Ipswich WW2 Stories

This section contains a timeline of just a few of the Ipswich men killed during WW2, as well as newspaper articles of the time. Click on the RED writing or image to access more information.  


From early in the year, Great Britain geared up its training in the forces with war looming. Some of the first Ipswich casualties and loses were in training. The Air force seeing many accidents. Ipswich Aircraftman First Class/Wireless Operator, Arthur John Whittaker died aged 23 in an aircraft crashed at Simonsbath, Somerset along with four other airmen. Ipswich Field of Honour was set up with Sailors, Airmen and Soldiers, being buried, some local but many far from home. Maltese Seaman Giuseppe Vassallo Royal Navy, died of wounds following his ship being mined on the entrance to the river Orwell. One of the youngest being Oswald Pell, Army Technical School (Boys) aged 16.


H.M.S, ‘Dunoon’ as part of a minesweeping Flotilla in Spring 1940, and was based at Great Yarmouth. On the 30th April 1940, during a sweep she detonated a mine which resulted in a further explosion of the 4th magazine. She sank after 20 minutes, 25 nautical miles east-north-east off Great Yarmouth. 26 men lost their lives. 47 rescued. Ipswich man lost Stoker CHARLES WILLIAM MARTIN aged 20.

Germany pushed its way through Europe, The BEF made many stands against the advancing enemy, losing thousands of tones of equipment in their retreat. On the outskirts of Arras France (Ipswich’s “Twinned” Town), 60 miles south from the French coast, 22nd May an Ipswich man William John Abbott of the RASC attached to the Welsh Guards was killed during fighting in the defense of Arras. The German column driving from the South was hit by a handful of Matilda  light tanks. This was enough to stall the German advance on the Northern French ports, including Dunkirk.

Holding out to the German advance, one of the first Ipswich medals awarded for gallantry, Guardsman WILLIAM FREDERICK HARDY. MM of the Grenadier Guards, 3rd Battalion.

On the 21st May 1940 this Guardsman, twice volunteered to return from his forward post to fetch ammunition. This necessitated crossing over ground that was heavily swept by MG fire. By his gallant conduct his platoon was able to maintain their fire and inflict heavy casualties on the enemy.” he later died of wounds on the 27th of May 1940, Hainault, Belgium.

GEORGE HARRY PALLANT was killed in action 27th May 1940 and  buried near to the road to Dunkirk in France.  He was killed during the Battle of  Dunkirk, as part of the BEF holding back the German forces as they crossed the Belgium border into France, in an effort to gain time to allow the allied forces to escape the French coastal ports.

Edward-Reginald-Wilfred-MayhewEdward Reginald Mayhew serving with the Royal Army Service Corps, died in fighting in Belgium on the roads leading to Dunkirk.

Pte. BERNARD JOHN BRIGHTWELL Royal Army Service Corps

Private LESLIE ARCHIBALD SMITH of the Suffolk Regiment 1st Battalion.
On the outbreak of war the Battalion was based in Devonport. It was part of 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division. October 1939 The Battalion went to France. May – June 1940 The Battalion were evacuated from Dunkirk and returned to the UK.

Leslie died the 31st May 1940 age 32, at West Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Dudley Eric Moss, died on 2nd June 1940, from wounds that he received while being evacuated from Dunkirk, his  boat was on was strafed by a German plane. He died in England in his wife’s arms.

Many Ipswich men were never to be added to the Christchurch Park memorial, including Dudley.

On the 8th June 1940, H.M.S. ‘Glorious’ and her two escorting sister ships H.M.S. ‘Acasta’ and H.M.S. ‘Ardent.‘ While taking part in Operation Alphabet -( the evacuation of Allied forces from Norway) this had been taking place simultaneously with the  evacuation at Dunkirk. On the way through the Norwegian Sea  at about 15:46 pm, the funnel smoke from H.M.S.’Glorious’ and her escort ships was spotted by the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. H.M.S. ‘Glorious’ had no lookouts posted in the crow’s nest, no aircraft on patrol and no aircraft ready on the deck for a quick take-off . H.M.S ‘Acasta’ and H.M.S. ‘Ardent’ attempted to lay a smoke screen. H.M.S. ‘Glorious’ was hit by Scharnhorst in her forward flight deck and burst in the upper hangar, starting a large fire and prevented any other aircraft from taking off. At 16:58hrs a second shell hit the homing beacon above the bridge and killed or wounded the personnel stationed there, including Captain Guy D’Oyly-Hughes. H.M.S. ‘Glorious’ was hit again in the centre engine room at 17:20hrs and this caused her to lose speed.

The German ships closed in and continued to fire. H.M.S. ‘Glorious’ was soon overcome and was sunk. at 18:10hrs. Pil0t officer SIDNEY ROBERT McNAMARA died aged 19.

Ipswich Schoolfriends lost onboard: Arthur Joseph Farrow

Albert Baldwin Maguire

H.M.S. ‘Ardent’. H.M.S. ‘Acasta’ then attacked with torpedoes,  hitting the engine room of Scharnhorst in a last attack before she sank, blazing beneath the waves at 18.20hrs. The damaged caused by H.M.S. ‘Acasta’ torpedoes to Scharnhorst caused the enemy ships to abandon their sortie to the north and return to port. The Germans didn’t wait to pick up any survivors. 1531 Officers and men lost their lives. William Ernest Allen a forth Ipswich man died onboard HMS Acasta.

Submarine H.M. Submarine ‘Spearfish’ under the command of Lieutenant Commander ‘Jock’ John Ray Forbes, sailed from Rosyth on the 31st July 1940, to patrol off the Norwegian coast. On the 1st August she was sighted by U-34 (Kapitanleutnant Wilhelm Rothmann), off Cape Nose Head west of Stavanger. Unaware that she was sighted by the enemy she unwittingly surfaced. U-34 fired their last torpedo at ‘Spearfish’ striking her bows, completely destroying her. 29 members of the crew were lost, there was just 1 survivor. H.M. Submarine ‘Spearfish’ was declared lost on the 5th August 1940. On board Ipswich man Able Seaman ERNEST GEORGE MOREY. 

The crew of H.M. ‘Spearfish‘ were Mentioned in Despatches, London Gazette, 23rd December 1939. “For Officers and Men of H.M. Spearfish, for courage, seamanship and resolution in bringing their ship safe home after many prolonged and violent enemy attacks which almost put her out of action”. Ernest received the DSM medal for this action.

The Battle of Britain, 10th July until 31st October 1940. The RAF sustained heavy casualties during this period, with Winston Churchill saying ” never was so much, owed by so many, to so few” Air fields were targeted first, in the hope to destroy the RAF. In preparation of the invasion of the British mainland. Former St. Matthews Schoolboy fighter pilot CRELIN BODIE was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Gazetted – 8th November 1940 – “great courage, skill and determination” in the performance of his duties. Crelin was a ‘Battle of Britain’ Spitfire flying ace, winning many victories. He was officially credited with 7 aerial victories. Crelin was to die in 1942 aged 21.

Private RAYMOND RUSSELL BAKER Suffolk Regiment, 4th Battalion. Died of wounds 21st October 1940 aged 21.

