BEF Movement and Maintenance.

Discussion in '1940' started by Trux, Sep 22, 2022.

  1. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    As we go into autumn and the days get shorter and colder I hope to post some of my thoughts and findings concerning the vaste amount of activity going on away from the forward areas.

    Below I post a list of topics which I plan to cover. Much of the work has been done but some tidying up is needed and the list may be modified. The list will one day provide a list of contents with post numbers to make it easier to find sub topics.

    A logical place to start is the detailed planning and Movement Control required to get the BEF to France and into its forward positions.

    As always I have to thank forum members for their generosity in providing documents and information. I will give credit in the appropriate places.

    Mike.
     
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  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    BEF MOVEMENT and MAINTENANCE.

    Contents.

    PART 1
    Embarkation 51 Division.
    Briefing Tour of Docks. Post 6.
    Advance Party. Post 7.
    Road and Rail Parties. Post 8.
    Record of Sailings. Post 9.
    Movement from Port to Staging Area. Post 10.
    Rail Parties move to Assembly Area. Post 11.
    Move of 11 Field Company RE to France. September 1939.
    BCF and DB personnel convoys. September/October 1939.

    PART 2
    Ships and shipping.
    The BC (Bristol Channel) convoys.
    The MB (Southampton to Brest) convoys.
    The Southampton to Channel ports convoys.
    Poole to Caen petrol coasters.
    Ammunition coasters.
    Train ferries.
    The ships.

    PART 3
    Ports.
    British Ports.
    French ports.
    Dock operating units.

    PART 4
    Lines of Communication.
    LoC Headquarters.
    LoC Communications.
    Advanced depots.
    Advanced workshops.

    PART 5
    Base depots.
    Base areas.
    RAOC stores depots.
    RASC supply depots.

    PART 6
    Rail.
    Railway construction.
    Railway operating.
    Locomotives.

    PART 7
    Infrastructure.
    Buildings.
    Roads.
    Forestry.
    Labour.

    PART 8
    Personnel.
    Medical.
    Reinforcements.
    Leave.

    PART 9
    The last formation to cross the Channel.
    1 Canadian Division’s move to France.

    Mike.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2022 at 7:50 PM
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  3. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Part 1
    Moving the BEF to France.

    Formations moving overseas to France followed a standardised procedure. The arrangements were in the hands of Movement Control which coordinated movement to the ports, across the Channel and forward to the operational areas or base areas.

    Personnel were carried in personnel ships which were the peacetime cross channel ferries plus some ferries from other routes. The ferries typically carried some 1,500 men each.

    Vehicles were carried by Motor Transport ships which were cargo ships each capable of carrying 180 vehicles. Motor Transport ships did not have passenger accommodation so having delivered vehicles to the docks, and seen them safely embarked, drivers boarded a personnel ship. There were some unaccompanied vehicles destined for either Ordnance Base Depots or RASC Reserve Vehicle Parks.

    Sailing dates, and thus the dates on which vehicles and personnel were to report to the docks, were set by Movement Control. Vehicles typically had to arrive at the docks in Road Parties five days before the personnel arrived in Rail Parties. MT ships sailed three days before the unit personnel. This allowed time for vehicles to be loaded onto ships, for the ships to cross the Channel and unload the vehicles before the personnel arrived. For Southampton to Cherbourg sailings personnel would normally be able to travel to the docks by rail and board the personnel ship in the afternoon. The ships would then leave the docks, form a convoy in the Solent and cross the Channel overnight.

    Divisional units were divided into four flights, each crossing on different dates. One flight consisted of the Divisional Headquarters plus administrative units while the remaining three flights each consisted of one infantry brigade plus supporting units which included a Field Artillery Regiment, a Field Company RE, an antitank company and a Field Ambulance RAMC.


    The build up of the BEF in France was planned in some detail. There were in fact several plans:
    W4. The despatch of the original two corps and four divisions in September and October.
    W4a. The despatch of the RAF Air Component of the BEF.
    W5. The despatch of the Territorial Army Divisions in January and February.
    WP. ?

    Four Regular divisions, 1, 2, 3 and 4, were sent in September.
    One Regular division, 5, was sent in December when the personnel and equipment were available.
    One Territorial division, 48, was sent in January 1940.
    Two Territorial divisions, 50 (Motor) and 51, were sent in February.
    Two Territorial divisions, 42 and 44, were sent in April.
    Three incomplete Territorial divisions, 12, 23 and 46, were sent for labour and training.

    Initially there were two corps, I and II, with III being formed later. It was also planned to form two Army Headquarters.

    Essential Corps, GHQ and Line of Communication troops were sent in order to meet the maintenance and supply needs of formations.

    In between these movements of complete formations the many base facilities were developed and personnel were sent to France to work on the rear area infrastructure.


    The RAF.
    The organisation of the RAF in France was somewhat complicated. Initially there were two separate forces:

    The Air Component of the RAF provided army co operation and air defence for the BEF and came under the command of the BEF.

    The Advanced Air Striking Force was a part of Bomber Command based in France so as to be within range of industrial targets in Germany.

    In January 1940 the two RAF forces were combined to form the British Air Forces in France. The Air Component was then no longer under army command but still under the operational control of BEF GHQ. The Advanced Air Striking Force could now be used in support of the BEF as well as in support of the French Army and in strategic bombing.

    In any of the above scenarios the BEF was responsible for the construction and maintenance of airfields for RAF use, for road, rail and signals communications for the RAF in France, for defence of airfields and for the handling of vehicles for the RAF.



    Details of the sailing of Regular Army divisions which went to France in September and October are not available but 51 Division, consisting of Highland Scots Territorial Army units, A & Q war diaries and appendices give a full and clear account.

    The arrangements for the despatch of the Territorial Army Divisions in January and February 1940 were very similar to those for the Regular Divisions in September and October 1939.

    - Advance Parties arrived in France to carry out reconnaissance and make arrangements for receiving the divisions troops and vehicles.
    - Brigade groups of units, each including three infantry battalions, an anti tank company, an artillery regiment and an engineer company crossed to France and moved to concentration areas.
    - Divisional troops, all those not included in the brigade groups, crossed to France.
    - The necessary Corps and Army units to support and maintain the division crossed to France.
    - The necessary Line of Communication troops crossed to France.

    Mike
     
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  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Although 5 Div was formed in December 1939, 17th Infantry Brigade at least has been in France since 18th October.

    2nd Northampton's War Diary includes a diagram of their life boat allocation on the Southern Railway ferry S.S. Canterbury. "Secret", of course !

    PC290926.JPG
     
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  5. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Rich is perfectly correct of course. All three of the divisions brigades were sent to France as independant brigades in early October. Division headquarters and the supporting RE, RA, RASC etc. arrived later to form 5 Division in France.

    I do like the appendices to War Diaries. They have all manner of interesting snippets. Most diaries are content to say troops were assigned to lifeboats and rafts.

    Mike.
     
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  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    51 Division moves to France.

    51 Division Embarkation Instructions.

    The following edited extracts are from the A & Q (Adjutant and Quartermaster Departments) War Diary, 51 Division. My copy was kindly sent to me by forum member Browno from Edinburgh. 51 Division was largely composed of Highland Scots units. The appendices are very detailed and clearly illustrate the amount of planning that was required to move a division.

