170 Tunnelling Coy

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

  1. Scooby-Doo

    Scooby-Doo Member

    Hi Drew, thanks for that. From what I've seen of the Tunnelling companies war diaries they would appear to overlap as a Lt Brandt appears in both the 170th & 173rd.
    I'm going to do a timeline on both today to see if there are other overlaps. I would imagine that the actual formation of the 170,171,172 &173 in April/May 1940 was a bit confused . From what I've read so far I believe that my father must have been with the section that was left in Douai under Major Foss which was actually embarked from Dunkirk.
  2. costa

    costa New Member

    For what it may be worth, I was posted to 170 T.C towards the end of 1944. The company had not long returned from Gib. All the men were miners, from all parts of the UK. I was not one of them!. What the War Office could have been thinking, posting me to this unit, I can't imagine, but I survived!
    In due course we were sent to Liverpool, to go aboard the Carnarvon Castle. We knew we were headed for the Far East, but that was all. Soon we berthed at Bombay (Mumbai), and began a tedious journey across India to Assam. From there, one way and another we blasted our way south. Somewhere north of Rangoon (Yangon), the war ended, and the company, being a wartime establishment, was disbanded, and we were dispersed to all points of the compass.

    I happen to have a photocopy of the Unit's 'War Diary' covering this period. It is very large, very heavy, and would cost an arm and a leg to send anywhere (I am in Western Australia). That said, I shall be pleased to extract any information sought by a researcher. I can be reached on


    ritsonvaljos likes this.
  3. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Thanks for the update. These days it should be possible for someone with a digital camera to photograph pages from the copy of the 170 T.C. War Diary that you have.

    Best wishes
  4. Scooby-Doo

    Scooby-Doo Member

    My father who was with the 172nd was still at Gibraltar at the end of the war .
  5. Nicola doel

    Nicola doel New Member

    Hi. Only just joined this group so please bear with me. My grandfather was in 172 tunnelling company and helped with the tunnels under Dover Castle and Fan Bay deep shelter. I knew he ended up in Gibralter but nothing in between. Have just found an interview he gave in our local newspaper dated 1st May1987 that he was in Lille and forced back to Dunkirk. Would this of been the same Dunkirk evacuation or would it be a different time??
    Scooby-Doo likes this.
  6. NannaPink

    NannaPink Member

    My great uncle 3653717 Sapper John Kelly was indeed a miner and served in 170 Tunneling coy.He died age 24 years and is remembered in the roll of honour at St.Helen's cemetery. The information I have was that he died at home.I can't find a picture of him and have enjoyed greatly showing his 84 Year old brother.all the information about his brother killed during ww2. Sapper John Kelly's other 2 brothers Robert and James survived the war and George is now the last surviving sibling and any information and a photo would be greatly appreciated.many thanks.
  7. NannaPink

    NannaPink Member

    I looked and looked and found him.

    Attached Files:

  8. Scooby-Doo

    Scooby-Doo Member

    I think it was decided to reform the 170th into four separate companies in early 1940 while they were in France so that they would be the 170-171-172 & 173 Tunnelling companies. Unfortunately Mr Hitler started his offensive before this could be organised properly so the records of each company during 1940 in France is somewhat vague. The war diary of the 173rd (on this site under 173rd tunnelling company.) states that it was formed from No1 section of the 170th.
    My father was probably with your grandfather as he was evacuated from Dunkirk on 28May 1940.
    dbf likes this.
  9. Scooby-Doo

    Scooby-Doo Member

    My father also worked on the Dover tunnels after coming back from France and then transferred to Gibraltar until the end of the war, returning to this country in 1946.
  10. Nicola doel

    Nicola doel New Member

    Oh my word they must of known each other then. Unfotunately for me i have no one left to ask, so trying to find anything is hard work.
    Someone from national trust gave me copies of a couple of photos of 172 under dover castle. Will see if i can upload them.
    Unfortunately i cant ipload the photos. Sorry
  11. Scooby-Doo

    Scooby-Doo Member

    My father passed away in 2005 and I've always been very interested in all things WW2.I regret now not trying to get more detailed information from him about his time in France. My mother said that he suffered from bad nightmares for a time after the war and he would normally only recall the funny incidents that happened during his service.
    The things I remember him saying about his time in France , he was there for about a month before they were evacuated on about the 27th May ,were :-
    They were tasked with blowing up bridges and were defending a canal crossing when they had to retreat and that was the only time he ever prayed to god when the bullets etc were flying everywhere.
    They entered some warehouses in Dunkirk and were looking for food ,as they hadn't eaten for a while, and came across some tarpaulin covered mounds which on inspection turned out to be soldiers bodies.
    When I once asked him if he brought back any souvenirs , his reply was that all he had on were shorts and a pair of plimsolls.
  12. Scooby-Doo

    Scooby-Doo Member

    One story my father recounted , I wasn't sure if he was telling the truth but now having checked , he was , and it was one of his "funnies". He recalled a large troop of cavalry , probably French Colonial with what he then called turbans on their heads, going forward across a bridge they were guarding and coming back some time later, having probably been cut to pieces, with one cavalryman leading 2 or 3 riderless horses and the British troops singing the song "Empty Saddles".

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