Family Note: A Mine was washed up on beach after storm at Gorleston, Raymond was driving an officer to the beach for him to inspect the washed up mine. While the mine was being moved it was set off by accident and Raymond was hit in the back by shrapnel and died in hospital of gangrene.

U-boats had taken a heavy toll on the Shipping. German bases in France were targeted. During a air raid on the 20th December, on Brest and Lorient  submarine bases. Aircraft Bristol Beaufort L4474 came under very heavy flak gun attack. The aircraft was hit causing it’s bomb load to explode, bringing the aircraft down on to the main roads in Lanester, Brittany. On board 4 crew including Ipswich man Wireless Operator/Air Gunner WILLIAM SIDNEY PLANT aged 25.



Ipswich Airman Who Was
Reported Missing

1941 Evening Star newspaper report.

Having been posted as missing since February 12th Sergeant Leonard E. Sawyer, second son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Sawyer, 38, Kings Way, Ipswich, is now reported to have died on active service. He joined the R.A.F. in September 1938, as a wireless operator, air gunner, and was for some time stationed at Felixstowe Seaplane Base, but on the outbreak of war his duties carried him to various parts of the British Isle. After being attached to a Coastal Command bomber squadron, he had made many journeys over enemy territory, and it was from one of these flights that he was posted missing.
Tributes to ability and achievements are contained in a letter from his Wing Commander “Sergeant Sawyer” he writes “had been doing magnificent work, and had the complete confidence of all pilots who had flown with him. He will be sadly missed by them all.”
Prior to his enlistment, Sergeant Sawyer was employed by Messrs. Millets outfitters, of Carr Street, Ipswich.

In May 1941 the Germans began an airborne assault and invasion of Crete. Despite heavy casualties the Germans overwhelm the north of the island, taking key positions. The allied forces withdrew to the south of Crete in hope of evacuations with many rear guard actions. Many ships were lost in the evacuation with more than 50% of the men being rescued from the Island. It is estimated that 3,500+ British and Commonwealth troops were killed in the action. with over 12,000 men captured. Ipswich men killed Corporal CECIL DAY RAF.  Private JOHN MORTIMER

22nd May 1941 Marine JAMES SMITH HMS Fiji.

Repelled series of heavy air attacks during withdrawal from Kithera Channel.

Detached with HMS GLOUCESTER to provide AA protection to destroyers KANDAHAR and KINGSTON picking up survivors from HM Destroyer GREYHOUND.

On board Hms Greyhound Ipswich man JOHN ERIC FARROW

Subjected to further air attacks during which HMS GLOUCESTER was hit and set on fire.

She left the area with the two destroyers because of the continuing air threat. During passage damaged by near miss from single aircraft causing flooding in the engine room which reduced speed and caused listing. In subsequent attack hit by three bombs which increased list. Rolled over and sank an hour later in position 34.35N, 23.10E.  Immediate rescue of survivors by HM Destroyers KANDAHAR and KINGSTON impossible because of continuing acute danger of air attacks.

Rafts and boats left for those able to escape by swimming. 523 members of ship’s company were picked up after nightfall.  (Note: Both cruisers had low stocks of AA ammunition and the judgement to send them to provide defence during rescue is one of the many criticisms made after WW2 in respect of the disastrous operations off Crete in 1941.

In May 1941, the battleship Prince of Wales and HMS Hood were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic, where they were to attack convoys.

On 24 May 1941, early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Hood was struck by several German shells, exploded, and sank within 3 minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew. Two Ipswich men were lost: Supply Assistant RONALD CECIL HURLE and Marine FREDERICK ERIC RUNNACLES

3rd June 1941. Aircraft – Wellington, from RAF Number 11 Operational Training Unit. At 1:10am whilst on a night flying training flight. The Wellington went out of control, whilst preparing to land, and crashed near the flare path, one mile west of Bassingbourn Aerodrome, Cambridgeshire. 5 crew members were killed, 1 survivor.

Ipswich man lost: Sergeant PHILIP ARTHUR LAYEN LOWE

A family note: One strange story associated with my Uncle was that on the day the aircraft crashed his Father (my Grandfather) was on fire watch on the roof of a building in Ipswich. He heard Phil’s voice shout out DAD!!. My grandfather rushed down to the street below where the voice came from but no-one was there. He made a note of this and the next day was informed that Phil had died in the Crash, the amazing thing was that the time of the Crash and the shout he heard  came at the same time.

9th July 1941 Aircraft: Halifax Mkl; serial number: L9521; Code: TL-Z; Operation: Merseburg – detailed to attack the Synthetic Oil refinery at Leuna, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. The aircraft took-off at 22:33hrs from Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire. On the return journey at 03:35hrs it was shot down by a night fighter of the Luftwaffe. Crew member Archie Kiddey later recalled “there was a tremendous explosion and the whole of the aeroplane was in flames behind me. And the pilot said , ‘Out you go ‘ and four of us managed to bale out.” The aircraft crashed into the home of the Arts family at Rifksweg 187 te Mook, Netherlands, killing 4 people. Ipswich man killed: Flight Sergeant ALBERT EDWARD HAMMOND


7th/8th November 1941

Aircraft: Vickers Wellington IC; serial number: X9976; based at R.A.F. Feltwell, Norfolk. The Wellington took off at 17:30/18:00 hrs on a mission to Berlin.

On their return journey, at around 01.21hrs, the Wellington was intercepted and shot down by a night-fighter Oberst Helmut “Bubi” Lent and crew of unit II./NJG.2 – “Fliegerhorst” Leeuwarden – his 27th ‘kill’.  The bomber immediately fell out of control and crashed, burning into a typical Frisian open and low grassland area, mainly used as summer meadows, near the Botmar (a small lake) close to the hamlet of Soarremoarre, between Akkrum and Oldeboorn, 15 miles south of the town of Leeuwarden. All the crew were killed.

The wreckage soon sank into the swampy peat bog, and by the next morning there was already not much to see (only some small parts of the wings and the rear section).

For that reason and because of the autumn weather, there had been a lot of rain, it was not possible to recover the wreckage or the bodies of the crew.

More than 10 years after the crash, in 1952, the human remains of the crew members were finally recovered and buried, but alas, not in the nearby local cemetery. As far as it is known, not a decision of their families!

They all, as part of this so called “Rainbow Crew”, found their common and final resting place in the Canadian War Cemetery at Bergen op Zoom (in the Province of Noord-Brabant in the South of the Netherlands), in a collective grave. Ipswich man lost Sergeant JACK DENNIS THOMPSON


Heavy fighting in the Far East saw “The Fall of Singapore” creating thousands of Prisoners of War. Fierce fighting along the road held back the Japanese attack on the city, many units running out of supplies and ammunition. The City finally surrendered after its water supply was cut off and the fear of civilian casualties.

Many Ipswich men were part of the 18th East Anglian Division.
15th February 1942 all the remaining Battalions were taken POW mostly died on the Burma-Thailand Railway.

