2nd Bn The XX Lancashire Fusiliers
WW 2. 1942 - 1945
France, Belgium, N. Africa, Medjez El Bab,
Sicily, and Italy (Monte Cassino,and Gothic line).



Click here for the 2017 Battlefield Tour

(The left hand photos is Frank with his P.I.A.T. gun and the right hand photo see below)
FROM THE TANK MUSEUM AT BOVINGTON.
“The photograph shows what appears to be an assault gun: Sturmgeschutz 40 Ausf. G (StuG III Ausf. G). Basically, the Germans used the hull of a Panzer III (the turret was removed) and fitted a 7,5cm gun into the front of the superstructure. Assault guns were widely used and were difficult to spot given their low silhouette. They were employed as assault gun (Sturmgeschutz) / tank destroyers usually in detachments both independent and attached to divisions. They were used at Monte Cassino and there are a number of photos in existence.which show them knocked out.”



Henry Victor Power served with D Company 2nd Bn.LF in France and North Africa. Landed in France December 1939..
He lives in Brisbane NSW Australia and he was 93 on the 30th June 2012.




Click here for
The photo collection of Tommy Bishop sent by Chris Bishop, his son


Click here for
Tommy Bishop's Documents


Click here for the Feature Page of Lance Corporal Bernard C. P. Robinson2nd Bn Lancashire Fusiliers Killed at Monte Cassino



Luigi Trevisan, our erstwhile supporter in Italy, has sent me these pics of the museum in Roncofreddo (near the City of Cesena) in the area of the Gothic Line where the 2nd Bn had such a hard fight.
Click on photos to enlarge them
Luigi has added, " Mr Paolo Savini, the curator, is preserving fantastic memorabilia of your ancestors as memento for the adults and students about the sacrifice of the British Army for our freedom. I'm very happy for that effortis.Now he is restoring a Bailey bridge of the Royal Engineers used to cross the many rivers and streams of that area."

Many thanks Luigi, we are grateful for your continued support and praise for the Lancashire Fusiliers.

Termoli Italy 28th September 1943

This short piece concerns the 2nd Bn and the action at Termoli Italy at the end of September 1943.


The most experienced patrollers were assembled and formed into two officer-lead vanguard platoons. They were ordered to push ahead to successive tactical features and report them clear or otherwise.

The plan worked well; after each bound the Battalion moved confidently forward and then rested until the next feature had been secured.
The vanguards met some minor opposition from snipers and small patrols, but they were strong enough to deal with those.
A German artillery officer with his radio operator was flushed out of a church tower into the Bn game bag.
The CO requested Brigade HQ to give our anti-tank guns priority in the queues of vehicles waiting to cross the rivers where bridges had been blown.
He was relieved when this was granted as intelligence reports had indicated that the 16 Panzer Division had left the Naples area and was heading towards Termoli.
It seemed that the Bn's advance up the east coast had achieved the object of drawing enemy forces away from the hard-pressed Fifth Army.
So we could expect action soon.

The vanguard patrols continued their progress and on 3 October, the Battalion arrived at the demolished road and rail bridges over the river Biferno on the southern outskirts of Termoli.
They were lucky to find some rowing boats in which they ferried the heavier supporting weapons and ammunition.
Rifle companies waded across.

On the north side,it was reassuring to learn that two Commandos had landed early in the morning and completely surprised the weak German garrison in Termoli, capturing its Commandant and other officers in their pyjamas.
As the town was secure, the Bn veered westwards towards the wooded escarpment that ran inland from Termoli beyond the course of the river Biferno.
It was obvious that this high ground had to be held to cover the valley and the bridge site near Campomarino.
The CO joined the leading troops and, as they approached the top of the escarpment summoned the `Order Group' to assemble while he went on to look at the country ahead.
All was tranquil.
There was not the slightest hint of danger.
The Commandos were happily consolidating their hold in Termoli, no doubt pinching the best billets after their successful night operation.

On reaching the crest, the CO beheld an astonishing sight, one that infantry soldiers dream about but seldom see.
About four hundred yards away was a mixed column of 16 Panzer Division's soft-skinned vehicles, armour and guns nose-to-tail on a road stretching as far as one could see to beyond Monte di Coccia, a high hill over on the Bns left.
The CO quickly withdrew below the crest trembling with excitement.
Fred Majdalany was ordered to get the MMG and the 3-inch mortar platoons into firing positions; thank goodness, they were in the right order of battle and already across the river. The company commanders were allotted defensive localities.
There was no time to be wasted; detailed orders were unnecessary; they were all veterans at the game.
The battle patrol was sited to protect the bridge and the rear of the Battalion. Everyone was warned to crawl into position. No one was to fire until the CO gave the order. The aim was to completely surprise the Germans with a shattering blast of fire from all our weapons. Our 25-Pounders were miles behind out of range waiting to cross a river but the battery commander arranged for medium guns to support us.

