Soldier of the Month
14448971 Fusilier Norbert Müller - 6th Bn The Royal Welch Fusiliers
Norman Miller stands with his rifle and helmet while serving with the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
(Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
Norbert Müller (later Norman A. Miller) was born on June 2, 1924, in Germany, to an Orthodox family who were very active in the town’s close-knit Jewish community.
In 1933, the Nazi regime came to power and enacted policies that persecuted the Jewish population. These stripped many Jewish professionals of their right to work. In 1936, the Müllers began making plans to emigrate. Everyone in the family got passports and the family registered for American immigration quota numbers.
Norbert’s parents registered him and his sister Suse for the Kindertransport (Children’s Transport) - a rescue mission to save Jewish children managed by a group of British Jewish aid societies.
On April 30, 1939, Jews lost their rights as legal tenants and the Müllers were forced to move to a designated Jewish building where they shared an apartment with an elderly couple.
In August 1939, Norbert’s travel permit was approved, but provided no travel details. He ended up in Cologne and saw a Kindertransport group was assembling. Norbert could join them as long as he had the correct papers. He joined the Kindertransport leaving for England on August 29, 1939.
On September 3, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany in response to the September 1st invasion of Poland. Norbert was sent to a home for refugee boys in Croydon, and then later lived in East London. Norbert’s welding skills allowed him to work in several machine shops. He was able to write to his family regularly, though he had to send his letters through his mother’s uncle in Belgium because of the war. After Germany invaded Belgium in May 1940, he sent a few letters through his Aunt Bertha in the USA.
When he turned 16, the British declared that Norbert was a “friendly alien of enemy origin.” His parents were still trying to leave Germany at this time. The last letter Norbert received from his family dated May 1941. Norbert survived many air raids and had to put out several bomb-related fires at a machine shop.
In 1944, twenty-year-old Norbert enlisted in the army and changed his name to Norman Albert Miller, at the army’s suggestion, to sound less German. In January 1945, Norman, an infantryman with the 6th Battalion, The Royal Welch Fusiliers, in the 158th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division attached to the XXX Corps, deployed to Belgium.
Norman’s shoulder title and cap badge
Due to his fluency in German, he was soon sent to the Company headquarters to perform intelligence work. When Germany surrendered in 1945, his battalion was in Hamburg, Germany, on occupational duty. While performing routine traffic control on the Elbe River Bridge that day, Norman recognized Arthur Seyss-Inquart.
Seyss-Inquart had been Reich Commissar in the Netherlands during the German occupation, an unwavering anti-Semite; and within a few months of his arrival in the Netherlands, he took measures to remove Jews from the government, the press and leading positions in industry. Jews were sent to Buchenwald, a concentration camp located within Germany's borders, and to Mauthausen, located in Upper Austria. Later, the Dutch Jews were sent to Auschwitz, the notorious complex operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland.
Norbert and Fusilier Taylor managed to secure his arrest. Fusilier Taylor, stopped the car, by jumping on the running board, and threatening the driver with his weapon.
He is shown left on the Elbe Bridge, with 6 RWF's Goat Major (right) LCpl Shone and a BFBS interviewer (centre) in Nov 1945.
Seyss-Inquart was later tried and found guilty in the International MilitaryTribunal in Nuremberg, and executed by hanging.
Shortly after this incident, Norman asked to be transferred to the Intelligence Corps in order to report suspicious behaviour, and stationed in Bad Pyrmont.
In 1946, Norman received a letter from Albert Stimmelstiel, a young Jewish man from Nuremberg, detailing the fate of Norman’s family.
On November 27, 1941, his parents, Sebald and Laura, his sister, Suse, and grandmother, Clara, had been rounded up by the Gestapo and deported to Riga, Latvia, where they were interned in the nearby Jungfernhof concentration camp. After contracting typhus, they were killed in a mass execution along with other elderly and ill people on March 26, 1942.
In July 1947, Sergeant Norman Miller became a British citizen. Following demobilization, he returned to London. In April 1948, he emigrated to Toronto, Canada, with a friend. In September 1949, Norman moved to the US to live with his Aunt Bertha’s family in New York City. In 1951, he married Ingeborg Sommer, a Jewish émigré from Baden, Germany In 1955, Norman became an American citizen.
Seyss-Inquart (seated) talking to Wilhelm Frick at the Nuremberg trials.
At the Nuremberg trials, Seyss-Inquart was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, sentenced to death, and executed.
Centenary of Private Francis Harold Quinn’s death
- BY GAVIN WOOD
On the 27th April 1920 a telegram arrived at 66 Southbank Street, Leek addressed to Arthur and Mary Quinn – something that any parent with children in the armed forces dreads. Their son, Frank, had been fatally wounded by a revolver bullet on the 26th April and had died the next morning. The telegram was followed by a hand-delivered letter saying the same. Frank was the brother of my maternal great-grandmother, Aileen Quinn. One hundred years on, we remember him.
Francis (Frank) Harold Quinn enlisted 12 October 1915 as a “Boy Soldier” at the age of 14. His first duties after completing military school, 26 April 1919, were with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Wrexham, where his father had also served. On 27 September 1919 and now 18 years old, Frank joined the 2nd Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers (2RWF) who were based at the New Barracks Limerick (now called Sarsfield Barracks).
After the end of the First World War, the 2nd Battalion remained in France until the end of May 1919 when they returned to Wrexham. Orders were then received to re-form in Ireland. Limerick was a key social, political and military battleground during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921) between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British Army (including the RWF) and the quasi-military Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). Limerick was declared a Special Military Area on 9th April 1919 with military control of the city. The 2nd Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers were deployed to Limerick on 7 August 1919 to support the RIC and absorbing the 3rd Battalion, RWF, which had been in Limerick since 1917.
