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DURANT Henry Albert Charles  7959465

Now although this isn't about any dog-tags going home (surprise!), for me it couldn't be more exciting. Henry was another of my Military Medal awardees, so his dog-tags are kept in a folder full of the medal winners. When I first discovered the MM paperwork I noticed that in the newspaper it always states which town the soldier is from. This time it was Bicester! I lived in Bicester for over ten years and it certainly wouldn't have been very big during the war, although it has grown rapidly ever since. I posted on a couple of F/B groups all about Bicester that I was still a member of, hoping that someone would know Henry or the family, sadly not!

Slowly over time a single tag to each of them gets mounted up and with piece of the appropriate ribbon it gets hung on the wall. We have only ever been lucky enough to return two MM dog-tags, they were to 552620 Lamour and 555782 Scrugham. So, I had to go to the frames, take them all apart and remove them and then post them off. This time I had to go and take the frame apart and remove the tag for a very different reason.

I seem to start lots of stories on here with the following line! During one of my many internet searches I came across Baldwins auction house in London and they were selling none other than the medal group to Henry Durant. In this lot were two ID cards from the 50's/60's and both were his from Columbia! So no wonder nobody on the Bicester F/B groups knew of him! Anyone that follows medal prices will know that in comparison to World War 1 MM groups,  World War 2 MM groups demand a far higher price! In fact after talking with Mark Smith, it's original for sale price was over £4000 which is still shown on some paperwork that I got from them.

Now for some reason Durant was never presented his medal by the King or anyone else. On rare occasions such as his, the medal was unceremoniously posted in a rather plain cardboard box with the medal in a cardboard insert and a letter from the king at the bottom. Now these boxes have become fairly rare, so it's a nice thing to have, although I would have preferred a photograph of him being presented the medal!

The cardboard insert has long since gone, probably discarded as all the other items kept with his MM would have taken up the space occupied by the inset.

In side the box was a small bunch of photographs all marked Naples, a cloth Royal Armoured Corps shoulder title, two ID cards, medal entitlement form, two letters confirming the MM and his medals all mounted as he wore them with a RTR cap badge on the centre ribbon.

After saving the photos and writing down all the details of everything on the Baldwins page it was then that I remembered that Mark does some work valuing items for Baldwins and I thought I would chance my luck in seeing if I could get some discount as he is acutely aware of my project having been fundamental in getting to the bottom of why these dog-tags were made in the first place. He came back to me with a very good offer and one that I simply couldn't turn down. As if buying the GSM Palestine Medals to these soldiers isn't expensive enough! However, I don't think even if I find another MM grouping to these dog-tags that I could justify buying another! Or could I? 

I went down to London and meet Mark at Baldwins and he got the items from out the back and went through them all and I paid. We spoke about many different things in the militaria world and he always has some new amazing story that he has discovered. A fascinating guy to chat to. Upon getting home it was the usual routine of photograph everything, post it up on our F/B group and then find room in an appropriate display cabinet and arrange it for display. Something I do love to do. I now have a complete 'Detolf' Ikea glass display cabinet dedicated just to dog-tags. I even had to add a couple of extra shelves, as the items I have found/purchased to this project has now occupied four... One of the shelves (the best shelf) is shown below.

Roger Leney - SOE

Now I first mentioned Roger Leney all the way back on page 14 after I first stumbled across his fascinating career during WW2. I won't recap it all again here, flick back using the button above if you need to. 

I joined an SOE group on good ol'Facebook with the intention of simple sharing some of the SOE items we found and Roger's dog-tag and his accompanying story. What I didn't expect was that someone would say that he knew Roger well and knows his son! A massive thank you to Clive Bassett on the 'Behind the Lines - SOE and the Clandestine War' group for putting me in touch with his son Simon. We've been chatting lots and at some point when we can fit it in we will meet up and I can hand over the tag and he even offered to share his fathers stories with me!

