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BD blouse to a major in 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 56th London Division

Article about: by Loupie1961 Thank you Rob, I really appreciate your efforts... sooner or later this mistery is going to be solved: I am persuaded this bloused has not been forged, just because the insigni

  1. #1

    Default BD blouse to a major in 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 56th London Division

    Hello everybody! I need some help on order to shed light on a recent purchase. Here you find attached pics of a BD blouse badged to a Major J. E. Crowe, 2nd Battalion RF, 56th London Division. The blue flaming grenade is - as long as I know - the emblem of 2nd Battalion RF, the two AoS strips would indicate 168 (London) Infantry Brigade, second Brigade as for seniority in the 56th Division. Now, the 2nd battalion RF was not in the establishment of 56th (London) division during the war, since the two RF battalions serving in the Division were 8th and 9th, both in 167th (London) Infantry Brigade, the Senior brigade of the 56th Division. The BD blouse sport two AoS/seniority strips, therefore Major Crowe was supposedly in 168th (London) Infantry Brigade. 2nd RF as a matter of fact served in 56th Division, but only in 1930-36 AND in 167th (London) Infantry Brigade. During the war 2nd the Royal Fusiliers served rather in 12th Infantry Brigade, 4th Division, and this would be coherent with the two AoS/seniority strips, but the divisional flash is nevertheless that of 56th London Division, and the seller provided evidence that a Captain J. E. Crowe had earned a MC in september 1944 on the Coriano Ridge. He would have been in the 8th RF then, and afterwards transferred to 2nd RF. The question is: what was the establishment of 56th (London) Division just after the war? Was the 2nd RF transferred to 168 (London) Infantry Brigade just after the war? Does anybody knows the composition of 56th (London) Division in, say, 1946 or 1947? When was it disbanded? In 1947 was reformed as the 56th (London) Armoured Division (but with a different divisional flash), does anybody know the composition of 168th Lorried Infantry Brigade? And would the 168th Lorried Infantry Brigade be considered as the 2nd Brigade, since it was the only Infantry Brigade in the Division? Thank you in advance for your knowledge and kind help!
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  2. #2

    Default Re: BD blouse to a major in 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 56th London Division

    Hello

    I had a quick look around both my references and the net for this one. I think the confusion here is the blue grenade flash. I don't think it is actually 2nd/R Fus at all, although, for the record, I can't find any reference to confirm which battalion wore this, so I can't be 100% sure.

    What I can say for sure is that Major John Edmund Crowe was in the 8th Bn, Royal Fusiliers, having transferred from the Royal Artillery to this Bn. 8th and 9th Bn were together in 167th Bde until 23rd September 1944 when 8th was reduced to cadre and it's surplus personnel were absorbed into 9th Bn. This being the case, it is likely he transferred to 9th Bn, so I will have to assume the flash is probably 9/R Fus, pending confirmation.

    To back this theory up, we can look at the AoS strips to see if they make sense. At the end of the War (for example 1 June 1945), 56th (London) Infantry Division was composed of:

    24th Infantry Brigade
    167th Infantry Brigade
    169th Infantry Brigade

    with 9/R Fus being part of 167th Bde. This would make sense, and would tend to confirm both the authenticity of the two strip badging, and the ID of the unit flash being 9th Bn. 56th Div seems to have ceased to exist at the end of August 1945, but i will see if I can confirm that for sure.

    That's all I have so far, but you might want to look at this, as it has a partial history of Mr Crowe's career and a couple of pictures of him. BTW he was made temporary Major in Feb 1945: Officers of the British Army 1939-1945* -- C

    It looks to be a very nice BD, and typical of Italian theatre issue, is an American-made War Aid blouse.

    If I find anything else i will post it for you.

    Hope this is what you are looking for....

    Rob

  3. #3

    Default Re: BD blouse to a major in 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 56th London Division

    Quote by Loupie1961 View Post
    and the seller provided evidence that a Captain J. E. Crowe had earned a MC in september 1944 on the Coriano Ridge
    Actually, it was won on the Sensoli Ridge on 13th-14th September

    Rob

  4. #4

    Default Re: BD blouse to a major in 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 56th London Division

    Quote by Battery Command Post View Post
    Actually, it was won on the Sensoli Ridge on 13th-14th September

    Rob
    hello Rob, excellent work! Ive been informed on another forum that the blue grenade was the badge of the 2nd Bn, but your theory sound much more convincing.... I could not find any info about his MC on the London Gazette, though, but he was mentioned in a type written battalion history as a recipient....

