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paulwilkinson
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Joined: 29/10/2013 16:08:13
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In the grim reality that it must be common for a young man to believe greatness of his ancestors I come begging information

I am trying to find the service history of my grandfather - Harold Wilkinson

In the past two years I have tried to piece together his military service history and have some ideas but no conclusive information. A couple of photos have helped along with a map from the 52nd Lowland.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulkwilkinson/4037056452

Born Sep 1923 in Chorlton, Lancashire
Served in the 7th Manchesters in WW2 and we believe later as part of the 52nd 'Mountain' division.

He was the driver of a Cardon-Lloyd Bren Gun Carrier we have photos of him with the vehicle, which following some more research does I indeed have the 52nd's markings (62 in a black sq to the front right, crossed swords on a black sq to the left - we even have the vehicle number if that helps!).

We are unsure of his rank, but he is wearing the Fleur-de-Leys cap badge, 'Manchesters', 'Mountain' - (with shield) and some rank marking (unclear).

We think he trained in the Cairngorms and on Mont Blanc as my father recalls discussing it with him many years ago.

He was awarded the 1939-45 medal, the Defence medal, the France & Germany star and the Burma or Africa star. We have other medals but cannot be sure they belong to him.

I have a copy of Mountain & Flood (wonderful book), which details the exploits of the 52nd in WW2 but find no reference to service in India/Africa and was wondering if he served there prior to joining the 52nd in the mid to late 40's

Married Kathleen Rose Lovatt 12 Apr 1945
Died in March 1968 in Heald Place, Rusholme, Manchester

Now certain information he passed on to my Dad as a child seems to be linked with commando ops. My Dad never really took much interest in the story so i know he hasn't romanticised it at all.

I found reference to the Manchesters/52nd link as below:

"The famous territorial Regiments that were incorporated in the 52nd Lowland Division, were all drawn from the Scottish lowlands, and have a history that in some cases goes back more than 300 years. The battalions of these regiments were spread over three infantry brigades: 155th (South Scottish) Brigade, 156th (Scottish Rifles) Brigade and 157th (Highland Light Infantry) Brigade. The 155th BDE contained the 4th and 5th battalion of the King's Own Scottish Borderers, and the 7/9th battalion of the Royal Scots. The 156th BDE contained the 4/5th Battalion the Royal Scots Fusiliers, 6th and 7th battalion of the Cameronian Scottish Rifles. The 157th BDE contained the 1st Battalion the Glasgow Highlanders, the 5th and 6th battalion of the Highland Light Infantry. It should be noted that these Scottish Territorial battalions were bolstered with large drafts of English soldiers and not all drawn from their traditional Regimental recruiting areas.
At the divisional level 1 independent machine gun battalion, the 7th Manchester Regiment, was attached.

7th Bn. The Manchester Regiment (divisional machine gun unit) became a part of the 52nd Lowland Division from 19.3.1944-31.8.1945"

His history with the 52nd was linked to Achnacarry, Inverawe?, submarines, parachute training and amphibious vehicles.

All of this seems to tie to progression to commando training later.
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This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 29/10/2013 20:22:28

paulwilkinson
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Joined: 29/10/2013 16:08:13
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More pictures :)
NIC
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Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
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Hi Paul,
Welcome to the CVA Website & Forum.

First of all I must say that whether your grandfather was a commando or not, he was a brave young man, who probably volunteered to fight for his country and, judging by what you've already discovered, saw plenty of action.

Here is a link to a site for the Manchester Regt that one of our Forum members, harribobs, runs and you may get some good background info there - certainly Chris (harribobs) will be interested in any info you can give him

http://www.themanchesters.org/

Although it is obvious that you've done a great deal of research already, I get the feeling that you haven't seen your grandfather's service records...

Are you aware that you can, for a fee of 30, apply to the MoD for them? If you obtain a copy they will give you all manner of info - Date of enlistment, training, transfers, commando training (if applicable), promotions (and demotions), dates of embarkation/disembarkation, theatres of operation, wounds, hospitalisation, disciplinaries etc.
If you decide to follow this route of enquiry, I can forward the relevent forms.

Cheers,
Nick



Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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paulwilkinson
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Joined: 29/10/2013 16:08:13
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Hi Nick,

Thanks for the reply.

