7thBn
XX
Lancashire Fusiliers TA

WW1
WWI DSO & MC group to Capt W.J. Lloyd Lancashire Fusiliers

The 1918 Hindenburg Line Distinguished Service Order and Military Cross group to Captain William Joseph Lloyd Lancashire Fusiliers attached to 5th Battalion West Riding Regiment will be offered in Warwick & Warwick’s auction on Wednesday 15th February 2012 estimated £2700.

William Joseph Lloyd enlisted in the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry as a trooper, service number 3433 and arrived in France on 28th August 1915 with this unit. He was commissioned in the 7th Lancashire Fusiliers on the 26th March 1918 and subsequently attached to the 5th Battalion West Riding Regiment.

The DSO and MC were both announced in the London Gazette dated 1st February 1919.

The DSO was awarded “For great personal bravery and gallant leadership against .... (Havrincourt) and the Hindenburg Line between September 12th and 15th 1918, particularly on the 13th, when he was placed in charge of a bombing attack on the Hindenburg Line. The attack was held up by a close range machine gun fire which enfiladed a gap in the trench where the latter crosses a sunk road. Six of his men and another officer were killed in attempting to cross and there was momentary disorganisation. He at once rallied the attacking party and continued the advance, himself crossing and re-crossing the gap, several times and taking the greatest personal risks in order to encourage his men. He then led the attack up the trench, overcame the enemy resistance, capturing the objective, over twenty prisoners and a machine gun. In spite of the fact that a pocket of the enemy were in the rear and he was heavily counter-attacked, he held on to his position throughout the day thus enabling other attacks to succeed and the battalion objective to be gained. The very fine example of personal bravery exhibited by this officer, combined with good leadership, was largely responsible for the success of operations.”

The extended MC citation “For dashing leadership and great bravery during the operations resulting in the capture of the Crossings of Canal ...... (D’Escault). He forced the Crossings, and his great dash and fearless example quickly got his company across, he personally superintending the Crossing under heavy machine gun and shell fire. During the evening of the 28th September he led his Company in an attack on the German trenches, which were held by greatly superior numbers of the enemy. Here he was surrounded and cut off, with nine men from his Company. He at once ordered a charge, drove in thirty of the enemy as prisoners. At the same time an enemy counter-attack was launched on the left flank of the battalion, but his promptitude in organizing the available reserves and the gallant leading of this officer saved a dangerous situation and beat off the attack.”

He was Mentioned in Field Marshall Haig’s dispatches in the London Gazette dated 16th March 1919.

He was promoted Acting Captain from commanding a Company on 10th November 1918. He was later granted temporary Captain for service with King’s African Rifles on the 4th February 1925.

The full medal details are Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross and 1914-15 star trio with MID oakleaf to Capt W.J. Lloyd (3433 Pte D. of Lanc O. Yeo on star, 2nd Lt W.J. Lloyd Hindenburg Line 13th Sept 1918 on edge of 3 arms of DSO, 2nd Lt W.J. Lloyd D.S.O. Marcoing 27 Sept 1918 on MC) court mounted as worn with J.R. Gaunt label to reverse, with matching set of court mounted miniatures. Also with ribbon bar, cap badges for West Yorks, West Riding and Tanganyika Territory, original typed extended citations for DSO and MC. With framed DSO bestowal document, MID certificate, photos in Yeomanry uniform (marked Maxim Gun Section on reverse), Lanc Fus uniform as Capt with ribbons, 3 photos in tropical whites with medals. Also with a typed letter of congratulation from The Cunard Steam Ship Co, copies of MIC, LG entries.




2190 Pte Richard Murgatroyd serving with the
7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers

National Roll of Honour:
Salford - stating that he served with the 8th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers and was wounded on the Somme in 1916. He married Annie Shambrook in December 1904. Had a daughter Edith in 1911 169 Ellesmere St, Patricroft, Eccles and another Esther in March 1917 ? His wife died in June 1917 aged 32 years. Post war address provided for the National Roll entry was given as 187 Ellesmere St, Eccles.

"The Webley .45 pistol previously owned by Lt K McLeod of the
7th Battalion.
It was purchased in America by Mr Chris Kofron
who is currently serving with the USA armed forces in Iraq"
Click on photos to enlarge

Purchased by
Joe Eastwood
on Ebay

A Silver Guard Mounting Competition Medal
from the
7th Bn won by
Cpl A Harper of D Coy Salisbury Plain 1922


Christmas Card 1914
7th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers,
whilst at Southport




at Brightlingsea

7th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. The group includes Colonel Frith [ Staff Officer ? ] and General Douglas. Sent by Daddy [ believed to be Major A.J. Bailey ] to L.A. Bailey of Cwm Elan, Carwen Sylva Rd, Llandudno. Posted from Prestatyn JU 12
Lt Col Bailey was the first CO


Frank Pilling

Medal Card of Number 281113 Frank Pilling.

7th Bn (TF) Lancashire Fusiliers.

Enlisted at 17 years of age.

Following Gallipoli and Mudros, the 7th Bn embarked for the trenches of Flanders in early 1917.

Frank Pilling joined them there.

On arrival and after being re-equipped for trench warfare in very different conditions to those the men had become accustomed to, the Division entered the line at Epehy, as part of III Corps in Fourth Army. They remained in this area, soon moving to Havrincourt where they remained until 8 July. These positions faced the formidable German
Hindenburg Line in front of Cambrai. Through the rest of July and August, the Division carried out rest and training, in the area of Albert (on the old Somme battlefield of 1916).

September 1917 saw a move north, to join the offensive at Ypres that had opened on 31 July. This is officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres, or more popularly, Passchendaele. Although the battle opened well it had soon become literally bogged down as Flanders endured the worst August weather for many years. September, however, was very warm and dry. During this time the British Second and Fifth Armies made a number of costly but successful "bite and hold" advances. The 42nd (East Lancashire) Division relieved 15th (Scottish) Division in XIX Corps of Fifth Army on the overcast day of 28 August.

The Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade carried out an unsuccessful attack on 6 September, against strongly held German pillboxes at Iberian, Borry and Beck House Farms. The small amount of ground they captured was in fact given up next day. The 4th East Lancashires made an attack on a strongpoint called Sans Souci on 15 September.

Later in the month, the Division moved to the Belgian coast at Nieuport. This was now a relatively quiet sector and it gave an opportunity for the Division to reorganise and assimilate many new drafts. The Division remained in this area until November, when relieved by a French Division, and moved to Givenchy, on the La Bassee Canal near Bethune.

