1949184 Driver Leslie DALE BEM RE
British Empire Medal
Leslie Dale known by his friends and family as Les, was born in Kingston upon Hull on 3rd April 1921,
the son of Harry Dale and Annie Sophia Kitching. After leaving school as a young teenager, Leslie moved to Doncaster in South Yorkshire to complete his apprentership as a mechanic, a trade his father once did as Forman Engineer. Leslie's father
285 Staff Sergeant Harry DALE AVC had served in the British Army, Army Veterinary Corps before and during the First World War. On 31st February 1941 aged 19 Leslie Dale enlisted into the British Army
as Driver for the Corps of Royal Engineers (RE). On 12th May 1941 he married Bella McCaw in Doncaster
and they had three sons James Harry, Roy Alexander and David Leslie. Bella's father Alexander McCaw also served in the First World War as an aircraft technician in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC)
later the Royal Air Force (RAF). 186468 AC2 Alexander McCaw RAF was based at Catfirth in the Shetland Islands before being posted to Mexbourogh then to an aerodrome at Doncaster racecourse.
1949184 Driver Leslie DALE RE saw active service throughout the Second World War in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany as a member of the Corps of Royal Engineers.
In 1941 he joined his regimental company, 84 CW Coy. RE (84th Chemical Warfare Company Royal Engineers) which later in 1943 became 84 Field Coy. RE (84th Field Company Royal Engineers). In May 1944 84 Field Coy. RE were stationed on the south coast of England mustering for a large assault on the Nazi controlled Franch coast. In June 1944 he took part in the allied military assault on France's Normandy beaches code name Operation 'OVERLORD'.
On 6th June 1944 D-Day 1949184 Drv. Leslie DALE RE embarked on LCT(A) 3150, Landing Craft Tank Armoured with his colleagues and headed for the Normandy beaches. At 8:40am on 6th June 1944 84 Field Company, 5 Assault Regiment RE, landed at 'Queen Red' sector, Sword Beach near Hermanville and Lion-sur-Mer. His company fought a fierce battle to hold the beaches loosing several men in the process. Driver Leslie Dale's role was to assist in the clearing of the beaches (removal of mines, explosives and obstructions), building and management of essential services (water supply and treatment) for the allied troops on the beaches and drive support vehicles and equipment to the troops in the front line. Fatalities of this operation now rest in Hermanville & Bayeux War Cemeteries.
Later he took part in Operation 'MARKET GARDEN', fighting their way through France, Belgium and Holland into Germany where they
assisted in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen Nazi Concentration Camp. They finally ended up stationed at
Uelzen in North Western Germany, rebuilding
bridges and roadways that had been destroyed in the hasty Nazi retreat. Several pictures were taken of him with his troop and company 84 Field Company Royal Engineers
shortly before there disbandment in 1945 where the joined 85 and 184 Field Coy. Royal Engineers..
1949184 Driver Leslie DALE RE was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM), The Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service, for keeping military vehicles moving while under heavy fire from enemy forces. The story goes Leslie was repairing a vehicle when a German shell landed close by but instead of abandoning the area he continued to repair the vehicle and get it on its way. News of his award was broken to him on 2nd June 1945 by his Commanding Officer Lt. Col. L. F. Heard, CBE., RE. On the 21st June, 1945 the London Gazette published King George VI approval of the British Empire Medal (Military Division), awarded in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in North West Europe.
In the latter part of 1945 1949184 Corporal Leslie DALE BEM RE was posted to the Corps of Royal Engineers Training Department at Port Said, Egypt a large military port on the Mediterranean Sea near the Suez Canal. He was then premoted to Sergeant and on 25th January 1946 1949184 Sgt. Leslie DALE BEM RE was granted a 24 hour pass with his friends Sgt. Azoff and Sgt. Taylor to visit Cairo the capital city of Egypt. On 28th November 1946 he received an official letter from King George VI congratulating him on being awarded the British Empire Medal.
He retired from the army at the rank of Sergeant on 7th August 1946 and volunteered for the army reserves on 21st October 1946. He worked as a mechanic for 'Red Lion' Taxis in Doncaster's Market Place and then as a salesman and mechanic for 'Louis Greens' Fruiterer. In 1967 he set up a family business 'Les Dale Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Merchant' with his wife and two of his sons, Roy and David. Sadly, on 9th August 1985, he died at his home in Dunsville, Doncaster aged 64.
This website was created as a tribute to my late Grandfather Leslie Dale BEM, all those who lost their lives and took part in fighting for King and Country in the Second World War. God rest their souls.
84 Field Company Royal Engineers
War Diary - June 1944
1st & 2nd June 1944 - Unit was marshalling for operation 'OVERLORD' and split up over a number of camps on the south coast in 'A' Marshalling Area. Considering the use to which these camps were being put conditions in them were generally disgraceful. the food was particularly so.
3rd June 1944 - Unit embarked by serial on to various craft from LSI(L) to LCT and LST. OC was embarked on SS 'Broadsword'.