I am registered on the Manchesters forum but hadn't been able to reveal any more than is published above.

With regard to the service record - I did ask my elderly grandmother to sign the relevant forms as next of kin but she isn't exactly mentally with it enough to agree unfortunately.
NIC
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Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
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hi Paul,

I'm afraid that the only way to get the more detailed version of your grandfather's records is with his NoK's permission - but you may want to consider applying for the General Enquirer's version - it will still cost 30 and
as you are not the immediate Next of Kin or do not have the consent of the Next of Kin then for a period of 25 years following the date of death, the only information that will be disclosed to you is surname; forename; rank; service number; regiment/corps; place of birth; age; date of birth; the date an individual joined the service, the date of leaving; good conduct medals (i.e. Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (LS&GCM)), and any orders of chivalry and gallantry medals (decorations of valour) awarded, some of which may have been announced in the London Gazette.
After this period the following information will also be disclosed, the units in which he/she served, the dates of this service and the locations of those units; the ranks in which the service was carried out and details of campaign medals awarded...

Looking at the portrait I see he is wearing the 'Mountain' badge - this certainly indicates that he was with 52 Division at the time the photo was taken.
I can also see two medal ribbons on his blouse - the !939-45 Star and what could be either the Italy Star or the France Germany Star but, I believe, because of the shades, it is the Italy Star...

As a quick experiment and to try to show the difference in shades in monochrome, I attach two photos - one of the Burma, Africa, France/Germany & Italy Stars in colour and one of the same in black & white.
[This is not an exact science as the black & white photographic emulsions have changed from the war years and the sensitivity to different colours was different - giving a different shade to the emulsions of today...]

You should also be able to determine whether your grandfather had the Burma or Africa Star as you where not sure which he had.

Hope this is helpful.

Nick
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This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 30/10/2013 12:19:24


Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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NIC
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Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
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Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
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Just a quick mention of the photos of your grandfather and the Bren Gun Carrier.
To me the building looks like very much like a Married Quarter or similar building in Germany - the small, barred, windows beside the front door, the external shutters on the windows, all very similar to houses I lived in from the 70s through to the 90s...

Nick

Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Bill Harvey
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Joined: 07/07/2007 22:24:35
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Location: Dunbeg Argyll
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Some of 7 Manchesters were kia from 1 November to 7 November 1944 in Holland. They were buried in Biervliet then transferred to Bergen op Zoom in 1946. They may have followed the No 4 Army Commandos into Flushing with the 155th BDE contained the 4th and 5th battalion of the King's Own Scottish Borderers, and the 7/9th battalion of the Royal Scots.

Best wishes on your search.

Bill

Bill Harvey
Son of Gunner Bill Harvey No4 Commando who was killed in action on 1 November 1944 when liberating Flushing. "Their deeds shall live from age to age. They've writ their name on History's page. Upheld their glorious heritage. The Fighting Fourth Commando."
paulwilkinson
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Joined: 29/10/2013 16:08:13
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NIC wrote:hi Paul,

"I'm afraid that the only way to get the more detailed version of your grandfather's records is with his NoK's permission - but you may want to consider applying for the General Enquirer's version - it will still cost 30"

"information that will be disclosed to you is surname; forename; rank; service number; regiment/corps; place of birth; age; date of birth; the date an individual joined the service, the date of leaving; good conduct medals (i.e. Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (LS&GCM)), and any orders of chivalry and gallantry medals (decorations of valour) awarded, some of which may have been announced in the London Gazette.
After this period the following information will also be disclosed, the units in which he/she served, the dates of this service and the locations of those units; the ranks in which the service was carried out and details of campaign medals awarded"


Sounds a good start. I'll do that next. At least with unit names and a definite service record number I can progress.

NIC wrote:
I can also see two medal ribbons on his blouse - the !939-45 Star and what could be either the Italy Star or the France Germany Star but, I believe, because of the shades, it is the Italy Star...


I have to agree. The shades on the RHS on the ribbon (which I assume you are referring to) and the widths of the bands look to be a perfect match for the Italy Star.

I'll get some pictures of the medals over the holiday and post those and any other information (postcards etc) up.
paulwilkinson
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Joined: 29/10/2013 16:08:13
Messages: 5
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Likeness of a 4 Commando (Heavy Weapons) soldier from a group photo.



Uncanny likeness (well I think so).

 
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