101 Year Old BEF Veteran Seeks Support for His BEF 0n-line Petition to Parliament

#1
Much has, quite rightly, been written on events in Normandy 75 years ago but at the start of Armed Forces Week it strikes me that we may be in danger of overlooking the 80th anniversary in September of the setting forth of the, ultimately 500,000 strong, British Expeditionary Force to France in 1939 and that you may be interested in doing something in support of my 101 year old BEF veteran father whose petition to Parliament has yet to go 'viral'. It took five years before Battle of Britain personnel got a clasp to their War Star and Bomber Command had to wait until 2013 for theirs! The now very tiny band of BEF old comrades is still waiting!! With luck and your good auspices, this situation may now change. I am very happy for you to distribute this email and my personal details to anyone on your personal contact list.

As you may be aware, members of all three Services served with distinction in France with the 1939/40 BEF. My now 101 year old father was born in Middlesbrough on 26th May 1918 and he was also there as a Royal Army Ordnance Corps member, serving in the LAD to the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards and he has asked me to approach appropriate regimental, Service and community associations for their support in helping him to reach the challenging goal of gaining the required 10,000/100,000 signatures for his petition by 27 Aug 19. If you could publicise his petition (see link below) to as many of your contacts as possible, he would very much appreciate it.

He has many memories of charging around the French countryside on his motorbike changing tank batteries and repairing tracks but sadly contracted meningitis when living in very unsanitary conditions at his unit location on Vimy Ridge. He was invalided back to the General Hospital in the Georges Carpentier Hotel in Dieppe in late April 1940 and was treated with the first batch of what we now know as penicillin, which was apparently as scarce as ‘diamond dust’ and had just been made available by the USA. I understand that he and other patients were evacuated, their greatcoats slung over their stretchers, to the UK from the hospital shortly after the German break-through on 10 May 1940. After his convalescence he went on to study radar at Trefforest before being deployed to North Africa and Italy, finally getting demobbed in January 1946. After this he served for 33 years in the Civil Service supporting the Royal Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy. He retired in 1979 and has enjoyed a healthy and happy retirement since then mostly in the service of his local community where he is much respected but over the years he has also enjoyed many visits to his many relations across the UK. The attached photograph shows my father at a recent ANZAC Day Parade in Auckland, New Zealand.



Kind Regards,
Inked20160425_124848 (3)_LI.jpg


Arianydd
Mid Wales

Petition: Honour the BEF's role in France in 1939/1940 with a clasp to the 1939-45 Star.
 
#3
I have signed it. The BEF not only included Army units but also a large part of the RAF (who suffered major losses). I do not know if there was a naval component as such, but I do remember reading a book which noted that technical RN personnel were sent to France to augment the manning of the Maginot line.
 
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#4
Highly unlikely that this will come to pass as, not withstanding individual and unit acts of bravery, the events leading up to OP DYNAMO were regarded very much as a defeat.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#6
My now 101 year old father was born in Middlesbrough on 26th May 1918 and he was also there as a Royal Army Ordnance Corps member, serving in the LAD to the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards and he has asked me to approach appropriate regimental, Service and community associations for their support in helping him to reach the challenging goal of gaining the required 10,000/100,000 signatures for his petition by 27 Aug 19.
Your father probably went through hell at Assche, on the Dendre near Brussels, 18 May 40. Skins, 4/7DG and 15/19H were brigaded into an ad hoc recce brigade, given impossible orders (involving Hitlerian orders to fight to the last man and no withdrawal without the brigade commander's written permission, which eventually came far too late to be meaningful), outflanked because the Belgians melted away and the three regiments were slaughtered, amalgamated into a small regiment for the retreat to Dunkirk.

I believe a battalion of Gordons suffered similarly. Possibly 4 Gordons iirc.

The last surviving 15/19H at Assche died a couple of years ago. His war was spent in a Stalag at Fallingbostel.

Edit. Signed.
 
