Fighting patrol 1940

#1
Hi All,

I'm delving into the history of the retreat to dunkirk and have a fantastic first hand account of the defense around Ypres.

They mention that the "fighting patrol" carried out a counter attack that saved the situation etc.

But where does the fighting patrol come from.... is it part of Bn HQ or is it drawn from the companies?

thanks
 
#2
A company would conduct a "Fighting" Patrol, in up to company strength.
This is mentioned in FSR's both before and after WWI.
 
#3
Before the blitzkrieg kick off, a few select inf btns were issued some thompsons smg to field trial in France.
 
#4
Skimmod said:
Hi All,

I'm delving into the history of the retreat to dunkirk and have a fantastic first hand account of the defense around Ypres.

They mention that the "fighting patrol" carried out a counter attack that saved the situation etc.

But where does the fighting patrol come from.... is it part of Bn HQ or is it drawn from the companies?

thanks
Usally it was Companys who would do the Fighting patrol, not sure if you have read this book, but i would get it, if not read. Dunkirk by Sebag-montefiore excellent book, that and Churchills Sacrifice of the Highland Division (which gave my Granddad a holiday in Silesia for the war.)
 
#5
My uncle copped it in that area with the 9th Manchesters. According to the blurb "Killed whilst fighting a rearguard action". He was in his early twenties, a TA soldier and only recently married. :(
 
#6
Skimmod said:
Hi All,

I'm delving into the history of the retreat to dunkirk and have a fantastic first hand account of the defense around Ypres.

They mention that the "fighting patrol" carried out a counter attack that saved the situation etc.

But where does the fighting patrol come from.... is it part of Bn HQ or is it drawn from the companies?

thanks
Put it somewhere so we can read it
 
#7
Ranger_Danger said:
My uncle copped it in that area with the 9th Manchesters. According to the blurb "Killed whilst fighting a rearguard action". He was in his early twenties, a TA soldier and only recently married. :(
Would that be private Worthington? He's mentioned in the book I have. Written by a local dutchman, one or two copies in existance but it's a gold mine of info. He mapped all the locations of the forces around there and also all the temporary graves that were dug where the men fell.

If it is the same man I can have a dig around and get you coordinates of where he fell and a little more info on what the manchesters were up to.

The account is harrowing, to the last round type stuff and not many men survived. My grandfather was lucky I suppose to spend the next 5 years in Poland, working as slave labour in the mines.
 
#8
IndianaDel said:
A company would conduct a "Fighting" Patrol, in up to company strength.
This is mentioned in FSR's both before and after WWI.
Yes I thought this at first, but it says this....

"The Commanding Officer considered it inadvisable to use the re¬serve company for this purpose, since in their present position they were well situated to cover the withdrawal of the forward companies. Therefore he decided to use the fighting patrol to deliver the counter-attack. This attack, gallantly led by Lieutenants Cholmondeley and Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, both of whom were killed, achieved the purpose at considerable cost, and the forward companies disengaged and withdrew across the canal"

All three of the rifle companies up front were heavily engaged, so I was wondering if this could be a specific patrol made up from the pioneer, sigs and admin platoons from Hq Coy?

Unfortunately the records of who was in which company were destroyed in a fire at the regimental museum in the 80's. Each of the service records show there company allocation, but the records office won't release any information apart from my grandfathers...
completely correct, but rather frustrating!
 
#9
scarletto said:
Usally it was Companys who would do the Fighting patrol, not sure if you have read this book, but i would get it, if not read. Dunkirk by Sebag-montefiore excellent book, that and Churchills Sacrifice of the Highland Division (which gave my Granddad a holiday in Silesia for the war.)
I've read this book and it's an amazing story of poorly armed / equiped soldiers, facing an strong and efficient enemy.

Having spoken briefly with my grandfather about his time in the camps (before he died about 20 years ago) and can sympathise with your grandad. They were treated pretty poorly and I always remember him telling me about being forced to walk from Thorn in Poland to Fallingbostel in Germany in 1945 thousands died. But that is another story all together!
 
#10
Taffnp said:
Skimmod said:
Hi All,

I'm delving into the history of the retreat to dunkirk and have a fantastic first hand account of the defense around Ypres.

They mention that the "fighting patrol" carried out a counter attack that saved the situation etc.

But where does the fighting patrol come from.... is it part of Bn HQ or is it drawn from the companies?

thanks
Put it somewhere so we can read it
Can you read french?
Google translate is bloomin awful? a bit of a draw back is that the account is typed and then copied and has been damaged over time, so words are missing etc. But I have typed up 14 pages of the 47 so far and it describes an intersting incident where the germans were held up by the canal and eventually after taking many casualties, they found a small pipe to crawl through under the canal which took them behind the 2nd Battalion the Camaronians and destroyed them with bayonets and grenades.
 
#11
Skimmod said:
All three of the rifle companies up front were heavily engaged, so I was wondering if this could be a specific patrol made up from the pioneer, sigs and admin platoons from Hq Coy?
A 1940 battalion should also have had carrier, mortar and AA platoons in HQ Coy (according to a source at hand) so there should have been a fair amount of manpower available.