Givenchy was a notorious spot. Although the front line here had been static since late 1914, it had been constantly fought over and was in particular a place where underground mine warfare had been undertaken by both sides. The lines were made of the lips of many craters of mines that had been blown in 1915 and 1916. The Division was mostly used in the construction of concrete defence works (which, incidentally, were used to great advantage by the 55th (West Lancashire) Division in stemming a strong enemy attack here in April 1918.

The 42nd (East Lancashire) Division then remained on the Western Front and took part in the following engagements:

1918
The Battle of Bapaume*
The First Battle of Arras*
The Battle of the Ancre*
* the battles marked * are phases of the First Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battle of Albert**
The Second Battle of Bapaume**
** the battles marked ** are phases of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battle of the Canal du Nord^
The pursuit to the Selle^
^ the battles marked ^ are phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line
The Battle of the Selle, a phase of the Final Advance in Picardy

The forward units of the Division were at Hautmont and across the River Sambre. Not selected to join the Army of Occupation, the Division was visited by King George V on 1 December 1918. Units moved to the Charleroi are between 14 and 19 December and demobilisation began. By midnight 15/16 March it was down to cadre level. The Division reformed as part of the Territorial Army in April 1920.




Jack Francis Kelly

Rank: Private Number 4648 Name of Rgt or Ship: Lancashire Fusiliers

Died: 26/04/1916 Age: 27


Death card


Country of burial:
U.K.

Cemetery or Memorial: Salford (Weaste) Cem

Extra Information:

The son of Henry & Ellen Kelly.

Jack is 3rd from the right

Murdered by Private Walter Taylor at the Cross Lane Barracks, Salford. The first witness at the inquest into his death was his sister - Margaret Kelly, 38 Armitage Street, Patricroft. She stated that her deceased brother was a 27 year old Iron Worker who enlisted seven years ago in the 7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. He had seen actice service at the Dardenelles and had come
home last January as a time-expired man and had then left the Army. He went back to his old
trade, but after only one month, he re-enlisted in the 7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. He was, she said, in good health when she last saw him when he left her home on the 26th April stating that he would be back for dinner at 12.45. He was going to the Hippodrome Theatre that night and had booked seats. The Judge then asked her if her brother was in possession of any money, to which she replied that he was as she had asked him for some money before he left and she saw them when he opened his purse. She stated that he
owned a knife that was quite new as it was given to him with his uniform on the morning he re-enlisted.

She said that he had mentioned the name, Walter Taylor to her and said that he was a sailor, he was a fine man, but very quiet. She had
identified her brothers body at the Silk Street, Mortuary.

Sergeant Roger Roberts giving evidence stated that the prisoner had been reported as being absent from parade and that Captain Cartwright had ordered that he be put into the guardroom until he had chance to deal with him. The prisoner was
not then under arrest and Private John Kelly had been detailed to see that he did not leave the Barracks. He stated that when he was returning from his own dinner at 14.15 hrs, he had met the prisoner casually walking along Cross Street with his hands behind his back. He asked why he was out of the Barracks and was told the the man guarding him had let him out for some fresh air.
Together with a Corporal Cooper, he then went to the guardroom at 14.45 hrs and found Private Kelly's body - his throat had been cut and he was lying on his back in a pool of blood around his shoulders. He was asked if the prisoner had recently received any pay, to which he replied - yes, 6/- .

The Post Mortem revealed that Private Kelly's throat had been cut from ear to ear, inflicted with six separate strokes of a knife, so deep that it had gone through to his vertebrae and had cut through all his blood vessels.

The Jury's verdict was "Wilfull Murder" and Walter Taylor was committed for trial. However the doctors at Strangeways Prison where he was held decided that he was insane and he was detained at"His Majesty's Pleasure".

A description of his funeral;

The Funeral of the victim of the Barracks Tragedytook place on Monday at Weaste Cemetery, when the proceedings were distinguished by military honours of a very impressive character. Apart from the relatives of the deceased from 150 to 200 uniformed men attended in marching order accompanied by the Royal Engineers East Lancashire Band. As the cortège wended its way to the cemetery huge masses of silent witnesses assembled along the whole of the route. The cemetery, however, was crowded with people. As the last
rights were administered and the coffin was lowered into the grave the Royal Engineers Band played the Dead March in “Saul”. The last
post was afterwards sounded and three volleys were fired from fourteen or fifteen rifles. A magnificent wreath from the Cross Lane Barracks represented the Union Jack and bore the Regimental Colours. The ceremony of most impressive character and hardly a person present succeeded in suppressing vivid signs of emotion.

Jack Kelly seated with brother Harry

 

WW2

7th Bn XX Lancashire Fusiliers TA
Converted to 354 (Lancashire Fusiliers) Searchlight Battery RA TA
39th (Lancashire Fusiliers) Searchlight Regiment RA TA

In early August, 2005 Mr Graham WAY a History Teacher from London made contact with the Web Site Editor regarding his late father Mr John Charles WAY who was born on the 6th March, 1912 at Urmston, Manchester. Whilst going through his father’s papers at the former family home, Graham had happened upon a manila folder that contained numerous photographs and documents relating to the

354 (Lancashire Fusiliers) Searchlight Battery RA TA - 39th (Lancashire Fusiliers) Searchlight Regiment RA TA

 

Graham Way knows virtually nothing about his father’s military career other than what can be gleaned from the folder as found.
The folder contained amongst many documents a number of photographs taken during the course of the Minden Day March through the streets of Salford and the wreath laying ceremonies at the South African War Memorial and the Salford Cenotaph, on 1st August, 1945. The Parade was made up of the 39th Searchlight Regiment including the 354 Searchlight Battery and other Military Units. The photographs are reproduced below within the text and must be regarded as unique.

 

Mr John Charles WAY served as a Battery Sergeant with 354 (Lancashire Fusiliers) Searchlight Battery RA TA throughout World War Two. Unfortunately it has not been possible to date to confirm his Regimental Number. One of the documents within the manila folder is an Autograph Book (more of which later) that contains a record of Sergeants Way’s postings.