    On 11th January the undermentioned officers will take part in a personally conducted tour round Docks to see the existing arrangements for the embarkation of MT and personnel.

    To be detailed by:
    OC 1st Fife and Forfar Yeomanry. 1 officer.
    CRA 51 Division. 4 officers.
    CRE 51 Division. 4 officers.
    OC 51 Division Signals. 1 officer.
    HQ 152 Brigade. 4 officers.
    HQ 153 Brigade. 4 officers.
    HQ 154 Brigade. 4 officers.
    OC 51 Divisional RASC. 3 officers.
    ADMS 51 Division. 2 officers.

    The party will move on an Aldershot and District bus to be arranged by Movement Control. Time Table as follows:

    Depart:
    Headquarters 51 Division 8.45 hours
    Royal Arms, Heath End. 8.50 hours.
    Fire Station, Borden. 9.15 hours.

    Arrive:
    Road Convoy Regulating Post, Hendy’s Garage, Southampton. 11.00 hours

    Possible hour of return about 16.30 hours.

    The officers to be detailed will be the officers earmarked to be in charge of units Road Transport on the move to Southampton.

    Officers attending will take steel helmets and gas masks. They will take the solid portion of a sandwich lunch but opportunity will be afforded to obtain a drink of some sort during the day.

    Officers will carry note books in which to make notes of a lecture to be given on ‘Movements through a port’.

    An officer, not below the rank of Major, will be seconded to Movement Control.

    Similar arrangements were made on 8th January for officers in charge of rail parties.

    Mike.
     
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  7. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    51 Division Advance Party.

    Warning Order. 7th January.
    Advance Parties will proceed by road to the port of embarkation on 15th January

    Executive Order.
    The following personnel will form Advance Party from Divisional HQ, proceeding by road to port of embarkation (Southampton) on 15th January.

    Officers.
    Lt. A Cargill.
    Capt. J.E. Prain.

    Other Ranks.
    2 batmen.
    1 clerk to be detailed by Camp Commandant.
    3 drivers.

    Vehicles.
    ‘Q’ 8cwt truck.
    Camp Commandant’s 2 seater.
    Anti gas officer’s 4 seater.

    The advanced party will have the same numbers and window stickers of the same colour as parent units, but with a white label in addition. These labels will be provided by Movement Control.

    The following will comprise the Road Party arriving at the port of embarkation on 17th January.

    Divisional Headquarters.

    Officers.
    Major C.A. Eweigbergh.
    Capt. T. Shanks.
    Lt. I.D. Campbell.

    Other Ranks.
    3 batmen
    28 drivers.
    Transport sergeant
    Transport corporal.
    1 ‘G’ clerk
    1 ‘Q’ clerk
    1 ‘O’ clerk

    Vehicles
    All remaining vehicles excluding;
    ‘G’ 4 seater.
    ‘G’ 6 seater.
    Total 27 vehicles
    .

    Employment Platoon.
    1 other rank
    3 drivers

    Vehicles.
    3 30cwt trucks.
    motorcycle

    Commander 51 Division and G1 will move to Port of Embarkation under separate arrangements, accompanied by two drivers and one batman. ‘G’ 6 seater (M606) and ‘G’ four seater (M783) are earmarked for this purpose.

    Remaining personnel of Division HQ will comprise the Rail Party arriving at port on 23 January.


    51 Division Advanced Parties.
    Proceed to port of embarkation on 15th January.

    152 Brigade.
    4 officers, 8 other ranks and 4 vehicles.

    153 Brigade.
    4 officers, 8 other ranks and 4 vehicles.

    154 Brigade.
    4 officers, 8 other ranks and 4 vehicles.

    Divisional Cavalry Regiment (Fife and Forfar).
    1 officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    Headquarters RA.
    1 officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    75 Field Regiment.
    1 officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    76 Field Regiment.
    1 officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    77 Field Regiment.
    1 officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    HQ Divisional RE.
    1 officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    239 Field Park Company.
    1 officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    236 Field Company.
    1 officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    237 Field Company.
    1 officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    238 Field Company.
    1 officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    Signals.
    1 officer, 8 other ranks, 1 vehicle and 6 motorcycles.

    Headquarters RASC.
    1 officer, 3 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    Ammunition Company.
    1 officer, 3 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    Petrol Company.
    1 officer, 3 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    Supply Column.
    1 officer, 3 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    Field Ambulance.
    1 officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle.

    Mike
     
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  8. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    51 Division Road and Rail Parties.

    Approximate strength of road and rail parties.
    (These figures were liable to small alterations.)

    Road Parties were typically scheduled to arrive at the docks two or three days before the sailing date and to sail three days before the rail parties so that the vehicles could be disembarked and ready to join the rail parties. The road parties delivered vehicles to the docks and supervised their loading onto Mechanised Transport ships. These ships were large ocean going cargo ships capable of carrying approximately 180 vehicles. Since these ships rarely had much space for passengers only a small number of army personnel could sail with the vehicles. The personnel were accommodated in barracks or camps near the docks and then embarked on personnel ships which sailed at the same time as the vehicles and three days before the remainder of the unit personnel.

    To assist in identifying the unit to which vehicles belonged Movement Control issued coloured square stickers to be placed on the windscreen. 51 Division had blue stickers. In addition Advanced Parties had a white sticker. These stickers were necessary since Southampton was a busy port with convoys carrying troops and vehicles of more than one formation to more than one destination.

    HQ 51 Division Artillery.
    Road Party. 2 officers, 14 other ranks, 9 vehicles and 3 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 4 officers and 10 other ranks.

    HQ 51 Division RE.
    Road Party. 2 officers, 15 other ranks, 9 vehicles and 4 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 5 officers, 16 other ranks and 1 bicycle.

    Division Signals and LAD.
    Road Party. 5 officers, 220 other ranks, 115 vehicles and 80 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 16 officers and 283 other ranks.

    239 Field Park Company and LAD.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 76 other ranks, 52 vehicles and 9 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 1 officer 99 other ranks and 1 bicycle.

    Divisional Cavalry Regiment (Fife and Forfar) and LAD.
    Road Party. 27 officers, 477 other ranks, 113 vehicles and 42 motorcycles.

    Petrol Company RASC.
    Road Party. 7 officers, 300 other ranks, 92 vehicles and 21 motorcycles.

    Supply Column RASC.
    Road Party. 15 officers, 456 other ranks, 123 vehicles and 38 motorcycles.

    Hygiene Section.
    Road Party. 5 other ranks, 4 vehicles.
    Rail Party. 1 officer, 24 other ranks and 8 bicycles.

    HQ Divisional RASC.
    Road Party.7 officers, 29 other ranks, 8 vehicles and 3 motorcycles.

    Provost Company.
    Road Party. 1 officer, 108 other ranks, 10 vehicles and 92 motorcycles.

    Postal Unit.
    Road Party. 5 other ranks and 4 vehicles.
    Rail Party.1 officer, 20 other ranks and 3 bicycles.

    HQ 152 Infantry Brigade and LAD.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 37 other ranks, 23 vehicles and 4 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 7 officer and 33 other ranks.

    152 Brigade Anti Tank Company.
    Road Party. 1 officer, 20 other ranks, 16 vehicles and 1 motorcycle.
    Rail Party. 3 officer and 46 other ranks

    4 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and14 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 23 officers, 679 other ranks and 35 bicycles.