`16 Panzer Division!' The words spread like lightning. Men forgot their fatigue from the long marches and wading through rivers. The fog of uncertainty had cleared.
Fusiliers doubled up the escarpment. Those carrying 3-inch mortar bombs dumped them beside the mortars mounted ready to fire.
'16 Panzer Division!' The news had reached the bridging sites where men struggled with renewed energy to get reserves of ammunition forward to us. Messages were flashed through Brigade to Division, Corps to Army. Commanders and staffs at the various headquarters all down the line were no doubt busy ordering other moves for countering this latest threat.
But at that moment, the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers stood alone.

When they were all deployed, a profound silence reigned.
Fusiliers in the woods looked over their weapon sights patiently waiting. the CO instructed the Adjutant to signal Brigade that he urgently needed our anti-tank guns.
He looked towards Major Majdalany, as eager as a dog for a bone, and nodded.
`Fire!'
The order reverberated through the woods and along the crests.
The whole machine gun platoon opened fire together and triggered a larger orchestra of fire that rippled around the countryside.
The CO stood behind observing the effects; out in front the enemy ranks were in confusion with vehicles bursting into flames - an unforgettable sight!
In the excitement of the hour, some officers attempted to take over from the machine gunners. Quite rightly, they refused. However, the CO was honoured when a Corporal Number One looked up, 'Would you like to have a go, Sir?' He fired at a group of lorries. 'You're hitting the wheels, Sir. Up a hundred - that it! Right on target.'

The Germans soon retaliated. Enemy artillery fired smoke shells to help their surprised troops extricate themselves.
The CO warned the companies to dig in deeper while the mortars and machine guns continued firing; they had not had time to erect any overhead protection and shrapnel from shells bursting in the trees was causing casualties.
By dusk, both sides were licking their wounds. Our 25-Pounders were now within range so defensive fire tasks were soon registered in. Some divisional 17-Pounder anti-tank guns had arrived and were deployed to support our own 6-Pounders. As darkness descended our reconnaissance patrols exchanged fire with enemy positions. Star shells lit up the battle area intermittently. There was nervous tension all along the front.
At dawn, the hills to the north reverberated with the sound of guns. Shells whined overhead towards our divisional gun areas behind the river.

As our artillery retaliated in kind, the furious fire power of 16 Panzer Division was turned on to our positions.

The ground all around erupted with the bombardment.
Showers of bullets zipped, cracked and whined away in ricochet.
There was a shout, 'Tanks in front!' - an armoured attack with infantry following.
Companies were soon calling for their pre-arranged defensive fire tasks, which were quickly answered by our gunners. Medium guns were engaging enemy armour.
The battle area had become alive as both sides became locked in battle.
The contest raged throughout the day with several enemy armoured and infantry thrusts coming in from different directions, but the Battalion position held.

Termoli 29th September 1943
We last saw the 2nd Bn Lfs being furiously engaged by 16 Panzer Division outside the port of Termoli as night fell and fighting patrols encountered more and more of the enemy, some as close to our defensive positions as 300 yards.

At dawn, it was soon clear that a major assualt by the 16th Panzers was imminent.

Weapons and ammunition was checked, no one could afford a stoppage.

Our forward company ( D Coy)reported that some Buffs on their left had withdrawn, leaving the LF Company vulnerable from the flank, the Germans were quick to see this and began an attack.

The CO ordered the exposed Company to fall back a little to a more favourable defensive position.

This also allowed us to keep all our Observation Points protected, from which the road to Termoli could be kept under observation.

Suddeny, the radio crackled into life with the news that the enemy tanks had broken through the main Buffs position and were sculling about on top of the escarpment.
This provided an opportunity for the 25 Pounders in the valley to revert to the drills used at Waterloo and fire over open sights at tanks on the skyline.

The situation was becoming critical, the 2nd Bn Lfs were exposed on a salient and being threatened from several directions.

The order went out that Companies were to hold their small arms fire until the enemy were within 3 hundred yards.

