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Pegasus awarded to Gunners?

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Messages: 1 - 50 of 117
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by hunnybun (U7082446) on Sunday, 27th May 2007

    My late father Arthur 'Nobby' Clark, was in the Royal Artillery, a lance bombadier. He started in the 8th. Army and served in the desert and seems to have been just about everywhere, we have photos of the first and last guns to be fired at Tobruk and photos of one of 'Monty's' inspections, and many more. He was also in Sicily apparently their unit was one of the last to leave.
    At some point (he went 'over' on D.Day plus one)he was transferred to the First Army. During the Arnhem landings his unit was awarded the Pegasus sleeve flash for assisting an airborne division.My brother seems to think it was something to do with saving them from a river.
    His commanding officer (according to my mum) objected to them wearing the flash and the men were told to remove them. We still have them, uncut, as they were given to the men.
    I wonder if anyone has any knowlege of this award.My dad like many others was reluctant to talk of his experiences and it was only at Nov.11th. parades that we ever heard him reminisce with his mates...

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  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Monday, 28th May 2007

    Dear nymyddyarcher -

    On first reading your message appears to be more than slightly confused which is understandable if your father never discussed what he did during the war and you have had to depend on hearsay for the details....
    On second reading however I would think that he was attached to 50th Tyne & Tees Division as they fought starting with the BEF in France - in the Desert - Sicily and also in NW Europe - mainly with XXX corps along with 51st Highland Div and 7th (Desert rats) Armoured Div.
    So I would advise that you should get his service record which will show you just what he was up to in that war...
    The anomalies are of course - away out... "such as having photo's of the first and last shots fired at Tobruk"....That particular seige started in 1941 with the Australian 9th Division - and ended with the South Africans surrendering all 33,000 of theirs and many British units to Rommel in June of 1942... so between the two shots - there was quite a gap
    " He was also in Sicily - apparently one of the last units to leave" - really - we won that campaign and only left there to invade Italy - however 50th Div did leave to return to the U.K. to be ready for D day !
    At some point ( " he landed on D + one ") as did some of 50th Div- "and joined 1st army" ???
    1st Army was disbanded in North Africa prior to the Sicily landings !
    "During the Ahrnem landings - his unit was awarded the Shoulder Flash Pegasus" 50th Div - in XXX corps was in reserve to Guards Armoured and 43rd Div and only made it to Nijmegan and so the only Airborne unit he might have saved from a River was the US 82nd or 101st Airborne - they didn't wear the Pegasus flash!
    If they had been awarded the Flash by Monty - Dempsey or "Boy" Browning then no C.O. could have stopped them wearing it !
    Unhappily - 50th Div were disbanded before entering Germany in November '44 by Monty as he said - " they have had 7,500 casualties in the past four years and have suffered enough " - they also gained 4 V.C.'s in that time !
    So I repeat - get his service records - then the truth will be made clear !
    Good luck !

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  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by PeterG (U521078) on Monday, 28th May 2007

    Hi mynyddyarcher

    Sleeve flashes, more properly Formation Badges, are not awarded. They simply indicate to which Brigade, Division, Corps, or Army a unit belongs.

    The winged Pegasus badge was worn by all units of the 1st and 6th Airbourne Divisions.

    I have a website here showing all British formation badges www.petergh.f2s.com/...


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  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by tone (U7424953) on Tuesday, 29th May 2007

    My late father was also in the Royal Artillery. In 1944 he was a driver/mechanic with 419 Heavy Battery, 52nd Heavy Regiment (The Bedfordshire Yeomanry) which supported the airborne troops at Arnham. Amongst my fathers effects which I now have is a leter dated 26th September 1944 part of which I transcribe below;
    'On behalf of the 1st Airborne Division I wish to thank you, your regiment, and the 419 Heavy Battery for the support given to us during the last week.....

    (two paragraphs omitted)...

    The Commanders of 30 Corps and the Airborne Corps have agreed to our request that we may be allowed to present your Regiment with our Airborne sign, The Pegasus, to be worn on the lower half of the right sleeve. We shall regard it as a great privilege if you will undertake to wear trhis as a lasting remembrance of our liaison during the battle of ARNHAM.
    I hope I shall have the opportunity of seeing your Regiment in the future and thanking them personally for their efforts'
    signed R.L.Urquhart
    Major General
    Commander 1 Airborne Division.

    I hope this helps


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  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by PeterG (U521078) on Tuesday, 29th May 2007


    Many thanks for that interesting information which has certainly cleared things up.

    I wrongly took it to mean that the 52nd HAA Regiment's (5th AGRA) 21st Army Group badges were replaced by Airborne formation badges, since nymyddyarcher mentions having a pair of Pegasus flashes.


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  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by hunnybun (U7082446) on Tuesday, 29th May 2007

    Checked with mum (now 86), it was Crete that he was on not Sicily!

    He was Med.Battery 42nd. Regiment.

    Also at El Alamein, the gunfire is definitely Trobruk as it is in Dad's own handwriting on the snap.

    I was told by the Airborne Div. website that he would have been transferred to the 1st. Army after N.Africa.

    He was awarded the M.M. it was reported in The London Gazette on 14/9/1943, but was earned in Europe not Africa.I have not yet found the exact reason for the award. I do know that it was something to do with delivering messages by motorbike under fire! He was Mentioned in Despatches for sending morse messages from the back of a vehicle and sustaining shrapnel wounds to the head but still sending messages until told by his officer 'For Christ's sake Clark,if you're not bloody scared I damn well am,give it up man'!!! Mum says at this point the fighting was virtually hand to hand...

