11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers
1941 - 1944



The Co was Lt Col R C Harris.The Bn moved to Dursley in Gloucestershire and from there assisted the people of Bristol during intensive bombing raids.
In the Spring of 1941 the Bn moved to Scotland (Cruden Bay,Peterhead and Frazerburgh) to prepare for service overseas.
Lt Col G E Page DSO took over and on the 11the July 1941 the Bn sailed for an unknown destination,they went first to Gibralter and then transferred to the Cruiser HMS Edinburgh to be taken to Malta.
They were the last convoy to reach Malta for the next 12 months!!
They narrowly missed being hit by 2 torpedoes and they were bombed continuously en route,with every man firing every weapon they could find at the attacking aircraft.
After a most amazing 985 mile run, they docked at Malta on the 25th July 1941.
The 11th Bn took their honourable place in defending the island of Malta against all odds until the October of 1942.
This defence led to the granting of the George Cross to the Island and it's people.
As soon as it became possible,the Bn began to retrain and get fit again(they had been under very short rations for a long period) and a few Officers went as observers to the 2nd Bn at Cassino.
It is of great interest to us in 2005 that HMS Eurylus visited in March 1943 and the ships bell was presented to the 11th Bn.
This is the very bell which most of us know so well.
On the 21st May 1944 the Bn disembarked at Naples to begin fighting the Germans in Italy.

Eric Hulse
100 years old on 12th December. 2014

XXth graves adjacent to
St Patrick's Barracks Malta
Photo's taken by Ray Cunningham

St Patrick's Barracks

Pembroke Military Cemetery Malta

Second Lieutenant Norman Makinson Owen
20 November 1941


Fusilier Herbert Hopwood
08 February 1942


Fusilier Ernest Crosland
07 April 1942


Fusilier Henry George Worster
08 April 1942


Jack Wallbank

Jack is in the centre

Thes photos have been sent in by Jack's Daughter Kay Line if anyone remembers Jack please e mail Kay
Click on any photo to enlarge them

34357337 Fusilier Cyril Watson

11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers

In Service of King and Country

Born in Eccles Manchester on 27th January 1915, married in August 1939 to Margaret he joined the Army in early 1940. His basic training took place in Littleborough, Rochdale after which he was sent to Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, Scotland for a while before travelling south to Shirehampton near Bristol.
He went overseas in 1941 to Malta and was based at Camarata Barracks where he and his comrades endured countless bombing attacks from the axis forces during the siege of 1942. Cyril was a medical orderly during his time with the Lancashire Fusiliers. Although he served in Egypt, Palestine, Italy and Germany only ever talks of his experiences in Malta. Some of his mates were killed there including his best mate Fusilier Thompson; these memories are still quite vivid. He recalls Faith, Hope and Charity the three bi-planes that were used in the defence of Malta and the Tanker "Ohio" when it sank in the harbour after running the gauntlet in "bomb alley".
After the siege of Malta, Cyril went on to Italy and spent a little time in Naples, he recalls an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in March 1944. From here it was on to Palestine to a place which sounds something like Imsharpa, but he cannot recall clearly. This is the place where the photograph was taken with his mates.
At sometime after this he spent a little time in Cairo, Egypt and then in 1945 to Germany in Badlippstring where his war ended in July 1945.
He thinks that Dan Higson was the Commanding Officer of the 11th Battalion and the Sgt Major was Sgt Major Ray
He returned home to his wife Margaret at the end of July 1945 he recalls that it took him three visits to get all his demob clothing. He made his home in Hazel Grove near Stockport after the war having lost his family home in Salford during the blitz, he lived there until 2000 when Margaret died, he then moved to Blaenau Ffestiniog to be near his daughter Christine. He is now 91 years old, has 10 grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren
Cyril is and will always be proud of his associations with the Lancashire Fusiliers and was a regular at the annual reunion of the 11th Battalion in Bury every October until it was finally phased out a few years ago as there were only a handful of veterans left.

I have attached a slightly better photo of Fusilier Cyril Watson, this is the only photo that remains and it is taken from the one framed with his medals, dog tags, buttons and Badges.

