692 Inf Troop Workshop REME

Discussion in 'REME/RAOC' started by Pete Ashby, Jun 9, 2015.

  1. Bluebell Minor

    Bluebell Minor Junior Member


    Another fascinating addition to this topic

    I suggest the Formation Signs on the outer rim off the ship's wheel are as follows ( I would welcome any expert who could fill in the gaps or correect any errors)

    Very top British 1st Army then on right hand side going clockwise

    56 London Division
    78 Infantry Division
    1st Armoured Division
    10 Corps
    13 Corps
    2nd New Zealand Division
    4th Indian Division

    Left hand side going anti clockwise from the top
    5th Infantry Division
    5th Corps
    American 5th Army
    1st Infantry Division
    8th Indian Division
    10th Indian Division
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  2. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    I've added a couple more that I think may be contenders in red I would not pretend to be an expert on military heraldry, it would be nice to get a definitive list


  3. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Bluebell Minor mentions that he supported 78 Inf Div at Acquino on 30 May 44. The exact spelling is Aquino - the birth place of Thomas Aquinas. The village sits on a slight ridge five miles north of Cassino in the Liri valley on SR 6.

    That would place him squarely at the Fourth Battle of Monte Cassino. 78 Inf Div has attacked Aquino on 19 May 44 but were repulsed by the Germans. The Canadians then attacked the Hitler Line, of which Aquino formed a part, on 23 May 44 and broke through to the River Melfa. The Germans were forced to abandon Aquino which was then occupied by 78 Inf Div. With so much hard standing, it would have been a good place for a workshop.


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  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Bluebell Minor

    Finally located this fascinating thread !

    As soon as I have time will add my own two-penny's worth

  5. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    Once again thank you all for your input, each piece of information received helps to complete the picture for me. My ultimate aim is to put all the information together into a coherent record not just of my Fathers service but also for the unit that he was proud to have served in and had a deep affection for.

    My Father sadly passed away in 1998 but I grew up with stories of the dust and heat in N Africa, the snow, rain and sun of Italy and the beauty of Austria. He was always at pains to point out that he was not a shooting solider, he said they were the real heroes, he escaped that when he transferred to the RAOC and then REME, however he had a fund of stories and anecdotes that fascinated and inspired a young boy with a life long interest in Military Vehicles by the age of 10 I could list most of the British army's WW2 B list of trucks off by heart.

    I intend to collate the information I am gathering and store it digitally for my children to enable them to pass on to their children when the time comes, the story of an 'ordinary man that did his duty' (my fathers words) a fitting tribute I hope to him and his mates in 78/692 and all the other 'ordinary men' who served.
    I have received more leads and information than I thought was possible via the contributors to this forum already however if anyone has information or source data that would help me in my task I would be very pleased to hear from you via this forum.


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  6. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    I have a few photographs from my Fathers files that be of interest to members of this forum, I'll post them in this thread but if they are better placed elsewhere perhaps the moderator would let me know.

    Ted Ashby Royal Norfolk Regiment Summer 1940

    Summer 1940.jpg

    Ted Ashby Royal Norfolk Regiment December 1940

    December 1940.JPG

    Driver mechanic Ted Ashby back row to the immediate right of instructor in the white coat Trade training 1941 Norwich

    Norwich 1941.jpg

    Left to right as viewed ? Cfm Roy Forest (my Father's fitters mate) Fitter 'Andy' Cyril Andrews Fitter Ted Ashby Italy summer 1944

    Italy summer 1944.jpg

    Ted Ashby Italy summer 1944

    Italy summer 1944 (2).jpg

    I have another set of photos that I will scan and post at a later date

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  7. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Lovely photos Pete. Are there any names on the back of the group photos?

  8. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    Thank you Lesley, there are no names written on the photos but I can remember them with the exception of one, I think his name may have been Black but I'm not sure, I and have added names to the original post above.

