17th Field Company Royal Engineers

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by MarcD, Jul 4, 2013.

  1. MarcD

    MarcD Grandson of Royal Engineer


    I'm currently researching my grandfather's time during the war; he was with 17th Fd Coy RE from 1939 - June 12th 1944 (when he was transferred to 84 Fd Coy RE until the end of the war).

    I have been sent this photo by the grandson of another 17th Fd Coy RE sapper, but as you can see it has been copied a few times to he point where it is barely recognisable.

    It is of 17th Fd Coy RE in Fort George, Scotland, during their time there training/preparing for the Normandy landings. Unless someone knows otherwise...

    Does anyone know of this photo, and where the original might be sourced?

  2. MarcD

    MarcD Grandson of Royal Engineer

  3. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    As you say, not a very clear image but if they're army then the high collars and brass buttons look like Service Dress which was by and large phased out in favour of battledress by the end of 1939.

    To me it has the look of a pre-war Territorial Army camp, rather than wartime service. Could the other sapper have been a pre-war volunteer ?
  4. MarcD

    MarcD Grandson of Royal Engineer

    No I don't think he was. The other sapper I'm referring to is Jim Horner, and he was only transferred to 17th Fd Coy RE after he was evacuated from Dunkirk (he'd previously been with 253).

    Interesting point about the uniforms though. Would they have used those still for training etc?
  5. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    17th landed 3 platoon first ashore under 3 Div on Sword at H plus 20 minutes. Closely followed by HQ then 1 platoon then 2 platoon with Lt Crush.
    straight to Pegasus where they undertook bridging under shell and mortar fire. several officers were wounded by shrapnel.
    brithm likes this.
  6. MarcD

    MarcD Grandson of Royal Engineer

    Cheers Sapper. I've just finished the book Monty's Ironsides, and just started the Royal Engineers Battlefield Tour books.

    Managed a bit of research at Kew but was mainly focussing on 84 Fd Coy. Need a return visit to work back from June 1944 now.

    Any info you can share on the training in Scotland etc?
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Saving the best until last hey? :lol:
  8. MarcD

    MarcD Grandson of Royal Engineer

    My first time there. A whole day there wasn't nearly enough.
    I knew that my grandfather ended up in Uelzen with 84 Fd Coy, so it was too tempting to trace that route from Normandy to Uelzen first.
    Next task is 12th June 1944 back to 1939. Problem is I don't which platoon or anything really - only whats on his service record (see my gallery page)
  9. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Hi Marc, a small mention of the 17th Field Coy in this article.

    Attached Files:

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Marc - Everyone knows that 1940 was the most interesting part of the war ;)

    Good luck with your research
    Rich Payne likes this.
  11. ruairidh23

    ruairidh23 New Member

    Hi, im a newbie but I have been researching and scrambling around the internet trying to find information on my grandfather,
    I was too young at the time to ask my grandmother and my mother doesn't seem to know much about his actions in ww2, only a small story I recently was able to squeeze from her,
    she told me that when she was younge she returned to the village with my grandfather which he helped liberate in the war and they had a street party for them because the mayor recognised who he was and told him to come back the next day for a party. how much truth is in that I don't know but supposing it was the first town in France to be liberated, I have only been able to find one other photo of him here- 5th from right front -http://www.flickr.com/photos/21167492@N08/3201386768/?fb_action_ids=10152615537240175&fb_action_types=flickr_photos%3Ashare&fb_ref=w&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B298225156972544%5D&action_type_map=%5B%22flickr_photos%3Ashare%22%5D&action_ref_map=%5B%22w%22%5D&fb_collection_id=420614161366569&ref=profile

    WO 373/186 .

    I have no idea why he received the medal but there is something to do with operation Pegasus and bridges floating about and some rumours that his ply cmdr was killed leaving him in command of the plt but this is as much as I know, as a serving soldier in Afghanistan I am immensely proud of my families roots to the army and if any information could be passed my way It would be much appreciated.
    thanks for your time,
    mark abbott likes this.
  12. MarcD

    MarcD Grandson of Royal Engineer

    Hi, yes that photo you refer to belongs to the grandson of Sapper Jim Horner.
    I'm in contact with his grandson quite a lot, as he's helped me in my research.

    How much do you know about 17th Fd Coy RE, and how much do you want to know?!!

  13. MarcD

    MarcD Grandson of Royal Engineer

    "7th June
    Meanwhile, No 2PL, Sjt GRAHAM in comd, went on to the CHATEAU DE BEAUVILLE.
    They blew up the inside of the church tower as snipers had been most active from that quarter. The
    village was “stonked” by mortars from time to time and after another bombing attach No 2 PL took
    up a def posn SOUTH of the chateau. Air attacks continued at dusk and at night 2 PL laid anti pers
    mines with trip wires in front of the ROYAL NORFOLKS."

