The Buffs Royal East Kent Regiment WW2 North Africa Campaign and Burma Campaign

WW2 Troops

(Click to expand)

My grandad signed up for the Buffs Royal East Kent Regiment: 26.7.1940 and served until 01.10.1946. He was a Private in the Infantry.

He served in the North Africa Campaign and the Burma campaign. He never really spoke much about the war. I know he was in the desert (though I don’t know where) and also the jungles of Burma.

My grandad was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, The Africa Star (with 8th Army clasp), The Burma Star, The Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-1945.

Looks like he managed to find a bottle shop! Does anybody recognise the writing in the window? I’d love to know where he was:

North Africa Campaign, off duty

(Click to expand)


Troops in the North Africa Campaign WW2

(Click to expand) Troops in the North Africa Campaign WW2 (In the desert?)

WW2 North Africa Campaign troop photo

(Click to expand) WW2 North Africa Campaign troop photo

50 thoughts on “The Buffs Royal East Kent Regiment WW2 North Africa Campaign and Burma Campaign

  1. Brian Dean

    My late father also served in the ‘Buffs’ and went to the same places and received the same medals, his name was Thomas Dean and he had a friend named Roy Gabbatiss who died in Newton Abbott, Devon in 1942. Would love to see more photos just in case there is a photo of my father or his friend.

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Brian,
      Thanks for your message, I have a couple more photos which I’ve attached to the end of the blog post for you. I wish I could put names to faces but sadly other than my grandad I dont know who the other troops are. Would be amazing if you did find a photo of your father or Roy. Wishing you all the best.

      1. Rex Ireland

        My late father Thomas Ernest Ireland “Ernie” was a member of 5th Buffs from Going to N Africa Sicily Italy finishing at Trieste in 1945. As he was a territorial he then went to Austria until being demobbed. He drove Bren gun carriers & although not saying much did mention somebody called Hank. Any recollections would be appreciated.

        1. Sally Andrews

          Hi, my dad Arthur (Bill) Webb was in the 5th Buffs and did the same route as you father including ending up in Austria until he was demobbed in September 1946. I have around 60 letters he wrote home which are helping us map his movements. He was infantry so a slightly different role. He was involved in the battle of Longstop hill on Easter Monday 26th April 1943.

        2. Julian

          It was 1st Buffs who were stationed in Trieste at the end of the war. Would your father have been attached as a specialist, e.g. driver or medic?

  2. Anthony Munday


    I understand that my Grandfather, Alan Albert Henry Munday, served the Buffs during the WWII and visited North Africa and Monte Casino as far as I’m aware. I’d love to learn more if possible as he sadly passed away before I had the chance to ask more.

    Kind regards,

    Anthony Munday (07944345072)

  3. Chris Bleach

    My Grandfather, Eddie Young, was born and raised in Kent and also served in 1 Buffs. He joined in March 1940 and fought in North Africa. Specifically this was in Gazala. From what I can see, they were assigned to protect the Gazala Line in some of the most vicious fighting in WW2 alongside troops from India, New Zealand and Poland fighting both Germans and Italians as part of Operation Crusader ( This was the only Allied-held place in North Africa.

    He was captured in December 1941 and transferred to numerous POW camps including Stalag VIIB/344 and Stalag VIIB. This was eventually liberated in April 1945 after which he returned home to Kent.

    So fascinating learning about what The Buffs did!

    1. miss kerry anne Palmer

      My grandfather was also in stalaggxxb marienburg camp . Through what I can recall my nanna telling me he was captured in France then had to endure a “long march” to Poland ,”I think ,please feel free to correct me “. To where he stayed untill the end of the war . He was from folkestone . Lesley Dayment Hayman

  4. N Hatcher

    Hi Chris – your grandfather experience was similar to my Dads. They were at Al Hamsa at Point 204 in a salient. On the 15th December Rommel overran the position. (15th Panzer). The Buffs lost 1000 men – the Pow’s were shipped from Tripoli to Naples ( Capua) then dispersed. When Italy surrendered 1943, they received orders to stay put in camp, those that did ended up in Germany. My Dad legged it over the Alps to Switzerland with Italian resistance help. Thanks Gino from Milan!