I feel very lucky and privileged to have had my Dad come back when so many young men were lost in his war and I really feel proud of him for coming through it and what he and his comrades achieved.

David J Watson ISM (Cyril's son)

Cyril passed away peacefully in Hospital 2/2/2006 rest in peace and stand easy Cyril was 91 in January 2006

Sergeant Leslie Hill
11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers

Army Career - World War I1
(As dictated to Geoff on 8 May 1985).

Joined up in June 1940 - 50th Holding Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers
Three months later 11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers formed.
Spent three months at Dursley in Gloucestershire.
Then Shirehamton Bristol during the blitz.

January/February 1941 at Cruden Bay in Scotland building beach defences, attached to the Royal Engineers.

May/June 1941 at Nitshill In Glasgow kitting out for middle east. Five days embarkation leave prior to sailing in June 1941.

During the third week of June 1941 sailed from Gurrock on the River Clyde to an unknown destination - Code "Z".

Spent seven days at sea with the Atlantic convoy on board the "Louis Pasteur", a 36,000 ton French liner. After seven days arrived in Gibraltar at noon on Saturday.

Lancashire Fusiliers had six hours to disembark and re-embark with all battalion stores and weapons onto HMS Edinburgh.

Sailed at 6.00 p.m. Saturday back into the Atlantic convoy of naval craft, tankers and supply ships. After dark, sailed through the Straights of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean with full naval escort.

Sunday morning spotted by Italian planes and for four days were continually attacked by Italian and German planes, e-boats and submarines until Thursday morning.

Arrived in Malta late afternoon, still under air attach.

Endured the Battle of Malta for nearly three years from July 1941 to March 1944.

Then embarked for Italy for the Italian campaign up to V E Day on 8 May 1945.

First British Division attached to American 5th Army.

Front line combat in Cassino, Rome, Apennines, Arrezzo, Florence to the Gothic Line. Hard bitter fighting. Relieved to have four weeks Leave in Anticipation of Python (five years service) to UK in January 1945.

Returned to Italy in February 1945 after cook's tour of middle east. Try to catch up to Battalion who had been pulled out and sent up to the Persian border (Iran). We arrived at Infantry Reinforcement Training Depot at Biano outside Naples at the base of Mount Vesuvias. Lava dust for breakfast, dinner and tea enjoyed with the stink of sulphur.

From the IRTD to Rome to camp outside Rome as usual waiting for orders when V E day came - 8 May 1945!

Handed all weapons in and returned to Naples. Embarked on "Stratheden" for final sail to UK.

Arrived at Liverpool and entrained to Hunstanton, the Lancashire Fusiliers holding depot.

After one month's leave returned to Hunstanton and sent to Sandringham House in the Queen's Estate - known as BAX force, general duties and guards.

Sent up to Morpeth in Northumberland on NCOs course and made up to Sergeant.

Sent with Sergeant Dom Browskie to Launceston in Cornwall to fall camp and guard duties for German repatriated prisoners of war coming from America and Canada.

Once in the camps all prisoners were graded, searched and sent back to Germany.

From here Sergeant Leslie Hill was demobbed in June 1946

"Taken at St Pat's Malta before embarking for Italy"

"Taken at St Pat's Malta before embarking for Italy"

11th Bn Reunion

11th Bn Reunion

11th Bn Reunion

sent in by
Janice Crossley.
Daughter of Lesley Hill

XX The 11th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers

With acknowledgment to Capt Barber, Capt Sawkins MC, Capt (QM) T Broc MM OBE and CQMS K Pritchard.

W Taylor

XX The 11th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers OCA

In dealing with the history of the 11th Bn, I have endeavoured to be as factual as possible, but after almost forty years things are not always as clear as one would wish them to be; so if errors have crept into the narrative, I can only ask for your pardon.

The 11th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers was formed out of the 50th Holding Battalion in the dark days of 1940 and the unit was in companies at Rochdale, Littleborough, Stakehill and Lowercroft and was under the command of Lt Col R C Harris with Major Heap as second in command.