    "15th August
    Throughout the attack very complex mining had been encountered and the Inf who were
    very tired and had recently suffered very hy cas were greatly cheered by the morale of the sappers
    who went in front of them opening up the routes.
    Now Bde broke out on the right and the RECCE REGT went on to FLERS the 17 Fd Coy
    RE with them when we heard of fresh landings in the SOUTH of FRANCE.
    Sjt GRAHAM, PL Sjt of No 2 PL was later awarded the CROIX DE GUERRE for his fine
    performance in NORMANDY."

    I'll need to check there wasn't another Sjt Graham, but looks promising
    mark abbott likes this.
  14. ruairidh23

    ruairidh23 New Member

    hello marc!,
    thank you for the swiftness of your reply I appreciate it, just reading the last few paragraphs have fed my imagination greatly, I didn't know my grandfather at all, sadly he died before I was born and finding out about his actions in ww2 and what he has done helps me paint a picture about what kind of man he was and who he was to others, unfortunately I know very little about the 17th and don't have much if not anything to bring to the table here, I would like to know as much as possible, except im afraid im only beginning to scratch the surface of a very long journey, but one that I intend to finish, maybe knowing the past will help me with my future.

    I would very much like to know more about the 17th on or previous to D-Day and their actions in their part of the Main Effort, where did you find this information from if I may ask? and do you have any pointers on where I can find more on the 17th?

    you have been invaluable to my search marc and I really am thankful for your help and hopefully continuous
    Many thanks.

    P.s I eagerly wait for your confirmation on the above comment :)
  15. MarcD

    MarcD Grandson of Royal Engineer

    No worries - always happy to share whatever info I have, just as other people have done for me.

    I've mainly focussed on 84 Fd Coy RE so far, as my grandfather served with them from 12th June 1944 to the end of the war. I'm now working back from 12th June 1944 to September 1939, which was the time my grandfather served with 17th Fd Coy RE. To be honest, I've only just scratched the surface with 17th, but already have some great info and contacts.
    There's some great books about the 3rd British Infantry Division, of which 17th Fd Coy RE were one of three divisional RE Coys, such as 'Monty's Ironsides' and 'Assault Division', and I've just finished reading 'Sword of Bone' which was written by a RE officer from 3rd British Division covering September 1939 to June 1940.

    In a nutshell... 17th Fd Coy RE were posted to France/Belgium with the BEF in September 1939, where they remained until the retreat to Dunkirk in May 1940.
    They were then training and preparing for 'the invasion', wherever or whenever that was to be. In fact they were due to take part in the Italy campaign but missed out as the Canadians didn't want to be overshadowed by the Americans, so they got selected instead...

    ...so after much preparation in Britain (mainly Scotland - Fort George etc) they took part in the Normandy landings on D-Day, landing on Sword Beach.

    In May 1945 the 3rd British Infantry Division (including 17th Fd Coy RE) ended up near Bremen, after fighting their way through France, Belgium, Netherlands...

    I believe then after the war, 17th Fd Coy RE were posted to Palestine.

    If you want to send me a PM with an email address, I'll happily share any info/docs I can.

    Brian Dixon likes this.
  16. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Did anyone ever get the war diary for 17 Field Company in 1944?? I'm interested in knowing whether it refers at all to the type of 3 ton lorry they were issued with for D Day. I have two separate sources that tell me they were Austin K5 4x4 3 tonners but I'm hoping the diaries might shed some light.


  17. MarcD

    MarcD Grandson of Royal Engineer

    Hi Tom,

    I have the war diaries for 17th Fd Coy RE, and am due to dig them out in the next few days if you are ok to wait until then?

  18. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    No rush at all, grateful for any light that you can shed on types or numbers of vehicles the unit held.


  19. MarcD

    MarcD Grandson of Royal Engineer

    Hi Tom,

    Loaded-up the war diaries today but after an initial quick glance there doesn't appear to be a great deal of info, but if you want to send me a private message with an email address, I'm happy to send over the pages for May/June 1944 if it helps, otherwise I can have a better look during the week and advise any findings.

  20. JanBower

    JanBower Member

    Hi There
    My Uncle Leslie Gerald Parsonage born 1913 Portsmouth Hampshire and died of his wounds sustained in Belgium on 18th May 1940 - He was Sapper #1867228 or #1867288 (found both numbers online!!! but am sure one is a typo!!!) - He was in the 17th Field Company Royal Engineers - also a boy apprentice in the Army from 1927 and then a pre-war Reservist. He was buried at Aaigem Communual Cemetery Erpe-mere Oost-Verlaanderen Belgium (May 1940). I have also found a reference to the Expeditionary Force in France online. Can any one add anything more to his story - such as the exercise he was partaking whilst in Belgium in May 1940 before he died.
    Many thanks for any help
    Jan Bower

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