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Passing of Second World War Vet Frank Battershill

a78jumper

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RIP Sir,

http://www.legacy.com/can-edmonton/obituaries.asp?Page=SearchResults&DateRange=Today&Product=1

BATTERSHILL, Frank It is with great sadness that we announce on Tuesday, November 30th Frank passed away at the age of 94 years. Frank was predeceased by his first wife Beverley, infant son David Franklyn, his second wife Diana and his brother Bill. Frank is survived by his three children, Tom (Mary), Nancy (Mrs. David Becker), and Jeffrey (Lorna); nine grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren, and his brother Jim, as well as many friends in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Frank was born in East Kildonan, Winnipeg where he attended public school as well as St. John's College, (now St. John's Ravenscourt) and St. John's College, University of Manitoba. Frank entered the Military at an early age, being a member of the Canadian Army Cadets during his schooling and in 1933 enlisted in the 90th Battalion, The Winnipeg Rifles, of the then Non-Permanent Active Militia. Frank remained a member of the now Royal Winnipeg Rifles throughout his life, serving with the 1st Battalion in World War II including landing on D-Day June 6th, 1944 as part of the first assault wave at Juno Beach. Frank was a Lieutenant commanding No. 7 Platoon, "A" Company. Promoted to Captain, Frank took part in the entire campaign in North West Europe, ending up for the last six months commanding a company with the rank of Major. Frank returned with the Battalion to Winnipeg on the 31st of December, 1945. Frank took his discharge in February 1946 and worked for a number of years in Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatchewan. During his service in The Canadian Army, Frank received many decorations, campaign stars, medals and other awards. His gallantry and commendable service was further recognized by his commanders and superiors when, by the King's Order, the name of Frank Battershill was published in the London Gazette on November 8th, 1945 as mentioned in a Dispatch for distinguished service. Frank re-enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1951 and became a member of the 2nd Battalion, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, Toronto, and served a fourteen month tour in Korea as well as several appointments in various cities in Canada including a two year posting in Fort Churchill, Manitoba as Chief Instructor of the Winter Warfare School. Following a family tradition, Frank early on became interested in the sport of Military Rifle Shooting and participated in the Provincial Competitions of the Province in which he was living at the time as well as the annual competitions held in Ottawa each year. In 1957 Frank qualified for and was selected as a member of the 1958 Canadian Rifle Team representing Canada at the Bisley Rifle Matches held in Bisley, England each year. In addition, Frank took part in several other sports including Hockey, Curling, Tennis, and Golf, being a member of the Seymour Golf and Country Club in North Vancouver for a number of years. While in Vancouver Frank lived on the North Shore and was a long time member of St. Stephen's Anglican Church in West Vancouver. After losing his first wife Beverley to Cancer in 1985, in 1991 Frank married longtime friend of both Beverley and Frank, Diana McKay (Harrison) and both became active members of the Parkgate Community Centre. Diana died in 2006, also from Cancer. Following Cremation, Frank's ashes are to be returned to St. John's Cathedral Cemetery in Winnipeg for internment in a family plot. The family would like to extend a sincere thank you to the doctors, nurses and caregivers at the Misericordia Hospital (especially Linda at 4 West) and the staff at Touchmark at Wedgewood (especially Leanne, Maureen, Bernie and Fatima). A Memorial Service will be held celebrating Frank's life at Hainstock's Funeral Home, 9810 - 34 Avenue, Edmonton on Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society. dipExpressions of sympathy can be forwarded to the family via the website, www.hainstockedmonton.com Hainstock's Funeral Home & Crematorium, 780-440-2999. Honoured Provider of Dignity Memorial
 

Rifleman62

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Somehow missed the original post.

I would be remiss if I did note note Frank's passing here. A member of the Greatest Generation. We will never forget.

