140th Regiment in the Battle of Cassel, Tuesday 28th May 1940

Although there were no major assaults on the town on 28th May, there was heavy and continuous shelling. German aircraft also dropped their famous propaganda leaflets urging the defenders to surrender.

On 28th May, 367 Battery’s northernmost troop was in action for a large part of the day.  The Regiment’s  Commanding Officer, Lieut. Colonel C.J. Odling,  had been wounded about midnight 27th/28th May and thereafter Major Nevill Christopherson, the War Diary author, was put in command. Both Lt Colonel Odling and Major Christopherson were incapacitated by injuries and unable to participate in the garrison’s breakout on 29th May and  both men were captured at Cassel.

From 08:00 on the 28th May German infantry could be seen transported in troop carriers to the west of Cassel. Low-level air attack preceded a tank attack at 10:00. ‘C’ Troop of the Worcester regiment under Lieut. Bob Hutton-Squire, quickly destroyed three tanks. By changing gun positions constantly to prepared alternative sites, his Troop avoided casualties and managed to destroy further tanks.

The German attack developed on a wide front, but the resistance of these  guns destroyed another 25 enemy tanks during the afternoon. The German attack made some progress towards the road down to Steenvoorde but at 16:30 the attacks ceased.

One Troop of 211 with Major Mercer arrived to reinforce the Battery. Mortaring and air attacks continued, but there was no general attack. The visit of the C.O. just after mid-day raised the hopes of the defenders that a British counter-attack might develop.

War Diary, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry Rgt

‘The Brigade was ordered to hold defensive positions at Cassel and Hazebrouck at all costs, to protect the withdrawal of the rest of the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.). 1 Bucks were attacked in earnest on 27-28 May and suffered so many casualties that they had ceased to be an effective fighting force.

Their Battalion HQ and HQ Coy were surrounded and eventually overrun on the evening of the 28th. 4 Ox & Bucks and 2 Glosters were also being subjected to enemy attacks at Cassel from 27 May until 29 May, by which time the town was surrounded and the Germans were penetrating the area.

Withdrawal in daylight was impossible, but an evacuation during the evening of 29-30 May was attempted.

However, increasing difficulties in keeping contact during the night and continuing enemy attacks resulted in the majority of the remaining personnel being captured or killed before reaching Dunkirk,.


140th Regiment War Diary, 28th May 1940

‘The enemy carried out no attacks during this day. The Northernmost Troop fired continuously on enemy Troops seen digging in mortars N.W. of CASSEL. There was no other enemy movement seen during the day. The Commanding Officer, Lieut. Col. C.J. Odling, T.D., had been wounded about midnight 27th/28th May and I was therefore now in command. of the Regiment and I spent most of the day with the Brigade Comdr., 145 Bde’.