 

 

Photo Circa late 1930’s

 

Sergeant Way’s postings were:-

 

12th August, 1939 to 23rd August 1939 Selby

24th August, 1939 to 3rd September, 1939 Salford

4th September, 1939 to 16th April, 1940 Tabley

17th April, 1940 to 11th May, 1940 Backley

12th May, 1940 to 10th July, 1940 Boston (Sibey)

11th July, 1940 to 25th October, 1940 Bristol (Henbury) also the dates for a posting to Southampton

26th October, 1940 to 18th November, 1940 Taunton

19th November, 1940 to 3rd December, 1940 Bristol

4th December, 1940 to 24th November, 1941 Whaley Bridge

25th December, 1941 to 29th April, 1942 Liverpool

30th April, 1942 to 15th December, 1942 Peterborough (Yaxley)

16th December, 1942 to 31st May, 1943 Attleborough (Old Buckenham)

31st May, 1943 to 23rd February, 1944 Kintbury

24th February, 1944 to 7th August, 1944 Castle Cary

8th August, 1944 to 16th September, 1944 Sturminster Marshall

17th September, 1944 to 14th February, 1945 Hadleigh, Suffolk

31st January, 1945 to 14th February, 1945 Mablethorpe and Bridlington

14th February, 1945 to 28th May, 1945 Spalding

29th May, 1945 to 31st October, 1945 Moston, Manchester

31st October, 1945 Discharged

 

A detailed search of the Internet / World Wide Web through a number of search engines has shown that although Searchlight Regiments are mentioned here and there in the context that such and such a unit existed, little or nothing has actually ever been written about the

 Searchlight Regiments of the British Army during World War 2

 

The following links to the Royal Artillery Web Site and the pages shown are believed to be the only accurate record of the various Searchlight Regiments, Battalions and Batteries available on the Internet.  

 

 

http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/page3.html

 

http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/slidx/index.html

        

http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/sl/page19.html

 

 

The following is a newspaper ‘column’ that appeared in the Salford City Reporter in August, 1945 reporting on the Minden Day Parade. The original document has proved impossible to scan and reproduce in a legible form so it has been rewritten in the interests of clarity.

 

 

Minden Day

 

Anniversary of Historic Battle

Commemorated in Salford

 

Impressive Parade: Wreaths Laid On War Memorials

 

Members of the Salford Branch of the Lancashire Fusiliers Old Comrades Association: the 7th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers Old Comrades’ Association; and the 354 (Lancashire Fusiliers) Searchlight Battery. Royal Artillery Old Comrades Association took part in an impressive parade on Thursday evening to commemorate Minden Day one of the outstanding anniversaries in the history of the Regiment.

 

On August, 1st, 1759 during the Seven Years’ War the French were routed by an Anglo- Hanoverian army under Lord George Sackville and Ferdinand of Brunswick at Minden, a Prussian town in Westphalia. The Lancashire Fusiliers, then the20th Foot, played a conspicuous part in the battle and history relates that the troops picked roses from a nearby garden and placed the flowers in their hats. Since then red and yellow – the regimental colours – roses have been worn by all ranks of the Lancashire Fusiliers at the Minden Day celebrations.

 

Thursday’s parade, which assembled at the Drill hall, Cross Lane, was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel J. P. Hampson, TD a former commanding officer of the 71st Searchlight Regiment and vice president of the 7th Battalion O.C.A. Also present were Lieutenant Colonel T. M. Shelmerdine, TD formerly second- in- command of the 7th Battalion; Major H Broadhurst; Major R.S Unsworth TD chairman and Captain G.A. Newton, vice chairman of the 354 Battery O.C.A; Mr T. P. Miller , chairman of the 7th battalion O.C.A. and hon. Secretary of the Salford branch of the Lancashire Fusiliers O.C.A; Mr C.E. Davies, hon. secretary, and Mr W. Hewitt, hon. treasurer of the 7th Battalion O.C.A ; Mr F.R Brennan, hon. treasurer of the Salford branch Lancashire Fusiliers O.C.A. and Mr J.B. Dean, hon. Secretary and treasurer of the 354 Battery O.C.A.

 

Minden Day greetings were sent by Lieutenant Colonel J. Allen T.D. a former commanding officer of the 39th Regiment and chairman of the Salford branch Lancashire Fusiliers O.C.A.: Lieutenant Colonel R.R. Rainford T.D. a former commanding officer of the 39th Regiment and Senior Commander Plant of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. The marshal for the parade was Mr. J. Wallace.

 

The parade, which was headed by the Windsor Institute Prize Band, marched by way of Cross Lane, Regent Road and Oldfield Road to the South African War memorial where a wreath was laid by Mr G Evans on behalf of the members of the 7th battalion O.C.A. The march was then resumed along the Crescent to the cenotaph where further wreaths were laid by Mr A. Townsend for the 7th battalion O.C.A.; Mr H. Thomas for the Salford branch of the Lancashire Fusiliers O.C.A.; and Mr J. Pennington for the 354 Battalion O.C.A. The return route to the Drill Hall was via Windsor Bridge and Cross Lane.

 

An enjoyable concert was held later by the members of the 345 Searchlight Battery Old Comrades Association at the Drill Hall, Clifton on Thursday evening. Amongst those present were Lieutenant Colonel Hampson, president and Major C. H. C. Hilton chairman of the Association. Mr E. Hollingshead was the M.C. and the music was provided by Will Tomkinson and his band

++++

A large number of Salford men who have served in the Lancashire Fusiliers attended the parade at Bury on Saturday, when the Freedom of the Borough was conferred on the Regiment

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

The following is a newspaper cutting believed to have been published in March, 1946 possibly in the Salford City Reporter

 

A. T. S.

Join Old Comrades

“Daily Dispatch” reporter

 

When a stentorian voice rasped out, “Battery, atten – shun!” in a Salford Hotel last night, 200 men and A.T.S. of 354 Battery (Lancashire Fusiliers) knew that Sammy Gill, their sgt major, for 35 years a soldier, had not faded away – though demobbed.

It was the first reunion of members of the battery who have returned to civilian life, and Sammy Gill, who was extremely popular, was there, in mufti, beaming on his boys and girls of what had become known as Britain’s “Romance Battery”.

A number of A.T.S. in the unit married officers and other ranks. They were there, including Subaltern Nancy Massey, wife of Capt. Massey. Amongst the other ranks were Sgt. J Quincey, who married A.T.S. Pte. G. Pritchard, both of Liverpool.

Major George Newton, formerly second – in – command told me: “It is the first time in Britain that A.T.S. have joined an Old Comrades Association Other units have tabooed the idea, but our view was that they were with us in the war and we want to keep in touch with them in the peace”.

From Norfolk, where the existing unit is stationed came Maj. R. Roberts, second – in – command, to represent present members.

 

+++

 

A desk diary containing minutes taken at meetings of 354 (Lancashire Fusiliers) Searchlight Battery RA TA Old Comrades Association confirms that the first reunion was held at the Cattle Market Hotel, Salford and was indeed attended by Maj. R. Roberts.

 

 

 

Actual size 13” x 9”

 

The above folder was found amongst the documents and contains the story of 354 Batteries “comings and goings” between August 1939 and Christmas 1941.

 

It was written by Sgt Way and makes fascinating reading.