    6 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and14 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 23 officers, 679 other ranks and 35 bicycles.

    4 Battalion Cameron Highlanders.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and14 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 23 officers, 679 other ranks and 35 bicycles.

    HQ 153 Infantry Brigade and LAD.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 37 other ranks, 23 vehicles and 4 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 7 officer and 33 other ranks.

    153 Brigade Anti Tank Company.
    Road Party. 1 officer, 20 other ranks, 16 vehicles and 1 motorcycle.
    Rail Party. 3 officer and 46 other ranks

    4 Battalion Black Watch.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and14 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 23 officers, 679 other ranks and 35 bicycles.

    5 Battalion Gordon Highlanders.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and14 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 23 officers, 679 other ranks and 35 bicycles.

    6 Battalion Gordon Highlanders.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and14 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 23 officers, 679 other ranks and 35 bicycles.

    HQ 154 Infantry Brigade and LAD.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 37 other ranks, 23 vehicles and 4 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 7 officer and 33 other ranks.

    154 Brigade Anti Tank Company.
    Road Party. 1 officer, 20 other ranks, 16 vehicles and 1 motorcycle.
    Rail Party. 3 officer and 46 other ranks

    6 Battalion Black Watch.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and14 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 23 officers, 679 other ranks and 35 bicycles.

    7 Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and14 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 23 officers, 679 other ranks and 35 bicycles.

    8 Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and14 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 23 officers, 679 other ranks and 35 bicycles.

    75 Field Regiment RA and LAD.
    Road Party. 6 officers, 276 other ranks, 187 vehicles and 30 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 27 officers, 329 other ranks.

    76 Field Regiment RA and LAD.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and14 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 23 officers, 679 other ranks and 35 bicycles.

    77 Field Regiment RA and LAD.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and14 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 23 officers, 679 other ranks and 35 bicycles.

    236 Field Company RE.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 57 other ranks, 35 vehicles and 13 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 3 officers, 195 other ranks and 1 bicycle.

    237 Field Company RE.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 57 other ranks, 35 vehicles and 13 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 3 officers, 195 other ranks and 1 bicycle.

    238 Field Company RE.
    Road Party. 3 officers, 57 other ranks, 35 vehicles and 13 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 3 officers, 195 other ranks and 1 bicycle.

    152 Field Ambulance RAMC.
    Road Party. 2 officers, 53 other ranks, 41 vehicles and 5 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 10 officers and 182 other ranks.

    153 Field Ambulance RAMC.
    Road Party. 2 officers, 53 other ranks, 41 vehicles and 5 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 10 officers and 182 other ranks.

    154 Field Ambulance RAMC.
    Road Party. 2 officers, 53 other ranks, 41 vehicles and 5 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 10 officers and 182 other ranks.

    Ammunition Company RASC.
    Road Party. 11 officers, 389 other ranks, 104 vehicles and 51 motorcycles.

    Antitank Regiment RA and LAD.
    Road Party. 7 officers, 274 other ranks, 171 vehicles and 38 motorcycles.
    Rail Party. 13 officers and 299 other ranks.

    At this time it was not possible to give a firm date for the movement.


    Liaison Officers
    Major J.E. Sterling, 6 Seaforths, is appointed 51st (Highland) Division Liaison Officer with Movement Control (Aldershot Command). His address from 0900 hrs Wednesday 10th January will be c/o Movement Control, The Warren, Heath End, Farnham (Tel. 0211). He will remain there until the last unit has left Aldershot and after the departure of Divisional Headquarters will act as the Divisional Commanders representative in all matters affecting the move from Aldershot to the Port.

    Major H.P. Lindsay, 6 Black Watch, will similarly be attached to Movement Control (Southampton) from a date to be specified later.

    It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of unit and sub unit commanders reading and rereading-
    a) ‘Instructions for officers commanding units ordered overseas’ issued under this headquarters 12 December 1939.
    b) ‘Instructions for officers and other ranks arriving at Southampton in charge of convoys or single vehicles’ also issued under this headquarters 12 December 1939.


    The main body of the division will embark and sail in four flights.

    1st Flight.
    Divisional Headquarters.
    Headquarters Divisional RA.
    Headquarters Divisional RE.
    Headquarters Divisional RASC.
    Divisional Signals.
    Divisional Cavalry Regiment.
    Field Park Company.
    Divisional Petrol Company.
    Divisional Supply Column.
    Provost Company.
    Postal Unit.
    Employment Platoon.
    Intelligence Section.
    Hygiene Section.
    Field Cash Office.
    8 Company Transportation Base Depot.

    Road Party proceed to the docks on 18th January.
    Rail Party proceed to the docks on 23rd January.

    2nd Flight.
    152 Brigade.
    One Field Regiment RA.
    One Field Company RE.
    152 Field Ambulance RAMC.
    Divisional Ammunition Company.

    Road Party proceed to the docks on 21st January.
    Rail Party proceed to the docks on 26th January.

    3rd Flight.
    153 Brigade.
    One Field Regiment RA.
    One Field Company RE.
    153 Field Ambulance RAMC.
    154 Field Ambulance RAMC.

    Road Party proceed to the docks on 24th January.
    Rail Party proceed to the docks on 29th January.

    4th Flight.
    154 Brigade.
    One Field Regiment RA.
    One Field Company RE.
    51 Antitank Regiment RA.

    Road Party proceed to the docks on 27th January.
    Rail Party proceed to the docks on 1st February.

    Advance Parties ensured that all necessary preparations had been made on the far side of the Channel and received units in the Assembly Area, Staging Areas and Concentration Area.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2022
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  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    51 Division Record of Sailings from UK.

    The Record of Sailings from the UK are not to be found in the appendices to 51 Division A&Q War Diaries. Mine were kindly sent to me by Morrisc8. Thank you.

    The records are in tabular form which I have not attempted to reproduce. They give the unit and the place from which they set out to the docks. All of these places are in the Aldershot area, either in barracks or camps. The Regular Army units which had been based there had moved to France and formations based in the more remote areas of the UK occupied them so as to reduce travel time. The records also give the date on which units actually sailed whereas the appendices to 51 A&Q War Diaries give the date when units were scheduled to arrive at the docks.

    Plan W5, the movement of follow up Territorial Divisions to France.
    Southampton to Le Havre.


    Advance Parties.
    Headquarters 51 Division from Aldershot.
    4 Officers, 9 other ranks and 5 vehicles. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Headquarters 152 Infantry Brigade from Cove.
    4 Officers, 8 other ranks and 4 vehicles. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Headquarters 153 Infantry Brigade from Cove.
    4 Officers, 8 other ranks and 4 vehicles. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Headquarters 154 Infantry Brigade from Aldershot.
    4 Officers, 8 other ranks and 4 vehicles. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    51 Division Cavalry Regiment from Aldershot. (Fife and Forfar Yeomanry).
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Headquarters 51 Division RA from Aldershot.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Field Regiment RA from Aldershot.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Field Regiment RA from Eshott.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Field Regiment RA from Eshott.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Anti Tank Regiment RA from Aldershot.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Headquarters 51 Division RE from Aldershot.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Field Park Company RE from Aldershot.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Field Company RE from Cove.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Field Company RE from Cove.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Headquarters 51 Division Signals from Aldershot.
    2 Officers, 8 other ranks 2 vehicles and 6 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    Headquarters 51 Division RASC from Woking.
    1 Officer, 3 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    51 Division Ammunition Company from Aldershot.
    1 Officer, 3 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    51 Division Petrol Company from Aldershot.
    1 Officer, 3 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    51 Division Supply Column from Woking.
    1 Officer, 3 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    51 Division Ammunition Company from Aldershot.
    1 Officer, 3 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    152 Field Ambulance from Aldershot.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    153 Field Ambulance from Cove.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.