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  • Message 7

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by hunnybun (U7082446) on Tuesday, 29th May 2007

    Many thanks for your help and the letter.
    Mum has just phoned, she has a suitcase full of love letters (6 years worth) and is going to have a look through them just in case she has a copy, and also to check on addresses for correct regiment etc., but she is sure it was the 42nd.

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  • Message 8

    , in reply to message 7.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Tuesday, 29th May 2007

    As most people know by now Maj. Gen Urguhart was Commander of 1st Airborne Div at Ahrnem - he was also Brigadier Commander of 231 Independent Inf brigade in Sicily before coming back to the U.K. for the D Day landings etc, and promotion to the Airborne as Maj. Gen.
    The Commander of XXX corps at that time was Lt Gen. Horrocks who took over in August '44 after he had returned from severe wounds he had suffered in Bizerta at the close of the North African Campaign in which 1st Airborne had been a strong factor in gaining the Airfields around Algiers, and had suffered greatly in Sicily when 300 paratroopers were dropped in the sea half a mile from the beaches.
    Lt. Gen "Boy" Browning was Corps Commander of Airborne Corps and as I had written in message No 2 - if he had authorised the awarding of the flashes - then no regimental C.O. could have prevented them wearing it !

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  • Message 9

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Tuesday, 29th May 2007

    oleonepace and mynddyarcher

    This is a fascinating thread. The role of the Royal artillery, both the 1st Abn Div's own units (Lt Regt and A/Tk batteries)and the XXX Corps regiments which fired in support is one of the neglected areas of the operation.

    oleonepace, have you offered your letter to the Airborne Association and/or the RA Historical Society? This commendation from Urqhuart deserves to be better known.

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  • Message 10

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by hunnybun (U7082446) on Tuesday, 29th May 2007

    I don't know why but an earlier message of mine has still not been cleared.
    I will try to repeat it.Dad was at el Alamein,definitely Tobruk as the pis. we have are in his own album with his own 'first and last'comments.He was awarded the MM for (we think) delivering messages by motorbike and mentionrd in despatches for operating a wireless under fire.
    The sleeve flashes we have are a lilac background and a white pegasus. I have contacted the airborne web site but they couldn't be of any help other than to say he must have been transferred into the 1st.Army if he was at Arnhem.
    The men were told definitely that they were not to sew on the flashes.They were supposed to hand them back but dad kept his.The two of them are joined in a V shape.
    Fascinating isn't it? An aquaintances father who was in the airborne division and was in a glider may know something but refuses to tell his son! He also refused to collect his medals and ,I think doesn't approve because my father did!

    Report message10

  • Message 11

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Wednesday, 30th May 2007


    Your reference to the reply you got from the airborne website may explain the confusion over 1st Army.

    The British and US airborne divisions were grouped together in 1st Allied Airborne Army, although it was an administrative organisation rather than a field army.

    However, the only British artillery units in it were the divisional artillery of 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions.

    It is much more likely, from your posts, that your father was in a medium or heavy regiment in XXX Corps, which fired in support of 1st Airborne at Ossterbeck and Arnhem, from positions south of the Rhine.

    As to the seige of Tobruk, it actually ran from 8 April 1941, when the Afrika Korps surrounded it, to 10 December 1941, when 8th Army relieved it. In 1942, there was no time to prepare a second defence, and the commander capitulated.

    British RA units provided the bulk of artillery in the fortress throughout the seige, although the Aussies provided the infantry for the first phase.
    It is therefore quite possible that a British unit fired the "First and LAst" shots, although your father would have been unlucky if he was there for the whole seige. The photos might have been an unofficial regimental memento

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  • Message 12

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by tone (U7424953) on Wednesday, 30th May 2007


    The typed letter from Urquhart is a general one which I presume was issued to all ranks? It is nonetheless an unusual thing to have happened and I don't know of another instance where insignia have been 'awarded' to other arms of the Forces.
    I had assumed that it was a well known fact and that the various interested museums and Societies would already have copies of the document.
    But perhaps this is not so.
    I'll ask around.


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  • Message 13

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by hunnybun (U7082446) on Wednesday, 30th May 2007

    Right,just had a look thru' a couple of letters...

    How does..

    211/64 Med.Regt.,R.A.,
    British Land Army.

    On 20/7/45 he was at Bergen nr. Luneberg, also nr. Goslar?. They were 'just down the road' from the Russian front.He was doing 12 hour guard duty, but there was a canteen because they had been playing darts and he'd had a 'couple of halves'!

    I'm collecting the suitcase of letters from mum tomorrow (Thurs.) and also photos, so will have a look thru 'them.


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  • Message 14

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Wednesday, 30th May 2007


    If such an award had been made, a suitable letter, or notice, would probably have been handed out.

    The date is interesting, because it would indicate that Urqhart wrote it ou on the day he arrived on the south bank of the Rhine.

    Urqhart himself, in his memoir, states that he spoke to the 2 i.c. of 64th Medium Regiment on 26th or 27th September (not 52nd Heavy, alas) about how, in his opinion, their shooting had earned them the right to the Pegasus arm badge. He then went on to make strong representations about this, but the War Office refused permission ("Arnhem", p.188 in the paperback).

