53rd Welsh

A World War II Living History Group

1/5th Battalion, Welch Regiment

The 1/5th Battalion, Welch Regiment was the second Battalion of the Welch Regiment represented within 53rd Welsh Division. They would fight in numerous ferocious actions, with one of them ultimately earning (then Captain) Tasker-Watkins with a fine Victoria Cross. Their tenacity and grit earned them an almost unrivalled reputation in Normandy, with the Germans wasting an entire Battalion and substantial tank support in overrunning A Company at Le Bon Repos.

The Second World War

When war was declared on the 3rd of September, 1/5th Welch immediately moved to Cowbridge in South Wales. Following this they moved to Northern Ireland with the rest of 53rd Welsh Division, in order to assist constructing anti-invasion defences. Later that month the OC, Lieutenant Colonel WG Hewett decided that the Battalion needed a goat mascot and one was located from the Ulster Constabulary!

      In 1942, the Battalion moved to Maidstone, England and began attending regular exercises and Battle Schools in order to prepare them for combat.

       By June, 1944, the Battalion was still in the vicinity of Maidstone and ready for the upcoming invasion. On the 12th of June, Major-General Ross, CO of 53rd Welsh Division, gave a speech to all the men in 160 (South Wales) Brigade, warning them of the need to avoid excessive casualties. The Advance Party (forward troops to assess the situation) left the Marshalling Area on the 16th June, embarking on the 20th June. The Battalion's vehicles also were loaded, onto the SS Empire Porta, on the same day. The remainder of the Battalion embarked on the 24th June.

       On the 26th June, the Rifle Companies and the Battalion HQ arrived in France, completing their move to the Concentration Area at Subles. The vehicles arrived on the 29th June, and the Battalion was now assembled and ready for action.

      Orders were given to consolidate 8th Corp's area, and 1/5th Welch moved to Bronay. They remained in these positions until relieved by 4 Welch, on the very early morning of the 3rd July.

1/5th Welch Regiment, crossing a folding boat bridge over the Maas-Schelde Canal, 20 September 1944. [IWM]

Carriers of 1/5th Welch Regiment, 53rd Division, crossing the Meuse into Holland, 20 September 1944.

Men of the 4 Welch clean their weapons outside s'Hertogenbosch, 25 October 1944. [IWM]

1/5th Welch sit down to their Christmas meal near, Baexem, Holland, 19 December 1944. [IWM]

Photos of 1/5th Welch

Alfred Monoghan (left) and William Mazzei (right), 1/5th Welch - killed at A Company's last stand at Le Bon Repos, 21 July 1944. Both men were cousins from Cardiff. Alfred is wearing FS cap and mid-war insignia with no clear 'Welch' markings above the Divisional symbol. Whilst William is in his pre-war best.[Mazzei] 

 

(Acting) Captain Adrian David Turnball, 1/5th Welch, 1942 [Warwick]

 

(Currently Unknown) Company of 1/5th Welch with (Acting) Captain Adrian David Turnball - bottom row, 6th from left, 1942 [Warwick]

 

Officers of 1/5th Welch Regiment with Padre, Chatham, 1942 [Warwick]

Captain Adrian David Turnbull, 1/5th Welch (on the right without helmet) in a dugout. [Warwick]

Menu Card for Lunch celebrating Major Tasker Watkin's Victoria Cross, signed by those in attendance (Tasker Watkins signature top right), 21st December 1944.

 Post-War BAOR Pictures

Below are two photos of the 1/5th Welch Hockey team 45-46, which smashed their way through the 53rd Welsh Division and 1st Corps hockey tournament, and finally lost out (2-0) to 5th Bn, The Royal Tank Regiment in the BAOR tournament. (Acting) Major Adrian David Turnbull. [Warwick]