Combined Operations Bombardment Unit - Sword Beach

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Mathsmal, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. Mathsmal

    Mathsmal Senior Member


    Does anyone know which Combined Operations Bombardment Unit landed at Sword Beach on D Day?


  2. Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
  3. Mathsmal

    Mathsmal Senior Member

    Many thanks - this is very helpful
  4. Mathsmal

    Mathsmal Senior Member


    It turns out I was looking for the wrong information. I was trying to find out details prior to meeting someone today, and based on the information I had, I thought he was a member of the COBU. It turns out he was actually a member of Party Funshore.
    Now, has anyone ever heard of this group?
    I have found two stories on the BBC People's War, and there is an interview with someone in the IWM archive, but I can find no additional information other than a plea in the Naval Review in 1985 from the Royal Marines Museum who also had no information on the group.

  5. Page 71 of The Naval Review Vol. 73 No. 1 (January 1985) does give a minimum amount of information on Party Funshore:

    Sir,-We are trying to research the history
    of 'Party Funshore' at the moment, and
    finding the records of this organisation
    sadly lacking. We wonder, therefore,
    whether any of your readers could help us.

    'Party Funshore' was formed while
    Operation Overlord was being planned, to
    handle communications during the
    Normandy Campaign and the subsequent
    operations in North-West Europe. It
    consisted of approximately 1,800 RN and
    800 RM personnel, under the command of
    Major P. F. Knight, RM.

    We would be most grateful if any of your
    readers could provide us with the names of
    the various units of which 'Party Funshore'
    was composed, and their itineraries; for it
    appears that they were highly mobile and
    played a most important role in the
    campaign in North-West Europe of 194445.
    Royal Marines Museum
    RM Corps Secretariat
    Royal Marines Eastney
    Southsea, Hants PO4 9PX

    From the various stories (actually, three, not two) on BBC People's War, it looks like Party Funshore was the overall organisation for the Naval Parties. About Naval Parties see this page on the always excellent
    Naval Party, Royal Navy, 1942-1991 by Ben Warlow

    And the second IWM interview should provide more details about Party Funshore, unfortunately it is not available online:
    Winstanley Alan IWM interview (8761)
    "role of Party Funshore and its subdivisions"

    Any idea what Naval Party your contact might have been in, if indeed that is the case? Please give us more details, we're groping in the dark here...

  6. Mathsmal

    Mathsmal Senior Member


    Sorry if the detail has been scant so far.

    The gentleman who I spoke to is actually the author of one of the stories of the BBC People's War site - BBC - WW2 People's War - My Time In Partyfunshore 1944. I interviewed him for the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum oral history collection.

    He landed on Sword Beach at 9am from an LCT, carrying the South Lancs.
    His role was to construct the aerials for communications between the Royal Navy ships offshore, and the beach head. When they (there were two men in the group) got off the beach, they were directed to an orchard where there were other members of the Navy, and later located others in Party Funshore, who had landed earlier and who had already put the aerials up. The BBC link details the full story, but thanks to the helpful link to Naval-History, I've been able to identify that he was with the following sections:

    1592 - Light Mobile Signal Section 3 & Local Simplex Section 6 – COLLINGWOOD 10.44/for re-allocation late 10-11.44/not listed 12.44

    1724 - BAA Signals Repair Org and Pers (BAASROP)(later Maintenance Section. (SMS)) *formed UK to Normandy 07.44/Dieppe 09.44…” Dieppe 10-12.44/Brussels 01.45-06.45/Wolverthem (Brussels) late 06.45 – 10.45/ not listed 11.45 (see also 1591 and 1599)

    1686 - *formed Barnet area with HX – Horsham 21.08.44 – 02.09.44/Dieppe to 08.05.46 at least*
    Port Party Dieppe 10.44 – 05.45/disbanded 06.45 (see 1582)

    1501 - Large Port Party – *formed Hampstead, left UK 19-24.09.44/to Antwerp to 08.05.45 – split into 1501 (Z) and 1501 (G) (q.v.)*
    Antwerp 09.44 – 07.45/Senior Naval Officer Belgium and Staff

    3007 - NAVAL OFFICER IN CHARGE (RNN) Flushing & Party *formed HQ 11.11.44/ Ostend 29.11.44/ Antwerp 27.12.44/ Terneuzen 25.05.45/ NAVAL OFFICER IN CHARGE Flushing 29.05.45/ Flushing 15.02.46* RNN HQ 140 Park Lane 11.44/ Flushing 12.44 – 04.46/ NP Number disc 05.46

    1733 - Commodore Belgium *formed UK 09.44/to Belgium 09.44..* Brussels 10.44- 01.45/FO Belgium Brussels 02-06.45/SNO Belgium 07.45/personnel to NP 1501 29.07.45

    This seems to be a rather obscure unit, so I expect there isn't much other information on their work out there, other than that already identified, but if anyone does know more about what they did, where they were, etc it would be interesting to hear.
    His service certificate indicated that he was with them until the end of the war in Europe.