This was it! A large scale Panzer attack around both our flanks, supported by artillery, mortars and some aircraft.

We retaliated with everything we had, we had to stay put at all costs !

The attackers fought to within 150 yards of us, our defensive fire SOS fire tasks were called for repeatedly (in effect, you almost call fire down upon your own positions -Editor

Our Sherman tanks and our Anti tank guns were engaging targets all around us.

Then came the turning point, the Commanding Officer of the Lancashire Fusiliers ordered a counter attack ,and "Fix Bayonets" came the cry!

Through the beautiful olive groves the Lfs moved forwards, bayonets at the ready, firing at anything that moved ahead of them.

Then, a magic moment, the enemy began to falter, a cheer rang out as the LFs pressed home their bayonet charge.

The Germans had had enough and they streamed backwards towards the Brickworks, all the while being shattered by our artillery fire.

Victory at Termoli was assured when the Irish Brigade landed from assault craft.

The LFs had been fighting solidly for 4 days.

Suddenly everyone felt very tired.

Young men suddenly looked old, with red rimmed eyes and faces grimed with dirt and fatigue.

Time to count the cost of a heroic victory.


Termoli Secured, Now for the River Trigno Crossing

Following the assault landing at Termoli harbour by the Special Raiding Brigade and 40 (RM) Commando and the subsequent landing of the Irish Brigade, the enemy had made a determined effort to dislodge the LFs from their strategic position atop the escarpment.
It was touch and go, even the Headquarters personnel in the Command Post had been forced to fix bayonets and fight hand to hand with the determined enemy.
(These turned out to be soldiers from the German 1st Parachute Division - Joe )
The LFs held on in spite of the odds, and despite suffering many casualties.

It was time for a break.

The Commanding Officer of 2LF was sent for by by General Montgomery, the Army Commander, who told him this :-

"Please inform your Fusiliers that I was very pleased with the great fighting stand at Termoli.
I know all about the battle and of the prominent part you played in it.
I am unable to get to see you today, but I promise that I will get to see you all when I next come around "

The 2nd Bn LFs were stood down at a place called Portocannone until the 22nd October 1943, resting and training and receiving replacements for the men they had lost.
Time for new orders and preparations for the opposed crossing of the river Trigno


The River Trigno Crossing


We last looked at the 2nd Bn as they recuperated from their great efforts at Termoli.

(I did promise to write this on the 22nd October, I have given my self 3 extra Orderly Officer Duties )

By the evening of 23rd October 1943, the 2nd Bn XX The Lancashire Fusiliers were in positions on the Calione ridge, just South of the Trigno river.

The only road bridge over the river had been blown by the enemy and it became clear that a crossing would have to be made so that Engineers could build a bridge to get our heavy arms and eqiuipment over the river.

The BN war diary records that as 3 rifle companies of LFs moved forward to the Montebello ridge ,which immediately overlooks the river ,D Company ran into an enemy force approximately 40 strong.
A fierce fire fight ensued and the enemy were put to flight, being pursued by Machine gun fire as they ran.
D Company lost 3 killed and 3 men were missing.

The Divisional plan was that 11 Infantry Brigade would ceate a diversion to draw off the enemy from the site of the planned river crossing.

A Company 2LF made a crossing of a minor river ( The Grigho) on the 24th october and established a bridgehead so that the Sappers could work unmolested.

On the 25th october it was planned that A Company would hold the bridgehead and that B and C Companies would go through them and attack San Salvo railway station.

All went well (A Company lost 2 killed and 2 wounded) and at 2230 hrs the other two companies went into the planned attack.

The forward Platoon of C Company were almost at the railway station and the other 2 platoons were a short distance behind at a farm near the Molino river.

Unfortunately, the lead Platoon came under friendly fire ( yes, it happened in those days too !) which put them out of contact with the Bn.

Fate had it that during this time they would be attacked and the whole Platoon was captured with the exception of 2 brave NCO's who made it back to the Coy HQ to break the sad news.
Meanwhile, B Coy was having a torrid time, trying to advance against stiff mortar and machine gun fire.

C Coy OC, worried about the fate of his leading Platoon, sent a patrol out to look for them.
The patrol reported that there was no sign of them and that the enemy were still in the railway station.

The Commanding officer, hearing the news from his leading Companies, then varied the plan.

