British Army Town Majors WW2

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by Welsh Cav, Aug 12, 2021.

  1. Welsh Cav

    Welsh Cav Member


    my Grandfather was in the South Staffords and being born in 1900 he was sort of too young for active service in WW1 (joined at 18 and and deployed in 1919 left in 23) and perhaps too old as a re-joiner (1940) for active service in WW2. After some duties 'at home' he was deployed to Germany as a Town Major just before hostilities ceased 18 Mar 1945. His service record shows the following:

    23/4/45 - Posted to 305 Base as Town Major.

    20/3/46 - Posted to 211 Military Detachment.

    8/2/47 – Disembarked UK.

    Any advice as to where I might find some info on Town Majors in general and '305 Base' and '211 Military Detachment' specifically in these periods?

    Many thanks
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  2. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    Sounds like a really interesting thread.
    Looking forward to read more about it.
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  3. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Try a search on WW2Talk. Quick look yielded Town Majors and there are other threads.

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  4. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    In The National Archive, not a digitised record unfortunately.

    305 Town Major | The National Archives

    Kind regards, always,

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  5. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

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  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Sorry that I have nothing specific to add, but I'm fascinated by this ACC sort of stuff.
    Always sort of hoping that a decent book on the whole subject of 'Military Control' emerges, but haven't seen one yet.

    Another thread:
    "Town Major"

    The best of luck to you, Welsh Cav.
    I'll be watching the thread with interest & hope you manage to dig into Grandad's service more deeply.
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  7. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Not seen these, then?

    HyperWar: United Kingdom Official Histories

    Military Government
    • Civil Affairs and Military Government: Central Organization and Planning, Donnison, Frank S. V. London: HMSO, 1966
    • Civil Affairs and Military Government: North-West Europe, 1944-46, Donnison, Frank S. V. London: HMSO, 1961
    • Allied Administration of Italy 1943-45, Harris, Charles R. S. London: HMSO, 1957
    • British Military Administration in the Far East, 1943-1946, Donnison, F. S. V. London: HMSO, 1956
    • British Military Administration of Occupied Territories in Africa During the Years 1941-1947, Rennel, Lord Francis London: HMSO, 1948
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  8. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    Town Majors was the term given to the Military Officer given the responsibility for looking after the civilian population of a town or village.

    They were also the representative of the military power that was running their county after the axis powers left.

    It wasn't necessarily a job for Major's either. I have read documents that suggest that a Lt. looked after the Greek Island of Salamis as Town Major after the Germans left.

    I have read they were part peacekeeper, part magistrate, part Councillor, part Mayor. A real jack of all trades.

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  9. Historic Steve

    Historic Steve Researching 21 Army Group/BAOR post VE day

    305 Town Major was recorded under command 49th Divisional Artillery Brigade from Jun 45 to Mar 46, located in Gevelsberg then to Wetter Jan 46 both south-west of Dortmund.

    Do not have a location for 211 (Relief) Military Government Detachment, however was recorded under command 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division, not sure thereafter, from Jun 46 command would have been HQ Military Government Westfalen Region.

    Hope this helps

    21st Army Group later British Army of the Rhine (under construction)
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  10. Welsh Cav

    Welsh Cav Member

    Thanks for the feedback and links into TNA. I must go and look!

    He was Town Major in Wetter on the Ruhr in North Rhine-Westphalia for a while. When he left the Burgermeister presented him with an SS Dress Sword SS Dress Dagger and copy of Mein Kamph!!

    Attached Files:

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  11. Historic Steve

    Historic Steve Researching 21 Army Group/BAOR post VE day

    To add post WW2 the Town Major was responsible for the requestion of civilian accommodation, as the barracks were full of prisoners and displaced persons, with the constant movement of troops he would ensure a smooth handover.
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  12. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Super-smart turn out by your grandfather, great to see "The Holland Patch".

    Kind regards, always,

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  13. Welsh Cav

    Welsh Cav Member

    There was a big BAOR/BA(G) Ordnance Depot at Wetter. If I'd have known then (when I used to visit) what I know now I would have taken more interest!
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  14. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Town Majors were also appointed during ill fated BEF campaign in town and city locations

    I remember seeing a reference to the help given by the Dieppe Town Major in assisting British civilians who were fleeing from the German onslaught. I think one was the wife of a Salvation Army member who was killed when a column of refugees were attacked by the Luftwaffe.