#7
Highly unlikely that this will come to pass as, not withstanding individual and unit acts of bravery, the events leading up to OP DYNAMO were regarded very much as a defeat.
More like Political than anything else. I do agree with the concept but it would open other cans of worms, like a clasp on the desert star for WDF defeating Grazziani. But as Churchill said after Alamein- we never had a victory before etc.
 
#8
Signed.
My grandfather was a Sapper S/Sgt who was involved in the maintenance and building of airfields for the RAF fighters. As soon as the balloon went up he was blowing everything up from bridges to aircraft, he came out via Boulogne and got a battlefield commision for his efforts.
Im sure the families of the Highland Division that went into the bag in 1940 would appreciate this gesture.
 
#9
More like Political than anything else. I do agree with the concept but it would open other cans of worms, like a clasp on the desert star for WDF defeating Grazziani. But as Churchill said after Alamein- we never had a victory before etc.
We got the Bomber command clasp and Arctic Star relatively recently so scope for others. Norway is another to consider.
 
#12
We got the Bomber command clasp and Arctic Star relatively recently so scope for others. Norway is another to consider.
Oh christ there's the thing. I'm just in the process of getting Mrs LR's military records for family research. We don't have his rack but he was an 8th Man too. I'm wondering what unrecorded gem will turn up there.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
Naval participation included Cdr (later vice admiral) RF Elkins. Elkins had landed to coordinate the retreat, somewhere near St Valery and got cut off with a group of leaderless 51st Div Highlanders. He took charge and they potted away at the Germans until Elkins' little gang ran out of ammunition and surrendered. Elkins was sent for by Rommel who asked why he hadn't surrendered earlier as his position was impossible. Elkins' response was 'What would you have done, Sir?' Rommel sent for a bottle of wine and split it with Elkins and then sent him off as a PoW.

On the march Elkins teamed up with an Army officer and they agreed that the time to make a run for it was before Fritz got properly organised, so they did. They stole a boat and got themselves eventually to Hayling Island. Those two sentences rather understate the difficulties.

Elkins' widow turned out to be a kinswoman of Mrs S and we arranged to visit. Gwen Elkins had a small display case mounted like a picture on the wall, containing the contents of Bob Elkins' pockets when he landed on Hayling. Quite a privilege to see that.
 
#14
Naval participation included Cdr (later vice admiral) RF Elkins. Elkins had landed to coordinate the retreat, somewhere near St Valery and got cut off with a group of leaderless 51st Div Highlanders. He took charge and they potted away at the Germans until Elkins' little gang ran out of ammunition and surrendered. Elkins was sent for by Rommel who asked why he hadn't surrendered earlier as his position was impossible. Elkins' response was 'What would you have done, Sir?' Rommel sent for a bottle of wine and split it with Elkins and then sent him off as a PoW.

On the march Elkins teamed up with an Army officer and they agreed that the time to make a run for it was before Fritz got properly organised, so they did. They stole a boat and got themselves eventually to Hayling Island. Those two sentences rather understate the difficulties.

Elkins' widow turned out to be a kinswoman of Mrs S and we arranged to visit. Gwen Elkins had a small display case mounted like a picture on the wall, containing the contents of Bob Elkins' pockets when he landed on Hayling. Quite a privilege to see that.
Thanks so much for posting this.
I have the 'Churchill's sacrifice of the Highland Division by Saul David and Elkins and his subsequent escape get a good mention on page 242 and 143 along with the Army officer a Captain Hull MC who was a 50 year old Int officer at Div HQ. Hull was a First War MC, spoke fluent french so along with Elkins and his navigational skills and compass along with a lot of 'derring do' they managed to escape back to Portsmouth in a stolen 18 foot vessel, they were the first escapers from St Valery to get back.
Interestingly Captain Hull received a bar to his MC and was the first person to clock up escapes in both World Wars his first one was from the Turks in 1918 having been captured the year before whilst attached to the Russian Army.
Had they not been caught the Germans would have been chasing them both around the Reich for the next 5 years!
 

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