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Beaver22
04-08-2009, 03:41 PM
Evening all

On going through some old family paper, it was discovered that a relative fought and lost his life during the second world war.

Natural curiosity have driven me to find out if there is any way of finding out more information on his story.

I have been fortunate enough to discover his name, rank, unit and serial number; information not everybody on a similar quest is always blessed with.

He served in the 1st Batalion, Oxford and Buck Light Infantry as a privateand died March 1st, 1945.

I would love some advice on where to look for information. There are surely databases or archives somewhere which will produce more information.


I am intregued as to the date of his death. Later in the month, Operation varsity was born, and ealier in the year, Allied units were making slow progress into German.

I look forward to hearing your advise and feel free to share any similar searches you have had yourself.

Stuart

pdf27
04-08-2009, 03:58 PM
The CWGC is a good start: http://www.cwgc.org/debt_of_honour.asp?menuid=14
That should give date and place of death, along with grave location (if known) or the panel he is commemorated on if he has no known grave.
The regimental museum would normally be a good place to do further research, but right now they're in a bit of a state of flux - might be worth an email though. http://www.armymuseums.org.uk/museums/0000000078-Oxfordshire--Buckinghamshire-Light-Infantry-Collection.htm

Beaver22
04-08-2009, 04:53 PM
Great advice as always.

The CWGC threw up confirmation of the serial number 14805487 and provided additional details such as parents and home town. I am getting closer.

His names was Private Francis Keith Dyer of the 1st Batalion Ox and Bucks. He died on the 1st March 1945 and was just 18 years of age. This confirms the family story that Francis lied about his age to get into the army.

I will be contacting the Army museum trust and of course, sharing with you the progress as it comes.

Stuart

Nickdfresh
04-08-2009, 05:12 PM
Died at only 18, and only two months before the end of the War. That's tough...

Beaver22
04-08-2009, 05:21 PM
I know, sad eh?

That's what's driven me to do some digging as I want to now essentially, how de died. However, I realised this may be a little optomistic....

fun though

Stuart

Saxon
04-08-2009, 06:31 PM
He may have been an airborne soldier, as I believe the Regiment was converted to 'airlanding' (gliders) in 1941-43, but it may have only been the 2nd Battalion that was converted.

During research you may have to be careful to distinguish from the 1st Buckinghamshire Battalion Ox and Bucks (TA unit), and the 1st Battalion Ox and Bucks.

Sounds like he was killed during the Battle of the Reichswald (Feb 8th to march 10th). The 1st Battalion was heavily involved in this intense battle.

Was he a replacement, or do you know when he crossed the channel? Because the 1st Battalion was involved in a few well know operations, like Caen, Market Garden et al.

Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia, there's also some good links there to a few Ox and Bucks regimental sites.

North-West Europe (D-Day to Germany (1944-45))
1st Battalion The Buckinghamshire Battalion was part of the 6th Beach Group, landing on D-Day on 6 June 1944 as part of the beach group that organised the units on the landing beaches. The 1st Ox & Bucks landed later that month as part of the 71st Infantry Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. On 25 June Operation Epsom began that was intended to take the town of Caen -- a vital objective for the British that proved to be a formidable town to capture -- and failed in its intention of capturing Caen though, however, it did divert significant numbers of Germans away from the Americans. The Germans counter-attacked and the Ox & Bucks moved to positions around the Odon where it suffered from heavy German artillery barrages. The Allies launched further attempts to capture Caen, and the first Allied troops entered it on 9 July; by then, much of it had been destroyed. Fighting around Caen continued for much of the month, with the Battalion sustaining significant casualties. In August the Battalion took part in an advance towards Falaise, known as Operation Totalize, that saw the Allies reach and capture it. The Falaise Pocket was eventually closed, encircling two German armies, one of which was effectively destroyed by the Allies. The victory of the Falaise Pocket signified the end of the battle for Normandy. The 1st Ox & Bucks then took part in the advance east, eventually entering Belgium in early September.