    It would seem likely that, in discussions, the proposed award would have had to be extended to all the RA regiments that shot in support of 1st Abn Div. It also does not surprise me that the War Office turned it down - not the way the British Army did things.

    But the story is not well known, which is why I suggested that you and the OP approached the Airborne Association and the RA Historical Association, to see if they could cast any more light on what actually happened in the event.

    Report message14

  • Message 15

    , in reply to message 14.

    Posted by hunnybun (U7082446) on Wednesday, 30th May 2007


    Dad was in the 64th. see previous posting.

    Thanks so much...Mynydd.

    Report message15

  • Message 16

    , in reply to message 15.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Wednesday, 30th May 2007

    In message 10 - it is stated that it is unusual for insignia to be awarded - which in the ususl way the British Army did things, is probably correct - however the Canadians were not so short sighted as just after the Battle for the Gustav - Hitler/Senger lines of May '44 in which the British 26th Tank Brigade ( North Irish Horse - 51st RTR and 142 Regt RAC) were awarded the Maple leaf insignia to commemorate their valused support of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division.
    Later after the Gothic Line Battle Aug/Sep '44 - the 21st British Tank brigade ( 12RTR - 48th RTR ans 145th regt RAC) were also awarded the Maple leaf on the Canadian red patch
    divisional insignia as a tribute to their support in those month long battles.
    This co-operation lasted throughout the winter of '44/45 until the 1st Canadian and 5th Canadian Armoured Divs went on to Belgium to join the other three Canadian Divisions in clearing the coasts of both Belgium and Holland as part of 21st Army Group.
    To re-iterate - 1st British Army was disbanded in North Africa - that might have been around May '43 as the operation Husky (invasion of Sicily - 10th July '43) was in the planning stage.
    As lost week-end has pointed out the two sieges of Tobruk were initially of 9th Australian with RA support until relieved by 70th British Div - which was then relived by 8th army - then the South African - Kloppers surrended the fortress to Rommel which was the start of the Gazala Gallop back to El Alamein where 50th Div lost the whole of 150th brigade which was never re - constituted - and thus weakened 50th Div joined the battered 7th Armoured Div on the south sector of Alamein - near Alam halfa - under the newly arrived Horrocks as X th Corps !

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  • Message 17

    , in reply to message 15.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Wednesday, 30th May 2007


    Glad to have been of use.

    You really should get your man's service records, and let the Airborne and RA historical people have access to the info about the patch.

    But please post anything else you find out!



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  • Message 18

    , in reply to message 17.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Wednesday, 30th May 2007

    now we are finally getting somewhere as 64th meium RA was a part of 5th AGRA of XXX corps for the landings at Sicily July 10th '43 - and went home with them in the October along with 50th - 51st Highland and remnants of 7th Armoured Div to be ready for the D day landings. They also supported XXX corps from Nijmegan firing on Oosterbeeck and Ahrnem

    That being so then they would have been also at El Alamein and prior to that for the Gazala Gallop as they were Corps Artillery Troops as opposed to Army Troops or Divisional Troops
    as we have been stressing - get his service records from Glasgow !
    Good Luck

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  • Message 19

    , in reply to message 18.

    Posted by PeterG (U521078) on Wednesday, 30th May 2007

    I wasn't aware of Major-General (as he was then) Roy Urquhart's decision as set out in his letter, but the fact remains that formation badges are not 'awarded'. Tom is quite right that if Major-General Urquhart did approve it then 51st Heavy Regt's commanding officer could not have rescinded his order, but since it was rescinded it follows that Urquhart must have been overruled by higher authority.

    Operation 'Market' ('Market' was the airborne portion of the two pronged attack of 'Market-Garden), although a glorious episode, was a military defeat mainly due to bad planning. Recriminations started almost at once and Urquhart, a very brave man, was criticised for his style of leading from the front. The result was that he was cut off in an attic where he had to hide from the Germans, and lost control. He himself said of this that he felt 'idiotic' and 'ridiculous' at having to hide from the Germans. Laudable though his bravery was, his adventures behind Germans lines put him out of contact with his HQ for over 24 hours, and he was presumed dead or captured. Later Urquhart voiced criticism of Horrocks and his divisional commanders when he summed up the failure of XXX Corps (the 'Garden' part of 'Market-Garden) to reach Arnhem, suggesting that they had got used to having an easy time in Belgium before Market-Garden, a criticism of XXX Corps which was both unfair and incorrect.

    Be that as it may, the fact is that Major-General Urquhart, having lost his command, was brought home in early October 1944, appointed CB and, reverting to his substantive rank of colonel, was made Director of the TA and Army Cadet Force at the War Office. To all intents and purposes this ended his active participation in WW2. Only in 1952 was he re-promoted as GOC British Troops Austria, a post he held until his retirement in 1958.

    The letter authorising the 'award' seems to suggest that Urquhart acted precipitately without reference to his superior officers, either XXX Corps Commander, Lieutenant-General Horrocks, or indeed Montgomery. The suggestion has been made that the War Office turned down his recommendation, but during WW2 the W.O. wasn't simply stuffed with civil servants left to their own devices, such matters would have been referred to a senior officer or possibly back to Montgomery, and no action would have been taken without reference to a very senior officer, perhaps Alanbrooke.