    153 Field Ambulance from Cove.
    1 Officer, 2 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 17 January.


    1 Flight. Division Headquarters and unbrigaded units.
    51 Division Cavalry Regiment and LAD from Aldershot.
    27 Officers, 477 other ranks, 113 vehicles and 42 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 20 January.

    Headquarters 51 Division RASC from Woking.
    7 Officers, 29 other ranks, 8 vehicles and 3 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 20 January.

    51 Division Petrol Company from Aldershot.
    7 Officers, 300 other ranks, 92 vehicles and 21 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 20 January.

    51 Division Supply Column from Woking.
    15 Officers, 456 other ranks, 123 vehicles and 38 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 20 January.

    51 Division Provost Company from Cove.
    1 Officer, 108 other ranks, 10 vehicles and 92 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 20 January.

    51 Division Cash Office from Aldershot.
    1 Officer, 3 other ranks and 1 vehicle. Road Party sailing 20 January.


    2 Flight. 152 Brigade group.
    Headquarters 152 Infantry Brigade and LAD from Cove.
    3 Officers, 37 other ranks, 23 vehicles and 4 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 23 January.
    7 Officers and 33 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 26 January.

    Brigade Anti Tank Company from Cove.
    1 Officer, 20 other ranks, 16 vehicles and 1 motorcycle. Road Party sailing 23 January.
    3 Officers and 45 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 26 January.

    4 Seaforth Highlanders from Woking.
    3 Officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and 14 motor cycles. Road Party sailing 23 January.
    23 Officers and 679 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 26 January.

    6 Seaforth Highlanders from Aldershot.
    3 Officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and 14 motor cycles. Road Party sailing 23 January.
    23 Officers and 679 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 26 January.

    Field Regiment RA and LAD from Aldershot.
    6 Officers, 276 other ranks, 187 vehicles and 30 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 23 January.
    27 Officers and 329 0ther ranks. Rail Party sailing 26 January.

    Field Company RE from Cove.
    3 Officers, 57 other ranks, 35 vehicles and 13 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 23 January.
    3 Officers and 195 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 26 January.

    152 Field Ambulance from Cove.
    3 Officers, 49 other ranks, 38 vehicles and 5 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 23 January.
    9 Officers and 180 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 26 January.

    51 Division Ammunition Company from Aldershot.
    11 Officers, 389 other ranks, 104 vehicles and 54 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 23 January.

    4 Cameron Highlanders from Aldershot.
    3 Officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and 14 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 23 January.
    23 Officers and 679 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 26 January.


    3 Flight. 153 Brigade group.
    Headquarters 153 Brigade and LAD from Cove.
    3 Officers, 37 other ranks, 23 vehicles and 4 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 26 January.
    7 Officers and 33 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 29 January.

    Brigade Anti Tank Company from Cove.
    1 Officer, 20 other ranks, 16 vehicles and 1 motorcycle. Road Party sailing 26 January.
    3 Officers and 46 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 29 January.

    4 Black Watch from Cove.
    3 Officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and 14 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 26 January.
    23 Officers and 679 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 29 January.

    5 Gordon Highlanders from Cove.
    3 Officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and 14 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 26 January.
    23 Officers and 679 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 29 January.

    6 Gordon Highlanders from Cove.
    3 Officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and 14 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 26 January.
    23 Officers and 679 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 29 January.

    Field Regiment RA and LAD from Ewshot.
    6 Officers, 276 other ranks, 187 vehicles and 30 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 26 January.
    27 Officers and 329 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 29 January.

    Field Company RE from Cove.
    3 Officers, 57 other ranks, 35 vehicles and 13 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 26 January.
    3 Officers and 196 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 29 January.

    153 Field Ambulance from Cove.
    3 Officers, 49 other ranks, 36 vehicles and 5 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 26 January.
    9 Officers and 180 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 29 January.

    154 Field Ambulance from Cove.
    3 Officers, 49 other ranks, 36 vehicles and 5 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 26 January.
    9 Officers and 180 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 29 January.


    4 Flight. 154 Brigade group.
    Headquarters 154 Brigade and LAD from Aldershot.
    3 Officers, 37 other ranks, 23 vehicles and 4 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 29 January.
    7 Officers and 33 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 1 February.

    Brigade Anti Tank Company from Aldershot.
    1 Officer, 20 other ranks, 16 vehicles and 1 motorcycle. Road Party sailing 29 January.
    3 Officers and 46 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 1 February.

    6 Black Watch from Aldershot.
    3 Officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and 14 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 29 January.
    23 Officers and 679 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 1 February.

    7 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from Aldershot.
    3 Officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and 14 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 29 January.
    23 Officers and 679 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 1 February.

    8 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from Aldershot.
    3 Officers, 96 other ranks, 65 vehicles and 14 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 29 January.
    23 Officers and 679 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 1 February.

    Field Regiment RA and LAD from Ewshot.
    6 Officers, 276 other ranks, 187 vehicles and 30 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 29 January.
    27 Officers and 329 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 1 February.

    Field Company RE from Cove.
    3 Officers, 57 other ranks, 35 vehicles and 13 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 29 January.
    3 Officers and 196 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 1 February.

    51 Anti Tank Regiment and LAD from Aldershot.
    7 Officers, 274 other ranks, 171 vehicles and 38 motorcycles. Road Party sailing 29 January.
    13 Officers and 299 other ranks. Rail Party sailing 1 February.

    Mike.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2022
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  10. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    51 Division in France.

    Getting to and across the Channel was the easy bit. On debarkation the units went to Assembly Areas. Rail parties would again travel by rail while road parties collected their vehicles and then travelled by road, remembering to drive on the right. When the units were assembled they moved forwards to the Concentration Area where they passed to GHQ control. For 51 Division the journey would be some 140 miles from Le Havre to St. Pol. This was too far to travel by road in one day so there was a Staging Area along the road from Blagny to Airaines. This was approximately half way.


    Delays.
    ‘The best laid plans of mice and men oft gang awry’
    In this case bad weather interfered with the plan and alternative plans had to be made.


    24 January.
    Divisional Headquarters arrived at Bolbec, some 30 miles from Le Havre.

    25 January.
    The Advanced Headquarters moved on to Bethune.

    27 January.
    152 Brigade Group Rail Party and 153 Brigade Group Road Party held up at Southampton through fog. 1st Flight move to Staging Area delayed by bad roads in neighbourhood of Neufchatel and arrive very late.

    28 January.
    1st Flight moved to Staging Area but struck bad roads in neighbourhood of Neufchatel and arrived very late. 152 Brigade Group Rail Party arrived very late and reached billets in darkness.

    29 January.
    Weather conditions very bad. Most roads covered with ice. No movement of 1st Flight. Rain falling and ice forming. Most telephone and telegraph communications upset. D/Rs working very well under very difficult conditions. 153 Brigade Group Road Party arriving at all hours.

