British Troops in Burton Bradstock during WWII

See also Burton Bradstock at war

We now have a few photos/bits of information on British troops stationed in and around Burton Bradstock. We know that there were British Commandos - but don't know who they were. Hopefully, readers might come up with some more information on them? We hope this is just the beginning of our research.

The Essex Regiment & the Durham Light Infantry:

In October, 1940, the 9th Essex Regiment took over from the Durham Regiment at West Bay.  (The Essex Regiment moved in October 1941 to Dawlish Warren and then on to Teignmouth around Christmas 1941.)

The defence of West Bay consisted of minefields from West Cliff down to the road.The minefields were protected by barbed wire, and beyond the barbed wire on East Cliff was the golf course.

In the event of an invasion, the road out of West Bay was mined and artillery from inland would have shelled the beach.  In addition, a unit of artillery was positioned on West Cliff itself, in a bungalow which had been reinforced with concrete!


Some photos of British Soldiers while at and near Burton Bradstock - believed to be from the Essex Regiment. 

Photos believed to be by C. Cauldrey. Text was attached to each photo.

Devereux on the spot. Lt. Telfer (Thompson) Hawkins (Boyes AIT Rifle) Topham (Bren gun) Stanton (Thompson).

Self. Finally caught a fish! (C. Cauldrey))

Filling sandbags - Kernsley, ?, Hawkins, Gregory, Head.

Building a strong point - Devereux, Kernsley, Higby, Hawkins, Danasavage, Huckle.

George Head does a bit of "make do and mend" in the Guard Room somewhere near the George Inn.

Water Polo. I believe the only team we beat was the Bridport Mermaids (6th Formers?)


Mr. & Mrs. Mister (with daughter & granddaughter) of "Westways" on West Cliff. The Misters entertained some soldiers for coffee and sandwiches. Ted Hawkins is on the left.


Self (C. Couldry) showing off with Bren Topham No.2

14 Platoon winning Tug O'War

The winners: L to R:

Back row: Danasavage, Higby, Kelly, ?

Front Row: Hawkins, Lt ?, Compton, Brown & Ogery Wright (coach)

Front: ?

Miss Stevens (Rosemary ?) winning egg & spoon race (little darling). CSM M.Murton with megahorn (not needed!!)

10 minute btreak on route march.

Back row - from left: ?, ?, ?, Bill Pudifoot, ? Nobby Clark, Paul Maunison, ? O'Donnel

Middle row: ? ? Danasavage, rest in row unknown

Front row: Sgt. Davies, Sgt. Jay, Lt. Gatward, Higby, ? Casey

Kit at Parnham House for the general (Monty!)


Photographs and memories from Janet Guppy on men from the Essex Regiment. Some moving stories!


The Durham Light Infantry:

Apart from the few photographs below, we were lucky enough to come across a book on the Durham Light Infantry which included references to their time in Dorset. Included in the book is an article on how Captain Ronnie Cummins won his Military Cross (see his wedding photo's below)

These extracts, from the book "The Faithful Sixth" written by Harry Moses and published by Durham County Books, are included on our web site by kind permission of the publishers:

In 1940 - 1941, the officers and men of the Battalion were sent back to England, and eventually arrived at Bridport on 22nd June, 1940. Their headquarters moved to Litton Cheney and 'D Company was stationed at Burton Bradstock. Their job was to protect our beaches from invasion.

According to the book, they were poorly equipped without adequate weapons and support.

Pill Boxes were erected every five hundred yards with dummy boxes every one hundred yards. They laid minefields and in one case ..."A bull escaped into a field which was full of a minefield. The mines were laid close to each other and when the bull trod on one, the whole field went off with sympathetic detonation! The beef was very good! Two or three soldiers were injured in the incident - one with a broken leg and a damaged eye."

On 14th July, "General Montgomery, the Corps Commander, inspected the Divisional Front from Lyme Regis to Abbotsbury. This was the first contact between the Division and the General who was to command it in the Middle East and North West Europe."