  5. #5

    Default Re: BD blouse to a major in 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 56th London Division

    Quote by Loupie1961 View Post
    hello Rob, excellent work! Ive been informed on another forum that the blue grenade was the badge of the 2nd Bn, but your theory sound much more convincing.... I could not find any info about his MC on the London Gazette, though, but he was mentioned in a type written battalion history as a recipient....
    You're welcome, this kind of thing is fun for me, and such a nice blouse deserves some solid research work.

    I'm quite willing to believe a blue grenade was worn by 2nd Bn, but just because they wore one doesn't mean 9th Bn didn't also. After all, there is no reason to differentiate between the two battalions, as they didn't fight alongside each other. In any case, it's rather like the Sherlock Holmes (I think) idea that the truth is a simple answer that covers everything. If you accept that the badge is 9th Bn, everything falls into place. What you need now is the kingpin piece of evidence that proves the 9th Bn badge, such as a photo or something.

    Rob

  6. #6

    Default Re: BD blouse to a major in 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 56th London Division

    Quote by Battery Command Post View Post
    You're welcome, this kind of thing is fun for me, and such a nice blouse deserves some solid research work.

    I'm quite willing to believe a blue grenade was worn by 2nd Bn, but just because they wore one doesn't mean 9th Bn didn't also. After all, there is no reason to differentiate between the two battalions, as they didn't fight alongside each other. In any case, it's rather like the Sherlock Holmes (I think) idea that the truth is a simple answer that covers everything. If you accept that the badge is 9th Bn, everything falls into place. What you need now is the kingpin piece of evidence that proves the 9th Bn badge, such as a photo or something.

    Rob
    Hello Rob, I completely agree with you, but it looks like it won't be easy. Rosignoli, in his book on the Allies forces in Italy portraits the 9th Battalion device as a rectangle divided horizontally blue/red, while a member of another internet forum has provided such a list, referring to the RF Bns insignia:

    2 Grenade/Blue
    8 Square divided diagonally/red/blue
    9 Rectangle divided horizontally/red/blue
    11 Grenade/Yellow
    12 Grenade/Dark Brown
    13/30 Rectangle divided diagonally/red/blue
    16 Grenade/Green
    17 Grenade/Purple
    18 Grenade/Maroon
    19 Grenade/Blue?
    23 Grenade/Green

  7. #7

    Default Re: BD blouse to a major in 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 56th London Division

    Quote by Loupie1961 View Post
    Hello Rob, I completely agree with you, but it looks like it won't be easy. Rosignoli, in his book on the Allies forces in Italy portraits the 9th Battalion device as a rectangle divided horizontally blue/red, while a member of another internet forum has provided such a list, referring to the RF Bns insignia:

    2 Grenade/Blue
    8 Square divided diagonally/red/blue
    9 Rectangle divided horizontally/red/blue
    11 Grenade/Yellow
    12 Grenade/Dark Brown
    13/30 Rectangle divided diagonally/red/blue
    16 Grenade/Green
    17 Grenade/Purple
    18 Grenade/Maroon
    19 Grenade/Blue?
    23 Grenade/Green
    Hmmmm, yes, well that would be an impass then, which means its probably down to photographic evidence. I looked at the later history of 2/ and 9/R Fus, just to make sure. 2nd ended up in Egypt, while 9th were part of BETFOR (British Element Trieste Forces) in Pola from May 1945 to Dec 1946. No indication that 2nd ever formed any part of 56th Div.

    Rob

  8. #8

    Default Re: BD blouse to a major in 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 56th London Division

    Quote by Battery Command Post View Post
    Hmmmm, yes, well that would be an impass then, which means its probably down to photographic evidence. I looked at the later history of 2/ and 9/R Fus, just to make sure. 2nd ended up in Egypt, while 9th were part of BETFOR (British Element Trieste Forces) in Pola from May 1945 to Dec 1946. No indication that 2nd ever formed any part of 56th Div.