Seven months into Frank’s posting, April 1920, there was a resurgence of rioting in Limerick. On the particular night of 26th April, the atmosphere in the town was one of unrest. Reports reached the barracks that night of soldiers being “knocked about” and “arguing taking place”. Frank was off duty and in town at the Limerick Protestant Young Men's Association (LPYMA) at 97 O’Connell Street. The Limerick Chronicle – a staunch unionist paper with protestant leanings reported it as the YMCA.
Frank left the club around 9pm and headed back to the barracks along the main O’Connell Avenue with fellow fusilier, Private Roberts and at least two others. As they reached the corner of Wolfe-Tone Street they encountered off-duty soldiers. Something was brewing and they stayed closed in support. They continued to walk south-west along O’Connell Avenue towards Punch’s corner. The guards advised that they “don’t stray too far’.
Along that stretch of road they encountered civilians, one of whom was armed with a revolver that was pointing out of his coat breast pocket. “The man looked serious”, according to Private Roberts in a subsequent military enquiry.
At about 10.15pm a row started between civilians and soldiers near the corner of O’Connell Avenue and Wolfe Tone street – the row escalated and turned for the worse. The civilians started to show aggression and threw “stones and big bricks”. Exactly how the row started is unclear. Frank and his friends joined to support his fellow soldiers, although they were not armed himself.
The soldiers pursued the civilians back down O’Connell Avenue towards town and the statue in The Crescent. Continuing his subsequent eye-witness statement, Roberts said, someone in the crowd “flung a smoke bomb” back at the soldiers. He then heard the crack of three gunshots ring out. That was around 10.36pm.
About 20 yards up the road Roberts saw a soldier being taken into a private house; he did not know at the time that it was his friend Frank Quinn – they had lost each other during the unrest. Frank had been fatally shot in the head by “person unknown” with a revolver. Less than three hours later, at 1.20 am on Apr 27, he died in the Military Hospital, Limerick.
The shooting of Frank Quinn led to renewed rioting in the town. The crowds increased in size to over 200 civilians. Around 50 on-duty soldiers eventually managed to control the situation and clear the streets. There were no arrests that night.
The next day, the remains of the late Private Frank Quinn were removed from the New Barracks and taken to the railway station and on to Wrexham, where the internment take place. The route taken by the cortege included O’Connell Avenue where he was shot. As the cortege passed along to the station people on the pavements respectfully saluted the remains, and at the entrance to the terminus the band played the funeral march, Beethoven, and the Last Post was sounded.
His funeral took place in Wrexham, Denbighshire on Friday 7th May. The coffin, which rested on a gun carriage, was covered with the Union Jack, and the late soldier's cap and belt were placed in the casket, as well as several wreaths. Preceding the carriage was a party of military who carried reversed arms and the Band of the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Immediately after the carriage Franks parents, Arthur and Mary, drove in a closed carriage, after which walked another detachment of soldiers carrying rifles at the slope. These were followed by a party of Royal Irish Constabulary under District Inspector Marrinan, the rear being brought up by a small party of military with fixed bayonets. The firing party shot three volleys over the grave in Wrexham Cemetery.
In the Catholic Church of St Mary, Compton, Leek, there is a plaque commemorating Frank Quinn. Rest in peace Great-Uncle Frank.
Lest we forget.
An extract of Franks service record.
The 2nd Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers – the regiment Frank was in – marching down O'Connell Avenue into Quinlan Street, Limerick, 7th August 1919 with the Regimental Goat. Rather poignantly, this is very close to the spot where Franck was shot 26th April 1920.
The telegram sent to Frank’s parents advising them of his death.
The grave of Pte Frank Quinn at Wrexham Cemetery, Wrexham, North Wales.
Commemorative plaque in Catholic Church of St Mary, Compton, Leek
The Military Service of Brigadier Sir Richard Gambier-Parry KCMG
- By David King & Mark Lubienski
Richard Gambier-Parry [RGP] was knighted in 1956 (his KCMG raising him from the CMG received in 1945) for his service as Director of Communications at HMGCC [Her Majesty’s Government Communications Centre] Hanslope Park. He had served at Hanslope in WW2 in RSS [the Radio Security Service], going on to Whaddon Hall to provide communications for MI6 as Controller Special Communications [CSC] and Head of Section VIII. On the payroll of MI6 he reached the rank of Brigadier. After WW2 he held the honorary rank of Brigadier in the Royal Welch Fusiliers [RWF] and the appointment of Honorary Colonel in the Royal Signals TA - and had also been in the RAF as a Flight Lieutenant. All this takes a bit of unravelling and it’s a colourful story.
RGP was an Etonian but, according to Hugh Trevor-Roper, “with qualities more often associated with Harrow than Eton: a robust and genial extrovert, jovial, flamboyant and somewhat loud in voice and tastes”. RGP was of that generation whose age was such – he was born in 1894 – that they served in both wars. The “family regiment” was the RWF in which his Uncle Ernest had served. Elder brother Michael joined, winning an MC in WW1, and following transfer to RTR commanding 2nd Armoured Division as a major general in North Africa. It is of passing interest to intelligence researchers that Michael’s daughter Gill married Bill Williams, Head of Intelligence to Monty, and of passing interest to musicologists that RGP was a relative of, and had a close resemblance to, Sir Hubert Parry of Jerusalem and I Was Glad fame.