 

The original is in extremely poor condition so it has been rewritten in its entirety

 

“IT’S ‘354’ WE ARE”

 

There are many handicaps in recording war activity in war time – not least of these being the fine filter of Security Regulations.

Due to this, much exciting narrative and amusing incidents is excluded from this brief survey of  “The Battery”.

Our battalion – once the 7th Lancashire Fusiliers, TA – was one of the early transfers to searchlights and became

39th (Lancashire Fusiliers) A.A. Bn., R.E., TA.

 

 

In those days, when the higher command still cherished the hope that cavalry had some relationship with horses; an arm of the Services which embellished its hardware with as much gaily coloured electric wiring as ourselves; soon graduated as Engineers of Royal standing!

With the battalion traditions in “high dungeon” and T.S. Ms. in infernally low gear, we had amused ourselves at several annual camps.

 

Suddenly – Munich!!  --  hitherto a name on lager bottles to most peace loving peoples, now becomes the vortex  of the “European fiasco”.

Security has long since expired on that unhappy time of abysmal unreadiness. As most of us know, some truly Gilbertian situations staged themselves overnight , as the nation struggled frantically to withdraw the Sword of Freedom from its rusty scabbard.

 

Comic and tragic as were those salutary days of emergency they were useful beyond measure in ensuring that we all tested the tonic of reality. In spite of unforeseen handicaps, we saw clearly, perhaps for the first time, some of the “loopholes and cracks” which a blessed providence (or forgave!) us twelve months to repair.

 

August, 1939, presents a very different situation; the sand is running out and many are convinced of what lies ahead; most are far from optimism.

 

The annual camp of “354” approaches and on “The Twelfth” ; a truly prophetic date – for neither shooting nor grousing has ceased since  - we deploy over pleasant hills and dales to Yorkshire. No brief and insufficient fourteen days are before us, but a full month! What a moment it seems in retrospect.

 

The farm windows blink defiantly back at our shafts of light which are soon to be the only unshuttered  windows in Great Britain.

 

The Bumph Demon, long restricted to such mundane activity as the torture of searchlight quartermasters (pardon Quartermasters, searchlight) is becoming quite besides himself in teeth some anticipation of the feast that lies ahead. Not waiting for the starting gun, he spits the magic seeds of chaos into Brigade typewriters.

To hell with Hitler1 “Let’s be getting some signatures”, -- Section Officers dash in all directions, section sergeants curse confused, and sappers catcall into the darkness. Finally with wagons and cars groaning under the weight of accredited stores, together with those little items which we feel will be of greater national service in our hands than those of the “Bradfords” – 354 moves into the night.

 

Sleep is a memory, but finally red-eyed and triumphant we stagger back to Battalion Headquarters at Cross Lane, Salford, still clutching those passports to solvency – our “A.B. 108’s”!

 

By this time our friend the Bumph demon, is well astride his war horse and in new security wields his venom with greater deliberation; indulging in the piquancy of carbon sandwich, two, three and finally five deckers, regularly supplying his insatiable appetite.

 

Thus empties once more, this Fusilier stronghold, and 354 find a long line of responsibility stretching from Macclesfield to Warrington and the Cheshire side of Manchester.

 

The early days of war are tense indeed -- popular opinion (still unreliable!) anticipates that we shall be the first to “go into action!” -  wild conjecture vies with even wilder rumour concerning our intentions and those of the enemy.

 

The complete absence of the aerial cataclysm that everyone expects in no way lessen our anticipation – if anything it rather increases it, on the basis that the cunning Hun seeks only to prey once more upon out national weakness, wishful thinking, so that the blow, when it falls, will be more devastating.

 

The weather is good and the men healthy and fit, soon section are well ahead with all manner of ingenious emplacements which require skilful drainage schemes. The immediate sub-soil is solid clay in most case – all this and no issue of riveting material. A naïve illusion indeed!

 

The Cheshire County Council and other altruistic organisations soon remedy this shortage, though they are blissfully unaware of it at the time, and one suspects are so still!

 

It is certainly not for nou’t that these sons of Salford have Lancashire Fusilier heredity and the democratic spirit of “for the LF’s by the LF’s” soon makes itself felt once more, as it has done before in many a foreign field.

 

Many LF veterans are with us and though scornful of the electrical mysteries of “carbon burning”, profit from remembered hunger experienced in past campaigns. These strangely attired worthies have constructed from local “tips” weird and wonderful field kitchens where the detachment joint sizzles richly with “two vegs” and “duff” which later threatens to reverse any sapper’s polarity!

 

Some of us are guarding vital points about Manchester Docks and the Ship Canal ; some may be seen silhouetted on the top of Barton Power Station. Report has it that these chaps are sitting pretty for some of the perquisites of “Civvy Street”, but perhaps this is the offset by the front line feeling of detachment life?

 

Some bright lads have discovered a novel way to supplement their beer money by digging graves for an overworked sexton at St. Catherine’s Churchyard.

 

Marker boards glow with luminous paint; while coloured electric light bulbs indicate equipment positions in the inky darkness of moonless nights.

 

Back at the area section, officers compete to produce novel and ingenious schemes by which inadequate supplies and operational needs can be met. Others have arranged cunning alarm systems to ensure faster manning times; a necessary precaution as we are at 30 second readiness which requires “some doing.”

 

Company Headquarters at Tabley Hill have their troubles – inadequate accommodation – tents without boards – no water – all roads becoming quagmired – little or no communication and some peculiar ex civilian transport.

 

This latter problem soon becomes quite acute – this vast area has to be rationed daily and the contractors’ lorries of uncertain vintage start developing a succession of more or less troublesome breakdowns. The MT staff  have only a windswept marquee as a workshop and as the winter makes itself felt this becomes more difficult to manage – lorries are constantly getting bogged down; so sweating swearing sappers heave at the wheels and dig in cinders for better grip.

 

About this time the G.O.C., 4th A.A. Division, pays his first visit to us and expresses general approval at progress in the area; special praise is given to Field Site at Poever which is selected as exemplary for certain constructional features.

 

There is still no enemy action, and it is now October, work is going well, but a new spectre appears – boredom among the men has been overlooked in our anxiety to press on with constructional work. Football matches are soon organised and welfare from various sources proves of golden worth.

 

Among the many kind neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Lester Warren whose estate is in the area, lend their private theatre for E.N.S.A. shows and the “boys” appreciate it a lot. Much talent is discovered in section personnel and soon, as pianos are secured, hut concerts get going; these are highly entertaining due possibly to the lack of censorship over the lyric writers.

