Bombardier Leslie Allsopp
Unit : 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, RA.
Army No. : 14245585
Awards : Mentioned in Despatches
I was called to service in 1942, after initial training I was immediately posted to 53rd division anti-tank regiment. Over the following months the unit changed its role numerous times. From an anti-tank regiment to a Field regiment, which handled 25lb artillery guns. The regiment was then restructured into an artillery unit which dealt with self propelled guns. Having been dispatched for training within this division, to become a signaller, driver and number one gunner; we arrived back to camp to discover that once again the units role had changed and we became the 53rd Air-landing regiment, Royal Artillery (RA) which was part of the 6th Airborne division. After training as a glider I finally applied for training as a parachutist. I trained at Ardwick Hall and then Ringway (which is now Manchester airport) with particular emphasis on signalling and wireless operating. This led me to my station during the subsequent episode.
By the time my training had been completed, the 53rd Air-landing regiment was approaching its position for the invasion of mainland France. I rejoined the unit just two weeks before the landing, which took place on the 6th June (D-day). I was a member of a section called the Forward Observation Observers (FOO), and I was attached to the 8th parachute battalion, as a signaller. My duty as an FOO was to support the battalion with artillery fire when required. We arrived in position, facing the Germans. Over the successive days our air position was static, and then finally we were given our instructions. Our battalion was to destroy the Breville factory, which was one of two gun emplacements belonging to the Germans. Fierce battle commenced between ourselves and the enemy, backup was needed. The commanding officer of the 8th battalion sent orders requesting a barrage of support, in order to forestall any counter attack. As we waited for support tragically both the CO of the 8th battalion and my own commanding officer, Captain Ward, were killed. The fighting continued and finally the support arrived, however, despite clear instructions fire was directed towards the allies. A mistake had been made at the British artillery emplacement and the incorrect coordinates were being used. Our own shells were falling among us Parachutists and causing numerous casualties. It was clear we were being attacked from both sides. As panic ensued, I without hesitation made my way towards my late commanding officer. I grasped Captain Ward and without delay ordered the guns to cease fire, therefore avoiding further casualties and fatalities. The correct coordinates were given and the Breville factory was taken. For my action during this affair I was mentioned in dispatches by the Commanding officer of the 8th Battalion.
Following the event detailed above, my unit assisted in the capture of the second gun emplacement of Merville. After this we joined the rest of the division with the objective of capturing Caen. Subsequent to a period of intensive engagement and street fighting on July 17/18th 1944 Caen was finally taken. After a short period of stabilisation the position of the 6th airborne division was withdrawn and returned to England. While in England a period of training, and replacement of equipment and personnel ensued. Then on the 24th of December, I embarked on a mission from Tilbury to Ostend in order to assist the Americans in the Ardennes, where I took part in the famous ‘battle of the bulge’. After this I was once again returned to England in order to prepare for the Rhine crossing of March 1945. We were sent back to England following the concluding meeting with the Russians Wismer on the Baltic coast. Finally we prepared for the tour of duty in Palestine, here I left the army in 1947 in order to pursue a new career and family life.
L.Allsopp Service History
L.Allsopp Army No 14245585 Date of Birth 20/09/23
Undertook normal training during 1942 then stationed in Yorkshire as a member of the 53rd Anti —Tank regiment, Royal Artillery
Early in 1943 a change of role was announced for the Unit together with a change of name to the 53rd Field Regiment Royal Artillery. It was during this period that I trained as a gunnery driver wireless operator. After this training I returned to the regiment only to find that its role had changed once again. My unit had become the 53rd Air-Landing regiment, Royal Artillery which was part of the 6th Airborne Division.
There followed a period of intensive braining on gliders after which I applied for further training to become a para-trooper gaining my parachute wings at the end of the course. It was during this period that I first met my wife to be, Phyliss, who was a parachute packer at Ringway where the training took place. We used to meet in the NAAFI during the evening breaks and we kept in touch by letter after I returned to the regiment. When I returned to my regiment I became a member of a section called Forward Observation Observers or `FOOs' for short. FOO's were attached to the Parachute Regiments for the purpose of giving Artillery support when requested by the paratroops. On the 6th of June 1944, (D Day) I was involved in the action at a place called Ranville just outside Caen in France as a FOO. There were two German gun emplacements called Merville & Breville batteries which were a problem and the FOO's task was to direct fire from the Allied artillery towards the enemy batteries. Unfortunately although clear instructions were sent because of a mistake at the British artillery emplacement fire was directed at the Allied positions. It was only by my quick actions to stop this fire that prevented many more casualties occurring and for this prompt action I was mentioned in dispatches. Following action by the paratroops with the assistance of the 51st Highland Division the main objective Caen was successfully reached.
Returned to the UK.
Embarked at Tilbury for Ostend on Christmas Eve: once again linking up with the 51st Highland Division we moved up to the front line to assist the Americans in the Ardennes. (not an Airborne operation.)
Returned to England
Rhine Crossing (airbourne operation). Final destination Wismar (Germany).
Returned to England
May 1945 / 47
Service in Palestine
PEGASUS JOURNAL JULY 2004 - NORMANDY 1944
Bombardier Leslie Allsopp 53rd Landing Light Regt RA
On May 28th 1944 Lelie Allsopp was attached to 8th Battalion and flew to Normandy on the evening of the 5th/6th June. He was dropped a few miles from the designated DZ area. After a few hours he reported to Regimental Headquarters and went forward to the 8th Battalion position. From then on he assisted 8th, 9th and 12th Battalions with artillery support. He returned to the UK in September 1944. He was Mentioned in Despatches on 8th November 1945. Signaller Allsopps's action later formed part of his unit's official history. The following is an extract. Captain Ward's signaller, Alisopp, who accompanied him in the attack kept an open wireless communication with HQRA, 51 st Division under conditions of utmost strain and stress. Immediately after Breville had been taken Colonel Douglas Parker of the 12th Battalion, acting as Commanding Officer, since Lieut. Col. Johnson had been killed, sent an order through Allsopp calling for defensive fire to forestall any counter attack against the depleted and disorganised Battalion. Although the message was clearly sent misunderstanding somewhere at the gun end caused this fire to fall on the village causing further casualties among the parachutists. Allsopp acting on his own initiative unhesitatingly ordered the guns to cease fire; his coolness and enterprise undoubtedly saved the lives of many gallant men. Throughout these critical first days Allsopp always proved himself a first class signaller of cool courage and ready resources. Capt Ward was killed during the operation at the Breville attack.
© BBC. WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/.
Leslie Allsopp passed away on the 23rd January 2013.
Back to 53rd Airlanding Light Regiment
Back to Biographies Menu