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1944 Post D-DAY (Bayeux) Description of fighting in soldiers personal letter

Article about: I recieved this photograph from my uncle of John ADDY today - He did become a Dispatch Rider after all! (He's the one on the right)

  1. #1

    Default 1944 Post D-DAY (Bayeux) Description of fighting in soldiers personal letter

    The following was written by my uncles' uncle John ADDY. He was called up for service on 06-05-43 and demobbed on 25-10-47. Unfortunately I know very little about his miltary career other than what is in the items photographed below.
    My uncle gave me John ADDY's 'SOLDIERS RELEASE BOOK' and Military driving licence. The driving licence was held inside a leather wallet and within the pockets of the leather wallet I found a piece of camouflaged parachute silk, a printed letter relating to the 11th Armoured Division 'saving' Antwerp, pages from a diary relating to service in the far east and his return journey by sea and most interestingly a six page letter detailing the fighting around Bayeux including a couple of very small sketches which relate to what he describes.
    I know that John ADDY served in Northern Europe (He bought back a Luftwaffe dagger which my uncle still has) as it is evident in his letter and then served in India (He also bought back a Kukri - uncle still has that as well) as it is written in his release book
    Unfortunately where John ADDY's rank and Regiment are written on his release book there is a crease and hole so I do not know them. On the inner cover of his driving licence is written Pte J ADDY and his service number (14600505). The licence is written in English and what I assume is Indian.
    All of the items are very fragile, more so the letter, which has ripped and creased and suffered water damage at the edges. The letter is written more in the format of a diary explaining his thoughts and what was happening around him. It obviously meant a lot to him as it was wedged inside the wallet. A few extracts are as follows,
    'The tense moment had come. Stopped in field. God knows how long dug in. Scared most of the time'
    'Was I more scared than anyone else, or was I the same as anyone else'
    'My relief guard had his arm blown off about 2 minutes after I had been relieved'
    'It was soon after he spoke when up came this barrage, bangs, whistles, lights smell of cordite. But not a sound from these fresh men'
    'Under cover of the next night we mounted the TCV’s we were scarcely seated when an A.P. (armour piercing) shell winged across our head'
    'Slept with Sgt Clements, this man had a big mouth but a small brain'


    I won't ruin it any further for you as I intend to put a full transcript of the letter on the thread over weekend (Just to keep you interested!)

  2. #2
    ?

    Default Re: 1944 Post D-DAY (Bayeux) Description of fighting in soldiers personal letter

    Wow this is nice items. I wish i had something like this but i did not have any relative in the war. (at least not as a soldier), but My grandfather (who has now passed away) was Tunisian and in Tunisia alot of the people where happy about the Germans comming and driving the french away. He told me that the french did not treat the tunisians good at all but the germans where very friendly to them. My grandfather was a beduin and knew most of Tunisias deserts, and he helped a german panzer unit during the whole war in Tunisia, showing where it was safe to drive tanks and where it was not. My other grandfather was a sailor from Finland and also experiensed the finnish winter war and world war 2, but only as a sailor not as a soldier. Really looking forward to the full transcript of the letter mate!

  3. #3

    Default Re: 1944 Post D-DAY (Bayeux) Description of fighting in soldiers personal letter

    Nice stuff Grimebox. Congrats on preserving the documentation.

    Looks like KOYLI....Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The 1/4th were in Normandy and the Low Countries. Other battalions served in India...and half the bloody army finished up at Doolally.

    KOYLI

    The 1/4th Battalion, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, was first in action in Norway in April and May 1940. It had been stationed at Northallerton prior to Norway. On June 22, 1940 the battalion sailed from Glasgow on the transport Andes as part of the 49th Infantry Division for Iceland, to hold that island in case the Germans attempted to seize it. On August 26, 1942 the battalion returned to England and were quartered at Ross-on-Wye.
    After a period of training in England the Battalion landed in Normandy - Gold Beach - as part of the 49th (West Riding) Division, 146th Brigade, Division was under command of Major General Evelyn Barker. From then onwards until the Germans surrendered in May 1945, the Battalion was almost continually in action.
    The first full-scale Divisional assault carried out by the 49th Division at Cristot, the capture and holding of Tessel Wood during the battle of Fontenay le Pesnil, and the capture of Le Havre were the outstanding actions of the Battalion in France.
    The severest fighting took place during the autumn and winter in the Low Countries. Four months of cold, wet weather were spent in close contact with the Germans near Nijmegen. In April the Battalion advanced into Holland, capturing Arnhem, and ended the war in Utrecht.

    Hope this (scavenged from web) helps. Keep up the good work.

    Cheers,

    PG

  4. #4

    Default Re: 1944 Post D-DAY (Bayeux) Description of fighting in soldiers personal letter

    BTW Grimebox:

    Can't see too clearly (half blind) but I think your man is wearing a CBI patch (China Burma India) As well as medals he must have picked up in Europe.

    I'm guessing he must have transferred from one battalion to another as I can't see any KOYLI battalion that was in both Normandy and India.

