Could do with some help finding what regiment my great grandfather belonged to

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by fuzzhead, Sep 8, 2013.

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  1. photo.jpg I know that he was at Nuremberg and my grandfather says he had operated search lights at some point but after searching i cannot find what regiment he belonged too and as he is no longer with us would like to pay my respects properly to him and find out as much about his career
  2. Brotherton Lad

    Brotherton Lad LE Reviewer

    Searchlights would suggest Royal Artillery Air Defence.
  3. Watch "Carry on England" for more details of this exiting branch of the gunners
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Mr_Fingerz

    Mr_Fingerz LE Book Reviewer

    If he operated searchlights then he would have been part of the Royal Artillery. It's very unlikely that he was a member of 93 Searchlight Regt though.
  5. He was also a prisoner of war at some point and escaped
  6. Do you know his regimental number? A quick search of the London Gazette with as many details as possible may bring something up.
  7. unfortunately not His name was John Birks if that helps although thats a widely used name
  8. Mr_Fingerz

    Mr_Fingerz LE Book Reviewer

    If he was part of the BEF prior to capture this may be of interest:

    "After the initial deployment one of the first tasks of Ack Ack Command was to supply searchlights units for the BEF. In 1939, 1st AA Battalion RE was the only full time regular searchlight unit in Great Britain and they soon found them selves deploying to France with the BEF, although it appears that this may have been a mistake as the movement order was supposed to have read “Less 1st AA Bn RE”; they were actually supposed to be deployed in the Thames area. Shortly after arriving in France they where joined by two Gunner batteries to make them up to full strength. 1 SL Regt RA came on to the order of battle on the 15th January 1940 and moved out to France in the April. The new regiment took over the searchlights and equipment from the two RE companies who then along with their RHQ returned to England. Even before 1 SL Regt was in position it was decided that more searchlights were needed, so 2 and 3 SL Regts RA and the RHQ and one company of 37 AA Bn RE were mobilised.

    As was normal with searchlight units they were dispersed on remote sites all around northern France. Caught out by the sudden onslaught of the Germans Blitzkrieg, they soon found themselves reverting to an infantry role for which most had not been trained. The bulk of 1 SL Regt and half 2 SL Regt were forced into defensive positions around Boulogne and Calais. The heroic part played by 1 SL Regt, along with two officers and 230 men from 2 SL Regt in the defence of Calais is well documented in Airey Neave’s book “The Flames of Calais”. He was the first British officer to escape from Colditz and had been a troop commander in 1 SL Regt when he was captured. The battle for Calais was a bloody and hard fought one, with troops fighting from house to house, but in the end the pressure was too much and by the end of May Calais fell. 1 SL Regt lost most of its 52 officers and 1600 men with only one officer and 57 men managing to get back to England.

    Another group from 2 SL Regt – one officer and 80 men – found themselves attached to K Battery, Royal Horse Artillery with orders to help hold the small village of Hondeghem which was on the Germans main axis of advance. The troops fought a valiant action then, running short of ammunition, they charged the German positions and broke through, giving them a route out towards Dunkirk. For this action K Battery was awarded the honor title of Hondeghem, one of only five awarded during the Second World War. Unlike the other searchlight regiments, 2 SL Regt were more widely spread which resulted in its batteries having mixed fortunes. By the 25 May 1940, 5 Bty was completely missing, 6 Bty had over 50 per cent missing and 8 Bty was missing just under a quarter. By the end of May the Regiment had lost over 50 men killed and approximately half the Regiment captured.

    3 (Ulster) SL Regt RA (SR (Special Reserve)), which had only been formed three days before war was declared, faired much better. Its batteries were deployed relatively close together around the Dunkirk area with one battery in Dunkirk itself. On 19 May, after some hard fighting often against tanks, the bulk of the Regiment was ordered to destroy their searchlights and make for Dunkirk. By 21 May, 9, 10 and 11 Btys were in defensive positions around the port while 12 Bty continued in it searchlight role in side the town. Over the next six days the Regiment withstood many attacks from the enemy until on the 27 May they were relieved. The Regiment was very fortunate that the next day 9, 10 and 11 Btys and RHQ were evacuated to England. M and C Troops of 12 Battery were evacuated in small boats the next day, while the rest of the Battery was ordered to destroy the remaining lights and assist in the defence of the beaches. They were eventually taken off the beach in small batches, by 31 May. The Regiment had been very lucky with only 28 killed, 41 wounded and three men taken prisoner.

    The Battalion HQ and 307 Coy, 37 (Tyne Electrical Engineers) AA Bn RE arrived late in France, disembarking at Dunkirk on 16 May 1940. They were sent straight to the Le Havre area and avoided being caught in the Dunkirk pocket. What followed for them was a mad dash across France to towards Brest while trying to avoid the advancing German army. They were one of the last units to leave France in mid June, being evacuated from St Malo, Brest and St Nazaire having suffered only two casualties.

    The involvement of searchlight units in the evacuation of France does not quite end there. 34 AA Bn RE supplied searchlight detachments for the Thames Defence Flotilla, three paddle steamers converted for Anti Aircraft work: HMSs Royal Eagle, Crested Eagle and Golden Eagle. On 29 May the Flotilla was ordered to France to assist in the evacuation from Dunkirk (Fig 9). Between the three ships over 3500 men were rescued often at great risk to the crews. Great bravery was shown by the searchlight detachments on these ships. LCpl Gordon Vane on the Royal Eagle was awarded the Military Medal and Cpl Lew Goddard on the Crested Eagle was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, both for actions during the evacuation."
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  9. says on the back of the photo it says on the back of the photo what looks to be 7v/8v
  10. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    This is the only John Birks who was a POW in ww2:

    First Name(s):J. F.

    Last Name:Birks


    Camp No.:4G

    PoW No.:248196

    Soldier No.:1536379

    Record Office:Royal Artillery (Light Anti-Aircraft) Record Office, Ibex House, The Minories, London, E.C.3

    Camp Type:STALAG

    Camp Location:Oschatz

    Edit to say from the above you will be able to apply to Glasgow for his service record.

    Regiment:Royal Artillery
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Brotherton Lad

    Brotherton Lad LE Reviewer

    Could you put a photo of the back on here?
  12. yh sure let me go take one
  13. Brotherton Lad

    Brotherton Lad LE Reviewer


    My take on that is that it's the printer's marking from the negative or from the invoice, which doesn't help you much.

    On second thoughts, and being fairly old, if you turn it upside down, it looks like 18/12 which could be a date in Dec. Ones used to be written with that upward swoop.

    And starting the eight at the bottom doesn't make sense.