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15 Battery 1st HAA Regt....

I am looking into the death of a local man for my history project about the mining village I live in. I am having great difficulty in finding the location of this battery on 10th May 1940. I have tried web searching and the National Archives but no digital info is available and as I live in the NE I am unable to visit Kew. I suspect they were located around the HQ (Rear) BEF in the area of Tournia as he is buried in Foyennes CWGC cemetery . Initial casualty reports say he was killed 'accidentally' but this changed to, Killed in Action a few days later. I am suspecting that he may have died as a result of ,misfiring or mishandling, of ammunition rather than direct action of the enemy. It would make a good story towards my WW2 section of the history I am attempting to write. All and any help would be much appreciated.
 
It looks like they were attached to 1 AA Bde, who were attached to the HQ of the BEF.

I imagine if you can trace the route of the BEF HQ, you’ll find them in the general vicinity.
 
Who was he? He maybe named in the RA Tracer Cards on ancestry.co.uk
Hi, 4383007 Gnr Swales John Leonard. I have him and his family in my village, It would appear he enlisted initially with the 85th (Tees) HAA Regiment. They amalgamated with 1st HAA Regt in 1939 and deployed to France in early 1940. I have the ToE for the BEF as well as his CWGC records. I have a tenuous link to by the Cemetery details, and a snippet from a book, placing 15Batt 1HAA Regt around Tournia, which I think was the position of the BEF (Rear) HQ. That would seem conceivable but his Car record has a 'Accidental Death' as his reporting but this was changed to KIA later. I am suspecting that maybe he was killed in the initial raids of 10th May but as a result of a misfire or mishandling of ammunition, unfortunately I have no later relatives or details to clear this up. What I would like, is to place his batteries position on the 10th of May 1940. This is all part of building my research into the history of New Marske, the Ironstone mine and the subsequent village that remained after it's closure. I have plenty of WW1 info but as there is little WW2 info digitised I am currently struggling, any help would be appreciated no matter how small...
 
It looks like they were attached to 1 AA Bde, who were attached to the HQ of the BEF.

I imagine if you can trace the route of the BEF HQ, you’ll find them in the general vicinity.
Yes, see my reply. His battery was I suspect, due to his place of burial around Tournai, which was the home of the HQ (Rear) for the BEF. Thanks for that though.....it's quite a struggle finding WW2 info unlike the Great War which is readily available......
 
The History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, Years of Defeat, places 15 Bty at Hal on 10 May. The Regiment moved back to Tournai on 17 May
 
1609103857620.png

An image of his headstone - sadly, no record in the RA Tracer Cards.

The Swales family are recorded in the 1911 Census:

1911 Census.jpg

Though they would seem to be a sturdy, N Yorks family from a mining community, it is worth noting that during the course of her marriage, Mother Swales gave birth to 9 children, of which 7 survived: hard times, indeed.

Notably, his elder brother Ralph would see WWI service, only to be discharged in 1917 due to wounds received in France (below, extracts from his Service Pension file):

R Swales 1.jpg


R Swales 2.jpg

Unfortunately, little seems to have survived for John.
 
I have gleaned a bit more from the History. 1 HAA originally had 1, 2 & 17 Btys but in Jan 1940 there was a reorganisation in which 1HAA received 15 Bty from 6 HAA and 16 Bty from 4HAA, losing 1 & 2 Bty in the process. This reorganisation was occasioned by the expansion of the BEF. Although I have no evidence for it, the most plausible reason for swapping batteries around would be to consolidate equipments in regiments (regiments originally deployed with a mix of 3 inch and 3.7 inch). On the move forward, 1 HAA was tasked with route protection for the forward corps and the batteries were located: 15 at Hal, 16 an 17 at Ath. All were in action by last light on 10 May

85 HAA mobilised with 174, 175 and 220 Btys. They did not deploy to France until 5 Apr and then joined 1 AA Bde. On 10 May they were deployed in the Waziers and Douai area. 85 HAA were tasked with the defence of HQ BEF in this period

You now have problem, in that 85 HAA would seem to be in the right area but not 15 Bty, so how certain are you about which unit he belonged to?
 
I have gleaned a bit more from the History. 1 HAA originally had 1, 2 & 17 Btys but in Jan 1940 there was a reorganisation in which 1HAA received 15 Bty from 6 HAA and 16 Bty from 4HAA, losing 1 & 2 Bty in the process. This reorganisation was occasioned by the expansion of the BEF. Although I have no evidence for it, the most plausible reason for swapping batteries around would be to consolidate equipments in regiments (regiments originally deployed with a mix of 3 inch and 3.7 inch). On the move forward, 1 HAA was tasked with route protection for the forward corps and the batteries were located: 15 at Hal, 16 an 17 at Ath. All were in action by last light on 10 May

85 HAA mobilised with 174, 175 and 220 Btys. They did not deploy to France until 5 Apr and then joined 1 AA Bde. On 10 May they were deployed in the Waziers and Douai area. 85 HAA were tasked with the defence of HQ BEF in this period