    Additional information:
    Bean Ken IWM interview (27091)
    Langford Frederick William 'Sam' IWM interview (14143)
    Winstanley Alan IWM interview (8761)

    BBC - WW2 People's War - D-Day to Germany with Party Funshore
    BBC - WW2 People's War - A Naval Post Horn Gallop
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
  7. I'm trying to find out in which craft this gentleman landed. By the way, does he not have a name :confused:?

    In the Landing Table there are only two craft which match the combination "Handcart WT" (Handcart with Wireless Transmitter) and "S LAN R" (South Lancashire Regiment, in this case the 1st Battalion) : Serials/LTIN 213 and 216. It so happens that they are LCT (Mark IV) and that the party marching with the Handcart WT (the only one on board) consisted of two men, which again fits nicely with what you say.

    The unit is identified as "HQ 101 Beach Sub Area Sigs", Mob Serial No 39096, and the Remarks say "with comd post 22 set for Div 'A' wave" for Serial 213 and "with comd post 22 set for Div 'B' wave" for Serial 216.

    These two craft had very similar loads, with some notable differences however. If The Gentleman can remember one or more answers to the following questions we might be able to determine the exact craft he landed with, and therefore many details and even photos:

    a. Were there one or two bulldozers on board?
    b. 1 or 3 Jeeps?
    c. 1 or 2 6 pr anti tank guns?
    d. 0 or 1 lorry (not half-track–there was one on each craft–but plain lorry with winch)
    e. 0 or 1 BARV, i.e. this type of vehicle:
    BARV T151058

    BARV No.1 - Petworth to Gosport, 2 Jun 44 - Sgt J Mapham - H_038987 cropped

    Please bear in mind that it might have been a different craft and/or unit altogether, because this is an early version of the Landing Table and many changes might have occurred since, plus the "WT" mention about the handcart, or the even handcart itself, might have been omitted in the Table..

    Any detail, however insignifiant as it may seem, of the vehicles and/or men carried in the same craft, and, obviously, about the unit to which The Gentleman was attached, would be helpful.

    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
  8. For those of you who did not know (like me) what Div 'A' & 'B' Waves might be, from the ever useful Combined Operations Staff Notebook :

    Divisional 'A' wave

    Manned by
    Divisional HQ (afloat and ashore)
    Tactical divisional HQ (afloat and ashore)
    Brigade HQs (afloat and ashore)
    Assault signal offices

    R/T divisional command wave

    Divisional 'B' wave

    Manned by
    Divisional HQ (afloat and ashore)
    Tactical divisional HQ (afloat and ashore)
    Brigade HQs (afloat and ashore)
    Assault signal offices

    W/T wave may not be opened until divisional tactical HQ ashore can take control

    Not that we know much more now :wacko:

  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    Tricky things Naval Shore Parties. The problem is correlating information from various sources and lists. There is a list of Naval Shore Parties but the numbers are not used in the various documents relating to D Day. Just to confuse the issue more documents relating to Beach Groups and Beach Sub Area say that the first RN personnel ashore were from 'F' RN Commando which was the Beachmaster organisation. 17 RN Beach Signal Section provided the communications. First personnel ashore landed by LCA at H+20 minutes.

    I am a bit stuck at the moment as I am just finishing my annual summer tidy of files etc.

    Michel's units belong to 101 Beach Sub Area and are the army organisation with which the RN Beachmasters worked. The army being responsible for everything inland of high water mark and the navy everything below high water mark.

  10. Veeeery tricky indeed! So far I understand (but please correct me if, or rather when, I'm wrong) that there were two distinct types of Beach Signals Sections: the Royal Navy ones (e.g. 17 RN Beach Sig Sec for SWORD) and the Royal Signals ones (B13 Beach Sig Sec in sp 8 Br Inf Bde, and B10 in sp 185 Br Inf Bde). The Beach Signal Unit consisted of one of each.

    If I understand Mike correctly, the RN Beach Sig Sec was the communications arm of the RN Commando aka Naval Commando. Again using SWORD to illustrate, 17 RN Beach Sig Sec (NP 1539) was the signals component of 'F' RN Commando (NP 1504).

    But back to our initial subject now. On Mike's post Sword Beach we can read:
    which I assume means that this Light Mobile Signal Section RN was under command HQ 101 Beach Sub Area. Could it therefore not be that NP 1592 aka "Light Mobile Signal Section 3 & Local Simplex Section 6" was listed in the Landing Table as [an element of] "HQ 101 Beach Sub Area Sigs"?