 

The Regional Commissioner at this time, Sir Warren Fisher pays a call at Company Headquarters and is very interested to see how, with considerable improvisation, our telephone system now reaches the remotest detachment via section headquarters exchanges. Plotting exercises, hitherto impossible, now get into their stride and the new searchlight control centre express satisfaction with the speed of transmission.

 

About this time our first shot is fired – by a sentry who hearing suspicious noises at night near the equipment, challenged twice without success. Having loosed off one for luck, considerable commotion ensues, but all that is discovered is one pair of flannel trousers!

 

The newly formed 53rd A.A.  Brigade takes over our battalion from the 44th as from November, 1st 1939.

 

Winter is setting in and soon snow falls heavily.

 

The cold is intense and anti – freeze precautions on generator and road vehicles have to be re-doubled; even so some cars freeze up while running on the road. The winter is recorded as the most severe for the last 100 years, many sites become snowbound and section officers have to struggle around with rum rations, while food in some cases is manhandled on sledges improvised from duckboards. Such conditions last for several months, but despite such handicaps and with the welcome assistance of local farmers and others, Christmas, 1939, goes off well. Extra food is secured for all, with Christmas puddings from N.A.A.F.I.

 

We have a queer, motley throng about our Company Headquarters Cookhouse and it is hard to keep anything remotely clean or hygienic; a veritable sea of slush by the gumboots of batmen and cookhouse orderlies. An old soldier is in charge here and boasts a stripe for his responsibilities. One day in the absence of our bugler this enterprising lad proceeds to sound “cookhouse” himself – the writer witnessed this amazing display; after producing a most horrific belly shaking discord into which he put all that was left of his Woodbine scarred lungs; he was leaning exhausted against the cookhouse wall, when, over the top appears the greasy dial of one of his scullions who says, “You’d better go and tell them Corp!”

 

We have done our best with the unfavourable conditions at Tabley, but the continued shortage of hutting makes it necessary to find requisitioned quarters. These are located at Baguley, some miles from the centre of our area, but with good main road communications. Stores are moved in advance, as much plumbing, etc., has to be effected. Finally we occupy Baguley House in force, and start spreading ourselves in the novel luxury of dry quarters.

 

But our comfort is short-lived.

 

Extra illumination is urgently required on the East Coast and we are selected. The battalion soon after our departure leave for Orkney Defences. Very soon we prepare to hand over the previous plots on which so much initiative and energy have been expended. By this time Newhall Farm section headquarters is a show site indeed and has attracted many distinguished visitors who declare it one of the best in the A.D.G.B. The new hutting scale has been effected in full here, and it resembles a miniature village.

 

Before we leave Cheshire several exercises are held with the co-operation of local auxiliary services – A.F.S., women’s ambulance corps, wardens, etc., The demonstrations are well attended and highly spectacular; friendly aircraft bomb the site where upon dummy casualties and pre-arranged fires are created – ambulances driven by “smashing blondes” career over the field. (These ladies seem to dress more to demonstrate personal charms than grim reality). A good time is had by all. The wardens and A.F.S. shower all and sundry with water from stirrup pumps in some what abortive efforts to quell fires, which, on some occasions threatened to become “to true to be good.” However all this helps to test the communications and get everyone more “in focus” against what is to come.

 

The movement order arrives at last and we are destined for the Lincolnshire coast.

 

New equipment has to be collected and specially selected convoys go ahead for this purpose. The rest of us are going through the sleepless process of handing over and packing up, with all their unexpected “jams” and irritations. Finally we rendezvous at Cross Lane Drill Hall.

 

All Salford seems to have turned out to see – sons, fathers, brothers, etc., before we go to our “secret” destination. There is much ribaldry and several “for the road”. A special train is scheduled from London Road Station, Manchester at 0200 hours. All through the day section stores and personnel are being segregated as well as space permits. At midnight sections move off in full marching order with a considerable entourage of ladies in attendance. These have by this time become highly emotional and much of the liquid refreshment imbibed during the day is expressed in tears at night, as we tramp over the muddy cobbles.

 

The wives and sweethearts keep pace with their husbands and swains, but soon find the going too hard for high heels. So these are removed and the journey completed in stocking feet! London Road Station looks at its gloomiest as we entrain and after last minute checks by the company sergeant major and officers, we pull out in the welter of indiscriminate osculation. Everyone collapses into welcome oblivion which seems over all too soon, for we arrive at Boston at dawn on March, 12th, 1940.

 

We look and feel like the great unwashed. Nothing much happened for some considerable time and we stand out in the cold, hungry and discontent. After a while odd officers of the 44th (Leicestershire) S/L Regt., R.A., to whom we are posted, filter along and view us with distaste.

 

Our baggage, by this time spewed all over the station yard, has to be seen to be believed – we are certainly nomadic! Finally there is a stir in the crowd and the Leicestershire’s Colonel, straight from his bathtub, descends upon us. He is immaculate, and bears the soft odour of lotions in his wake.

 We all feel much dirtier as a result!

 

The Leicester’s turn out to be very decent and helpful. Company move into fields adjoining one of their batteries as we are co-operating on a combined lay-out scheme. Bell tents and marquees furnish living and office accommodation. Deployment of sections has proceeded without a break from Boston Station and we hear that the equipment convoy is well on its way. Little enough rest has been had for the past two days, but a further 48 hours is spent by all getting on to virgin ground far into the night. It is shocking country for this sort of thing – marshes, dykes, canals and vast tracts of bulb fields. One blessing is the presence of signboards, soon to be removed. One shudders at the thought of the extra confusion which might have resulted, had these not been there, with the ground mist and then unknown hazards of the Fenlands.

 

Distances around section are made worse by tortuous irrigation schemes, canals, etc. and the “so near and yet so far” situation is constantly recurring. One section has 110 miles round its six stations.

 

By this time the situation in France is critical, and in anticipation of every possibility we soon find ourselves doing infantry patrols – anti parachute exercises and A.A. defence combined with coastal light operations. To effect complete illumination of The Wash projectors are poised precariously on sea dykes, with incredible flying buttress structures improvised from local timber to enable projector controllers to move around. These comic affairs look like the misshapen nests of some giant Roc, and one remembers vividly the lonely and forlorn little groups silhouetted in the dawn light, for we had constant alerts at this time for all sorts of reasons.

 

France has capitulated and we listen with grim feelings to the Prime Minister’s solemn but determined speech. One finds it hard to grasp, as the full significance of the situation establishes itself. It is difficult not to feel as David must have done in the face of Goliath.