  9. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    As promised last set of photos:

    Staff Sgt Fern, Fitter 'Andy' Cyril Andrews, Fitter Ted Ashby discussing refitting the rear axle to a Universal Carrier in a school yard 'somewhere' in Italy autumn 1944

    Italy autum 1944.jpg

    Rear left to right as viewed back row: Staff Sgt Woodrow, Staff Sgt Fern, Fitter 'Andy' Cyril Andrews, Fitter Ted Ashby
    front row: Craftsman Roy Forest, Craftsman Innes, L/cpl Percy Winkley. At the same location as the previous photo, under the shear legs is an armoured car which I think may be a Humber Mk111 while in the background on the right is a Universal carrier

    Italy autum 1944 (3).jpg

    Same place same blokes but the back row has changed places Rear left to right as viewed back row: Fitter Ted Ashby, Staff Sgt Woodrow, Staff Sgt Fern, Fitter 'Andy' Cyril Andrews, front row: Craftsman Roy Forest, Craftsman Innes, L/cpl Percy Winkley. At the same location as the previous photo, a clearer view of the Humber while in the background on the left is a Universal carrier on a recovery trailer

    Italy autum 1944 (2).jpg

    L/cpl Fitter Ted Ashby Austria 1945


    L/cpl Fitter Ted Ashby Austria early summer 1945 notice the workshop trucks in the back round under the trees

    Austria 1945 (2).jpg

    L/cpl Fitter Ted Ashby and unknown Austria 1945

    Austria 1945.jpg

    This is 'Andy' Cyril Andrews at a lake side in Austria summer 1945 note the REME on test sign on the 78th Div Dingo

    Andy Andrews Austria 1945.jpg

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  10. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Thanks for photos again Pete.
    Lovely to see the Universal carrier, my dad drove one of those. He was in 78th Div too :)

  11. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    To complete the photo story a last picture of my Father taken on a visit to the Museum of Army Transport that used to be sited at Berverly.
    Although not well he was determined to make the trip to see the the Leyland Retriever workshop truck that was on display in the museum 50 years after he left his own Leyland in Austria.


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  12. Bluebell Minor

    Bluebell Minor Junior Member

    I recently had the opportunity to visit the now closed REME Museum at Arborfield. The Duty Staff kindly showed me the Ship's Wheel which is on display (just) in one of the Conference Rooms. Close examination of the Unit Formation Signs reveals a number of details not apparent on the original photo as well as the two blurred signs on the left hand side.

    A summary of the signs on the outer rim is as follows

    Very Top 1st Army

    Right hand side from the top clockwise.

    Black Cat on Red Background 56 London Division
    Yellow Halberd on Black Background 78 Infantry Division
    Yellow (not Red) Cross on White Background 8th Army
    Black Rampant Boar (not charging Rhino) on White Background 30 Corps
    White Circle and Rectangle on Maroon Background 10 Corps
    Silver Fern on Black Background 2nd New Zealand Division
    Sapper Blue Geometrical Shapes on Red Background Former 25 Armoured Brigade sign modified by 25 Armoured Engineer Brigade
    White ny on Black Background 6 Army Group Royal Artillery (6 AGRA)
    Missing sign

    Left hand side Anticlockwise from the top

    White Y on Black Background 5th Infantry Division.
    Galleon 5th Corps
    White A on Blue Background US 5th Army
    Red Sprig of Leaves on White Background 8th Indian Division
    Blue Albatross, Tommy Gun and Anchor on Red Background Combined Operations
    Red solid Circle with separated Upper Right Quadrant on White Background 4th Infantry Division
    White Horse on Black Background 9th Armoured Brigade
    Yellow Star of David on Blue and White Background Jewish Brigade Group
    Multi Coloured X on Black Background 10th Indian Division

    There is curved coloured wooden plaque attached to the outer rim of the wheel. This has the following hand painted inscriptions in a contrasting colour

    Top Blue The phrase 10 Army Wksp with on either side in smaller lettering the words Africa and Sicily
    Middle Yellow The phrase 78 Inf Tps Wksp
    Bottom Red The phrase 692 Inf Tps Wksp with on either side the words Italy and Austria

    The photos surrounding the Ship's Wheel shown in Pete's original have now been removed and replaced by a small framed document outlining the provenance of the wheel

    This states that the Wheel was originally "acquired" from a damaged Landing Craft on the Beaches at Salerno by a member of the 21 Beach Group REME Recovery unit tasked with keeping clear the vehicle routes off the beaches.. It was then presented to their parent unit when they rejoined 78. The formation signs were added at a later date.

