The History of the

4th and 7th Royal Tank Regiments

 

Annex J Wargraves and Memorials May - June 1940

THE WARGRAVES AND MEMORIALS OF THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF 4 AND 7 RTR, FROM THE FIGHTING IN NORTHERN FRANCE MAY-JUNE 1940

Researched and prepared by Tim Strickland Esq MBE, MA. FSA,

Son of Sergeant (later Major-General) E.V. Strickland, formerly of C Squadron  4RTC/RTR, 1935-1940.

4RTR

 

CYSOING COMMUNAL CEMETERY

The small town of Cysoing is situated approximately 13kms to the south-east of Lille

TROOPER J.H. BANKS. 19th May 1940. Grave 3.

TROOPER P.F. BOOTH. 19th May 1940. Grave 1.

TROOPER H.K.S. MILLETT. 19th May 1940. Grave 2.

TROOPER A. NEWTON. 19th May 1940. Grave 4.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXTS
These four soldiers were killed in a German bombing raid on the 4RTR rearguard defences, covering the withdrawal from the River Escaut, in the outskirts of Cysoing, on 19th May 1940. Their remains were later moved to the cemetery by the French.

 

DUNKIRK MEMORIAL

The Dunkirk Memorial is located at the entrance to Dunkirk Town Cemetery, in the south-eastern part of Dunkirk, immediately south of the canal, beside the road to Feurne. Among the 4,500 World War 2 casualties, listed with no known grave, are the following.

CAPTAIN F.H.M. MURDOCH. 21st May 1940. (Officers’ Middleweight Boxing Champion 1937,1938 and 1939). Column 4.

CORPORAL G.R. BAKER. 24th May 1940. Column 4.

CORPORAL G.A. SKEEN. 17th June 1940. (Lost in the SS Lancastria). Column 4.

LANCE-CORPORAL J. LONG. 21st May 1940. Column 4.

TROOPER C.A. BEATTIE.  27th May 1940. Column 5.

TROOPER S. GRAHAM. 21st May 1940. Column 5.

TROOPER A. HOLDEN. 21st May 1940. Column 5.

2/LIEUT V.G.T. GODLEY. 21st May 1940. Column 4.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXTS
Those recorded above as dead on 21st May 1940 may be assumed to have been killed in the Arras Counter-attack on that day, when they were incinerated in their tanks in the Mercatel / Beaurains areas. Those killed, or died of wounds, in the period 24th-27th May may be assumed to have fallen in the actions of the 4/7RTR Composite Force, in the aftermath of the Arras Counter-attack. Corporal Skeen’s death in the SS Lancastria tragedy is an exception, although he, too, had been wounded in the Arras-Dunkirk scenario.

 

DUNKIRK TOWN CEMETERY

For the location of this cemetery see the Dunkirk Memorial above.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL J.G. FITZMAURICE, MC. 21st May 1940. Plot 2, Row 7, Grave 48.

CORPORAL A. MOORHOUSE, M-i-D. 21st May 1940. Plot 2, Row 7, Grave 47.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXTS
Colonel FitzMaurice, CO of 4RTR, was killed in the Arras Counter-attack. It seems that his remains were removed subsequently to Dunkirk BUT it is known that he was killed near Mercatel, where his tank brewed up. Does this mean that the remains buried at Dunkirk are of someone else? See Corporal Moorhouse who, like his Commanding Officer, was also killed at Arras. See WAILLY below.

 

FLINES-LES-RACHES CHURCHYARD

The village of Flines-les-Raches is situated on the south side of the Foret de Flines, mid-way, on the D938, approximately 6kms to the south-west of the town of Orchies. The churchyard lies near the church, in the village-centre, a short distance to the south of the main road.

TROOPER L.F. EAGLE. 28th May 1940.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
Trooper Eagle must have been killed [or mortally wounded] EITHER in the aftermath of the Arras Counter-attack in 21st May, OR in the actions and movements [some of which were dive-bombed by the Germans] of the 4/7RTR Composite Force in the period 23rd-27th May. It should be noted that, at one brief stage, the 1st Army Tank Brigade, together with the 4/7th Composite Force, were assembled in the Foret de Flines nearby.

 

PONT-REMY COMMUNAL CEMETERY

This cemetery is located on the eastern side of the village of Pont-Remy, some 8kms to the south-east of Abbeville.