The men were treated harshly with many perishing on forced marches, forced labour and inhumane conditions. Many died of disease and starvation, the men who survived the war, suffered from ill health for the remainder of their lives.


The fall of Tobruk.


Jack Douglas Bruce 67 TH Regiment R.A

I was taken prisoner on Sunday 21-6-42 at Tobruk. The previous day (Saturday ) was one never to be forgotten, from early morning until we were chased out of our position by tanks, late in the afternoon, Stuka dive-bombers, High Level bombers,& M.E. fighters had been over all day & not a single R.A.F. plane was to be seen. As well as bombing jerry had our position taped with his long-range guns & they didnt give us much peace. Two men in ” C ” Sub were badly injured but on the whole the troop was very lucky. When the jerry Mark 4’s & The Mark 13’s chased us out we went where we thought best, no one had any orders. I went on M2 with a crowd of others and we ended up at the caves. Luckily we had a little grub with us so we had a meal & stayed there for the night & jerry captures us early next morning. We had to walk with whatever kit we had got, which was’nt much for 16 miles in the boiling sun to a POW cage, when we arrived there about 16,000 others were already there and by night it was 30,000. We stayed at Tobruk for three days, the first day we had no food & only 1 pint of water, the next day we had a tin of bully between four a tin of M&V between ten & a pint of water, the next day was the same with two small biscuits. Next stop was Timimi, had to drink camel pool water & rations were 2 Iti biscuits & 1 tin Iti bully if lucky. There three days. Moved to Derna. Men falling out right & left with Dysentery, very little medical treatment to be had. Everyone crowded into barbed wire pens like sheep. Water situation just as bad. Had to queue for two hours in the boiling sun for a bottle of water, by night fall I was in dock with Heat Stroke. Temp 103 . Sick for 8 days. Rations, Half pint of boiled rice per day. Came out of dock and had a hell of a ride to Benghazi arriving at midnight 6.7.42. The next day I meet Bert Martin of 231 Bty, from Claydon & weve been mucking in together ever since. Rations at Benghazi for the first 9 weeks were 1. 400 Gram loaf of bread, made with Mele Meal, Rice and Potato flour, usually very wet inside & tasting very sour. 1 Tin of Iti bully ( 6 ozs ) 1 teaspoon of Coffee & sugar per man per day. Sometime we were issued with a spoon full of Ghee, a form of Butter. Later instead of 1 Tin Bully we had a half & a pint of hot stodge consisting of Rice or Macarroni, Beans, Dried Potatoes, Peas, Dried Onions, Tomatoe Puree, & sometimes Cheese or Ghee, the bulk of the meal being Rice or Mac. Usually very good but not enough. For a fortnight we had English biscuits & Bully. Very nice. First opportunity of sending a message home was 4.9.42.
7.10.42 Still at Benghazi. Sent first letter home yesterday, forgot to put date on. Not feeling so good. Can’t eat, the M.O. says I need a good tonic, & he has’nt even got a bandage to help himself with. Bert is looking after me like a Mother. He came back from his postal job with one sardine & he gave it to me, I manage to eat this & enjoy it.
While at Benghazi we were starving most of the time & only had 15 Iti fags a week, usually full of maggot holes. Had to swap my ring & watch to the Itis for food & fags. My ring went first for 2 loaves a pound of jam & 50 fags. Soon after my watch had to go, for this i got 5 loaves 4 pound of jam a kilo of Mac some salt & 100 fags, very nice while it lasted. 21.10. 42 Moved from old camp to a new one 2 miles away. Rain is making things worse for us. 3000 men went away to Tripoli last week. Feeling better. Left Benghazi 1.11.42. After traveling app 500 miles which was a four day journey, packed in trucks & trailers we arrived at a camp at Tarhuna. Rations on the road were 2 Iti biscuits & 1 tin bully per day. The first night we stoped at El Agheila, second Sirtti, third Zlitton. The buildings at Tarhunawhere the POW’s were kept were overcrowded before we got there so you can imagine the time we had. Bert & I slept in a drafty passage way with men falling over us all night. The rations were a little better. In the morning we had coffee, later the morning the loaf came up & a pint of boiled rice with Olive Oil, not to bad. In the evening we had a pint of Meat Stew, the meat was some times a bit scarce but usualy not to bad. Getting very chilly. Left Tarhuna 17.11.42 before leaving we had all blankets taken off us, that left me with, Coat, Bush Shirt & Shorts. We stayed for a few hours at Swani camp, a hell pit of fleas & lice, the ground was heaving with them. Bert & I dug a hole with our spoons to got down to some dry sand to lie on. Left there about 4 o/c, walked to a small station & entrained at 5 o/c for Tripoli Docks, went aboard a cargo ship about 12 o/c. I think it was called the ” Baltimore ” about 8,000 tons & were packed into the holds worse than sardines, just enough room to sit on the steel deck. We sailed at 6 o/c into a cold & very rough sea. We were so packed men had to sick & do anything they wanted where they sat, & a lot of them had dysentery.

Jack Douglas Bruce survived the POW camps and the War.

Notes compiled by Jack Douglas Bruce, taken from the booklet issued to prisoners of war from His Holiness Pope Pius XII, Christmas 1942.

Others from his battalion were not so lucky, over 20 Ipswich men were to lose their lives in transit and air raids while held in captivity:

page 6, 22nd July 1942 – Evening Star

Relatives Meet at Ipswich

Relatives of men of the Suffolk Regiment missing in the Far East are unlikely to receive any official news until September. This was said yesterday by Mrs. Backhouse, wife of Brigadier Backhouse, when she spoke to hundreds of women who crowed into Diocesan House, Ipswich, and the near-by Church of St. Mary-le-Tower. They had come from all parts of Suffolk to attend a meeting “for the exchange of information.”

Diocesan House was crowded long before the start of the meeting and there was a long queue of anxious mothers and wives who could not get in. They formed an overflow meeting in the church and heard what news was available. Some women carried tiny babies who had not been seen by their fathers.

Mrs. Backhouse had consoling news. There were indications she said that the men captured at Singapore had been taken to a permanent camp which was one of the best in the Far East. There was hope too, that the food situation was good.


She read extracts from letters from men who had escaped or who had received reliable information. All of them suggested that the rumours of ill-treatment of prisoners were unfounded. “The water supply has been restored,” said one and another wrote “There is enough food for the present.”

Letters could now be sent to prisoners, but for the present it was better that only close relatives should write. Personal parcels could not be sent.

Lord Belstead said that although official information was scanty the men of the regiment and their dependents at home were not forgotten. Major F.V.C. Pereira (hon. secretary and treasurer of the Suffolk Regiment Association) said it was hoped to have similar meetings in other parts of the county where information could be exchanged, and personal problems discussed. There was a scheme on foot to obtain volunteers to organise the meetings in the different areas. The names of several people willing to act as organisers were handed in at the end of the meeting.