Some reminiscences from The Devils' Blast;

Frank's Story

D-Day Landing, No 7 Platoon – A Company
                                           

BACKGROUND

First associated with the 90th Battalion, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles in the Cadet Corps of the school, which I attended – it being affiliated with the Rifles.  I then joined the Regiment in the Non Permanent Active Militia in 1933 as a Rifleman (in the Band, as I was too young for full enlistment).  My early association with the Rifles was to sustain a family association and to further an interest in Military Rifle Shooting, which I did throughout my career being a member (with 5 other members of the Regiment by the way) of the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Matches in Bisley, England in 1958.

I served with the Regiment – now The Royal Winnipeg Rifles – during World War II including the D-Day landings and throughout France, Belgium and Holland until the end of the War, first as a Lieutenant, Platoon Commander, then as Second in Command of a Company, and finally as a Major, Company Commander.  Returned to Canada with the Regiment arriving back in Winnipeg on New Year’s Eve 1945.

Took my discharge in March 1946 but re-enlisted in 1951 when Company’s from five Regiments across Canada were recruited to form two Brigades for service with NATO.  After a period of training at Minto Armoury and Fort Osborne Barracks, we were concentrated at Valcartier, Quebec where we were formed into a Battalion known at first as the 2nd Canadian Rifle Battalion and later as the 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.  The Battalion then trained at several stations in Canada, did a 12 month tour in Korea and returned to be stationed at Camp Gordon Head in British Columbia, later to be absorbed into the Canadian Army Regular Force units.

I was posted to several different locations in Canada mainly on the Training or Staff side.  Retired in November 1965

WORLD WAR II

The Regiment participated in the initial landings on D-Day, 6 June 1944, as part of 7 Canadian Infantry Brigade of 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.

No 7 Platoon’s part in the landings was, after an anticipated successful landing and achievement of Company Objectives, to be dispatched to our right (as we faced the enemy inland) to join up with a like sized force from the British on our right to form a buffer between our two Divisions to detect any enemy attempts at Counter Attack.

As part of this assignment we were placed on the right of the Company formation for the landing and subsequent movement.  In fact, our Landing Craft Operator apparently got too far to the right as well and when we landed there were no other allied troops in the area.  On approaching the beach, we came under small arms fire from a Lighthouse directly in front.  As there also were metal obstacles directly to our front, through which the craft operator felt we could not go due to the possibility of mines being attached thereto.  We therefore unloaded into waist deep water and waded ashore returning the small arms fire as best we could.  We managed to make the beach and take over.  Due to lack of suitable heavy weapons to attack the Lighthouse, we bypassed it and moved inland advising as best we could other forces that could neutralize it with tanks etc.  The ride in from the Mother Ship had been very rough and most of the men were seasick – one in particular was so sick with that and a stomach problem that he felt forced to seek relief over the back of the craft.  He was washed overboard and drowned – our first casualty.

After the initial landing and being in a strange land with only map references to guide us, we took some time to make contact with the rest of A Company.  After a period of orientation with the Company, we set off to find our rendezvous point with a like force from the British on our right.  We established a platoon defensive position and were pleased to find that we were in the right place as we were contacted by the British soon after.  We remained in this position for 4 or 5 days, consolidating our position, patrolling, and being on the lookout for any sign of enemy activity.  A small number of prisoners were taken and processed through the British.  We were supplied with rations by the British, which were largely “Compo” packs with which we were familiar.  When relieved to return to the Battalion we discovered that A Company had suffered very heavy casualties with a number taken prisoner (and later executed by the enemy forces).  We then rejoined the re-constituted Company with a number of men filling NCO vacancies and myself being promoted to second in command of the Company.

One interesting sidelight happened – with the number of casualties suffered by A Company, it was apparently assumed that No7 Platoon had been involved and I was reported as “Missing in Action” and notification sent to my next of kin.  Fortunately, it was wrong and the corrections were made.  I am not sure if any other members of the Platoon were so involved but I do not think so.