CORPORAL R.B. BURROUGHS, M-i-D. 1st June 1940. Grave 2.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
Bob Burroughs was 2/Lt Peter Vaux’s trusted Driver and accompanied him on their journey behind enemy lines after the Arras Counter-Attack. He drove their Light Tank until its demise, and was drowned (ref Brig Peter Vaux) whilst swimming a river.

 

WORMHOUDT COMMUNAL CEMETERY

The small town of Wormhoudt is situated astride the D916 Bergues-Cassel road, approximately 20kms south of Dunkirk. This cemetery includes the remains of at least 30 unidentified casualties from World War 2. Among them, is the grave of…

SECOND-LIEUTENANT A.D.C. DOWDING. 22nd -26th May 1940. Row F, Grave 34.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
It seems that Lieutenant Dowding had been killed, or mortally wounded, in the earlier actions of the 4RTR or 4/7RTR Composite Force, AFTER the Arras Counter-attack.

 

DOVER

….some are buried at Dover.

 

WO II Edward J Brown 27 V 40 4RTR Dover
Tpr Herbert J Clay 29 V 40 4RTR Dover
Tpr Kenneth W George 27 V 40 4RTR Dover
Cpl Mathew Lowery 27 V 40 4RTR Dover
Cpl Robert H Oliver 27 V 40 4RTR Dover
L/Cpl Ray Powles 27 V 40 4RTR Dover
Tpr Richard Richardson 27 V 40 4RTR Dover
L/Cpl Reginald W Roberts 29 V 40 4RTR Dover
WO I Albert H Sinclair 27 V 40 4RTR Dover
Tpr Robert Stocker 27 V 40 4RTR Dover
Tpr John Woods 27 V 40 4RTR Dover

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
The vessel ‘Mona’s Isle’ was shelled and strafed on its journey back to the UK from Dunkirk, with men of 4RTR aboard. It would seem that these men were either killed on-board or died shortly afterwards

 

PONT-A-MARCQ COMMUNAL CEMETERY

Pont-a-Marcq is a small town along 4th/7th’s route toNeuve Chapelle  

SGT FREDERICK W. SMITH [4RTR]          27th May 1940.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
This man is almost certainly the commander of RMY 906, a Mk I ‘I’ tank, blown over onto its turret on the journey to Neuve Chapelle. He was a member of the 4th / 7th Composite Force.

 

BIENVILLERS MILITARY CEMETERY

The village of Bienvillers-au-Bois is approximately 15kms south-west of Arras. The war cemetery is located beside the minor road (D2) between Bienvillers and Souastre.

LT. REGINALD J HUBBARD  27th December 1939.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
This officer was in C Company of 4RTR. He died from carbon-monoxide poisoning, due to faulty ventilation on his stove. NOTE: His companion that night was Lieutenant Tommy Foweraker, who was also affected by the monoxide poisoning and invalided home. But he survived and went on to fight with 145RAC (8th Bn, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) in Tunisia, as ‘A’ Squadron-Leader. He was killed in action near Medjez-el-Bab in April 1943[see MEJEZ-EL-BAB CEMETERY]..

 

7RTR

 

DUNKIRK MEMORIAL

For the location, see 4RTR above.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL H.M. HEYLAND, DSO. 21st May 1940. Column 3.

SERGEANT E. BARRAS. 29th May 1940. Column 4.

CORPORAL H. HILTON. 29th May 1940. Column 4.

LANCE-CORPORAL N.W. STAGG. 10th May-23rd June 1940. Column 4.

TROOPER C.W. ADAMS. 29th May 1940. Column 5.

TROOPER D. FARRAR. 23rd May 1940. Column 5.

TROOPER H.J. FORSTER. 26th May-2nd June 1940. Column 5.

TROOPER H. GREEN. 26th May-2nd June 1940. Column 5.

TROOPER W.C. LEEKE. 29th May 1940. Column 5.

TROOPER C. O’NEILL. 29th May 1940. Column 5.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXTS
It should be borne in mind that the officers and men listed above have NO KNOWN GRAVE. For some, it is clear that the exact date of death is uncertain and thus given as at some date in May-June 1940. With the exception of Colonel Heyland, who was killed at Arras, whilst commanding the Battalion, on 21st May 1940, and one or two exceptions who died in the immediate aftermath of the Arras Counter-attack, the deaths of the majority listed appear to have been associated with events dated 29th May-2nd June 1940: the Withdrawal from Dunkirk. For Colonel Heyland, see WAILLY below.

