Husslebee, N

  • Name on memorial: Husslebee, N
  • Memorial panel: Left
  • Full name: Norman Husselbee
  • Rank: Lance Corporal
  • Service details: 1927376, 154 Rly. Operating Coy., Royal Engineers
  • Age at death: 30
  • Date of death: 17/06/1940
  • Birth place: Banbury
  • Parents: Samuel and Elizabeth Husselbee
  • Mother's maiden name: Cardoe
  • Parents' marriage details: Stourbridge Dec-02
  • Wife: Edith Ellen Husselbee, of Banbury
  • Wife's maiden name: Williams
  • Marriage details: Warwick Jun-34
  • Additional information: Source:

    At approximately 10.00am on the 17th of June 1940, as the British Expeditionary Force desperately tried to make their escape from France, via any available port a group of around 4 or 5 trains, loaded with troops, stores and ammunition converged on the town of Rennes, approximately 60 miles from St. Nazaire. One of the trains was carrying refugees from the north of France who were trying to escape the German advance. Almost certainly the majority of troops were en route to St. Nazaire and embarkation on one of the waiting troop carriers, the Lancastria being one of them. As they waited in the main railway station 3 German bombers appeared from the West and flying at low level towards the town. No air raid warning was sounded as they started their attack, in which they initially strafed the main street of the town, before banking slightly right and which led them directly to the main railway station. A French military munitions train had pulled in alongside, belonging to the 212 French artillery Regiment. As the German bomber dropped their bombs they scored a direct hit on the wagons of this Regiment, causing it to explode in a massive blast which demolished nearby buildings and the other trains alongside. However, as readers will see from the list below, a large number of the British troops killed belonged to ordinance or ammunition units and it is quite possible equipment and stores they were carrying with them exacerbated the scale of the incident. 177 British troops are believed to have been killed, with 78 of them remaining unidentified such was the ferocity of the blast. Rescue efforts were hampered as the remaining munitions continued to explode for the next 24 hours as adjoining wagons caught fire. However the greatest toll was amongst the refugee train and historians now believe around 800 people, including the British troops, were killed in the bombing with thousand more left wounded.

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