The War Diary might hint at the appointments of the two lieutenants you mentioned which might hint at the sub-units involved. The bottom line is that patrols are an ad-hoc grouping for a task.
 
#12
The snag is that the war diary was captured and never recovered. Most of the battalion where either killed or died in POW camps. The text i'm working from was compiled by the locals whose housees where used as strong points and where forced to bury the dead afterwards.
The old french guy who wrote the text I'm trying to translate, had the same germans billeted at his chateau and includes copies of their after action reports.
Some go so far as to describe the exact positions as they attacked a house and where their grenades exploded... fascinating stuff!

I have a book called "the British army in WWII" which I'm using as my source for building a bare bones structure of the battalion.

I can hang a few names here and there. I know who commanded the carrier platoon etc.

It was amazing last year walking over the area, trying to get my bearings and stumbled across a bit of Bren carrier in the woods. Easily recognisable if you know what you are looking at....
Amazing!!
 
#14
Yes, Sorry. The battalion was the 2nd Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers.

thanks for the link!

Edited to add...

That's very useful. It changes my battalion set up. Especially explains the lack of officers and the different structure in the admin platoon.
Looks like I've got some re-thinking to do!!
thanks
 
#15
Skimmod said:
"Therefore he decided to use the fighting patrol to deliver the counter-attack..."
What worries me is the 'the' - it sounds like they were already in existence, it wasn't a fighting patrol put together for that counter-attack. Is there any previous mention of a formed Fighting Patrol as a battalion initiative or of a patrol having returned before the engagement in question?

Knowing the battalion, I had a quick look at this to see if CWGC carries any sub-unit details - they do occasionally, but not in this instance.

Good luck!
 
#16
Skimmod said:
Ranger_Danger said:
My uncle copped it in that area with the 9th Manchesters. According to the blurb "Killed whilst fighting a rearguard action". He was in his early twenties, a TA soldier and only recently married. :(
Would that be private Worthington? He's mentioned in the book I have. Written by a local dutchman, one or two copies in existance but it's a gold mine of info. He mapped all the locations of the forces around there and also all the temporary graves that were dug where the men fell.

If it is the same man I can have a dig around and get you coordinates of where he fell and a little more info on what the manchesters were up to.

The account is harrowing, to the last round type stuff and not many men survived. My grandfather was lucky I suppose to spend the next 5 years in Poland, working as slave labour in the mines.

Nope. 3529815 Pte Herbert Lee was his name. Turns out he was 21. I wish you luck with your reasearch and please let me know if you turn up anything re Herbert.
 
#17
WaltOnTheMildSide said:
Skimmod said:
"Therefore he decided to use the fighting patrol to deliver the counter-attack..."
What worries me is the 'the' - it sounds like they were already in existence, it wasn't a fighting patrol put together for that counter-attack. Is there any previous mention of a formed Fighting Patrol as a battalion initiative or of a patrol having returned before the engagement in question?......
Yes that's what confused me, it was almost as if they already had a fighting patrol formed from the various companies and commanded by those two officers.

Unfortunately without the war diary, we can't verify anything like that!

I can only liken it to when in the film Zulu, they create a small bayonet detachment to deal with any breakthroughs.

thanks for the info so far. If I get anything interesting, I'll post it up here.

Iain
 
#18
The Home HQ for 2 Scots is in Sauchiehall street, Glasgow.
The reason I mention this is they are outstanding when it comes to accessing the archives of both the RSF & HLI. You can contact them here.
http://rhf.org.uk/rhf/
 
#19
Skimmod said:
WaltOnTheMildSide said:
Skimmod said:
"Therefore he decided to use the fighting patrol to deliver the counter-attack..."
What worries me is the 'the' - it sounds like they were already in existence, it wasn't a fighting patrol put together for that counter-attack. Is there any previous mention of a formed Fighting Patrol as a battalion initiative or of a patrol having returned before the engagement in question?......
Yes that's what confused me, it was almost as if they already had a fighting patrol formed from the various companies and commanded by those two officers.

Unfortunately without the war diary, we can't verify anything like that!

I can only liken it to when in the film Zulu, they create a small bayonet detachment to deal with any breakthroughs.

thanks for the info so far. If I get anything interesting, I'll post it up here.

Iain
Why would it be strange that they had a "fighting patrol" already formed? By the nature of the operations - perimeter defence against an infiltrating enemy - they probably had to have a counter attack force ready to block penetrations, or to patrol vital ground that could not be covered by their thinly-spread company positions. Maybe they had some "on call" Brigade tasks, which would be consistent with the delaying action fighting that was going on at the time?
 
#20
It's not the use or existence of a fighting patrol that's strange, simply that the quoted extract sounded like 'the fighting patrol' had already been mentioned. Possibly the CO did mention it but that bit never made it into the account.

The CO's decision to counterattack with a/the patrol, not the reserve coy, does suggest that the patrol was doing something else then got retasked, being strong enough and near enough to cope. That, in turn, offers an explanation why there were two officers 'in command': one was the patrol commander, one conveyed the order then joined in. It's nothing more than playing with ideas in the absence of detail. Knowing the locations of the coys and the location and direction of the counterattack might link the patrol to the most likely rifle coy but it wouldn't rule out the patrol having been drawn from HQ Coy.
 

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