170 Tunnelling Coy

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by haze, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. haze

    haze Junior Member

    Hello
    Looking for information on the 170 Tunnelling Coy. I will be grateful for any information.
     
  2. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Sorry, but this is all I have:'


    170th Tunneling Company, RE
    9/40 under Eastern Command
    Served on Gibraltar from 1941 to ca 1944
     
  3. haze

    haze Junior Member

    Thanks a lot.
    What were the tasks Tunnelling Companys during WWII? Is 170 Tunnelling Coy took part in the fighting? At the cemetery in Krakow (Poland) lies one of the soldiers of this unit, probably POW. I'm trying to find information about him.
    It was a sapper J. Parker, servis number 4612208.
     
  4. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Thanks a lot.
    What were the tasks Tunnelling Companys during WWII? Is 170 Tunnelling Coy took part in the fighting? At the cemetery in Krakow (Poland) lies one of the soldiers of this unit, probably POW. I'm trying to find information about him.
    It was a sapper J. Parker, servis number 4612208.

    Is the casualty you are asking about actually Sapper Leonard Parker, 170 Tunnelling Co, Royal Engineers, buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery? I would concur with your deduction Sapper Parker was a POW and died while in a prison camp.

    I would reckon he had been taken prisoner during the German spring offensive of 1940. I know of another soldier who was in a Tunnelling Company in 1940 and spent the rest of the war as a POW (put to use as a miner by the Germans). One would assume your man would likely have also been put to work in a mine or quarry in what is now Poland. Sapper Parker came from the Wakefield area of Yorkshire - good coal mining country (near where the National Coal Mining Museum is these days).

    We cannot tell the cause of death from the CWGC citation. The Red Cross (Geneva) records would have the answer. possibly the National Mining Museum may have be able to point you in the right direction if you want more specific details. He could have died in a mining accident, or he could have died of illness.

    The WW2 Tunnelling Companies were formed early in the war largely n the assumption it was goig to be a similar kind of trench warfare on the Western Front as in 1914 - 1918. In that earlier war the 'moles' (tunnellers) used to dig underneath the enemy trenches to lay explosives. Both the Germans and the British had tunnellers in WW1.

    A lot of the tunnellers were recruited from men who had worked on the London Underground or as coal miners. The getleman I know of who was in a WW2 tunnelling company was a coal miner in civilian life.

    A little later in the war, the tunnelling companies were depolyed in Gibraltar to dig out the WW2 tunnels there. I have been there several times. It is a really interesting place to visit.

    I hope this has helped with your enquiry.
     
  5. haze

    haze Junior Member

    Yes, it sapper Leonard Parker. This photo of his grave in Krakow.
    Thanks you for valuable information.
    DSCF8411.JPG
     
  6. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Good day Haze,

    In the row behind Sapper Parker's headstone and immediately to the right as you look at your photograph is the headstone of Pte. Kenneth M. Collins, 3599784, 5th Bn Border Regiment (died 14.06.1941). 5th Border was my 'local' regiment and 'local' T.A. battalion and I have done a lot of research on this battalion.

    I am fairly sure Pte Collins was taken prisoner by the Germans in their 1940 advance of May & June 1940, and he then died while a POW. As mentioned in my previous post I would guess this may have been what happened to "your" man, Sapper Leonard Parker.

    There is another British soldier I know of (RASC) who is buried in this cemetery at Krakow. This soldier was taken prisoner in by the Germans on 20 May 1940. But he died in hospital of sickness while still a POW (1944). This particular soldier was first buried in St Michael's Churchyard, Hindenberg (near where he died). After the war, his remains were exhumed and re-interred in the Krakow cemetery you have visited. So there is a possibility a similar thing happened with Sapper Leonard Parker.

    Good luck with your search!
     
  7. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Hello Haze,

    This some additional information about 170 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers in the early part of WW2:

    What proved to be the last reunion dinner of the WW1 Tunnellers (Tunnellers Old Comrades Association) took place in London in June 1939 (i.e less than 3 months before the Germans invaded Poland).

    On the outbreak of war in September 1939 the 170th Tunnelling Company was re-formed at the Royal Engineers Headquarters at Chatham, Kent.

    A number of the ex-tunnellers from the 1914 - 1918 war enlisted, or at least atempted to enlist, in the re-formed 170th T.C. One former WW1 officer 'mole' who did so was Brigadier R.S.G. Stokes, R.E. (Assistant Inspector of Mines on the Western Front in 1916).

    There was then some recruitment of enlisted men into the Tunnelling Companies who already had the specialist skills to become a T.C. 'mole'. For example, one instance I know of is Lance Corporal Herbert Calvin, S/No 3597973, originally with the 5th Battalion (T.A.) The Border Regiment. In civilian life, L/Cpl Calvin was a coal miner. Presumably because of his mining experience, on 29 November 1939 he was transferred to 170 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers.

