War Graves In Anzegem, Belgium. Credit Jef Bogaert

History

Hopeful Search For Loved Ones Of Fallen WW2 Soldiers

Can you help? History group aims to find families to share with soldiers' relatives

War Graves In Anzegem, Belgium. Credit Jef Bogaert

A historical research group from Belgium are trying to track down the families of 12 World War Two soldiers buried in their village.

The group, made up of six friends, all of whom have a keen interest in history, have built war memorials for soldiers with the help of villagers in Anzegem, where they live.

Now they want to find the families of those soldiers so they can share information with them, and in some cases give correct dates for when they died.

In 2004, the group were able to build a memorial for the No. 7 Squadron crew of a Lancaster bomber, Lancaster B455-MG-N, that crashed in the village during the Second World War.

In 2019, they erected a memorial for Flight Sergeant Frank Elliott, an Australian Royal Air Force Pilot whose P-51 Mustang FX89 also crashed there.

They are hoping to do the same for the British soldiers that are buried in the cemetery there.

War Memorial. Credit Jef Bogaert

While researching the fighting that took place in and near the village, Jef Bogaert, one of the group's members, discovered information about the 12 soldiers buried in the communal cemetery in Anzegem. 

Jef has made contact with three of the soldiers' families but is still trying to track down the remaining nine. The names of the soldiers are:

  • LSgt William Ernest Barnfield, 4th Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment
  • Pte Trevor Charles Frederick Hemmings, 4th Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment
  • 2Lt Ion Duncan Grove-White, 1st/8th Battalion Middlesex Regiment
  • Cpl Frederick Charles Smith, 1st/8th Battalion Middlesex Regiment
  • Pte Charles Thomas Ford, 1st/6th Battalion Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
  • Pte Leonard Henry Palmer, 1st/6th Battalion Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
  • Pte Charles Edward Talmage, Royal Army Medical Corp
  • LSgt Malcolm Dewar, 6th Battalion Black Watch
  • 2Lt Ian Caldwell Perston Sloan, 6th Battalion Black Watch
  • Lt Edward Francis Allardyce Morrison, 6th Battalion Black Watch

Every year on June 16, the date that the Lancaster crashed in 1944, there is a remembrance service for those buried in Anzegem, which around 70 people usually attend.

The Master of Ceremony, and another member of the historical group, Johan, reads out the names to pay their respects to the fallen. 

But the group of friends would like to do more.

War Graves. Credit Jef Bogaert

What Happened During The War?

Around May 15 1940, the British Armed Forces took up the defence of the River Escaut, between Oudenaarde and Kerkhove - Flanders Field. The fighting began a few days later, on May 19. The Germans bombed the British lines as the Wehrmacht started to cross the river.

Despite fierce resistance by the British, they were not able to hold the line against the German forces.

The fighting resulted in heavy casualities on both sides, with the most of the British soldiers who had died being buried in a field grave.

Later they were cleared and placed in communal cemeteries nearby like Anzegem.

It is these soldiers that the group of friends would like to give thanks to and commemorate with a war memorial in their village, as well as finding their families.