He decided to regroup back at their original positions at the bridgehead and to try the attack again the next night, the 26th October,



The Decision had been taken that the attack on San Salvo which had failed on the 26th October would be repeated on the 27th.

As a preliminary step, a strong fighting patrol went out at last light to cover the adjustments being made to the Bn's position.

At the furthest farm, the patrol met with strong enemy forces and a firefight ensued during which the Patrol Commander ,Lt J S Woodin, was wounded and captured.

With A Company still holding the bridgehead, C and D Companies went in at 0215 hours, and B Company reached the line of the Molino River without too much opposition, but when D Company arrived at the Station they found it to be very well defended and D Company drove off the enemy ,having fixed bayonets and engaged in some hard hand to hand fighting.

During this phase, 2 of our men were awarded Military Medals, Sgt H Rowson of the Signals Platoon and Lance Corporal R Griffiths of D Company.

Total casualties of this phase came to 29, considered to be not excessive in the difficult fighting they had come through.

San Salvo finally fell on the 2nd November and the 2nd Bn LFs moved onto the hights overlooking Cupello on the 4th November 1943.

 


 
A
B
C
D
1.
These 7 photos sent in by the Barker family of Frank with 2LF in Cassino ->
2.
3.

Click on photo to go to Ted Settle's story
4.


William J Collins
Click photo to go to his story

5.
6.

Found in John's Belongings
7.


James Frederick Ryder
Click on photo to see his photo collection



Alf Heywood with a poppy he pick whilst laying a mine field
8

Fusilier Frank Burgess

Frank's discharge documents and service book

Fusilier Frank Burgess is back row first from left He is also on photo 3C above
back row number 11 from left.
9

unknown friend of Frank
"Note his Battleaxe Division Signs "


George Hill,
son of Jim and Minnie Hill.Emigrated to Australia after WW2 Born Preston 1926
10

Photo and write-up in the Farnworth journal dated 29th September 1944


Harry Rowland
for the above story see page 47 of John Hallams book


Harry Rowland at Wellington bks 1940

Men of 2LF supported by Achilles 17pdr tank destroyers wait to go forward near Ferrara 22 Apr 45

2nd Bn Aquino 1944



Does anyone remember Ted Wilkinson,stretcher bearer with the 2nd Bn
North Africa,Siciliy,Italy and Austria
(Note Battle Axe Division on his shoulder epaulettes)



Abraham Thomas Harris

Battle Axe Division Dispatch Rider

My father served in N.Africa and possibly Italy in WW2 but other than one photograph of him in uniform I have no information about his service. I am currently tracing my family history and would like if possible to add to the very limited information I have. I know from his comments to me as a child that his 'job' was delivering dispatches by motorcycle and that he was invalided out c.1944 following a serious spinal injury due to a motorcycle accident. Family photographs, now sadly dissapeared, show him at a hospital, possibly Cairo,but it could have been Alexandria.
Other than this I have no information whatsoever on his rank etc.

Many thanks.
Royston Harris

Joe is now checking out this story so watch this space


A Coy 1943


Sgt Albert Atherton,
Albert is the one with one hand in his pocket,the chap in the middle is called Watson and the chap on the right is not known



Fred Hurst

Fred Hurst was born 9th November 1923 and he enlisted in April 1942.
He was wounded or injured in North Africa with the 2nd Bn and returned to recuperate to Fulwood Barracks Preston.
He then rejoined the war and was killed in action on the 9th April 1945 at the battle of the river Senio.
This was the last great WW2 battle the 2nd Bn took part in.
Fred came very close to making it home.
This is the CWGC link
.
http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2237415

A
B
C
D
1
2

3445166 Fus Arthur Edward Cox MM

The MM Citation

Initials: A E
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Fusilier
Regiment/Service: Lancashire Fusiliers
Unit Text: 2nd Bn.
Age: 30
Date of Death: 24/10/1943
Service No: 3445166
Awards: M M
Additional information: Son of Arthur Edward and Sarah Cox; husband of Catherine Cox, of Heywood, Lancashire.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: II. A. 39.
Cemetery: SANGRO RIVER WAR CEMETERY
http://www.cwgc.org/search/certificate.aspx?casualty=2377614


Catherine Cox aged 95
at the opening of the new Museum


Catherine with her Daughter and
Granddaughter
27th June 2009


RSM Robert Alexander DCM




Sidney Sedgwick
won the Croix de Guerre in North Africa fighting with the Free French Forces

Can anyone add anything to his story?

