Help Please - 1/7 Warwicks in Normandy Jul/Aug 1944

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Bubbles_Barker, Apr 25, 2007.

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  1. I've just come back from a week's leave in France. Very nice. My darling wife organised the trip and, unbeknownst to her, our gite just happened to be the objective of an attack by 1/7 Warwicks (59 Inf Div) over the period 29 Jul - 1 Aug 44. I knew the local area quite well (Fontenay, Tessel etc) from previous 49 Bde battlefield tours (we were staying right on the 49 Div/59 Div boundary) but I have been unable to find a great deal of info on anything about 59 Div or 1/7 Warwicks during this period. There was a short piece in the gite that outlined some interesting stuff about the operation to take the farm (a bn attack, supported by a Churchill sqn) which gave a fascinating insight into the state of British infantry in Normandy by this stage of the war - basically knackered.

    Luckily my wife has an archaeological bent so she wasn't too bothered as I identified the Bn Start Line and dragooned No 1 & 2 sons into searching for battlefield debris. Bloody hell. When the description said they were under heavy mortar fire on the SL they meant it - 63 years on, after a single search along the edge of the track/ploughed field that was the SL, we gathered enough shrapnel, mortar tail fins and spent 7.92 and .303 rounds to fill a large cardboard box. Closer to the gite, where a one man recce patrol by the IO of the Warwicks had ID'd a 'PAK AT gun' I found 8 spent 20mm cartridges sitting at the edge of the field just in front of the farm. Not quite an AT gun but you can understand the confusion!

    So, it whetted my appetite to learn more about a small part of Normandy, but my attempts (internet and my own relatively extensive collection of books ) have proved pretty fruitless. Oh, and one for the Sappers - the Corps Defence Coy RE was put into the line by the Corps Comd (Ritchie) to be 'blooded' in order to allow him to write 'proper' reports on the officers! It was blooded alright. Wonder what the blokes would have thought if they had known?

    Any more info out there?

    Oh, and not for this thread, but the whilst I would normally say 'I don't believe in ghosts', the top floor of the gite was locked up. Every night my wife and I would be woken by doors slamming, really loud crashing noises and suchlike upstairs. Luckily my kids slept right through it but I can tell you it put the wind up me. Especially when my phone lit up undemanded straight after a particularly loud bit of door slamming in the top floor. Although there was never any 'bad' feeling in the gite (although the visitors book was full of 'things that go bang in the night') I was pretty glad to go home................
  2. General Melchett

    General Melchett LE Moderator

  3. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    FYI PAK = Panzerabwehrkanone = AT gun.

    The same weapon mounted in a fighting vehicle is a KWK (Kampfwagenkanone).

  4. Ach ja! I was just quoting what was in the Warwicks report - seems that they called all guns 'PAK AT' guns - rather like all tanks were Tigers. The rounds were most likely from a single or quad mount 20mm AA gun which, as we all know from SPR are very useful in the ground role.....
  5. Bubbles, I know an Arrse member has researched this in some depth , I'll point him at this thread.

  6. Thank you kindly.
  7. Bubbles,

    There is a very comprehensive history of the 1/7th Campaign in Normandy from it landing on I think 18th July to it's merger with 2 RWR on the 16th august 1944, when both were down to half-strength.

    It was a very successful Battalion by any standards with it's attack on the Landet Spur being used in the Army Training Pamphlets at the time and still being used at Staff College until the late 50's I understand.

    The Museum Curator is very helpful. There is also a Battlefield Tour written by a former CO of 1/7th's successor the old 5th (Warwickshire) Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, that includes a day studying the Landet Spur Battle where two other Battalions had failed and 1/7th succeeded.

    I have got copies in my library if I can be any further help and would be very interested to receive by PM the address of your gite.


  8. Get 49 Bde to visit the 49 (West Riding) Div memorial and graveyards @ Ieper/Ypres (along the canal). Some of ours soldiers (my unit is descended from 49's Sigs Coy) reported strange things happening in the hotel.....
  9. Bloody hell! Thats what I call a holiday! You clearly have a very understanding wife.
  10. I know the 1/7 Warwicks were a subject under discussion last summer, but I'm a bit new to this ARRSE business, in fact I have only stumbled on it by Googling 1/7 Warwicks whilst trying to research my late Grandpa's war record.

    What I can add to last years discussion is that the 1/7 Warwicks landed in France not on the 18th but before the 17th July.

    I quote from the recommendation for Grandpa's MC:-

    'Owing to the fact that 198 Bty had lost all its Troop Comds I was forced to send Capt Nesham RA, my Technical Adjutant to act as Tp Comd in 198 Bty, 73rd Anti-tank Regiment RA.

