VIDEO: Memorial service to remember brave Rugby soldier who gave his own life to save others

0
Have your say

The name of a soldier from Rugby who died to save others will be added to a war memorial in town during a special ceremony this weekend.

Warrant Officer Augustus Edward Jennings was one of 100 British soldiers killed in the Wormhoudt massacre in France in 1940.

Warrant Officer Jennings, of D Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died on May 29 1940 aged 36.

Captured and held in a barn at Wormhout, and in the knowledge of certain death, Warrant Officer Jennings threw himself onto a grenade and sacrificed his own life to save his men.

His name will now be added to the Rugby war memorial gates in Hillmorton Road on Saturday.

Major John Turquand, regimental area secretary of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, said: “The 2nd Battalion embarked for France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in 1939 and by May 1940 the battalion had advanced into Belgium. 2RWarwicks were tasked to defend Hollain and the River Escourt near Tournai. At this time WO2 Jennings was CSM of D Company. The company took heavy casualties including the Company Commander, the Second in Command and two Platoon Commanders. WO2 Jennings was the only member of the D Company command team that survived. On May 26 with a new Company Commander, Captain Lynn –Allen, the company were ordered to defend an area near Wormhoudt. The opposing forces included 3 SS Battalions with tanks and infantry, strong attacks were mounted against 2R Warwicks including intense artillery bombardment. By May 28 most of the anti-tank guns were out of action and 2R Warwicks had suffered considerable casualties. The position had become untenable and the Commanding Officer gave the order to withdraw. Many in D Company were captured by the SS including Captain Lynn-Allen and WO2 Jennings who were marched to a barn in Esquelbeck. The SS guards then proceeded to shoot those who had been captured. Hand grenades were also thrown into the barn and WO2 Jennings threw himself upon a grenade in an act of selfless bravery to save some of his comrades. For this act WO2 Augustus Jennings will always be remembered and honoured. The Royal Warwickshire Regiment was subsequently given the Battle Honour ‘Wormhoudt’”.

Warrant Officer Jennings was born in New Bilton. His family only recently realised his name was not on the Rugby war memorial. They launched a campaign with Rugby Borough Council to have it added.

The council has organised for a commemorative ceremony to be held on Saturday at the war memorial gates at 11am where his name will be inscribed.

This short service will recognise the bravery of CSM Jennings, and will include the unveiling of an inscription in his honour on the war memorial gates

The service will run from 11.30am to midday this Saturday (June 1) in Hillmorton Road at the Rugby war memorial gates

The family of Jennings will lay wreaths in his memory