Three other situations are perhaps worthy of note:

First, as part of Operation Veritable, cleaning of the Rhineland, I was in command of “C” Company at the time.  After having been carried in Buffaloes over the flooded area, we were advancing along a dike, which in fact was very close to being the northern end of the Siegfreid Line.  We were apparently mistaken by the RAF Spitfire pilot as being enemy troops, and were strafed by machine gun fire.  Fortunately, no casualties were caused as the men reacted quickly and got off the dike.  As the aircraft took what we assumed to be a wide banking turn for a second try, we released the green smoke signal grenades indicating friendly troops and the aircraft pulled up and left.

Next, when the company was moving to the start line for the attack on the city of Deventer, we came under very heavy artillery fire at a busy crossroads.  Heavy casualties were caused and as a result, we barely made the start line in time to go into the attack.  However, that part went well and we were able to secure our objectives successfully.

Lastly, and I think of great importance, was the time spent in Holland from VE Day to returning to Canada – almost 8 months.  The challenge was to keep the troops occupied and thus out of trouble as much as possible.  Very active sports and education programs were carried out and I am convinced these had a very beneficial effect on morale.  In fact, the sports program led to the 1st Battalion’s Ice Hockey Team winning the Canadian Army Championship for which we all received Gold medals.  (I was the goalie).

And so to home.

J.W. Frank Battershill

Frank's Last Visit to Normandy

Commanding Officer,
Royal Winnipeg Rifles:

I must apologize for being late again in thanking The Regiment for allowing me to represent them at the recent 65th., Anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, as well as the generous donations to take along my Daughter and Son as aides as recommended by, but not paid for by The Juno Beach Centre.

I am enclosing a number of pictures of some of the proceedings as well as a couple of pamphlets which I hope may be of assistance in letting you know how things went.  There were so many photographers from various organizations present and I am told many pictures on their Web Sites that you may well have seen some, if not all of these.  Enclosed also is a CD as per letter, which is in fact a DVD of an interview I did as well as some of the ceremonies.  I was interviewed as per the DVD but had no previous warning it was being taped for later production.  Perhaps I could have done better had I known.

It was an emotional experience to read once again the names of comrades killed in the landing and which are listed on Kiosks which are part of the Centre.

A comment on one group of the pictures – the ones showing me laying a Wreath on our Memorial – I was not included in the wreath laying at the first Ceremony conducted at our Memorial and felt that I did wish to remember our Riflemen who gave their lives for freedom on that day so laid a Wreath later on my own (Pictures taken by my Daughter).

I too was unaware that there would be a number of, I assume, French Boys wearing R Wpg Rif uniforms and attending our Memorial.  They were a pleasure to meet and had all kinds of questions to ask.

While on the subject of remembrance, I know that nothing ever replaces the loss of a loved one, especially in War Time, but I can assure relatives that in any Cemetaries I have visited that they, the cemetaries, are kept in a meticulous condition with flowers planted on each grave as well as permanent markers inscribed with, if known, Regiment, rank, name and  home location.  I have been told and believe it to be true, that schools in the three countries of France, Belgium, and The Netherlands hold regular visits to Canadian Cemetaries.  The grounds I have seen have also been very neatly maintained.  Also at the present Ceremonies there were quite a number of Civilians from the three Countries attending on their own and they all spoke to the Veterans and had their pictures taken with one or the other of us.  They have not forgotten the part Canada played in their liberation and are very gratefull for it.

Finally this time and with the help of my Son and Daughter, I feel I have at last identified the exact spot where #7 Platoon landed on D-Day.  There has been a fair bit of construction since 1944 but there were two factors which helped – one a river and also a Lighthouse some 100 yards or so inland and still surrounded by water – canals I think rather than a river.  I did not manage to get up for a close look but believe it is marked as a remembrance point of the Invasion.  The location is also right adjacent to the remains of a German Bunker identified as “Cosy’s Bunker” about which I am sure you have heard.

Thank you all again and if there is anything I have forgotten, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman.

J W Frank Battershill 


 
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