Royal Sussex Regiment

Discussion in 'Regiment Histories' started by Jeff Spiers, Apr 7, 2008.

  1. Jeff Spiers

    Jeff Spiers Guest

    Hi all,
    This is my first post to the forum but I have been reading with great interest the discussions on here, my daughter (14) has also found it very useful in her course work. Not even sure if this is the correct place on the Forum to put this (Mods, please move to correct part if I'm in the wrong place)
    My father, now deceased, served with the "Royal Sussex Regiment" during the war, as with many people who served he didn't talk much about his time whilst serving, my Mother has asked if I could find anything out about what/where/when in relation to my Fathers service through the internet. Hopefully with the great knowledge I've witnessed on this Forum something can be found out (though I'm not expecting miracles :)) Anyway heres what I know so far, I have his soldiers service and pay book and soldiers release book

    Name: Ronald Leslie Spiers
    DOB: 11-1-24
    Army No: 14335595
    Military Dispersal unit: 20-5-47 (Aldershot) Though saying that he did always say he entered back into civilian life at Chichester barracks!
    Medals: 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, War Medal 1939-45


    as written in book:
    1 WK ADDITIONAL SIG TR, 20/4/43

    Nature of employment

    27/5/43 to 17/1/46 "signaller"

    A couple of things that he did reveal before he passed on were that may or may not help

    He talked of being at "Monte Casino", he remembered being on a hill side in thick fog one day when a convoy of pack horses/asses went by carrying supplies, they were tied together in a long line and one of the animals lost its footing and fell off the side of the mountain/cliff/hill, as they were all tied together the one that fell dragged all the others over the side.

    He also recalled a convoy of military vehicles passing by crewed by New Zealanders, these guys were giving out biscuits as they passed.

    In mums photo album is a newspaper cutting of a picture of "The Reins Del Pacific" Dad says he spent weeks in this boat in rough seas travelling to and waiting for disembarkation, (don't know where from or too) he was in the lower decks of this ship and wasn't the best sea traveller, he said it was the worst time of his army life!

    He remembered being under fire (possibly Italy) when an Officer he was with told him to stay down out the way, a split second later there was an explosion (artilary shell??) when dad looked up the officer had disappeared, presumed he took the full force of the explosion.

    There are pictures of Dad (after the war?) in Alexandria, Egypt, he told Mum that all his mates went to see the Pyramids but he elected no to go that day but had always wished he had.

    Not a lot to go on I know but hopefully some more pieces of the jigsaw of Dads exploits will be revieled

    Jeff Spiers
  2. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Welcome Jeff

    Your father would have been in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Sussex, which was part of the 7 Indian Infantry Brigade, which in turn was part of the 4th Indian Infantry Division.

    They saw some very heavy fighting at Cassino. A good introduction to the 4th's Italian campaign is:

    The Tiger Triumphs. The Story of Three Great Divisions in Italy. 1946. Foreword. Table of Contents.

    A good book is (though it only gives minimal mentions of individual Regiments): Cassino: The Hollow Victory - The Battle for Rome, January-June, 1944: John Ellis: Books

    Have you applied for his Service Records? They will contain very similar details to the service books you have but may contain additional info.

    If there's anything specific you'd like to know then ask away. Ron was a wireless operator, and I'm sure he could help on providing information on that front.

    And you maybe interested in this:

    BBC - WW2 People's War - The Hell of Monte Cassino
  3. Jeff Spiers

    Jeff Spiers Guest

    Many thanks Kyt,
  4. Hugh

    Hugh New Member

    ss REINA DEL PACIFICO official number 162339

    Hello Jeff and welcome,

    Regarding your father's trip on a troopship, I believe she was the ss REINA DEL PACIFICO official number 162339 built in 1931 for Pacific Steam Navigation Company, Liverpool in 1931. She was broken up at Newport on 11.5.1958.

