So, after Trooper Bills got his tag back I find my self back to cleaning, sorting and researching dog-tags all over again. A possible new lead came from War Forces Records again, one tag 7022513 Coughlin CJ gave him listed as wounded in NW Europe and he was a Commando! Well, anything to do with special forces usually has a lot of following and there fore finding information on them is a lot easier. I soon found a Commando forum, which I promptly joined and explained my mission all over again. I was told that (why do I get the feeling of De-Ja-Vous while I am writing this? If you have read this on the website somewhere else, please let me know) he was serving with No.3 Commando and I was sent a scan of a listing showing his name. I enquired a bit cheekily if anyone could help return it, as if not it will be put to the side for a while (not strictly true, but I thought it might help spur people on) as I am working on all the others first. Sure enough, someone replied saying that he had a daughter and although they had no contact details for her, they thought that they had the address for him and gave me a name and address. I wrote a letter today (12/02/2017) and will get it in the mail tomorrow... back to a waiting game I guess.
Now one name/dog-tag that I have forgotten to mention is Hinitt Arthur 556057. His name flagged up showing on a record that he was wounded in Europe in August of 44. The record shows that he was serving with the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry with the Royal Armoured Corps. Although this was yet another wounded record, to which there has been hundreds with these dog-tags, it wasn't until I punched his details into a simple Google search that I saw an article in the Nottingham Post newspaper in 2014 that he was going back to France for the 70th commemoration of the Normandy Invasion (what is known as D-Day, yet every invasion ever has had a D-Day and H-Hour). What it also gave was some more history on Arthur. He was from Retford and enlisted at the age of 16 in 1936 into the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry until he was demobbed in 1946. As well as being a tank driver in one of the amphibious tanks in one of the first waves onto what should have been Gold Beach, D-Day. However his tank was sunk after being hit by a shell, he later took part in Operation Market Garden (who comes up with these names?) and had served previously in North Africa later through NW' Europe. He also lost another tank in Belgium and bailed out seconds before it exploded!
Although I found lots of information about Hinitt, I found no way of contacting him. I did write an email to the Nottinghamshire Post. Who said they would contact the family for me and would explain why. I never heard back. I sent them a follow up email which received no reply... so I just tried once more now, at the same time, I Google 'Hinitt Retford'.... wait a second, I actually have to stop writing this as I just made contact with someone from the family!
Well weirdly the 'Hinitt' tag is still here, the member of the family I spoke with said she would contact another side to the family and they didn't contact me back. I sent another message but have no no further reply :( HOWEVER, on a more exciting note I have an assistant, although I shouldn't really call her that as she is far better at the research side of this than I am. Katey Mishler take a virtual bow for the readers. In the short time she has been with me on this project she has found leads on hundreds of tags, not only this but she has phoned people from the USA where she lives and spoke with veterans and family members and has provided me with 6 address in which I can mail another 6 dog-tags back home to where they belong!
These are BATTENBO-14481930, HOLYOAKE-14480394, DUCKMANTON 14459059, TEECEY-14461882, OAKHILL-14557184 and HOLBECHE-14604606.
Now most of those 6 have no or very little history with them. Although Kenneth OAKHILL's son has provided us with some snippets of very interesting information about his father. Ken did his initial training in 1943 and joined the Army direct from the Police force where he served in Bristol. He served in Africa and Italy, he was of the first troops to enter Rome as his force was further ahead of the main force and later on nearer the end of the war he was in NW Europe. Ken revisited the Italian Riviera after the war in 1964 and was amused to see that literally nothing had changed and some of the graffiti that soldiers like to leave behind was still there!
His son is proud owner of many items relating to his fathers time in service with Montgomery's Deserty Rats. Including his insignia but better still he has a softback publication that was produced by the Royal Armoured Corps printed immediately after the war ended. Inside it contains pen and wash drawings of many places relevant to Kens experiences and he has written some very poignant notes, some of which had me laughing. I will start with my personal favourite:-
Capua : “This is where I had that photograph taken in shorts in doorway and also where I bought that face powder and lipstick etc. It was here that I took that badge off an Italian Officer which I wear in my belt now, after a street brawl.”
Gemmano : “It was just here that I got ‘knockout’ on tank and had to live with the Italians for 3 weeks – do you remember when I was on the run for three weeks behind enemy lines and was ‘missing’ ? “
Felisio : “This is where the big assault went in viciously in the Spring. Went in action at zero hour with ‘flame throwers’ - first time used.”
Above - Ken in Italy 1945
I am hoping that we can get some photographs of these pages and I am hoping that his son has lots more goodies that he can share with us all. However, regardless what else we can learn about Ken Oakhill the important thing is that his dog-tag will be home very shortly. Katey, thank you again!
In fact we are now getting so much information on Ken Oakhill that I will give him his own little box in the ERH History section on the right, under people.