Ipswich Veterans

 

November 2017

Alan Coyne born in 1956, joined up as a boy soldier in 1971 age 15, from 1974 -1982 served with the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment serving in Cyprus, Germany and Northern Ireland. Alan completed 3 tours of Northern Ireland being one of the youngest aged 17 during the height of the troubles. Alan was involved in a roadside bomb being blown off his feet into a doorway and slightly wounded, recounting this Alan said if our patrol had been 60 seconds later I wouldn’t be here now.

Alan left the Battalion in Germany in 1982 but returned to army life in 1986 as an instructor for the ACF (Army cadet force) From 1990 -1998 Alan joined the T.A returning to active service in the Royal Logistic Corps in Bosnia witnessing the horrors of war.

Alan is a staunch member of the RBL and rarely misses a parade or service in Ipswich.

 

 

 

December 2016

Stanley Chambers a born-and-bred Ipswich veteran who flew Spitfires during the Second World War.
Stanley celebrated his 100th birthday in December and seen here holding his French Legion of Honour medal.
Stanley spent some time at RAF Martlesham. Fighting over the coast of England protecting England from German bombers, then later in the war shot down two doodle bugs. Stanley also took part in the D-Day landings and the liberation of France, protecting the sky’s from fighters as the landings took place.
Stanley despite being one hundred years of age is very active, living independently ,loves good company as well as a wee dram. I have met a number of 100 year olds and will say he is one of a kind.!
After the War he joined the navy. Stanley has lived in Ipswich all his life going to school at Northgate high. His earliest memory was seeing horses ,artillery and soldiers filling the streets of Ipswich during the First World War.
Stanley is very proud of his military career and will never forget the bravery of so many of his friends who made the ultimate sacrifice.
His parting words were “as a 100 year old I can say what ever I like! but take this with you.. So many men gave up their lives for our freedom.. please don’t give your freedom away!”

 

 

 

 

November 2017

Ken Norman has been presented the Légion d’honneur medal for his service to France during WW2, at a dinner for the Ipswich branch of the Ipswich Royal Naval Association by Commodore Robert Bellfield RN (formally Captain of HMS Grafton) who read out the citation and officially presented the Medal.

Ken Norman was born in Ipswich on December 6th 1925 joining the Navy in 1943 being stationed and trained at HMS Ganges near Ipswich.

Ken joined HMS Dido and spent time in Malta and Taranto before taking part in a diversionary action off Civitavecchia in support of the landing at Anzio. August 1944 saw HMS Dido supporting the Allied landings in France. In September 1944, HMS Dido returned to the UK.

In October 1944, HMS Dido escorted a convoy to Russia before supporting carrier strikes off Norway. In April 1945, Dido escorted Apollo, Orwell, and Obedient to the North Kola Inlet to lay mines.

HMS Dido’s last mission in the war was to go to Copenhagen, firing the last naval shot in the war in Europe on the way, for the surrender of the German Kriegsmarine which was signed aboard HMS Dido. After the signing, HMS Dido escorted the German cruisers Prinz Eugen and Nürnberg to Wilhelmshaven.
Ken has also received honours from Russia for his part in Convoy work and has now received the Légion d’honneur medal for his service to France during operation Dragoon Allied invasion and liberation of Southern France on 15 August 1944.

Ken has lived in Ipswich all his life, working for Fisons on Cliff quay. Ken despite his age is a staunch supporter of the RNA and the RBL and will never forget his Shipmates.

 

 

 

  

 

October 2017

For his part in the war Kenneth Oatley has be awarded the Légion d’honneur by the French Government being presented the medal today by the Lord Lt. of Suffolk Lady Euston in Ipswich.

Born in 1922 Kenneth Oatley Joined 627 Squadron in the summer of 1944 and took part in the large raid on 18th August 1944 at L’isle Adam France destroying V1 rocket site and storage depot.
His Squadron supported ground troops after D-Day, carrying out low level visual marking of precision targets with the aim, avoiding civilian casualties whilst destroying strategic and tactical targets. Prime targets being Railway, goods, storage and ammunition depots at Caen, Rennes, Beauvoir, Potiers, Creil, Villeneuve and many other including targets at Brest and Boulogne. Kenneth took part in 20 operations over France, Germany and Norway.

Kenneth first flew in 1941 in a Tiger Moth biplane and admits while training in Lancashire he got lost and was forced to land and ask for directions. From there he travelled to Canada training in Airspeed Oxford planes then to South Africa training as a navigator.

