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7th Bn., Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by astonabbotts, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. astonabbotts

    astonabbotts Member

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    Hi

    I'm researching the names on our village war memorial and would like to know as much information about the following:

    Lance Sergeant JOHN WILLIAM HUMPHREYS
    5384450, 7th Bn., Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.

    Who died on 29 June 1945

    He's buried in the churchyard so must have either died of wounds or had an illness.

    Any information on him (e.g. enlistment etc) or his regiment and there whereabouts during WW2 (especially 1945) would be gratefully received.

    Thanks
     
  2. texson66

    texson66 Ace

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  3. wtid45

    wtid45 Ace

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    Having checked the CWGC register online the only info i can add are that his parents were Thomas and Christina.Also looked in my copy of the Tale Of Two Bridges which tells the story of 7 Para's role in the seizing of the caen canal bridge or pegasus bridge, and the bridge over the river orne during D-Day 6 june 1944 and i can find no mention of sgt humphrey,and he is not listed on the online database of the Parachute Regiment war dead.I suspect as he is listed on the memorial as having died on 29 june 1945 it is possible he died as a result of wounds suffered during operation varsity.
     
  4. airborne medic

    airborne medic Member

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    This may not be of much use as the Parachute Regimental Museum is closed for enquiries but will move to Duxford in the next year or so and if you can wait that long they may have some info in their records.....the other long shot is to trace the NoK and see if they know or will apply for his servcie record for you......as wtid45 says most likely wounded in France or in Varsity and DoW in June 45.....
     
  5. Michael Pine-Coffin

    Michael Pine-Coffin Member

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    I have been researching the history of my Grandfather’s battalion for many years and hope the following is of some help to your endeavours.

    There are very few surviving records for the 7th Battalion. However his regimental number would indicate that his original regiment would have been The OX and Bucks Light Infantry. Most of the men from the Ox and Bucks from the early drafts in late 1942 and early 1943 went into C Company.

    He is shown as being on a PRI roll from just after the battalion returned from Normandy in 1944 His next of kin is T Humphreys, Bull and Butcher Inn , Aston Abbotts, Nr Aylesbury. Religion C.E. and his full name is John Willis.

    I also have him as attending parachute training course No 85 and serving in Normandy with the 7TH Battalion. He would have then served in the Ardennes during December 1944 and January 1945.

    He dropped on Operation Varsity. The Rhine drop on the 24 th March 1945. He was now a L/Sgt in 9 Platoon C Company. The following is taken from a book that Iam in the process of compiling.

    “The start of the long march East began on the 26th March. The 6th Airborne Division was the vanguard for the 21st Army with each battalion rotating in turn to take the lead. The Division had armoured support from the Royal Tank Regiment and The Guards Armoured Division.

    On the 27th March the advance was brought to an abrupt halt. The 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment had been preceding the 7th Battalion. When they had two tanks knocked out by what was believed to have been self-propelled guns. The 7th battalion was ordered to clear the position. Advanced battalion HQ attached itself to ‘B’ Company, who along with ‘C’ Company manoeuvred off the road on the right flank and advanced towards the German guns ‘C’ Company then headed back towards the road and engaged the Germans while ‘B’ Company continued to advance on the flank. Radio contact was then all but lost with ‘C’ Company when they became engaged with the enemy. Intense fire could be heard coming from their location. ‘B’ Company got into a position close to the Germans on the flank. Lt Hinman of 6 Platoon reported that they had identified the flash of enemy guns and pin pointed the location of one of the guns. He requested to take out a patrol permission was granted but he was restricted on his approach to try and limit the danger of being hit by the rounds that ‘C’ Company were firing back at the Germans. When he was out on this patrol, radio contact was re-established with ‘C’ Company who had received a number of casualties and were pulling back so that they could put in another attack at first light. Lt Hinmans small patrol which consisted of him and a PIAT team returned at 23.15 hrs along with a prisoner. A German artillery sergeant who revealed that he was part of a full flak battery; he then identified the location of the guns, which were not only greater in number than anticipated but situated in unexpected locations.