4th June 1944 - Unit remained at anchorage in crafts.
5th June 1944 - Evening of this day convoys sailed for operation ‘OVERLORD’
6th June 1944 – ‘D’ Day operation OVERLORD. Maps were issued on crafts. Unit landed in accordance with Landing Sheet at Appx ‘A’. Beaches being shelled and mortared when Unit landed and covered in part by small arms fire. Beaches were soon cleared of small arms fire but shelling continued for a long period. Work was soon in hand and went on all through the day and night. Occupation of Coy HQ was interfered with by Snipers but was completed by evening of 'D' Day. No.1 Platoon was employed on Queen White Beach and No.2 Pl on Queen Red Beach. No.3 Pl being on dumps inland of Beaches.
The following were casualties on 'D' Day.
Killed: 226296 Lt. J P Symon, 2132664 Cpl J C Swatridge, 2125394 Spr J W Pirrie, 14528692 Spr. T E Aitken & 2125383 Spr R McAlister. Wounded: 2123681 Spr L W Cooper, 2127675 Spr T L Giles, 2130408 Spr J H Gibb, 14542949 Spr R M Blake, 16349101 Spr L Sapstead, 1503649 Spr E Kirkbride, 3451110 Spr H Loxham, Spr Stuart, 2118352 Spr L H George, Magiure, 1872338 Spr W Thackrah, 14223652 Spr R Barnett. Missing: 2124871 L/Cpl L Chancellor & 3865593 Spr B Bagshaw. Veh 1 – 3 ton Winch – drowned.
7th June 1944 – Work continued on the beaches exits and mine clearance the brief tasks, SSD’s established – 8 stores sec running RE Stores in SSD No 2.
Beaches spasmodically shelled from inland and flanks. These were dealt with by RN gunfire. Sneak air raids on braches did NO damage.
Casualties: Wounded: 2126330 Cpl F Mullins, 2128607 Spr J Fletcher & 2127354 Spr J McHugh.
8th June 1944 – Work on beaches continued. Beaches were extended on West to Queen Green and the East to Roger Green.
9th June 1944 – Work on beaches continued. Aircraft shot down crashed into SD3 destroying all ammo and petrol supplies. Mine clearance of new area for Petrol sepr.
10th June 1944 - Unit Tps employed by Transport Pool unloading boasters. Drivers employed on 24hr shifts.
11th June 1944 - Work on Beaches continued. Widening and duplication of exits.
Casulties: Killed 2125419 Spr R Fulton & 14379779 Spr S T Stevens, Wounded 14366349 Spr C Wilkinson
12th June 1944 - Mine Clearing beach roadway etc. Men begining to get a bit fatigued. Work is being done well. Water Point is running very well.
13th June 1944 - Work continued on Beaches. Exits and laterel Rd. Work being carried out on Rd BEACHES - COLVILLE. Shan and stores dumped on Beache area in preporation for making concrete ramparts.
Casualties: Wounded 4451256 Spr R W Swales, 14416004 Spr G Birchall, 1921419 L/Cpl W Campbell & 2114560 Spr G A Cullen.
14th June 1944 - Work continued on Beaches. Widening of road LION SUR MER - OUITREMAM by 4'6" commenced. Water point at HERMONVILLE delivering on average 30,000 gallons a day. Concreating of exits commenced. Four "BEETLE" electricaly controlled tanks recovered and disarmed.
15th June 1944 - Work on Beaches continued. Beaches shelled by enemy morning and afternoon. All Beach exits working satisfactory and more then adiquate to cope with traffic landing on Beaches.
16th June 1944 - Work continued on Beaches. Exits and laterals. Concreting of exits continued. Water point at Hermanville delivered 54,000 gallons this day. OC and 2IC visited RE Steres situated in German strong points at OUISTERHAM.
British Empire Medal (Military Division)
British Empire Medal, 1949184 Driver Leslie DALE BEM RE
The Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service.Top
Letter from King George VI
Transcript of the letter from Buckingham Palace signed by King George VI
I greatly regret that I am unable to give you personally the award which you have so well earned.
I now send it to you with congratulation and my best wishes for your future happiness.
Driver Leslie Dale,
28th. November, 1946.
Letter from Lt. Col. L. F. Heard, CBE., RE.
Transcript of the letter from Commanding Officer Lt. Col. L. F. Heard, CBE., RE.
From:- Lt. Col. L. F. Heard, CBE., RE.
H.Q. 7 G.H.Q. Troops Engineers.
2 June 45.
Dear Driver Dale,
I have just heard from H.Q. Second Army that you have been awarded the B.E.M.
I would like to offer you my personal congratulations on this well deserved recognition of the excellent work you have carried out.
L. F. Heard
Dvr. L. Dale, B.E.M.
84 Fd Coy.
London Gazette BEM Publication
Download London Gazette BEM Publication pdf (159 KB)
Transcript of Page 3222 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 21 JUNE, 1945
CENTRAL CHANCERY OF THE ORDERS OF KNIGHTHOOD.