1RWF officers at Laventie: Gambier-Parry 3rd from L
RGP was commissioned into the RWF on 15 August 1914, just two weeks after war broke out, and he was to be seriously wounded twice on active service. In 1915 he joined 1RWF in France. We see him with his fellow officers at Laventie on 24March. He was wounded for the first time on 16 May in an attack by 7 Division against a salient in the area of Aubers Ridge and Festubert. The site ofFestubert, marked on the map as “Marsh, sometimes dry in summer” had been a nightmare ever since the first fighting there in 1914. On 16 May 1915 the British bombardment started at 0245 and at 0315 the infantry assaulted – the first British night attack of the war. 1RWF advanced in timed waves in company order; by the time it was the turn of D Company (in which RGP served) the enemy was fully alert and ready. Quoting the war diary: “The battalion suffered very heavily from shell and machine gun fire. The CO was killed at once; the 2IC, OC C Company and OC D Company were severely wounded. But the German first and second lines were carried and D Company was ordered to reverse the parapet to make the captured trench tenable”. In a letter to his parents on 20 May another platoon commander wrote: “We have just had the most awful battle and I thank God I have come through unscathed. Following our attack we were shelled all day and the Germans counter attacked. Men were absolutely buried by earth from the shelling – one poor fellow had only his head showing and it took 3 men to dig him out…..
RWF embarked the regimental goat, Taffy, for war in 1914 with his goat major (an NCO). This is not the goat major who was court-martialled for offering Taffy's services to a goat breeder.
As you can see we had a bad time…..This last show was the worst I have ever been in.” Having held out on the 16th, early on the 17th in heavy rain, tired and wet, almost out of ammunition and with no troops on their flanks 1RWF fell back. On the 18th, withdrawn to billets, the brigade commander visited and in an address told them “they had done magnificently…accomplished all they were asked to do…upheld the traditions of the regiment.” The battalion was nearly wiped out; from a strength of 25 officers and 806 other ranks, they had lost 19 officers and 559 other ranks killed, wounded and missing. RGP was wounded but survived; his early wounding and evacuation undoubtedly saving his life. He was Mentioned in Despatches and in another regiment might have been recognised with an Award; the RWF was famously sparing with recommendations for Decorations. The attack was resumed by fresh troops resulting in a 3 km advance and the capture of Festubert.
RGP was recovering from his wounds until March 1916 when he returned to France and was posted to the second battalion. 2RWF had spent many years overseas and maintained old fashioned “speak when you are spoken to” rules in the Mess towards thesubalterns. This wasn’t easy for RGP coming from the more relaxed, but equally regimental, first battalion. Fellow officers included Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon. A narrative of the period can be found in Good-Bye to All That by Graves. Regarding Sassoon, Graves described him as engaging in suicidal feats of bravery, and indeed he was exceptionally brave. His periods of duty on the Western Front included the single-handed capture of a German trench when “having scattered 60 Germans with grenades he sat down and began reading a book of poetry he had brought with him”. On another occasion, on 27 July 1916, his conspicuous gallantry earned him the Military Cross. Regarding RGP, he is almost certainly the un-named officer whom Graves blamed for the chilly reception he received from the officers of 2RWF. Graves joined from 3RWF where promotion was faster and while RGP remained a 2Lt, Graves had three pips on each shoulder. “Jealousy of my extra stars”, wrote Graves, “made him bitter. When he made a nasty remark in public about jumped-up Captains I refrained from putting him under arrest, as I should have done”. That officers coming from a Special Reserve Battalion (who did not have to attend RMC Sandhurst) were senior to officers in Line Battalions was unfair and some jealousy is unsurprising. It happened because 3RWF had trebled in strength and was entitled to three times as many Captains.
RGP’s second wounding occurred on 20 July 1916 at High Wood during the Battle of the Somme where, it will be recalled, a total of more than one million men were wounded or killed. The Somme was the Big Push with staff work extending across the whole panoply of war. The numbers were such that the individual seemed insignificant; only good regimental officers could maintain spirit, morale and camaraderie. 33 Division had been ordered to clear the Germans from High Wood but over many days of attack and counter attack it had not been secured. It was a hellish place with thick ground mist, the soil giving off gas, the air heavy with the reek of the dead and hordes of rats. An attempt was made by a body of Indian Cavalry to break through and drive the enemy from the wood; “an inspiring sight, a mad cavalcade, a useless effort”.It was chaotic with COs angry that “nothing is being done, no one is in command, no message gets a reply” The telephone wires were out, smoke made signalling impossible, the supply of runners was exhausted and the wireless sets provided were transmit-only so there was no way of knowing if a message had been received. Basic intelligence was lacking with none on the enemy’s dispositions. But the message came that the C-in-C attached the greatest importance to the capture of High Wood. CO 2RWF called his company commanders to an Orders Group at 0200 in Bazentin churchyard. “Look here, you fellows” said Lt Col Crawshay “we are in reserve for this attack behind the Jocks and with the Public Schools battalion in support should anything go wrong. If we are called on it will mean the Jocks have legged it and, well we all know what the Public Schools Battalion is, so if we are called for it will be the end of us”. All said with a laugh to break the tension. In the words of the 33 Division History: “Fighting of the bitterest nature followed. With so many dead and dying it was the sight of German snipers falling from trees and the thump when they hit the ground that cheered the wounded, gavenew life to the exhausted and enabled the troops to forget the sacrifices already made.”