    1. Neil coote

      Hi all,

      My grandad was Arthur Coote who served with the buffs in North Africa. He survived and relayed.some amazing stories of escaping in the back of an ambulance mid-battle.

      Unfortunately I have no further information, if anyone could advise it would be appreciated. I would love to think that he served alongside some of your relatives.

      Neil Coote

    2. Mark Hatcher

      Hi N Hatcher,

      Was your dad called John and originated from Cliffe? If so, then we are 2nd cousins 1 x removed. My Grandfather (John’s cousin) was also in the Buff’s but didn’t have such a torrid time as John.

      I am doing a project on the Hatcher’s 1870-1950, which spans 10 siblings, which includes among other things, specific wartime contributions, and would be great to speak to you regarding your dad and other family members. I spoke to your cousin who is still in Cliffe, and she still has a brooch from Switzerland with two doves with ‘Interlaken’ across it, and was given to her by her Uncle John when he returned back from Switzerland, when she was about 8-9 yrs old. I have a photo with your dad in it from 1932, well I think its him, hopefully you could confirm.

      Please drop me a note, would be interesting to hear from you.


      Mark M Hatcher

  5. David

    Hi N Hatcher
    My friend and neighbour Mr Reginald Knowles
    was also in the Buffs. He was from Folkestone and joined as a boy soldier.
    He often told me stories over a cup of tea about being captured in North Africa and then taken to Italy as a POW. Pretty much as you described.
    I remember asking how he felt when he saw the the Africa Corps bearing down on him he told me
    “we only had one tank…and that didn’t even work”.
    If that wasn’t enough, he volunteered to go to Korea and ended up as a POW again.
    He passed away a few years ago in his 90’s.
    A funny and brave man and a pleasure to have known him.

  6. Ed

    Trying to find any info or photo on 2nd Lt Charles Roger Cockburn from Ramsgate. (Later Hon Captain).
    He was gazetted 2nd LT in 1939 to the 4th/5th Battalion the Buffs. First posting to A Coy. Ramsgate. We cannot trace him after than but expect her went overseas.

  7. Wendy Johnson

    I am researching my late father, Arthur Robert Newcombe aka Bob, who served in North Africa and Palestine with the Buffs. If anyone has any information I would be gratefull to hear.

    Many thanks.

    1. Clive Hart

      My father James Walter Hart was in the Buffs / Canterbury and in Palestine before the war. Then Dunkirk, North Africa and Italy. He was demobbed in Milan – end of war.
      I’d love to track his/their movements across the desert and up through Italy.

  8. Cassandra knox

    My grandad was in the buffs, he went Africa WW2. His name was Hubert Jones, he was a coal miner from Rossington.
    If anyone has any information or could let me know how to find out information, would be greatly appreciated.

    1. John Sommerville

      This is so interesting and seeing all the photos I have of my dad (Robert Sommerville) when he served in the Buffs Regiment. My dad served in Monte-casino and was shot there fortunately survived only to be eventually air lifted back to the front where he sustained another arm shrapnel wound (not too serious this time) but served all through the entire 2nd World War from start to finish. How nice to see the photos you have too, which brings back my childhood memories. If I have time I will find them and post them . Thank you all for taking the trouble to post what you have, such a fitting tribute to such a fine unit of brave men.


    I have only just found out that my late dad and his 2 brothers were in the The Buffs ,dad and my uncle was in Palastine together.

    Uncle Pete is 5th man at the back and dad is the first man in front row, looking left to rig

    Is there any chance you could send me a copy please?.

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Deborah,
      Thanks for getting in touch, I’ve sent you an email with copies of the photo, check your spam folder just incase! I always hoped someone would recognise some of these men. What was your Dads name?

