LEATHERHEAD WAR MEMORIALS - WWII
Gunner Charles Herbert Long
228 Bty., 57 (1/5th Bn. The East Surrey Regt.) Anti-Tank Regt., Royal Artillery
Town Memorial World War II
Gunner LONG, Charles Herbert: 6142305: Age 18
Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
Unit Text: 228 Bty., 57 (1/5th Bn. The East Surrey Regt.) Anti-Tank Regt.
Date of Death: 29/05/1940
Son of Thomas Long, and of Amelia Long, of Leatherhead, Surrey.
Commemorated at DUNKIRK MEMORIAL, Column 19
The UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945 entry for Charles states 'Theatre of War: At sea'
An Outline History of 57th (East Surrey) Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery 1939-1945
Part 1. September 1939 to DUNKIRK June 1940
At the outbreak of hostilities the Regiment, which was part of the 44th (Home Counties) Division, was embodied at Epsom Grandstand and at that time was commanded by Lieut-Colonel J. Imison, M.C., R.A. Later, in the Autumn of 1939, it moved to Chard in Somerset for training and mobilisation.
Considerable changes in personnel took place during this period and in January 1940 Lieut-Colonel R.L. Travers, O.B.E., R.A. assumed command.
Early in April 1940 the Regiment joined the B.E.F in France and was stationed on the Belgian frontier near Bailleul. When Germany invaded the Low Countries the Division, which was part of 3rd Corps, advanced into Belgium and the Regiment was given the task of providing A. A. protection to units of the Corps during the move.
The Division then took up defensive positions along the River Escaut with its left flank at Oudenarde. The Belgian Army was on the left and part of 1st Corps on the right and through these positions the remainder of 1st Corps withdrew.
The Regiment, which was fully deployed, suffered considerable casualties and losses in guns in the five day battle which developed, though these were caused primarily by gun positions being over-run by German infantry, as no German tanks were operating on this part of the front. This was the first and last time that the Regiment was employed under Divisional control in this campaign.
A general withdrawal then took place to the area of Courtrai and Menin, after which the Regiment was completely split up, 227 and 228 Batteries being sent to an Independent Brigade in the Hazebrouck-Morbeque area, 225 Battery to Macforce in the Bethunc area, and RHQ and 226 Battery with the Division in the Merville-Sailly area.
During the very confused fighting which followed, and with the Batteries spread over the Southern and Western front of the ring surrounding Dunkirk, German tanks were engaged, notably in frustrating an attack on Hazebrouck in which three enemy tanks were claimed by 228 Battery. Three others are believed to have been destroyed in the Merville area, but the bulk of the Regiment's fighting throughout the campaign took place against German infantry and aircraft and the 2 pdr was used with some effect on several occasions against the former at close quarters.
On May 29th orders were issued to withdraw to Dunkirk. By this time 75% of the guns in the Regiment had been destroyed or lost by enemy action and the remainder, together with other equipment, were ordered to be disabled during the final stages of the withdrawal. Evacuation proceeded over subsequent days from Dunkirk, but the general confusion resulted in the unit being completely dispersed.
By mid-June the Regiment began to re-assemble at Oxford and in July 1940 moved with the 44th Division to the Doncaster area in Yorkshire, under 1st Corps. Seven officers out of a strength of 21 and approximately 160 other ranks had been casualties in France.
Ray Goodacre, author of The Story of the 57th (East Surrey) Anti-tank Regiment, Royal Artillery (T.A.): Conversion and Confrontation, 1938-1940 Pt.1 writes:
Charles (Charlie) Long appears on the embarkation roll of the 57th (East Surrey) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery as a member of 228 Anti-Tank Battery when it sailed for France in April 1940 to join the BEF.
He was wounded on 24th May 1940, the day 228 Battery was responsible for checking a German tank attack at Morbecque, near Hazebrouck, in northern France (see p73-74 in my book).
This was also the day George Snelling from Leatherhead in the same unit was killed.
Both were only 18 years of age.
It was a hard day overall for the Regiment with one officer killed and one wounded, three men killed, 16 wounded and 27 missing.
Charles Long was later posted as wounded and missing, but it was not until August 1941 it appears that his date of death was confirmed as 29 May 1940 and that he had died at sea.
His Royal Artillery casualty card states under the heading, Place of Death: 'At Sea, Ex PS Waverley'.
John de S. Winser's excellent book BEF SHIPS before, at and after Dunkirk states on p124:
WAVERLEY (Naval) Paddle Steamer - Left Dunkirk with about 600 troops May 29 but en route was bombed and machine-gunned: she finally sank at 1746 same day.
Also on p19:
Homeward bound at 1700, the paddle steamer Waverley was hit by a bomb which entered her port quarter and passed right through her bottom, killing four soldiers and leaving a 6ft hole: the ship became unmanageable and developed a list to port before beginning to sink rapidly by the stern at 1746.
[More information about PS Waverley can be seen via the link below.]
The unit War Diary is WO 167/584 57 Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery for April and May 1940.
Column 19 Dunkirk Memorial showing Charles Long's name: source Ray Goodacre
Charles served in the same unit as another Leatherhead man, George Edwin Clare Snelling. George was killed 5 days earlier on 24 May 1940. They were the same age and it is plausible that they knew each other as boys.
His father was Thomas Long, born about 1875 in Sturry, a village near Canterbury, Kent. In 1901 Thomas, a Bricklayers Labourer, was living at 4 Rivers Cottages, Leatherhead, with his mother Mary who was a church school cleaner. Ten years later, in the 1911 Census, Thomas was working as Groundsman to Leatherhead Cricket Club and was married to Amelia. They had three small children, John Thomas, Dorothy Elizabeth and Maud Rebecca and lived at 2 The Wythies, Leatherhead. It is believed that Thomas died in 1944.
Charles' mother was Amelia Stovell, born 13th January 1880 in Leatherhead to George, a Blacksmith from Effingham, Surrey, and Elizabeth Stovell from Headley, Surrey. She was baptised at Leatherhead Parish Church on 6th April 1880. In the 1881 Census she was listed at Preston Street, Great Bookham. In the 1901 Census when Amelia was 21, the Stovells were living at 60 High Street, Leatherhead. She and Thomas were married in 1906. She died in 1965.
Charles' birth was registered in the Epsom District in July 1921.His Casualty Card states he was born in Bookham
The East Surreys' Recruitment Roll shows that he signed up on 21 June 1937 and transferred to the 57th Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery (TA) on 28th November 1938.
According to the 1939 Electoral Register Thomas, Amelia and John Thomas Long were living at 8 The Crescent, Leatherhead
Paddle Steamer Waverley 1899-1940
Royal Artillery Association
the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him, and of any recollections of him
with thanks to Ray Goodacre: last updated 22 May 20