Indian Cavalry: High Wood, July 1916
19 Brigade did fling 2RWF into the battle and “despite a particularly severe enemy barrage and fire from machine gun nests which inflicted very severe casualties, particularly among the officers, they advanced with great steadiness and courage. Aided by Stokes mortars, displaying fine fighting qualities, tenacity and gallantry they stuck to their task until the whole wood was in our hands”. 19 Brigade lost 219 killed and 1071 wounded. They are congratulated by the General for “the splendid spirit shown under most trying and difficult circumstances”; a message not particularly well received. The infantry complained that the staff were out of touch, “and could always be trusted to send a warning about the keeping of pets in trenches, or being polite to our allies, or some such triviality, exactly when an attack was in progress” wrote Graves. Both RGP and Graves were hit by shell fragments on the same day. Graves, who nearly died, does not return to the battalion; RGP recuperates for 12 months and re-joins the RWF on 6 August 1917 when he is appointed acting adjutant. The Royal Flying Corps played a major role over the Somme High Wood Indian Cavalry: High Wood, July 1916 and we may speculate that this caught the imagination of RGP who applies for a transfer. In August 1918 he is successful but the transfer is to the Royal Air Force, which absorbed the RFC earlier that year, and this is where he remained until the end of hostilities and a break in his military service.
RGP between the wars worked, as a civilian, for the BBC, Pye Electronics and an American radio manufacturer called Philco. “More a gramophone salesman than an intelligence officer” wrote someone of his entry to the secret world in WW2.This misses the point – RGP was technically astute, energetic, and a born leader. He had served with distinction in WW1 and was needed again in government service. He re-joined the Army in MI8(c) as a Captain in order to work in RSS. The role of RSS was initially to intercept, locate and close down illicit wireless stations operated by enemy agents in the UK. This required close liaison with MI5 and indeed they operated from adjoining cells in a wartime base at Wormwood Scrubs. What then happened was that MI6 wanted its own communications section, independent of the Foreign Office wireless station at Hanslope Park, and having purchased Whaddon Hall for the purpose recruitedRGP to head it up. Meanwhile in the absence of enemy agents RSS, supported from Bletchley Park by ISOS, the codebreakers led by Oliver Strachey, switched from counter espionage to counter intelligence and developed an expert analytical capability against Abwehr communications. MI8 relinquished control of RSS to MI6, where RGP as CSC is pleased to be the person who appoints its Controller.
Accusations of empire building would not be misplaced – by the end of the war he had risen four ranks and created from scratch an organisation larger than the whole of MI6 at the time he joined it. The late Keith Jeffrey in his book MI6 reports that RGP steamrollered MI6’s “pettifogging” administrators (to the delight of his own staff who styled themselves his plumbers and viewed him as a genial paternalist they nicknamed Pop) and took a buccaneering approach to record keeping. “We are working at the highest pressure, equipping some 60 technical vehicles, putting up 2 broadcasting stations and a recording centre at a speed the experts thought impossible, carrying ever-increasing telegraph traffic, developing the new science of agent communications” he wrote. Which they were, while others (and he particularly had SOE in mind) were engaged in “extravagant, insecure, fatuous and dangerous activities”. Such outbursts by RGP were common but tolerated because it was known that “Special Comms” was an MI6 success story.
What were his achievements? There are dangers that with characterisations like the above his contribution to winning the war is given insufficient weight. As CSC he had responsibilities for the security of friendly communications and the detection of unfriendly communications. He provided radio links for agents and made their suitcase radios at Whaddon. Going further, RGP was behind “Ascension” communications; his concept being to create a simpler way for agents in occupied countries to pass information back to the UK using voice instead of Morse to an aircraft overhead. He provided every main SIS station with short wave radio communication to “Station X” at Bletchley Park and then Whaddon. His VIP secure communications included the Royal Train and access to Ultra for Winston Churchill when he travelled abroad. It was RGP who provided communications for the Political Warfare Executive; the training school at Hans Place in Knightsbridge was his brainchild; and when invasion was expected and radios for stay-behind parties were required RGP provided them. His RIS (Radio Intelligence Section) at Arkley View in Barnet, with its team of analysts headed by Trevor-Roper, supplied a series of brilliant all-source intelligence summaries (they memorably assessed one source as “having a nearly 100% record of unveracity”).
Finally there is RGP’s role as described by Geoffrey Pidgeon in The Secret Wireless War. Since its publication, a plaque has been put up in Whaddon village five miles west of Bletchley Park. Whaddon Hall made and equipped the SCU/SLU vehicles that were deployed to every recipient of Ultra. After Dunkirk RGP sent Packard cars, ready for the expected invasion, to the Regional Army Commands, Fighter Command and the Admiralty. With SIS funds Section VIII purchased the entire available stock of these large and powerful cars, converted the passenger compartment to a radio room, and fitted transmitter, receiver, batteries and charger.Technically, at this time, this was brilliant work. For D-Day,Section VIII prepared modified Guy 15 cwt wireless vans for General Montgomery and other British commanders, while Dodge ambulances were converted for the use of General Patton and American commanders. The technical work of Section VIII under RGP has yet to be comprehensively researched and recorded. For example a Section VIII project called Silent Minute to jam the V2 (conceived when it was erroneously thought to be radiocontrolled rather than use an inertial navigational gyro) is not even mentioned in Most Secret War. What is clear is that the drive and leadership of this infantry officer, determined that the war should be won, did indeed play a significant part in ensuring that it was.
Packard SLU in North Africa
Brigadier Gambier-Parry appears at 2.09 mins. Footage courtesy of Bletchley Park Trust.
5956878 L/Sgt Leslie RH Fulton MM – 6th Bn The Royal Welch Fusiliers
Born in 1915, 5956878 Cpl Leslie Reginald Henry Fulton had a very tough upbringing in the East End of London, having been taken away from his mother after the Great War, when his father decided he couldn’t keep him. Leslie was eventually adopted, nevertheless he showed remarkable resilience by attaining a place at a grammar school – an achievement he was not allowed to take up.
At the onset of WW2, Leslie joined the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment in August 1940 just a month after his wife May had given birth to his daughter Patricia (He already had a son John and seven years later would have another daughter Carol).
