K Battery (Hondeghem) 5 Royal Horse Artillery. Can you help?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Drew5233, Sep 3, 2010.

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  1. Anyone currently serving who can help me out?

    I've reserached in some detail the Defence of Hondeghem by 5 RHA and 2 SL Regt. RA in May 1940. My plan being to post all the info including a large amount of pictures of the battlefield for all to see.

    I'm not after any money or look to make a gain from what I do, I just try to tell their story for anyone who's interested or wishes to visit the area of France.

    Anyway my request is simple. During the battle the Germans set a MG in a building within the town that was promptly dealt with by way of an 18 pdr. Apparently the MG was kept as a trophy and I've heard that it now resides somewhere in the possession of K Battery (I assume near Catterick on the A1).

    Does anyone know who I can contact (I'm assuming the Adj.) to arrange to take some pictures of it to add to article, I'm after a number rather than a name?

    If anyone has any doubts about me (Op Sec and all that). I'm ex forces and some of of my work has found its way on here before:


    Cheers for any pointers
  2. My father fought at Hondegham. I can't help with the machine gun but I got some very useful information from WaltOnTheWildSide on this thread:


    This included a transcript of proceedings of the RA Historical Soc in 1991 which discussed the battle, and relevant pages from the 5 RHA War Diary. I have since obtained more archive material from the PRO. If these are of any interest to you I will be happy to send you scans - please PM me with your e-mail address.

    Needless to say, I will be interested in any information and illustrations you can supply.
  3. Drew I served with K from 1975 until 1995 and helped in the restoration of the Battery History Room which was moved along with the rest of the Battery's belongings when it moved to Catterick from Dortmund. I never came across any MG whilst engaged in the project. Most of the items refering to Hondeghem are some medals,dispatche's,BC's cane and some reprints from the old Victory comic depicting the battle. There is also an original painting of the battle by David Shepherd if my failing memory serve's me right.
  4. easymoney, I would be interested in seeing the history room. Who should I approach - the Adj at Catterick?

    Also I have the original Daily Telegraph article by D Williams describing the battle. It has a manuscript note to the effect that 4 German prisoners were taken at St Sylvestre, who were later shot when trying to escape. I am not aware of this being recorded in any published sources. It might be of interest to the Bty as an addition to the history room display.
  5. Incidentally, for anyone interested, the source of the story about the Bty's MG trophy is the article by Douglas Williams (Daily Telegraph War Correspondent) in 1940. This is how it is related in "The Years of Defeat" by General Sir Martin Farndale:

    "At one stage the Germans got a machine gun into the battery cookhouse, but just as it was about to fire, L Sub-Section manhandled their gun with great coolness and put a round through the window and silenced them. The remains of the machine gun are still prized possessions of the Battery."
  6. The painting commerating the action depicts L sub putting a round through the Battery cookhouse. I have heard no reference to the shooting of German prisoners at St Sylvestre but that could have been lost in the reporting. I never saw any prized parts of a german machine gun and can't imagine with the state of our army at the time and the predicament it was in that anyone would recover broken machine gun parts as a souvenier.The Battery left Hondeghem as soon as it was able, to take up new positions in St Sylvestre and await the next onslaught, many men died before the Battery made Dunkirk. Authors licence I expect!

    The best man to contact at K Battery now would be the BK (Battery Kaptain) or the BSM.
  7. Thanks easymoney. I will try to arrange a visit next time I am in York.

    Getting the MG back does sound unlikely, although they got away from St Sylvestre in Quads. I know they were in action again after Hondeghem; my father got a head wound from a sniper when he was in a forward OP. Probably a journalistic embellishment, as you say.
  8. Thanks, western. I have it. It is an American re-write of Douglas Williams' article, with some additional material and crap illustrations (the cover illustration is a fine example - almost every detail inaccurate).
  9. Hi, First of all sorry for the delay in replying-I've just returned from a rather productive trip to Ubersalzburg in Bavaria.

    Cheers for the offer...My email is the same as my username but add @hotmail.com on the end. I have around 60+ photopgraphs taken this year on the 70th Anniversary I want to publish from the wood where the Germans grouped prior to the attack and the crossroads where 5 RHA were stopped on the way to Cassel and ordered to send a Bty to Hondeghem right through the gun positions to the withdrawal through St Sylvestre through the mined road.

    I have always suspected the MG story was possibly not true as I have discovered many to be from 1940. I'm on another forum, a WW2 one where I publish my work and have asked the current K Bty BSM for help (He joined the forum) but never got back to me as is normally the case with serving senior's in my experience, dare I say they talk a good game. Anyway I've been intouch with the only UK serving veteran from the battle, who has helped a little. The only other living survivor from the battle is thought to be in Australia.

    So I'm more than happy to trawl through what you have although I suspect some of it I may already have. I will of course credit anything I use from you.

    Ref the painting There is a framed copy in the Mayor's Office in Hondeghem in case anyone is interested-They are quite into their local history and named a road into the village K Battery.


    ps cheers for the other posts too chaps.
  10. OK Drew, I will dredge out what I have and get it off to you, but may take a few days.
  11. I was the guide for the 70th Anbniversary. We have already offered an english version of our handout rewritten and a walking/ car guide. This would be distributed by the cafe that so generously allowed the battery to drink beer for free for many hours. That helps someone visiting who dontl know anyhting about the battle, but we need a slightly bigger idea to encourage more people to visit in the first place. Check your PM for details and give me a call.
  12. Hi Frank,

    Message sent and I'll try to contact you over the week end.
  13. Then you were helping my brother in the restoration =-D Can you remember which comic, I believe it was Victor, that the Battle of Hondeghem was in and what edition and year it was?