626 Field Squadron, Royal Engineers

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by Helen, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    One troop of 626 Fld Sqdn, my father is 5th from right back row
    IKE26 likes this.
  2. stevesweetpea

    stevesweetpea Junior Member

    hi helen
    ive just seen your message regarding your grandfather and wondered if you found out anymore about him. my father was in the same squadron and probably knew him. he has passed on now but i am researching his war and would be interested in any information you might have

    many tyhanks
  3. stevesweetpea

    stevesweetpea Junior Member

    my dad is the one sitting at the end of the second row.
    where was it taken?
  4. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Unsure as to the actual location, but if you look on the uniforms there are no medal ribbons so I believe it to be early in the war pre 1942, on the back of the photo there is no writing whatsoever.

    My father never wrote on the reverse of photo's and like most men who went through the war said very little about what they did. The good times and funny incidents yes he talked plenty, the business end very little.
  5. stevesweetpea

    stevesweetpea Junior Member

    my father was in the 626 and he used to talk about building a bridge in Sicily which i think the place where your grandad dies was. the bridge was across a wooded valley with a gravel river bed which in summer you could easily of paddled across but it on this occation it had swollen to a raging deep torrent swollen by water from the mountains.judging by the picture of the cuurent site it looks very similiar. The germans could be seen on the opposite side of the river sio bridging was undertaken at night. with the water they it was it must of been very dangerous particularly under fire. He said that many of the sappers were swept away in the water and drowned. Some because they wearing waders which filled with water and pulled them under.
  6. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Thanks for the post, in my documents I have no members of 626 being killed in Sicily at all, the first deaths are in Sept 43 then on to the Sangro River were they lost men in a mine clearing operation.

    The bridge that is mention in the original post was started on 8/9 May 1945 a week after the Germans surrendered in Italy.
    IKE26 likes this.
  7. Ray Hindle

    Ray Hindle Junior Member

    My Father, the late John Hindle was a Sapper in 626 Fld Sqn and I have extracted the following from his short memoir (I beleive a copy of this document was lodged with the Royal Engineers Museum at Chatham). It relates to the bridge collapse:

    "The mood in the Squadron was on the up with the news, everybody thinking that there would be no more trouble and looking forward to peacetime again, but that was soon to be dashed as tragedy struck on the afternoon of the 9th of April. We had moved further up near to the village of Pontebba where bridges were needed. As there was no need for radio communications on the jobs I was left behind and given the job of making a trailer for the cooks wagon. In the middle of the afternoon Sid Foulkes the troop DR arrived back in a bit of a state with the news that there had been an accident, a bridge had collapsed and we were needed to help. Everybody but I went to the scene and were away for quite a while arriving back in the early evening in a very sombre mood. What had happened was that Jerry had blown two arches of a three arched bridge and owing to the shortage of bridging it had been decided to prop the remaining arch and build off that instead of off the bankseat as was normal. It was while doing the propping that the arch had collapsed killing twenty three NCOs and Sappers. Among those killed were some who had joined the Squadron from Ripon and had gone through the whole of the campaign the Squadron had taken part in. One in particular, Bill Levens had also been seconded to a unit for the assault crossing of Lake Commachio driving an assault craft. Two days later the troop moved across the border into Austria and leagered on the side of the Worther See, the biggest lake in Austria at a place called Maria Worth."
  8. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Thanks for the post, when i contacted the museum they said we have no documents relating to this incident, the war diaries in the national Archieve should hold the information.
    My fathers reason was a transom slipped bringing it down on the men.

    It was hard to bear as a lot had joined at Ripon and as you say fought the whole way.

    If it is possible could you share is memoir with us.
  9. dordognechippy

    dordognechippy New Member

    I wonder if any one else has any more "official" information on the bridge collapse. I remember my Father talking about a bridge that collapsed and killing almost the whole troop and wondered if this was the incident. He said he and a Sergeant were there when it happened.

