FARRANT, Bertie Reggie

No.1828108, Private, Bertie Reggie FARRANT
Aged 29

6th Battalion, The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
Killed in Action on Wednesday, 15th November 1944

Bertie Reggie Farrant was born on 21st February 1915, at 42 Eden Road Haverhill. (Risbridge Q2-1915 4A:1668) 4th son of George Robert and Laura Anne FARRANT (née MASON).

The family moved to newly built 12 Helions Park Avenue. Bertie's sister in law, Ann Farrant, remembers him as "a very shy person who loved the outdoor life, gardening and keeping chickens". Ann recalls that on leaving school "Bert worked on the land, and was actually exempt from the forces due to the work he was doing but he wanted to serve his country." She was unsure when Bertie enlisted but records of his military service gained in 2000 show that he enlisted on 26th June 1941 In the 1939 register Bertie was a public works contractor's labourer, living at 12 Helion Park Avenue, Haverhill with his father George R [30-8-1873, a retired bricklayer; his mother Laura A [13-12-1874]; brothers George D [11-9-1903] a cleaner at bank, Arthur [6-3-1911] a public works contractor's labourer and Harry P [17-11-1913] textile indigo dyer; sister Lily M [18-9-1916] sewing machinist(later Mrs STEVENSON).

With sincere thanks to Ann Farrant and her daughter, Lauraine MacPhee, for sharing their memories, photos and information about Bertie Reggie Farrant.

26 June 1941 Enlisted Royal Artillery, 10th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment
25 Nov.1941 posted to 205th (Mixed) Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment
29 Dec.1941 posted to 495 Heavy Anti Aircrat Regiment
2 Feb.1942 posted to 143 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment
7 Oct.1943 attached 51 Primary Training Wing
2 Oct.1943 transferred to Suffolk Regt and posted to No 3 Infantry Training Centre
1 Feb.1944 posted to 8th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
27 May 1944 transferred to Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment and posted to 6th Battalion

From 2nd May to 16th July 1944, Bertie served overseas with the North Africa Force, followed by two months in the Middle East. From 7th September 1944, his battalion saw action with the Central Mediterranean Force. As the Allies moved up from the toe of Italy, Bertie saw action at Monte Cassino, which was fought over four main battles between 17th January and 18th May 1944.

In the period from June to August 1944, the Allies advanced beyond Rome, taking Florence and closing up on the Gothic Line. This last major defensive line ran from the coast some 30 miles (48 km) north of Pisa, along the jagged Apennine Mountains range between Florence and Bologna to the Adriatic coast, just south of Rimini. During the advance from Rimini to Forli and beyond in SeptemberNovember 1944, advances crossed one flooded river after another in atrocious autumn weather.

Bertie Reggie lost his life on 15th November 1944. Sister in law, Ann, recalls that Bertie and two companions were in a trench when it was hit by enemy fire. The graves of Bertie and Pte Fullarton, both of the 6th Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, are in the Faenza War Cemetery near Florence.

Battalion war diary of the 15th November states "Patrols reported no enemy contact or movement seen. Dull morning, and very cold. Z Coy fired on by 75mm gun on C feature 047259 and 8.1cm mortar. One Bosche seen moving on same feature. 2 O.R.s killed by direct hit from mortar. Our 4.2" mortars replied. Enemy 'stonk' on Z Coy and Bn HQ. Very heavy mortar and arty fire. Retaliated on to known enemy posns. Enemy 'stonk' area Bn HQ. Our heavy mortars replied.

The South West Suffolk Echo of 15th December reported:
Officer Tribute: "The parents of the late Pte B Farrant of the Royal West Kent Regiment, whose death on active service in Italy was reported in a recent issue, have this week received a letter from his Platoon Officer, Lieutentant L T Brooker, dated November 29th, giving fuller details of his death. The letter states that Pte Farrant was killed by a mortar bomb on November 15th and that death was instantaneous. He was buried by friends on a small hill called Cassetta, about three miles north of the village of Apollinaro, which is north of Castel Del Rio. A white wooden cross, erected by the writer marking his grave. The letter goes on to say, I had a great liking for your son. We had gone through good and bad times, and recently been in some of the hardest fighting imaginable. He was a very steady and reliable soldier, and took all hardships as they came and never lost his temper. He was very popular in his platoon."

blue circle...area in which he was buried initially

His temporary grave marker

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Bertie Farrant is buried in Faenza War Cemetery, Italy grave 6:C:5

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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