    1. From the above this Ships Wheel was probably completed when the Workshop was based in Villach The Jewish Brigade Group did not deploy to Italy till late Autumn 1944, the 25 Armoured Engineer Brigade emerged from the Spring 1945 reorganisation which created additional Sapper units at the expense of the Royal Armoured Corps

    2. It is not therefore not the one presented to Major McNiven who handed over command in Autumn 1944. He was probably the first OC when the unit formed up in Aldershot. There is no doubt that he was highly respected and the unit did present him with a similar wheel as a memento of his command tour as described in Pete Ashby's earlier posting.

    3. There appears to have been a shortage of green paint where the 78 Division and 9 Brigade signs were made. According to my sources the background on both signs was a medium green not black

    4 Similarly the unit signwriter was no artist, the 9 Armoured Brigade Horse is a slim thoroughbred not a stocky draught horse in other reference documents.

    5. It would be interesting to know which formation was represented by the missing sign. I would suggest one under command 1st Army in Italy in late 1944, early 1945, the South African Division or the Independent Guards Brigade might therefore be possibilities.
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  13. hutchie

    hutchie Dont tell him Pike!!

    Nice to see a fellow reme researcher :)
  14. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    I thought it might be of interest to share the condensed information I have extracted from the 78th/692 Inf Trp Wks diary they are packed full of information so what I have done is condense the data concerning the movement of the unit as a starting point. The notes section holds the comments quoted from the diary in black text, the blue text is additional comments added by me for my reference purposes.

    I'm not at all sure how this will display it looks OK on my screen but here goes

    try this View attachment Movement diary for 1943-1944.xlsx

  15. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    This extract from the diary gives a brief unit history and perhaps more interestingly gives the War establishment for all ranks and vehicles within the unit

    Ranks and totals for unit.JPG

  16. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    This extract gives the chain of Command for the unit as off 04/03/1944 at this time Ted would have been working in MV Squad 3 some of whom can be seen in the previous photos I posted standing under the sheer legs.


    Attached Files:

  17. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    In the January 1945 appendix to the diary is a full list of unit vehicles, registration numbers with names and ranks of men I/C.

    From this list I have produced an excel sheet with representative photos of each type of vehicle and additional comments where appropriate. The registration numbers have been checked against a copy of the central census list for 'B' vehicles with colour coded notes attached (see bottom of table).
    The list gives a clear picture of the diversity of vehicles that made up a Workshop unit operating in Italy and I think demonstrates the issues units had with spare parts for such a mixed bag of equipment.


    View attachment 692 vehicle and driver list 2.xlsx
  18. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    Following on from the excel list I posted previously here is a direct copy from the diary produced when the unit was disbanding in October 1945 it shows the vehicle type, the registration number and where it went when written off charge. Comparison with the January 1945 list shows some additions and replacements, no doubt some of the original kit was pretty tired by this time having been through N Africa, Sicily, Italy, Austria and then back to Italy again.


    P5890089.JPG P5890090.JPG
  19. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    This may be of interest, it's a detailed plan produced by the second in command Capt Pilling on the 14/01/44 and shows the workshop dispersed and operating at St Maria Capua Vetere. It gives a good indication how a Inf field workshop deployed making use of available hard standing and cover.


  20. Pete Ashby

    Pete Ashby Junior Member

    This is another plan this time at Presenzano a more open site in the country, the workshop is dispersed this time in the open under canvas among the olive groves 02/04/1944


    Site plan for presenzano.jpg

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