  10. Brad jones

    Hello, my great uncle was Private William Charles Palmer of the 1st battalion Royal East Kent (the buffs) service number 6296697. I’ve done a bit of research and know he served in Africa and Italy and is currently buried at Gradara War Cemetary. I even know which plot and plan to visit sometime next year. I have a photo of him and it appears he is the furthest right bottom row of your last picture! He died in September of 1944 which I presume was when the allies were fighting for Rimini. Around the gothic line. Would love to know if you have anymore information or pictures! My email is

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for your message Brad. My grandad George Harris is stood up in the back row of that last photo, 2nd from the right. He never really talked much about his experience in the war, like many I guess. I wonder if your great uncle William and my grandad were pals. These are all the photos I have, I love it that you found your great uncle amongst them!

    2. Clive Hart

      My Dad – James Walter Hart appeared to share same history through the geography. East Kent lad – Palestine, Dunkirk, North Africa – Italy and definitely Rimini. I remember him saying he was there when Vesuvius erupted on the other side of Italy but it still went dark on the Adriatic coast.

  11. Kerry O'Shea

    Hi there. I am very interested, reading your info on the 5th Buffs. My Grand uncle served in North Africa and was killed in Dec 1942. His name is recorded onthe Medjez El Bab memorial.
    I know nothing more, not even a photo, sad to say.
    His name is Hedley Alexander Hyman.
    If anyone has any info, I’d love to know.
    Thank you.

  12. Stuart Leeds

    Hello. My grandfather was in The Buffs – September 1944 to the end. In my youth I would ask him for stories. He would never tell any. Eventually, he wrote his memories and I transcribed them. I’ll send the www if you’re interested to read them.

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Stuart, many thanks for your message, my grandad didn’t talk much about it either, I’d love to read to about your grandfather’s experiences …
      All the best to you,

  13. Geoffrey Ager

    Is it possible for you to get a better quality reproduction of the photo of the five men in front of the doorway with (Urdu?) characters? My father R Stephen Thomas Ager was with the Buffs (East Kent) in Bangalore in 1946 and there is a very strong resemblance between him and the man at the end of the row to the left. It’s not possible to see properly, because the photo is indistinct, but Dad was a very keen pipe smoker at the time and there seems to be a suggestion in the image that he is smoking a pipe (to the right side of his mouth). Dad is still going at 93 years of age, although in a care home, and Mum, living with my wife and I thinks thatit’s possible the photo could be of him. We still have his Urdu phrase book with his cadet number on it. Perhaps Stuart Leeds (7 May, has been able to furnish details of the whereabouts of the Buffs in 1946?). Anyway, hope to hear from you and thanks for any help!

  14. Graham Gent

    My dad, Ernest Gent was with the Buffs and was in Burma and the North African Campaign. His official records do not mention Norgh Africa, but this is odd as he was awarded the Arica Star with Clasp. Any thoughts as to why that was?

  15. Michael Harvey

    My Grandfather was Capt H.B. Harvey MC 219089, 1st Battalion. He served in North Africa as Lt, won his MC, promoted in the field and continued with the Buffs until he took a gunshot wound to the chest in Italy. He recovered and went to the hospital in Naples.
    He was discharged from the army in 1945 as a Major.
    He was part of the 8th Armoured Brigade (Foxes) and led a Company of Bren Gun Carriers.
    He sadly died in 1999. But i am a re-enactor and living history exhibitor and I predominantly portray him.
    The uniform is mostly reproduction but I have pips and buttons that were his.
    Recently discovered some negatives and has them developed. Shows the Company on maintenance on the Universal Carriers as part of the 1st Armoured Division in Italy.

  16. Geoffrey Ager

    With reference to my earlier message (28 July) regarding my father Rolfe Stephen Thomas Ager or ‘Steve Ager’. I have made a ‘split down the middle’ composite image of your photo and one taken at Dad’s wedding in 1947 and I am now certain that the man standing outside the ‘shop’ at the left of the group of five is him. Is it possible for you to send me your email address so that I can forward the image to you directly?
    Thanks for your time!