During a chat, he happened to mention that my profile pic on watsapp is a dog-tag named to a 'Brierley'. Although this one was a K Brierley he said that his father served with a Ron Brierley. I looked on our database and sure enough I have tags to an R Brierley. Certainly not a guaranteed match of course, then I noticed he was mentioned in dispatches 1945 and no location was given in the report. Curious I thought, but then again he was in the SOE and it wouldn't much of a secret organisation if they told everyone in the newspaper where people were serving. The only other thing I knew from the report was that R Brierley had the rank of Sgt. Simon told me that Clive has contact details for Ron's son! Email sent to Clive as fast as I could physically type it and then I thought to Google Ron and see if I could find anything about him, most importantly to see if I could find his serial number. I found a few mentions of him on all sorts of different websites. He was always mentioned as being a Sgt! So already off to a fantastic start. Then I came across this :-

Ron Brierley remembers

 

Ron Brierley was also sent to Belhaven Hill and here he describes his experiences after joining SOE in 1943, becoming a Jedburgh and training as a W/T operator:

 

“Small groups of us occasionally went to Belhaven when we were stationed in Scotland on exercises – we worked our radio scheds back to either Belhaven or Henley, simulating the distances we should have to cover from France.  I went there on two occasions but only for a few days at a time and memory is pretty vague. 

 

I do know I was there at New Year 43/44 with a small group – we went into Dunbar in the evening and had a high old time – afraid we were a bit ‘over the top’ and got into bother with the police – one of my pals ‘Cobber’ Cain was locked up for the night –something to do with a policeman’s helmet – which they didn’t appreciate.  There was quite a fuss – the telephone lines were buzzing and we were all quite glad to get back to Milton.”

 

[Source – Personal letter 11th October 1998]

 

Ron later went to France on two operations in 1944 to Brittany and then Doubs.  Finally he was sent out to Burma for a Jedburgh operation in the Sittang Valley (Operation Reindeer) and then to Sumatra and home.

It just felt like I was reading the same sorts of information as with R Leney. Certain things just matched and most interesting was the information that at the time SOE recruited him, he was serving with 147 Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps! Fingers crossed...

However after showing Clive a photograph of the tags, he confirmed by the serial number that it was the correct soldier. One of his tags has gone into the Carpet-baggers museum that Clive runs. It is displayed along side a lot of Ron's items from the war as they were donated by his son. A fantastic result.

I soon started to Google both Leney and Brierley and up popped a reference to a book that they had both contributed too. I ordered it and another book on the SOE and both mentioned them, however inside 'Forgotten Voices of the secret war' was dozens of quotes given by Ron and Roger and gave a real insight into what they were doing and had to endure. Truly fascinating.

NEW FACEBOOK PAGE

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Katey created us a new Facebook page dedicated to the project, the ERH group page was beginning to drown in posts all about dog-tags. In the photograph section you will see 'see all albums' and each album is dedicated to individual soldiers. Containing all photographs and information we have. It'll take quite a while to add everything we have on record and get it organised but there is a lot in there already.

While searching for further details on the invasion of Japan I came across a book written by Dennis Giangreco which is all about this subject. I then came across an almost two hour video interview with him on You-tube, see left. He talks in some detail on the invasion, but sadly for us all based from the US prospective and almost forgetting about the British troops entirely :(

04/12/2019 .... and once again this part of the website has trailed months and months behind the rest of it. Despite nothing being reported on these dog-tags plenty have been re-homed and even more have been recovered.

Roger Leney's tag, that is mention above was actually mailed home as his never quite made it to my part of the country. However, because Royal Mail is rather random, they delivered the tag not to the address on the front of the envelope, but to the tiny address label on the back... resulting in it being returned to me! Thanks Royal Mail, great job. So back out that needs to go.

Next was a full set of three tags to a John Keenan. John was best mates and the brother in-law to Ellaby. Whose tags we already returned! John enlisted with the King's Own Royal Regiment.

The next tag to go home was A Hydes, a gentleman name Toby contacted us through Force War records when they were still on board with the project before dumping on us massively and pulling all support to get these tag home to veterans and families. Despite not costing them a penny! Thanks again War Forces Records. Hydes was a direct recuit of the Royal Armoured Corps and served in NW'Europe, he was reported missing, however must have turned up as there are no POW reports after that.