Next-of-kin of East Anglian soldiers missing in Malaya and Singapore, who are without news of their relatives will find much relief in an account of the fall of Singapore which has been received from “a friend of the Suffolk Regiment,” who was on the island until the early afternoon of February 14th.
“By this time,” he says, “numbers of troops whom it was considered would be of more use elsewhere had been ordered to find their way out of Singapore as best they could, and to get to Sumatra. It is known that quite a lot got into Chinese junks and sampans, Malay prahus, and any other craft which could be got to move and carry people.”
The writer, in fact saw a fair number of troops in Sumatra later, and observes that while it is difficult to say whether many individuals will have been able to escape from Singapore after the surrender, large numbers will certainly not have been able to get out. Even those who reached Sumatra may not have been able to get out of Sumatra itself, as only the ports on the West Sumatra coast North of and including Padang could have been used for evacuation purposes after the capture of Palembang by the Japs on February 17th.
“The lot of those who may have managed to reach Sumatra will probably be all right if they reached the Sumatra Highlands as the climate is excellent and a great deal cooler than lower down in the plains. There should be sufficient food of the simpler sort as chicken, fruit, rice, etc., are plentiful, and it is very doubtful whether the Japanese, who admittedly control the key points in Sumatra, will go to the trouble to round up all the scattered Europeans there will be in the country – though they may offer rewards to the natives to bring such Europeans in.
If they don’t, and provided the natives are amenable and help people – and on the face of it, there is no reason why they shouldn’t – the lot of anyone stuck in Sumatra may not be bad, for a period anyway.
Eventually the Japanese may round them up, but even if they do, from present indications their treatment of prisoners does not appear to be as unsatisfactory as it might well be.

(Funeral of Pte. Ungless RAMC taken on a homemade camera in Changi POW camp).

“In so far as those caught in Singapore are concerned, food and medical supplies will require careful conservation, and, provided the Japanese do not start removing them wholesale food, anyway, should last for a long time, particularly as any serious shortage of it is likely to be replaced from either Java, Sumatra or Thailand, as necessary. The staple diet will inevitably be poor, and have to be rice supplemented by fruit.
The water problem should present no difficulties, as the three
reservoirs on the island, which will be replenished by the ample
rainfall, should last indefinitely.


The writer heard from a source, which he has no reason to doubt that senior officials of the Red Cross organisation have received information – which they hope to be able to release officially shortly, when presumably, it is more complete – to the effect that all prisoners in Singapore are being treated well. “Officers and troops,” he says, “are apparently being given congenial useful work to do, probably in clearing up the damage, though being made
to live in their barracks. The civilians are apparently being allowed to live in private houses, and can move about more or less unrestricted except for a nominal reporting control.
“In the past Singapore has been an exceptionally healthy city, and though the standard of health will probably deteriorate, there is no reason to suppose it will get really bad. The individual – who is now reputed to be in charge of the administration of the place is himself an old Japanese resident of some years standing while Singapore was under British control: and it is not unreasonable to assume that he will by now have realised the many advantages to be gained by keeping the island, as far as possible, healthy particularly if he cares to compare the past medical history with that of certain Indian and Chinese cities where circumstances have not been so favourable for effective medical administration.
“The Japanese are also believed to be sending through the names of casualties fairly steadily, and these will, no doubt be published as soon as circumstances permit. But they are, are far as is known, not sending through the names of either military prisoners of war or of civilian internees who are unhurt, as there are so many of these that the task of collecting and tabulating them apparently involves too much work. This, on the face of it, seems curious as finding out the names and details of casualties would appear to-involve far more work than obtaining particulars from survivors.

Evening Star – 30th July 1942


Another List of Names

The Mayor of Ipswich (Alderman R.F. Jackson) said at Wednesday’s meeting of the Town Council that he thought it appropriate to make some reference to the numbers of Ipswich men who had been posted as missing or killed in military operations. “I think it would be the wish of the Council that we should express to the relatives of these men our heartfelt sympathy. Suffolk as a county has been hit particularly hard and in so far as our own Council employees are concerned I would like the Council to know that as soon as a man has been posted as missing or killed I send on their behalf a letter of sympathy to the relatives. We hope most sincerely that those who have been posted as missing are alive
and well.”

editor: Gunners from the 67th Regiment

L.-Bdr. Victor Newman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Newman, 472, Bramford Road, Ipswich. He was employed by the East London Rubber Co., Ltd., Falcon Street, Ipswich.

Gunner Harold Webb, R.A., youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. F. Webb, 39, Pauline Street, Ipswich. He was employed in the butchery department of the Co-operative Society.

Gunner J.H. (Jim) Cooper, son of Mrs. Cooper, 255, Britannia Road. He was employed by Mr. Self, builder.

Signaller John H.R. Day, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Day, 18,
Crofton Road, Ipswich, formerly employed in Borough Treasurer’s department.

Pte. C.W. Knott, younger son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Knott, of 21, Lancaster Road, Ipswich.

Driver G. Warne, fourth son of Mr. and Mrs. Warne, Rothsay, Linksfield Road, Rushmere.

L.-Cpl. S.A. Simons (Royal Corps of Signals), only son of Mr. and Mrs. Simons, 56, Crofton Road. He was employed by Messrs. W. Pretty and Sons, Ltd., Tower Ramparts.

Gunner R.O. Tricker, youngest son of Mrs.Tricker, 420, Wherstead Road, Ipswich, formerly employed by Mr. W. Denton, accountant.

Driver Cyril Buckles, recently of 25, Cullingham Road, Ipswich, son of Mrs. S. Forsdyke, of 5, Council Houses, Stonham Aspal.

Joseph U.C. Capocci, R.A., eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Capocci, 2a,
Reynolds Road, Ipswich.

Gunner E. Foulger, eldest son of Mrs. J.A. Foulger, 78, Derby Road, Ipswich. He was employed by Messrs. Wrinch and Sons, Nacton Road.

Corporal E. Newton, eldest son of Mrs. Sole, 52, Beck Street. He was employed by the Danish Bacon Company, Foundation Street.

6th October 1942.  The King has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy: Distinguished Flying Cross. Acting Flight Lieutenant John Herbert Kennard (40715), Reserve of Air Force Officers, No 103 Squadron. One night in September, 1942, Flight Lieutenant Kennard was captain of an aircraft detailed to attack Bremen. When about 15 miles from the target the bomber was attacked by an enemy fighter, the fire which stunned the rear gunner and caused the bombers aileron controls to jam. Displaying commendable courage and flying skill, Flight Lieutenant Kennard eventually evaded his attacker and flew on to his target which he bombed and photographed. While in the target area his aircraft was hit fire from the ground defences which caused damage to the port fuel tanks. A serious amount of petrol was lost but despite this and the difficulty of controlling the aircraft, due to the jammed aileron, Flight Lieutenant Kennard reached this country and made a safe landing. His courage and determination to complete his allotted task were worthy of high praise. John was killed on the 27th September 1943, aged 23.(Image of John, Joan and baby June outside Buckingham Palace, 9th December 1942 after his D.F.C. investiture.)

14th November 1942

On the 13th November 1942, over 800 PoWs weak from the lack of food and medical treatment were loaded onto the S.S.’Scillin,’ at the Spanish Quay in Tripoli Harbour. The men were penned into the severely overcrowded hold, with insanitary conditions. The only air and light came through a small hatch. A further 195 PoWs were left behind to board another ship after the British Captain Gilbert, of the R.A.M.C. made a strong forceful and intense protest that the ship was already overcrowded.