    The Maple Leaf within 25th Army Tank Brigade's badge, mentioned by Tom, wasn't an award. It was properly incorporated within the Brigade's diabolo badge to commemorate their association with 1st Canadian Division. Many British Army formation badges incorporate commemorative emblems, for example the Viking Ship in V Corps' badge commemorating their part in the Norwegian campaign of 1940. Urquhart's decision was entirely different in that it would have meant an RA Regiment wearing two different formation badges.

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  • Message 20

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by boabbie (U6156662) on Wednesday, 30th May 2007

    To mynnyddyarcher

    This has been a fascinating chase and it just
    goes to show what can be done even before Glasgow wakes up.I have followed it from the start and cant wait for the final pieces to fall into place. What will we do when we no longer have trooper tom and Co.

    Report message20

  • Message 21

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Thursday, 31st May 2007

    Peterg and I often have arguements - usually on a semantic level but sometimes factual - this one is typical inasmuch as he is insisting that the wearing of the Formation badge / insignia Maple Leaf by 25th Tanks was NOT an award - now he is right as the Maple Leaf
    was NOT a formation badge of any of the five Canadian Divisions per se and therefore the Formation badges were not compromised.
    The formation badge of 1st Cdn Inf Div was a 2' x 2' Red Patch - 2nd Div - Blue patch - 3rd Div - Green patch - 4th Armoured - lighter green with Maple leaf central - 5th Armoured - dull Red patch.....
    The 21st Tanks were priveleged to wear the Red patch of 1st Div - behind their cap badges - after a luncheon in the newly captured Rimini and a tribute to our Brigadier - Kit Dawney by Lt Gen. Tommy Burns - Cdn Corps Commander - when he said " no less than comredship was our association with 21st Tanks who never failed to expend themselves with another squadron in action with Canadian Infantry and who now go into Army reserve to rest and replace their losses" - this is quoted in the Official History of the " Canadians in Italy 1943 - 45 by Lt.Colonel Nicholson Chap. 17 - pp 593 !
    The losses he claims were some 25 Churchill tanks - 12 Sherman's with 306 casualties, many of whom were buried in the Canadian cemetery at Riccione in October '44 before being moved to the Coriano Ridge cemetery in '53 - and the other six cemetery's in that area.

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  • Message 22

    , in reply to message 21.

    Posted by hunnybun (U7082446) on Thursday, 31st May 2007

    O.K.I wonder if there is someone at the R.A.I could contact for further info. about Urqhart? I have looked on the R.A. website and can't find anything relevant.It would be interesting to find out why the 64th. weren't allowed to wear the pegasus.Mum says she can remember there was a feeling of resentment amongst dad's mates..By the way it was Crete not Sicily he left at the last moment..

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  • Message 23

    , in reply to message 22.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Thursday, 31st May 2007

    mynyddyarcher -
    As PeterG has already explained - Urquhart's "award" to the 64th mediums was probably kiboshed by the War Office as an irregular use of Formation badges. It should be noted that his letter to the 419th was signed on the day when he returned from the other side of the Rhine and his adrenaline might have been running still at a high level. It takes time to recover after any action, resentment and adrenaline invariably runs high particularly when good friends are lost, in his case he had lost nearly 8000 men in a week of fighting... so he needs sympathy not castigation !
    Your "last one to leave" - Crete - not Sicily - appears to be correct as the 64th mediums - along with 7th mediums are listed as "Force Troops' for the Greece campaign but unfortunately they are ommitted for the Crete debacle as 7th mediums are listed as having been in the Herarklion sector - fighting as Infantry !
    Probably a typo !

    Report message23

  • Message 24

    , in reply to message 23.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Thursday, 31st May 2007

    It might be of some interest to many readers if both you - and them tried "Googling' for Maj.Gen Roy Urquhart - and note the effect of a battle on the frame of a 6' 200 pound man - after two days - he was like a zombie ! Know the feeling !

    Report message24

  • Message 25

    , in reply to message 22.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Saturday, 2nd June 2007

    mynyddy and oleonepace

    Apologies, have been off line for the past two days.

    You do really need to establish the provenance of the badges and the letter.

    Uruqhart did write letters of thanks on 26 Sep 44, following his short meetings with Browning and Horrocks. He was in a state of physical and emotional exhaustion, and Horrocks and Browning were distracted by the fact that the Germans had once again cut the MSR between Eindhoven and Nimjegen (the road would remain cut for four days).

    The War Office was, of course, not simply a receptacle for civil servants, but the location of the CIGS, Field Marshal Alanbrooke, and all the senior Army staff departments. It is stupid to suggest otherwise.

    The important one here is probably the Adjutant General's Department, headed by General Adam, himslef a Gunner, like Alanbrooke.

    "Awarding" a patch would be unprecedented, and divisive, which is probably the main reason it was refused. I would suggest you should try the regimental war diaries of 64 Medium and 53 Heavy, as well as the RA Historical Association (you'll have to write to them). I don't know where Uruqhart's papers are lodged.

    Report message25

  • Message 26

    , in reply to message 19.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Saturday, 2nd June 2007

    Your reference to Roy Uruqhart's later career is almost entirely wrong.

    He was awarded the CB - Companion of the Bath - a senior honour, and the British army in WWII did not reward failiure.