    30 January.
    Weather conditions extremely bad. Many roads blocked with fallen trees and telephone poles. 1st Flight attempt to reach Concentration Area. 80 vehicles failed to get through and billet at Pecquigny. All light cut off at Bolbec. Communications almost impossible. 153 Brigade Group Rail Party and 154 Brigade Group Road Party held up in Channel.

    31 January.
    1st Flight completes move. Roads better but blocked with trees and telephone poles. No light or mains water at Bolbec. 153 Brigade Group Rail Party arrive having taken 6 hours to complete a journey of 20 miles from Le Havre. Some units do not reach billets until 0200. No move by 2nd Flight because of fog.

    1 February.
    No move by 2nd Flight. 154 Brigade Group Road Party continue to arrive. Fog but roads fairly clear of ice. One man of 4 Seaforths drowned in ditch.

    2 February.
    No move by 2nd Flight Road Party. 154 Brigade Group Rail Party delayed. Weather bad and road conditions bad.

    3 February.
    154 Brigade Group Rail Party arrive in Assembly Area. 2nd Flight Road Party move to Staging Area in fog. Arrive late. Men in Assembly Area cold and wet.

    4 February.
    2nd Flight delayed at Staging Area owing to thaw precautions. Orders received that 3rd Flight will proceed entirely by rail. 1st and 2nd Flights Rail Party leave.



    153 Brigade of 51 Division.
    The planned move to the Staging Area.

    Movement was generally in brigade groups. Since the groups movement orders are all similar only 153 Brigade orders are given here. Other groups have different dates and different destinations, and have different divisional units attached for the moves.

    153 Infantry Brigade.
    76 Field Regiment.
    237 Field Company.
    153 Field Ambulance.
    154 Field Ambulance.
    Section Provost Company.

    Road Parties of the above will move under command of 153 Brigade to Staging Area on February 2 and forward to Concentration Area on February 3.

    Billets have been selected in the Staging Area North and South of road Blangy M66 – Airaines M86. Captain J.E. Prain has been appointed Area Commandant for the division and his address during hours of actual move will be
    Hotel de la Poste
    Blangy
    Tel. Blangy 20.

    He will otherwise be found at:
    French Control Post
    Rue St. Denis
    Airaines
    Te;Airaines 79.

    Unit billeting parties will report to Captain Prain at Blagny by 1300 hours on 1 Feb. They will again report to Captain Prain at Blagny at 1130 hours 2 Feb and meet units at entrance to Blangy and guide them to billets for the night.

    Advance Parties will meet units at dispersal point road junction H1814 on 3 Feb to guide units to billets.

    Control of movement to the staging area will be arranged by commander 153 Brigade. Traffic Control posts are essential at the points given in Appendix ‘C’. Commander 153 Brigade will establish a Movement Control Post at the church at Neufchatel M44. Messages may be telephoned from the French Post Office 600 yards from the post.

    The leading and rear vehicles of each serial will notify the Movement Control Post as they pass. Officer commanding post will inform Rear Divisional Headquarters when the last unit has passed.

    Traffic Control from Blangy to Doullens N18 is carried out by French Regulatrice Routiere who wear green and white arm bands.

    Traffic Control between Doullens and Dispersal Point will be arranged by Commander 153 Brigade.

    A Control Post will be established under orders of Advanced Divisional Headquarters.


    The following points require special attention.

    - A convoy will not be delayed because vehicles are not ready to start. Any such vehicles will move in rear of the last convoy.

    - The timing for the head and tail of convoys must be strictly complied with. Movement to Starting Point will be evenly regulated and be at the same pace as for the rest of the movement. Convoys should not halt at the Starting Point.

    - LADs and unit fitters will move at the rear of units to deal with breakdowns.

    - The driver of a broken down vehicle will ensure that following vehicles are not held up by signalling them on, and by displaying Pass sign.

    - Camouflage nets will not be spread over vehicle loads during movement.

    - Units must keep to their allotted positions in the column and will not pass vehicles of other units unless the latter are broken down and give the sign to pass.

    - Great care must be taken in driving round corners in towns and villages, especially drivers with vehicles in tow.

    - The density of 10 v.t.m. will be adhered to as follows- units will despatch vehicles in blocks of approx.. 10 vehicles with a gap of 80 yards between vehicles. Blocks will be 1000 yards apart. An officer or warrant officer with map will be in leading vehicle of each block.
    (v.t.m.=vehicles to the mile.)

    It is essential that each driver has a route card.

    As no baggage can be carried by rail parties other than that for personnel proceeding by train, units that normally move complete in MT will do so complete with baggage.

    Any officer who has occasion to use the French civil telephone should be provided with a letter in the following form.
    Le porteur de la presents letter, Mons …………….. de l’Armee Britenique est authorisee a telephoner ………..
    Signed ……………

    Units will check watches the night before with civil telephone authorities.


    Appendix ‘A’.
    Move to Staging Area.

    Density. 10 v.t.m.
    Speed. RA 15 m.i.h. Remainder 20 m.i.h.
    Route Yvetot L93 – Totes M14 – St Saens M33 – Neufchatel M44 – Foucaumont M55 – Blangy M66.

    2 February.
    Serial 1. Headquarters 153 Brigade. 39 vehicles. To Airaines M85.
    SP x roads L9433. Time: Head 0830. Tail 0845. Time to arrive Blangy 1145. No Halt.

    Serial 2. 237 Field Company RE. 35 vehicles. To Airaines M85.
    SP x roads L9433. Time: Head 0850. Tail 0900. Time to arrive Blangy 1205. No Halt.

    Serial 3. 153 Field Ambulance. 35 vehicles. To Airaines M85.
    SP x roads L9433. Time: Head 0905. Tail 0915. Time to arrive Blangy 1220. No Halt.

    Serial 4. 4 Black Watch. 55 vehicles. To Allery M86.
    SP x roads L9433. Time: Head 0920. Tail 0940. Time to arrive Blangy 1235. No Halt.

    Serial 5. 5 Gordons. 55 vehicles. To Allery M86.
    SP x roads L9433. Time: Head 0945. Tail 1005. Time to arrive Blangy 1330. Halt 1145 - 1215.

    Serial 6. 6 Gordons. 55 vehicles. To Allery M86.
    SP x roads L9433. Time: Head 1010. Tail 1030. Time to arrive Blangy 1355. Halt 1145 - 1215.

    Serial 7. 154 Field Ambulance. 35 vehicles. To Allery M86.
    SP x roads L9433. Time: Head 0945. Tail 1045. Time to arrive Blangy 1420. Halt 1145 - 1215.

    Serial 8. Army Field Workshop. 76 vehicles. To Airaines M86.
    SP church Yvetot. Time: Head 1110. Tail 1140. Time to arrive Blagny 1540. No Halt.

    Serial 9. 76 Field Regiment RA. 115 vehicles. To Biencourt M67, Ramburelles M66, Bouttencourt/Blagny.
    SP church Yvetot. Time: Head 1215. Tail 1305. Time to arrive Blagny 1650. No Halt.

    v.t.m. vehicles to mile.
    m.i.h. miles in hour.
    SP. Starting Point.
    Brigade Headquarters includes Provost Company and anti tank company.
    Army Field Workshop travels under command 154 Brigade.
    76 Field Regiment needs three billeting areas.
    L93, M14 etc are map references. We do not have the map.