St. James’s Palace, S.W.1.
21 st June, 1945.
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the British Empire Medal (Military Division), in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in North West Europe, to the under-mentioned:-
No. 1949184 Driver Leslie DALE, Corps of Royal Engineers (Doncaster).
WWII Medals and Ribbons
Original Medal Ribbon: British Empire Medal, The 1939-1945 Star, The France and German Star & The Defence Medal 1939-1945.
British Empire Medal (front) | British Empire Medal (back)
British Empire Medal, 1939-1945 Star, France & German Star, Defence Medal 1939-1945.Top
British Empire Medal (BEM)
The Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service.
The British Empire Medal was awarded for meritorious service which
warranted such a mark of royal appreciation. The medal was awarded to
subordinate personnel only: non-commissioned officers. Petty Officers
and men, who were eligible for the military division of the various
levels of this order.
After the Empire Gallantry Medal (EGM) was superseded by the George Cross, the BEM continued to be awarded for gallantry (but of a degree less than that required to earn the George Medal). With the institution of the Queen's Gallantry Medal (a medal not awarded to Canadians), the award of the BEM and later admitted to the order could continue to wear the BEM.
Bars could be awarded for services or acts that would have earned the medal. No Canadian received a bar. After 1957, when the medal was awarded or gallantry, a silver oak leaf emblem was worn on the ribbon to signify that the award was for gallantry and not for service.
The 1939-1945 Star
The 1939-1945 Star is a six-pointed bronze star with a ring, embodied at the head of the top point. In the centre is the Royal Cypher surmounted by a crown superimposed on a circlet which bears the title of the star. The reverse is plain and unnamed. The ribbon has three equal stripes of dark blue, red and light blue, representing the services. The qualification is service between 3rd September 1939 and 15th August 1945, being the period of active operations in the war. The necessary service varied for the different forces. For the Royal Navy six months service afloat in areas of active operation were required. For the Army six months service in an operational command were required, but only one days service in Dunkirk, Norway and certain specified commando raids. Airborne troops qualified for the star on participation in an airborne operation provided they had completed two months service in an operational unit. The RAF qualified for an award for any flying qualifications against the enemy, provided that two months service had been completed in operational units; ground crew had to complete six months service in the area of an operational command except for Dunkirk and Norway. For Merchant Navy personnel qualified for six months service afloat with at least one voyage through specified "dangerous waters", which included service during the evacuation from Dunkirk. Irrespective of the six months qualification period, all service personnel qualified who had been decorated or mentioned in despatches, killed in action or died on service, evacuated as the result of wounds or sickness on service, or were evacuated from Dunkirk, Norway, Crete and Greece. Time spend as a prisoner of war also counted. Air crews of fighter aircraft engaged in the Battle of Britain between 10th July and 31st October 1940 were awarded a bar inscribed BATTLE OF BRITAIN. A silver-gilt rose emblem takes the place of the bar when only a ribbon is worn.Top
The France and Germany Star
British France & Germany Star 4th June 1944 - 8th May 1945 Medal. The France & Germany - Despite its name, this was the theatre award for All North West Europe including Belgium, Holland during the campaigns of 1944 - 1945. Awarded for some of the most dangerous and decisive operations of the war (notably the D Day landings on the 6th June 1944). Awarded to all three services.Top
The Defence Medal 1939-1945
Awarded to service personnel for three years' service at home or six months' service overseas in territories subjected to air attack or otherwise closely threatened. Personnel of Anti-Aircraft Command, RAF ground crews, Dominion forces stationed in the UK, the Home Guard, Civil Defence, National Fire Service and many other civilian units qualified for the medal.Top
2 Troop, 84 Field Company Royal Engineers, Uelzen Germany 1945
2 Troop, 84 Field Coy. Royal Engineers, Photographed in 1945 Uelzen Germany
1949184 Driver Leslie DALE BEM RE second row, 5th from left.
84 Field Company Royal Engineers, Uelzen Germany 1945
84th Field Coy. Royal Engineers, Photographed in 1945 Uelzen Germany
1949184 Driver Leslie DALE BEM RE second row, 7th from right
Port Said, Egypt 1945-1946
Photographs of 1949184 Sgt. Leslie DALE BEM RE in Port Said, Egypt 1945-1946Top
Field Service Post Cards - Sword Beach - June 1944
Field Service Post Cards sent by 1949184 Driver Leslie DALE RE from Sword Beach on D-Day + 2 and 3Top
Valentines and Victory Day Card 1945
Valentines and Victory Day Card sent to 1949184 Driver Leslie DALE BEM RE in 1945Top
British Empire Medal and Royal Engineer
British Empire Medal Card, Royal Engineers Brass Cap Badge, Royal Engineers Brass Epaulette & Royal Letter Head.Top
If there is any further information you wish to know about or can add please contact me.
Corps of Royal Engineers | Royal Engineers Museum | London Gazette
84th Field Company Royal Engineers Battle Honours 1925-1932
Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Hermanville War Cemetery
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Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2010 10:49