 

DUNKIRK TOWN CEMETERY

For the location of this cemetery, see 4RTR above.

LANCE-CORPORAL J. MASON. 29th May 1940. Plot 2, Row 17, Grave 7.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
Final withdrawal of the BEF at / from Dunkirk [if not mortally wounded from days before].

 

LONGUENESSE [ST.OMER] SOUVENIR CEMETERY

This cemetery is located in the southern outskirts of Saint Omer.

CAPTAIN H.J. KAUTER. Adjutant. 21st May 1940. Plot 8, Row B, Grave 6.

TROOPER H.R.W. MCGILLIVRAY. 21st May 1940. Plot 8, Row B, Grave 7.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXTS
Both Captain Kauter and Trooper McGillivray were killed in their tank on the extreme right [west] of the Arras Counter-attack, just north of Belloy Farm, on 21st May 1940. The local French buried them on the spot. They were moved and reburied in the cemetery at the village of RIVIERE in 1941, and later still reburied at Longuenesse. It should also be borne in mind that the Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery also includes the unidentified remains of 93 other World War 2 dead.

 

AVION COMMUNAL CEMETERY

This cemetery is located on the Arras-Lens road, on the north-east side of Lens, approximately 14kms north-northeast of Arras.

MAJOR H.F.B. GARRETT, MC. 2 i/c. 23rd May 1940. Grave 10.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
Major Garrett is recorded as being killed in the Souchez area on 23rd May. He commanded and was killed in one of the 7RTR actions against the Germans near Souchez.

 

OYE-PLAGE COMMUNAL CEMETERY

This cemetery is located on the coast, approximately 14kms east of Calais.

TROOPER E. SMITH. 29th May 1940. Row 1, Grave 21.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
Had this soldier been wounded in the actions a few days previously? Or had he died whilst escaping towards Dunkirk?

 

WAILLY COMMUNAL CEMETERY

This cemetery is located 6kms to the south-southwest of Arras.

‘AN OFFICER’. Known unto God.

SERGEANT H.J.K. REPPEN. 21st May 1940.

TROOPER A. ALEXNDER. 21st May 1940.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
This cemetery is situated very close to the line-of-advance of at least part of 7RTR in the Arras Counter-attack on 21st May 1940. Both soldiers fell in that action. The war-grave of ‘an officer’, close to them in this cemetery, is included because he seems also to have been involved in the counter-attack. Could this actually be either Colonel Fitzmaurice [who is known to have been killed at Belloy Farm, near Wailly] or Colonel Heyland?

 

BEAURAINS COMMUNAL CEMETERY

This cemetery is situated on the north side of the D60 Beaurains-Tilloy road, on the eastern edge of Beaurains, in the southern outskirts of Arras.

MAJOR M.G. HEDDERWICK, MC. OC ‘A’ Coy. 21st May 1940. Row C, Grave 3.

SERGEANT S.J. TEMPLE. 21st May 1940. Row A, Grave 1.

TROOPER G.W. MILLS. 21st May 1940. Row A, Grave 3.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
These men fell in the Arras Counter-attack on 21st May 1940.

 

BUCQUOY ROAD CEMETERY, FICHEUX

This cemetery is located on the D919, some 9kms south of Arras, close to the crossroads between the villages of Ficheux and Boisleux.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT W.K.P. NUGENT.  21st May 1940. Plot 8, Row D, Grave 8.

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
Lieutenant Nugent died in the Arras Counter-attack on 21st May 1940. It should also be borne in mind that no less than 26 World War 2 deaths with ‘no known grave’ and the graves of 39 unidentified remains are in this cemetery. Andre Coilliot thinks that Nugent was killed in a Mark VI light tank in the right advance towards Mercatel. His tank was afterwards found abandoned out in the open country. Nugent was the commander of a Mk II tank (from the testimony of Maj S J King 7RTR) with the 7RTR group of Mk Is at ARRAS.

 

TUNBRIDGE WELLS

TPR WILFRED H TOMPKINS [7RTR]   27th May 1940 

INTERPRETATION OF CONTEXT
Possibly died of his wounds following evacuation from France.

 

 



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