With an Italian Naval gun crew and guards, the ship set sail three hours late on it’s passage from Tripoli to Trapani, Sicily.
The British P212 submarine H.M.S. ‘Sahib’ (Lieutenant John Bromage), was on patrol in support of the Axis campaign in North Africa. When S.S. ‘Scillin’ appeared on their radar. In the darkness, 9 miles north of Kuriat, Tunisa Lt. Bromage, believing that the ship was carrying Italian troops, ordered open fire of their 3inch gun as a signal for the ship to stop. She did not respond. At 19:50hrs a torpedo was fired. The torpedo blew out the bottom of the hold in which the PoWs were penned. There was little chance of survival and the ship sank rapidly.
H.M.S.’Sahib’ rescued 27 PoWs (26 British & 1 South African), plus S.S. Scillin’s Captain and 45 Italian crew members, before an Italian warship arrived and H.M.S. ‘Sahib’ was forced to withdraw. Only when the survivors (who later landed in Malta) were heard speaking English did Lt. Bromage realise that the ship had been carrying PoWs.
The ‘friendly fire’ tragedy was investigated as a war crime, due to the captivity of the men kept in the hold and the subsequent inquiry absolved Lt. Bromage of any blame. The Ministry of Defence kept the incident a secret for 54 years. Telling families that their loved ones had died as PoWs in camps, or ‘lost at sea.’ In 1996, after repeated requests from the families the truth was revealed.
S.S.’Scillin.’67th Medium Regiment information used from the work of Brian Sims (1997) and courtesy of Pat Dowsing.


H.M. Submarine ‘Regent’ On the 11th April 1943 ‘Regent’ sailed from Malta for interception patrol in the southern Adriatic. On the 18th April she carried out a torpedo attack on mercantile ‘Baltic’ north of Monopoli. The torpedo missed her target and exploded on shore. She was sunk with all hands lost after a depth charge attack from the Italian destroyer ‘Gabbiano’. The loss was discovered when the submarine failed to return to base at Beirut, Lebanon on the 1st May 1943. On board Ipswich man Leading Signalman GEOFFREY JAMES SAWYER aged 21.

The Newspapers following the Fall of Singapore and Tobruk would regally post lists, as families became desperate to find out if their men were alive. 

13th July 1943 Evening Star


Mrs. R. Hardwicke, of 102, Handford Road, Ipswich, has received a card from her husband, L.-Cpl. H. Hardwicke, informing her that he is a prisoner of war in Japanese hands. L.-Cpl. Hardwicke writes: “Please do not worry as we are all in good health. Plenty of our town lads here, so have plenty of pals. We are well fed so have something to be thankful for.”

Other Suffolk men now known to prisoners of war in Japanese hands are:-

Pte. S.C.Bugg, Suffolk Regiment, husband of Mrs. Bugg, 61, Cavendish Street, Ipswich.

S. Elmer, Cambs. Regiment, son of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer, 36, Orwell Road, Ipswich.

Pte. W. Wade, Suffolk Regiment, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.G. Wade, 26, Tuddenham Avenue, Ipswich.

Pte. Jack Lamb, Suffolk Regiment, husband of Mrs. J. Lamb, 132, Whitby Road, Ipswich, and son of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Lamb, 26, Jupiter Road, Ipswich.

W. Miller, husband of Mrs. W.G. Miller, 30, Vernon Street, Ipswich, and son of Mr. and Mrs. F. Miller, 61, Kingston Road, Ipswich.

Pte. C. Alllard, Suffolk Regiment, husband of Mrs. J. Allard, 450,
Nacton Road, Ipswich.

Gnr. T. Theobald, R.A., son of Mrs. Eley, of 24, James Street, Ipswich.

Pte. Stanley Went, Suffolk Regiment, son of Mr. and Mrs. Went, 15, Back Hamlet, Ipswich.

Pte. E. Vince, Cambs Regiment, son of Mr. and Mrs. Vince, 11, Browning Road, Ipswich, and formerly of Westerfield.

C.S.M. B.W. Baldry, Suffolk Regiment, husband of Mrs. Baldry, 3,
Parliament Road, Ipswich.

Pte. Charles Hancock, son of Mrs. G. Hancock, 19, Sproughton Road, Ipswich.

Pte. R.G. Drake, Suffolk Regiment, son of Mrs. B. Drake, 480, Wherstead Road, Ipswich.

Sergt. R.W. Ware, Suffolk Regiment, son of W.J. Ware, 34, Florence Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, formerly Ipswich. Sergt. Ware is an Old Framlinghamian.

Pte. Arthur W. Rolfe, Suffolk Regiment, son of Mr. Mr. and Mrs. Rolfe, 141, Angel Street, Hadleigh.

Corpl. Peters, Suffolk Regiment, husband of Mrs. H.J. Peters, 54, Regent Street, Stowmarket.

Pte. Charles Caley, Cambs. Regiment, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Caley, 1, Cement Cottages, Great Blakenham.

Pte. F.C. Ball, Cambs. Regiment, son of Mrs. F. Ball, Little Blakenham Common.

Herbert Howe, Cambs. Regiment, son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Howe,
Kingston Farm, Woodbridge.

Editor: Pt. Russell Gordon Drake is listed above. He worked for Fison Packard & Prentice, at their Head Office in Ipswich. His portrait was published in January 1941 edition of the Fisons Journal.
Russell survived the prison camps, re-joining his firm after the war. He passed away 23rd November 1989, Highfield Back Lane Washbrook. Russel was Captured at Singapore 15th February 1942 while serving with the 5th Suffolk’s.
His cartoon was published in the July 1946 edition Fisons Journal, showing prison life in a Japanese Pow camp.

As Italy was invaded and the Country withdrew from the war thousands of POW’s escaped. Many from the local Ipswich 67th Regiment ,captured at Tobruk.

Squadron Leader RONALD HAWKINS, died 5th October 1943 aged 27, during a low-level flight his Typhoon came under heavy fire from flak guns mounted on railway cars during a strike on the Sinclair petroleum refinery at Langerbrugge, about 6 miles North of Ghent in Belgium.

A family note:During the war he flew Fairey Battles aircraft in the Battle of France. He was shot down by a Messerschmitt 109 and parachuted to safety. He was captured after 3 days South West of Paris,  and put into a local PoW compound – he escaped and walked to the coast Honfleur and Deauville.  There were no boats so he then walked to the West Coast – stole a canoe and paddled his way over to the Channel Islands. Unfortunately they had been occupied the day before, so he returned to France. He then walked and cycled (stolen) down through France to Marseilles where he was captured again. He escaped from that prison and made his way over the Pyrenees and out through Gibraltar. Back in England he then instructed Polish Pilots at R.A.F. Newton for 2 years and was eventually returned to combat. He became C.O. of No 3 Squadron flying Typhoons. Before this he was C.O. at Snailwell, Newmarket, and also at Matlaske in Norfolk. As C.O. of No 3 Marston, Kent he led many raids against the enemy but sadly was shot down in Belgium in 1943. He had been awarded the Military Cross for his escape etc. very few R.A.F. officers get this award.

