Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by DavidW, Nov 15, 2012.
Does anyone have a date of arrival in North Africa for this unit please?
42nd Field Company, RE was in Egypt at the start of the war in September 1939. Here are some highlights of its service:
1936 - Egypt
Command Tps Delta 30/9/39
Command Tps Delta 31/1/40
March 1940 Replaced 2nd Field Company at Mersa Matruh
Mersa Matruh Garrison 30/6/40
To Greece in 9/40 u/c Bde Gp at Suda Bay
Arrived Crete 6/11/40 under 14th Infantry Brigade
HQ Creforce 31/1/41
Served during Crete battle
20/5/41 Located at Suda Bay, Crete (Less 1 section at Herkalion)
Relieved by 8th FC, NZE at Aleppo, Syria in March 1942
Thank you David.
Could anyone help me with detailed information about works completed in Crete by the 42nd Field Company between Nov 1940 and May 1941, particularly with reference to works on '42nd Street' between Chania and Souda.
Here is what the RE official history has to say about the company's works on Crete.
Thank you very much. That useful. I an involved in the construction of a new Australian/NZ war memorial in Crete on the site of 42nd Street, named by the Company. I am trying to ascertain what works the Company actually did on the road itself. There are conflicting accounts. One is that they merely camped beside it, another suggests the Company actually graded the road.
My uncle, Lance Serjeant Walter Leonard "Bill" Mason 2002471 42nd Field Coy R.E., was killed 22 July 1944 and is laid to rest in the Foiano Della Chiana War Cemetry, Italy
I have some old photos which may be of interest. I am trying to find information about his unit's movements and activities. Any guidance and pointers would be very much appreciated
You would find the war diaries will provide all information you require about the unit, to obtain these you will have to go to National Archives at Kew.
If you cannot get to Kew there are members who provide a copying service
I have the WDs for 42 Field Coy R.E. for September to December 1943 when they were supporting 201 Guards Brigade. I can get you the 1944 WDs to July from Kew next time I'm down there in a couple of weeks.
Thank you Gary. I will take you up on your kind offer. Please email me and let me know what your costs will be. I think this will fill a lot of gaps which I have been pondering for many years! I will be away for the next couple of days and will follow up on my return. Regards, Chris
42 Fd Coy RE was an integral part of 56 Infantry Division from Jul 43 to 4 Jan 44. As an integrated Fd Coy, they went wherever the Division went and was allocated to support one of Division's Infantry Brigades.
Lots of other Fd Coys were in Italy at the time but they were under the control of higher formations - Corps and Army and were given tasks like road maintenance rather than combat engineering.
42 Fd Coy RE landed with 56 Infantry Division at Salerno on 9 Sep 43, supported them over the River Volturno in mid-Oct 43 and was with them for the two ghastly Battles of Camino in Nov-Dec 43. They endured a lot of hardship.
I am not exactly sure but I think they moved to support a Corps after 4 Jan 44 but I am not sure which one.
I was on Monte Camino last week looking at 201 Gds Bde's involvement in both horrific battles. 42 Fd Coy RE were in the thick of it clearing minefields in and around Calabritto.
As an aside here is a set of operational instructions issued by No. 2 Platoon, 42 Field Company RE in November 1943 aimed at new personnel in theatre.
As Frank mentions 42 Field Coy were part of 56 Division - 201 Guards Brigade were part of this division. Although there was no formal connection between a brigade and an engineer field company they did tend to be attached to the same brigade where necessary. As mentioned 42 Field Coy were often as not attached to 201 Guards Brigade and as such when the latter left 56 Division so did 42 Field Coy. Not sure where yet but will find out shortly.
A quick look at the (badly handwritten) WDs shows that only 3 Platoon were involved in the first battle, accompanying 3 Coldstream to Calabritto as you mention. The other two platoons were busy repairing roads and tracks between San Clemente and Miele as well as the odd bridging task in the valley. They do turn up at Miele on the 13th November to improve the mule track into a jeep track as far as possible (says 600 yards from the village but having walked it, not sure I agree) to alleviate the withdrawal from Camino.
For the second battle the company were not committed to support 201 Guards Brigade but spent most of December improving routes around Sessa, Carano and Mondragone.
Great stuff. Thank you for finding and sharing this info. I do not recall any jeep track when you, Stephen and I tried to get up the mule track from Miele last year!
Thank you again Gary. This is very interesting and sobering; I shall add this to my porfolio
Down in Kew - 42 Field Company RE eventually became part of 6th South African Armoured Division. It supported 24 Guards Brigade.
Your uncle was in 2 Platoon who more often than not supported 3 Coldstream Guards who were previously also part of 201 Guards Brigade.
However, 2 Platoon were supporting 1 Scots Guards when he was wounded on 19th/20th July 1944 while they were clearing an anti-tank minefield - one was believed to be booby trapped. It killed 4 outright and wounded four others, of which two subsequently died of wounds one of which was your uncle.
I've copied all WDs for 1944 - they are quite good as they have all the company orders, so lots of day-to-day details such as your uncle requesting a trade test for Architectural Draughtsman. Might not get the chance to sort them out until next week. Then I'll send them over.
Thank you so much Gary for these details, which were previously unknown to me
A couple of things spring to mind; Bill was promoted from Lance Serjeant to Sergeant 9 days before he was killed (although his headstone has him listed as Lance Serjeant.) I have also checked on the War Memorials local to Bilston. I can not find him listed. I understand that sometimes errors and omissions occurred. I am thinking of contacting the local British Legion with regards to this
It is interesting and tragic that Uncle Bill was thinking about the end of the War and "Civvy Street" with his request for a architectural draughtsman's test
I have nearly sorted the photos and images that I have (varying quality as previously stated!) I intend to produce a pdf file and upload here.( I think I will have to do this via email as the acceptable file size is too small)
Regards for now
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