Born: 1st January 1913, Coddenham, Suffolk.
Died: 19th June 1944; Age: 31 (alternative date of death recorded by the CWGC – 28th June 1944).
Rank: Private: Service Number: 5825345.
Regiment: Suffolk Regiment, 1st Battalion – Infantry.
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Walter Cecil & Gertrude Sarah Hammond; husband of Phyllis Irene Hammond, of Forward Green, Suffolk.
Nephew to FRED ERNEST HAMMOND
Father: Walter Cecil Hammond, born 10th October 1886, Woolpit, Suffolk – Died during the First World War of Wounds – 8th November 1917, a Private, Service Number 55588, of the 1st/4th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment. Laid to rest at White House Cemetery, Belgium.
Mother: Gertrude Mildred Sarah Hammond (nee Hines), born March 1886, Semer, Suffolk.
Gertrude re-married in 1920 to James Minns, born December 1888, Offton, Suffolk, an Agricultural Engineer. The Minns & Hammond family lived at Creeting St. Mary, Suffolk.
In 1940, Gipping, Suffolk, Alec married Phyllis Irene Southgate, born July 1920, Bosmere, Suffolk.
They had 1 son:
Graham Gordon Hammon, born December 1944, Suffolk.
Alec is also remembered on the war memorial at St. Mary’s Church, Creeting St. Mary, Suffolk.
September 1939: On the outbreak of war the Battalion was based in Devonport. It was part of 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division.
October 1939: They went to France.
May/June 1940: The Battalion were evacuated from Dunkirk and returned to the UK.
June 1944: The Battalion landed in Normandy (D Day). From then on was engaged in the North Western Europe campaign.
26th September 1944 – Evening Star
SUFFOLKS IN NORMANDY
FIRST 16 DAYS OF THE INVASION
An interesting description in diary form of the part played by a battalion of the Suffolk Regiment in the invasion of Normandy, and their activities up to D-plus-16 Day, is given in the current issue of the “Suffolk Regimental Gazette.”
The Suffolks were landed at the right beach at the right time. The beach looked a shambles. Men were lying about waiting to get off, tanks and carriers were either burning or moving about rather helplessly, as it was apparent that there were as yet no gaps made. The Boche was now shelling and mortaring the beach and water’s edge quite hard.
“Our craft,” says the diarist, “went right over one ramp obstacle with a mine on the top. As I saw we were going over it I said the first of many prayers I was to say on this day…… Luckily the whole ramp collapsed and the mine did not explode.
“Shelling became rather unpleasant, and several craft were hit. The men waded through about thirty yards of water up to their waists, and the next fifteen minutes was described as ‘like a nightmare,’ with the troops crouching down behind any cover they could find, wrecked vehicles, etc., and hoping for the best. Although the whole of the battalion was on that narrow beach – about thirty yards – and everyone close together, there was probably not more than a dozen casualties.”
Each Company had its allotted task. “C” Company had no difficulty in clearing a village about 1 1/2 miles inland a Battery of 105mm. guns surrendered to “B” Company before they attacked, but “A” Company was unable to get into their strong-point – a Regimental Headquarters – for several hours, during which two Platoons were pinned to the ground and unable to move. Flails were eventually used to enable tanks to get in and deal with the positions holding up the Suffolks. “A” and “C” companies mopped up. The German Regimental Commander was killed a few fought on until they were killed. The action cost the lives of Capt. R.G. Ryley,(Died 07/06/1944)( “A” Company commander. Lieut. T. Tooley, one of his Platoon Commanders, and about twelve men killed and wounded. The Divisional Commander congratulated the Suffolk Commanding Officer on the performance of the Battalion, “and he really meant it. “UNFORGETABLE SIGHT
It was an unforgettable sight when the Airborne Division landed at 9 p.m., and with the Luftwaffe absent, the main opposition to the landing was from the light A.A. guns from the houses on the beach, which had been in our hands since the morning.
