228040 John Holland SAUNDERS, 1 Troop, 80 Assault Squadron, Royal Engineers

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by Deacs, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    Today the 1st November i would like to remember,

    CAPTAIN JOHN HOLLAND SAUNDERS.
    228040, 80 Assault Sqaudron, Royal Engineers.
    Who died age 24.
    On 1st November 1944.
    Son of William Holland Saunders and Nellie Saunders, of Earley, Berkshire.
    Remembered with Honour.
    Bergen-Op-Zoom.

    I have came to no the name of Captain Saunders from my granda telling me from when i was a kid what a great man he was. And when i got the war diarys off Lee to see John's name mentioned but unfortunately the day and time of his death was something special, John was with my granda from when they were training together back in 1943. Sadly John lost his life on this day at the battle of Infatuate at Welcheren.

    RIP CAPTAIN JOHN HOLLAND SAUNDERS.

    Grave picture courtesy of Rob (Ramacal)

    Memorial Picture courtesy of Clive.

    War diary courtesy of Lee.

    So a BIG THANKYOU to you guys for getting me the pictures and diaries cheers.

    date and time of death for captain saunders.JPG
    SAUNDERSJH[1].jpg
    John%20Holland%20Saunders%20Royal%20Engineers%204.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
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  2. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    A larger picture Michael (Deacs) requested.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=65979&d=1320106002
     
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  3. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    ...

    War diary courtesy of Lee.

    So a BIG THANKYOU to you guys for getting me the pictures and diarys cheers.

    My pleasure Deacs. It's great when the war diaries contain just the right sort of information you're seeking.
     
  4. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    My pleasure Deacs. It's great when the war diaries contain just the right sort of information you're seeking.

    Yes your right Lee to find out the exact day and time of a chap that you have been brought up knowing all your life is something special but very sad indeed.
    This is one of them moments when you are really glad to join a forum as good as this where all i had was a name then i end up with a picture of John's headstone his name on a memorial and then for him to be mentioned in the war diary's how lucky and very thankfull i am to have found this forum many months ago.
     
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  5. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    Remembering today Captain John Holland Saunders RIP :poppy:

    I have a photo of John now but will post tonight when I am back from work.
     
  6. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    JHS 1.jpg JHS 3.jpg
    Earlier in the year I contacted Reading library to see if they could assist me in finding John's obituary which they found and passed onto me.
    So after all these years of knowing all about John from my granda I finally get to see what John looked like, so I would like to share with the forum and especially to the people who have helped me in my quest to find out more about John.
    So a big thanks to LEE,ROB and CLIVE.




    RIP John :poppy:
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
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  7. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    As promised, a photo taken on 25 January 2014 with a cross placed on behalf of Deacs.

    SAUNDERS, J.H. (Large).JPG
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
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  8. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    Rob I am for ever grateful once again, I had a bit of a lump in my throat when I saw your latest picture especially with the cross that you placed for me thank you.

    Best wishes Michael.
     
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  9. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    1st November 2014, Remembering 70 years on.

    :poppy: RIP John :poppy:
     
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  10. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day deacs,1st nov 2011,12:04am.re:remembering today.captain john holland saunders.80 assault sqdn.re 1/11/1944. may he rest in peace.regards bernard85 :poppy: :poppy:
     
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  11. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    Remembering today RIP John :poppy:
     
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  12. 71 years ago today Captain John Holland SAUNDERS was fatally wounded by shrapnel in his LVT on board LCT(4) 712 (Serial 21) while approaching Westkapelle, Walcheren Island, The Netherlands. Capt SAUNDERS was commanding 1 Troop, 80 Assault Squadron RE:

    War Diary, 80 Aslt Sqn RE

    1 Nov 44 1145 hrs
    Plenty of enemy shelling, all our LCT's hit.
    Capt Saunders hit by shell splinter on LCT and
    mortally wounded. He died about half an hour
    afterwards.


    Operations Report
    The Walcheren Operation
    Part II. The Story of 47 Commando

    LCT Serial 21. Y Troop

    This LCT received a direct hit outboard the starboard side when about 300 yards from the beach, killing the Captain in charge of the LVT’s (who was standing up) and wounding the driver, the troop Sergeant Major (Tynan) and Marine Luffman. The last two were not wounded seriously. Nothing caught fire.


