During the war, Dad was stationed at Mareham-le-Fen, Lincolnshire, for several weeks' training and doing guard duty.
Peter from Mareham-le-Fen wrote in with this story:
Royal Oak pub in Mareham
Tom Lee said: "My wife’s father was at Dunkirk but understandably never wanted to talk about it, until that is, shortly before his death when he told us he had met up on the beaches with his lost brother. Neither knew if the other had survived until they met up some months later at another Army camp. The other brother suffered such traumas and emigrated to Canada after the war and lost touch with the family. My wife is sure there is a branch of her family in Canada about which she knows nothing!"
Bill Cheall reflecting at Bray-Dunes, near Dunkirk
"The Green Howards arrived in 1942, when I was a lad. I believe it must have been the Green Howards that operated the search light within the village which was just opposite where I now live. I remember the search lights being here but I was too young to know anything about the people.
I remember soldiers coming to my parents' farm - I am not sure why, but it may have been to help with the harvest. I was too young to have any interest or understanding of why they came, except there were sometimes sweets or home made toys for my sister and me." Click here to read more about Mareham-le-Fen history and an extract from Dad's war diary which is not on this web site.
I found this story in WW2 soldier Kenneth Taylor's excellent online war diary. He was signals officer in Dad's regiment. Bear in mind that Dad was wounded by a shell at Villers Bocage on 30 June.....
This war diary entry is for 1 July:
"Saw a marvellous sight in the evening when hundreds of Halifaxes came over in open formation at low altitude to drop 1000 tons on 2 Panzer Divs at Villers Bocage. Could see the bombs dropping. Fighters swarming about like flies 1000s of feet above. Saw none shot down despite usual terrific Flak. Weather still very wet and spirits rather damp. "
It's a good bet that those Panzers were responsible for the shell which landed near my Dad, so the RAF boys exacted sweet revenge on Dad's behalf the very next day. Although no-one would feel any bitterness about this epsiode, it's still gratifying to hear so many years later, what happened in Dad's quarter of the battle.
A subsequent war diary entry for 8 August, said, "Moved forward to assembly area SW of Ondefontaine. Went thro' Villers Bocage absolutely razed to the ground – worse than anything I have ever seen. "
My father, Brian Moss, was a platoon sergeant in 233 Field Company, Royal Engineers, attached mostly to 5 East Yorks but also at times to 6 & 7 Green Howards. I recognize many place names in your father’s account. My father first joined 50 Div after his arrival in North Africa in June 1942. His active involvement in the war ended in September 1944, when he was blown up by a butterfly bomb in Nijmegen. He spent most of the next year in hospital. My father’s war had started in bomb disposal during the London Blitz, and his experience with bombs and mines led to his being appointed to develop a desert mine school for infantry in 69 Brigade. If you are still in contact with any former comrades from Green Howards (or East Yorks), I’d be very interested to reach them. I have located a former tank commander of the Hermann Goering Abteiliung in Sicily (dad and two of his men snuck up and blew up three of his unit’s tanks when they were parked in a land south of Primasole Bridge on July 16, 1943). Another recent contact has been with the son of the Marine officer who I believe commanded the same landing craft in which dad travelled to Gold Beach! Mike Moss, Canada
Click here to read some extracts from Brian Moss' personal memoirs - some great action!
Contribution from Mike Moss
My Grandad, James Mitchell, served in the Green Howards during WW2. He was in action in the Yorkshire Regiment at Dunkirk, North Africa and Italy. He was a desert rat and also fought in the battle of Monte Cassino. My grandad also told stories of him driving Monty around in his jeep. Sadly he passed away many years ago.
Contribution from Jonathan Mitchell
Wilf Shaw, of Oldham, has provided a bucketful of war photos, stories and memories. He was at Alamein, Tobruk, Wadi Akarit, Sicily, Holland and more! He was wounded twice and still returned to battle. He is 92 years of age. Wilf says, "Fighting Through is my current bedtime reading, so much I identify with, much more I can tell you yet, how Jefferies and me boxed for Z Coy at the request of Jerry O'Grady on board the Mauritania, how Tommy Tinkler used give his rendering of "Olga Polovski the beautiful spy" but changed the words to refer to one of the lads in the platoon, and much much more.
Click here to read more about Wilf's war diary and other WW2 soldier stories.
Contribution from Wilf Shaw
My Grandfather was Fred Kipling from South Church, Bishop Auckland and he served with the Green Howards in India before the war and was transferred to the Territorial Army before being recalled in 1939. He served initially with the 1st, 2nd Battalions and ultimately with the 6th. He fought in France with the BEF and in the Middle East. He died in Tunisia in March 1943 whilst fighting with the Eighth Army under Montgomery. Many thanks for publishing your Dad's info. It has helped me to fill in gaps in his story, as my Dad was only 5 when his Dad died.
Contribution from Paula Cracknell
If you are interested, I have information of my late brother George of The Green Howards. I am enclosing details of the citation for his Military Medal.
James L Backhouse, MA Durham, The Sultan of Oman’s Special Royal Silver Emblem,
Education Officer, The Royal Air Force of Oman (rtd).
Click here to read more about George's war story.
Contribution from James Backhouse
Bill Cheall's war diary, story and biography book is published by Pen and Sword in hard back book format.