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81st West African Division


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#1 Netty1

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:19 AM

Hi

I've joined because I am trying to find out a little bit more about my Fathers time in India and Burma during WW2.

His name was Elwyn (Taffy) Roberts and he was a Sgt in the REME's 1002 (W/A) Mobile Workshops 81 (W/A) Division.

My most treasured possession is a tankard which is believed to be indian silver and was presented to him bearing the following inscription.
'Taffy' Presented by the W.O.'s & Sgt's Mess 1002 (W.A.) Mobile Workshops 81 (W.A.) Division West African Expeditionary Force 1943-1945
At the very top of the tankard is what appears to be a palm tree with a banner beneath bearing the letters RWAFF?

I sent for his Army records in 2002 and was sent photocopies, which unfortunately are hard to read because they are so dark. I have also been on the Burma Star Association and the REME Museum websites.

Any information would be appreciated

Thank you
Netty:)
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#2 archer

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:58 AM

Hi Netty

RWAFF is the Royal West African Frontier Force and the Palm Tree was its badge. There's an article about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_West_African_Frontier_Force

Hope that helps just a little to start with !!

Edited by archer, 14 May 2009 - 12:03 PM.
correction

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#3 archer

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 12:02 PM

Royal West African Frontier Force.

From T.J. Edwards, Regimental Badges (Gale & Polden Limited, 1951).

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#4 Drew5233

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 12:06 PM

Hi Netty and welcome to the forum...Hope we can be of help.

Regards
Andy
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#5 archer

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 03:33 PM

I have been chewing away at this. I can now confirm that:

The Formation badge of the West African Expeditionary Force was indeed the Palm Tree and scroll badge of the Royal West African Frontier Force - so what you have at the top of the beer mug is the badge of the West African Expeditionary Force (which is also, coincidentally, the badge of the Royal West African Frontier Force).

Complicated, but logical, huh ?

The 81 (West African) Division was one of the two West African Divisions (the other was the 82nd), which made up the West African Expeditionary Force.

Your formation, the 81st, was the first Division ever formed from units of the Royal West African Frontier Force. It comprised men from each of the four British West African colonies, assembled in Nigeria in March 1943, and left for India in August 1943.

One brigade was hived off to form part of Maj.Gen. Orde Wingate's Special Force and was trained in long-range penetration.

In December 1943 the remainder of the Division crossed into the Kaladan Valley and saw action on the left flank of the British advance in the Arakan - being notable for being supplied wholly by air.

In 1944-1945 it again saw service in the Kaladan Valley and took part in the assault on Myohaung.

It was commanded by Maj.Gen. C. G. Woolner, CB, MC.

Source: H. Cole, Formation Badges of World War 2 (Arms & Armour Press, 1973), p. 92.

Netty ... you will find a much more detailed description of all this here Barracks

Edited by archer, 14 May 2009 - 03:42 PM.

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#6 Warlord

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 04:19 PM

Welcome aboard, mate.
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#7 Netty1

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 08:36 PM

Thank you all for your kind welcome.

I have since found out from a photograph that my Dad may have been in a Red Cross Club in Agra called the 'Inn Repairadise' which was run by an American lady called Virginia Claudon Allen.

In the photograph there is a notice board at the back of the room the says 'Inn Repairadise'. Whether this is one of the same, I don't know, but I do know he was posted to Agra in 1946.

I've hopefully attached a photo - he's third on the left.

Thanks again all
Netty:)

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#8 Pete Keane

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 09:14 PM

Your challenge now is to identify the other 12 guys.....

For double bonus points, the waiters as well !!

Welcome & good luck with your research.

Pete
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#9 archer

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 04:55 AM

Nice photo, Netty !! I especially like the turbanned waiters - a real hot, spicy breath from the past of the British Raj. Wonder how good the Lion Beer was!
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#10 Capt.Sensible

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 06:59 PM

Hello Netty,

Just casually browsing the interweb led me to an online comment re. a feature in the Daily Telegraph from the daughter of a 1002 REME workshop veteran who was seving at the same time as your father.

Dunno if its useful....

'Annette Roberts
on April 29, 2009
at 04:40 PM'

About half way down the very long column of comments on this page:
Justice for Gurkhas petition - Telegraph

CS
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#11 Netty1

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 07:28 PM

Thank you CS, that was actually me!

I wish I had done more investigating when I first received my Dad's Army records in 2003. Unfortunately, my Mum passed away that year and it is only whilst joining the Gurkha Justice that I came across the WW2 websites, which has renewed my interest in my Dad's time in India and Burma.

Netty1:)
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