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CATENANOUVA Sicily 30th july 1943 Air Attack

nick duncan

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Hi All from sunny blighty.

I have just joined your site as i am researching this date with 2 other relatives from other families.  We have all lost a member of family and do not have a grave to visit.  i will paste what we know.

CASTEL DI JUDICA
At 1930 hrs. the Battalion moved again to a position nearer CATENANOUVA which was not finally reached until 2330 hrs.
Reconnaissance Groups were sent out at 1300 hrs on the 30th. To help plan a night attack on the town,
CATENANOUVA was an important town, it was a major communication and supply point for the enemy and would be useful in the Allied advance around MOUNT ETNA, this move would cut off supply and communications for the occupying German forces, hastening a defeat in SICILY and giving a base for the invasion of the Italian mainland.
The 5th northamptons of the 78th devison echelon comprising of supply vehicles, ambulances, petrol and water supplies, the Headquarters Caravan and troop carriers were brought up towards the Battalion and encamped on a ridge of mt Scapello, this attracted the attention of roving German Fighter / Bombers who attacked the echelon with devastating results.
Eye witnesses relate that there were massive explosions and a huge ball of fire from the massed vehicles.
The death toll is not yet fully known as in addition to one Officer, one Warrant Officer and 6 ‘Other Ranks of the 5th. Battalion killed and 3 injured, there were members of other Regiments and Corps attached to the 5th. Two of whom we know were also casualties.
These included members of the Royal Ordinance Corps (R.A.O.C.), Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (R.E.M.E.), Royal Corps of Signals (R.C.S.), Royal Army Surgical Corps (R.A.S.C.), Gunners from the Royal Artillery (R.A.), 132 and 156 Field Regiments and 2 Companies of the Royal Engineers (R.E.) namely 254 and 107 Co’s. 

KNOWN CASUALTIES.

Lieutenant (Quartermaster) A.G. Beardsall  294290  age 32,
Son of Frank & Annie Beardsall, of Peterborough. *

Warrant Officer Class II W.R. Stedman  5886160 age 30,
Son of Mr.& Mrs. E.W. Stedman, of Peterborough.  *

Private L.M. Morris  5886535  age 28,
Son of Beatrice Morris, of Raunds, Northants.  *

Private F.A. Pook  13030708  age 25,
Son of George & Helen Pook, husband of Sylvia Pook, of Watcombe, Devon. *

Private R.S.W. Vergette  5886243  age 23, 
Son of Lucas & H.M.B. Vergette, of Walton, Peterborough.  *

Private K.R. Wootton  5886248  age 23, 
Son of Reginald Edward & Maude Adelaide Wootton, of St Ives, Hunts.  *

Private  S.F. Parish  5887099  age 25,
No further information known.
Originally buried in RAMACCA Old Cemetery, now in Catania C.W.G.C.

Private H. Stringer  5890723  age 37,
Foster Son of Mrs. T. Francis, of Molesworth, Hunts.
Originally buried in SYRACUSE Communial Cemetery, now in Syracuse C.W.G.C.

Sergeant J. Dolton  7642843,  age 37, Attached from R.E.M.E.
Son of Herbert Henry & Alice Dolton, husband of Florence Emily Dolton,
Of Little Torrington, Devon.  *

Corporal H. Bould  7632390  age 30, attached from R.A.O.C.
Son of Alfred & Elizabeth Bould, of Leek, Staffordshire.  *

( * has no known grave.)

WOUNDED
R.S.M. P. Maloney  and 2 Other Ranks.

THE ABOVE ARE THE FACTS WE KNOW TO BE ACCURATE, MOSTLY FROM RECORDS SUPPLIED BY THE C.W.G.C. (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)
AND THE WAR DIARIES OF THE 5th BATTALION,
THE NORTHAMPTONSHIRE REGIMENT.

FURTHER FACTS WE BELIEVE TO BE CORRECT TAKEN FROM EYE WITNESS ACCOUNTS AND ANALYSING POSITIONS OF ACTIONS  AND POSITIONS NOTED IN THE WAR DIARIES.

We have two eyewitness accounts in writing and one verbal.
The Battalion Chaplin C.F.4th. class E. Elworthy (C.F. 4th. Class means Chaplin to the Forces and 4th. Class makes his rank equal to a Captain) wrote to Sgt. J. Dolton’s wife, here are the relevant parts of the letter.
‘ I had the unfortunate task of burying 8 men, they were laying beside their trucks, It was one of those lightening raids, after bombing them, they came back and machine gunned us, the actual location of the burial ground I cannot give at present (letter written in 1943) but I can say it was in central Sicily’
The second written account is from Hugh White, a Stretcher Bearer in a footnote to a letter dated 1/8.43,
‘2 men killed and 8 Lorries dive-bombed and burnt out near Catenanouva, Sicily, July c. 25th.-30th.’
The verbal account is from a Private who was in ‘B’ Company, he remembers seeing a big explosion and a huge fireball over the position the trucks were parked, this was above his position as they waited to advance on Catenanouva.