On 17 September the invasion of the Netherlands began, known as Operation Market Garden in a combined land and airborne operation. The Battalion took part in the ground operation that was intended to cross through three bridges taken by airborne troops and into Germany, that would end at the furthest captured bridge at Arnhem -- taken by 1st Airborne -- though the operation ended in failure by 25 September. The 1st Ox & Bucks subsequently took part in operations around the Lower Maas that took place between October and November. On 16 December 1944 the Germans launched their last-gasp major offensive of the war in the Ardennes that became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The 1st Ox & Bucks, along with the rest of its division, was rushed to Belgium shortly afterwards to assist in the defence where it experienced awful weather conditions, some of the worst Belgium had seen in years. The Allies launched a counter-attack in early January and the German offensive was defeated later that month, by which time the 53rd Welsh Division had been relieved and returned to Holland soon afterwards in preparation for the invasion of Germany.

In February the Battalion was involved in the Allied invasion of the German Rhineland, including taking part in the Battle of the Reichswald, where it saw extensive involvement. The Battalion crossed the Rhine in late March and advanced east, seeing action at, among others, Ibbenburen in April where they saw heavy fighting against determined German defenders though, in spite of this, the British succeeded in capturing the town, and the 1st Ox & Bucks eventually reached the city of Hamburg -- captured on 3 May by British forces -- where they remained until the end of the war.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxfordshire_and_Buckinghamshire_Light_Infantry


For more info, try contacting the Soldiers of Oxfordshire (www.sofo.org.uk). Hope this helps.

cheers,
Saxon

Beaver22
04-09-2009, 09:37 AM
Thanks for your response Saxon

It does look likely that Francis may have been killed during the Battle of Reichswald, though more importantly, your suggestion has highlighted that I need to find out if he was replacement and when he was shipped over.

He was deffinately 1st Batalion Ox and Bucks.

I'll keep you all posted.

Stuart

Beaver22
05-07-2009, 03:57 PM
The plot thickens...

The SOFO (Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust) brought back a few more clues. Their records of individual soldiers is unfortunately limited, however, I did find out that Francis was in A company and in Graf, Austria at the time of his death. He enlisted into Gen. Service Corps, then transfered to the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, A Company. He served in NW Europe, Germany and Graf.

At the same time, a stray enemy shell fell on A company wounding Major Percy Hardman DSO. Hardman died eight days later from his wounds.

Putting everything together, it is likely that Francis was killed by this stray German shell. This is only my opinion though.

Any more information on operation in Graf would be greatly appreciated.

Pretty pleased with the amount of information found so far.

Saxon
05-25-2009, 01:09 PM
One of the things you should do, is get hold of a copy of the 1st battalions war diary.

More and more war diaries are being published on the net. For example, here are the war diaries for the 6th Airborne Division:

http://www.pegasusarchive.org/normandy/war.htm

Which includes the war diary of the 2nd battalion Oxford and Bucks.

I believe the 1st battalion was part of the 53rd Welsh Division in 1944

Mk VII
05-25-2009, 05:07 PM
By this time everybody was being enlisted in the G.S. Corps and then transferred to another regiment/corps.
I can't imagine how he ended up from Graf into the Reichwald cemetery, unless it was 'died of wounds' in a base hospital. Or it could be that burials from all over were consolidated there after the war - that happened a lot, unlike WW1 where many small cemeteries remain, often on the site of a dressing station.
I can't see any sign of a Percy Hardman dying in 1945 and the other Hardmans for 1945 don't seem to match.

Beaver22
05-26-2009, 04:34 PM
Thanks for the link Saxon, I was captivated with some of the accounts on there.

MKVII - The reference given to me by the SOFO seems to be from a body of text/book called Enshrined in Stone - part of the battalion's history. It reads as follows:

"On 1st March, operating with the 4th Royal Welsh Fus. and 158 Bg, an attack was launched on Graf.....Later in the morning a stray enemy shell fell on "A" Company, mortally wounding Major Percy Hardman DSO."

The possibility that he died of woulds is certainly likely, though there is a lot of distance between the two sites.

Puzzling...

Stuart

R Mark Davies
10-14-2009, 10:13 AM
As has been said, 1st Ox & Bucks served in the 71st ('International') Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division and on 1st March were heavily involved in the Battle of the Reichswald. I think the Austrian link is a red herring - there were no British units anywhere near Austria by 1st March.