    Rob
    Now there's a bit of info that I have found out: 19th Bn, presumably sporting as insignia blue grenade, was converted into a RA Regiment, 98th Antitank regiment in november 1942, serving in the UK 1942-4, and being disbanded in january 1944 (?). Therefore Crowe could have been transferred to the RA, 98th Antitank regiment, and then attached from RA pending posting to 8th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, still wearing his 19th Battalion flash? Please check at: British Artillery Regiments

  9. #9

    Default Re: BD blouse to a major in 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 56th London Division

    Quote by Loupie1961 View Post
    Now there's a bit of info that I have found out: 19th Bn, presumably sporting as insignia blue grenade, was converted into a RA Regiment, 98th Antitank regiment in november 1942, serving in the UK 1942-4, and being disbanded in january 1944 (?). Therefore Crowe could have been transferred to the RA, 98th Antitank regiment, and then attached from RA pending posting to 8th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, still wearing his 19th Battalion flash? Please check at: British Artillery Regiments
    I didn't look in the Royal Artillery angle (despite my user name and avatar). It's possible that he came from 98th AT Regt certainly. Before transferring to the RA in June 1942, Crowe was in the King's (Liverpool) Regt, so he didn't necessarily have any RF connections before 1944. I have no definite information on any such regimental patch worn by any RA Regts (although many RA units did wear them), so I can't back it up with anything solid.

    The problem that I see is that the blouse is badged to a major, and Crowe didn't get his temporary majority until February 1945. Equally the insignia for 167th Brigade would have been a single AoS strip until March 1945 when 24th (Guards) Brigade joined the division, so the badging post-dates his attachment/transfer by six months or so - a long time to be still wearing his old insignia.

    Sorry I'm not being too helpful here. Unless there was some weird badging in 9th RF where officer's kept their old flashes (and they're a quirky regiment for sure), I don't see it working any better than the 2nd RF theory. There are two other possibilities for the grenade badge:

    1. Rosignoli was either wrong or working from poor information (not unlikely). It seems to me that all the other input on the badge you have been given stems from Rosignoli. Perhaps with this blouse you have just stumbled upon a very old mistake or typographical error (I used to work in military book publishing - they happen all the time).

    2. 9th Bn changed their badge, either after the reduction of 8th Bn in 1944 or later in 1945.

    I know one of us is going to nail this one soon... we're getting there

    Rob
    Last edited by Battery Command Post; 11-24-2011 at 05:55 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: BD blouse to a major in 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 56th London Division

    Quote by Battery Command Post View Post
    I didn't look in the Royal Artillery angle (despite my user name and avatar). It's possible that he came from 98th AT Regt certainly. Before transferring to the RA in June 1942, Crowe was in the King's (Liverpool) Regt, so he didn't necessarily have any RF connections before 1944. I have no definite information on any such regimental patch worn by any RA Regts (although many RA units did wear them), so I can't back it up with anything solid.

    The problem that I see is that the blouse is badged to a major, and Crowe didn't get his temporary majority until February 1945. Equally the insignia for 167th Brigade would have been a single AoS strip until March 1945 when 24th (Guards) Brigade joined the division, so the badging post-dates his attachment/transfer by six months or so - a long time to be still wearing his old insignia.

    Sorry I'm not being too helpful here. Unless there was some weird badging in 9th RF where officer's kept their old flashes (and they're a quirky regiment for sure), I don't see it working any better than the 2nd RF theory. There are two other possibilities for the grenade badge:

    1. Rosignoli was either wrong or working from poor information (not unlikely). It seems to me that all the other input on the badge you have been given stems from Rosignoli. Perhaps with this blouse you have just stumbled upon a very old mistake or typographical error (I used to work in military book publishing - they happen all the time).

    2. 9th Bn changed their badge, either after the reduction of 8th Bn in 1944 or later in 1945.

    I know one of us is going to nail this one soon... we're getting there

    Rob
    Thank you Rob, I really appreciate your efforts... sooner or later this mistery is going to be solved: I am persuaded this bloused has not been forged, just because the insignia on it by all means apparently should not be there.... still I have been told, but I do not own it, that it si the RF Regimental history that maintains that the 9th Bn had a divided blue/red square as insignia....
    Last edited by Loupie1961; 11-24-2011 at 11:19 PM.

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