CONCLUSION AS THE WHERE THE ATTACK HAPPENED

Although we do not have a definite location for this attack, we know that the 5th. Were collected together prior to advancing towards Catenanouva in open countryside away from the existing roads.
On the 28th. A party had been seconded to the Royal Engineers for road building purposes, this would imply that they drove a track across country as direct as possible towards their objective, if they had used the existing roads they would have come under shell fire from the enemy as had been experienced on the 29th.
The imposing peak of MOUNT JUDICA is blocking a north western path so the logical way is to the north east, this route would follow a valley and it’s sides to come out on the eastern slopes of MOUNT SCALPELLO, from here Catenanouva is overlooked and is directly above where we know ‘B’ and ‘C’ Companys were located for a few hours prior to the intended attack on Catenanouva.
Therefore, the vehicles must have been parked on the eastern slopes of Mount Scalpello and the field burial of casualties must have been here.

POSSIBLE OTHER CASUALTIES

The 5th. Battalion War Diaries  only state ‘ Liet. A.G. Beardsall (QM), RQMS R. Steadman and 6 oR’s. killed also R.S.M. P. Maloney and 2 oR’s seriously wounded.
There are no mentions of the R.E.M.E and R.A.O.C. casualties, there could be more from other attached  Regiments or Corps.
As the 78th. Division (of which the 5th. Battalion was part) would not be in action until the 31st. this leaves some unexplained casualties.

All those listed below were killed on the same day as the attack on the 30th.

Driver D.R. Reed  2582628  age 21, 78 Div.
Royal Corps of Signals
Buried Catania C.W.G.C.

Private S. Wilchick  7523466  age 28,  11 Field Ambulance,
Royal Army Supply Corps.
Buried Syracuse C.W.G.C.

Gunner G.R. Hummerstone  1143331 age 33,  132 (the Glamorgan Yeomanry)
Field Regiment.
No known grave, Comm. On Cassino Memorial

Gunner P.W. Jones 1138286  age 20,  321 bty. 132 (the Glamorgan Yeomanry)
Field Regiment
No known grave, Comm. On Cassino Memorial

Gunner A. Smith  1111205  age 35, 132 (the Glamorgan Yeomanry)
Field Regiment
No known grave, Comm. On Cassino Memorial

L/Corporal J. Smith  853211  age 26,  Army Catering
Corps (attached to 165 Field Regiment)
Buried Syracuse C.W.G.C.

Sapper H.L. Symes  1947601  Age 22,  254 Field Park Company
Royal Engineers
No known grave, Comm. On Cassino Memorial

Corporal W.B. Wright  4864281  age 22,  107 Field Company
Royal Engineers
Buried Syracuse C.W.G.C.

Any of these could have been attached to the 5th. Battalion, Commonwealth War Graves Commision have been sent the list of names and asked if they can identify where each was killed, if a location was recorded for the ones who were reintered after the war it may lead to a more exact position of the incident of the 30th. July 1943.


What I am asking of you is do you have any additional info?  Do you have an old war map so we can look up grid referances.  And as the 1st canadians were there attacking CATENANOUVA and I understand the germans capitulated were any Canadians injured in the attack on the ridge?

yours hopefully

Nick Duncan
 

kenwootton2

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I am also researching this attack in partnership with Nick, My Uncle Pte. Kenneth R. Wootton was also killed in that incident, he and my Farther were born in Edmonton, Alberta but moved back to England as small children.
There seems to be no information about casualties in records except for the 8 members of the 5th. Northants, we have also found 2 R.E.M.E. / R.A.O.C. killed but think there could be members of the Canadian 1st. Div involved.
The following Canadians were killed on the same day and could have been involved in the same attack.
Can anyone help to clarify this please ?
Pte. A W G Childs  M/16033  Loyal Edmonton Reg.
Pte. R Richie  M/103387              ''        ''          ''
Pte. G Gagnon  E/5044          Royal 22 E Reg. 
Pte. G Couture  E/5768              ''        ''      ''
Sgt. R E Petitpas P/48861          ''        ''      ''
Gnr. W B Morley  M/3130        Royal Canadian Artillery
Tpr. J F Marsh    B/38200    3 Rivers Reg.  12th. Anti Tank Reg.
Tpr. D L McClure A/1033000    ''          ''      ''        ''      ''      ''
Cpl. C Willoughby  C/6228      ''          ''      ''        ''      ''      ''
Tpr. N Wright  B/62097          ''          ''      ''        ''      ''      ''

In England we do not have access to Canadian Forces War Diaries and therefore cannot get anything other than general history of the Canadian involvement on the Sicily Operation.
Please help us to record the complete history of what happened that day (30-7-1943)
 
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