WO 2 (CSM) Samuel Oliver Alec Palmer (Soapy). Athlete and Chindit

Sam Palmer (right), is this him as Chindit with Lancashire Fusiliers June 1944?

Sam was born on the 22nd. January 1910, his Father was Charles Palmer, his Mother Lily Palmer (nee Riseborough), at 9 Queens Park Road, Harold Wood, Romford, Essex.

Lily Palmer, in the 1950’s before her death in 1957

Charles and Lily had 10 Children including Sam:

Charles Robert (Bob) Palmer 1901–1971

Thomas Sidney Palmer 1903–1976

Albert Edward (Bert) Palmer 1905–1984

Elsie Annetta Palmer 1907–1988

Lily Violet Palmer 1908–1984

Edward (Ted) Palmer 1910–

William James Palmer 1911–1975

Minnie Elizabeth Palmer Wren 1914–1971

Dorothy Rose Palmer 1917–1983

In the 1911 census, he and his family lived in Canewdon Hall Cottages, Canewdon, Nr Rochford, Essex.

He joined the Essex Regiment on 31st. January 1928.

He served with the 1st. Battalion until 1934

He is recorded on his Attestation Papers as being 5 foot, 3 and a quarter inches tall and weighing 122 pounds.

In 1929 his Regiment was posted to 



He met Kitty Clark, who lived in Tenby, whilst his Regiment was there and they were married on 14 June 1933, at Pembroke Dock Registrar Office, their Daughter Peggy was born 10 days earlier. They had 4 children:

Margaret (Peggy) Kathleen Palmer (1933 – 1999)

Colin Charles Palmer (1935 – 2001), my Father

Roy (Sam) Lionel Palmer (1936 – 1979)

Robin Elderton Palmer (1941 – 2000)

Kathleen Barbara Clark (Kitty), had 3 brothers and one sister, she was to lose 2 of her brothers, her Brother-in-Law and her husband during WW2, 3 in 1940 alone!

Sam Palmer with Colin, Peggy and Roy, 1942,
possibly on embarkation leave
Kitty, top right, with her Mother, her Brothers and her Sister.

It is understood that Sam worked, briefly, in Wales after he left the Army and then moved to London in 1935 where he worked as an attendant in Tooting Bec Asylum. He is listed as living at 43 Dafforne Road, Wandsworth.

In 1939 he is listed as living at 6 Stoneleigh Road, Carshalton, Surrey, from there on the 2nd. November he was mobilized back to his Regiment.  At some point in 1940, his family was evacuated to live with Kitty’s parents in Laston House, Tenby.

Whilst living in London he joined Mitcham Athletics Club, see this page: Sam (Soapy) Palmer, Mitcham Athletics, The Glory Years.

In 1939 Sam was re-called to the Colours

Regimental Service

1st. Bn. Essex Regiment

12/2/1928: Warley Barracks, Pte.

12/11/1934: Transferred to Reserve.

2/11/1939: Mobilized

Infantry Training Centre

4/12/1939: Posted to Inf Base depot Pte.

4/1/1940: ITC, Posted to A/Director of Housing, Le Mans, BEF, Pte

21/5/1940: ITC, Posted from BEF

2nd. Bn. Essex Regiment

16/6/1940: Re-joined at Keele, Pte.

22/6/1940: Appointed Unpaid L/Cpl

2/7/1940: Appointed Paid L/Cpl

5/7/1940: Appointed Unpaid Acting Cpl 

8/8/1940: Appointed Unpaid Acting Sgt

5/7/1940: Appointed Paid Cpl

8/8/1940: Appointed Paid Acting Sgt

5/10/1940: Granted Substantive (War) Cpl

4/2/1941: Promoted Substantive (War) Sgt

Under Major-General John Utterson-Kelso, GOC, the division established the first ‘Battle School’ in the United Kingdom. The school was a two-week training course, which included observing and practising fieldcraft, undertaking tactical exercises without troops, and engaging in battle drill in realistic conditions. “Its purpose was to offer soldiers some experience of the noise and chaos of battle by giving them the opportunity to train under live-firing conditions”. The success of the school was shown by the adoption of the idea and all divisions were ordered to form one.

