WWII – Reginald Arthur Elliott

A Diary of Events:
6thBn: The York and Lancaster Regiment during the Campaigns in North Africa and Italy 1943 to 1945.

This book as the title suggests contains a record of events, including battle maps of some of the actions undertaken, plus details of Commanding Officers, Gallantry Awards and a record of all troops that died in action.
The book is the product of extensive research undertaken by his grandson Scott, and who is in the process of putting a display together of their relevant photos and medals along with his father Dave Elliott.

In summary Reg Elliott’s war service record
•He joined up in January 1942 aged 18 and did his initial training in Lincoln. I have a photo of him at the training base in April 1942.

•He first saw various action in North Africa in early 1943 and was wounded in April by a grenade in Kournine, which is in Tunisia.

•In July 1943 his battalion were held in reserve for the invasion of Sicily but not bought into the action.

•In September 1943 he was in the Salerno Landings. His battalion were in the second wave of landings and whilst the first wave had cleared most of the beach area, the proposed assembly areas were still under enemy control and artillery fire. These areas then had to be taken by Dad’s battalion and over the following days they had to repel various counterattacks before moving forward.

•Through to February 1944 his battalion was in action in various locations in Italy including Monte Cassino. I have a photo of him in Naples in November 1943.

•In March 1944 the Battalion were moved back from the front line and taken firstly to Egypt and then on to Syria for a combination of R & R plus training.

During this period of R & R and training in Egypt there was an accident involving mines. About a dozen troops were killed and numerous wounded, although we are not sure if Dad was involved in this. I have photos of him and other troops on camels outside the pyramids in Cairo and also in Damascus in May 1944. I also have a copy of a note dated 31.5.44, sent by my Dad to his parents, which was obviously sent with the photo with the camels on. In the note he congratulates them on their silver wedding anniversary.

•His Battalion returned to Italy in July 1944 and were involved in various actions until December of that year. During this period, in September 1944 to be exact, Dad was again wounded by a grenade. From research done by my son and also referred to in ‘The Diary of Events’ book, it appears shortly after he was wounded and hospitalised, there was a ‘sham surrender’ by the Germans, during which many of my dad’s platoon were killed or injured. Had he not been wounded earlier, I probably would not have been writing this now! After recovering from the grenade wound he was hospitalised again shortly afterwards and his official war record shows that he returned to duty from this on 29/10/44. Dad did have a crescent shaped deep scar on his lower back, which I am sure he told me was from a bayonet wound. Perhaps this was the incident.

•In January 1945 the Battalion were sent to Greece to assist the Authorities there to quell a potential Communist uprising. As this to some extent had already been controlled by the time they got there, much of the time was apparently spent on R & R.

•In April 1945 the Battalion were sent back to Italy, but by now German resistance was crumbling and no further action was encountered prior to the War in Europe finishing on 8th May 1945.

•Not sure exactly of the dates, but Dad did get promoted up to Sergeant and I do have a photo of him with Sergeant’s stripes taken in Turin, but date unknown. Dad started out as a Private and was promoted at some stage to Corporal, which was his official ‘Army Rank or ‘War Substantive Rank’. Towards the end of his time with the 6th Y&L he was made a Sergeant but this was only in an ‘Acting’ capacity. (it was sometimes referred to as a ‘Local’ Sergeant. When he switched to the 1st L.I.R he reverted back to War Substantive Rank of Corporal.

•My dad remained in the army until early 1947 and I do have his ‘Soldiers Release Book’ and also Army ‘Record of Service’ card. I also have photos of him in Monza in April 1946 (where incidentally he told me that he learned to drive on the Monza race track in a truck!) and Trieste in July 1946. In the Trieste photos Dad is wearing the uniform of the 1st London Rifles (1st L.I.R), who were considered part of the Royal Ulster Rifles for administration purposes. Many Battalions had by then been amalgamated due to loss of troops during the conflict.

 My grateful thanks to Dave Elliott of Otley for providing me with the above record of his father, a man of Woodrow who I remember well. The photographs taken from sites around the mediterranean during and after the end of the war could be described as in the footsteps of St Paul. However, despite being much travelled and involved in the hardships of fighting in the war I’m sure he would have been looking forward to demobilisation and a return to the more simple pleasures of living in Methley and fighting for a place in the local cricket and football teams.

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