 

 


Sent in by
Mike Murray
'WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar'
This extract is taken from 'John Hudson, WW2 People's War'


THIS IS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION TO MY MAIN STORY, www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A3878760 AND RECORDS THE EXPERIENCE OF FIRST CASUALTIES IN ALGERIA, NORTH AFRICA.
We recovered from our seven-mile march to Cap Matifou and spent a week awaiting the arrival of our guns and transport. Another ship had carried them, which was a relief; a cargo of shells and explosives in the rough Atlantic would have disturbed our sleep!
Preparations complete, we set out in convoy to join the 1st Army engaged in the east towards Tunisia. The reader may be familiar with the terrain in that part of North Africa. The foothills of the Atlas Mountains lead to small valleys towards the coast. Night arrived, and our convoy crept forward. Someone said, "These can't be front-line positions, it's too bloody quiet." Guns and ammunition were left in one valley, excess transport, personnel, wireless operators, cooks, etc., moved on in the darkness. We came to a halt. "Everybody out," whispered the sergeant, "the Germans are over those hills, so no noise." We were convinced that British Infantry were close at hand, but their forces were thinly dispersed over the hills, and the nearest, (Lancashire Fusiliers) were engaged elsewhere.
At daybreak, a "look-out" reported that a German patrol had moved during the night and they later appeared on the skyline. "Spandau" machine-gun fire started and our lads took cover behind vehicles, returning fire with rifles, although we only had a small quantity of ammunition available. We were thankful to see a platoon of Lancashire Fusiliers arrive.
An officer led them up the hill with Bren-guns and mortars, they were experienced troops and soon had the area cleared. British infantry have no equal in situations like that, they pressed on out of sight. It was our baptism of fire - two men had been hit in the legs, but the Lancashire Fusiliers certainly saved our "bacon!"
In the weeks that followed, the "AFRIKA KORPS" were slowly pushed back by British and United States forces into Tunisia. Our Battery suffered casualties when a gun exploded as they were preparing to fire. A faulty fuse was suspected. Two men died and others were wounded. It brought the true horror of war to our young lives. One lad from Staffordshire was about twenty, another, a Scottish chap, a bit older.
In my next episode we build up ammunition for the last bombardment near Tunis. British and American Infantry advance under shellfire to give the final knock-out to the Germans in North Africa.
The "AFRIKA KORPS" safely in P.O.W. cages, the troops enjoyed a well-earned rest, although a "Gunners versus Signallers, Drivers, and others" football match, under the hot African sun, was anything but "restful!"
Scottish troops of 51st Highland Division from "Monty's" 8th Army soon prepared to land in Sicily. Our "heavy" guns were destined for Salerno, beaches south of Naples.


Major Christopher Lea MC
Brother of
Lieutenant-Gerneral George Lea
Colonel of The Regiment (RRF)


The story of the Battle of Medjez El Bab
one of our Battle Honours

"Medals and awards known to have been won during this campaign by the 2nd Battalion

" Info from theCatalogue of medals from Dr A W Stott's collection,sold in London 1997 at DNW Auction house."
Click here for the link to Dr Stott



I was browsing through the site recently when at the end of 2LFs North African page I noticed amoungst the Dr Stotts medal list the details of Major Kenricks death and the fact that he died of wounds and is buried in Pietermaritzburg Cemetery in South Africa.
My nephew went to University there so I asked my brother to contact his friends to see if they could find the grave in Fort Napier War Cemetery. I gather that a lot of severely wounded servicemen were sent to RSA for treatment during the war and there was a big Military Hospital at Oribi.
You can see from the pictures attached that they have found it. It looks a lovely, well kept, tranquil place but it is a long way from home. He is the only Fusilier in that cemetery.
Pity Kevin Hill has passed on he no doubt would have known this officer. Perhaps there is someone you know who can fill in the details of how he received the wounds that lead to his death? Perhaps there are relatives still around who would like copies of the pictures?
Coincidentaly my Uncle Tom spent six months in the Oribi Military Hospital. He had the uncovetted distinction of being sunk three times in 24 hours when Stukas smashed his destroyer flotilla off Crete. He was bombed in the water and went to PMB to have most of his guts removed. On discharge he became a publican sadly with only half pint capacity though he retained his 12 pint thirst .As a consequence he spent the last few years of his life mostly flat on his face - he went down with all guns blazing in the true Nelson spirit

sent in
by
Maurice Taylor