4 Field Squadron, Royal Engineers war diary

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by PsyWar.Org, May 22, 2013.

  1. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Just reading some of 4 Fld Sqd RE war diary. It's written in a conversational tone which really brings it alive to the reader.

    A couple of quotes:

    4 November 1942: ..At 1730 hrs., Stukas had a crack at 3 troop...

    6 November 1942: Moved at first light. Odd firing just ahead caused partial flap. Halted at 750315. A perfectly filthy night. 22 Armd Bde had a battle in the afternoon just ahead.

    7 November 1942: Squadron wet through. No move in the morning. Main 7 Armd Div moved at 1530 hrs;, and 4 Field Squadron followed bravely up the wet slope - much trouble with vehicles getting stuck. Stopped at ABU BATTA 735316. Brew-up spoilt by 4 tanks being reported to the South.

  2. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Have you anything on 4 Fd Sqn RE supporting 7 BR Armd Div when they landed at Sakerno as the X (BR) Corps reserve in Sep-Oct 43?

    I would appreciate seeing it if you have.


  3. borneo72

    borneo72 Junior Member

    Further to the diary entry earlier, the following extracts are reproduced of their days up to landing in France, apologies for some word omissions (illegible writing unfortunately).

    01 June 1944 -Brentwood. This month finds us at S5C camp at THORNTON PARK all tied up for operations. All our equipment is loaded aboard SS IGNATIUS DONNELLY an American Liberty Ship lying in the river off TILBURY. 2Tp detached, is at WEST HAM with its vehs & equipt also stowed. Lt Lindsay and a half section of 2 Tp at IPSWICH. Residue at THETFORD under Lt Turpin and Lt Hadley. We are within 2 or 3 of our correct establishment of men. 2 reinforcements arrived today too replace 2 men down with malaria. Absenteeism shows no increase and morale is rising. The greatest shock and sign of the times was the absenteeism of L/Sgt Smith who shows no sign of returning. Other absentees are sappers Tobin, Sharpson and Smith. Tobin & Sharpson are off strength and declared deserters tomorrow. I consider the unit to be better for the absence of the 6 deserters we have had since returning from Italy. It is to be expected that 1 or 2 more windy gentlemen will disappear before we finally embark. All equipt having been taken from us, the Sqn is being occupied by sport, bathing and cinemas in Brentford and recreation of various types. Parties may only leave camp in a properly formed body under an Officer.
    1600 hrs. OC returns from TILBURY. Heavy thunderstorm all afternoon.
    02 June BRENTFORD:
    Final admin preparations for embarkation of personnel. Sports finals take place.

    03 June BRENTFORD. Orders received to move to embarkation Port TILBURY tomorrow at 1330 hrs. Day spent drawing rations etc. Sappers Longley & Heasman go absent. No loss. Sapper Bennett given special leave to get married. Replacement sent from MUNDFORD.
    1800 hrs: Beer ran out in NAAFI. Lt Tucker sent out and bought more than 20 galls which saved the situation.

    04 June 1330: Moved to TILBURY in TCV's and embarked.

    1800: Sqn boarded SS IGNATIUS DONNELLY. Captain says sailing orders for morning 5th cancelled. Sqn have half share of No5 Tween Decks hold and most men have beds. Not such bad accommodation after all but cooking facilities nil. Weather cold & gusty.

    05 June At Sea off TILBURY: Nothing doing. Boat stations & ships routine. 1600hrs, ship moves to anchor in Convoy Assembly area off SOUTHEND.

    06 June 0800 At Sea off SOUTHEND: Newsflash - D_Day is on! Moderate excitement. Crew rig loudspeaker on deck for day so everyone in touch with "developments a la BBC" It has been a well kept secret and apparently Jerry didn't know the place. We sail in convoy tomorrow at 0600
  4. borneo72

    borneo72 Junior Member

    Very bad invasion weather. Cold & strong South Westerly breeze.

    07 June 0600: We sail according to plan. Weather has moderated but still strong breeze - now North-Easterly.

    1100 hrs: We pass through Straits of Dover. Much ado with *******(indecipherable) etc, smoke screens, but we pass through with nothing worse than one salvo from enemy shore batteries which land harmlessly half a mile from any ship. We all had our fingers crossed !