 My Uncle Ron would fly low over our house and garden and drop a package for us. It was exciting to unwrap and find chocolate!


1st November 1943 – Evening Star

Walked 100 Miles to Switzerland

An Ipswich man, Gunner R.L. Allard, is among the British prisoners of war who succeeded in escaping from Italy into Switzerland. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. P.E. Allard, of 143, Back Hamlet, have received official intimation of this, together with a letter from their son, stating he is now an internee in Switzerland, “in the good care of the British Consulate.”

Gunner Allard, who was formerly in Camp No. 55, describes his escape in his letter. “I had rather a hectic time getting here,” he states, “but I was successful after six days walking between ninety and a hundred
miles, two days of which we spent in mountains, the others walking
across fields etc., dodging ‘that horrible man’ again. I was once again very lucky to be in a working party because I am told all the big concentration camps have been taken to Germany . . . I once again left in just what I stand up in – this time horribly worn ‘civvies’ given to us by the farmer. Three of us got through – all strangers.” Allard adds that he is perfectly well “apart from one or two blisters on my feet.”
Gunner Allard, who is 22 was formerly employed in the York Road stores of the Ipswich Industrial Co-operative Society, Ltd.

20th December 1943

Aircraft: Halifax V; serial number: LL125; code: KN-K; based at R.A.F. Elvington; operation: Frankfurt. The aircraft took off at 16:30hrs and successfully dropped their bombs on Frankfurt. The aircraft was returning to England and did not notice a Me-110 approach. The first hit to claim his 4th victory came at 20:43hrs, from Oberleutnant Wilhelm Henseler of 4/NJG1 hit the starboard engine, which immediately caught fire. Bickie told the crew that he would have to dive to try to extinguish the fire. The manoeuvre failed and the fire began spreading to the fuel tanks. Bickie gave the order to abandon the aircraft. LL125 crashed in flames near the old Vivier between Fronville and Melreux, Namur. 5 of the crew were killed, 2 survived.

‘Terry’ Terence Frank Bolter, successfully parachuted from the aircraft and could see the aircraft in flames, disintegrating before crashing. With his ability to speak French he was able to find help with Belgium patriots and joined the escape chain of the ‘Comet Line’ through Belgium, France, Spain and Gibraltar. From where he flew back to England, arriving on the 24th June 1944, Terry landed at Whitchurch, Bristol. The ‘message’ was sent to his helpers that ‘The red & blue tie has arrived.’ Terry has given interviews, which can be found on-line, about his escape and the kindness and help shown to him. In 1990, he returned to Belgium to meet some of his Belgium helpers.

Frank Shaw survived the crash. He was arrested on the 6th July 1944, near Dinant. On the 24th July 1944, he was sent to Stalag Luft 1 in Barth. Prisoner Number: 4709. Released in May 1945, and repatriated to England, he remained in the R.A.F.V.R. until relinquishing his commission in February 1954.

Ipswich man, Squadron Leader HERBERT FRANK BICKERDIKE aged 21 died in the crash.




The Anzio landings commenced on 22nd January 1944 on the west coast of Italy Known as “Operation Shingle” Taking the two coastal towns of Anzio and Nettuno, just 40+ miles west of Rome the capital city. The Italian campaign had come to a halt, hampered by mountain terrain and layers of fortified German and Axis positions known as the Gustav Line. It had been decided to leapfrog around the coast setting up new beachheads, out flanking the German positions.

The Amphibious assault was a great success on the first few days, by midnight, 36,000 soldiers and 3,200 vehicles had landed on the beaches consisting of US and allied forces, but failed to push deep inland choosing to hold back, for more troops to be landed before moving.

By January 24th the Germans had moved over 40,000 troops into the area and surrounded the beachhead. Shelling the Allied forces trapped in a small area, low laying flooded terrain held up the breakout. Fierce fighting continued until June when the Allied forces finally broke out from the beachhead taking Rome on the 4th of June.

Images courtesy of Mr Silvano Casaldi.

1944. H.M.S. ‘Janus’ had been involved in the landings at Anzio (Lieutenant Commander William Brabazon Robert Morrison R.N.). On the 23rd January she was hit 35 miles south of Rome, by a guided bomb and sank in twenty minutes. 158 lost and 80 survived. There are two versions as to what was responsible for the loss: The first was a hit by a glider bomb, Henschel Hs 293 from a Dornier Do 217. The second was a hit from a Heinkel He 111 dropped a Fritz X. On board the ship Ipswich man, Stoker ARTHUR JACK BUCKMAN

Normandy 6th May 1944.



Marine, ALFRED GEORGE JOHNSON 48th Royal Marine Commandoes, aged 23 killed in action. The 48th Royal Marine Commandoes landed at Saint Aubin-sur-Mer, 30% of the landing craft were damaged or sunk on the beach defences and mines. Many landing craft caught up on the obstacles dropped their ramps, offloading the troops into deep water. Many Commandos drown swimming for the beach caring their heavy packs.
Supporting tanks sink in the soft sand giving the Commandoes limited support. Extreme resistance from the German defenders in well fortified positions. Close quarter fighting in the village.
The 48th Closing the gap between Juno and Sword beach.
48th Royal Marine Commandoes push on to Langrune-sur-mer.

Craftsmen. ALFRED GEORGE JACOBS Royal Engineers 6th Airborne Division, aged 22 killed in action.

Private FREDERICK THOMAS MONK The Suffolk Regiment, aged 28, Killed in action

The 1st Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment. The Battalion landed 2 miles west of Ouistrehem. Queen White Beach.(Sword Beach.) at 0825.by the end of the day Frederick and nine others had been killed from his battalion, Hillman Strongpoint being the objective.

Ipswich Veteran, Norman Kent (RIP) Royal Engineers: 294 Army Field Company.  Norman was on the first wave of landing craft on Sword beach Normandy during D-Day 1944
“We spent days onboard a ship in heavy seas feeling quite ill, we were relieved to climb into the landing craft and just get the job done!”
“I was quite scared when 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. I watched so many of my friends try and move forward or find better cover but were lost so 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 blew up several pill boxes. These had held up the advance, but cost us so many lives. A captured German officer remarked that they could see our every move!.”

Ipswich veteran Tony Booth (RIP) The 49th Royal Tank Regiment, He 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 specialised armaments such as flamethrowers or the high explosive Petard spigot mortar for clearing pill boxes and obstacles. Tony’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).This 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.

Tony realised 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.

Ipswich Veteran Reginal Snowling  (RIP) 24th Lancers. 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 of 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.

Reg’s brother, killed a few days before the end of WW2 Peter Snowling. 

7th June, Srgt. GEORGE SAMUEL CHAPMAN Royal Armoured Corps 8th Armoured Brigade aged 26, killed in action.