    He did not talk about his wartime experiences but this was one thing that had always affected him deeply. He was Royal Engineers and I knew he had been in North Africa, Italy and ended up in Klagenfurt.
  10. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    I have no further information about the collapse since my last post, May I enquire as to your fathers
    name and was he a Ripon person
  11. dordognechippy

    dordognechippy New Member


    My fathers name was Reg Calvert (Captain or Lieutenant). I believe he was in charge of the troop when the accident happened.

  12. dordognechippy

    dordognechippy New Member

    I have been through my Father's photographs and I can confirm he was in charge of the Troop. He was a Lieutenant at this stage , later a Captain. I have a few photographs that are relevant to his time with the RE.

    He was born in 1921 but did not join up until he had obtained his Civil Engineering degree.He then went to Cheltenham for further training (OCTU perhaps).

    I have attached some photographs:-
    1. Picture of the bridge.
    2. Back of the picture. (states: Bridge near Pontebba which collapsed on my troop whilst we were repairing it. - Since rebuilt. Jan 1946
    3. Picture of Reg Calvert with Sargent Rice. Notation says S. Vert, Carinthia (???) Oct 45



    italy1945with srj-rice.jpg
    Owen likes this.
  13. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Thanks for the photo's, My father Sapper Thompson had been clearing the lead up to the bridging site earlier with
    his squad/troop.

    I wonder if he was in the same troop your father commanded?

    Shall have to have a search and see what I can find
  14. LindseyW

    LindseyW New Member


    Sorry to drag up a very old post, but recently found an old letter from my grandfather to grandmother, which had all of his details on which I had never seen before. Turns out he was in 626 and the letter is from May '43. He didn't ever talk about his time in the war, but I know he was in Italy and the Middle East or North Africa, and mum thinks he started in Ripon and stayed on until about '46.

    Oldman - That is a great photo and I am very curious as whilst hard to tell, there is a guy in there that I think might just be granddad - Spr Cyril Crockett 2114104. I don't know how to tell if they were in the same troop. His letter says M.T Platoon, does that mean anything?

    Really appreciate any thoughts on this - it would be amazing if he turned out to be him!
    Thank you
  15. Steven O'Brien

    Steven O'Brien New Member

    Hi Helen, I have just came across this thread. My great Uncle was Sapper John who lost his life that day. Details I have been handed down are sketchy and I would like to find out more details about what happened to him. Also I am going to visit his grave as I don't think any family has ever visited it.
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    You may have more joy sending Helen a message-she hasn't logged on since 2012.
    Steven O'Brien likes this.
  17. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Welcome on board please drop me a PM
    Steven O'Brien likes this.
  18. Helen

    Helen Junior Member

    Hello to all of you. Goodness me, thanks to Steven, who pm'd me, I logged back on today. Some really interesting information and photos, Thank you.

    I haven't done any more research in the last few years - I sort of gave up, but I will share all of this with my family.

    Thanks again.
    jonheyworth and Steven O'Brien like this.
  19. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Welcome back Helen.

    Send me a PM please
  20. Mark 1973

    Mark 1973 New Member

    Firstly, hello everyone. I'm new here and I found this forum whilst browsing my phone for any info about the regiment my grandfather was in (626 Field Squadron). I couldn't believe it when I enlarged Oldman's photo and saw my grandfather straight away. He's in the middle row, third from left. His name was Edward "Ted" Lucas - rank "sapper".

    I thought I'd see if I could find anything online after going through a box of his things with my father on Christmas day. There's a lot of stuff there, including a blue book in a slip-case about the 8th Army Royal Engineers, and I noted that he had underlined any reference to 626 Squadron. There's a field guide to Italian culture (very interesting!), a lot of ration books etc. and a fair bit of administrative paperwork. There's even a flyer for a bar in Cairo!

    There are also a couple of names and addresses on scraps of paper and I couldn't help but wonder if they are of any of the guys in the photo that Oldman posted.

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