    2300 hrs: Sailed westwards all day at very slow speed. No enemy interference of any sort. We expect to arrive off the beaches at 0700 tomorrow D + 2.

    08 June At Sea 0800 hrs: Ships arrive at anchorage off beaches. Whole scene is quite amazing - ships of all sizes as far as one can see in 2 directions for about 5 miles off shore. Very few signs of war, very little activity of unloading either,which, as day draws on, begins to cause drop in morale of at least one of those present.
  5. borneo72

    borneo72 Junior Member

    No facilities for hearing news cause crop of alarmist rumours which OC Ship quells by making notes of news and broadcasting it. We were all teed up to go ashore at 0700 and at 2300 we retire to bed in high *****(indecipherable) only to be kept on the ****** (indecipherable) all night by air raids - lots of noise & fireworks but very few aircraft, and no visible damage. Weather fine but squally.

    1000 hrs: At last, LCM's are coming alongside and discharging begins.

    1200hrs: 110 men of 4 Fd Sqn leave for the beach under Lt Tucker leaving a party of 2 Officers and 43 men to cope with the vehicles. Heavy swell makes unloading slow but Port Operating Coy detachment works with a will and keeps pace with barges. 2 barges containing 12 of our vehs leave including OC. All wade ashore through 3 feet of water without any trouble.

    09 June RYES 866852 2000hrs: OC with 7 vehs meets Lt Strange RE who came over with CRE. Lt Strange guides vehs to transit area where marching party await tpt. Light rain begins to fall.

    2200hrs: Marching party + 12 vehs including 5 internationals move to conc area FONTENAILLES 819853
  6. borneo72

    borneo72 Junior Member

    OC to CRE at Tac Div 840838. 2 Tp less about 4 vehs have arrived. L/Sgt Irvine with 3 tonners is here. CRE gives OC the form which is pretty good. He has 505 Fd Coy (50 Div) and a troop of AVRE's under command for advance which begins tomorrow and we are to have the whole of tomorrow for de-waterproofing and reorganisation.
  7. borneo72

    borneo72 Junior Member

    10 June - 1000hrs: Info from CRE that we are not required till tomorrow. Cpl Plant + 3 vehs from Lt Owen's ship have rolled in and are being sent on at 1400hrs. 2 more vehs from our own ship have landed.

    1500hrs: Capt Duncan Miller has arrived with ***** (illegible) vehs off MT3 and Lt Owen is now complete ****** (illegible)

    11June FONTENAILLES 866852

    1030hrs Ordered to move, to arrive at 716738 at 1800hrs. Sqn taking over from 505 Fd Coy at that hour.

    1400hrs: OC contacted Maj Compton RE. Nothing on land so handover is easy.

    1500hrs: OC ordered recce site for water. OC chooses one at CHAWAIN 7382.
  8. borneo72

    borneo72 Junior Member

    1800hrs: Sqn arrive at new site and settle in.
  9. borneo72

    borneo72 Junior Member

    1800hrs: Sqn arrive at new site and settle in.

    2000hrs: CRE gives OC orders for tomorrows attack. 131 Bde with 4 Fd Sqn in support will advance to VILLERS via TILLY. One recce party under command 4CLY one from 2 Tp are recce party under comd 1/6 Queens + one 1/5 Queens (3Tp). Main RE task is clearing routes. Lt Tucker to go forward as far as TILLY clearing as far forward as possible.

    2100: OC reports to 22 Armd Bde to get 2Tp released.

    12 June 716738. Stand to 0445hrs. All recce parties got their parent units safely and wireless contact is working very well.

    0730hrs: OC reports for orders to 131 Bde but there is nothing for him. Lt Tucker + D7 ordered up main C/L (TILLY) to clear Tilly directly it is captured.

    1000hrs: OC gets ******(illegible) and is sniped at just north of TILLY. Attack not proceeding at all. 1 Tp recovers undamaged Mk IV TC. 2Tp recce with 1/5 Queens, finds booby trap in hedge at 733696. Nothing doing on 1/6 Queens & CLY sections.

