18th May 1944 - Assault party moved to camp C13 Hursley

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Ramiles, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hi all,

    There's a very brief entry in the 24th Lancers war diary: on "18/5/1944 - Assault party moved to camp C13 Hursley"

    And this matches with my granddad's account / written recollection of where he went just prior to D-day.

    Is anyone generally aware of much information or study about what went on at this site just prior to D-day? I'd be interested to see if there are any well known sources of information about what went on at "C13 Hursley" around this date already out there? I expect there was somewhat of a veil of secrecy about the place (most certainly at the time!) and I'm wondering if it has been lifted much over the last 70 or so years? Or whether it's all now been buried / lost in the mists of time.

    As an interesting point, wasn't anyone aware about the superstitions re. the number 13? I would have thought sending people to a "Camp 13" just prior to the "off" was a tad insensitive to say the least. There are still plenty of streets for example that simply omit to have a house number 13, as it is thought that it would be an unnecessary encumbrance to its sale/resale value as a result of fewer people actually wanting to live there. On the other hand I guess some people might think for them the number "13" is actually lucky, or even not care in the least. It's an odd one, but just a thought. I guess in a flight of planes for example would there be a reticence to fly/be flown in the flight #13?

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
  2. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Some Links

    Prior threads on ww2talk:

    Greetings from Hursley Park

    Marshalling Camps at Hursley in Hampshire

    And another thread on the 24th L's LSTs : 24th Lancers - LST Query

    And a thread about Gold Beach referencing the 24th L (as 24 Lancers): GOLD BEACH.

    External links

    About Camps 12 & 13 Hursley (in Hampshire): http://www.ddaymuseum.co.uk/d-dayon...ay-marshalling-area-camps-c12-and-c13-hursley

    Some other D-day related sites in Hampshire: http://www.ddaymuseum.co.uk/d-dayonyourdoorstep/discover/Hampshire

    Some threads of an old discussion on rootschat about Camp Hursley: Army Camp Hursley info wanted (Hampshire & Isle of Wight) Page 1 RootsChat.Com

    And re. the 50th Infantry Divisions order of Battle on D-Day: D-Day : Normandy 1944 - GOLD BEACH : British Troops

    There's also a landing table here: D-Day : Normandy 1944 - GOLD BEACH : British Troops

    Wiki page on Hursley House: Hursley House - Wikipedia

    Google "IWM Hursley Park": IWM Hursley Park - Google Search

    The D-Day staging areas (or "marshalling areas") were sometimes known as "sausage camps" because they were indicated on some maps by sausage-shaped blobs : The Sausage Camps: The D-Day Assembly Areas

    Hursley Park History (@hursley_park) | Twitter
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  3. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Some Events at C13 Hursley

    Thursday 18/5/1944 - Assault party of the 24th Lancers moved to camp C13 Hursley

    Wednesday 31/5/1944 - Marshaling of the 24th Lancers Assault party vehicles takes place.

    Thursday 1/6/1944 - The 24th Lancers are on Southampton water on LSTs.

    (To add in post edit)
     
  4. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Some threads/links on the significance/lack of significance of the number 13 in war

    On page 78 of "None Had Lances - The Story of the 24th Lancers" it mentions that one of the 24th Lancers LSTs was "L.S.T. 139 which someone noted added up to thirteen".

    None Had Lances has a bit of detail between pages 61-63 on the 24th L's time at Hursley Park, including that "The first group, to land on D-Day, were tank crews, Ack-Ack, Recce and Intercom Troops with tanks, scout cars and motorcycles and some A Echelon support lorries" - "a total of 470 men". Moved to Hursley Park near Winchester. Leaving Milford on 17th and 18th May 1944.
     
  5. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Again, from my gd's post war remembrances / account:

    "We started the build up months before we moved close to Southampton, New Milton was our town, no civilians were there, so work of sealing etc. went on in the streets. We had one dummy run into Southampton then in May we moved into Camp 13 south of Newbury[1]. There we were told that once in this camp there was no out. No leave, no pubs, there was twelve feet of wire and outside were Yanks about every ten yards, with guns. The quarters were up on a hill and the tanks in the trees down below. Everything in that camp was for comfort. More Americans were working inside the camp. I remember one lot were putting up a small building, an officer and twelve men. We saw them at it each time we marched to and from the tank park. I wondered what they were building until one day as we were passing the officer said to no one in particular “We sure am building this piss-hole on a sound foundation”.
    There were highly secret huts on this camp. Inside the walls were lined with maps and the latest aerial photographs of the sector we were to invade “Jig Beach” was ours. On a table was a layout in sand and papier-mâché of the very place and we were pumped so full of information and warnings that one wondered how it could all be contained, but it was. After this briefing no one even went near the wire. Then the final effort. You will convoy to the docks. On the way there will be stops and halts, these can’t be avoided. You must speak to no one, even if your parents are about don’t speak to them. M.P.’s will see you and they’ll be locked up until after the invasion. They were right…