In August 1944, the 6th Bn The Royal Welch Fusiliers (6 RWF), who were fighting in the North West Europe Campaign received a number of drafts of men from other units, in order to replace those men killed or wounded, Leslie was one of those drafted into 6 RWF. The Battalion, who had landed on Gold Beach on the 25th June, was fighting through the Normandy bocage and had lost over 100 men killed, in addition to the many wounded.
Two months on, we would find Leslie Fulton fighting in the Netherlands. The Allies, though failing to cross the Rhine at Arnhem in September 1944, had at least extended their right flank to protect against German counter attacks on the British 21st Army Group. They were now attacking the Scheldt Estuary to open the Port of Antwerp. The Battle of Scheldt would eventually open the port, thus solving the Allied supply problems. Meanwhile the German 15th Army were trying to escape through a bottle neck in North Zeeland to retreat back to Germany across the Rivers Maas and Rhine. In their way, contesting the village of Hintham, North of S’Hertogenbosch, was the 6 RWF containing the then Fusilier Leslie Fulton and his highly unreliable, single shot PIAT (Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank) Gun.
His subsequent citation for an action on the 23/24th October 1944 reads:
‘During the night attack by 6 RWF on Hintham, S’Hertogenbosch, Holland on 23/24 Oct 44, Fusilier Fulton was manning a PIAT. Fierce hand-to-hand fighting broke out with strong German forces who were trying to break out through A Company’s position. During this fighting an enemy infantry gun opened fire on the house occupied by Company HQ and secured two direct hits at almost point-blank range. This very dangerous situation was restored by Fusilier Fulton who, with great courage, left his trench under heavy fire and with his PIAT dispersed the gun crew single handed, killing and wounding several of them. This display of initiative and daring in a highly dangerous situation undoubtedly contributed greatly to the success of the defence. Throughout the whole of a night and morning of fierce hand-to-hand fighting Fusilier Fulton displayed the highest qualities of bravery and devotion to duty and by his example inspired his comrades to resist the enemy’s most strenuous efforts to overwhelm A Company and so break out’
His soldiering ability was quickly recognised, and by the end of the war he was a Sergeant.
The recommendation for Leslie’s gallantry award was confirmed and counter-signed by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. It was approved on the 26 Nov 1944 and an announcement published in the London Gazette on the 1st March 1945. On the day of the announcement 6 RWF, along with 4th & 7th RWF were taking part in the Capture of Weeze.
Field Marshall Montgomery presented Cpl Leslie Fulton with his Military Medal at a Ceremony held at the Opera House, Dusseldorf on the 3rd August 1945. His Battalion was in attendance.
Leslie Fulton survived the war, but did not return home until 1946, serving in the 6 RWF Officers Mess, Düsseldorf for his final year as the Mess Sergeant. By the time he was demobbed he had only met his daughter Patricia on three occasions since her birth! A butcher by trade he went on to become President of the Meat Traders Association, a feat his very sporty family was always highly thankful for!
In addition to his three children, he had seven grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren. Leslie Fulton MM died of cancer in 1980 at the age of 65.
4206553 Fusilier Arthur Charity RWF – No 6 Commando
KIA D-Day 6th June 1944
4206553 Fusilier Arthur Charity, enlisted into the Royal Welch Fusiliers on the 9th October 1940. After training he then served with No.4 Troop of No.6 Commando from October 1942 and then with the Medical Section of HQ Troop of No.6 Commando from at least 30th August 1943. Arthur was reported as being “Killed in Action” on 6th June 1944, he was aged 24 years, a married man with a child.
Arthur was battle-hardened veteran, with many commando operations under his belt. He had been previously reported wounded in North Africa (Tunisa) on the 26 February 1943, when his unit was involved in bitter fighting against two battalions of German parachute infantry. On that day his commando unit lost over 40% of its total strength.
Arthur landed on Sword Beach (Sector “Queen Red”) on D-Day 6th June 1944 at 0840hrs with No 6 Commando. They then advanced to positions at LE PLEIN, en route assaulting a German battery, taking 16 prisoners and killing 24 of the enemy. Their total casualties for that first day were reported as 4 x Killed and 28 x Wounded.
Later IWM film-footage shot in July 1944, shows Arthur’s grave, marked with a simple wooden cross on the roadside near Pegasus Bridge, along with three other fallen British soldiers.
He was the son of Arthur and Sarah Charity; and married to Joan Charity and father of Keith Charity, of Hove, Sussex. Arthur was permanently laid to rest in La Delivrande War Cemetery (Douvres, Calvados, France). Grave V.C.3. The inscription on his headstone, topped with an RWF capbadge reads:
‘With tender thoughts and deep regrets. We loved you & never forget. Wife Joan and Son Keith.’
Arthur is the only RWF listed casualty for D-Day.
With grateful thanks and acknowledgement to:-
(This obituary appeared in the Summer Edition 2010 of the Regimental Magazine of The Royal Welsh)
Pioneer Sergeant Major William Street, BEM (Strasse)
(10th February 1922–28th January 2011)
Bill was born and went to school in Brynmawr, and joined the army, very appropriately, on ‘Fireworks Day’ 1940 aged 18. His first posting was to 7 RWF, which was part of the Northern Ireland garrison at the time. In March 1942 he joined 4RWF in 158 Brigade. For the next two years they trained intensively for battle throughout UK. Then on 25th June 1944 Bill, a Fusilier in the Assault Pioneer Platoon, sailed aboard the liberty ship “Cotton Mather” for Normandy. There were forty-nine other ships in the convoy escorted by destroyers and corvettes, with US fighter planes providing air cover. What excitement for a young man of twenty-two. As soon as they landed they were in the thick of it, and Bill as an assault pioneer would have been in constant danger, clearing mines, crossing water obstacles, and so on. He took part in the bocage battles of Normandy, the canal actions in the Low Countries, the capture of S’Hertogenbosch, the Ardennes, weeks fighting in the dark Reichswald Forest, the savage Rhineland battles, and at last, now a Lance Corporal, celebrated victory in Hamburg. Someone described him as “prodding for mines all the way from Normandy to the North Sea”. But who among us ever heard Bill speaking, far less bragging, about these exploits?