    John Holland SAUNDERS was born around 1920. He was the son of William Holland Saunders and Nellie Saunders, of Earley, Berkshire.

    He was made Second Lieutenant on 8 March 1942 and a War Substantive Lieutenant on 1 October 1942. On 10 August 1943 he was taken on strength of 80 Assault Squadron Royal Engineers (fourth squadron in 5 Assault Regiment RE, 1 Assault Brigade RE, 79 Armoured Division) and became the Troop Officer (i.e. Second in Command) in No. 1 Troop on 6 September 1943, with Captain Cecil Francis TRACY, RE (95078) as Troop Commander from 14 November 1943.

    (to be continued)
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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  13. D Day

    For the initial assault phase 80 Aslt Sqn worked on a Half-squadron basis. The OC T/Major Reginald Trery WILTSHIRE, RE (56390) commanded the Left half-squadron (to land on NAN RED Beach at H Hour), while Capt TRACY, as the only other full Captain in the squadron, was given command of the Right half-squadron (NAN WHITE), comprising 1 & 2 Tps.

    As a result, on D Day Lt SAUNDERS was in command of 1 Tp and the corresponding breaching team, with Lt Allan Alexander OXTOBY, RE (238612) (from 2 Tp) as second in command.

    The Plan

    This team was tasked to open GREEN Exit on NAN WHITE Beach on the western side of Bernières-sur-Mer, more precisely to clear and mark a lane at least 9 feet wide through Exit No.1 at Eastings 993 (point N.4) to the first inland lateral, or at a convenient place near its point of touchdown.
    It was then to turn left towards 2 Tp (if they had not met on the inland lateral) and work towards 2 Tp's Exit clearing a minimum width of 9 ft again.
    When circuit was completed, it was to answer calls by Cdn Inf Bdes so long as personnel was left on the exit to maintain the exit and markings and clear the lateral between exits.
    It was then to improve and widen route circuit to a minimum of 16 ft including ramping down or constructing a more permanent exit at the top of the beach. Exit might be taken over by Beach Gp Field Coy RE at this stage.

    Composition of No.1 Team

    No.1 Team was composed of eight vehicles:
    • the five remaining Churchill AVsRE of 1 Tp, numbered 1B to 1F (Capt TRACY retaining his own AVRE 1A),
    • two Sherman V Crab Mk.I Flail tanks of 1 Troop, B Squadron, 22 Dragoons (senior regiment in 30 Armoured Brigade, 79 Armoured Division) and
    • one D7 Armoured Bulldozer of 149 Assault Park Squadron, at that time part of 1 Aslt Bde and Aslt Park Sqn, 79 Armd Div.

    Loading & Embarkation

    No. 1 Team was assigned the Serials 1408 and 1409 (LCT(5) 2286 and 2436 respectively), and was to embark from 1500 hrs on D Minus 3 (2 June 1944) at G.1. Hard in Gosport.

    From the War Diary:
    Gosport 2 [June]..17.00 Serials begin loading on L.C.T. Prime Minister
    ........................and General Smuts present. Loading completed
    ........................19.00 hrs.


    The two LCT carrying No.1 Team were loaded as follows:
    ......(port)................(centre)...........(starboard)

    LCT 2286 (Serial 1408):
    ...........................Flail No.15
    ..........................(Cpl CAVILL)
    AVRE 1D (Log Carpet)............AVRE 1C (Fascine)
    (Lt SAUNDERS).........................(L sjt BURNELL)
    .......................AVRE 1E (Aslt Br)
    ............................(Sjt SMITH)

    LCT 2436 (Serial 1409):
    .......................... Flail No.12
    ..........................(Sjt CREW)
    AVRE 1B (Fascine)..............AVRE 1F (no device)
    (comd not known).......................(Lt OXTOBY)
    .....................D7 Armd Bulldozer
    ..........................(Spr SCOTT)

    Here are AVsRE 1E & 1C waiting to embark:
    [​IMG]

    AVRE 1E backing into Serial 1408:
    [​IMG]

    A panoramic colour view showing 1 Tp embarking (right click to display/save image in full size):
    [​IMG]

    AVsRE 1D and 1F preparing to embark, with Lts SAUNDERS and OXTOBY standing in their turret to direct their respective drivers...
    [​IMG]

    then embarking in parallel:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Lt SAUNDERS' AVRE 1D on board LCT 2286 (1408), with AVRE 1E (SBG br) behind it and AVRE 1C (Fascine) to its starboard:
    5 - 1D on board LCT 2286 (1408).jpg

    Incidentally, the above stills are the first and only photos I've found so far of a D Day Log Carpet on its AVRE, let alone colour ones.

