"AGE SHALL NOT WEARY NOR THE YEARS CONDEMN. WE WILL REMEMBER HIM"
At 0600 hours on the morning of May 18, 1940 5th Troop A Squadron 15/19 Hussars, under the command of 2nd Lt. Eustace Frank Feilden Brace, was sent out on a reconnaissance patrol south west from Wolvendaal (Vijlst) along Nieuwelaan. The 15/19 Hussars war diaries report the intent was to establish contact with the 5th Belgium Division who were suppose to be on the Northern flank of the 15th/19th Hussars.
Previously 2nd Lt Brace had successfully lead several reconnaissance patrols for the regiment since the regiment entered Belgium on May 10.
On May 10 his troop was the first to enter Belgium prior to the regiment to reconnoitre bridge locations. Then on May 17 he lead another two patrols to establish contact with the Belgians. However on this occasion his luck was to change.
While proceeding South West on Nieuwelaan 5th Troop came into contact with a German reconnaissance group heading North in the opposite direction near the small Sint Annakapel chapel. The German reconnaissance group consisted of several Sdkfz 234 armoured cars and
motorcycles with side cars (most likely 750cc BMW side car combinations with 7.92 mm MGs).
The Sdfz 234s had a crew of 4 and were armed with a 2 cm KwK 30 L/55 autocannon. The autocannon was capable of firing at a rate of 280 rounds per minute using high explosive ammunition. The Sdkfz 232 carried a Fu.
Ger.11 SE 100 medium range radio and a Fu. Spr. Ger. "a" short range radio. This model was visually distinctive because of the heavy "bedstead" antenna over the body of the car.
Upon coming under fire 2nd Lt Brace had turned left off Nieuwelaan on to Vollickstraat toward Meyskens Farm. Brace then turned right after passing Meyskens farm house into an orchard and adjacent field.
While the German armoured cars engaged the rest of 5th Troop on Nieuwelaan a German motorcycle and side car turn on to Vollickstraat in pursuit. It entered a field just South of Myskens farm house and moved parallel to Brace’s carrier.
Brace then passed through the orchard and attempted to enter an open adjacent field by traversing a small ditch. He failed to negotiate the ditch and came under MG fire from the motorcycle and side car. Brace and his crew were shot up. Brace although mortally wounded managed to
abandon his carrier and make his way to a nearby tree where he collapsed. The Meyskens family recalls he asked for water and was bleeding from the lower body and that blood ran down the track for some metres. The rest of 5th Troop was shot up by the German Sdkfz 232s and according to 15/19 war diaries only one wounded survivor, Corporal Payne, managed to escape and report back.
The Germans then arrived with a motor bike and side car and lifted Brace onto it. The bike was maneuvered steadily across the field on to Vollickstraat and toward Sint Annakapel. Brace died on route to Sint Annakapel.
2nd Lt Brace was educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Berkshire, England. He was the son of the former 15/19 Hussars regimental commander Colonel Henry Fergusson Brace DSO, MC. He was 20 years old when he died and was the first officer casualty of the war.
2nd Lt. Brace is commemorated at St Werburgh's Churchyard and War
Memorial, Hanbury, Staffordshire, England
**Additional information/ Service records requested to complete this profile**
Personal details have been collected from official Service Records and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. Some of the additional information has been provided by War Diaries, Libera Me (G.E. Spittael), Polder Fighting (R.W. Catsburg), Veterans Affairs Canada, WW2 Talk, Aircrew Remembered and other sources. The commonwealth-adegem.com website is not responsible for incorrect information.
Everything has been collected and processed voluntarily by Michael van de Velde, Netherlands. Along the way I had great support from expert researchers and other volunteers. Thank you!