On the way he lost many friends and he never forgot them. On subsequent pilgrimages to the battlefields, and notably to Evrecy, he visited their graves. There he prayed openly; he talked to them: “I have come to visit you, Jack, one day I will join you, but I’m in no hurry”.
In 1946, on disbandment of 4RWF, Bill transferred to the 1st Battalion. In 1951 he was a Corporal Storeman in D Company in Wavell Barracks, Berlin and later that year the Battalion was posted to the West Indies. Bill was promoted to become the Pioneer Sergeant and would henceforth lead the Battalion on parade and ceremonial occasions and was, uniquely, entitled to wear a beard. From then he sported the magnificent red beard, which became famous throughout the Army.
The Caribbean was followed by Chiseldon in 1954, Dortmund a year later and Berlin in 1956 then it was 1958 when the Battalion moved to Cyprus at the height of the EOKA campaign. One of our tasks in Cyprus was to search for and destroy caches of EOKA terrorist weapons. The destruction of them fell to Bill and his team. The actual use of explosives was almost exclusively done by him personally.
On the constructive side he also achieved an enormous amount. In Cyprus the Battalion was dispersed in small and inadequate camps. Bill and his small team made an immense difference to improving conditions. Cookhouses were built, water piped in from local sources, electricity was installed and amenities improved in every way. He built a chapel at Aghirda Camp, and a new office for the CO. All this was done with limited materials but with great initiative and resourcefulness. He would look at the problem, stroke his beard with that quizzical look in his eye and then achieve miracles. This was repeated wherever the Battalion was posted across the globe: - Germany, Cyprus again, Hong Kong and Northern Ireland. He must have built dozens of magnificent Sergeants Mess bars which he then enjoyed patronising. 1966 saw 1RWF back in Cyprus, this time with the UN Peacekeeping Force. Once again he distinguished himself improving inadequate facilities. After this tour he was awarded the British Empire Medal for his many achievements. Typically, he was quite embarrassed and shy about it.
Every man’s career must eventually some to an end. Bill’s service was extended almost a record number of times but eventually he had to retire. He for ever remained a stalwart of his branch of the Comrades Association and attended their meeting in Brecon on the Tuesday before he died. He was at Comrades weekends in Wrexham without fail every September, and he was taken happily to Chester for the Queen’s visit to the Regiment last year.
He was a man who by nature of his ceremonial duties met many VIPs and VVIPs, from the Queen downwards. His great courtesy and charm never failed to impress. At the same time, if one of his pioneers had a personal problem, they could always count on Bill for sympathy, support and very real help. His simple but steadfast faith was put into practice through his compassionate personal relationship with all who knew him.
Bill’s funeral was held at Brynmawr on Thursday 17th February 2011. Many old friends, Officers and Comrades attended his funeral. Major General RM Llewellyn gave the eulogy and at the farewell drinks Lt Colonel MA Lloyd, as Chairman of the Comrades Association read out a farewell message from our Colonel in Chief, HM The Queen who expressed her sorrow at our loss.
Jesus said: “In so far as you have done it for the least of these brothers of mine, you have done it for me. Enter now the kingdom which has been prepared for you since the foundation of the world”. We can be sure that Bill is now at peace with his comrades in that eternal kingdom.
The last word comes from Tony Corbett who wrote: “And Peter said: ‘Lord, I have found a good man to repair the gate”.
God bless you, Old comrade.
2734649 Cpl E.P. (Ted) Jones MM.
Edward Pryce (Ted) Jones MM was born at Tybrith Farm, at Cloddiau, Welshpool, in 1919. Ted joined the army in the late 1930’s, initially enlisting into the Welsh Guards. He was mobilised with the 7th Battalion, RWF at the outbreak of WW2 in Sept 1939 and then with all the other 18-20yr olds from his unit, transferred to the 10th Battalion RWF, which was stationed at Beaumaris, on the island of Anglesey, North Wales. Early in 1940, the Battalion was posted to Plymouth, Devon. Ted had volunteered for “Special Duties” with 9 Independent Company, which was to be the forerunner of the Commando and Special Forces units.
On June 14th 1940, he joined 11 Independent Company, who had been ordered to plan the first ever commando-style raid against the Germans, now holding the French coast in force. The raid was codenamed “Operation Collar” and personally sanctioned by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Ted and his comrades, under the command of Major Ronnie Tod, commenced ten days of intensive training, including watermanship, boats, street fighting, and use of the Thompson Sub-Machine Gun, a skill that Ted was to use to great effect nearly five years later!
Ten days later, on the evening of the 24 June 1940 at Dover, Ted and 114 other men climbed into four RAF search and rescue patrol craft and crossed the English Channel to attack 4 objectives, one target per boat. The aim of the mission was to kill or capture the enemy and obtain intelligence. We think Ted’s objective was Stella Plage. The staff officer who conceived the raid, Lt Colonel Dudley Clarke, accompanied Ted’s troop in their boat, as an observer. He would later become the Allies acknowledged expert on Deception Warfare.
Ted’s group reached the French coast at about midnight. They were unlucky to land as the German sentries patrolled past. Ted can recall the sentries cocking their rifles. The raiding party opened fire and killed them, which then resulted in a further firefight with a larger German force. During the gun battle their boat had withdrew to mid-channel. Ted and his comrades were then stranded in the dunes behind the beach for over an hour, hiding from the German forces, before their boat finally returned closer to the beach. They were eventually forced to dump their kit and swam out to the craft, then being successfully extracted back to Dover. The only British casualty was the observer and planner Lt Col Dudley Clarke, who suffered a flesh wound from a German bullet.