    Appendix ‘C’.
    Traffic Control Posts en route staging area.

    Traffic Control Posts are essential at the following points.
    1. X roads Yerville M0841.
    2. Totes M1842.
    3. Entrance to St Saens M33.
    4. Centre of St Saens M33 (Sharp right turn).
    5. Left fork after St Saens M33.
    6. East of St Saens M4141. (Dieppe – Paris).
    7. Neufchatel M44. Left fork at east end of town.
    8. Neufchatel M44. Left fork 2 miles on.

    Mike
     
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  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    153 Infantry Brigade.
    Arrival in Assembly Area of Rail Parties. (From Le Havre).
    Personnel only.


    Rail Parties of 3rd Flight will arrive tomorrow January 30th in accordance with attached movement table.
    Train timings are as follows.

    Train ‘A’ to Yvetot.
    Depart Triage Sidings 1210. Arrive approx 1315.
    Brigade Antitank Company ex ship Lady of Mann.
    6 Gordons ex ship Lady of Mann.
    9 Army Field Workshop ex ship Lorina.

    Train ‘B’ to Lilleboone.
    Depart Gare Maritime 1230. Arrive 1345.
    76 Field Regiment ex ship Lady of Mann.
    154 Field Ambulance ex ship Ben My Chree.
    5 Gordons ex ship Ben My Chree.

    Train ‘C’ to Yvetot.
    Depart Gare Maritime 1250. Arrive 1400.
    Headquarters 153 Brigade ex ship Ulster Monarch.
    153 Field Ambulance ex ship Ulster Monarch.
    4 Black Watch ex ship Ulster Monarch.
    237 Field Company ex ship Ben My Chree.

    Unit transport will be used to convey baggage from stations. The only information regarding baggage is that 153 Field Ambulance and 4 Black Watch have 5 tons and 10 tons respectively.

    All troops will march to billets and will not be conveyed in MT.

    Marshalling space at the station is very restricted. No more transport than is necessary should be sent to the station.

    All units will arrange for the necessary guides to meet rail parties and guide them to their billets.

    Rail parties did not go to the Staging Area but travelled by rail from the Assembly Area to the Concentration Area. (See below).

    Mike.
     
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  12. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    153 Brigade move to Concentration Area.
    There was a delay in sending 51 Division forward to the Concentration Area because of bad weather. The following was sent to all units.

    There will be no onward movement from Assembly Area on 2.2.40.

    Unless weather conditions make further changes necessary the following revised timetable will be adhered to.
    (It was adhered to.)

    Road Parties.
    Density. 10 v.t.m.
    Speed. RA 15 m.i.h. Remainder 20 m.i.h.
    Route Longpre M87 – Doullens N18 – Frevent H10 – St Pol H11.

    3 February.
    Serial 1. Headquarters 153 Brigade. 39 vehicles. To road fork H1814.
    SP road fork north exit Airaines. Time: Head 0900. Tail 0915. Time to arrive road fork H1814 1130. No Halt.

    Serial 2. 237 Field Company RE. 35 vehicles. To road fork H1814.
    SP road fork north exit Airaines. Time: Head 0920. Tail 0930. Time to arrive road fork H1814 1150. No Halt.

    Serial 3. 153 Field Ambulance. 35 vehicles. To road fork H1814.
    SP road fork north exit Airaines. Time: Head 0935. Tail 0945. Time to arrive road fork H1814 1235. Halt 1145-1215.

    Serial 4. 4 Black Watch. 55 vehicles.
    SP road fork north exit Airaines. Time: Head 0950. Tail 1010. Time to arrive road fork H1814 1250. Halt 1145 - 1215.

    Serial 5. 5 Gordons. 55 vehicles.
    SP road fork north exit Airaines. Time: Head 1015. Tail 1035. Time to arrive road fork H1814 1315. Halt 1145 - 1215.

    Serial 6. 6 Gordons. 55 vehicles.
    SP road fork north exit Airaines. Time: Head 1040. Tail 1100. Time to arrive road fork H1814 1340. Halt 1145 - 1215.

    Serial 7. 154 Field Ambulance. 35 vehicles.
    SP road fork north exit Airaines. Time: Head 1105. Tail 1115. Time to arrive road fork H1814 1405. Halt 1145 - 1215.

    Serial 8. Army Field Workshop. 76 vehicles.
    SP road fork north exit Airaines. Time: Head 1145. Tail 1215. Time to arrive road fork H1814 1600. No Halt.

    Serial 9. 76 Field Regiment RA. 115 vehicles.
    SP road fork north exit Airaines. Time: Head 1220. Tail 1310. Time to arrive road fork H1814 1635. No Halt.

    v.t.m. vehicles to mile.
    m.i.h. miles in hour.
    SP. Starting Point.


    Army Field Workshop travels under command 154 Brigade.
    76 Field Regiment needs three billeting areas.
    L93, M14 etc are map references. We do not have the map.



    Move to Concentration Area. Rail Parties.

    153 Brigade Headquarters.
    153 Brigade Antitank Company.
    4 Black Watch.
    5 Gordons.
    154 Field Ambulance.
    Provost Company.

    The above units will move to Concentration Area by rail on the night 8/9 February as under. Numbers of personnel are approx.

    Train No 1.
    4 Black Watch. 26 Officers, 600 other ranks, 35 bicycles, 14 motorcycles, 6 30cwt lorries, 2 light vehicles.
    153 Brigade HQ. 2 Officers, 50 other ranks, 3 motorcycles, 1 30 cwt lorry, 1 light vehicle.
    153 Brigade A/T Company. 2 Officers, 50 other ranks, 3 motorcycles, 1 30cwt lorry, 1 light vehicle.
    Entraining Station: Yvetot. Start entraining 1930. Train leaves 2330.

    Train No 2.
    5 Gordons. 26 Officers, 600 other ranks, 35 bicycles, 14 motorcycles, 6 30cwt lorries, 2 light vehicle
    154 Field Ambulance. 9 Officers, 180 other ranks, 2 30 cwt lorry.
    153 Brigade A/T Company. 2 Officers, 50 other ranks, 3 motorcycles, 1 30cwt lorry, 1 light vehicle.
    Entraining Station: Yvetot. Start entraining 2330. Train leaves 0330 9 February.

    Train No 3.
    4 Black Watch. 3 Officers, 100 other ranks, 6 30cwt lorries, 41 light vehicles, 10 Carriers.
    Entraining Station: Havre. Start entraining 1859. Train leaves 2359.

    Train No 4.
    5 Gordons. 3 Officers, 100 other ranks, 6 30cwt lorries, 41 light vehicles, 10 Carriers.
    Entraining Station: Rouen Martinville. Start entraining 0050 9 February. Train leaves 0550.

    Train No 5.
    153 Brigade HQ. 1 Officer, 19 other ranks, 1 30cwt lorry, 10 light vehicles.
    153 Brigade A/T Company. 1 Officer, 30 other ranks, 14 light vehicles.
    3 Sections Supply Column. 3 Officers, 72 other ranks, 9 motorcycles, 14 light vehicles, 15 3ton lorries.
    Entraining Station: Rouen Gauche. Start entraining 1923. Train leaves 0023.