27/6/1941: Attended 47th. Div School, Chelwood Gate Youth Hostel, Sussex

11th. Bn. Royal Fusiliers

Two TA battalions, the 11th and 12th, were both raised in 1939 when the Territorial Army was ordered to be doubled in size. Both were assigned to 4th London Infantry Brigade, part of 2nd London Infantry Division, later 140th (London) Infantry Brigade and 47th (London) Infantry Division respectively. Both battalions remained in the United Kingdom on home defence duties.

4/12/1941: Attached 11th. Bn. Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), Sgt 

27/7/1942: Embarked for India, Essex Regiment Draft, C/Sgt, CQMS

WS21 – The convoy sailed from the Clyde 29/7/42 to Freetown where the convoy arrived 10/8 then on to Cape Town and Durban, arriving in Bombay on 19/9/1942.

20/9/1942: Disembarked India, Essex Regiment Draft: C/Sgt, CQMS

6/10/1942: GHQ Base Reinforcements Camp, Deolali, India

1st. Bn. The Cameronians (The Scottish Rifles)

The 1st Battalion, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), were based in India on the outbreak of war on 3 September 1939. It was rapidly deployed to Rangoon in February 1942 to meet the immediate threat of Japanese invasion. The battalion then took part in the long withdrawal to the Indian frontier. When it re-entered India on 26 May 1942, the battalion had been reduced to 14 officers and 120 other ranks. The battalion spent the next year in India regaining full strength and then training for long-range operations as part of the Chindits – the 3rd Indian Division. 

26/7/1943: India / Burma, Compulsorily Transferred from Essex Regt., CSM, WO2

1st. Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers

29/12/1943: Burma, transferred to as WO2 (CSM)

5/3/1944: Operation Thursday (2nd. Chindit Expedition) begins. 1st. Bn LF land at Broadway in gliders, as part of 77th. Brigade

1/6/1944: 77 Bde starts the battle of Mogaung, LF suffers many casualties.

18/6/1944: 16 men of what was left of his Battalion are killed in battle including WOII, CSM, Palmer

18/6/1944: KIA – Burma, 2nd. Chindit Expedition.

He was buried at the Sahmaw Mill Cemetery (this was also where there was a Casualty Clearing Station).

He was exhumed and moved to Taukkyan War Cemetery on 5/7/1954.

TAUKKYAN WAR CEMETERY is the largest of the three war cemeteries in Burma (now Myanmar). It was begun in 1951 for the reception of graves from four battlefield cemeteries at Akyab, Mandalay, Meiktila and Sahmaw which were difficult to access and could not be maintained. The last was an original ‘Chindit’ cemetery containing many of those who died in the battle for Myitkyina. The graves have been grouped together at Taukkyan to preserve the individuality of these battlefield cemeteries Burials were also transferred from civil and cantonment cemeteries, and from a number of isolated jungle and roadside sites. Because of prolonged post-war unrest, considerable delay occurred before the Army Graves Service were able to complete their work, and in the meantime many such graves had disappeared. However, when the task was resumed, several hundred more graves were retrieved from scattered positions throughout the country and brought together here. The cemetery now contains 6,374 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 867 of them unidentified. In the 1950s, the graves of 52 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War were brought into the cemetery from the following cemeteries where permanent maintenance was not possible: Henzada (1); Meiktila Cantonment (8); Thayetmyo New (5); Thamakan (4); Mandalay Military (12) and Maymyo Cantonment (22). Taukkyan War Cemetery also contains: The RANGOON MEMORIAL, which bears the names of almost 27,000 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaigns in Burma and who have no known grave. The TAUKKYAN CREMATION MEMORIAL commemorating more than 1,000 Second World War casualties whose remains were cremated in accordance with their faith. The TAUKKYAN MEMORIAL which commemorates 46 servicemen of both wars who died and were buried elsewhere in Burma but whose graves could not be maintained.