    Lt Col Norman De Coudray Tronson (a Boer War veteran) was the man who at 64 years of age was the oldest survivor from the loss of the Lancastria. In a 1980 publication, compiled by John L West of the Lancastria Survivors Association, Tronson's service and experience of being the Dieppe Town Major was recalled from notes he recorded after the disaster.
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  15. Welsh Cav

    Welsh Cav Member


    Attached Files:

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  16. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    I thought I’d add this little bit of information. I’ve been working on OPERATION GOLDFLAKE, the move of ALL Canadian Troops from Italy to NW Europe (1 Cdn Corps, Corps Troops, Army Troops, GHQ & L of C Troops, 1 Cdn Div, 5 Cdn Armoured Div, 1 Cdn Armoured Brigade a total of 52,665 Officers and men) to rejoin the rest of the Canadians in the First Canadian Army in NW Europe.

    In my research yesterday I was downloading the “Loading Tables indicating assigned Serial numbers” for all these units as they moved from Leghorn to France by sea, most by US LST’s (then by road/rail to Cambrai)…….and I saw these “TOWN MAJOR” units in the GHQ & L of C Troops.

    It seems (at least in the Canadian Army, the Town Major position was a UNIT, and had a small cadre of Officers and OR’s……and their seemed to be various “CLASSES” of these units. I do not know what these mean but as they seem to get larger……could it be the “size” of the unit was based on the size of the town or area they were responsible for……and would the RANK of the actual “TOWN MAJOR” be different?

    Not very big units, I’m guessing probably the Officers, and support staff?

    This is all new to me and now on my list of “what NEW did you learn about WW2 today”


    EDIT. Found these files in Library and Archives Canada……not digitized yet (so not on line)….but would hold much of the information and Clue’s on TOWN MAJOR’s with the Canadian Forces

    TOWN MAJORS - Schedules, msgs, corresp, reports, instrs, location, etc. org & adm Town Majors & Town Major Units - Aug 44/Oct 45 various sources. - (506/Town Majors/1)
    RG24-G-3-1-a. Volume/box number: 10509. File number: 215A21.009 (D77).
    Textual material. [Conditions of access Open]. Government. File.
    TOWN MAJORS - Schedules, msgs, corresp, reports, instrs, location, etc. org & adm Town Majors & Town Major Units - Aug 44/Oct 45 various sources
    Found in:
    Archives / Collections and Fonds
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2021
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  17. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Sorry, not a great photo (it was a contact print), in the LAC Photo Album files (Ottawa)

    Major W. M. Harrison, Civil Affairs Officer of Allied Military Government, and Major E. J. Manning, town major (with military responsibilities of the town such as billetting), talk to a couple of women whose house was destroyed by shell-fire

  18. Welsh Cav

    Welsh Cav Member

  19. Historic Steve

    Historic Steve Researching 21 Army Group/BAOR post VE day

    Town Major Berlin (2).JPG

    Required for the British Military Authorities
    Furniture and other objects are not allowed to be removed from this house
    Entry is strictly forbidden

    Taken from WO 171/4570 Berlin Area G Branch May to Jul 45

    21st Army Group later British Army of the Rhine (under construction)
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  20. Welsh Cav

    Welsh Cav Member

    I remember circa 1994 when the Berlin Bde 'drew down' we were based in Sennelager. When the British established themselves in Berlin post war they requisitioned a number of buildings complete with furniture and fittings and, as part of the drawdown process, were going to hand this all back to the authorities. I understand that whilst the authorities were happy to inherit the buildings the furniture and fittings were a bit of a delicate issue as they didn't want to be seen to be 'profiting' from others misfortune, especially as some of the buildings had been owned by Jews who had sadly perished. It was therefore decided that all the furniture and fittings would be auctioned off. The auction catalogue was amazing as you can immagine. My WOs and Sgts mess put in bids for a number of items of high class furniture (desks, cabinets and even an elephants foot umbrella stand) and got them.
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