58th Chemical Warfare Company Royal Engineers - 1940

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by MALLARD, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. MALLARD

    MALLARD Member

    Andy,
    As I said, my source is in her mid 90’s and not totally reliable so there could have been more than 6 or 8 and it could easily have been Ramsgate not Folkestone. The notebook specifically mentions Bray Dunes leaving on 1st July arriving on the 2nd. I’ll see if Ramsgate rings any bells. Would the Lena have been made seaworthy by REs? Also a coal barge is specifically mentioned. I know Bray Dunes and the Dunkirk area and in the overall confusion it is quite possible that one beach looked very much like another.

    Mallard (who is now going to bed!)
     
  2. MALLARD

    MALLARD Member

    Andy,
    Last night I had no idea it was almost 2am, it's fascinating but I needed my bed, fortunately I work from home! Anyway, this morning I managed to telephone my 90+ year old source who told me the barge definitely arrived at Folkestone. Although the notebook refers to Bray Dunes the story as remembered, it was almost 70 years ago, is that a small group walked along the beach looking for anything that might get them home and spotted the coal barge. Having seen some pre-1940 maps, Bray Dunes has never seemed right because there was no access to the inland waterways at that point and it has always been assumed that the barge was not normally a seagoing vessel (this could be a wrong assumption). Unfortunately I only have notes written in 1940 and memories of conversations that took place many years ago so with the best will in the world these could be distorted.

    Mallard
     
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    No worries another point to note the chaps buried in my first post are South West of Dunkirk near St. Omer which would suggest the Company (unless all four died in a hospital-which is a possibility looking at the WW2 list) was part of the Line of Communication units.

    The possible significance if they were based in the South West is that is unlikely they would have walked passed Dunkirk and Malo-les-Bains towards the fighting at De Panne and Bray Dunes to get home.

    Lets hope the War Diaries have some clues.
     
  4. MALLARD

    MALLARD Member

    Andy,
    I’ve just been having a quick look at your other threads including the book list and the photographs of your visits which all tell me how little I know! Unfortunately WORK is a four lettered word and I have to do some or my client will be less than pleased but if I finish what I have to do I’ll try to get onto the forum again this evening! In the MM citation there is reference to Renescure which is just to the east of St. Omer and also Dunkirk. We have transcribed other parts of the notebook, not fully but some bits might ring bells:
    May 11th left Aberville for Renescure
    No date but must have been after 23rd as the citation refers to an act at Renescure on the 23rd – ordered to make for Dunkirk nobody knew which direction, managed to get to Lille (bit odd as it is in the wrong direction) and found a map in an empty shop the Oxford & Bucks were fighting a rearguard action and the roads were packed with fleeing civilians, we had to keep them away while we were blowing up bridges. We came to a small village and a shop run by a 1914-18 war British soldier and his French wife, they gave us some food. There were only 8 of us left with a 15cwt truck. We cut across country and eventually arrived at Dunkirk the town was on fire. There was a Church Army tea wagon dishing out tea, cigarettes and I even got a bar of chocolate.
    With your knowledge does any of this make sense to you?

    Mallard
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    At Renescure on 23rd May brought his truck away successfully under heavy fire.

    At Dunkirk on 25th May, when parked MT was being bombed and machine gunned from the air, quitted shelter in order to extinguish fire caused by incendiary bomb in a truck which he knew was laden with ammunition and high explosives. He thereby averted a serious explosion in a crowded area.

    LG No date listed.
     
  6. Buteman

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

    Mallard

    Sadly no war diary for May in the records. Finishes at April. There is a statement from what looks like the CO, but was made in 1945. Am trawling through the pics at the moment to find it. Back soon.

    Rob
     
  7. Buteman

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

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  8. Buteman

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

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  9. Buteman

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

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  10. Buteman

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

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  11. Buteman

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

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  12. Buteman

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

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    dbf likes this.
  13. MALLARD

    MALLARD Member

    Ramacal,
    I don’t know how to thank you enough for doing all this for me, It will take me some time to put all the bits together with other information I have but, like a jigsaw it’s impossible to see the full picture without all or at least most of the pieces. Please e-mail me if I can do anything in return, I plan to be in the Dunkirk area during April if that is of any help.
    Regards
    Mallard
     
  14. Buteman

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

    Hi Mallard,

    Even the war diaries that seem to have survived, just seem to say that men were withdrawn to the UK, but not by which means. Only personal recollections if they can be found would tell you that.

    Interesting that the man who wrote the 6 pages, seems to have regrets that they were unable to do more to stop the enemy.

    Regards - Robert
     
  15. Buteman

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

    At Renescure on 23rd May brought his truck away successfully under heavy fire.

    At Dunkirk on 25th May, when parked MT was being bombed and machine gunned from the air, quitted shelter in order to extinguish fire caused by incendiary bomb in a truck which he knew was laden with ammunition and high explosives. He thereby averted a serious explosion in a crowded area.

    LG No date listed.