By 1944 Kenneth had flown in Wellingtons, Sterling’s and Lancaster bombers becoming a flight Sergeant. Then chosen to become a Navigator in a Pathfinder group flying the Mosquito.
The main role of his group was to locate targets dropping 4 x 500lb magnesium bombs lighting up the target for the heavy bombers to aim on. The Mosquito plane was one of the fastest planes of its class being capable of speeds of 400mph flying under the radar over roof tops and trees at high speeds taking part in many dangerous and daring raids a complete thrill for Kenneth when he was appointed but he admitted having butterflies as orders came in for bombing raids.

18th October 2017 Kenneth was joined with friends and family to celebrate his honour with special thanks to the Ipswich branch of the RBL.

The French government has been awarding the Légion d’honneur to D-Day veterans from many different countries for several years, as a way of honouring and thanking those who fought and risked their lives to secure France’s liberation during the Second World War.

Flying Officer Kenneth Oatley Interviewed on October 17, 2014 by Svetlana Palmer for Chronicles of Courage.

 

 

   

September 2017

An Ipswich Veteran honoured.
Charles Wright age 96 has been honoured by the Norwegian government for his military service during 1940. Charles (Sony) enlisted 2 years under age as a medic in the RAMC and was posted to Northumberland for training, where he volunteered for a secret mission to occupied Norway. Attached to a new Special Forces group set up by Churchill they were set the task of cutting communications and transport links hampering the Germans. Setting off from Greenock Scotland and Landing at Bedo Norway (not yet in German hands) in artic conditions they moved across the country hampering the German occupation. Following a German ambush one member was killed and 6 wounded. The mission was over, escaping back to the coast, boarding a British frigate which was evacuating troops and civilians from Norway (On board the same ship were the Norwegian Royal family.)

Charles served in Gibraltar/ Greece/ Malta and North Africa, being captured in 1943-1945.

The Norwegian Government are acknowledging all who risked their lives and who served during the war in Norway. On Monday a Defence Attaché presented Sony with an award in recognition of his service, where friends and family joined him in this celebratory afternoon tea.

 

October 2017

Norman Kent aged 94, served during ww2 with the Royal Engineers and was awarded the Légion d’honneur Medal in 2017 by the French government for his service in France. Norman was on the first wave of landing craft on Sword beach Normandy during D-Day 1944
“I was quite scared as the ramp went down on the landing craft as we hit the beach, my C.O was one of the first to be hit, falling at my feet on the ramp with a bullet straight between the eyes. We ran up the beach and jumped into the nearest shell hole under heavy machine gun fire, snipers picked us off very easily. At that point I realised I was the highest rank left and was to take charge of my unit. After some time we took the high ground and a captured German remarked that they could see our every move!.”
“I met my wife in 1945 in Berlin, She was an ATS girl (WAAC) from Ipswich so when we married I moved to Ipswich just after the war”

 

 

2016 Toney Booth served during ww2 in the Tank Regiment and was awarded the Légion d’honneur Medal in 2016 by the French government for his service in France. Norman was on the first wave of landing craft on Gold beach Normandy during D-Day 1944. Toney landed in France driving straight onto the newly constructed Mulberry harbour on Gold beach in the third wave of troops being part of a special unit of tanks “Hobart’s funny’s” Tanks which had been modified for amphibious assaults, mine clearing, bridge making and specialized armaments such as flamethrowers or the high explosive Petard spigot mortar for clearing pill boxes and obstacles. Toney’s tank had a large search light attached to the turret designed to pinpoint and dazzle targets. This proved to be unsuccessful and he was pleased to move to a ‘Kangaroo’ Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) was used for the rapid transport of infantry, helping them keep pace with armour during offensive operations. During the Battle of Normandy, they helped to solve a critical tactical problem by providing vulnerable infantry some means of increased mobility and protection. The ‘Kangaroo’ was an improvisation first used by Canadian troops in Normandy before being adopted by the 79th Armoured Division. Many were adapted from the obsolete Canadian Ram tank, which could carry approximately eight men once the turret was removed.

Toney realized that the Germans did not like the 79th Armoured division as they used flame thrower tanks and reports came in that the Germans would shoot any captured 79th tank crews.

Toney was proud of his service and admitted we didn’t have time to be scared, in difficult situations the training kicked in. We looked out for each over and by luck we returned home.

 

 

2016 (RIP 2017) Lest we forget..

Cyril Nixon aged 92,an Ipswich WW2 veteran who served with the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, played a key role on June 6, 1944 D-DAY, by riding in a support lorry used to refuel tanks heading into France.

Driving around a half mile behind, the fuel lorries were often targeted by the Germans as the tanks would be left stranded without them.

But Mr Nixon, who travelled with the convoy all the way to the River Seine, said he was ‘just playing his part’.
“We all had our little contribution,” he said.
“I was only 18 and back then I was 6ft 4ins and was judged too big to go into the tanks so my job was to go along with a big lorry full of fuel.