    1400hrs: OC to CRE for orders. Change of plan. 7 Armd Div will sidestep *****(illegible) and advance to VILLERS on a C/L ******* (illegible)between 73 and 74 grids to BRIQUESSARD 7359. 22 Armd Bde has 1 RTR with 1/5 & 1/7 Queens & 8H leading.

    1500hrs: OC to 22 Armd Bde. 2 Tp reverts under comd Bde *******(illegible) at 1630hrs 2ic calls all recce parties in on R/T.

    1600 hrs: Lt Tucker arrives in. He laid mines in side roads just north of TILLY to assist fighting withdrawal of 1/5 Queens. First instance since MARETH of this unit laying mines !

    1630hrs: 2 Tp pulls out behind Tac 22 Armd Bde.

    1700hrs: Further instructions from CRE. Anticipate that C/L will not be 2-way between LA BUTTE 7469 and BRIQUESSARD 7369 and wants return route recced to west of main route.
  10. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Borneo 72,
    Very interesting stuff - thanks. I don't suppose there is anything in the May diary about being issued with new, pre-waterproofed vehicles?


  11. borneo72

    borneo72 Junior Member

    Unfortunately, my diary information covers only June 1944, sorry.

  12. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    No problem, the information you have already posted is enough to send this unit's war diary up towards the top of my wish list. I'll have to have a look when I get to Kew next.


  13. borneo72

    borneo72 Junior Member

    Report on routine mine clearance from OC 4 Fd Sqn RE to CRE 7 Armd Div on 25 June 1944:

    "Total Mines Lifted (GR 727596)
    Tellermine 35 (steel) No3 - 1
    Tellermine 1943 (mushroom) No4 - 8.
    'Pierie Pot' A/Pers mines - 40.
    1. Pierie Pot mines were laid in groups of 3 or 4 with the crush igniter showing above the ground. The infantry had spotted them all and detection was unnecessary.
    2. Tellermines were laid both on the track and in the verges in groups of 2 or 3 together. None were booby-trapped.
    3. The job looked as if it had been done in a hurry. The track on which the mines were laid is one which our patrols are in the habit of using.
    4. All mines lifted were disarmed and left clear of the track. Completion of work was reported to CO 1/6 Queens at 1615 hrs "
  14. son of a rat

    son of a rat Senior Member

    I have enjoyed reading this. My father was at Brentwood he told me they were marched from the camp to Brentwood for showers before boarding there ship at Tilbury. I believe the ship was the fort Kas-Kaskia. My father served with the 621st field squadron as a reconnaissance half-track driver. I would love to find out more about his history but have been told that there war diaries are missing for the summer of 1944. In the diary it mentions Ipswich and Mundford I'm about 50 miles from both of these. Ipswich was actually Nacton were there is a large private school this is were they were getting the tanks ready for D-day. In 2010 I took my father to a open day were we thanked by Camila ( Dutchess of Cornwell ) as my father laid the wreath for the Desert Rats Memorial Assocation in Normandy each year. The memorial is near Mundford at High Ash. I do wish I could find out more.
  15. borneo72

    borneo72 Junior Member

    A week in the life of 2 Troop 4 Fd Sqn RE as recorded by Lt D.P.Owen RE :

    06 June 1944 1200-2130 hrs: Sailed in convoy, fine day, visibility good. German coastal guns shell convoy going through Straits of Dover' One ship hit and set on fire. Escort lays smoke screen. See hundreds of glider towing 4 engine aircraft flying home. No news as to when D Day is or was. Presume it is today.

    07 June 0700hrs: Off beaches, hundreds of landing craft about, not much moving and seems to be little activity. Several capital ships in neighbourhood.

    08 June: No sign of going ashore, cruisers doing some shelling.

    09 June 1600-1900hrs 845827: Get off on LCT and have a good wade. Get to transit camp, carry out stage C de-waterproofing and move to join 22 Armd Bde. Find Tac HQ & report to BM and CRE. 190 came over and fired rocket bombs. Lt LINDSAY & 4 Section 1/2 track go off with Bde in morning - Lt OWEN to follow with rest of troop.