    After loading, Serials 1408 & 1409 went to Berth 43, Ocean Dock, Southampton to await the order to sail in tight company with the other craft of their Group:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The Passage

    Serials 1408 & 1409 together with the other eight LCT(5) of Group 322(a) were then to slip at H-23h 40m and sail at about 5 knots, passing West Bramble Buoy at H-21h 45m, Spithead Gate at H-20h 10m, and thence by Portsmouth Swept Channel leaving "D", "E", "X" and "F" Buoys on their Port hand, passing "F" Buoy at H-17 h 30 m. Thence through Position "AA" to "BB". After passing through Position "BB" groups were to open out and proceed to their respective approach channels, which for Group 322 (Code Word "WHIRLABOUT") was Channel 8. Planned times of passage through the various Positions were the following:
    "BB" = H-11h 05m
    "GG" = H-8h 25m (entering No.8 Swept Channel)
    "PP" = H-1h 10m (Lowering Position)

    Here we see part of Groups 312 & 322 carrying the AVRE waves as they pass Spithead around 1115 hrs on 5 June. On the left is an LCF(4) towing two LCA(HR). The cameracraft is an LCG(L)(4). Lt SAUNDERS' LCT might be one of those with an Assault Bridge pointing skywards:
    [​IMG]
    Maj WILTSHIRE:
    ...Sailing postponed 24 hrs due to weather.
    ...Slipped at 0745 hrs on the 5 Jun 44 and proceeded on voyage.
    Sea rough and nearly everyone affected....Brs and devices stood
    up to buffetting very well.


    From The War of The Landing Craft (Paul Lund and Harry Ludman, 1976) pages 160-161:

    Lieutenant Reginald Edwards, RNVR, commanded LCT 2436 [Serial 1409].
    ..'After a conference just prior to D-Day, during the briefing of COs, some bright US Air Force general had indicated three church spires on a map – one at Bernieres, where we were to land, one at St Aubin, a village to our left, and the third at Courseulles, a village to our right with a very small harbour – and told us that three squadrons of Fortresses flying on each village would erase these objects from the face of the earth. But when the French coast came in sight and we could really see things through binoculars the first majestic items we were able to recognise were those three church spires, erect and intact – so much intact that the Germans had a machine-gun nest in each one.
    ..'We carried AVRE vehicles designed to cut through the obstacles embedded on the beaches. It had been calculated that the state of the tide at the time would enable our LCTs to touch-down with the obstacles between us and the shore defences, the AVRE vehicles would cut a way through, and the tanks, and the assault infantry who landed from LCAs alongside us would nip through the gaps thus created. Wonderful! The only trouble was that someone had messed up the time of the tide, so that when we went in the beach obstacles were either submerged or, like the fearsome Element C, partly submerged. Consequently we had no alternative but to ride over the lot, as "Land the Army at all costs" was the order. Some of our LCTs had their ramp doors blown off or had their enginerooms holed and flooded and were stuck on the beaches. Amazingly though, serious casualties on our sector were light.
    ..'Another plan that came unstuck was the idea of filming our assault. Special movie cameras had been fitted on each LCT, one on the fo'c'sle and one on the stern, and just prior to beaching each CO had to throw a special switch on the bridge and films of the beach ahead and the follow-up astern would be taken. Unfortunately those cameras that were not shot away were damaged by sea water, which is why it is difficult to find any film of the JUNO landings.'