    L/Cpl Calvin would have served in France in 1940 with Sapper Leonard Parker, whom you are mainly are interested in finding out about. I know from information supplied by the ICRC (Red Cross) in Geneva that L/Cpl Calvin had been taken prisoner by the Germans during their adavance to the sea in late May or early June 1940. On 14 June 1940 the Germans notified the ICRC that L/Cpl Calvin was a prisoner of war in Stalag XX A (5). This may have been where Sapper Parker was also sent. However, without the specific documentation this would only be a conjecture at this stage. For all we know at this stage Sapper Parker may have been wounded and sent to hospital in June 1940 rather than a POW camp.

    Unfortunately I do not have exact information how the men of 170 T.C. were taken prisoner. The T.C. 'moles' would have some expertise in explosives. So they may have been detailed to blow key bridges to slow the German advance. Soldiers such as L/Cpl Calvin had also trained as infantry so at the last they could have been deployed in that role if given that order.

    I have posted you further informtion in a p.m. about the more specific things you are interested in.
     
  8. mrsf89

    mrsf89 Junior Member

    hello i am doing so reserch on soliders names on my local war memorials and i need help with a Fred John Day a Sapper in the royal engineers 170 Tunnelling company. in the local paper it said he died of an illness but i want to know what he would had done in the war. please help
    regards
    jade
     
  9. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    hello i am doing so reserch on soliders names on my local war memorials and i need help with a Fred John Day a Sapper in the royal engineers 170 Tunnelling company. in the local paper it said he died of an illness but i want to know what he would had done in the war. please help
    regards
    jade

    I see Sapper Fred John Day is interred in Gibraltar North Front Cemetery (died 04.08.1942). His grave is close to the boundary wall with the airstrip. If you go to the CWGC website and look up Gibraltar (North Front) Cemetery there is a layout plan of the plans.

    He would have been involved with digging the tunnels in the Rock of Gibraltar. There is a lot of information available about this operation on the Internet and elsewhere.

    CWGC citation:

    Name; DAY, FRED JOHN
    Rank: Sapper
    Service No: 2117231
    Date of Death: 04/08/1942
    Age: 28
    Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers, 170 Tunnelling Coy.
    Grave Reference: Plot 2. Row C. Joint grave 13.
    Cemetery: GIBRALTAR (NORTH FRONT) CEMETERY
    Additional Information:
    Husband of Eva Day, of Maltby, Yorkshire.
     
  10. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Attached are the following photographs relating to the WW2 Tunnels, Gibraltar:

    Gibraltar, North Front Cemetery from the WW2 tunnels

    This is a view looking down on the North Front Cemetery, with the Gibraltar airstrip and Spain beyond, from the WW2 tunnels. During his time with the 170 Tunnelling Coy in Gibraltar Sapper Fred John Day would have lived and worked inside the Rock.

    Gibraltar Memorial Chamber

    This memorial chamber is on the Upper Rock near to the entrance where visitors can go for a guided tour of the WW2 Tunnels.

    Gibraltar (Top of the Rock)

    The Gibraltar airstrip and Spain can be seen in the background beyond the Rock.

    I hope this assists a little with your enquiry, mrsf89. Unfortunately I do not have a photograph of Sapper Day's memorial stone in the cemetery. Hopefully, someone else may be able to assist you with that.

    Good luck with your quest.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    Good day Haze,

    In the row behind Sapper Parker's headstone and immediately to the right as you look at your photograph is the headtone of Pte. Kenneth M. Collins, 3599784, 5th Bn Border Regiment (died 14.06.1941). 5th Border was my 'local' regiment and 'local' T.A. battalion and I have done a lot of research on this battalion.

    I am fairly sure Pte Collins was taken prisoner by the Germans in their 1940 advance of May & June 1940, and he then died while a POW. As mentioned in my previous post I would guess this may have been what happened to "your" man, Sapper Leonard Parker.

    There is another British soldier I know of (RASC) who is buried in this cemetery at Krakow. This soldier was taken prisoner in by the Germans on 20 May 1940. But he died in hospital of sickness while still a POW (1944). This particular soldier was first buried in St Michael's Churchyard, Hindenberg (near where he died). After the war, his remains were exhumed and re-interred in the Krakow cemetery you have visited. So there is a possibility a similar thing happened with Sapper Leonard Parker.

    Good luck with your search!

    Hi Jos if you have a look at the Cockermouth war memorial link you gave me last week the chap recons that Kenneth is remembered on Cockermouth. Haven't researched it myself yet but wonder if it could be him.

    Roll of Honour- Cumberland - Cockermouth

    Michael.
     
  12. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Hi Jos if you have a look at the Cockermouth war memorial link you gave me last week the chap recons that Kenneth is remembered on Cockermouth. Haven't researched it myself yet but wonder if it could be him.

    Roll of Honour- Cumberland - Cockermouth

    Michael.

    At that time 5th Border was the T.A. infantry battalion for West Cumberland. One company based at Cockermouth, which presumably was the one that Pte. Kenneth Collins belonged to.

    Although I haven't checked the enlistment books for Pte. Kenneth Collins I would be fairly sure he is the casualty listed on Cockermouth War memorial. As you have likely seen on the CWGC certificate for Pte. Collins his NOK and place of abode are missing.
     