    …about that. One man crossed the road strode by the tank ahead of me and said something (the tank crew couldn’t hear him anyway, they all wore headsets) a jeep came along, bundles him in and he was gone. Loading at the docks was easy. We could load tanks in our sleep. I think the craft was L.C.T 285 but I could be wrong*. These tank landing craft are flat bottomed; the crew were American as also was the boat. We pulled away from the dock but we were too busy below to see anything until the anchor dropped and there we were, alone between the Isle of Wight and the mainland. We were there a week and watched the ships build up behind us until I swear we could have walked back to the docks without wetting our feet. About one in five of the ships had a barrage balloon to keep the dive bombers away. The food on board was good, the bread was really something. The coffee too was excellent. The ship’s Captain would keep us informed about lots of things and we were all a…

    … little startled the first time he spoke on the tannoy “Now hear this” he did say there was no need to hold the tanks and trucks with the securing chains.
    Eventually as everyone now knows we set off. We rounded the Isle of Wight and so far as we could see ships were moving into the channel from every direction. It must have been awfully lonely after we had gone. Everyone on board were (sic) interested for a while. The parts of the Mulbury Harbour interested us. I’m sure some of the parts had men aboard, in fact I saw one piece with two men, they wore very warm clothing and needed them. Another piece broke loose and our boat picked up the tow.
    Then the sea got up. Then the Captain came on “Now hear this” the tanks had to be chained. Chaining tanks when a ship is still is one thing, chaining on a rough sea is something else. Starting with all the crews picking up the chain put it around the track and wind it up. That ship rolled, it yawed, it pitched and it wasn’t many minutes before sea sickness took away my helpers. Eventually they were safe, but sleep was not for me, I could sleep other nights, tonight things were happening and I for one didn’t want to miss anything. So I wandered around having a look at the sea, couldn’t see very far, could hear ships, there was a rhythm and drone in the sea and sky. Eventually I smelled coffee and went along to see the cook, he never refused. With the first dawn streaks we knew the lid would be off, so all eyes were watching and soon we knew we were close, the tide turned bringing with it all manner of stuff floating by, one lot of sailors hats came by which didn’t do anything to cheer us, and yet they wouldn’t be wearing them and there were too many in a bunch. Then we saw our beach, there was no mistaking that tall house. We were reserve regiment so there was no rush to get us off. Battleships…

    … came up, turned around and started to fire over us, a troopship gently eased in, they took a rope to the shore and the men from the ship dropped into the water and waded ashore and walked away in single file up over the hill. When it was our turn our ship turned and slowly backed towards the shore and dropped the ramp. This was the moment of truth alright, if the sealing had gone they’d quickly fill with water, if there was a hole between ship and shore water would go in through the top where the tank commander was perched. So all crews were aboard except the tank commanders and we were clustered around the ramp watching Eric Hanson*** drop in, when he leveled he had a foot to spare and there was one big scamper back to our tanks. We were nose to tail going off and were very happy to get moving again. We quickly dropped off the exhaust chute in the field already designated, blew off the gun covers with the small explosive fixed around it, these were electrically exploded by the driver. As I said we were reserve regiment so we weren’t pushed in yet. We hadn’t seen any enemy so we knew there wasn’t any panic about so pulling into a hedge I told the crew to get out and feel if French soil was different to English. I had a bottle of Whiskey and a glass and had just poured a good stiff one when from not far away a Spandau opened up, you never saw such a rush to get back inside no I didn’t spill the whiskey, I drank it.
    Before moving away I did manage to go to the big gun site, it didn’t seem as if it had been fired. The underground offices were well worth a visit.
    We then moved slowly inland. We were given a few places to check, a very big electrical station, there didn’t seem to be anybody about. There was some sniping from the odd German left behind but not much."


    [1] 18/5/44 Second Assault residue moved to camp C22 Toot Hill.
    Assault party moved to camp C13 Hursley.

    * I've looked into this number but from what I've seen this doesn't seem to quite fit. L.C.T 285 seems to have landed in the Canadian sector (if it was this one which I think is the closest one I could find)

    http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/18/180285.htm

    To quote: Participated in the Invasion of Normandy, 6 June 1944, at either Nan White or Nan Red Sectors of Juno Beach

    This LST... LST-285

    http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/16/160285.htm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_LST-285

    And for more info. on this type:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landing_Ship,_Tank

    Seems though more like it might fit the bill, but I don't see anything yet to describe who it carried ot what it did during the Normandy Invasion.