 “All officers will go armed---all vehicles will carry rifles and ammunition”

 

The Bumph demon, smarting from all he has lost in France, commences a solemn war dance, in preparation for a fitting onslaught on those who have driven their evil smelling juggernauts over this tireless six months’ feast. Soon his measured pace quickens and riots into a wild fandango of typographical wrath. To be sure we are able to keep pace with his “intentions” it will go hard indeed with the enemy should he be so unwise as to follow his ill-gotten advance over the backs of refugees.

 

Enemy aircraft come over us in increasing numbers and bombs are being dropped too near to be “laughed off”.

 

Strange lights appear on deserted Fenlands. A large expanse of carefully bridged dykes surrounding beet fields is discovered and arrests follows. Germanic voices come through our R/T sets and all is tense with anticipation.

 

A somewhat disconcerting feature of this period is the endless stream of evacuated Dunkirk forces sent off by a harassed command to “stiffen up” the coast in likely places. Almost devoid of equipment, these units like lost tribes, move in, and soon an amiable reconnaissance officer drops in to “recce” our section areas. Pill boxes are run up, anti tank traps constructed and then, just as we are developing a nice working arrangement with their riveting supplies- off they go to reform or deploy elsewhere! Before long up pops another amiable cove and this time again grunted with content, forgets nothing, and behind our front line indicates a wood clearly referenced on our O/S. Here Colonel “Bathtub” and all his stalwarts will stand and defend “to the last man, the last….” Well, “tha knows”.

Closer inspection, however, indicates the “far- sightedness” of our evil friend, who doubtless has our next campaign in mind; for the wood is three foot high!

 

We suspect our winged brothers in arms fly almost too high for the demon and in respect for their achievement we live in uneasy proximity to paraffin flares which help the forward dromes each night; when comforting numbers of “big chaps” crawl over well leaden with “atter” not unsuitable for the waiting Jerry!

 In this direction the coincident installations of slit trenches with the flares proves sound foresight.

 

Rumour is rife  -  we are about to move. This develops in the usual unreliable lines and our next deployment is confidently forecast to be several places between Singapore and North Africa. When orders do arrive they are for south west England and after the usual upheaval the strange caravan moves of once more, if anything even closer in resemblance to Corporation dustcarts due to the acquired appendages which are sure to “come in handy!.

 

Due to special nature of out next assignment it is necessary to split the company into parts – so two sections push on to Southampton and Company Headquarters and other two sections go on to Bristol. This severed state continued for six months during which the two “lost sections” form a somewhat homogenous whole and blossom forth as the “half battery”, However, as the song goes, “But we don’t speak of that now” (for best reasons known to the O.C., Battery and the Demon”).

In both Southampton and Bristol any previous lack of first – hand experience with the enemy made good and we had a great deal of bombing, and ground strafing also on occasions. In the latter case the “boys” proved that they had not been maintaining their Lewis Guns for over a year for “nou’t”  - as a number of Heinkels had cause  to remember.

 

Security Regulations regrettably prevent a detail of the many amusing and exciting experiences which befell both half companies. On Minden Day, 1941, by a strange coincidence, the 39th Battalion became officially  an R.A. Regiment, and while wearing their roses sappers became gunners, corporals bombardiers and section troops – but we still have our LF cap badge and LF buttons (all of em!).

 

To digress from our diary of events for a moment  - one of our “old sweats” is quaffing a pint in the local when in comes  three Dunkirk boys who rather conscious of their “background” order loudly “Three pints for three of the B.E.F. of 1940.” Our worthy representative, nettled into action by the implied slight, quickly lowers his pint and shouts, “and one pint for a soldier of the B.E.F. of 1914-15-16-17 and 39!!” at which the three intruders drop their ale and depart out- classed!

 

In all the section of Bristol and Southampton only one fatal casualty is sustained. Soon another move looms up.

 

This time the battery moves further west into the Somerset basket willow country and cider orchards. Battery Headquarters is in an old and pleasant country house at Thorn Falcon, just outside Taunton. Though plenty of enemy ‘planes are moving over it is quite a rural holiday by comparison; weather conditions arte difficult and tents generously perforated by bullet holes and shrapnel rents, are poor protection against the torrential rain which is pretty constant. Due to such as anything else to the damp conditions, it is decided three weeks after our arrival to move us back to Bristol for a rest period in Horfield Barracks.

 

Battery Headquarters resumes at the recently vacated Henbury Court, and we start re-fitting and repairing prior to deployment after the rest period. This rest is most welcome for maintenance reasons, but is somewhat relative in certain respects. The Commandant of the barracks, which houses other troops as well, has rather finite ideas about ceremonial guards and piquet mounting. This ceremony would do justice to an army headquarters, at least, so we play soldiers z bit by day while Jerry plays hell at night.

 

Bristol is first blitzed during this period and we assist the Bristol Police in a somewhat “poacher turned keeper” role of guarding property.

 

At last, when all are getting a trifle irked by the Commandant’s circus each day   -- regardless of the one displayed by Richtofens successor each night – orders for a “home James” for the North, and our former Brigade area once more. Our advance party left for Lancashire when our old pal, The Demon, swallows another “five decker” and the Lancashire move is off! However, fresh instructions follow with almost indecent haste and the convoy is scheduled for dawn the following day. As a final send off Jerry intervenes on our troop officers ‘ conference at Henbury Court, and bombs without cessation for about four or five hours in the mistaken idea that we are quite different place  -  the visibility being nil!

 

Getting to bed at 0130 hours and rising for the convoy at 0500 hours makes us all feel “a bit grey” (as an air sentry once said to the O.C. when asked the colour of the sky of the day!) but the caravan moves off to time looking as usual like an Arabian camel train. By this time our well supplemented stores range from acquired bedsteads to chemical closets. Gunner’s kits bulged with “perks”, all of which in some mysterious manner lashed together by alarming quantities of D.8 Wire. Lewis Guns are as usual ready for action slung on the backs of all lorries and attended by the boys sprawled over the heaving mass of kit bags with the nonchalance of harem beauties.

 

Every time we stop (and it is rarely as nature will permit) harassed troop officer find long familiar faces leaning out of bedroom windows flourishing cups of tea and teapots at their less fortunate colleagues. Great hilarity and goodwill to all (and women) is the spirit which inspires our convoys but it is not so funny for the officers in charge at the time, though it always seems so in retrospect.

 

Derbyshire is finally reached in good order, a night being spent at Prees Heath where we sleep in racing stables and make up a few shortages in eating utensils from the hand that feeds us; causing much delay in what proves, of course, to be an abortive kit inspection.

 

Derbyshire greets us with a screaming blizzard and driving rain and with increasing amazement and apprehension troop lorries crawl over 2,000 feet mountain slopes and deposit their indescribable contents in places from which even the sheep have been removed for shelter! Our bedraggled and battle-scarred canvas is hardly equal to this and we soon get into barns, lofts, pigsties, in fact anything that gives some semblance of protection from the December blast.