    He retained command of 1st Airborne until the end of the war - it was sent to liberate Norway and Northern Denmark. He then became DG Reserves and Cadets - a major general's appointment (still is, current incumbent Maj Gen The Duke of Westminster).
    After that, he raised and commanded 16th Airborne Division(V) and then was GOC Lowland District, GOC Malaya, and then GOC Austria, retiring in 1955.

    Must try harder, but if you want to pursue this, suggest a thread on the Wars and Conflicts thread. The Op's request for info shouldn't be diverted by this stuff.

    Report message26

  • Message 27

    , in reply to message 26.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Saturday, 2nd June 2007

    Lost week-end
    One of the reasons I asked all to read the "Google" of Roy Urquhart's career is
    that it gives many versions, particularly the entry from 1st Airborne Div H.Q.which appears to be factual.
    As he was initally commissioned into the Highland Light Infantry - no doubt his papers will be lodged in their archives, which was in Glasgow for years but no doubt they are floating about Warminster or wherever the Light Division is based these days.
    Still can't equate his bulk with a Light Infantry outfit !
    Don't be too hard on PeterG - he is invariably right as I have found on too many occasions.

    Report message27

  • Message 28

    , in reply to message 27.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Saturday, 2nd June 2007

    Trooper Tom

    My version comes from his biography, which is authorative.

    The Highland Light Infantry (a.k.a the Hairy Legged Irish) were a Scottish Regiment, not part of the English Light Infantry community. Under post-war amalgamation, they became part of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. It would be highly unlikely they would be at Winchester (that being the depot of the old Light Infantry, not Warminster).

    In any case, Uruqhart was a general officer, and his personal papers could have been deposited in whichever acadeic collection his family chose, if any. His biographer does not say where they are, so one assumes they remain with the family.

    A propos of the HLI, one of the minor coda to Uruqhart's career is that he was David Niven's company commander during that individual's brief Regular Army career.

    While these boards have room for a wide variety of opinion, I do feel it is important that on this particular board, where posters are seeking information about their relatives' war service, that replies, particularly from regular posters who appear authorative, are based on the best avialable information and are factually accurate.

    Report message28

  • Message 29

    , in reply to message 27.

    Posted by PeterG (U521078) on Saturday, 2nd June 2007


    You say that my "reference to Roy Uruqhart's later career is almost entirely wrong. He was awarded the CB - Companion of the Bath - a senior honour, and the British army in WWII did not reward failiure".

    If I am wrong then several eminent military historians are also in error. Let me quote a few verbatim.

    1. "After landing six miles from their objective it was probably unwise to direct the 1st Parachute Brigade's three battalions to march on Arnhem by three widely separated roads, where the enemy could oppose them singly while they could give no support to each other; and with wireless sets not working their difficulties were greatly increased. General Urquhart does not agree. He argues that the country was such that because units could not support each other, especially when they got to the built-up areas. 'the more avenues of approach that could be used the better'. It was certainly unwise of the airborne commander to leave headquarters in order to find out how the advance was proceeding; by being trapped in the fighting area he lost control for a vital thirty-six hours."

    SOURCE: "History of the Second World War - United Kingdom Military Series, edited by Sir James Butler, "Victory in the West" Volume II 'The Defeat of Germany' by Major L.F. Ellis with Lieut-Colonel A.E. Warhurst, page 55 (HMSO).

    There are many books on Arnhem and I have read a few, but the significance of the above is that it is from the official British history, published in eighteen volumes, commissioned and approved by the British Government with all texts submitted to CIGS for final approval before publication. Ellis, of course was an academic who particularly had Field Marshal Montgomery's ear.

    The other matter I mentioned was Major General Urquhart's unjustified criticism of Lieutenant General Horrocks:

    2. "Major General Roy Urquhart later voiced criticism of Horrocks and his divisional commanders when he summed-up the failure of XXX Corps to reach Arnhem [there follows Urquhart's criticism full quoted running to 16 lines] Urquhart's implication that XXX Corps had an easy time in Belgium prior to 'Market Garden' is unfair and incorrect".

    SOURCE: "Arnhem a Tragedy of Errors" by Peter Harclerode (who incidentally served in the Special Air Service and the Parachute Regiment, the definitive history of which he wrote in 1992), with a foreword by General Sir John Hackett (who as Brigadier was the Commander of 4th Para Brigade at Arnhem), page 171 (Caxton Editions, 1994).

    3. "Unable to influence the outcome of the operation and with his command shattered, he was brought home, appointed CB and, reverting to the substantive rank of colonel, was made Director of the TA and Army Cadet Force at the War Office. He was GOC 16th Division 1947-1948.
    Commander of the Lowland District 1948-1950, Urquhart spent the next two years in Malaya as district commander and GOC 17th Gurkha Division. He was GOC British Troops in Austria from 1952 until his retirement from the army in 1955".

    SOURCE: "Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War" by Nick Smart, a senior lecturer at the University of Plymouth, published by Pen & Sword, 2005.

    You also tell me that "He retained command of 1st Airborne until the end of the war - it was sent to liberate Norway and Northern Denmark."

    .. evidently, with respect, you appear to believe that 1st Airborne Division was a full fighting formation after Arnhem. Such was not the case: it became an ad hoc formation and saw no further service until it was transferred to Force 134 (Norway) on 5 May to 9 May 1945; then to the ALFN (Allied Land Forces Norway) from 10 May to 24 August 1945; the directly under War Office control from 25 August to 31 August 1945. It did not, as you say, 'liberate Norway' the war was already over and all German forces had surrendered.