The operation, in which the soldiers had received only minimal training, had mixed success, but it crucially convinced Churchill that Commando units, with intensive training and good equipment could be highly effective against the enemy. Within 12 months Commando units were actively taking the fight to the enemy.
Following the raid the Ministry of Information released press statement:
“Naval and military raiders, in cooperation with the RAF, carried out successful reconnaissance’s of the enemy coastline: landings were effected at a number of points and contacts made with German troops. Casualties were inflicted on the enemy, but no British casualties occurred, and much useful information was obtained”
After the raid, Ted transferred to the 2nd Battalion RWF, part of 29 Independent Brigade, who were undergoing intensive training in Scotland, based around amphibious operations. On the 24th March 1942, Ted and his comrades aboard HMS Karanja, set sail from the River Clyde in a large shipping convoy, heading to South Africa. After stopping for supplies, they proceeded to the island of Madagascar. Held by the Vichy French, and with its deep-water harbour, it was considered by Allied planners to be vulnerable to Japanese occupation, and the Allies therefore needed to seize it. It took four-months of hard fighting against the Vichy French who were supported by colonial troops and the French Foreign Legion to capture it. Ted, a big strong farmer, armed with a Bren Gun, was in the thick of the fighting throughout, and can recall escorting his Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stockwell and Brigadier Festing, the Brigade Commander, as they entered the Governor-Generals Residence at Antisarane on the morning of the 7th May, later witnessing the surrender of the garrison to Brigadier Festing.
Ted also witnessed the successful Japanese midget submarine attack against HMS Ramillies and the oil tanker British Loyalty on the 29th May 1942, in the harbour of Diego Suaraz, in which the warship was severely damaged and the tanker sunk. The island was fully under British control by September 1942. Although British casualties were relatively light, many of the men involved in the invasion, including Ted, suffered from malaria, and it took 2 RWF several months to recover its full fighting strength.
Teds next exploits took him to Burma and the Arakan, where he was to spend the next two years fighting the Japanese. Initially in the Mayu hill range of the Arakan, later in Northern Burma, as part of the 145-mile advance along Railway Corridor, heading south from Myitkyina to Katha.
2 RWF excelled at small-scale engagements against the enemy, and were more than a match for their Japanese opponents. Living and fighting in the dense jungle became their way of life, and Ted as a country boy, was more than able to cope with this incredibly harsh environment. He was by now a Cpl and in command of an eight to ten man section. His undoubted leadership skills were put to the test on the morning of the 11th January 1945, as he patrolled with his Section near to the banks of the Irrawaddy. Below is the subsequent Citation for his bravery, for which he was awarded the Military Medal.
“On the 11th Jan 45, Cpl Jones was one of the Section Commanders of a Fighting Patrol which was sent forward from Shadaw to contact an enemy position on the track North of Myega.
As his section was advancing along the track it came under heavy fire from Jap LMG’s and rifleman in bunkers on either side of the track. Cpl Jones immediately rushed one of the bunkers by himself, and killed both occupants with his T.S.M.G. (Thompson Sub-Machine Gun). He then led his Section onto some foxholes where he himself killed four Japs with his T.S.M.G and Grenades.
Cpl Jones’ gallantry could not have been surpassed, and his dash and inspiring leadership under fire was an example to the whole platoon.
The detailed and accurate information brought back by this NCO was of such value that a further plan was made that ensured the success of the next operation.
Lt Col Ll Gwydr-Jones. 30th Jan 1945”
Cpl E.P. Jones MM, India 1945.
Ted can recall the incident clearly. He actually spotted the enemy ambush postion, just a few meters ahead as he patrolled, and had the strength of character to continue past the enemys muzzles, that he could see poking out of the undergrowth, Once immediatley past, he took a few steps into the jungle foliage, putting himself behind the enemy postion and fired a long burst into the rear of the Japanese bunker, followed by grenades. After a brief firefight and much confusion amongst his men, he collected his section; and moved about 60 metres away in order to regroup. He was then ordered by his commander to return to the bunker and hold the position. As he did this task, he caught the enemy hurridly trying to collect their dead from the bunker. Ted initiated a further firefight, again causing multiple enemy casualties!
Ted did not return home to his family in Welshpool until 1946, where he married and raised a family on his small farm. Like millions of other men of his generation, putting his experiences behind him and concentrating on living a good and productive life.
Today, Ted is still active in his local RWF Comrades Branch, attending lots of engagements throughout the year. In 2018 he took part in Weshpool Town’s commemorations of the Great War, he also attended the Burma Star National AGM at the National Arboretum, and the Welshpool RWF Comrades Xmas Lunch in December, this is just a few of the many events and functions he’s involved in. He also meets up with fellow Veteran, Jack Ellis MBE, who served with the 6th (Royal Welch) Para Battalion, every week at a local community centre in the town.
In December 2018, Ted celebrated his 99th Birthday. We believe he’s the only Second World War RWF Veteran, in receipt of a gallantry award still alive. It’s the hugely courageous actions of Ted and many other Royal Welchmen in the Second World War, who by their actions wrote another chapter in the long distinguished history of the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
Ted with Comrades and friends at the Roayl Welsh Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum.
Ted and fellow Comrade Mr Colin Rogers view “The Wall” at the National Arboretum, Staffordshire.
Pictured at the RWF Comrades Assocation Annual Reunion.
Wrexham September 2017.
