Images courtesy of Pat French.
Born: 19th January 1918, Ipswich.
Died: 12th May 1944; age 26; Died from a shrapnel injury, during an Allied bombing raid on the 12th May 1944, at PoW Camp Stalag IV B.
At the camp Jack was a Supply/Store Controller at warehouse 22. His (kriegsgefanger number) prisoner of war number – 250,128.
Rank: Gunner; Service Number: 953067.
Regiment: Royal Artillery, 67 Medium Regiment.
Father: George Edwin French, born 1879, Ipswich.
Mother: Maud Alice French (nee Aldous), 1884, born Flowton, Suffolk.
In 1940, Ipswich, Jack married Nancy Olive Gorringe, born 1917, Stow, Suffolk.
Cavendish Street School late 1920’s early 1930’s courtesy of Pat Dowsing.
Jack’s father, George Edwin French also died when M.V. ‘Sweep’ II struck a mine and sunk at Landguard Port, Felixstowe, on the 5th June 1940, aged 61.
Jack’s brother, Alfred Edgar French, also died on the 6th March 1942, aged 26. He was a Sapper, service number 1883555, in the Royal Engineers, 1 Field Squadron. Alfred is remembered on the Alamein Memorial, Egypt.
Probate to Nancy Olive French, of 17, Verbena Gardens, Hammersmith. The home of her uncle.
67th Medium Regiment, R.A. (T.A.)
HQ, 232nd (Suffolk) Bty: Ipswich
231st (Suffolk) Bty: Sudbury
67th Medium Regiment served under command of IV Corps Artillery in the autumn of 1940. It was sent to North Africa in October 1941 as part of the Crusader convoys. It served under 8th Army in the campaigns in the Western Desert from November 1941 until June 1942. It supported the South African attack on Bardia in December 1941. The regiment added (Suffolk) to its name on 17 February 1942. It was captured at Tobruk on 20 June 1942. Due to casualities the regiment was reduced to a cadre on 7 September 1942.
The regiment was reformed at Hunstanton, Norfolk on 7 February 1943 from 167th Field Regiment. It joined 3rd Army Group RA on its formation on 11 February 1943 at 49 Trant Road, Tunbridge Wells. It served in Northwest Europe with this formation from June 1944 until the end of the war.
Note: Felix Beecroft (also an Ipswich man) mentions Jack French in his ‘World War Two Memories’. After being taken prisoner at Tobruk on 21st June 1942, Felix was moved to a POW camp in Benghazi where he stayed for 4 months. While he was there he says, “We slept six in a bivvy. Jack French and I slept side by side, one blanket under us and one over and we never undressed. We were constantly hungry and I saw pairs of boots and gold rings given over the wire for small buns of bread”.