    SOURCE: "Orders of Battle - Second World War 1939-1945" prepared by Lieut-Col. H.F. Joslen (2 Volumes, HMSO, 1960)

    4. "After Arnhem, he was appointed CB, and commanded an ad hoc formation, still entitled 1st Airborne Division, which was sent to Norway in 1945"

    SOURCE: "British Commanders of World War II" by Ian Summer (Osprey, 2003).

    If you would re-read my posts you will find that I stuck strictly to my sources. I could have used others, but these are the most significant in my view.

    I am also fully aware of the value of a CB and the criteria for awarding it, as you may see here www.petergh.f2s.com/...



    Report message29

  • Message 30

    , in reply to message 29.

    Posted by PeterG (U521078) on Saturday, 2nd June 2007

    Sorry about the typo.

    "the directly under War Office control from 25 August to 31 August 1945." should read "then it was directly under War Office control from 25 August to 31 August 1945."

    Report message30

  • Message 31

    , in reply to message 30.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Saturday, 2nd June 2007

    Dear Lostweekend-
    I would certainly agree with your comments on the need for accuracy in attempting to assist in the finding of relatives and other matters which crop up on these boards - which we have now read with Peterg's last message quoting his sources.
    Equally the biographer of Gen Urguhart has to be authentic....
    I was aware that the Highland Light Infantry was a Scottish regiment - being Scottish born and raised - but not too surprised that they were excluded from the snooty Winchester Miltary family... and unfortunately have not kept up with the various political machinations to emasculate the Army - since New Labour decided to have amalgamated the 16/5th Lancers with 17/21st Lancers to make the Queens Royal Lancers out of them - then stick them into Catterick as a training regiment !
    This is called progress - I guess !

    Report message31

  • Message 32

    , in reply to message 29.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007


    The criticisms of Uruqhart's performance at Arnhem were not relevant to the thread, and I was not responding to them. However, apart from the CB, after the battle, Montgomery recommended Uruqhart to Alanbrooke for command of an infantry division, or even as a replacement for Browning as Deputy Command 1st AAA (the appointment, of course, went to Gale). John Hackett refuted the criticisms of Urquhart, stating that he was the best field commander Hackett served under in WWII (in an interview given to Victor Dover, quoted in his "The Sky Generals". Dover, incidentally, was a company commander in John Frost's 2nd Bn at Arnhem).

    This is really a subject for a separate thread!

    However, as to Uruqhart's later career, you wrote:

    "Be that as it may, the fact is that Major-General Urquhart, having lost his command, was brought home in early October 1944, appointed CB and, reverting to his substantive rank of colonel, was made Director of the TA and Army Cadet Force at the War Office. To all intents and purposes this ended his active participation in WW2. Only in 1952 was he re-promoted as GOC British Troops Austria, a post he held until his retirement in 1958."

    That is wrong. He hadn't lost his command - 1st Airborne still existed on the strength of the British Army. He did not revert to his substantive rank (which I think was Lt Col at that point, rather than Colonel), but remained a major general, in command of the division, as Joslen makes clear.
    He was not, therefore, repromoted in 1952 (he became a substantive major-general, incidentally, in January 1946). He did not serve in Austria from 1952-1958 - he had a number of appointments, culminating in GOC Austria, leaving the Army at the end of 1955, not 1958.

    One senior man at Arnhem did revert to (Liuetenant Colonel), and I suspect this is where the confusion arises. When John Hackett escaped back across the Rhine, 4 Para Bde had been disbanded. He reverted to Lt Col and became GSO1 of 6th Armd Div in Italy (and, of course, went on to become a full General and CinC BAOR).

    Clearly, 1st Airborne was not battleworthy immediately after Market Garden, but it was reconstituted (with one para bde and one airlanding Bde) from Nov 44. The original idea was to reconstitute it, although 6th Airborne had priority as the designated division for the Rhine crossing, and then it was held against a contingency plan, in case the British airborne division earmarked for the Far East had to be sent out before the war finished in Europe, in which case 1st Airborne would have been brought back up to strength, probably with the resubordination of 2 Para Bde Gp from the Med. In the event, only 5 Para Bde from 6th Abn Div was sent to the Far East, the war ending before the rest of the Division could follow - it went to Palestine instead.

    So Uruqhart's command in Norway was not the "ad hoc" formation that Summer claimed. Nick Smart was right about his post-war career, but not about the rest of the war.

    Forgive me for hammering on about this, but Uruqhart has been scapegoated over Arnhem, particularly by the "Para mafia" who resented a non-Airborne GOC being imposed on them. He was not a failure and was not regarded as one by his commanders at the time

    Report message32

  • Message 33

    , in reply to message 31.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007


    I doubt the HLI felt "excluded" from Winchester. Very proud lot the Scottish, probably wouldn't have thought the LI were good enough for them.

    You can't blame New Labour for the QLR - that was an Options For Change amalgamation, and took place under John Major!



    Report message33

  • Message 34

    , in reply to message 33.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007

    Oops. QRL, not QLR. I have no idea who to blame for the QLR.

    Report message34

  • Message 35

    , in reply to message 34.

    Posted by PeterG (U521078) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007


    You begin with

    "The criticisms of Urquhart's performance at Arnhem were not relevant to the thread, and I was not responding to them."