Private SAMUEL SYMONDS Royal Norfolk Regiment, 1st Battalion, aged 27, killed in action. The battalion landed on Red Queen Beach the left flank of Sword Beach fighting there way inland. Ipswich veteran Lance Corporal Harrold Farrow (RIP) Royal Norfolk Regiment said, “we spent days on the ship, we landed to see and hear all hell on earth in front of us.”

More Ipswich men were to killed as the Battle moved inland.

A fellow Ipswich man from the 24th Lancers who landed in his tank, alongside Reginal Snowling. Sergeant SIDNEY NORTON Killed in action on the 17th June.

H.M.S. ‘Boadicea’ was in the English Channel preparing to support the Normandy landings in ‘Operation Neptune.’

On the 6th June H.M.S. ‘Boadicea’ escorted 31 tank landing ships of the 8th Armoured Brigade.

Arriving on the 7th in the Western Tank Force area. She was returning on the 13th June to Milford Haven for more escorting duties, when she was attacked by a single German Junker 88 aircraft, 12 nautical miles south-west of Portland Bill, Dorset. She was hit in the forward magazine causing an explosion. H.M.S. ‘Boadicea’ went down in 3 minutes. 170 crew lost their lives 12 were rescued and given vast quantities of rum.  Ipswich men lost, Lieutenant Commander (captain of the ship) FREDERICK WILLIAM HAWKINS and Petty Officer JAMES COCKER

26th September 1944 – Evening Star

Diarist’s Narrative

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.


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.

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. 


3rd January 1945 – Evening Star

Left Near Lille in 1940 “To Be Called For”

During the 1940 retreat, men of the Suffolk Regiment, unable to take all their equipment with them, hid some in a factory at Wattrelos, near Roubaix in the Lille area of France, with a note “To be called for later.”

Included in this hidden equipment were the battalion band instruments, among which were eight drums and a box of flutes.
Before the Germans arrived, some Wattrelos civilians decided to look after the musical instruments personally and now, after more than four years, three of the drums have been recovered, and efforts are being made to trace the others.

Two days before Christmas the commanding-officer of a “D”-Day battalion of the Suffolks sent Capt. William N. Breach, whose mother lives at Lowestoft and whose wife lives in Norwich and three other ranks to Wattrelos.

Other members of the party were L.-Cpl. Jack Hutchinson, of Cheddar, Somerset; L.-Cpl. Fred Massam, of Lipson, Plymouth; and Pte. Henry Whitman, of 233, Bramford Road, Ipswich (Capt. Breach’s batman).

“I reported to the Town Major at Wattrelos,” said Captain Breach. “He proved to be an officer of the Suffolks, and as soon as he saw me he said: “I know what you’re come for.”

L.Corpl. Hutinson told a military observer: “The drums had been perfectly maintained and they were in such good condition that we could have taken them on parade right then. The Frenchmen took very good care of our drums.”

Pte. Whitman said: “We were wonderfully entertained by the French during our stay in Wattrelos. Many of the Frenchmen remembered the Suffolks quite clearly and were delighted that we could keep our promise to return for our property. They could not do enough for us. The prestige of the British Army certainly stands high in those parts.”

The Suffolk also found a company flag belonging to another unit. Capt. Breach called in at Brussels on the way back from Lille, and there by a lucky chance he met the Lieutenant-Colonel who was commanding the battalion at the time of Dunkirk. The latter was delighted to learn about the recovery of the drums, as also was the present Commanding-Officer when the drums were brought back in triumph to the Suffolks in the line.

This battalion was with the assault brigade on the beach in Normandy on D-Day, and has seen much fighting in France, Belgium and Holland. Among many other regimental treasures it owns colours in use in the Army to-day.


From D-Day many more Ipswich men were to lose their lives fighting through Europe. Italy took a heavy toll with mountainous conditions, rain and snow holding up the advance. From Normandy the British had a series of setbacks and advances. Operation Epsom, Operation Goodwood, Operation Market Garden, Battle of the Bulge and Operation Varsity taking many Ipswich lives. The air and sea war continued around Africa, the Mediterranean and Europe.

VE – Day

Mr Brian Coleman: “I was lucky enough to be home on leave from the RAF for a couple of days, when we heard the news.” 

“People were running about everywhere, singing and dancing. We walked into Town centre, the Cornhill had thousands of people enjoying the moment, shouting and cheering, letting off fireworks. We were there for a time but decided not to stay. So went home, where our street was in full party mood. A bomb fire was lit in the road which burnt the tarmac badly. We all stayed up late. The burn marks were there for years!.”


VE – Day

10th May 1945 – Evening Star


Service at “Tower” Church

Thanksgiving and rejoicing marked VE Day in Ipswich.
At the Cornhill, Ipswich, a great and colourful crowd was assembled at 3 o’clock on Tuesday, and after the Prime Minister’s speech had been relayed, the Mayor (Alderman S.C. Grimwade) addressed the crowd.

St. Mary-le-Tower Church was the scene of a memorable service later. Townsfolk not merely filled every seat; they stood the length of the aisles and crowded the Western end, and before the Mayor and civic procession arrived no more of the general public could be admitted.

The Lord Bishop of the Diocese (Dr. Brook), in an address, said: “It is for us to build a new and better world, and to this great task God now calls us.” Never in the whole course of history, declared His Lordship, had there been a victory so complete, so overwhelming, as that being celebrated; never one more convincing. As the Bible said, those who took up the sword would perish by the sword.

“That evil power built by force which threatened civilisation, has itself been destroyed,” said the Bishop, and so ended the Third Reich. He believed it was the conviction that our cause was right which had led us, believing that we were on the side of God.

He reminded the great congregation that in the Far East there was still a powerful enemy. In Suffolk, at any rate we could not forget the prisoners of war out there, and in rejoicing, we must strive to be better fitted for the task still ahead. Great was the task before us to bring order out of chaos, helping nations to rebuild. Sacrifice would be demanded and it called for the nations which had stood together in the organisation of war to stand together in the organisation of peace. The new and better world could be built with goodwill if heart and hand were set to the task ready for the service and sacrifice it would entail. When Sunday came, let it be a day of prayer.

The choristers led the singing, with Mr. J. Job at the organ. The Vicar (Rev. R.H. Babington) conducted the service.

And the bells of “The Tower” rang out.


The VE-day celebrations continued in Ipswich on Wednesday and were marked by a public service on the Cornhill, where at midday a packed and reverent audience assembled in front of the Town Hall steps. Amongst the vast crowd were organised contingents of the Royal Navy, the Army, the Royal Air Force and the U.S.A.A.F. Whilst the concourse extended to the extreme limits of the Cornhill itself and flowed into the adjoining thoroughfares, the balconies of the surrounding buildings were crowded with sightseers.

Immediately in front of the Town Hall were the Salvation Army Band which discoursed popular music to the waiting crowd and promptly at noon the Mayor (Alderman S.C. Grimwade), the Deputy-Mayor (Mr. C.W. English), the Aldermen and Councillors of the borough proceeded by the town sergeants with the official insignia took their places at the main entrance.

Accompanying them were the Town Clerk (Mr. Moffat’s son Donald Moffat kia), the Chief Constable (Mr. C.J. Cresswell), the Magistrates of the borough and clergy of all denominations.