“The majority of people in my regiment were transferred from cavalry to tanks so were much smaller men. I was one of the fresh ones so was much bigger.
“On D-Day night they were trying to blast away at us, the bullets were coming down like rain.”
“It had taken a lot of training but on the day everything went berserk because of the weather.

Before leaving France Cyril decided to try and protect his cab of the truck by adding a sheet of corrugated iron onto the roof. The truck was designed to carry fuel but remain light weight with the cab being very sparse with only canvas doors and roof. To refuel the tanks he would have to drive up along side the tank sometimes under heavy fire which was a very risky task. The Germans would choose the truck as a better target rather than the tank.

“They had to think on their feet whoever was in charge.”
Cyril had a few close shaves while fighting in France.
“I did get a Tiger tank shell right through the lorry front to back once,” he said.
“All the army stuff was canvas on top and the fuel wasn’t as high as the metal sides.
“I was in the lorry and it just went right through the canvas. There were lots of incidents like that.
“We had occasions where we were machine gunned and they were after us because they knew the fuel was important.”

 

2016

Harrold Farrow (Dick) an Ipswich WW2 hero receiving the Légion d’honneur Medal earlier this year at Rock barracks Woodbridge 2016.

Harold Farrow who was born in 1924 joined the Army aged just 18 in 1942, being transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment in 1943
He served in Britain in preparation for D-Day until getting loaded with his Regiment on a ship ready to sail for France on 3rd June 1944 where he landed on D-Day itself 6th June 1944
Harold was with his Regiment throughout the campaign in North West Europe surviving many scrapes when under fire by a desperate German Army but was lucky enough to come through unscathed.
He was promoted Lance Corporal and was qualified on Bren Gun Carriers whose job was to push on ahead and make contact with the enemy and give fire support to the infantry. Bren Gun carriers were only lightly armoured and would have been an easy target for enemy Tanks or Guns.
Discharged from the Army shortly after the war he had enjoyed the comradeship so much he returned to the Army and served until 1953.

 

2016

Mr Reginal Snowling a brave Ipswich resident who served during WW2 with the 24th Lancers and received the Legion d’honneur medal this month, Reg landed in France on D-Day day one, serving as a gunner on the third tank on the beach under heavy fire became bogged down in the sand, the first and second tank being knocked out Reg still continued to fire. Under air attack Reg recalls jumping out of the tank taking cover on the opposite side the tank, moving from one side to the other. Once off the beach his tank was engaged in the attack on the heavily fortified towns and villages of Normandy confronted with the legionary German Tiger tank . Reg was wounded and continued to fight in Belgium and Holland. Reg also holds a record for knocking out two German tanks with one shell. Reg first landed in France with a Sherman tank then moved onto the lightweight Comet tank, this is a real Ipswich hero, age 95.

 

2016 (RIP 2017)

Mr Arthur Scoffield on his 100th birthday party. Born 17/02/1916.  He married Winifred Bett in 1938 and was married for 70 years with five children. Arthur first joined the T.A in 1933. As war broke out he was working for Cranes of Ipswich and was first stationed at Languard fort Felixstowe on the searchlights. He then volunteered to join the Bomb disposal team.

Arthur a D Day veteran of the Royal Engineers team landed in Normandy before the first wave of troops, clearing  Juno beach of obstacles using high explosives  while under heavy fire, allowing the 3rd Canadians to take Juno sector and push on into Normandy. Arthur was then wounded and taken from the beach back to England with shrapnel wounds, the doctors gave him a few months to live but made a full recovery.

Arthur lived until he was 101, a month before he died at his brothers funeral he managed to get to his feet and salute his brothers coffin as it past by.

Arthurs uncle FREDERICK HENRY SCOFFIELD died in 1916 on Christmas day and is commemorated on the Ipswich War Memorial. Arthur produced one of his treasured items, a cigarette case from his uncle sent home with his personal effects collected from his body.

 

 

JAMES HENRY JORDAN MM   1888-1932

Jim was christened Henry James Jordan but was known all his life as James Henry, shortened to Jim. He was about the 13th child of Emily and John William Jordan, who were living at that time at 15 Handford Road, Ipswich. John William was, according to family legend, a larger-than-life character who worked on the ‘bumby’ or Night Soil carts.