    On 17th July 1944, Capt Nesham RA, acting as Tp Comc led his troop in support of 1/7 Waricks in an attack in the area of LE MANOIR. During the course of this attack, Capt Nesham RA, who led the troop in an M10, found himself seperated from the infantry, and was engaged with anti-tank and machine-gun fire. By skilful handling of his guns, he destroyed an anti-tank gun, killing all the crew.

    He then went to on to engage enemy infantry in hedges and a house. which he destroyed with gun fire, and an estimate of casualties inflicted on the enemy is between twenty and thirty, apart from six prisioners whom he bought back on his gun. During the course of this action, his gun was twice hit by enemy anti-tank shells.

    On return to Leaguer for the night, an ammunitio dump close by was set on fire by enemy bombers. Capt Nesham immediately assisted in putting out the fire although morter bombs were caught in the blaze. On this days fighting, this officer acted with great coolness and courage, and his handling of his guns contributed in no small part to the success of the attack'

    Quite a lad, my Grandpa! He'd already been awarded an MBE for pulling an unconcious pilot from a burning fighter on an airfield in North Africa in Nov 1942.

    The War Diary of the 73rd Anti-Tank Regt only states that

    '2230 Capt Nesham, acting Tp.Comd 'L' Troop reported having action with enemy infantry whilst proceeding to support inf on objective in area 'LAVENDE''

    Anyway, it all points to the 1/7 Warwicks being in France prior to the 17th July.

    I'm trying to locate either Le Manoir or Lavende but not having much luck, so any help would be appreciated


  11. A friends father led a company of the Warwicks during the D Day landings, which Battalion I do not know.
    The family name is Fernurth or Fermust, I can't say exactly for I have never seen it written down, of German origin I understand.
    If its any help I can contact him to see what tales his father told.
  12. Thanks, I'd appreciate any help anyone can give, you know what its like when you find tantalising clues to a life gone, gets under your skin a bit.

    Grandpa's late great friend Gen John Stanier spoke at the funeral (Grandpa died 10 years ago) and mentioned Tilly and Belsen. Tilly refered to the MC incident, but what happened at Belsen is a mystery, except that I know that Grandpa harboured a deep but descreetly hidden dislike of Germans and all things German until the day he died. He refused to contemplate a German car, even though he appreciated fine engineering (he owned an engineering firm) and raced as an amateur. Even my sisters German penpal got the cold shoulder in the 70's.
  13. Sounds like 2 Warwicks, 185 Bde, 3 Div that landed on SWORD. He should have some very interesting tales.

    B_B: Regarding 1/7 Warwicks:

    59 Div started landing on 26 Jun - nothing specific for the Bn, I'm afraid. Their fighting started with CHARNWOOD on 8 Jul

    59 Div's history has very nearly a page on the period 29 Jul - 1 Aug. The gist is that 197 Bde with 7 RTR carried out a fixing attack to pin the Germans during COBRA until BLUECOAT got going.

    ozziedog: Your Grandpa's MC came during Op POMEGRANATE. Vendes (LAVENDE?) seems to have been the Bde's objective on the 16 & 17 Jul; the Warwicks' attack was the second attempt. 1/7 Warwicks had 1 N Yeomanry (Northamptonshire) and some Crocodiles in support so those are some other war diaries to follow up. H-Hour was 1230. A map in the history has the village of Tessel labelled 'Le Manoir'. The modern map shows a hamlet W of Tessel called Le Montoir which may explain the mistake. Do you have any contemporary grid refs from the war diary?

    The history is as brief as the Division's existence but it does mention that 1/7 Warwicks Bn HQ was hit by two large bombs on the night of 17/18 Jul that caused serious casualties. Another minor detail is that 198 Bty were 'SP M10' implying they had the original 3" guns whereas 234 Bty are listed as 'SP 17pr'.

    Better go and assess my better half's understandingness...
  14. I got to speak to another fiend last night who tells me that the family name is Freymouth and I know that my friend s father was a Major at the time.
    I don't see they guy often but I recall that one of fathers Platoon Sgt s was wounded on D Day and years later he was RSM at the Officer Cadet Training Company at Rugby School which my friend attended.
  15. Thanks for that info, where do you get it all from??

    The 'Place' noted in the War Diary of the 73rd A-T Regt, RA, on 17th July is NONANT, 836755, 7E/5 France, but I suspect this is the possition of Regt HQ.

    I will try to follow up your suggestions for the other regimental war diarys.

    This is getting to be a bit obsessive, hope the dog understands the shorter walks...