    (to be continued)
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
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  14. The Assault - as related by Lt SAUNDERS himself:

    ...........Report on action in which No 1 Tp assaulted the
    .........beach defences at BERNIERE SUR MER (MR 993895 Sheet 7E/5)
    ...............on 6 Jun 44.....by Lt JH SAUNDERS



    Intention of the tp
    .........(1)..To make, mark, and keep clear an exit from the beach at A
    ..............to the first lateral rd (see sketch ) and then
    .........(2)..to clear the lateral to the next exit on the left.


    Method

    .......1......Breaching team :-
    ..............................2 Sherman Crabs..........1 G......1 H
    ..............................1 br AVRE................1 E
    ..............................2 Fascine AVRE...........1 B......1 C
    ..............................1 Log carpet AVRE....(tp comd)....1 D
    ..............................1 Petard AVRE............1 F.


    .......2......The crabs to flail through suspected mined areas among
    ..............beach obstacles and above HWM.
    ..............The br to be placed against the 5' wall to the right of
    ..............Ramp A.
    ..............The ditch at C to be filled with a fascine.


    ..............On Tue, 6 Jun, LCT 1408 was 30 mins late, touching down
    ..............at 0815 hrs....LCT 1409 touched down at 0820 hrs...Both
    ..............craft touched down right among the beach obstacles which
    ..............had fuzed shells tied on them, but all vehs were able to
    ..............get ashore without touching any of these, and DRY was reported
    ..............at approx 0830 hrs.


    ..............On touching down at 0815 hrs I observed that the log carpet
    ..............was not needed and jettisoned it, and ordered the Crab on
    ..............the craft to proceed with the plan by itself.....A lane was
    ..............successfully flailed up to the wall and the br was dropped
    ..............in the correct place.....The br tk then went up the br and
    ..............struck a mine at the top losing a track and blocking the br.


    ..............I then ordered the Crab (Cpl Cavill) to go along the beach
    ..............below HWM and flail a path up to the wall where it had been
    ..............broken down to some extent at a point just to the right of 'B'.


    ..............In the meantime LCT 1409 had touched down and the other Crab
    ..............(Sgt Crewe) commenced flailing up to the wall to the right of 'B'
    ..............followed by Cpl Cavill....Both Crabs managed to get up the
    ..............wall and "UP" was reported at approx 0840 hrs.


    ..............I then ordered the Crabs to Flail to the lateral and then
    ..............along the lateral to the ramp at 'A', then to return and
    ..............complete flailing of lateral to Exit No 2.....This was done
    ..............and IC dropped a fascine in ditch at 'C' and later destroyed
    ..............by charging a steel rail obstacle at MR 997854....."CLEAR was
    ..............reported at 0845 hrs.

    ..............Meanwhile the Bulldozer (Spr Scott) had been signalled up to
    ..............the br and had pushed the br tk (1E ) clear of the br to one
    ..............side....Sgt Smith (comd of 1E ) then dismounted and, with his
    ..............crew and Lt Oxtoby (1F) , cleared mines by hand from the top
    ..............of the br to the rly...Thus a second exit was completed.


    ..............Sgt Smith then directed Sherman tks up the br until a porpoise
    ..............towed by one became stuck between the br girders....The
    ..............Bulldozer tried to remove this but failed, and when it returned
    ..............to its parking place at the side of the lane Spr Scott, the dvr,
    ..............in dismounting stepped on an A/P mine which exploded, killing
    ..............him and wounding Sgt Smith.


    ..............The damaged porpoise proved to be an obstacle to Bren Carriers
    ..............and so light vehs were sent up exit at 'B' while tks continued
    ..............the use the br.
    .................................................................2 / ...

    ................................- 2 –



    ..............Lt Oxtoby remained at 'A' to keep the exit clear and I
    ..............remained at 'B'.


    ..............Later a second fascine was dropped at 'C' and split and
    .............spoil bulldozed over it to improve the crossing.




    NOTES :


    .......1......It was not possible to use the Petard against the sea wall
    ..............as large numbers of inf were already sheltering under the
    ..............wall when the AVRE arrived.


    .......2......The Porpoise sledge is liable to jam..in the br when being
    ..............towed by a tk.


    .......3......The amount of eqpt and explosives carried inside the AVRE
    ..............seriously reduce the crew's capacity to fight the AVRE.


    .......4......The Br Tk going first up the br struck a mine just at the
    ..............top and blocked the gap....The bulldozer pushed this AVRE
    ..............out of the way.