    Driver Hardy, M.M is listed in the London Supplement to the London Gazette for 27 August 1940 on Page 5203. Same Army Serial Number but middle name different

    Shown as No. 817658 Driver Albert John Hardy, Royal Engineers.
     
  16. Buteman

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

    As this casualty of 58 Chemical Warfare Coy, RE was buried in Germany in 1943, must assume he was captured in 1940. Can't find him on POW lists as they don't seem to list those that died in Captivity.

    COLLISON, FREDERICK HENRY STEPHEN
    United Kingdom
    Rank: Corporal
    Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers
    Unit Text: 58 Chemical Warfare Coy.
    Age: 28
    Date of Death: 16/02/1943
    Service No: 1869828
    Additional information: Son of Alfred and Louise Collison; husband of Edith Lilian Collison, of Dunton Green, Kent.
    Grave 12.
    Cemetery: NIEDERORSCHEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY

    NIEDERORSCHEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY
    (Locality: Niederorschel, Thuringen) The Cemetery is located on Jahndorstrasse, on the approach to Niederorschel village.

    Historical Information: This communal cemetery contains the grave of one Commonwealth serviceman of the Second World War whose grave was rediscovered following the unification of Germany.

    Found his name on the Dunton Green War Memorial a few miles from where I live.

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    Smudger Jnr likes this.
  17. MALLARD

    MALLARD Member

    Work has managed to get in the way of doing much more than a brief look at the information to hand and that provided by forum members. Cousin Mike has had to go abroad on business and until I get some time that can be spent on further research I’m probably stuck for the moment. I have still not managed to gain any further information about the coal barge or what happened to other members of 58th CW Coy, however the impression is that they were not necessarily together as a Company but various members or groups of members were attached to other units. Having never been in the army I have no idea if this was normal; perhaps others with greater knowledge can give a view on this possibility. Thanks to everyone who has helped so far and I’m glad that when I visit France in April it will be possible to return some of the favour by taking the photographs that have been requested (that is if it’s not chucking it down with heavy rain for the whole visit!).
    Mallard
     
  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Awarded MM

    At Renescure on 23rd May brought his truck away successfully under enemy fire.

    At Dunkirk on 25th May, when parked MT was being bombed and machine gunned from the air, quitted shelter in order to extinguish fire caused by an incendiary bomb in a truck which he knew was laden with ammunition and high explosives. He thereby averted a serious explosion in a crowded area.


    No LG date.
     
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Awarded MC

    As Commanding Officer 58th (CW) Coy. R.E. he was ordered to demolish the bridge over the Aire Canal north of Aire. He and his company arrived near the bridges early on 24th May and found some of the bridges already in possession of the enemy.

    Some enemy tanks had crossed the canal. Major Lloyd, however, with coolness and skill succeeded in getting his company on to the several bridges which were duly demolished. In one case the enemy had to be driven off the bridge by the Sappers. Major Lloyd further succeeded in withdrawing most of his Company out of a confused and dangerous situation and in conveying vital information to Polforce HQ.


    No LG date.
     
  20. MALLARD

    MALLARD Member

    Andy,
    Thanks for the additional bits of the jigsaw. I’ve been tracing various bits onto a large scale map of the area which helps considerably. From the information provided by von Poop (link #3); Owen (link #5); Ramacal (several links) and you (several links) it would appear that the group I’ve been looking at were the part of 58th CW Coy. RE with 392nd Battery of the 98th Field Regiment Royal Artillery sent up to form part of the defence between St Momelin and Wittes. (would this have been Don Detail?) With one gun with its detachment sent to cover each of the bridges at St Momelin, St Omer, Arques, Renescure, Wardrecques, Blaringhem and Wittes. I assume these would have been 25 pounders but I am willing to stand corrected on this. The report indicates that on the 23rd A Squadron, 12th Lancers with five armoured cars was sent forward to reconnoitre the St Omer area and arrived in time to cover the 392nd Battery's withdrawal of their gun from Arques to Morbecque and extricate a party of Royal Engineers under fire of enemy tanks and enemy infantry on the ridge near Lynde, also having an encounter with enemy tanks astride the road from St Omer to Cassel near La Cross. Although the report indicates that 12th Lancers found no British troops in the area St Omer–Renescure–Lynde or between Renescure and Hazebrouck it seems possible that the REs on the ridge at Lynde could have been from any of the bridge locations however Renescure or Blaringhem are the closest and the ridge between Renescure and Lynde is the only clearly indicted higher ground I can identify in the area. Perhaps when I get there and walk the area I will have a different perspective.
    I’m still very new to this type of research and so don’t want to make assumptions based on insufficient evidence. I will very much appreciate any comments from those of you who are obviously far more knowledgeable both on the subject and the research criteria. This started because I was loaned a notebook which it now appears was written several years after the events when the memory could reasonably be blurred. Having started the question (as the saying goes) I’ll finish, but, mixing my TV programmes, I’m obviously going to need more than just three lifelines.

    What does 'No LG date' stand for please?
    Regards,
    John, Mallard
     

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