    I wasn't criticising Major General Urquhart's performance at Arnhem, I was showing how his decision to 'award' the Pegasus to 5 AGRA was not approved. It was relevant to the thread until you diverted it into a discussion of Urquhart.

    Your assertion that "He was awarded the CB - Companion of the Bath - a senior honour, and the British army in WWII did not reward failiure" is rather odd. It was most unusual NOT to award either the CBE or the CB to a British Major-General. The very few who didn't get these customary awards were either POWs for most of the war, resigned during the war, or were in UK A-A Commands. Indeed, a good number of Major-Generals of the 340 British generals in WW2 were not only awarded the CB, but also later knighted with the KCMG or KBE, for example Major-General Sir William Bishop, KCMG, CB, CVO, OBE and Major-General Sir Alexander Gordon Biggam, KBE, CB. As to not awarding failure, after his court-martial in August and dismissal from the army in October, 1943, Major-General Freeman-Attwood still retained his Distinguished Service Order and his OBE.

    Again you repeat that I am wrong "That is wrong. He hadn't lost his command - 1st Airborne still existed on the strength of the British Army. He did not revert to his substantive rank (which I think was Lt Col at that point, rather than Colonel)". I quoted my source in full, verbatim, word-for-word. If you wish to argue that a respected military historian is wrong, fine, but don't jump from that to saying that I am wrong for quoting him.

    You say to Tom "My version comes from his biography, which is authorative." A bold claim, and you continue, "While these boards have room for a wide variety of opinion, I do feel it is important that on this particular board, where posters are seeking information about their relatives' war service, that replies, particularly from regular posters who appear authorative, are based on the best avialable information and are factually accurate." Cor! ... Do try to relax, Lad! smiley - smiley



    Report message35

  • Message 36

    , in reply to message 35.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007

    This is becoming even more fascinating and I have to pick up on the phrase" The British Army Did Not Award Failures" - if we were to look briefly at the progress of Gen Mark Clark of the US 5th Army in Italy - or even Bradley at the Bulge - Eisenhower at Kasserine - we will find that the American Army had no such qualms - Both Eisenhower and Bradley went on to become head men equivalent to C.I.G.S. and the incompetent (in our view in 8th Army)Clark to firstly lead both 5th and 8th Army to final victory which was on the cards anyway and latterly to lead the International Army in Korea.
    How he did this was totaly incomprehensible after his Salerno - Cassino ( especially San Pietro) and Anzio capers... must have been good on the dance floor at the Country club !

    Report message36

  • Message 37

    , in reply to message 35.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007

    Apologies in to the OP and oleonepace. Please pursue your enquiries through the relevant regimental and Corps historical associations.

    The quoted criticisms of Uruqhart in PeterG's post implied that these had an impact on the decision not to allow 64 Medium/5 AGRA to wear the patch. This is NOT accurate. Had Uruqhart's reputation in late Sep 44/ early Oct 44 been the deciding factor, then - from my previous posts, and adding Alanbrooke's diary entry - the patch would have been awarded.

    It was refused on general grounds, and I would urge you to investigate this further if you want to get the precise facts, but personalities had nothing to do with it.



    Report message37

  • Message 38

    , in reply to message 36.

    Posted by hunnybun (U7082446) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007

    I've sent an e.mail to the RA Historical Society with all the details you have all helped me with.

    I will of course let you know if I receive a reply..

    Mum has now given me a Christmas card given to the men by Lt.-Gen.Sir Bernard and Lady Freyburg!

    It has 3 photos of the Unconditional Surrender of The Axis,Tunisia-May 1943.Axis Chiefs of Staff Read The Terms,Field Marshall Messe Arrives To Surrender,and, Under The White Flag 90 white Division Comes In..Not very Christmassy but the front is actually signed 'Fryburg'.

    Report message38

  • Message 39

    , in reply to message 35.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007


    As to awards, which seems to be your area of interest.

    You are correct that, in peacetime, there are certain honours that came with rank. But it was substantive rank, and the only "guaranted" one was a knighthood at "three-star" level (Lieutenant General), although a "two-star" (Major General)could expect a CB or CBE on retirement.

    In wartime, with so many "acting" general officers, it was a mix of seniority and achievement (so, Alexander got his "K" in the '42 NY Honours list, but Monty had to wait until after Alamein, and Slim and his Corps Commanders all got their "K" (while still substantive Colonels) after Imphal.

    Your quoted Major Generals with knighthoods are exceptions. Biggam was a a medical officer, where honours were adjusted to meet the same level as expected in civilian life (otherwise the services wouldn't get good medical specialists). Bishop got his KCMG - an order reserved for diplomatic service after WWI - because he was High Commisioner of Cyprus. "Line officer" major generals did not get knighthoods. And they didn't get CBs, or CBEs, outside of retirement or the Victory Honours list unless they had done something specific. It was a demanding qualification - Vernet, who commanded 7th Armd Div from July to end Oct 44 did not get a "C".

    Report message39

  • Message 40

    , in reply to message 39.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007

    Verney, not Vernet

    Report message40

  • Message 41

    , in reply to message 40.

    Posted by PeterG (U521078) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007

    Hi WeekEnd

    No, awards are not my particular area of interest. My expertise, for what it's worth, and my areas of interest are the Peloponnesian War, the Thirty Years War, and Italian Fascism. I'm also interested in some other areas particularly physics, languages, and religion. A mixed bag, I must admit. My interest in WW2 stems from having lived through it and my interest in gunnery stems from my service in the Royal Artillery.