There is a 'Grafwegen' on the western fringes of the Reichswald, near 53 Div's startline, as well as a 'Grafenthal' on the southeastern corner. which is roughly where 53 Div was on 1st March, if my memory serves me. There is also 'Goch', which again is in the vicinity. I've got Delaforce's 'Red Crown and Dragon' at home, as well as Barclay's official divisional history and a general history fior the Ox & Bucks, so I'll have a look for you and get back to you tomorrow (remind me if I don't). Personally I think that 'Graf' is either a mis-spelling (which was common enough in official documentation of the time), or was an abbreviation for either Grafwegen or Grafenthal.

R Mark Davies
10-15-2009, 08:28 AM
Here's the answer:

Operation 'Daffodil' was the codename given to the middle phase of the attack by 53rd (Welsh) Division on Weeze, 24 February-1 March 1945. One of the objectives for 71st Brigade in this assault was the canal crossing at a hamlet called Graf, which is now a northern suburb of Weeze. Once the canal crossing was taken, 158 Brigade would move through with 'Funny' and tank support to directly assault the town (this phase being designated Operation 'Leek', which took place 1-2 March).

'71 Brigade's attack on the northern flank [of the attack on Weeze] between the railway track, the main road and the river Niers was held up short of Weeze by flooding, heavy DF [Defensive Fire - i.e. artillery] fire and anti-tank ditches. The Ox & Bucks were astride the Goch-Weeze railway and 4 RWF east of the railway supported by the 4/7 Dragoon Guards Tanks. The Fusiliers had a very difficult time and only just succeeded in taking and holding a vital canal to the north of Weeze at Graf.'

Lt Col Crozier's diary (OC 1st Manchesters - divisional MG Battalion) says "March 1st. I put 1,000 phosphorous bombs into Weeze today and set it well alight. I hope the Bosch found it hot. Our attack came to a stop about 1000hrs. 158 Brigade on first objective but 71 Brigade only partly successful and had very heavy casualties."

I hope this helps?

RichardD
08-25-2011, 03:07 PM
HI Stuart,

My Great Auntie has asked me to contact you on her behalf, as she is the sister of Francis Keith Dyer. She would be very interested to discuss the family relation and she has been researching the Dyer family tree for some time. I'm her Great Nephew and she asked me to establish contact with you first to see if you would be interested?
Kind Regards

Richard Dyer

Beaver22
08-25-2011, 03:57 PM
Hi

It's an unexpected suprise after such a long time since posting this thread. I will contact my (soon to be) mothin in law to share this information. Can you supply me with some more information, names etc. I will be seeing her next Tuesday and can pass this on.

Thank you for getting in touch, I'm sure she would be happy to help in any way she can.

Kindest regards

Stuart

RichardD
09-12-2011, 03:41 PM
Hi Stuart,
Sorry for the late response, I've been very busy lately and didn't get round to responding to your email as quickly as I would've liked to. I'm going to give you the direct email of my Great Aunt Mary Newman and if you are still interesed and willing to discuss Francis Keith Dyer, or willing to pass her email along to your soon to be Mother in Law, Mary would be most grateful. Her email is newmanwithchrist@virginmedia.com

Kind Regards
Richard

Boffin43
03-31-2014, 04:17 AM
By this time everybody was being enlisted in the G.S. Corps and then transferred to another regiment/corps.
I can't imagine how he ended up from Graf into the Reichwald cemetery, unless it was 'died of wounds' in a base hospital. Or it could be that burials from all over were consolidated there after the war - that happened a lot, unlike WW1 where many small cemeteries remain, often on the site of a dressing station.
I can't see any sign of a Percy Hardman dying in 1945 and the other Hardmans for 1945 don't seem to match.

Major Cecil George Percy-Hardman, D.S.O. was my father! Unfortunately I was too young to remember him. However I do know he was killed in the Reichswald in March 1945. He was Acting Lieut. Col. at the time and was out of his trench checking on his men when this stray shell came over and he was fatally wounded and died several days later. I have no knowledge of whether any other men were killed at the same time. My father was a Territorial in the Devons but was seconded to the Ox. & Bucks I think in autumn 1944. I know he was at Nijmegen. He had been due to come home on leave January 1945 but his C/O was killed, then the second in command, so he had to take over. He is buried in Mook Cemetary nr Osterbeek in the Netherlands. He was awarded the D.S.O for action in 1944 when he and his men captured a machine gun post without promised air cover, resulting in a change of plan on his part, and without losing any of his men. I wish I had known him.