Belgian troops in Tenby 1940-41

Discussion in 'Allied Units - Others' started by Skoyen89, Jun 19, 2021.

  1. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Preparing for my next trip to Kew and looking to find the Kew file with the War Diary for the 1st Belgian Fusiliers which was raised in Tenby after Dunkirk from Belgians who had escaped to England. However not coming up with anything in Discovery. I expected it to be in WO166 but have tried more general seraches, without luck!

    Can anyone help me pinpoint the reference so I can pre-order the War Diary.

    I'd also be interested in any other detailed sources that help identify the wartime defences in the Tenby area.

    Many thanks
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  2. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    I suspect that such records would have been given to the Belgian authorities ultimately Tony.

    You may find the series of War Cabinet memoranda titled ORGANISATION OF ALLIED NAVAL, ARMY AND AIR CONTINGENTS useful. These are viewable online and free to download.

    Tenby gets several mentions but I only found two relating to the Fusiliers and these were from late 1942: CAB 66/30/29 (p.14) and CAB 66/33/34 (p. 8). These mention a brief association with the 49th Division, so its war diary might be worth exploring if this is not too late for you. Try also 2 British Liaison Headquarters, Belgium Forces (HQ).

    Apropos your other post: I found the arrangements at TNA worked pretty well. Social distancing is being observed and facemasks must be worn. Desks are well screened from each other and have lightweight camera stands installed. If you use a heavy camera you should specify a need for one of the normal camera stands in the dialogue box at the bottom of the document order form.
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  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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  4. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Many thanks to Richelieu and Tricky Dicky for their help. For some reason I thought Kew would still have kept copies of the War Diaries.

    I have downloaded some of the CAB66 papers and they are useful for providing an an overview of how the Belgians were gathered and integrated. Makes interesting reading, if not directly dealing with my main interest in them . I will also try the Belgian Archives.
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  5. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    I have some of the other War Diaries for troops stationed in Pembrokeshire at the same time and they have the occasional mention of the 1st Belgian Fusiliers and their role in thd defence of Tenby.
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  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Tenby’s war-time defences
    To deter this, the Belgian troops who had come over with the BEF from Dunkirk and were stationed in Tenby at the time were tasked setting vertical iron posts at regular intervals along the beach. We, as kids, pestered them “Avez vous des souvenirs?” receiving uniform buttons and sometimes their names and addresses. This was the period immediately after Dunkirk when seaborne and aerial invasion was expected at any time. - this document has a number of references (25 for the word Belgian) for your unit
    1 Bn. Belgian
    Fusiliers / Belgian
    Fd. Arty. Bty.
    Mobile Column from Crickhowell to
    support 31 Inf. Bde. Gp. to relieve RAF
    St Athan and Llandow
    11/09/41 SSA HDS No. 2,
    Amendment No. 10.

    27/09/40 1 Coy. Belgians moved from Tenby to Llanelly to be attached to 9 Bn. Gloucester Regt

    20/02/41 1 Bn. Belgian Fusiliers arrived at Ystrad Camp, Carmarthen

    18/03/41 1 Bn. Belgian Fusiliers carried out practice occupation of Carmarthen west defences


    Some of them are noted as
    Table 7.4: Selected formation and unit related entries from Carmarthen Sub-Area
    Headquarters War Diary, 08/40-12/41 (TNA WO 166/1270).

    So it may be worth going through this document and picking up the sources
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  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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  8. MongoUK

    MongoUK Junior Member

    Not specifically Fusiliers, but all I have on Belgians in Tenby. Random bits picked from WO 166/5984

    Attached Files:

  9. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Thanks for these Tricky Dicky. I have some of the War Diaries and have been plucking the odd reference from them in parallel! The posts from Mongo UK are interesting - I have just ordered that document for my next visit to Kew (next week). My primary interest is trying to establish the defences of Tenby so it will be interesting to see if it adds anything to that.
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  10. Osborne2

    Osborne2 Well-Known Member

    I have found that sometimes it is necessary to find out what was going on in an area by getting the War Diaries of all levels of the military hierarchy relevant to the area. Front line battalion, brigade, division, Western Command (in this case) sub area, (where it exists), area, district, WC Chief Engineer (I have his diary and it doesn't deal with Tenby) and District Engineer, (later in the war). RE command engineer diaries much better for later years. Western Command engineers in 1940 were it seems, the most neglected for skilled staff as they were on the wrong side of the country for attack. Staffing increased after 1940, especially for the Bolero build up May 1942 onwards. I must stress my look at this in detail was for the North West and not Wales.
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  11. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Hello Tony, have you looked at the website here before?

    La Brigade Piron - Création

    There's mention of 3ème Compagnie de Fusilires being formed at Penally Camp (Tenby) in September 1940.

    Here's the translation page in english. Note "Fusiliers" translates to "rifle company" (and later "rifle battalion").

    The Piron Brigade - Creation

    And this page may prove useful namewise.

    The Piron Brigade - Organization

    Good luck with your search at TNA.

    Kind regards, always,


    P.S. All from a google search in french of "Les soldats Belge en Tenby 1941".
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2021
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  12. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    One mention of Tenby by name in the .pdf below, and various wartime photos of Belgian folks in exile.

    Page 15, "15th February 1941, The first (prime)minister H Pierlot presents the Belgian flag (likely the battalion's colours) to the commandent of the 1st Battalion Fusiliers parading in Tenby"

    My translation, all corrections and brickbats accepted!

    Kind regards, always,


    Attached Files:

  13. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Photo of said presentation/parade in top right hand corner of image below (it's from a hulking 92mb plus pdf covering all aspects and sides of Belgium in World War Two)

    And Tony, if this sort of thing is not new/of no use to you please do say.

    Kind regards, always,


    parade photo 15th Feb 1941.jpg
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  14. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Two soldats Belge on the beach at Tenby amongst the fifteen photos here, plus a nice one of chaps with carrier captioned "Our first Bren carrier at Carmarthen 1941".

    Pallas - OPAC CEGESOMA

    Kind regards, always,

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