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Author Topic: Minefield tragedy? Chichester area, 21st December 1940  (Read 499 times)
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John
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« on: March 08, 2017, 07:45:59 AM »

Whilst wandering around Chichester Cemetery last year, on a mission to photograph every military headstone I could find, I happened to notice two in the Roman Catholic section from the same Regiment with the same date of death. Thinking nothing more of it, I carried on - and later found another five in the Church of England section. Obviously there was a story behind this, but a basic internet search when I got home didn't reveal anything to shed light on what had happened to these men. Did they die in a raid by the Luftwaffe? Or perhaps a minefield explosion?

This year the British Newspaper Archive released scans of the Chichester Observer, so I dived in and searched for their names, and when that didn't give me any results I tried searching for military inquests and funerals - again, no luck. I was sure that there must have been some reference and, knowing that the page scans were pretty poor quality and the OCR probably hadn't picked up the names, I resorted to plodding through each page of each issue. Bingo!



Chichester Observer - Saturday 28 December 1940

TEN SOLDIERS KILLED. SERIOUS MISHAP TO BEACH PATROL.
Ten soldiers met their deaths as the result of a serious explosion when they were on coastal patrol duty on Saturday. (List of names, pretty much illegible).

An inquiry with respect to their deaths was opened at Chichester, on Monday afternoon, by the Deputy Coroner (Mr. F. B. Tompkins), who sat at the Hope Inn. After hearing evidence with regard to the occurrence, Mr. Tompkins adjourned the inquest till Monday, January 13th, in view of military investigations into the matter.



I haven't managed to find any further mention in the newspapers but, of course, there's a very good chance it's in there somewhere and I just haven't looked hard enough. The War Diary for their unit (14th Battalion, The Queen's Royal Regiment) is held by the National Archives, but is not yet available for download, so that'll have to wait until I next find the time to pay a visit. The fact that the newspaper article refers to the men being killed by an explosion whilst "on a coastal patrol" certainly seems to point to it being an incident in a minefield..

The full list of casualties from the incident, one of whom died on the following day, is in alphabetical order below, and I will link those in our forum area to individual topics over the next day or so. But in the meantime if anyone can locate further details of the incident itself, I'd be very grateful!


Private Donald John Allabush                Chichester Cemetery

Private Cyril Arthur Brown                   Chichester Cemetery

Private Samuel James Buddell              Chichester Cemetery

Private Arthur Joseph Cockerton           Chichester Cemetery

Lance Corporal Frederick John Firth       Chichester Cemetery

Private Albert Richard Fry                    Chichester Cemetery

Private Edward George Game               Barking (Rippleside) Cemetery

Private Emanuel Jack Glicksman           Edmonton Federation Jewish Cemetery

Private Joseph Peter Izzio                    Chichester Cemetery

Lance Corporal Ernest George Kelly       Gerrards Cross (St. James) Churchyard

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alkhamhills
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2017, 10:22:37 AM »

John Frederick Firth, also known as Frederick John Firth

Croydon book --Croydon Roll of Honour.
Shown as killed by a land mine Selsey 21.12.1940
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John
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2017, 14:23:38 PM »

Thank you alkhamhills, much appreciated!
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Craggs
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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2017, 15:51:18 PM »

The following newspaper report was published nearly two months later and includes reference to some of the men listed by John in the opening post :


Surrey Advertiser - Saturday 15 February 1941

SURREY MEN IN THE FORCES.

CASUALTIES.

The latest casualty lists include the following :-

THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGT.
Killed : Ptes. H. J. Humphreys, L. J. Robinson, J. T. Rosam, G. J. G. Summerfield.
Died : Lce.-Coprl F. J. Firth, Ptes. D. J. Allabush, C. A. Brown, A. J. Cockerton, A. R. Fry, E. G. Game, J. E. Glicksman, E. G. Kelly, J. Porter.
Wounded : Drmr. G. G. H. Broughton,  Lce.-Coprl G. W. A. Holland, Ptes. P. W. Duckett, J. F. Norris, W. P. O'Casey, W.A. Ridger, C. A. Sinclair, F. J. Travers, E. Weaver.
Previously reported prisoner, now reported wounded and prisoner : A/Lieut-Col. G. W. Kennedy M.C.
Previously reported wounded, now reported died of wounds :  Lce.-Coprl H. F. Dowell.
Wounded : Ptes. R. F. E. Goodwin, E. Harris.
Prisoner : Ptes. P. R. Allen, N. Cooper, F.J. Hawkins, E. G. Hornblow, W. T. Rickard, W. E. Seamen.
_____________________________________________________________________________

The names listed above may well include others who were involved in the mine explosion tragedy.

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Craggs
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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2017, 16:30:57 PM »

This was also published two months after the incident.

Surrey Advertiser - Saturday 22 February 1941

SURREY MEN IN THE FORCES.

NEWS OF PRISONERS.

Further lists of casualties include the following :-

THE QUEEN'S ROYAL REGT.
Died : Pte. J. P. Izzio
Died of wounds : Pte. C. J. Wakefield.
Wounded : Pte. S. Hockey.
Correction - Wounded : Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regt.,  Pte. F. Marchant; should read Queen's Royal Regt., Pte. F. Marchant.

EAST SURREY REGIMENT
Died of wounds : Pte. F. J. Cooper

(the article then continues with news of men from Surrey in the Army and RAF who were originally reported missing but were then confirmed as POWs.  I'll skip that bit - it just explains why the "NEWS OF PRISONERS"  was in the sub-titles).
_______________________________________________________________

I originally posted this in Private Izzio's topic which is linked, above, as he was one of the casualties - but thinking a bit further realised that some of the additional names may be soldiers involved in the mine explosion tragedy, not necessarily fatally, but wounded or such like.   It may, possibly, go a little way to painting a bigger picture of all those involved.
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