    Troopship Duties -1939-46

    These included expedition to, and re-embarkation from Norway - 1940. Trips to Suez via Cape Town. Transportation of the 4th Indian Division from Egypt to Port Sudan for the attack on Ethiopia - Jan 1941. Landing craft added for North African invasion, and transported elements of 1st U.S. Division to Oran assault - Nov 1942. Transported elements of 51st Highland Division to landings at Avola, Sicily - Jul 1943.
    Later trips between Britain and Bombay, East Africa, and the Pacific. Most of the 18th Division left Liverpool on this ship in October 1941

    Some nice photos of the ship here Reina Del Pacifico-05
    here Reina Del Pacifico-02

  5. Jeff Spiers

    Jeff Spiers Guest

    Thanks Hugh, I have a couple of questions, what is a "Fired War Course" that Dad passed in July 1943? and is it possible that he could of been on this boat when it travelled to Avola?

  6. Hugh

    Hugh New Member

    Sorry, Jeff, no idea about "Fired War Course" maybe someone else can help you on that.

    I believe the 51 Highland Division were at Avola for the beginning of Op Husky which was early July 43. 51 Highland (member of this forum) may be better placed to advise on the Division's involvement.

    Do you know what battalion your father served in? We may be able to point you to the War Office Diaries for the Royal Sussex Regiment at the National Archives.

    Unfortunately troopships wouldn't have recorded individual soldiers names on lists but there may be mention in the official logbook of the ship detailing which regiments that were embarked.

    The ship's movement card from the National Archives would tell you which ports she sailed to and from, together with dates. These are held at the the TNA Kew in file classification BT 389/24 link is here: The National Archives | The Catalogue | Quick reference

    The cost for this file would be £8.50 for up to 10 document pages sent to your email address (24 hour service) on a no find no fee basis. You would have to be specific as to what period you want as these files cover 1939 - 1945.

    If you need any help with National Archive files just give a shout and we will try our best to help.

  7. Jeff Spiers

    Jeff Spiers Guest

    Thanks again Hugh, unfortunatly I have no idea which battalion Dad was with, as you can see through my first post thing are very sketchy

    Kindest regards
  8. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

  9. Jeff Spiers

    Jeff Spiers Guest

    Thanks Andy, most interesting read
  10. m.goddings

    m.goddings New Member

    Dear Jeff

    I believe I may have some photos of your father taken in Italy post Cassino at the time my own father was also a member of the Signals Company with 1 Royal Sussex. Happy to copy them for you.



  11. Airborne

    Airborne Member

    Hi everyone,
    I have joined the site because i would like some information about my Grandfathers brother. 6402572 Pte Albert Upperton, 5 Cinque Ports Bn, Royal Sussex was killed 22 May 1940 during the withdrawal to Dunkirk. Whilst stationed in Germany i found the cemetry where he and 28 others of his Platoon are buried. They are buried in Bertenacre Military cemetary Fletre, Nord. The 29 men are the only dead from WW2 in the cemetry the rest are all WW1 personnel. In the book of condolences the men have had a few visitors over the years. Does anyone know the circumstances of their deaths, i have reason to believe they were ambushed by the Germans. My Grandfather Charles Upperton was in 2 Royal Sussex, 1929 - 1943, before transferring to 2nd Parachute Battalion in 1943. As an aside they had another brother ,Herbert, who was a Sgt in the RAF, he was shot down and killed over the Bay of Biscay in June 1943. He was part of a Halifax crew towing Horsa Gliders to North Africa in preparation for the invasion of sicily.
  12. 51highland

    51highland Member

    Only just seen this thread, anyway heres my little bit of info. 154th brigade of 51st HD landed early morning 10th July. 1st gordons had a wet landing at 03.45 hrs. 154 brigades objective being the fishing village of Portopalo. The majority of 152 and 153 brigades would land a little later at Pachino.
  13. Airborne

    Airborne Member

    Am i on the wrong message board?
  14. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

  15. Airborne

    Airborne Member

    5 Cinque Ports Bn Royal Sussex Regiment

    Thanks Kyt.
  16. Airborne

    Airborne Member

    5 Cinque Ports Bn Royal Sussex Regiment

    By the way the above site is very good indeed.
  17. dsms

    dsms Member

    5 Cinque Ports Bn RSR

  18. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

  19. dsms

    dsms Member

    HI Annie Have been trying to get a copy of that book but so far only places that have it want silly money for it! Just missed a copy recently that was sold at a sensible price, had been in shop for ages then went day before I asked, typical.