 

This is the toughest proposition yet – operational men have to endure tented conditions right through the winter, and we slave at emplacements  -- officers and men perspiring together, in some of the light projectors with the reflectors off. Some sites are cut off for a week at a time by snow, but excellent rations solve the food problem. Battery is established at Whaley Bridge in a grim, stone building which looks rather like a penitentiary, but is all right inside. Communication is by D.R. only, as R/T sets cannot cope with the mountains – soon R.A.C boxes, pubs and even signal boxes are pressed into service with runners to keep contact with sites.

 

The boys do their stuff once more and in the face of all this indescribable difficulty, our maintenance is held up as exemplary. Well hutted and plumbed batteries are brought over to se how it can be done in spite of everything.

 

Christmas, 1940, threatens to be tragic one. Manchester is blitzed on Christmas Eve and gunners lose homes, relatives and friends. The situation needs careful handling, but nearly all the boys play up magnificently – as much gaiety and song as possible is enjoyed with excellent food and many buckets of ale.

 

 The worst cases we get home first, and the others as soon as possible.

 

Gradually we lick circumstances and by time spring  comes really good sites have been hacked out of these Derbyshire heights. Summer arrives and one can enjoy the true beauty of the area. In spite of great distances from other habitation the boys have grown to like the environment , and the gruelling weather has strangely enough made everyone fitter, so that when we hear of out impending move to Liverpool, the regrets are genuine, in spite of a natural preference for  “built up area”

amenities.

 

So here we are at last in Liverpool, our eighth move. Christmas, 1941, finds the boys working like blacks once more – even harder and quicker from experience gained, than in our Cheshire days, when “novelty” was a spur. All hard work, healthy and still producing sites, with light – hearted humour and conduct standards better than before. This year, next year, sometime? But however it ends “its still ‘354’we are”

 

With the battery commander all officers doff their hats to “The Boys”, in sincere respect for their stolid reliability and “guts” in face of changing England.

 

The End

 

 

.

 

The plaque above was purchased from E bay by Capt (retd) Joe Eastwood  B.E.M. CQSW

 

The Autograph Book shown below was found within the discovered folder and contains numerous personnel messages from former members of the ‘354’ 

 

 

 

Actual size 5” x 3”

 

                                                                           The following names have been taken from the Autograph Book

 

                                              Where doubt exists as to a name I have shown it in italics having taken my best stab at deciphering ' scribble '.

 

Ada Fox  .

 

 

"Bod"   Capt. RA

Lord Damron of Penn

John B  Capt RA

Eva Richardson (Yaxley 28.11.42)

J.L. Blake

E. Pywell

B Bluer

Chas Wainwright

T or J Crawford

F Jackson

H E or M E Stone

Ken

Dorothy 27.4.43

J B Dean L/Sgt

? Allan1

Maurice Hawkins

Lueielaa Khewhegis

Bill McCling Sgt RA

D Smith Capt. July 28th 45

Brenda

Drawbridge Believed to be a nickname

U.K.S

Iris Osbourne

Ken Issacs

Norman Collinson        Capt. RA

G Quincey

D.R. Ashton

Marian G Pritchard

John Lowry

Greenup L/Bdr

J Trueman

Herbert Robinson

Joan E Davis

Harold Wilcock

J Purcell

Jimmy Smith

J Cowan

Ethel

Leslie S Adams   Capt. RA

Sam Begaurs  Whaley Bridge 1939 1945

Frank Balber  Overseas Club St. James London W1

George Hewton   Capt RA

E.O Symonds   Lt. REME (Hocus)

David Massey Capt RA

Douglas Reid  Lt. RA

Woods

E.M. Thompson

Joan " Smudgy"

Robert Rendall Lt. RA

Wood   Lt.RA

Sadie DingA. Howarth

Dobbie

Jeth Cochrane Sgt REME

Jimmy Grant  S/Sgt

Mona

S.J. Mandell

Margaret L Bussey

Jean Wearing

L.J Pritchett   Ilinois USA

G. Allder

 

 

There are a number of other names but it is impossible to decipher the signatures

 

 

 

 

A
B
C
D
1
2
3
4

a letter from the King to Alex Mifsud's Gran

5
6


Minden Day 1945

 

 

The following are extracts from local newspapers announcing or reporting on the Minden Day Parade

 

The Parade was also announced on the BBC Northern News at 0625 hours on 31st July, 1945

 

Evening Chronicle, Saturday, July 28th 1945.

 

For the first time in 6 years the anniversary  of Minden Day (1759) will be upheld in Salford by a march past and parade of the 354 Searchlight battery, R.A. (T.A.) formerly the 7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, on Wednesday.(1st August). The Battery, which was embodied on August 12th, 1939 has been in action in various parts of the country during the European War and was one of the few searchlight batteries still in action in “Fly Bomb” alley on VE Day.

Evening Dance

Assembling at the Drill Hall, Cross Lane, Salford, at 1015 a.m., the battery accompanied by many Old Comrades, and headed by the Salford City Police band, will march down Cross Lane, along Regent Road and Oldfield Road, the Crescent and Cross Lane, back to the Drill Hall. Wreaths will be laid on the Boer War Memorial and the Cenotaph.

Lieut. Colonel R.R. Rainford, T.D., R.A., formerly Colonel the 39th (LF) Searchlight Regiment will take the salute at the junction of Acton square and The Crescent at about 1115 a.m. and the Mayoress of Salford will be present at the saluting base, and in the evening the Mayor and Mayoress will attend a dance in the Drill Hall.

 

Manchester Guardian 2nd August, 1945 

 

Minden Day

 

The various infantry regiments which have Minden amongst their battle honours must during the war have celebrated Minden Day in some out of the way places and in some odd ways. Yesterday something of the peace time ceremony of the day was revived in Salford by a march past by the 354th Searchlight battery, Royal Artillery, which used to be the 7th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, while in Minden itself men of the K.O.Y.L.I. attended a ceremony wearing roses picked on the road leading to the scene of the famous victory. Minden was a triumph over cavalry in more ways than one, and the day is essentially an infantry occasion whether it is celebrated in Lancashire, in Scotland, in Wales, in Yorkshire, Hampshire, Suffolk. The wearing of roses may have little military significance – the eating of them less – but traditional regimental ceremonies are not to be written off as useless survivals. There have been times in this war when soldiers have fought better for being reminded of the pas records of their regiments. Under stress of battle the emotions may often be appealed to for the extra effort or extra courage which may often makes the difference between success and failure. The Army recognizes this and has resisted suggestions that a more efficient method of grouping fighting units might be found. The regimental system has a moral strength is beyond question. It is symptomatic of the stubbornness with which soldiers hold onto their regimental history that yesterday’s parade in Salford was by artillery men who refuse to forget they were once infantry.