The service itself was conducted by the Rural Dean (Canon C.O. George) and the Rev. W.H. Watson (Tacket Street Congregational Church), the singing being led by a combined choir and accompanied by the band under the baton of Mr. Jonathan Job F.R.C.O., the borough organist.

The service was simple, commencing with the singing of the Doxology, followed by prayers and the reading of the lesson. The hymns were “Praise my soul, the King of Heaven” and “O God our Help in Ages Past.” the service concluding with the National Anthem.


Spontaneous and informal rejoicing was actively obvious throughout the streets of Ipswich during both days, rising to a high-pitch of cheering, surging crowds as Wednesday evening drew to a close.

Thousands of Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen joined with the general population in rocket firing, dancing, singing and many other ways of hectic celebrating,

Cinemas in the town included in their programme a moving and truly splendid news-reel entitled “Victory.”

In spite of the intense excitement prevailing little damage has been reported.

Meanwhile, Japan continued to fight on in Burma and the Pacific Islands. lives were lost in prison camps, from starvation and disease.   A number of Ipswich men were lost, being torpedoed and bombed, as cargo ships were used to transport POW’s to mainland Japan for slave labour.

VJ- Day

15th August 1945 – EVENING STAR


At midnight Ipswich sleepers were awakened to “Peace2” with a big noise. From the docks came the shrieking of sirens in earnest effort to give the “V” signal, though it is unlikely that Beethoven would have recognised it.

And noises became fortissimo with the booming of guns, happily fired with no war inspired effort, though it’s not pleasant to find an exploded shell-case fall beside the bed.

Fireworks came to view and searchlights flashed the sky as the awakened moved to bedroom windows, and soon bonfires had been started.

The more spirited began to tread the streets, and some from the Services “scrounged” material from one knows not where and kindled a bonfire of some size on the “island” in front of the Town Hall, whilst distant bells were heard.


Some foolishly exuberant, slashed the hose when the N.F.S. came to extinguish the blaze, to which headgear of police and civilian had been added. Even so, police and N.F.S. exercised a real good nature in dealing with these more foolish episodes.

On the heath in the Bixley Road area they decided on a bonfire, and whilst the N.F.S. were busy putting it out, the youngsters departed – and made another.

Other exuberant youths were blowing “reveille” into keyholes, and cyclists trailing dustbin lids. In some streets were impromptu dance parties to the light of bonfire and house illumination.

In the forenoon the main thoroughfares of the town became peopled with a happy parading throng, flags appeared from many buildings, including the Town Hall, and the bells of St. Mary-le-Tower rang merrily.

Just before noon a crowd assembled in front of the Town Hall, apparently gaining the idea that something was to occur.

While police officials fixed “sound” equipment a solitary musician ascended the steps with a battered euphonium and at noon played his version of “Land of Hope and Glory.” Perharps thinking this a little too solemn for such a happy occasion he rendered “My Bonny lies Over the Ocean.”


As the last chord died away the Mayor (Alderman S.C. Grimwade), with the mace-bearers, appeared on the steps, and His Worship addressed the crowd, asking them to give thanks to God for the victory which has now been won.

Of the entertainments which had been arranged for the two days’ holiday, he said that a fair was open on Christchurch Park, and dancing would be held on the Car Park from 8 p.m. onwards.

Then he called for three cheers and the crowd responded with a rousing “Hurrah!”

The solitary musician played the opening bars of “The Isle of Capri,” then disappeared to be refreshed.


This evening, at half past six, the Mayor, accompanied by members of the Corporation , magistrates and officials, will attend a specially arranged civic service at St. Mary-le-Tower Church.

The mansion on Christchurch Park will be illuminated with fairy lights.

Street lighting is to be maintained in late hours and it is to be hoped that the over exuberant will not experiment in switch damage – there was some last night and switches are difficult to replace.

VJ- Day
31st August 1945 Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury Newspaper.

At Ipswich Police Court, on Monday, cases relating to incidents during V-Night’s were heard.

Hilda Parker, St. George’s Street, pleaded not guilty to obstructing a police officer whilst in the execution of his duty.
P.-W.-R. William Root said that at 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 16th, he was assisting other police officers against a hostile crowd outside the police station when defendant who was abusive and violent, got past him into the doorway shouting “Let the poor B—- out.”

P.-c. John Bottom, giving corroborative evidence, said that defendant hit P.-c. Root on the back with her fists. The crowd was very hostile and defendant was warned more than once.
Defendant, who was very excited all through the hearing declined to give evidence or call witnesses, and was fined £3. She said she would not pay it, and was told the alterative was one month.


Douglas Alfred Hopkins (21), H.M. Forces, pleaded not guilty to a like offence.
P.-c. Charles Black said that at 1:50 a.m. on August 16th he was one of a body of police who were ordered to act against a hostile crowd. As witness emerged from the building defendant tried to stop him from leaving.
P.-c. Ed Scopes, corroborating, said defendant was struggling with P.-c. Black and for that reason was taken into the police station and told he would be detained.
Answering defendant, witness agreed that he was subsequently allowed to leave.
Defendant giving evidence, admitted he was in the crowd, but to get into trouble was the last thing on he wanted. He was only there for curiosity.
An officer from the defendant’s unit said his character was indifferent.
In reply to the Magistrates’ Clerk, the officer said that military disciplinary action had already been taken.
Defendant was fined £1.


Arthur William Sharpe (24), Finchley Road, pleaded not guilty to committing wilful damage to a window, amounting to £3 5s.
Detective-Sergt. Sidney Catchpole told the Court that as a result of his inquiries he interviewed defendant, who made a statement to the effect that his nerves broke down, and he smashed the window with his stick, adding that he fainted, and someone threw water over him. On recovering he lost his temper, and smashed the window.Sergt. Catchpole agreed that defendant had always been of an excitable nature. He joined the Suffolk Regiment in 1940, but was discharged in 1943 with a good character.
Defendant was bound over for 12 months and ordered to pay the amount of the damage, £3 5s.


Edward Holden, H.M. Forces pleaded guilty to committing wilful damage to windows and other articles to the amount of £13 10s.
Arthur Charles Pollard, the licensee of the Olive Leaf in St. Helen’s Street, said that having closed the bar at 10 o’clock on the night of Aug 15th, defendant, with other sailors, entered the house about 10:15 whilst witness was clearing up and demanded beer. They were told it could not be supplied, and asked to leave the premises. The damage to property followed.
Defendant, who expressed his regret, said in reply to the Bench, that he must have lost his balance, otherwise he could not account for his behaviour. He would like to pay for the damage.
An officer from his ship, said defendant’s record was a good one.
The case was dismissed under the Probation of Offenders Act, defendant being ordered to pay £5 towards the damage.

The end of the war saw over 600 men and women from Ipswich lose their lives. 99 men died in the hands of the Japanese in prison camps, 22 died fighting in the far east, while many more were to die prematurely through their treatment in the hands of the Japanese.

In memory to all the Ipswich men and women who lost their lives. Lest we forget. 

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