lost.
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    See Adam's post from Feb.
    Adding Images
  7. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Too late. :D

    I've transcribed it and the page before. Grammatical errors in original.

    19th November

    A composite company under command of Major D Milton and consisting of 1 platoon Y Coy (Capt. E.H. Body), 1 platoon B Coy (Lt. Webster), 1 platoon D Coy (Lt. Mumford) crossed the river at dusk and took up positions in area 4103 with Y Coy platoon forward on left, D Coy platoon on right and B Coy platoon at rear. Coy HQ was situated in a farmhouse between Y Coy platoon and D Coy platoon with 1 section of Y Coy in the same building.

    20th November

    Was uneventful except for some enemy mortaring in the area of Lt. Mumford’s platoon causing some casualties.

    It was by this time evident that the enemy were aware of the location of the composite company and Major Milton reported that enemy had been seen in a house some 200x away. During the night the area was mortared and machine gunned from fixed lines.

    21st November

    0730 Composite company were attached by a patrol which afterwards retired.

    1100 Composite company was attacked by infantry which had approached Coy HQ, with which was also a section of Y Coy, using grenades thrown into the windows and receiving covering fire from their own machine guns. At the same time Mr Mumford’s platoon were being heavily mortared and unable to come to the assistance of Coy HQ. In fact, their position finally became untenable and they were forced to withdraw to a gully where they were joined by Capt. Body and the remainder of his platoon and some of Lt. Webster’s platoon.

    A small party under Capt. Body attempted unsuccessfully to bring back some of the wounded. This party in the gully were by now the main body and they withdrew to the river crossing, where they re-crossed under Capt. Body whilst Lt. Webster remained to assist the badly wounded men across the river.

    The area was close enough for the enemy to be able to work round the flanks, fighting was in some cases hand to hand and because of this, together with the fact that for some reason wireless communication with Battalion had failed, it was impossible to give this isolated company any support. Especially since immediately after their initial crossing the river rose to such a depth as to become unfordable. From this operation Major D Milton and 37 ORs failed to return.

    22nd November

    The level of the river had now fallen and the 5th Northants sent forward their four rifle coys to re-occupy the area across the river. Whilst plans were being made for this Battalion to similarly take over from 6 RWK, who had in the meantime been occupying positions across the river on our left flank, which had not been attacked.
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  8. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Kevin, I would post the map with the location marked but the image sizes mentioned won't make it worthwhile. If you contact me separately I will send it.
  9. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

  10. Kevin Fuller

    Kevin Fuller New Member

    Thank you so much for the information! I recall an aunt telling me that he was with a guy with the first name of Ron. They were tracked down by the German army to some sort of building and knocked loudly on the door. My grandad and Ron tossed a coin to see who would open the door. Ron did, and in doing so was shot in the arm (so badly, he lost his arm!). Looking at details on POW Camps I noticed a 'mugshot' from a Camp that someone had posted. I do know the Germans were meticulous record keepers (they even kept photograph record cards for Concentration Camp internees). My hope is I can track down my Grandad's photograph holding up his prison number. I just need to work out where to start contacting for this (maybe a museum or something may be in possession of this?). Thanks again for all your help, I really do appreciate you taking the time to help.
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  11. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Dates should read November.
  12. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Sorted, I've edited the month.
    I didn't notice until you mentioned it.
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