    As to my post regarding Major-General Urquhart's CB, I am afraid that you have missed my point - my apologies for not making it clearer: it would have been a scandal had he not been given his CB, he had earned it more than most of his rank, but there is nothing special about a major-general getting the CB.

    Peter G

    Report message41

  • Message 42

    , in reply to message 41.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007

    As my children's friends would say, "Yeah. Right. Whatever."

    Report message42

  • Message 43

    , in reply to message 42.

    Posted by PeterG (U521078) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007

    But no doubt you'll correct them, weakend. LOL

    Bye now!

    Peter smiley - smiley

    Report message43

  • Message 44

    , in reply to message 38.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007


    I wish you well.

    Having lunch next week with a venerable Dropshort friend, also a history buff. Your story will be the principal topic of conversation!

    Also pleased to learn you now have access to letters etc. Do you have children/grandchildren/ friends' children who you can share those with? Real documents/badges/ uniform to show the current generation, over 60 years on, is so important.



    Report message44

  • Message 45

    , in reply to message 44.

    Posted by hunnybun (U7082446) on Sunday, 3rd June 2007

    Yes, we have so much!
    My older brother has dad's medals. My mother had them set in a 2 sided frame for him with the King's letter about his MM on the reverse side.
    I,(a mere daughter) have his cap,his silk Monty-style spotted scarf which he requested and my mother sent out to N.Africa for him, the pegasus flash,the Freyburg Xmas card, all the letters and aerograms including censor marks!Also an ashtray in the shape of a capstan marked OTRANTO which is the ship he went out on.We have his pay book,a copy of the MM notice from the London Gazette,I also have all his photos from all over N.Africa and Europe. There is a particularly funny one of the men swimming naked in the Dead Sea,dad has drawn trunks on them all!Mum, thankfully has never thrown anything away.Unfortunately, dad gave a rucksack full of my mum's letters to him to a mate to take home for him but that ship went down and the letters were lost..Oh, we also have a macrame belt dad made for mum when he was hospitalised with malaria!He used to have recurring bouts when we were children.

    Dad died in 1981 , there is so much I wished he had told us....

    Report message45

  • Message 46

    , in reply to message 45.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Monday, 4th June 2007

    My Dear Lost Weekend -
    I must admit to a sense of great disappointment in your response (#42) to PeterG's statement of his interests.
    Living close as I do to the USA, I am aware of the true context of that Americanism which you attributed to your childrens' friends. "yeah right, whatever" - is a phrase of disbelief and scorn at what has just been learned.
    PeterG needs no defence from me, but knowing his early background of deportation as a youth to Italy although British born, and the subsequent loss of educational opportunities as a teenager under the Nazi domination of that land.
    Of his efforts to rectify this loss with his work to gain a B.A.(hons) and M.A. on his return to the U.K., and hia rise to be Chief Immigration Officer at Heathrow, can only bring respect and not scorn.
    Perhaps if you would have an even cursory glance at his web site - you might consider an apology ?
    Trooper Tom.

    Report message46

  • Message 47

    , in reply to message 45.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Monday, 4th June 2007



    One thing I didn't post before, but it's in Horrock's "Corps Commander", is the 64th's particular claim to fame in Market Garden. They were the first XXX Corps unit to make radio contact with 1st Abn, on 22 Sep 44. Quite apart from the artillery support they could provide, this was the link that allowed XXX Corps to find out what was happening north of the Rhine. (Horrocks is a bit grumpy in his memoirs, probably thought his own HQ Signals should have managed it).


    Report message47

  • Message 48

    , in reply to message 46.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Monday, 4th June 2007


    I am aware of the considerable contribution both PeterG and yourself have made to these boards long before I joined, and Peter's website shows a remarkable range of interests. (My opinion of HM Imigration Service is not relevant to this discussion, but wouldn't actually help.)

    But much of what was posted in this case was misleading, confused, irrelevant or simply repeated information already posted, which is not fair on posters seeking information on specific subjects.

    So. Do I respect your collective experience? Yes. Will I apologise for challenging errors of fact? No.



    Report message48

  • Message 49

    , in reply to message 48.

    Posted by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper (U519668) on Monday, 4th June 2007

    Dear LW -
    Thank you for your last entry - I would agree that posters sometimes feel aggrieved at the repitition of information already known - but speaking for myself and peterG if i may be so bold - we do try to eliminate errors with statements backed by sources - as far as is possible
    I should point out that PeterG was an immigration officer BEFORE the flood gates were opened and so both he and I would wholeheartedly agree with any comments you may be harbouring -as he comments on having turned away more aspiring immigrants than actually landed during his tenure.
    Let us therefore go forward - as someone might say - to inform our posters in all truth and veracity.
    Best regards

    Report message49

  • Message 50

    , in reply to message 49.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Monday, 4th June 2007


    Alas, my politics are not your politics.

    My problem with the Immigration Service is its exclusionary, and in my personal opinion arbitrary, behaviour, to put it no stronger. I suspect, in my personal Weitgeist, you chaps are part of the problem, not the solution.

    But this is irrelevant to this thread, and enough. I would suggest, in offering advice on researching wartime records to posters here, we keep our personal politics to ourselves.


    Report message50

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