22012745 CJ Pook - a pair of post war tags to whom Katey tracked the family down on Ancestry. A company who refuses to answer my emails when I ask them if they could post something on their website about the project to help get more tags home.

19055822 DF Searle - a single tag to a soldier that served in Palestine 1945-48. All of these '19' tags all were recruited right at the end of WW2  just in time to go to Palestine. From the conversation that Katey had with Searle, he didn't have a great time in Palestine and therefore didn't want the tags, however he told us to send them to his Sgt! So we did. A rather unusual outcome, but still positive.
 

22024866 N FAUX - a pair of tags that went home to the veteran himself. Despite him hanging on the phone multiple times on Katey before he confirmed he was the soldier in question. Some times Katey does have great fun convincing people that we are not out to rob them of every last penny they have!

22231748 V LONGMORE - Victor was stationed in the Black Forest Germany for his National Service.  A trio of tags go home to Perry, one of his 8 children.

3912697 RW PASKE - Ronald Paske, enlisted with the South Wales Borderers and fought through Africa and Italy with the 6th Royal Tank Regiment. He was wounded in Italy although I have no idea where about or what the wounds were, not serious enough to be demobbed though. His three tags have gone home to his grandson in Ponypool Wales.
 

6921578 RG GOODRICKE - Originally enlisting with the Rifle Brigade, Goodricke went on to servce in NW'Europe with the 107th Regiment where he was wounded. Richard Goodricke wounded during Market Garden operation while protecting the over-stretched supply corridor, and moving to Eindhoven to support the 53rd (Welsh) Division on the west of the corridor. His 2 tags have gone home to his son Brian in Hampshire.

7933148 AWC PARFITT - This single tag went home to one of his two sons in Ipswitch. Parfitt was serving with the 10th Hussars in North Africa when he was wounded the first time, he was wounded again in Italy on the 15 April 1945.

14900917 WN RAVENSCROFT - Two tags belonging to William Ravenscroft who served very late in the war with the 3rd Hussars and the 6th Airborne Recce. After the WW2 he went out like so many others to Palestine. These two tags went home to William himself, which is always great to do! Sadly time is certainly not in our favour and the opportunity for returning them to the veterans is getting slimmer and slimmer.

6853919 GP SHALDERS - Originally enlisting with the Kings Royal Rifle Corps and later with the 14/17 Hussars George fought through NW'Europe. He went over on 7 June 1944 and fought across France, Belgium, into Germany; served in Battle of the Bulge. At one point brushed his teeth in a water supply the Germans had poisoned on their way out and it ripped out the lining of his stomach; had to be hospitalised for a month to recover. These two tags have gone home to his son, Anthony.

7892808 Alan BRAZENDALE - Alan was one of the very first soldiers tags that we discovered had been awarded the Military Medal, then research found the photograph online of him being awarded the medal by General Montgomery! His family reached out and contacted me and I returned one of his tags to them along with some Military Medal ribbon. One of the tags is still on display on my wall displayed on top of the photo for people who visit me to see. They were so thankful for the tag and have told me that they will frame theirs in exactly the same way I framed mine. Alan served in North Africa with the 4th County of London Yeomanry / 22nd Armoured Brigade.

7895681 D SANIGAR - A pair of tags to a 6th Royal Tank Regiment soldier who spent lots of time as a PoW. Captured in the Middle East and held at PoW camp 102 Aquilla Italy. Then being moved to Stalag 11b Fallingbstel Germany and given the PoW number 138660 where he remained until the war with Germany was over. Sadly Dennis died in 2003 and even worse his son was very young when he died, only aged 15. So these have gone home to one of his nephews, Martin in Bristol. His sister kept the family line going and he has lots of nephews and nieces.

21041357 CJP BERRETT - Charles served with the 4th Royal Tank Regiment in Palestine. Just like the '19' tags the '21's are always just post WW2 and plenty of these numbers appear on the medal roll for GSM Palestine 1945-48. This trio of tags has gone home to one of his daughters Lynn, via a family friend.