    *** Sgt.Hanson was the tank commander of the second tank in the 5th troop of "C" squadron 24th Lancers.
    5th troop of "C" squadron 24th Lancers was this squadron's firefly troop and was led by Lieutenant Bertram Garai. There's an IWM audio recording (unfortunately not yet available online) at: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80015847
    Though the content description is interesting enough!
     
  6. DaveKey

    DaveKey Junior Member

    Hi Rm,

    I just saw this thread and your comment

    Is anyone generally aware of much information or study about what went on at this site just prior to D-day? I'd be interested to see if there are any well known sources of information about what went on at "C13 Hursley" around this date already out there? I expect there was somewhat of a veil of secrecy about the place (most certainly at the time!) and I'm wondering if it has been lifted much over the last 70 or so years? Or whether it's all now been buried / lost in the mists of time.

    I'm the (volunteer) historian for Hursley Park and would be very interested in any material you turn up. I do have some bits and pieces about the C12 and C13 camps in the run up to D-Day and the following weeks, plus there are some details on post war (as both a Polish resettlement camp and as Bomb Disposal), however most information is fairly sparse.

    There is also very little left of the camps. A few bits of concrete and footings from C12 but I think most of C13 has been completely erased.


    A couple of interesting asides to the Hursley Camps relates to the fact that the camps were around Hursley Park itself which was the HQ for Vickers Armstrongs Supermarine, where the Spitfire was being designed under it's own strict security. It was also involved in a POW escape plan from the nearby Ganger Camp just after the end of the war.

    I am in the process of following up one lead on the Bomb Disposal but would be very interested in any material relating to the camps.

    Cheers
    Dave
     
  7. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Dave,

    I've added one or two links and some text to the relevant sections in the posts above. Including for example:

    Wiki page on Hursley House: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hursley_House

    Google "IWM Hursley Park": https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=IWM+Hursley+Park&oq=IWM+Hursley+Park+&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.5847j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    The D-Day staging areas (or "marshalling areas") were sometimes known as "sausage camps" because they were indicated on some maps by sausage-shaped blobs : http://www.skylighters.org/sausage/

    And... "None Had Lances" has a bit of detail between pages 61-63 on the 24th L's time at Hursley Park, including that "The first group" of 24th L's "to land on D-Day, were tank crews, Ack-Ack, Recce and Intercom Troops with tanks, scout cars and motorcycles and some A Echelon support lorries" - "a total of 470 men". These moved to Hursley Park near Winchester, leaving Milford on 17th and 18th May 1944."

    There are a few short anecdotes re. Hursley in there including a bit about their briefings and preparations, packing and stowing the tanks with supplies sufficient to last four days, awaking one morning to find "the entrances sealed and military police everywhere" and also some of them opting to be "in the fashion" having a "Normandy haircut" - which "in later times would have been classed as a skinhead".

    "While loading proceeded, members of the British army in Normandy get their 'Normandy Haircut', the latest fashion in coiffure. Thirty percent of those on board had their locks completely shorn." : http://cache3.asset-cache.net/gc/3313217-circa-1944-while-loading-proceeded-members-of-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=RyDwbx%2FJZFZQUVJmeEmBcDZgkLVVPm9rJJlnVdQVmd3SYpSPtrP%2Fi4HiCaIXmbGd

    I think though this is more of style that my grandfather went for there : http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2014/06/brad-pitt-macklemore-haircut-fury-trailer

    With just the sides and back shaved, a style that these days seems to be called an "undercut". : https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=undercut+haircut&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwixw7H6__zLAhXDuhQKHSmtCUYQ_AUIBygB&biw=1280&bih=685

    There is a thread re. WW2 haircuts here: http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/32300-ww2-haircuts/
     
  8. DaveKey

    DaveKey Junior Member

    Thanks for the update. I'll have to see if i can get a copy of "None had Lances" by the look of things!

    I love the "Normandy haircut", would be nice to think of taking back William the Conqueror's style to Normandy!

    Also thanks for the link on Sausage Camps. I had in my head the explanation was because they processed soldiers like sausages, in one end and out the other.

    Cheers
    Dave
     
  9. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    BTW Dave,

    There are a couple of IWM links to comments on Hursley Park I think...

    Listened to this one recently and it was fascinating.


    Tomalin, Roy Ernest William (IWM interview) - A British trooper who served with 24th Lancers in GB and Normandy, 1942-1944:
    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80018709

    i.e. "1943-1944: posting to unit at Chippenham; reaction to change from Coventanters to Sherman tanks; move to Bridlington; waterproofing of tanks; move to concentration area at Hursley Park, 5/1944. "
     
  10. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

  11. SDP

    SDP Senior Member

    That last story about the D Day party girl is so ridiculously absurd that it could be true?
     
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  12. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    A few months ago there was a play at the Nuffield Southampton, about Hursley House, among other Spitfire related things, called The Shadow Factory. From the website it seems that it may still be running and is well worth seeing..
    Roy
     
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