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I'm hoping to find out information on my Grandfather Arthur Graham. He was completing his national service at the outbreak of WW2. Instead of returning to his reserved occupation as a miner he served in the 4th Bn. The Buffs (South East Kent Regiment). As I can imagine with many soldiers during this time he rarely spoke about what happened to him during the war. For the little he did speak about it would appear that he was at Dunkirk (there is a family story that he remained in France during the evacuation). He was then posted to somewhere nr Italy/Greece? It is believed that this was where he killed a German paratrooper (an incident that haunted him).
During his service he was captured on the 16th November 1943 at M.E. Aegean and transported to Stalag 357, Oerbke, Germany, he spent the remainder of the war as a POW.
I was wondering if anyone could confirm any of the details I have about my Grandfather, whether they were in the 4th Bn or in Stalag 357. I was only 15months old when my grandfather sadly passed away and I would like to find out as much information about him as possible.
Thanking you in advance
The 4th Battalion didn’t leave France at Dunkirk. They had been fighting rear guard actions south of there. They initially landed at Cherbourg on 18/11/39. The Companies were split up but eventually they were concentrated at Nantes in May 1940. From there they moved to Roune and then near Dieppe. The general withdrawal was ordered on 8 June and the Battalion was ordered to hold on until the last man 20 miles south of Sauchy and Graincourt as an attack was expected. This didn’t materialize and they were ordered to fall back further. Contact was kept with enemy by patrols and the men were subjected to artillery bombardments. They fell back to Le Havre where they embarked on ships and sailed for Cherbourg where they left for the UK, arriving at Southampton on 13 June. Some of the men were detached during the confusion of the withdrawal and boarded ships at Brest, landing in Southampton on 17 June. Losses totalled 139 killed, wounded and missing.
They were reformed and sailed from Liverpool at the end of October, arriving at Malta on 10 November. They were involved in the defence of the island. They moved to the island of Leros in October 1943 for the Aegean campaign. They lost 135 men when HMS Petard struck a mine and rapidly sank. Fighting was intense and too lengthy to describe here. Most of the Battalion were taken prisoner with only 12 of them escaping to Egypt. 28 died in the operations, 59 were wounded and 14 reported missing. The 4th Battalion now ceased to exist
By the way, they were titled The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment). There has never been a South Kent Regiment
My father was in the 4th Buffs, in Malta and then Leros. I have a copy of a "Souvenir Copy" of Beer- Bits for 1942-1943, This has a list of those in the "B " company; July 1943. Are there any other copies of this around I wonder and is there any more information about the Leros campaign? I believe my father was injured and captured.