    Périers Sur Le Dan....................................(Sgd)...JH SAUNDERS Lt RE
    15 Jun 44.............................................................1 Tp

    [​IMG]

    (to be continued)
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
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  15. NAN WHITE Green Gap - Lt OXTOBY's AVRE 1F sits by the SBG Assault Bridge laid by Sjt SMITH's AVRE 1E. Left of the SBG bridge: the 10' high wall section blocking the first ramp down to the beach ("Ramp A" in Lt SAUNDERS' account), then the 5' high seawall, the point of the wall "where where it had been broken down to some extent at a point just to the right of 'B'", then another section of 10' wall blocking the second ramp (Ramp 'B') and finally the seawall again, 10' high from that point on. Bernières Railway Station is just above the near end of the SBG bridge:
    [​IMG]

    A similar view, slightly to the right, shows Sjt SMITH's mined AVRE 1E:
    [​IMG]

    The now condemned SBG bridge, with the anti-tank wall section blocking the ramp (Ramp A) just to its left already partially demolished:
    [​IMG]
    LIBERATION OF EUROPE: NORMANDY BEACHHEAD. ON AND AFTER 6 JUNE 1944, IN THE COURSEULLES AREA.. © IWM (A 24239)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    The partially filled anti-tank ditch behind the Railway Station, with the cradle of one of the Fascines dropped at 'C' by 1 Tp in the foreground:
    [​IMG]

    This aerial view shows that the SBG bridge was dropped just opposite rue des Ormes, one of the two roads leading inland. The mined bridge AVRE 1E has been pushed out of the lane. A half-dozen vehicles can be seen parked at 'C', just Southwest of Bernières Railway Station:
    [​IMG]

    Lt SAUNDERS' AVRE 1D (right) with Capt TRACY's AVRE 1A behind, at 'C', just Southwest of the Railway Station. On the lower glacis plate of 1D, behind the Log Carpet release gate (made of tubular, in its lowered position), the last figures of 5 Aslt Regt RE's AoS Number are visible (1233), as well as 79 Armd Div's emblem. Some inscription is on the front of the upper glacis plate. 80 Aslt Sqn RE's Mobilisation Serial Number 30360 is painted on the front of the offside front mudguard side, then a slash '/', which was probably followed by the chalked LCT Serial (1408):
    [​IMG]

    Lt SAUNDERS (helmeted, holding mike) on his AVRE 1D at the same location:
    [​IMG]

    Finally, no less than four AVsRE of 1 Troop, plus four D7 armoured bulldozers and two BARVs engaged in beach clearance on NAN WHITE Beach in the afternoon of D Day.

    Capt TRACY:
    Beach Clearance
    .....After first tide 1 Tp help to clear beach of obstacles and
    wrecked landing craft.


    Note the bundles of beach marking signposts waiting to be erected and the very edge of a wire mesh track in the foreground:
    1D on beach - Notes.jpg

    - The End -

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
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  16. idler

    idler GeneralList

    That was a rather good read! Great work.

    What exactly was the log carpet meant to do, as it doesn't look like a long run?
     
  17. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    I agree with Idler's comments. A great read.

    His grave at Bergen-op-Zoon Commonwealth War Cemetery in the Netherlands. His details on CWGC do not mention the unit he served with. I'll contact them to get the details added.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
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  18. 50. Use of Log Carpet Device
    To assist AVREs to climb sand dunes or cross soft going.

    See (courtesy Danny):
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Michel
     
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  19. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The 2' centres make a bit of difference to the length of the carpet. Thanks for the explanation.
    What threw me is that I was mentally comparing it to the version in Futter's 'The Funnies' which had the logs on a 'roof rack' over the whole length of the AVRE.
     
  20. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    Hello Michel, you said that you were going to find as much as you can on Captain John Holland Saunders but this as gone way beyond my expectations, this is absolutely fantastic too be honest and I am lost for words and also I have a big lump in my throat reading this brilliant thread that you have done in remembering John.
    I can't really put it into words of how much I am really pleased with what you have done Thank you and I am indebted to you Michel.
    Once I can compose myself and take all this in I will be back to ask questions cheers.

    Best wishes Michael.
     

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