You now have problem, in that 85 HAA would seem to be in the right area but not 15 Bty, so how certain are you about which unit he belonged to?
Thanks for that information, from the casualty reports Gnr Swales was with 15Bty, 1HAA, which I am lead to believe was formed originally of men from the Teesside area, where it was deployed for local defence and presumably trained as part of 85 (Tees) battery, I may be wrong but he deployed to France with 15Bty and from looking at 2 differing casualty reports it was initially 'Accidental' death, this was then officially alterreded to KIA. Now he could have been run down by a vehicle but that usually doesn't change to KIA, so without any actual proof, I am also surmising that he was killed as a result of detonation of 'ready ammunition' which, in photo's I have seen are wriggly tin covers rather like a pigsty. If so did the ammunition detonate due to enemy fire or did it detonate due to mis handling, whilst setting the fuse perhaps....Whilst it would be nice to know the actual circumstances, for the purposes of my project I am writing small personal vignettes about the characters based on facts, it isn't crucial. Thank you for the information you have supplied, every small piece creates a jigsaw all be it with some pieces missing. I will add it to the data I already have and press on, at least I know now where to come looking for facts given there is no access to the National Archives as most of WW2 has yet to be digitised.....
 

An image of his headstone - sadly, no record in the RA Tracer Cards.

The Swales family are recorded in the 1911 Census:

Though they would seem to be a sturdy, N Yorks family from a mining community, it is worth noting that during the course of her marriage, Mother Swales gave birth to 9 children, of which 7 survived: hard times, indeed.

Notably, his elder brother Ralph would see WWI service, only to be discharged in 1917 due to wounds received in France (below, extracts from his Service Pension file):

Unfortunately, little seems to have survived for John.
Yes the Swale's are a well known family from my village of New Marske, originally the 'ten streets' as they were known were built by Pease & Partners to house it's ironstone miners that worked in the drift mines above the village, which turned out to be as big as the ones in the 'Eston hills' above Middlesbrough and was responsible for the 'Infant Hercules' that became Teesside and it's Steel heritage, sadly all now gone. These streets still survive and some of the local families live in the 'newer' part of the estate built between 1950-80, which obliterated the mining site and the drifts were filled in in the 1980's. I have a good few anecdotal pieces about several servicemen, one of whom was killed when HMS Good Hope was sank at the battle of Coronel. It has taken me three years to create a small database and I am just now starting on the period of 1930-50. It's frustrating at times but very interesting, the hard part is turning this into a historical documentary of the village, the mine and it's subsequent changes......
 
The History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, Years of Defeat, places 15 Bty at Hal on 10 May. The Regiment moved back to Tournai on 17 May
I have found the town of Halle, which appears to be south of Brussels and seems to be a key road junction town, which would be why it required HAA protection. If the Bty moved after the initial reports of enemy entering Belgium on the morning of 10th May, then it is conceivable that they were sent to Halle and were set up and attacked sometime in the afternoon/evening of 10th May. I have the casualty reports for Gnr Swales and his death starts as accidental but is amended to KIA, haven't checked yet the Casualty Clearing records in order to trace the movement of him and interment in Froyennes Cemetery......
 

An image of his headstone - sadly, no record in the RA Tracer Cards.

The Swales family are recorded in the 1911 Census:

Though they would seem to be a sturdy, N Yorks family from a mining community, it is worth noting that during the course of her marriage, Mother Swales gave birth to 9 children, of which 7 survived: hard times, indeed.

Notably, his elder brother Ralph would see WWI service, only to be discharged in 1917 due to wounds received in France (below, extracts from his Service Pension file):

Unfortunately, little seems to have survived for John.
GBM_WO417_012_0050.jpg
GBM_WO417_012_0084.jpg
John Swales 4383007.jpg

These are the reports I have....85th Tees HAA were part of 1Haa Regt and as they had the newer 3.7" guns it may have been when the 3.7's were consolidated that he ended up in 15Bty, it would seem feasible.....
 

slick

LE
Here`s an image of the war diary for 1st AA RA, note on the 11th it states that one chap killed on way up by lorry ??.... (clicking on image should make it slightly larger)

P2520707.jpg
 
Here`s an image of the war diary for 1st AA RA, note on the 11th it states that one chap killed on way up by lorry ??.... (clicking on image should make it slightly larger)

P2520707.jpg
Thank you very much for that image, it would appear that you are correct. To only mention one casualty at a time of chaos would mean 'the move went smoothly without enemy interference but sadly we had an accidental casualty'. Cheers will add that to my records, I'm presuming that is from the National Archives? in which case thanks for your efforts mate....
 
Thank you very much for that image, it would appear that you are correct. To only mention one casualty at a time of chaos would mean 'the move went smoothly without enemy interference but sadly we had an accidental casualty'. Cheers will add that to my records, I'm presuming that is from the National Archives? in which case thanks for your efforts mate....
Would I be correct in the assumption that in 1940 a service mans widow would only receive a pension if the serviceman was classified as 'Killed in Action'. In the case of the soldier I am looking at, it could. explain why his death was officially changed within a few days of being classified 'Accidental'.
 

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