  17. Trevor Cripps

    I know my Grandfather was a member of the Buffs in WW2 but that is all I know. I’m hoping someone may have some information or photos of him:

    Ronald Latham Edwards

    Thanks in anticipation
    Trevor Cripps

    1. Kerry

      Firstly sorry to hear this , Do you know what dates he was captured? My great-grandfather was also in that same awful march ,he served with the 3rd east Kent regiments ,was captured in Boulogne 1940 then held as a prisoner of war for the duration of the war …
      It’s very likely they were in that same march ,any further information would be good to hear

  18. Peter Goldup

    As far as I know my father William John Goldup AKA Jack/John Goldup served in The Buffs in Africa. Like all the others he never really spoke about it.
    Are there any names to go with the photo of the 2nd photo down from the top of this page as my daughter Joanne thinks that the chap sitting holding what looks like a tin looks a lot like my dad.

  19. Graham Fenton

    Hi, we have recently researched our dads war records and found out he was in The Buffs!!
    I googled The Buffs in ww11 and couldn’t believe when I looked closely at the group pic we are 100% sure our dad is front row and to the right of the officer ! Does anyone know if the picture had the names of the soldiers on the back . Any information would be greatly appreciated as he never spoke about his experience apart from a grenade attack in which he was injured in Burma!!!

  20. Graham Fenton

    Hi, we have recently researched our dads war records and found out he was in The Buffs!!
    I googled The Buffs in ww11 and couldn’t believe when I looked closely at the group pic we are 100% sure our dad is front row and to the right of the officer ! Does anyone know if the picture had the names of the soldiers on the back . Any information would be greatly appreciated as he never spoke about his experience apart from a grenade attack in which he was injured in Burma!!! My dads name is Robert William Fenton.

    1. admin Post author

      Hello, that’s lovely you recognised your dad! I wish I knew all of their names. Unfortunately there’s nothing written on the back of the photo. The photo belonged to my grandad, George Harris a soldier from Margate. He never spoke much about his experience either. I’m glad your dad and my grandad made a good team 🙂

  21. Marcus

    My grandad was Padre capt Noel Hawthorn with the 1st BN Buffs when they were overrun on op crusader. He was one of the group of 70 or so who were lucky and not captured but walked out of the desert 30 miles to safety near Tobruk. In army speak he would have been at the regimental aid post with the medical officer tending to the wounded when they realised they had to get out. He never spoke about it either. He served on with 8th army through n Africa then Italy. Eventually succumbing to his well-being in his 50s. Argued for r&r for soldiers to spend time back home as a break before returning to the war. Is there any formal history of the first battalion from this time?

  22. Marcus

    Sorry my bad – respect to the fallen, he was lucky not to be captured *or killed*, the battalion lost many hundreds of men (1000 was mentioned) in the short space of about three hours I think on afternoon 15 Dec 1941. Very intense battle. Defeat caused by ambitious CO overextending and leaving flanking formations behind and ending up isolated on Point 204, west of Alex Hamza.

  23. Margaret Chung

    I have just found this site. I have cleared my aunt’s house since her death and found an item that tells me that my uncle, William Smalldon, ( Bill ) was in the Buffs during WW2. I know very little but that he was at Monte Casino.
    I found a hand made brass pot, with lid and emblem and Buffs on the front. Inside is a home made brass lighter. It’s only about an inch square with a 1942 farthing set into the front.
    I would like to donate these items to a suitable place
    Any suggestions greatly received.
    Margaret Chung née Smalldon

  24. Lindsay Murphy

    I have recently found out my Great Uncle was in the Buffs (1st battalion), he was originally from Ireland. Denis Cadogan, I know that he was captured on 15/12/41 in North Africa and then transferred to various prisoner of war camps and ended up in one of the Stalag camps, I’m trying to find out any further information, anything anyone can add would be appreciated.
    Lindsay Murphy


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *