Civilian NZ Casualty 1940

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by Kyt, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. KimNZ

    KimNZ New Member

    Thank you Liverpool Annie for getting a translation of the French incident report! I'm beginning to think that it might be quite possible that Albert was acting as a translator for the BEF. With the increasing numbers of refugees in that part of France from Belgium, he may have been helping the BEF with organisation, communication etc? As there were no New Zealand soldiers over there at that time, it might be that the NZ Govt simply did not think/know to include Albert in its records. I think it would be quite interesting to find out more about William Johnson, who is buried next to Albert. He was a Gunner in the Royal Artillery 3bty., 6 H A A Regt. If anyone knows anything about the movements of this regiment, please let me know! It may shed more light on what Albert was doing with them.
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Hi Kim !

    Glad you were able to read about the incident ... I was beginning to think it must be too ordinary after all the speculation - and thats why nobody answered :doh:

    The Royal Artillery is the hardest of regiments to follow ... especially WW2 ...... they are so involved and William Johnson is not going to be the easiest name to follow but can you tell us what is it you really want to know ? what ideas do you have ?

    Annie :)
  3. ajd

    ajd New Member

    Albert Jean Lawson

    We are very grateful to have access now to the French report about life in Recques_Sur_Hem in 1940. Thank you very much Liverpool Annie for posting this translation as we now have more of an idea of what happened during the evening of 22 May 1940 to our relative Albert Lawson.

    Of course there now more questions that come to mind. Albert may have been the driver or the the person that jumped from the truck and shot. Would the phrase ' the driver wore a gray blouse' have any other significance? We do not know if Albert had joined the BEF at that stage. We know he left Dendermonde, Belgium with the intention of 'going to London to join up' possibly in May 1940. The family he lived with in Dendermonde recently said that they thought he would have gone to Ghent first. Would anyone know if there was a British office there or elsewhere in Belgium? If not, and as he never reached the UK, he may not have been in the BEF (although his headstone says he was). It was 11 years after his death when his family finally learned what had happened to him and no correspondence had been received from Albert after he left Dendermonde.

    The report states the men in the truck were British soldiers and of those who got away two returned to Muncq Nierulet after the war to give thanks and to visit the graveyard in Recques_Sur_Hem. We wonder if there is a record of who they were?

    And as mentioned in the previous posting, information about William W Johnson may help. I note his records state his date of death between 18 May and 22 May 1940. So his whereabouts must have been recorded prior to 18 May.

    Maybe in time we will be able to put together further information about Albert.
  4. KimNZ

    KimNZ New Member

    Just to add to the previous post, and in answer to your question Annie, I've been thinking that if we could find out a bit more about the regiment W Johnson was in, then it may shed some light on Albert's movements; why he was in Recques-sur-hem, which way he was heading etc. Of course, that's assuming he was in fact travelling with W Johnson and that they hadn't got separated from the rest of the regiment! I saw that there is a Royal Artillery Historical Society, maybe they would have some information? Also, in a previous post I think you mentioned contacting a local historian in Recques-sur-hem Annie? Perhaps he/she would have more background information regarding the incident?

    As ajd said, we know that Albert intended to go to London. However, after recently talking to a historian, I found out that he could not have signed up to the BEF in Belgium, as it requires special training in Britain. So, whether he instead met British soldiers over there and then decided to help? As ajd mentioned his headstone reads 'serving with the BEF'. Perhaps this just means he was "serving with" people in the BEF rather than actually "serving in" the BEF himself.

    As ajd said, our family didn't know what happened to him until 11 years after his death. Reading the incident report I gather that this may be because it was only in December 1951 that a decision was made to donate the burial ground to Britain for the three soldiers.

    I shall continue to try to unravel this mystery!
  5. Patwalker37srpen

    Patwalker37srpen New Member

    Came across your old post by chance. I have just finished writing a book about the 6HAA Regt and all its story during the war. The first time this has been done for them I believe. It is an amazing story of hardship and bad luck and I am hoping it will be published later in the year. It will be a privately printed book and have limited copies but should be some 250 pages with thirty of pictures and sketches.
    If you wish to contact me on I can perhaps answer some of your queries.
    I am hoping the book (to be printed in the UK) will have an ISBN number so it can be ordered by main sellers or from me direct.
    Best regards for now Patrick
  6. Patwalker37srpen

    Patwalker37srpen New Member

    Liverpool Annie,
    Came across your thread by chance. I have just completed a book about 6 HAA Regt and already had the death of Wm Johnson recorded but no details of how he died. Your posts have at least let me know a little more which I did not know before. their war diaries are extremey sparse, (those that remain that is) I have recorded the movements as far as possible on a daily basis of the Bty`s and there is no mention of a civilian helper, (not surprisingly) since at the time they had a lot more on their minds with the chaotic withdrawal to Dunkirk. However I will add what little you have come up with to the text.
    best regards for now, you can contact me on if you want further details of what I know.

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