    09 June 2200hrs 845827: Go to 5 RTR leaguer and look at "mysterious object" which turns out to be an empty rocket case.

    10 June 0600hrs 845827: Lt LINDSAY moves off to 5RTR as recce party. Takes 1 section 1/2 track.
    1000hrs: Cpl PLANT arrives with section and 2 x 1/2 tracks.
    1400hrs: Move off down centre line.
    1500hrs 804762: Leaguer with Tac HQ 22 Armd Bde. See BM, nothing for us.

    11 June 0430: Send Cpl PLANT's section as recce party for 4CLY.
    1000hrs: LCpl BELCH arrives with 1/2 section, 3 tonner, D4 bulldozer and transporter. Troop now complete except for cooks and stores.
    1400hrs: D4 made runway for STIMSON aircraft with 5 RHA.
    1600hrs: Remainder of squadron join us.
    1615hrs: Lt LINDSAY rejoins troop.
    1800hrs: Lt LINDSAY with 2 section go off to join 1/5 Queens.
    2200hrs 830707: Lt OWEN with W/T White joins 4 CLY.
    2330hrs 824707 See Col CRANLEIGH, & join Cpl PLANT with A Echelon.

    12 June 0430hrs 824707: Move off - stop after 1 mile.
    1000hrs: Padre WILSON takes 3 sappers to help bury 2 troopers of 4CLY killed in tank 2 days previously. He tells Lt OWEN their help was invaluable.
    1100hrs 822710: Stop and pull into leaguer.
    1600hrs: OC sees Lt OWEN and tells him to return to troop immediately.
    1630hrs 804762: Rejoin troop.
    1700hrs: Troop moves off behind Tac HQ. Moving to extreme right of 30 Corps.
    2230hrs 727633: Leaguer with Tac HQ.

    13 June 0700hrs Move off south.
    1000hrs: Meet CRE.
    1330hrs 733577: Leaguer with Tac H. Wireless reports come in of Tigers and Mk IV's in area. Also small groups of infantry on our flanks.
    1700hrs: Cpl PLANT comes in with amphibian volkswagon. Reports his 2i/c tracks knocked out by Tiger tank which hit 4CLY column near VILLERS BOCAGE and did a lot of damage. LCpl CREE and his 1/2 section missing and Sapper GILL believed killed. Driver RILEY shot 2 Germans dead and wounded 1.
    1730hrs: Send report to Sqn by DR.
    1800 hrs: Tanks report 400 yards away. Troop digs slit trenches and have arms ready for emergency. Slight sniping locally.

    14 June 0400: Stand To.
    0900: Sniper firing towards us.
    1400hrs: Lt TURPIN and 4 x 1/2 tracks arrive to relieve us. His CL Recce is set on fire almost immediately by sniper. Manage to put out fire - no damage except to his kit luckily.
    1430hrs: Wheel of 1/2 track punctured by bullet.
    1500hrs: D4 and white transporter return to Main HQ 7 Armd Div on orders from BM. Also 2 x Scissors Bridges.
    1700hrs 727635: Rejoin Squadron. Slight shelling of road.
    1750hrs 705707: Squadron move to new leaguer. LCpl CREE & 1/2 section still missing. Revrt command back to Squadron Main.
  16. Yves Normandy

    Yves Normandy New Member

    I would like to have some informations concerning :
    267951 Lieutenant Eric Hadley, RE who was with 4th Field Squadron Royal Engineers in Normandy.
    He died on 22nd July 1944 during Operation Goodwood and buried at Ranville War Cemetery.
    I live at Sannerville (One of the 5 villages destroyed on 18th July 1944 by the RAF bombers) and I am in charge to organise every years ceremonies for the Battle of Normandy in this part of East of Caen.
    I have the Hadley's medals and would like to commemorate him the best as possible. He was only 21 years when he died for our Freedom.
    If you have any information, thank you to pass them to me. War diary of the 4 Field Sqn RE in Normandy etc...
    Yves Le Cuziat, MBE (for service to veterans) :)
  17. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member


    Can you place the 4th Field Squadron. Royal Engineers in North Africa before 1941?

    Kind Regards,

Share This Page