    Train No 6.
    154 Field Ambulance. 2 Officers, 50 other ranks, 23 30cwt lorries, 10 light vehicles, 3 3ton lorries.
    Section Provost Company. 24 other ranks, 20 bicycles. 1 light vehicle.
    Entraining Station: Balbec Ville. Start entraining 1943. Train leaves 0043.

    Train 1 will probably be changed to \lillebonne but units detailed should work on times given meantime.

    Permission may ultimately be given for entrainment of vehicle trains to start earlier than time given so that entraining may be done in daylight. This is not yet definite.

    Units entraining at Balbec and Yvetot (and Lillebonne if any) will meet RTO at Balbec Ville Station at 1700 hours this evening to discuss entrainment details. Other units will make contact with RTO at their own entrainment stations tomorrow morning.

    153 Brigade will report to these Headquarters the names of officers detailed as offices commanding trains.


    Medical.
    A Medical Officer and two medical orderlies with equipment will be provided for trains as under.
    Train No 1. 4 Black Watch.
    Train No 2. 154 Field Ambulance.

    A medical orderly with equipment will be provided for trains as under.
    Train No 3. 154 Field Ambulance.
    Train No 4. 5 Gordons.
    Train No 5. 154 Field Ambulance.
    Train No 6. 154 Field Ambulance.

    Eight medical orderlies from 154 Field Ambulance will be attached for all purposes from 8 February to Headquarters 154 Infantry Brigade for trains on subsequent days.

    154 Field Ambulance was part of the 154 Brigade group but was travelling with 153 Brigade.

    Trains were operated by the French SNCF Nord region.

    It is assumed that small vehicles included cars, 8cwt trucks and 15cwt trucks.

    RTO = Rail Transport Officer from Movement Control.

    No 1 Train did indeed leave Villebonne and not Yvetot. It was to be ready for loading at 1530 and leave at 2100.


    Similar trains carried similar units of 51 Division on other days.
    4 February.
    The following orders have been received from GHQ.

    154 Brigade group and 153 Brigade group, less 9 Army Field Workshop, will move by train to Concentration Area as under.

    8 February.
    5 Gordons.
    4 Black Watch.
    153 Brigade Headquarters and Antitank Company.
    154 Field Ambulance.
    15 – 25 lorries of Supply Column.

    9 February.
    6 Gordons.
    237 Field Company.
    51 Antitank Regiment.

    11 February.
    76 Field Regiment.
    77 Field Regiment.

    12 February.
    6 Black Watch.
    7 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
    8 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
    154 Brigade Headquarters and Antitank Company.
    28 Field Company.
    Remainder of Supply Column.

    9 Army Field Workshop and all Light Aid Detachments will not travel by train but will await orders to move by road.

    Mike.
     
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  13. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    11 Field Company RE movement to France September 1939.

    In the initial movement of Regular Army Divisions to France in September and early October it was necessary to use several ports and routes in order to meet the promised deadline of four divisions in five weeks. While the route from Southampton to Cherbourg was the one most used two other routes were also used, Southampton to Brest and Bristol Channel to St Nazaire. Both of these additional routes involved much longer sea voyages and much longer journeys to reach the Concentration Area in northern France.

    From the War Diary of 11 Field Company RE of 2 Division. 13 to 20 September.

    This relatively small unit had a complicated transfer to France. Starting from Aldershot the rail party went to Southampton where it embarked on Royal Sovereign, a cross Channel ferry. The road party travelled by road to Newport, one of the Bristol Channel ports, where the vehicles were embarked on MT ships while the personnel embarked on Ulster Prince and Tynwald. The rail party disembarked at Cherbourg and travelled by train to Sable and then marched to Beaumont. The road party disembarked at St Nazaire, travelled to Nantes by rail, collected its vehicles and drove to Beaumont to join the rest of the company.


    Z is the day war was declared and mobilisation began.

    13 September. Z plus 12.
    Aldershot.
    Mobilisation complete except for closing down of office and final destruction of documents. Handing over to QMRE (Quarter Master Royal Engineers) and officer in charge of details.
    Strength. Officers 6, Sappers 203, Drivers 48.
    Advance Party departs, consisting of Lieutenant Daly, Lance Sergeant Harrop and Driver Heath. Transport taken-one Office Truck.

    14 September. Z plus 13.
    Aldershot. Office – changeover from Peace Files to War Files.

    15 September. Z plus 14.
    Aldershot. Closing of accounts.

    16 September. Z plus 15.
    Aldershot. Road Party departs – left Aldershot at 0715 hrs. Captain R.F.C. Weallens in charge, remainder of party, 2 Lieutenant J.R. de G. Pilkinson and 52 other ranks. Arrived at Newport at 1730 hrs. Moved to Rest Camp.

    17 September. Z plus 16.
    Aldershot. Company completed final details of mobilisation.
    Newport. Road Party loaded six motorcycles.

    18 September. Z plus 17.
    Aldershot. Normal company activities.
    Newport. Road Party loaded six motorcycles. 2 Lieutenant Pilkinson embarked on SS Ulster Prince with 13 other ranks.

    19 September. Z plus 18.
    Aldershot. Final preparations for departure on Wednesday.
    Newport. Road Party embarked all trucks and half 30cwts.

    20 September. Z plus 19.
    Aldershot. Rail Party departs from Farnborough Station 1200 hrs, arriving at Southampton Docks at 1400 hrs, embarking at 15.15 hrs on SS Royal Sovereign. Strength embarking – Officers 3, other ranks 195.
    Newport. Road Party completed loading and embarked at 1600 hrs on SS Tynewald.

    21 September. Z plus 22.
    Cherbourg. Rail party reaches Cherbourg, disembarked at 1100 hrs. Entrained for Sable at 15.15 hrs. Departed at 1706 hrs.
    Newport. Road Party off Newport at dawn. Sailed in convoy at 1200 hrs.

    22 September. Z plus 23.
    Sable. Rail Party arrived at Sable at 0800 hrs, marches to Beaumont arriving at 1230 hrs. No3 Section billeted in chateau a mile out of Beaumont.
    St. Nazaire. Rail Party disembarked at St Nazaire at 1300 hrs and entrained for Nantes.

    23 September. Z plus 22.
    Beaumont. Rail Party – billets inspected by CRE and Division during the morning. Opening and closing times for cafes brought into force. Bren gun and A/Tk Training carried out be NCOs and men. Night picquet detailed 1800 hrs to 0600 hrs.
    Nantes. Rest day for men, paid out 1700 hrs.

    24 September. Z plus 23.
    Beaumont. Rail Party. No1 Section moved to Ballee – No2 Section to Saint Loup. Training programme arranged, rifle exercises etc.
    Nantes. Road Party. Disembarking of vehicles, 12 vehicles sent forward under command of Lieutenant Pilkinson.

    25 September. Z plus 24.
    Beaumont. Rail Party. Company routine as usual. Arrival of 2nd Lieutenant Pilkinson and 12 vehicles.
    Nantes. Road Party. Disembarked remaining vehicles and in convoy proceeded to Savenay under Captain Weallens.

    26 September. Z plus 25.
    Beaumont. Company is united, under Captain Weallens left Savenay at 1030 hours arriving at Beaumont at 1600 hours. Company transport now complete each section having its own transport with the section. Advance Party left for Concentration Area under lieutenant Frederickson.

