A Genealogical Study
SUMMARY OF 4751413 TPR WALLACE ROSE'S ARMY
SERVICE (AND ASSOCIATED FAMILY HISTORY)
Wallace Stanley Rose was born in Warmsworth, just outside Doncaster, on 25 December 1919, the youngest of three sons, to Harry Rose and Elsie Orton. His father was the 10th of 12 children, and had been badly bullied by his elder brothers during his childhood in Leeds. He had run away to Doncaster and married a non-Jewish girl, Elsie Orton, in 1914. They ran transport cafés in Doncaster and, later, at Balderton in Newark, Nottinghamshire. Wallace's elder brothers, Ted and Bernard, had been born in 1914 and 1916 respectively. All the boys helped run the cafés.
Bernard and Wallace married in Doncaster in the summer of 1939, around the time war broke out. As they were 23 and 19 at the time, perhaps this was a decision they made together, knowing they would enlist in the army immediately afterwards.
EARLY PERIOD OF SERVICE
Bernard and Wallace would visit their cousins when home on leave, and Percy Rose recalled in 1992 that Wallace had been killed at Dunkerque in May 1940. This was later proven not to be the case, though he and Bernard may have been among those rescued at Dunkerque. Wallace served in the 59th Reconnaissance Regiment, which was absorbed into the Royal Armoured Corps on 1 January 1944. He is said to have been promoted and later stripped of his rank for an offence, but the official documentation that may confirm this has not yet been ordered.
SERVICE IN 1944
Much of the regiment's work leading up to the D-Day landings was related to shot-down enemy aircraft and the ensuing prisoners of war. At the beginning of 1944, the 59th Reconnaissance Regiment was stationed at Postling, in Kent, before moving to Margate on 20 March. On D-Day itself, 6 June, the regiment was still in Margate.
Wallace's wife was Evelyn Brabiner, and they had two children: Jeanette (1941) and Stuart in (1944). They had lost a son, Michael, in 1940, aged just 10 days. Bernard's wife was Veronica Carr, and they had a son, Peter (1940). Evelyn and Veronica would have had to bring up these children largely on their own while Bernard and Wallace were away at war, so the situation was hardly ideal.
ACTION IN NORMANDY
Most of Wallace's regiment moved to east London on 17 June 1944 and sailed for Normandy three days later. However, the weather was too rough to unload the troops and their equipment, and the two ships had to turn back. On 22 June, they departed from the Solent, arriving off the Normandy coast at around 8.00pm. After two days waiting off the coast, the troops finally landed on French soil at Graye-sur-Mer. Although the regiment's movements have not yet been traced in full, it appears that it moved south, passing between Bayeux on the west and Caen on the east. By August, the regiment was seemingly working in front of the South Staffordshire infantry regiments, moving south-east, in the general direction of Alençon. The River Orne proved a somewhat awkward obstacle, but it was overcome and the advance continued.
Then, on 17 August, with the regiment engaged in a somewhat ambitious task to reconnoitre a large area in a relatively small time, a few miles north-west of the town of Putanges-Pont-Écrepin, south of Caen, Wallace was killed. Family legend has it that Wallace was a motorcycle dispatch rider, and had run over a land mine. Bernard's regiment (104th Company, RASC) was a few miles away and he rushed to the scene as soon as he was informed. It is believed he buried his brother and erected a simple wooden cross to mark the grave.
AN IRONIC CONCLUSION
The ironic twist to Wallace's tragic death is that, just three days afterwards, the 59th Reconnaissance Regiment was moved to army reserve and then disbanded, with the vast majority of its men being transferred to other regiments. Although there is nothing to say that Wallace may have survived elsewhere in Normandy, at least he would no longer have been in a reconnaissance regiment and may have survived the war. He died aged 24, leaving a wife and two children. He is now buried at Bayeux.
Bernard remained in the army throughout the advance into Germany, including being part of the force that liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. On returning from war, he discovered that Veronica had left him for another man, and they divorced. He opened the family's Balderton café and married a member of his staff, Norma Clarke, in 1949. He had two more children with her: Roger (1950) and Julie (1961) and became a keen fisherman and gardener. He died in 1994.
Meanwhile, Bernard's first son, Peter, was adopted at the age of 5 by Veronica's parents (his grandparents) and brought up effectively as her brother, under the name Charles Barry Carr, in Doncaster. Veronica remarried Clarence Lynam in 1952 and had another son, Trevor (1958).
Evelyn and her children stayed in Doncaster with Wallace's parents until a row with his mother, Elsie, forced her and the children to leave. She moved to Nottingham, where she married Robert Marston in 1952. They had one daughter together: Marilyn (1952). Evelyn died in 2008.
After a search that spanned four years, I gradually tracked down the branches of this family. They had lived in Doncaster, Balderton and Nottingham for half a century, without ever knowing each other, despite their proximity. In the 1960s, Charles Barry (now going just by Barry) was a TV engineer and, quite by chance, had to repair his grandmother Elsie's TV. This led to a few years of contact between him and his father's family, until Elsie's death in 1971. He never knew his birth name was Peter Rose... until I told him.
Having traced these three branches of close relatives, we arranged a small, informal reunion in Newark on 19 October 2008. There, Barry and Roger - half-brothers - met for the first time, joined by Jeanette, Stuart, myself and all various spouses. It was a remarkable conclusion to an incredible story of how war, in different ways, alters the course of a family's history and can affect relationships for generations after fighting has ended.
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