Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1941, Captain Alan Francis Salt, A Battery (Chestnut Troop), 1st Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, was killed in action at El Duda in Libya.
His parents’ only son, he was educated at Lancing College where he joined the Officers’ Training Corps. He excelled academically and was a member of the cricket, tennis and football teams. On leaving school Captain Salt attended the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and was commissioned in January of 1937.
At the outbreak of the second world war he was serving as the Survey Officer with the 1st Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery, at Regimental Headquarters based at Fargo Camp in Wiltshire. On the 2nd of September in 1939 they were mobilised for war and arrived at St. Nazaire a month later. Captain Salt transferred to the 1st Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery in April of 1940 and was mentioned in despatches for his service during the France and Flanders campaign.
On the day of his death the Germans had launched an all-out attack against the Allies at El Duda in Libya. Captain Salt was the Forward Observation Officer in a light tank, giving Headquarters a running commentary by radio. The British had driven off the Italians (who had sixty tanks and infantry) as well as a German attack in the afternoon – however, the Germans reached the El Duda heights in the late afternoon and one of their shells hit Captain Salt’s tank, killing him.
Captain Salt is buried in the Tobruk War Cemetery and remembered on war memorials at Dawlish and Teignmouth. In St. Martin’s Church in Holcombe in Devon there is a stained glass window dedicated to his memory, depicting St. George, the risen Lord and St. Martin – underneath are the words: “Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. Be thou faithful unto death & I will give thee a Crown of Life.”
Alan, from Holcombe, was 25 years old.