Because of the lack of equipment, they had to be innovative! "On 24th July, Major Bill Watson wrote in his diary:

'Today the gun was fired. This gun has given a great deal of amusement to us. A naval 4in. from one of the old ships and one of a pair, was within two weeks mounted on a large diesel oil motor and chassis, armoured around the driver and completely fitted out and handed over to the 65th A/T with fifty gallons of petrol and given stretchers and and fire extinguishers. A wonderful performance...The site (for the gun) on the front was chosen by the General, i.e. the garage of an old woman...So without delay the garage was dismantled and rebuilt around the gun...(The old lady) was so upset and rightly so as she was convinced her house would be blown to bits to which one and all concurred. But a Gen's word is law. Today, therefore, two half-charged rounds were fired. The result: Round 1: Two slates dislodged off main roof, an ominous crack in the wall. Coal house almost blown off and doors blown in. Round 2: Twenty slates dislodged off main roof. Crack made very much larger. Coal house demolished, doors blown to bits and plaster off ceilings of five rooms!' Evidently, on her return, the old lady was pleased to see her house was still in one piece."

"Air raid warnings were sounded most nights as German aircraft flew overhead on their way westward to Plymouth and other targets. On the 26th. July, two bombs fell near Burton Bradstock. As a result, two rabbits were killed, one of which was edible, a few panes of glass were damaged, twenty yards of fencing was down and a crater blown in a meadow. The latter was filled in by members of 'HQ' Company the following day under the gaze of several curious civilians."

"On 21st November, the Battalion left Maiden Newton and moved to the Uffculme area of Devon."

Captain Ronnie Cummins (see also letter by his wife, Brenda Cummins below) - Sixth Battalion, Durham Light Infantry - wins a Military Cross:

The Sixth Battalion, DLI was in action in France early in the war. In May Captain Cummins and his troops were forced to retreat from a heavy attack by German tanks and troops. The book describes how he won a medal:

"....A number of 4th RTR tanks appeared at the crossroads and engaged the German tanks and, for a period of time, both sides hammered away at each other as the infantry sought shelter in between. The noise was terrific and it was now quite obvious that if a disaster was to be avoided the remnants of C and D Companies would have to get away as best they could. Some men scattered and individually or in small groups made their way back to Achicourt, over the ground they had marched that morning, and back to Petit Vimy. Officers searched for men and led them back. Captain Ronnie Cummins crawled up a ditch and took with him as many men as he could find. He was awarded the Military Cross for his gallant leadership of 'D Company throughout the day. Major Jeffreys recalled his journey:

' the darkness, and this fight, it was a pretty disorganised scene. So I started to walk back across the country towards Achicourt and there were men scattered about. Some of them kept shooting towards the German tanks and that sort of thing. I kept shouting out saying, "Hey! Hey! Any 6th DLI about?" After a bit I got hold of a few chaps who laid down and could not do anymore, were so exhausted. Rest we did, two or three hours, I suppose and then I got them up and we started marching back up the road through Achicourt. We got through Achicourt, to the other side of it. I said, "Well we'd better march on back up towards Vimy", hoping to find some of the British Army. By extraordinary luck I found a 15cwt which had been abandoned and, miracles, the damned thing started. I put every man I could think of in it and the rest I told to start marching and I would dump the first load and go back and get some more, and so on. Eventually later that day (22nd May), I got a good many chaps back to Vimy Ridge.'"

Fascinating wartime letter written from Brenda Cummins of Grove House in 1942

Click on the pictures for a more detailed image    

Left to right:  Nobby Brough, Brown, Rabowitz, Nobby Clark and Cpl. Devereux (Essex Regiment) setting up barbed wire on the golf course.

Our thanks to Jim Reeves for digging out these two photos of our troops


Left to right:  Nobby Brough, Brown, Rabowitz, Nobby Clark and Cpl. Devereux


C. Couldry (Essex Regiment) doing a bit more wiring…on the 13th Green?


C. Couldry doing a bit more wiring·on the 13th Green?


Celia Cummins'parents were married at St. Mary’s Church, Burton Bradstock

on 12th.October, 1940

Her father was Captain R L Cummins of the Durham Light Infantry and her mother, Miss Brenda Bennett who moved to Burton to live in Grove House in 1935 - she met her husband to be in 1940 when he was stationed here.

Our thanks to Celia for these photos

But who are the others in the photos?


Celia Cummins· parents were married at St. Mary·s Church, Burton Bradstock


Celia's parents moving off to their reception


Celia·s parents moving off to their reception

more pictures

Copyright Notice & Disclaimer