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VICTORY OF EUROPE

Date Posted: 07/05/2020 | Posted In: College News, Student News

With the 75th anniversary VE Day approaching this Friday I just wanted to share some information with everyone about our local Infantry Regiment the Duke of Lancaster Regiment and their role during World War Two. This regiment recruited and still does recruit in the North West, Bolton, Liverpool and Manchester. This is also the regiment I currently service.

During World War Two the Lancs were called the Kings Border Regiment and fought on many fronts throughout the six years of war. Famously the Kings Border were part of the defence of Toburk in 1941 (April to December) and became part of the desert rats. These soldiers dug into caves and trenches around the city and kept Rommel the famous German Commander out of the city.

The German’s despised yet respected these soldiers as they would ‘come out of the dirt’ and fight with anything and everything they could get their hands on. They fought on a regular basis in extreme and adverse weather conditions. With the lack of supplies, little to no air support, being heavily outnumbered and out gunned by the Axis Forces the allies bitterly hung on. On many occasions the allies used the captured Axis weapons as their supplies were so poor. Fighting and surviving in this extremely harsh climate famously gave David Sterling his idea of the SAS. Today as a mark of respect and pride we wear the desert rat on our uniform. The pictures below show Tobruk on a map and the British Soldiers in their man made cover.

                                

The regiment continued to fight in different parts of North Africa and also in Asia where they fiercely fought the Japanese. In 1942 the Kings Border were sent to Singapore as reinforcements. Famously they had to fight their way into the city as the Japanese laid siege (blocked access to Singapore) but they were met by a poorly equipped allied force with low morale and with no real hope of holding the city.

This meant the allies were forced to surrender. The Soldiers were captured by the Japanese and in captivity were started, beaten, tortured and murdered over a three year period. The inhumane treatment continued and the soldiers were forced into building the famous ‘death railway’ that was built between Thailand and Burma. The film a ‘Bridge on the river Kwai’ shows these events. The picture below shows how the railway bridge looks today.

Furthermore thousands of the Kings Border troops (whose previous battles had been in North Africa) had not been deployed to Asia, they had joined the paratrooper regiment and became the airborne Infantry. Past experiences had hardened these men to war and its unforgiving nature, this led them to join the assault of Sicily in July 1943 to create a foothold into Italy. This operations was highly important to the allies as Churchill himself called this the ‘underbelly of the crocodile’ – meaning this was the next tactical step to gain access to Europe from North Africa.

This attack saw the British Army used glider-borne troops. This was a top secret and the first time this technology had ever been used by the allies. Despite heavy losses and the Kings being outnumbered, out gunned and outmanoeuvred on many occasions – the Allies were able to fight for every house, room and bridge and they were able to overcome these hardships through grit, resilience and determination. This operation lead to many more airborne operations throughout the war. It proved to the Axis troops that the Kings Border were here to fight and liberate Europe. The picture below shows a glider that is worn on all Duke of Lancashire uniforms today.

Furthermore thousands of the Kings Border troops (whose previous battles had been in North Africa) had not been deployed to Asia, they had joined the paratrooper regiment and became the airborne Infantry. Past experiences had hardened these men to war and its unforgiving nature, this led them to join the assault of Sicily in July 1943 to create a foothold into Italy. This operations was highly important to the allies as Churchill himself called this the ‘underbelly of the crocodile’ – meaning this was the next tactical step to gain access to Europe from North Africa.

In the final years of the war the Kings were deployed across all of Europe, France, Holland and Germany to name a few. Like many of the allied men and women of those last few years of war – the Kings sacrifice contributed to Hitler and his empire.

With the Victory in Europe approaching its 75th anniversary, it is important that as teachers we remember what was sacrificed for our future and ensure all of our students areaware of what our predecessors went through for us. As many of them gave their today for our tomorrow.

Some YouTube videos of interest about the Kings troops and the campaigns they were involved in.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsffJD6-xe8

Harry Billinge talking about his time in World War Two

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmgXJ1kp4fo

Forging Ahead In Sicily

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIB7hbrZj7c

The fall of Singapore

Created by Mr. N Fisher

Teacher of Public Services, Sport & Public Services