In 1907 Jim enlisted into the Suffolk Regiment, spent a few weeks at Woolwich Barracks and then, probably to his great delight, found himself on the troopship ‘Dongola’ bound for Malta, arriving in Valetta Harbour on November 27th 1907. There were two barracks on Malta, and from the photographs of ‘B’ Company, we believe he was stationed at Fort Manoel. He can be seen on the photograph of the Armourers, Pioneers and Tailors, third from the left, second row from the front. He was trained by the army to be a tailor and my mother can remember a brown velvet dress he made for her second birthday.

The journal detailing life in the First Suffolks during these years in Malta is to be found in the Record Museum in Bury St Edmunds. Life seemed to consist of football, cricket, tug of war, water polo and bayonet fighting. We have a certificate showing that Jim learned to swim in the warm waters of Valetta Harbour – 200 yards in full clothing!

Jim is referred to once in the journal, he was part of a shooting team that won a competition and he won the princely sum of seven shillings and sixpence.

Three years later the Battalion were on the move, this time taking over from the First Welsh at Mustapha Pasha Barracks in Alexandria. Some men went off on camel training but Jim’s life continued much as before; sports, training and parades.

When war broke out in Europe the battalion was stationed in Khartoum; they were quickly ferried back to England, arriving in Liverpool in October 1914. Jim had three days leave which he spent at the family home, now 34 Black Horse Lane where his mother Emily ran a corner shop. Two older brothers who were reservists had already left home; Bill, a brother considerably older than Jim, had been accepted into the Home Guard, but younger brother Ben had not yet joined up. (He was later to join the Navy and served on the Royal Oak during the Battle of Jutland).

It was January 1915 when Jim found himself for the first time on French soil. The weather was cold and wet and it didn’t take long for the mens’ boots to start to disintegrate. From the hot winds of Khartoum to the freezing mud of ‘Wipers‘ – it must have come as a shock.

Jim’s war records were destroyed during the Second World War so we have made educated guesses as to his experiences during the course of the war. We know he was wounded three times and we know that he was not on active service when the Battalion was transferred to Salonika at the end of 1915, he must have been recuperating from an injury at the time. We know that from early 1916 Jim was in the Second Battalion – in April they were assigned trench digging duties in the Ypres Salient and in September that year they were involved in the Battle of Loos. By April 1917 the unit were fighting in the Battle of Arras. We know Jim was in the 7th Battalion when they marched underground into the caves underneath the town at Easter 1917.

Suffolk Regiment records:

10th April1917 the Battle of Arras

“By noon the 7th Battalion had captured the final objective taking 2 days along the Feuchy road.”

“The weather on the 9th was gradually becoming worse, much sleet and snow fell becoming deplorable”

28th April 1917

Suffolk Regiment 7th Battalion

Battle of Arleux (Part of the Battle of Arras)

“They immediately came under a most devastating machine gun fire from Roeux not yet taken and suffered very heavy losses”

(Reduced to 190 men)

Some time during September 1917 Jim was awarded the Military Medal. Perhaps he was a volunteer for the raids on enemy trenches that went on during that period. Unfortunately we will never know. During this autumn period, the Battalion took part in the Battle of Cambrai, in which tanks were used for the first time. On November 29th the men were exhausted. They were relieved and moved back to a sunken road less than half a mile from the front line. That night, Jim and his comrades were captured by the Germans, and forced to march miles behind enemy lines.

In January 1918 Jim is on the official register for Dulmen prisoner of war camp, although it is more likely that he was one of thousands forced to work behind the German front line. He pops up again in April 1918, on the register for Friedrichsfeld camp. The Red Cross record shows that he had injuries to his left shoulder and left thigh.

Family legend has it that Jim suffered from lack of medical attention and hunger during the year he was a POW and that it was this that probably led to an early death.

Back home in Ipswich Jim found work with his brother Bill on a building site. He met and married Maudie Crane in 1922 and after a few months living with his in-laws in Bath Street, moved into a newly built Council home – 9 Kelly Road.

I believe Jim and Maudie were very happy at Kelly Road. They both loved nothing more than a sing-song at the local pub. Jim kept canaries and filled his small garden with daffodils, a flower he loved. Apparently he was a very happy-go-lucky chap, who enjoyed a laugh and a chat. He could stick up for himself though. When a brother-in-law (one who had shirked war duties and couldn’t hold down a job) poked fun at Jim as, after several years, there were still no children, Jim gave him a black eye! Eventually Jean was born, in 1930 and Ronnie in 1932. By then, Jim had had to give up work due to a diseased heart. He spent his time making clothes and thick rag rugs, looking after the children and his beloved canaries. 

One sunny day in May 1932 Jim decided to cut the hedge that ran along the back garden. It was here that he suffered a fatal heart attack. He is buried in an unmarked grave in Ipswich Cemetery, only a few steps from the Garden of Remembrance.

Images and details courtesy of Marian Thornley.