Major Nevill Christopherson was one of the senior Officers of 140th Regiment and authored the War Diary, upon which this account is largely based, from 10th-29th May 1940.
Christopherson was born in 1894 and was educated at Lockers Park School, where his father (an ex-England rugby player) was headmaster, and then at Winchester School. He attended University College, Oxford in 1913-1914.
At the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, Christopherson, then aged 20 years, joined the 5th London Brigade, Territorial Army. He had distinguished service, fighting in the great battles of Vimy Ridge in 1915, the Somme in 1916 (where he was Mentioned in Dispatches for action at High Wood), Ypres in 1916-17, and Cambrai in 1917. In November 1917, Christopherson was awarded the Military Cross for his action as acting commanding officer during the German counter-attack at Havincourt Wood and in 1918 he was promoted to Major during the final ‘100-day’ campaign when the German advances of Operation Michael were reversed.
Christopherson as an Artillery officer with his gun troop in 1914. Photograph courtesy of Tom Christopherson.
Major Christopherson returned to civilian life in 1919 and married in 1921. In the inter-war years he worked at Lloyds of London and lived at Chislehurst, Kent. He remained in the T.A. and was a keen cricketer, golfer and rugby player.
Major N Christopherson MC, before his departure to join the B.E.F. in 1940. Photograph courtesy of Tom Christopherson.
140th Field Regiment 1939-45
At the outbreak of War in 1939, Christopherson, by then aged 45 years, re-entered service in the T.A. He had taken command of 367 battery of 140th Regiment when he was captured at Cassel on 29th May 1940. He had received a serious head injury and skull fracture while directing fire at the Rue de Dunkerque. A volunteer had attempted to drive him to Dunkirk but their car was intercepted by German forces that by then surrounded Cassel. He was taken to the German Field Hospital at St Omer and then in July 1940 was transferred to Oflag VIIC/H (Laufen, Bavaria). In 1944, he was transferred to Oflag IXA/H.
Christopherson was repatriated under the Red Cross scheme in 1944 as a result of the injuries sustained at Cassel, arriving in England in February 1945.
Officers Group, OFLAG IXA/H (Major Christopherson is standing, second from left (with others captured at Cassel). Captain ‘Paddy’ Sirkett is standing to his right. Photograph courtesy of Tom Christopherson. (Captain Sirkett’s son was christened Neville)
Major Christopherson M.C. on his return from captivity, 1945. Photograph courtesy of Tom Christopherson.
After the war, Christopherson returned to his occupation at Lloyds of London, setting up the N. Christopherson & Co. Syndicate that later became Christopherson, Coan and Heath, a company that operates to this day. He became Secretary and President of the Kent County Cricket Club in the 1960s.
Major Nevill Christopherson T.D., M.C. died at his home near Maidstone on 31st December 1972 at the age of 78 years.