Charles Kenyon: I remember the volunteers of 60 Field Regiment

This almost unknown Lincolnshire unit served with distinction from Dunkirk to the Far East

Charles Kenyon
Charles Kenyon

I clean the village war memorial and sometimes lay the wreath. During the Remembrance Sunday service, I think of the soldiers killed from the regiment I served with. I think too of an almost unknown Lincolnshire volunteer Royal Artillery unit from the Second World War called 60 Field Regiment.

Volunteers in Grimsby and Lincoln raised a Territorial Army artillery battery, about 150 men, for home defence. Uniforms and equipment were paid for largely from their own pockets. They were not regular soldiers but were sent to France in early 1940 and fought in the retreat to Dunkirk.

They then sailed to the Middle East, where they first fought the French in Syria, advancing on a water pumping station that had, ironically, been made in Lincoln. Their next action was the bloodiest armoured battle of the campaign, Sidi Rezegh in Libya. One battery was overrun by Rommel's panzers. Asked to recommend medals, the commanding officer nominated everybody, so none were awarded.

Next they went to Burma and served as Chindits, a British-Indian special force. A landing strip behind Japanese lines was called Grimsby. Few survived and the regiment was disbanded. Friends were posted to strange units, eventually returning to the Grimsby and Lincoln they had left five years earlier. It might not have been known as a grand unit, but they were extraordinary volunteers who did very grand things. I buy my poppies from poppy sellers in their 80s and 90s because they were part of that time.

Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, retiredcolonel@oldvicarage.net

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