    27 September. Z plus 26.
    Beaumont. Lieutenant Pilkinson i/c first reinforcements departs for base. Transport packed ready for move to first staging area (150 miles).


    Notes.

    Sable is to the west of Le Mans. This was a major assembly area on the routes, both road and rail, to the north. There were many other 2 Division units billeted in the area.

    Savenay is close to St Nazaire and was the site of 2 Base Ordnance Depot. It had good road and rail connections with Rennes and Le Mans.

    All units going to France included first reinforcements. These remained in the Base Area until required.

    It was usual for the Road Party with vehicles to sail three days before the Rail Party. This allowed time for the vehicles to be disembarked and ready for the Rail Party when it arrived. Note that on disembarkation there may be two rail parties, one being the drivers and other personnel who delivered the vehicles to the docks and then crossed to France on personnel ships, collecting the vehicles on arrival. Nantes handled vehicles but not personnel so drivers disembarked at St Nazaire and travelled to Nantes. Later Nantes would handle only unaccompanied vehicles destined for the reserve vehicle parks of the RAOC and RASC


    In any move there will be an Advance Party which moves before the rest of the unit in order to ensure that arrangements are in place and guide the main party. Larger units also have a Rear Party which has departed after the main party, having remained to tidy up and ensure that nothing and no one has been left behind.

    Units moving north stopped at a staging area near Rouen before continuing to the divisional concentration area in the forward zone.

    Mike.
     
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  14. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    BC(!)F and DB Convoys. September/October 1939.

    The Bristol Channel to St. Nazaire and Brest convoys and the Southampton to Brest convoys only sailed for the five weeks of the initial deployment of the BEF to France.

    Bristol Channel fast convoys. (BC(!)F Convoys.

    The normal convoys sailing from the Bristol Channel had a convoy speed of 10 knots. The Cross Channel, and other, ferries were capable of 20 to 25 knots so they had a convoy speed of 20 knots and sailed separately from the slow convoys. The date when the ships left the Bristol Channel differs from the date they left port. Since ships sailed from more than one port convoys formed in the Bristol Channel, being marshalled by the Royal Navy escorts, and sailed the following day.

    11 Field Company RE sailed from Newport on SS Tynwald on 21 September.

    Convoy BC1F. Fast personnel convoy. Left Bristol Channel 11 September.
    Fenella. 2,376 tons. Personnel.
    Tynwald. 2,376 tons. Personnel.
    Escorts.
    Keith.
    Vivacious.

    Convoy BC3F. Fast personnel convoy. Left Bristol Channel 18 September
    Fenella. 2,376 tons. Personnel.
    St. Julian. 1,952 tons. Personnel.
    Ulster Prince. 3,791 tons. Personnel.
    Escorts:
    Vesper.
    Vivacious.

    Convoy BC4F. Fast personnel convoy. Left Bristol Channel 21 September.
    Lady of Mann. 3,104 tons. Personnel.
    Tynwald. 2,376 tons. Personnel.
    Escorts:
    Electra.
    Vivacious.

    Convoy BC5F. Fast personnel convoy. Left Bristol Channel 24 September.
    Ben My Chree. 2,586. Personnel.
    St. Patrick. 1,922 tons. Personnel.
    Ulster Monarch. 3,791 tons. Personnel.

    Convoy BC6F. Fast personnel convoy. Left Bristol Channel 28 September.
    Fenella. 2,376 tons. Personnel.
    St. Julian. 1,952 tons. Personnel.
    Tynwald. 2,376 tons. Personnel.
    Ulster Prince. 3,791 tons. Personnel.
    Escorts:
    Keith.
    Montrose.

    Convoy BC7F. Fast personnel convoy. Left Bristol Channel 30 September.
    Ben My Chree. 2,586. Personnel.
    Lady of Mann. 3,104 tons. Personnel.
    St. Patrick. 1,922 tons. Personnel.
    Escorts.
    Venetia.
    Wakeful.

    Convoy BC10F. Fast personnel convoy. Left Bristol Channel 9 October.
    Ulster Prince. 3,791 tons. Personnel.
    Escorts:
    Encounter.
    Express.


    Southampton to Brest fast convoys. (DB Convoys).
    As with the Bristol Channel fast convoys those sailing to Brest from Southampton had a convoy speed of 20 knots. The date of sailing from Southampton may not be the date they started their voyage since Southampton is some 20 miles up river and convoys formed in the sheltered waters of the Solent. The names of the ships sailing in DB convoys are not known.

    11 Field Company RE on SS Royal Sovereign sailed from Southampton on 20 September.

    Convoy DB1. Sailing from Southampton 12 September.
    Consisted of one fast personnel ship.
    Escorts.
    Scimitar.
    Vansittart.

    Convoy DB2. Sailing from Southampton 15 September.
    Consisted of one fast personnel ship.
    Escorts.
    Venomous.
    Wren.

    Convoy DB4. Sailing from Southampton 17 September.
    Consisted of one fast personnel ship.

    Convoy DB5. Sailing from Southampton 20 September.
    Consisted of three fast personnel ships.
    Escorts.
    Scimitar.
    Vansittart.

    Convoy DB6. Sailing from Southampton 22 September.
    Consisted of two fast personnel ships.
    Escorts.
    Vansittart.
    Venomous.

    Convoy DB7. Sailing from Southampton 24 September.
    Consisted of two fast personnel ships.
    Escorts.
    Vansittart.
    Venomous.

    Convoy DB8. Sailing from Southampton 27 September.
    Consisted of two fast personnel ships.
    Escorts.
    Vansittart.
    Venomous.

    Convoy DB9. Sailing from Southampton 29 September.
    Consisted of two fast personnel ships.
    Escorts.
    Vansittart.
    Venomous.

    Convoy DB10. Leaving Southampton 1 October.
    Consisted of two fast personnel ships.
    Escorts.
    Arrow.
    Intrepid.

    More information on these personnel ships and the escorts will be posted in Part 2. Ships and shipping.

    Mike.
     
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  15. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Some photographs from the IWM photo archive.


    upload_2022-10-1_8-44-5.png
    Troops embarking at Southampton.

    upload_2022-10-1_8-46-35.png
    Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service nurses disembarking from the ferry Biarritz at Cherbourg. 16 September 1939. RAF personnel are handling baggage.

    upload_2022-10-1_8-53-35.png
    Troops disembarking from the ferry Royal Sovereign at Cherbourg. 16 September. Note the AA gun right centre seems to be deployed for action.

    Mike.

    There will be a brief interlude before Part 2 'Ships and Shipping' is posted.
     
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  16. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Just for fun.
    Some useful slang translations and pronunciations from ‘The War Illustrated’ October 1939.

    Infantryman. Un biffin. Un biffen.
    Recruit. Un bleu. Un bler.
    Bully Beef. Le singe. Le senzh. (Literally monkey)
    Cigarette. Une cibiche. Een see beech.
    Fag end. Un megot. Un maygoh.
    Casualty Clearing Station. Hopital d’evacuation. Oh pee tahl day vak ee ass yon.
    Hard up. N’avoir pas le rond. Nav wahr pah lez ron.
    High Officers. Les grosses legumes. Lay groh lay geem.
    Civilian. Un pekin. Un pay ken.
    To grumble. Rouspeter. Roos pet ay.
    Grub. La becquetance. La bek tans.

    Mike.
     
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