The early training days were spent in the Rochdale area until September 1940 when the Battalion (now formed into the 11th Bn) was moved to Dursley in Gloucestershire, where it remained in training until December. when a further movement order found us once more on the way to new ground; this time at Shirehampton, Bristol, where we became a civil defence unit and had our first taste of the blitz during the intensive bombing of Bristol and the surrounding area.

After those terrible blitz days, we were once again on the move and this time found us attached to the 51st Highland Division in eastern Scotland with units on detachment at Cruden Bay, Fraserborough and Peterhead in a combined effort to change the coast line by daily digging of trenches against a possible invasion.

We left this task in March 1941 and proceeded to Pollockshaw where we were supposed to be ready for overseas. but it was decided that further training was needed and we left for Duns in Berwickshire for Brigade Training and then it was back to Greenock to board the Louis Pasteur for destination unknown.

After many days at sea, we eventually docked at Gibralter and in the early hours of the morning, transferred to HMS Edinburgh (cruiser) and HMS Manxman (minesweeper) for what proved to be the most hectic days and nights under constant bombardment as we crashed through the Mediterranean under the command of Admiral Summerville and we shall ever remember his order of the day: "This convoy must and will get through" and with gratitude for such marvellous seamanship.

We landed in Malta in July 1941 to take over defence duties on this tiny island and just in time for what was to prove the greatest blitz ever with over one thousand air-raids. One of our greatest problems was food, and strict rationing was the order of the day. We were constantly occupied in manning defence posts, working on the airfields, building bomb-proof shelters for the spitfires and those horrible coastal patrols on army cycles. During this period the following members received decorations for bravery:-

Capt Lister won the MC
Sgt Gallagher a bar to his MM
CSM Marsh the BEM
Capt (QM) T Broc and Capt Jack were both mentioned in despatches

With the invasion of Sicily, Malta returned to more peaceful times though not to plenty, and restrictions on petrol and food continued. Lt Col Marks assumed command of the Battalion and limited training schedules were put into action.

In May 1944 the Battalion left Malta and landed in Naples and from there proceeded to Afrigola for a few days before proceeding to San Martino. This again was only a stopping off place and after several days we were again on our way down to Brindisi for a further spell of garrison duties at one of the main distribution depots. In July we left Brindisi for the staging area at Taranto where, after a brief seven days and a pep talk from Major General Ayres, we left for the Guards IRTD at Cervanaro, where the Battalion was split into two companies, one to the Welsh Guards and the other to the Coldstream Guards as a reinforcement unit.

We sweated it out here doing intensive field training until the end of August when to the surprise of everyone we were again united as a Battalion and became a fighting unit of the 1st British Infantry Division and were soon on our way to the Italian Theatre of War after Capt (QM) T Broc achieved the impossible by equipping the Battalion in seven days.

August found us at Greave, overlooking Florence, and on the night of 29th/30th August we crossed the Arno and onto the outskirts of Florence where we had five killed and 18 injured on the first day and one killed and seven injured on the second day, which proved that sheer guts was not enough. The Brigade was now in position on the northern bank of the Arno, patrolling against the Boche who had mined everything possible, and the official report stated that the Fusiliers' first efforts were creditable but costly.

At the end of August the move forward began and the Battalion's confidence increased. The first major action of the Battalion was the attach on the Gothic Line, that endless toil of mountain after mountain coupled with the horrible conditions underfoot. Rations, water and ammunition had to be transported by mule train and man pack to the very summit of the Appenines under conditions which were almost impossible at times. This was a loosely knit battle in which manoeuvre and endurance paid big dividends. The cry was "push on" and the Battalion certainly did just that. On the southern slopes of Monte Cazzolano the Battalion got caught on a bare ridge and suffered heavy casualties but even this was not without profit as a flanking advance by another Battalion of the Brigade was helped to success by their action.