Frederick Edward Sheady
The full story of Fred Sheady was unknown in the UK until 2016. Until then British records show him as “Killed Whilst Escaping,” with no known grave. We gratefully acknowledge the help and assistance provided by Mr Marcin Grybos and our Polish friends who worked tirelessly with us to help piece together this sad but amazing story of determination and human spirit.
4189938 Fusilier Frederick Edward SHEADY. 1RWF
22 April 1933. 4189938 Frederick Edward Sheady attested into the Royal Welch Fusiliers, joining the 2nd Battalion on their Foreign Service tour. Fred was from Flint, North Wales.
December 1938. Fred returns to the UK as his military service starts to draw to a close, and he’s posted to 1RWF, based in the UK. In Sept 1939 at the onset of WW2, 1RWF is deployed to France as part of the BEF. Fred goes with them. By now he’s a married man of only eight days, with a family home at Prince of Wales Avenue, Flint.
16 May 1940. 1RWF come under sustained German attacks whilst defending the River Dyle at Ottenbourg on the French/Belgian border. At 2200hrs following the collapse of French Forces further along their line, they are ordered to withdraw. A few days later Fred is reported missing, later he’s reported “Wounded” and confirmed to be a Prisoner of War. He was being held at Larmsdorf, Southern Poland, within Stalag VIIIB. His allocated Prisoner of War number: 16929.
Over the next two years, Fred, makes at least seven attempts to escape from the camp, his Polish companions later confirm his prime motivation was to get back to his family in Flint.
7 Sept 1942. A group of twelve POW’s including Fred managed to escape from a workcamp. Literally minutes before the attempt, Fred partners up with a member of the RAF of Polish/Jewish extraction, they escape together. This airman spoke fluent Polish and had family near Krakow. Fred’s name later appears on a German Police “Wanted” poster. We know the Jewish airman was captured four months later, and then escaped again, this time making a homerun back to the UK.
The picture now gets murky and we temporarily lose track of Fred’s movements.
November 1942. Polish documents record that he was hiding in Krakow, in the care of the Polish Partisans (AK). The Gestapo is closing in on him; they have already caught a doctor who had been hiding Fred. His continued presence in Krakow was putting the local resistance network at risk, so the local partisan commander ordered that Fred was to be moved to Bystrzyca Szymbarska, to the house of a female partisan Stanislowa Groblewska (Codename: Joanna). She uses a horse-drawn wagon to make the journey (150kms), as the trains are considered too risky. Fred pretends to be mute and has documents to suggest he is John Cislaka. He now has the partisan codename: “Alliant”
9 November 1942. Stanislowa and Fred arrive at her home in Bystrzyca. He spends Christmas with her and her family, hiding in the attic room.
The Groblewska House today. The attic room can be seen.
28 February 1943. The Gestapo is now looking with suspicion at the Groblewska family, Fred is quickly moved to a partisan hideout, deep in the woods in the Gorlich District. He now gaining the trust of his fellow partisans and beginning to speak polish.
10 March 1943. Fred is killed at the village of Stróże, being summarily shot by German Railway Police as he attempted to surrender. Fred’s group had arrived at a house in the village the day before they were due to purchase ammunition. However a local man had informed on their operation. The Germans surrounded the house, and then using grenades, launched their raid. Only a couple of the partisans were armed, and of the six men, two managed to escape, the remaining four, including Fred, were killed inside or in the vicinity of the house.
We know that Fred initially escaped from the house, but still weak from years of captivity, no exercise and a poor diet, he was quickly chased down by the German Police, he then attempted to surrender and was killed on the spot.
The German unit then burned the house to the ground. One of the escapees, the group leader, Franciszek Paszek (Codename: Kmicic) hid in a nearby farm shed and later escaped during the night by climbing through the shingle roof. His testimony was recorded in a Polish book about the Partisans, published after the war, and also in the biography of Stanislawa Groblewska, with whom he spoke with a day or so later.
On the 12 March, Groblewska wrote in her diary "The bodies of the partisans were buried in one grave .., Fred Sheady from Flint in Wales who was buried in a cemetery in Stróże will remain with us forever” She also added in her diary on March the 12, 1944 the memories of "Kmicic" who survived and she concluded: " All the partisans were buried in a cemetery in Stróże "
The other partisans killed and buried with Fusilier Fred Sheady were:
A short while later the Partisans delivered their justice. The collaborator who informed the Germans of the Stróże partisan operation to purchase ammunition, was tried by the Polish Underground State, found guilty of treason, and was subsequently executed by the Partisans. Then a few weeks after Fred was killed, an escaped Canadian Flying Officer Hubert Brooks, and his British Co-Pilot, who were involved with a nearby partisan group, attacked the German Railway Police, herding a number of them into a room and shooting them dead.
Immediately the war, during the Stalinist purges, the Polish Partisans (AK) were treated as a threat to the State, imprisoned and often killed. The local government therefore ordered the bodies of the men to be exhumed and reburied outside of the district. Sadly, we have not been able to locate the final resting place of Fusilier Fred Sheady and his fellow partisans. The villagers at Stróże erected a memorial to the four men at the location of their original gravesite. This is now the focus of their remembrance.
Peter Sheady at the Stróże Memorial 2018
Recently Peter Sheady a member of the present-day family travelled to Poland, met and thanked our Polish researchers and laid a Royal Welch Fusilier wreath at the memorial in the village of Stróże.
- RWF Regimental Enlistment Registers
- Y Ddraig Goch. December 1938
- RWFRR Vol 5(Draft)
- War Office Casualty List 236
- War Office Casualty List 316
- War Office Casualty List 385
- German Police Bulletin. IWM: HU47081
- Rod Barron
- Ralf Brooks
- Manuscript by Stanislawa Groblewska
- Marcin Grybos
- Peter Sheady
- Jacob Gewelber. RAF