  13. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Sapper Fred John Day, R.E.
    (170 Tunnelling Coy.)


    Attached are a further two photographs relating to the service of Sapper Fred John Day, R.E. in Gibraltar.

    ( a ) Gibraltar (WW2 Tunnelling)

    This is one of my photographs of the WW2 tunnels inside the Rock of Gibraltar. On the left-hand side of the photograph is an information board which shows how the sappers drilled into the rock during WW2.

    Because of the hardness of the rock, sometimes it took a second sapper to assist pushing while drilling into the stone, as shown on the photograph on the information board.

    The drilling work in Gibraltar was hard, physical work. It was no easy posting for the men of the Tunnelling Companies.


    ( b ) The Rock of Gibraltar from North Front Cemetery

    This photograph shows the view of the Rock of Gibraltar from the North Front Cemetery where Sapper Day is interred.

    I trust this has been of assistance to your enquiry, Jade (mrsf89)?
    Good luck with the rest of your enquiries!
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Elwick

    Elwick Junior Member

    Hi all,

    I can add a little. 1945 POW records listed my great Uncle Stanley Nesfield as serving in 171 Tunnelling Coy RE, however this must have been an error, because I just received his army records (after a 12 month wait), and these actually confirm he was in 170 Tunneling Coy.

    He was a reservist, having served in the Duke of Wellington Regiment between the wars in India up until 1935. He was a miner at Murton Colliery in Co. Durham up until he was mobilised September 1939 and posted initially to Royal Northumbria Fusiliers in Nov' 39, then transferred to 170 Tunneling Coy at Chatham in Dec'39 at the rank of sapper. Records list him as 'passed TT as Miner Pioneer EIII in Feb '40 and then 'missing BEF 23/5/40. Next entry lists him as POW in Stalag VIIIB which is in the south of Poland. He was liberated 13/5/45 from Germany.

    The only other reference I could find was to a Captain Rogers from 171 Coy, who was captured the day before while blowing bridges:

    'Captain D. J. Rogers Royal Engineers. Born in England 1907 and educated at Sevenoaks School and the Royal School of Mines. He worked as a mining engineer and Yugoslavia and South Africa before the war and saw wartime service with the 170th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers. During a bridge blowing mission in France he was captured on May 22 1940. He was sent to Oflag VII C/H Laufen where he was caught engaged in tunnelling and was sent to Colditz on 1 August 1941. There he remained for the rest of the war except for a three month spell at Spangenberg 16th March 1943 to 17 June 1943. See : Rogers, R. : Tunnelling into Colditz Robert Hale 1986'.

    So I assume that 170 Tunnelling Coy were made up of miners etc, and that they perhaps were using their expertise with explosives to hinder the German advance.

    I can see that the war diary of 170 Tunnelling Coy Oct'39 to June '40 is in the National Archive (WO167/957). I'll have to try to get there to see if I can find further info about 171 Coy and his time in France.

    Hope this helps. I'd also be interested in any other info that anyone has about 170 Tunnelling Coy during the battle of France.

    Elwick

    PS, I have Capt Rogers book to collect from the library - might shed some more light.
     
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Completely missed this - I wish folk would post 1940 stuff in the 1940 section :lol:
     
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  17. PZULBA

    PZULBA Member

    Can't help with units etc, but a Great Uncle of mine - Arthur Mothersill was a miner to trade (Easington Colliery then the Billingham Anhydrite Mine) was pre war TA - DLI, evacuated France 1940 - St Nazaire??? then sent Gibralter and worked on Tunneling ops then about 1944 to Burma not sure what he did then

    PZULBA - Out of Africa (Retired)
     
  18. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    In a related note, my grandfather served with the No. 2 Canadian Tunnelling Company and served on The Rock at the same time that the 170 did. When I took the tour of the WWII tunnels there, the ones that we were in were dug out by the 170 and the other RE units there.
     
  19. Scooby-Doo

    Scooby-Doo Member

    Just started researching my fathers war service. Sapper Caradog Rees 3963289. RE. Ex miner from South Wales.
    I have copies of his service record which states :
    Posted 171 Tunnelling Co 14.04.1940
    Posted BEF France 27.04.1940
    Joined 170 Tunnelling Co 30.04.1940

    Next entry is dated 05.05.40 with an entry marked 172 TC, which I think is incorrect as there is another entry dated 01.07.40 stating "taken on the strength of this company" and stamped 172 TC.

    From the record he landed in France on the 27th April and was evacuated ( as per my late father ) from Dunkirk on 28th May.
    I never really pressed him for details of his experiences in France, ( had nightmares for years after his release from the army in 1946) but he did say that they had been blowing up bridges after our troops had gone across and defending canal crossings.
    Having read the war diaries of the 171st Co (on this site) it would appear that the 170th were stationed further north as the 171st were evacuated from Boulogne.
    If anybody can me in the right direction to get more info on the 170th I would be most grateful.
     
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Keep an eye out in the 1940 section of the forum. I have the diary and will post all of it in that section as soon as I can :)
     

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