Next day it was found that the Germans had left dozens of snipers behind, but they were not accurate shots. They were hard to spot, and considerable time and trouble was spent trying to locate them. The R.A.F. cover was magnificent, and the fighters provided a hot reception when the Luftwaffe became more active. The local inhabitants appeared quite pleased when the Battalion moved to a new area into a village on D-Plus-2 Day and on the following day the Battalion moved out to attack at 2:30 p.m., but it never materialised owing to strong enemy positions on the flank. Heavy shell and mortar fire was encountered, and it was here that the Colonel was wounded and the Intelligence Officer, Lieut. P. Keville, was killed.(Died 09/06/1944 Aged 26)”D” Company, who were in a hot spot, also had some casualties. A squadron of German fighters, who swooped low over the battlefield, was given a pasting with Brens and rifles. Strangely enough they did not appear interested in the Suffolks, even though a company was lying in the middle of an open field. The Battalion dug in for the night, and “C” Company sent patrols right among the enemy positions, but came back with little or nothing to report.
HOME IN A WOOD
A wood into which the unit moved on D-Plus-4 Day proved their home for the next ten days. Little was seen of the Germans. “They don’t go in for the habit, as we do, of scrolling about casually in full view,” commented the diarist. D-Plus-5 Day opened with a bad bout of shelling for “C” Company, who had several casualties, including Lieut. Tribe killed.
From D-Plus-6 Day to D-Plus-16 Day the Battalion stayed in the same position. The noise never stopped, with guns and mortars in action day and night. The Germans – unlike the British – seldom patrolled, seeming quite content to sit in their well dug positions. The Battalion kept in good spirits. Discipline and morale were high, and they were ready to go anywhere and do anything ordered. They were shelled occasionally, but everyone was well dug-in and there few casualties. The air cover was tremendous.
The Germans’ A.A. included some heavy guns, which fired at low-flying planes, and the shells burst just above the heads of the Suffolks. To date the Battalion had suffered about 67 casualties killed, wounded and missing, which considering all things, was extremely light. “We had been fortunate,” concluded the diarist.
1st September 1944 Page 5 – Evening Star.
BEAT THE PANZERS
The Suffolks in Normandy
A release of the news by the War Office that the Suffolk Regiment is fighting in Normandy is published in the current issue of the “Suffolk Regimental Gazette.” The division with which it is serving was used as an assault force on “D”-Day, attacking the Norman shores West of Oustreham.
The Suffolks brigade pressed forward from the coast, and during “D”-Day itself reached Coalville-sur-Orne, several miles from the sea. The Regiment was speedily engaged in action, going into the attack West of the River Orne, and North of Caen area, where its formation for some time held its own, and later advanced against elements of the 21st Panzer Division. Later, they were in fierce fighting East of La Bliude.
A regimental correspondent declares that sine June, 1940, when the Regiment returned from Dunkirk, it has been biding its time, and preparing itself for a return journey to the Continent to pay off the debt it owes for that first reverse. The Regiment was to have gone to Sicily last year, and was only taken off that role at the last moment o make way for the Canadians. The Regiment was the last out of the Dunkirk area, and on June 6th was the first back again. The correspondent visualises the time when censorship restrictions will be rescinded, permitting the printing of the full and complete story of the Regiment’s activities – “a story of which we are most certainly proud.”
“R.E.G,” writes a fine tribute in the “Gazette” to Major P.W.G. Papillon (Died 28/06/1944 Aged 30) of Colchester, who died of wounds received in action. “Whether at work or play, he always got the best out of life,” says the writer. “His death is a grievous loss to the Regiment, and to his countless friends, and he will be sadly missed by his men, who would have followed him anywhere. He was a Regular officer of ten years’ service, and it was clear that he had a very promising career in front of him. During his service in India, he had been Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion, and an instructor at the Army Signal School, Poona. On his return to England he chose to serve with a field force battalion rather than go to the Staff College. In Normandy, he was magnificent, completely unruffled, and a splendid example to his company; his steady voice coming over the air, whether his Company headquarters were being mortared or whether his Company had captured a German position, was a tonic to those of us at headquarters. To his mother we extend our deepest sympathy.”
Major Papillon was buried with other Suffolks, who gave their lives, at Hermonville-sur-Mer.
Between the 6th -29th of May 19 Ipswich men were lost.