Second World War - Lynsted Memorial Project
Robert Charles ELSTON (of Teynham)
b. 29th April 1919
Lance Corporal, Service Number 832337
Son of Joseph John and Harriett (née Gates) Elston, Robert was born in Lewisham on 27 April 1917. In early 1938, Robert married Joan Ethel Bray and by the time of the 1939 Register they were living at 10 Poulton House, Lewisham along with their infant son. Robert was working as a general labourer for Lewisham Borough Council.
Robert served in the 2/4th Hants Regiment that formed part of the 128th 'Hampshire' Brigade, part of the 43rd (Wessex) Division. In January 1943, the Brigade left the 43rd Division and joined the 46th (West Riding) Division and the Brigade left Britain with the rest of the 46th Infantry Division, for North Africa, as part of Operation Torch.
The Brigade arrived at Algiers in January, moving to Bone, where it remained until the end of January, when the Brigade moved to Hunt's Gap. In February, despite the men of the 2/4th still training its new recruits, they moved into the line alongside 1/4th Battalion. The Brigade was supported by plenty of artillery and the Churchill tanks of the North Irish Horse. Extensive minefields and heavy dive bombing kept the German tanks at bay.
On 28 February, a pre-dawn attack penetrated the 2/4th battalion's 'B' Company positions, but heroic resistance and the tanks of the North Irish Horse, kept the Germans at bay until dusk, when 'B' Company was overrun. 'C' Company was overrun by German infantry.
On 1 March, the Germans attacked again, and 'D' Company was overrun, but 2/4th Battalion hung on to their remaining positions. On 2 March, the Germans withdrew, and on 5 March the 2/4th Battalion was relieved by the 8th Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of 36th Brigade of the 78th Battleaxe Division. The 2/4th Battalion had suffered 243 men killed or missing.
Tunis eventually fell and the North African Campaign was over in May 1943.
On 30 March 1943 it was reported that Robert had been reported missing on 28 February 1943. It was not until 22 August 1944 that it was confirmed he was killed in action on 28 February 1943.
Robert is remembered on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, situated near Majaz al Bab, Tunisia.
In 1952, Joan married Norman Boorman of 2 Triggs Row, in 1952. Norman's brother, Leslie, was killed in action in 1945.
The Society is indebted to Robert's son, also called Robert, for his kind permission to reproduce the portrait photograph.