 

The following is an extract from an unknown local newspaper

 

Tonight officers of the Lancashire Fusiliers who have joined the regiment since the last Minden day will have to stand with one foot on the table and solemnly eat a rose. They will be carrying out the traditional ceremony held every August 1st to celebrate Minden Day when the Lancashire Fusiliers and five other British regiments routed the French at Minden in 1759.

 

Earlier today the 354th Searchlight Battery R.A. of the Lancashire Fusiliers celebrated their first Minden Day in Salford since the outbreak of war. With their red and cream roses in their berets to remind them of the Westphalian roses worn during the battle, and following the many veterans of the regiment, they marched to the Boer War Memorial and the cenotaph to lay wreaths and then marched past Lt.Col. R.R. Rainford, last Colonel of the 39th, who is now on 56 days leave before being discharged. Their march past over, they returned to the Drill hall in Cross Lane for their free pint of beer.

 

Also found amongst the documents was the spoof “Last Will and Testament” of Adolf Hitler as shown in the Photo Gallery above.

 

A further document, a simple red lined book was found and is a hand written record of various meetings of the

354 (Lancashire Fusiliers) Searchlight Battery R.A. T.A. Old Comrades Association. (O.C.A.)

 

It is a very difficult document to read but confirms that the O.C.A. was “officially” formed in January, 1946 and finally, effectively ceased to exist as of 5th February, 1973.

 

Further detailed research into the contents of the “Minute Book “ are on going. An update with the results will appear as an addition to this story at a later date.

 

Again, enquiries are being made into the names of those persons mentioned in the Autograph Book.

 

Sergeant John Charles Way following his demobilization on 31st October, 1945 lived in Sale until his marriage to Beryl Agar Way (born 27.3.18 at Whitley Bay) at St. Anne’s Church, Manchester on 20th August, 1949.. Thereafter they lived in High Lane and Gatley before moving to Bramhall, Cheshire in 1964.Throughout his working life John Charles Way worked for I.C.I. in Manchester. He and his wife had a long association with St. Anne’s Church, Manchester. Later in life he wrote a superb story about St. Anne’s Church. A copy has been obtained and has been added to the material found for posterity. On 29th March, 1959 their son Graham Way M.A. was born. He is a History teacher in London. Mrs. Beryl Agar Way is still alive and lives now in a nursing home in Cheshire.

 

 We are indebted to Mr Graham Way for the information he has supplied.

A Further update to the 354 story

 

Following on from the publication of the Feature on the 39th (Lancashire Fusiliers) Searchlight Regiment TA RA

we had the good fortune to make contact with a former member of 354 Searchlight Battery who lives in Lytham St Annes  

Phyllis May York

Nee Northcott

  We are indebted to Mr Phil York of Lytham St. Anns, Lancashire who has gleaned the following information from his mother regarding her war time service with 354 Searchlight Battery.

 

Phylis May York Nee Northcott was born on 10th September, 1921 at Seaton, Devon and on 23rd August, 1947 at Seaton, married Stanley York who she met whilst both were serving in 354 Battery. (see photo of Stanley below). She first met Stanley in early 1944 when she called in on the 354 Battery, prior to actually being posted to 354 Battery, to have signs painted on a Battery vehicle. Stanley did this sign writing.

Phylis enlisted at Wrexham in November, 1942 and after a period of training at Gresford was posted to No.2 Searchlight Battery at Blandford.

 

Phylis has viewed the story so far published and says that she knew Sgt Way (main 354 feature) and in fact drove him from Hadleigh, Suffolk to Headquarters.

 

From the list of names taken from the Autograph Book (see the 354 story above) she is able to recall the following:

 

Captain (Dave) Massey RA.Phylis often used to drive him

Harold Wilcock (See photograph below)..He is Godfather to Phyliss son Phil. His surviving wife lives in Cleveleys

 

Phil York has forwarded a hand written note from his mother, which in the interests of clarity is reproduced below in typescript

 

I joined up at Wrexham then went to Gresford for 6 weeks Driving and maintenance Course. Posted to No.2 Searchlight Battery at Blandford. Later drove a Colonel at Bath, had to collect new vehicle from Plymouth and called at 354 Battery on way back for signs to be put on, which were done by my future husband.

Later posted to 354 Battery at Castle Cary as the Colonel had to have a C3 Driver and I was A1. 354 Battery then moved to Hadleigh in Suffolk where we had the doodle bugs coming over, too close sometimes, as we were on top of a hill. After that we went to Sturminster Marshall.

We were spilt up when the men went training for abroad at Helmsley in Yorkshire and then went out to Egypt.

The friend I exchange Xmas Cards with was Phyllis Matthews, then I think in the Ops Room

 

The men and women of 354 in January, 1945

354 Stationed at Hadleigh, Suffolk 17.9.44 to 14.2.45

Signatures of those pictured.

Phylis has signed herself P.M. Northcott but is actually not on the photograph!

One of the signatures is Ada FOX who appears with photograph on the inside of the front cover of the autograph book.

 

This was taken at Gresford in about December, 1942

Phylis is sixth from the left in the rear rank

 

Top left Stanley York

3rd from left top row Harold Wilcock

Bottom right Ernie Denegri

The man between Stanley York and Harold Wilcock is believed to be Gerry Curtis who was the 354 barber!

 

Ada Fox who celebrated her 21st birthday at Hadleigh on 6th October, 1944 whilst serving with 354 Battery

 

Other names recalled by Phylis are Bill Crawford who was a driver and possibly a mechanic. Maybe he is the T or J Crawford whose signature is in the autograph book.

Staff Sergeant Grant, most probably the Jimmy Grant S/Sgt whose signature appears in the autograph book.

 

Phylis Matthews (referred to above). She may be the 8th from the left 2nd row in the Photo taken at Gresford December, 1942

 

Muriel Davies was Phyliss friend and though she has signed the back of one of the photographs she sadly does not appear on any.

 

Once again, our grateful thanks are extended to Phylis for the information provided and in particular to her son Phil York who took the time and trouble to obtain the information on behalf of the Web Site.

 

 

The minutes of the 354 Battery 7th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers Meetings

26th Jan 1946

18th March 1946
3rd June 1946
27th June 1946
4th July 1946

15th July 1946

14th November 1946
4th March 1947
27th Jan 1948
15th July 1949
16th March 1951
1st Jan 1973

Complied by

G. Pycroft

September/ November 2005