2 RTR & Miscellaneous RAC Units India, Middle East & Italy

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by J Kubra, Aug 24, 2020.

  1. J Kubra

    J Kubra New Member

    What an incredible site and such a wealth of knowledge. I am hoping someone can help me with information about my father’s WWII experience. Specifically, I am looking for:

    1. RAC Depot Puna (India) 21 May 42 – 29 Jul 43.

    2. 3 H Battalion (Middle East) 3 Sep 43 -15 Apr 44

    3. 3 Training Corps (Italy AAI & CMF) 2 Dec 44 - 6 Jan 45

    I am looking for the information in relation to 7889785 James Coubrough. I have his Certificate of Service booklet and it provides the Active Service Abroad – Theatres he served in and the to and from dates. I wrote to RAC Records in 1985 requesting information on what units he served in and when. They provided me with a list roughly corresponding to his Certificate of Service dates. It included the three units above but when I wrote to the RTR Museum for more information, they said they knew nothing about them.

    He enlisted into the Royal Tank Corps on 27 Oct 38. He was posted to 2Bn RTR on 14 Jul 39. He served with 2 RTR in BEF France, Middle East, Burma and India. He was then posted to the units mentioned above. He was subsequently posted to 59 Trg Regt in the UK until the end of the war. After the war he served with 5 RTR in Ham/Hohne and 3 RTR in the UK and Hong Kong. He was discharged on 2 Apr 52. He then enlisted in the NZ Army and served 12 years in the Royal NZ Armoured Corps.

    I read that someone has a complete copy of the 2 RTR War Diary but it is a very large and comprehensive document. I have copies of “The Tanks” Vo1 & 2 but I have not seen a copy of Chadwick’s “Seconds Out”.

    Two other considerations: I live in NZ and I have served in the NZ Army so I have some understanding of Army abbreviations and jargon.

    I look forward to hearing from anyone who can help with any information.


    Sandra Doran, Drew5233 and Chris C like this.
  2. J Kubra

    J Kubra New Member

    Well that seems to have hit a dead end which is perhaps not surprising given the unusual nature of the units in question and in the context of the RAC/RTR.

    I have attached a copy of the MOD letter 26 Apr 85. Perhaps if I make some additional comments from my own research it may lead to some additional information.

    1. RAC Depot Poona (India) 21 May 42 – 29 Jul 43.
    2 RTR were withdrawn to Imphal, Manipur then Ranchi in May 42. Family anecdotes record
    that he was in hospital while he was in India as a result of “showing off” on a motorcycle and suffering injuries – broken collar bone/arm? 2 RTR eventually departed for Iraq on 21 Sep 42 and then to Italy in May 44. The RAC Depot in India was at Ahmednager which is 120km from Poona and some individuals of 7 Armd Bde remained there as instructors. There were a number of hospitals in the Poona area which were used for British Army casualties during WW II. No 3 Indian British General Hospital was in Poona & 6 British General Hospitals [BGH] operated in/near Poona. Therefore, the reference to Poona may have been in holding personnel or it could have been a Forces Hospital.

    2. 3 H Battalion (Middle East) 3 Sep 43 -15 Apr 44
    3 H Battalion could either be a “heavy” battalion in the sense of “heavy tanks” or more likely a “holding” battalion in the sense of soldiers pending a posting. He could have been on the staff or otherwise pending a posting to another RAC unit. 2 RTR was in Iraq and Egypt during this time. Was he with them from 30 Jul 43 until posted to 3 H Battalion on 3 Sep 43? He was 21 years old having served for 4 years with them and already been in action in France, Nth Africa and Burma so maybe it was a chance to give him a break from active service? 3 H Battalion may not have been an RAC unit.

    3. 3 Training Corps (Italy AAI & CMF) 2 Dec 44 - 6 Jan 45
    The use of the word “Corps” for a training unit seems very unusual in an RAC context. 2 RTR went to Italy at the same time Apr 44, and so did he serve with them for 8 months before he went to 3 Training Corps in Dec 44? According to the booklet “The Italian Campaign 3 Sep 43 -2 May 45 RAC” by Maj Gen H.L. Birkes Maj Gen, RAC, there is no 3 Training Corps listed under the comprehensive list of RAC Units and Formations. However, the RAC Training Depot was brought to Italy from Nth Africa in Mar 44. It was originally located at Bovino near Foggia on the east of the Appenines. In Sep 44, it moved forward to Rieti 50 miles NE of Rome and remained there until the end of the campaign. It is quite likely that 3 Training Corps is not an RAC unit.

    Unless there is a specific War Office document/ORBAT referring to these units (eg WO 212 War Office: Orders of Battle and Organisational Tables 1918-1964), it may be difficult to find any information about the existence of these units.

    I look forward to hearing from anyone who can help with any information.

    Regards, Jim

    Attached Files:

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