    There was now no danger from ‘C’ Company who had withdrawn, so Lt Hinman increased his patrol to 10 men and undercover of darkness manoeuvred to within 30 yards of the battery before coming under heavy fire. The patrol then attacked with sten guns, grenades ands phosphorous bombs. After 15 minutes of fighting, 40 Germans surrendered. These prisoners were then escorted away by the patrol, leaving Lt Hinman and Pte Meakin who remained behind to ensure clearance of the gun site. They immediately came under fire from guns 300 yards to the west. The two men manned one of the captured guns and scored a direct hit on an ammunition dump along side the enemy guns. The resulting explosion was seen and heard for many miles. The following morning 3 wrecked 5cm guns complete with dead crews were discovered at this location. It was also revealed that beside the 40 captured enemy from the original contact there were eight 3.7 cm guns, five 5cm guns, one 88 mm mobile gun, several machine guns, panzerfausts, together with dead and wounded enemy soldiers. Lt Hinman’s patrol had 1 man killed L/Cpl Sanderson and 1 man wounded Pte D. Lander. Lt Hinman was recommended for a gallantry award for this action, which the C.O. described as a truly remarkable feat. This resulted in him being mentioned in despatches but Pte Harry Meakin was awarded the Military Medal.

    ‘C’ Company had 4 men Killed and16 wounded in their attempt to knock out the flak battery. This is the account of L/Sgt Doug Simmons a section Sergeant in 7 Platoon.

    “Lt (Butch) Lewendon had been our platoon commander for a long time. Shortly after the drop I remember him coming over, he was smiling at last he had been promoted. He was replaced by a new man but neither of us was to last much longer and I cannot remember his name.

    On the 27th March two scout cars from the Recee came running back, saying that they had just been hit. We started to advance towards a cross roads. As soon as 7 platoon broke cover they started firing, we had a few casualties, I was one of them, shrapnel hit my arm, removing some of the flesh and breaking the bone. I dived through a hedge and into a muddy ditch, Pte Bullock and a few others from the platoon were already in the ditch, we were all wounded. Later I was helped back to a farmhouse by two of the company medics, one was a corporal and the other was a Geordie, I remember him saying ‘Not you again’, he was the same medic who had helped me in Normandy the last time I was wounded. At the farmhouse I saw Major Keene on seeing me he said ‘Not another sergeant wounded,’ Stan Kirk another of 7 platoon section sergeants had been hit in the head.”

    Lt Peter Lewendon became 2i/c of ‘A’ Company replacing Captain Gordon Fotheringham who was wounded by shrapnel on the drop. Lt J.K. Whitworth took command of 7 Platoon. He too became a casualty in this action and two men from the platoon were killed while trying to assault the guns Cpl John Christopher and Pte William Hillyard. The R.A.M.C. corporal attached to the company Cpl James Chalmers was also killed. 9 Platoon’s commander Lt S.B. Kearny died of his wounds that day and one of his section sergeants L/Sgt John Humphreys died of his wounds in June. Most of these casualties were received from the shell fire from the flak position.”
     
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  6. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Welcome aboard Michael,
    That's a more than averagely illustrious military family you have there.

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  7. wtid45

    wtid45 Ace

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    Hi Michael, and welcome nice post:) i look forward to your book hope you can let us know some more about it as i said above i have Tale Of Two Bridges, and hopefully your book will cover the other activities of 7 Para during ww2.
     
  8. astonabbotts

    astonabbotts Member

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    Many thanks Michael, great post with lots of info for me to digest.
     
  9. Stevin

    Stevin Ace

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    Wellcome aboard Michael. How is your book coming along???
     
  10. Michael Pine-Coffin

    Michael Pine-Coffin Member

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    Have just obtained some more details from Ron Perry, who was in C Company pre Normandy and had the bed next to John. He described him as being a quite well educated man.

    In the early days C Company only had two platoons, the third platoon 9 platoon was formed in the autum of 1943, John went into 9 platoon when he joined the battalion.

    Most of the battalion consisted of young men who had not been in action before, Ron is certain that John had been with the BEF and evacuated via Dunkirk, as had the platoon Sgt, Sammy Lake, the latter had a badly scared face as a result of being wounded. Sammy Lake was later killed on the Varsity drop, whilst standing next to my grandfather, they were both hit by fragments of the same 88mm shell.