Day by day as September and October passed, the weather became colder and wetter and man and mule crawled their way up the mountain sides composed of liquid mud. On the way up Arrow Route towards Bologna, the Division was held up by the enemy holding two peaks commanding the axis. The first of these, Monte Ceco, was captured in a very gallant attack by another unit. To the 11th Battalion fell the task of completing the success by taking the second half of the feature. North of Monte Ceco ran a knife-edge ridge that ended in a pinnacle called Pt 734, and this was the objective, but there was also a subsidiary spur running east of Ceco which had also to be cleared of the enemy. During patrols, heavy enemy opposition had been encountered, and it was known that it would only succeed if completed with the greatest dash and courage. Just before dusk, after a short but intense artillery concentration, the Fusiliers went over the skyline of Monte Ceco. The distance of the objective was little more than 400 yards but every yard was a death trap and casualties were heavy. The leading company got most of the way but were left with insufficient strength to complete the task, so the reserve company, led by Major Walker, went in behind them and in the gathering darkness rushed the last position.

The Battalion had lost the equivalent of a company in this action, almost a third of the men employed in the attack. For this action, Major Lister was awarded the DSO, Capt Sawkins and Lt Wilcox the MC, Sgt Latcham and Fusiliers May, Denton and Gill received the MM.

Three more months of Italy in awful weather were proving a tremendous task, and in January 1945 the Division was pulled out of the line and left for Palestine for a so called rest and retraining. but this had not to be for shortly after arriving we were hastily despatched to Syria, to a camp outside Damascus. to keep an eye on possible insurrection in the capital, but as things quietened down, we returned to Padres Hannah in Palestine to keep a watchful eye on the Stern Gang.

After over four years abroad, the Battalion left Haifa for home on the troopship SS Franconia and four hundred officers and men arrived safely at Liverpool in September 1945.

After leave, the Battalion was stationed for a period at Guisley and Greengates near Bradford, and here the time-expired civvies went back to home and families, whilst the younger members of the Battalion were posted to Germany to join the ranks of the CMP.

In summing up, I must say that there is such a lot more that could have been said but sufficient to say is that we each have our memories of the XX The 11th Battalion which will forever live in our minds.

sent in by
Janice Crossley.
Daughter of Lesley Hill

These 4 pics are a log written during the journey to Malta of HMS Edinburgh,
with the whole of the 11th Bn on board.
Click on them to see the enlarged
War Diaries in slide show
Use the Arrows at top of War Diary to go to next Page of Diary
1940 England 21 pages
1941 England 25 pages
1942 Malta 144 pages
1943 Malta 155 pages
1944 Malta 155 pages
1944 Italy 29 pages

Support Company 1943
Joe bought this on E Bay

William Kay, killed in action in Italy October 1944.
The Lady with William in the photo is a girl that he had met during his stay in Malta, it turns out that he had intended to marry this lady and then unfortunatally he died upon being sent to Italy. This photo was taken only 5 months before his death in October 1944.

3454285 Fusilier Jack Hardman.

He sailed to Malta on HMS Edinburgh

Back row..Frank Makin,Jimmy Critchley, Atkinson, Lomax and Cpl Moorcroft.
Middle row..Rowntree,Cpl Howat,Ashcroft and Legg.
Front Row, Bibby and Jack Hardman.

Fusilier Jack Hardman of the 11th Bn has sent in a remarkable group of pics of his time with the 11th Bn during the siege of Malta GC.

You may think that on some of them our lads look a bit skinny ?
That is because during the seige ( when they were subjected to the heaviest bombing imaginable, in April 1942 for example, 6,728 tons of bombs fell on the island in one month, the equivalent of 34 raids on Coventry !) no food or ammunition could be delivered to the island and everyone went onto starvation rations.
The men lost a lot of weight and for over a year had no fresh meat or vegetables,with the result that many had skin infections and the Bn had enforced rest periods to conserve energy.
The civilian population were fed from Government soup kitchens and at one point in August 1942 the island was within 5 days of complete starvation when the Santa Maria convoy got through, the first for over a year.

What a superb performance from the 11th Bn.

Jack now lives in Cleveleys and is planning to march with us in Blackpool on the evening of 27th June. He is 92 years young.