    PG

  5. #5

    Default Re: 1944 Post D-DAY (Bayeux) Description of fighting in soldiers personal letter

    Thank you for your posts. If anybody can add anything further from information within the letter (possible dates, battles, etc) I would be very interested, also does anybody know what D.R. refers to?
    I have copied the letter to the best of my abilities using the same grammer and punctuation. The letter has rips and water damage and some of the handwriting is illegible.
    #### refers to a word that I can't deceipher
    (word) refers to something I have added (mainly to refer to a sketch)
    The entries are numbered 1 - 6, however this is the not pages so guess that it is seperate days

  6. #6

    Default Re: 1944 Post D-DAY (Bayeux) Description of fighting in soldiers personal letter

    1/
    GRAVES ON WAYSIDE Bayeux
    Stationed in field (rain)
    Made R.H.V camp
    Man SHOT HIMSELF WITH STEN
    (couple days or weeks camp area stay here to dazed to know how long)

    2/
    Moved in T.C.V’s to camp area. Native of Bayeux gave us wine. THE TENSE moment had come. Stopped in field God knows how long. Dug in. Scared most of the time. Could hear our own shells splitting the air. I thought at first that they were the enemies shells. Soon got to know what was what but didn’t or couldn’t realise the real horror of war. Was I more scared than anyone else, or was I the same as anyone else. Saw D.R I still held my interest for D.R work. This interest in D.R work was much stronger than my fear.

    3/
    Under cover of the next night we mounted the TCV’s we were scarcely seated when an A.P. (armour piercing) shell winged across our heads. We all sprang from the truck and looked for cover. 1 man broke his ankle. Very lucky for he went back. How I wished for his luck. On we went, a few miles. All the way there was a strong smell of death. Many many English and German recent dug graves

    The #### of #### reported us to an R.S.M who by the way was a Hereford red #### always #### #### I found out later. Things were very quiet for a moment. I thought war was not so bad after all but then I was told to report with a few of my friends to 1 of the many trenches in the middle of a large field (SEE PICTURE 4) Arrow marks my trench. At first I could not make out what we were doing in the trenches. A corporal then told me that we were standing to and that both us and the enemy would tart a shell barrage. It was just after he spoke when up came this barrage, bangs, ####, whistles, lights smell of cordite. But not a sound from these fresh men. The corporal in my trench told me to keep my eyes to the front. I was to scared to put my head above the level of the trench. Our R.A. fired 36,000 round that night and ### night to follow.

    4/
    All my pals behind . I spoke to ### anti/tank #### he pointed to a motorcycle which he said was the one that I had to take over. This was just about dinner time. Things were very quiet, apart from a few enemy shells now and again. The platoon Sgt was out shooting some small wood pigeons for dinner. We cooked them but m feeling toward food was very sickly. I did eat a little to keep my strength although it was against my will. After dinner things were still quiet, so I thought it wise to locate the position of our six anti/tank guns and the 12 carries. Having done so I returned to PLT HQ where I stayed. When night came on I had to go to my new trench position. My new pal was already in this trench he was a D.R. This night there were another lot shells from dusk till dawn he was as scared.

    5/
    The next night all through the shells I had to report every 20m to S.Coy HQ. God knows how I found my way to reform these trenches. Many times I was halted by our own men in their trenches. The next day I managed to get a couple of hours sleep in a rear trench. It was the first sleep for about twenty four hour. I felt nearly dead, but later on when I awoke I found a 17lb anti tank gun ### the rear hedge #### parts with the gunner. Told them to dig deep trenches to keep their head down after dusk had fallen. After about 4 or 5 day here the order came down to wait for another #### to take over. After a wait which seemed a life time we moved on.

    (SEE PICTURE 5 - top of page)
    All our dead buried here

    The next day I was put on guard at the gate. Fired on accidentally ### . My relief guard had his arm blown off about 2 minutes after I had been relieved, lucky it wasn’t me. The R.S.M then told me to report to my S.Coy Platoon HQ which was the anti tank.

    6/
    I mounted my cycle and 5 of us moved to a #### moving our motorcycles as fast as we could. I could get away from that death stinking lane fast enough. We then came to a field which was to be our short resting area. Running backwards and forwards I made sure that all our vehicles were then safe and sound. It was at this rest place that I really found out what the men in S.Coy were like. Made a few pals. During this short stay I saw many dog fights in the air. Dug trench about 7ft long and 6ft wide made tent top to sleep in. Slept with Sgt Clements this man had a big mouth but a small brain. Gave French girl choc ration for milk. My pal tried to milk a cow whilst I held it by horns.

  7. #7

    Default Re: 1944 Post D-DAY (Bayeux) Description of fighting in soldiers personal letter

    Keep it coming man
    Looking for the photo albums of Leutnant Emil Freitag, 3. / G.R. 377

  8. #8

    Default Re: 1944 Post D-DAY (Bayeux) Description of fighting in soldiers personal letter

    I think D.R. is (motorcycle) dispatch rider.

    A lot of these guys were Royal Signals (I think) but there may have been regimental D.R. as well.

    PG

  9. #9
    ?

    Default Re: 1944 Post D-DAY (Bayeux) Description of fighting in soldiers personal letter

    Thanks Grimebox for sharing! That was incridible interesting reading, made my day

  10. #10

    Default Re: 1944 Post D-DAY (Bayeux) Description of fighting in soldiers personal letter

    'Dispatch rider' Now why didn't I think of that!! Makes sense given the later reference to motorcycles. You wouldn't know what R.H.V camp and T.C.V's are would you?
    It's difficult to tell from the letter whether this is a period over 6 days or longer. It is written 'together/concurrent' as in there are no gaps or pages missing as it is numbered by hand, but the feeling I get from reading it is that it is over a longer period than 6 days. It obviously meant something to him as he took the time to write it down there and then and then hide it away for all these years. I will deceipher the other scraps of paper at some point, however they relate to 1947 and his return journey home by sea (written in the smallest handwriting possible)

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