    The book will take some time to complete, so please do not get to excited, but if you require any help to find out information about any veterans from 7 Para I am willing to try and help. The book will cover the period from 1942 - 1947
     
  11. wtid45

    wtid45 Ace

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    Hi Michael more great info and thanks for update on book we are a patient lot on here but please let us know any news i for one would be most grateful.
     
  12. astonabbotts

    astonabbotts Member

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    Once again, many thanks Michael for this excellent information. I am trying to obtain a copy of his Death certificate to find out why he died and was buried in our local churchyard. I'll let you know what I find. In the meantime I'm very grateful for all the info you have. - Keep it coming!
     
  13. astonabbotts

    astonabbotts Member

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    Excuse my ignorance but what is a "PRI Roll"?
     
  14. Michael Pine-Coffin

    Michael Pine-Coffin Member

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    PRI is an internal military organisation, it stands for President of Regimental Institution, the institution collects funds and provides goods for sale etc. The list would have been put together by a soldier, so the fact that John has a different second name from the name on the Grave, and War records is not surprising. This list is important as very few records survive. I have a list of the 144 men who were missing wounded from the battalion in August 1944. The PRI roll, the issue of parachutes for OP Varsity in 1945, a record of all the officers and platoon sergeants for Normandy, Ardennes and Rhine drop, and all the men killed. Most of these were kept by my grandfather, except the PRI list, which was kept by another member of the battalion.

    The Regimental museum has compiled a list from the Parachute course lists that survive, I have heard that most of the documents were destroyed in a flood at the museum; the other storey is that they were destroyed for fear of terrorist reprisals. Not certain which is true, but sadly very few records have survived. The war diaries are contained in the public records office. If you require more information try checking out The 6th Airborne in Normandy web site, which contains a large amount of information that you could only have previously obtained from Kew
     
  15. Pmcleary

    Pmcleary recruit

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    I have often wondered how my uncle, Shane Brendan Kearney, died. I came across this forum while googling 7th Battalion Parachute Regiment and, low and behold, I find this account from Michael. The thread began with an inquiry about a soldier killed in the same action and, it seems, a sergeant in the platoon commanded by my uncle.
    Strange (and tragic) coincidence.
    Thank you for the information.
     
  16. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    Thank you for providing the quality information you provided Michael. I look forward to your future posts.

    Ironically, this morning on a Rembrance Day vignette they had the story of Colonel Nicklin of the Canadian 1st Parachute Battalion who was killed during Operation Varsity. I had written a little about him regarding his participation in the "Tea Bowl" football game at White City Stadium in Feb 1944 against the Americans in the Quiz Forum.
     
  17. dan270279

    dan270279 recruit

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    Hi Michael,
    My grandad served with 7 Para Light Infantry 1942-1946, in my mums living room is a big picture of the people in his company, there is also another pic of when the survivors returned.......I will get my mum to go through all the names to see if John Humphries is there................
     
  18. Michael Pine-Coffin

    Michael Pine-Coffin Member

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    Dan,
    There are two battalion photographs, both taken in 1944, one being taken before D-Day and the second after the return from Normandy. I have previously contacted all the ex-members of the battalion trying to identify as many men on the April 1944 photograph. There is no battalion roll and so far I have only been able to put names to about half the men on the photograph, I would be very interested in any names that you can obtain from the back of the picture or any other details that your have. Could you also tell me your grandfather's name?

    I only know of one picture with names on the back, Peter Lewendon got his men to sign the back of the battalion picture. As far as I know there were no Company or platoon photographs taken before D-Day except for 2 platoon who had one picture taken.

    I believe Humphries to be in the bottom right hand corner of the April 1944 picture. He is in the second row from the bottom, seventh man in counting from the right hand side.

    Yours
    Michael
     
  19. wtid45

    wtid45 Ace

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    Hi Michael dan has posted on another thread ref this his grandad was Walter Dyton.
     
  20. Michael Pine-Coffin

    Michael Pine-Coffin Member

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    Thank you, will check out his thread
     

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