    Anyway have some info that may be of use to Airborne, obtained from the Record Office Archives in Chichester, its the notes on the 5th Batt RSR and on it's service during WW2 until Evac from Dunkirk.

    As follows:

    Notes on the 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion, the Royal Sussex Regiment and on its service during 2nd WW until Evac from Dunkirk

    Unit started training Sep 1939 through until Oct 1939
    Oct 1939, Bn moved to Dorest (HQ where at Cattistock, and Rifle Coys where at Toller, Melbury & Evershot). Carried out heavy training for overseas
    During March advance party sent to France
    3rd April 1940, fully loaded transport left Cattistock for Southampton and was then shipped to Cherbourg on S.5. Amsterdam making crossing on 8/9th April.
    Moved to Vivoin during night of 9/10th April.
    Then moved to Belleuse after about a week. Then after 2 days marched to St. Pol, covering 25 miles a day (HQ at Conteville, A & B Coy at Eps and C & D at Hestrus.
    Then moved to Lillers on 11th May to perform L. of C. Duties
    Then moved onto just east of Vichtrat Peteghen, and took up defensive duties, then moved onto
    Wortegen making a defensive position covering the river Escaut
    Combat started 20th May with shelling & Mortar fire.
    22nd May retreated to Coutrai, then 23rd again to St. Andre near Lille
    24th sent to Viller Berquin, north of the forest of Nieppe, 25th sent onto Strazelle where meet enemy tanks and received many casualties in A coy.
    25th/26th moved on to Rouge Croix, taking a defensive position facing Hazebrouck taking heavy attack. Then withdrew to Mont De Cats
    27th Experienced heavy dive-bombing and Shell fire
    28th Moved north to Poperinghe, which was being div bombed. After short rest commenced final march to Dunkirk, over night arriving on the coast at Bray Dunes from where it was eventually evacuated

    Whilst will not answer the question re ambush it does give a good indicator of movements and locations in the period and may be of use/interest to someone.
  20. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I found this .... do you have this already Airbourne ?

    14-Jun-43 DK190 Halifax 295 Sqn 100 miles north west of Cape Finisterre 6The aircraft was engaged on an Operation BEGGAR sortie but it and the glider it was towing were lost. The Luftwaffe reported that an aircraft and glider combination had been shot down and it is assumed to relateto this aircraft.

    Warrant Officer William Armando MCCRODDEN 21
    PilotSergeant George Richard HALE 21
    Sergeant Arthur SELVES 26 Flight Engineer
    Sergeant Herbert Francis UPPERTON 22 Air Gunner
    Flight Sergeant Frederick Charles PAYNE 29 Navigator
    Flight Sergeant Victor James NORMAN 22 Wireless Operator

    14-Jun-43 LG945 Horsa I 1 OADU 100 miles north west of Cape Finisterre 0The Accident Card records the crew of this aircraft as ‘missing’, since they were in the glider being towed by DK190 when it was attacked and shot down, apparently by a pair of Focke Wulf Kondors and after aspirited defence. The glider had been cast off and the crew had ditched it in the sea. They escaped from the wreckage and boarded their dinghy but were adrift for 11 days before being rescued by the crew of aSpanish trawler and having drifted to within 20 miles of Oporto. The glider pilots were; Staff Sergeants Antonopoulos, Hall and Conway and it will be noted that Antonopoulos and Hall had previously ditchedon 3 Jun 43, both were subsequently awarded the Air Force Medal. Anger Final2.pdf

    Annie :)

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