    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG


    Nothing British is that straight forward. Nothing military is that straightforward. The arrangements changed through D Day. Initially the beaches were controlled by 3 Division and only when they had moved inland did 101 Beach Sub Area assume control.

    The RN Beach Commandos and RN Beach Signal Sections are indeed listed as units of 101 Beach Sub Area. 17 RN Beach Signal Section landed early and were to provide communications for the beachmasters in the early stages. Army Beach Signal Sections were initially to provide emergency communications for 3 Division Headquarters during the landing. As 3 Division moved inland both army and navy beach sections formed a single Main Beach Signal Station and provide an important interface for handling movement to the beach, landing on the beach and moving inland.

    101 Beach Sub Area documents show that it was planned to land the following for 17 RN Beach Signal Section:
    H+20 minutes. Advanced parties.
    White Beach.
    2 men landing by LCA from Empire Cutlass.
    2 men landing by LCA from Empire Cutlass.

    Red Beach.
    2 men landing by LCA from Glenearn.
    2 men landing by LCA from Empire Broadsword.

    H+45 minutes. Main Party.
    White Beach
    8 men with a handcart landing from LCTs.

    Red Beach.
    8 men with a handcart landing from LCTs.

    The overall plan for the beaches was that each beach would have a RN Beach Command and a RN Beach Signal Section. Gold and Juno both operated two beaches but Sword landed on one only. So 17 Beach Signal Section landed with the early waves and 16 Beach Signal Section landed on the second tide from LSTs.

    This should be read in conjunction with 3 Division Landing Tables.


  12. Mike,

    Thanks for the explanation. However, I am still trying to determine where the "Light Mobile Signal Section 3 & Local Simplex Section 6" (NP 1592) fits in this grand scheme of signals :).

    Are you saying that it was part of 17 RN Beach Sig Sec (NP 1539)? If so, why does it have a distinct NP number and why is it identified as "Light Mobile Signal Section RN" in the Landing Table 2nd & 3rd Tide and not as "17 RN Beach Sig Sec" as in the Landing Table 1st Tide?

    Or was it part of 'F' RN Beach Commando? But again this had a distinct NP Number (NP 1504).

    I'm trying to make sense of the D Day narrative in BBC - WW2 People's War - My Time In Partyfunshore 1944 by the gentleman introduced by Mathmal in this thread, i.e. G.S. Mason (see BBC - WW2 People's War - HOW IT ALL BEGAN).

    Because the unit he says he was in is not mentioned as such before H+22hrs, the discrepancy has to be explained one way or the other. His unit may have been identified differently in the Landing Table 1st Tide:

    HQ 101 Beach Sub Area Sigs, or
    'F' RN Beach Commando, or
    17 RN Beach Sig Sec
    for those landing before or around 0930 D Day, or

    Nucleus BAN Sec landing from H+330 (1255 D Day)

    These are the only RN (or possibly part RN, for the first one above) elements with a signal element that I can find. Or the unit might have been added in later Amendments of the Landing Table.

  13. Trux

    Trux 21 AG


    Short answer is I do not know. I cannot at the moment link the specific numbered sections or numbered naval parties to the units listed in the Landing Tables. Presumably army Landing Officers did not need this information and left it to naval authorities.

    I am hopeful that I will have the information somewhere but as I said above correlating the different terms used in different documents is difficult and not something I have thought to do in the past.

  14. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    I have read the documents etc quoted above and looked at the tables and reports for Sword Beach. The unit in question can only be 17 RN Beach Signal Section. I notice that the reference to Party 1592 was during training so he may well have then been moved to another section before D day.

    I have somewhere posted pictures of the handcarts used to land wireless equipment, and of the 22 set which was carried in it.

    I can locate the orchard and the Naval Officer In Charge headquarters on maps of Sword Beach.

    There is a description of the work of the naval shore units, including signals, on the Juno Beach thread, Post 105.

  15. Mike,

    I tend to agree with you, because 17 RN Beach Sig Sec is the unit which fits best, eventhough several details in the narrative do not quite match. Here is the relevant extract from the Landing Table 1st Tide dated 19 Mar 44 for this unit:

    17 RN Beach Sig Sec
    LCA Serial 151 from Empire Cutlass.....2 men with 1 handcart WT..part adv party
    LCA Serial 152 from Empire Cutlass.....2 men.....................part adv party
    LCA Serial 173 from Glenearn......... .2 men.....................part adv party
    LCA Serial 183 from Empire Broadsword..2 men.....................part adv party

    LCT Serial 210.........................8 men with 1 handcart WT..part main sp party
    LCT Serial 214.........................5 men with 1 handcart WT..part main sp party
    LCT Serial 221.........................2 men in 1 car 5 cwt 4x4 (amphibian) plus 4 men

    LCT Serial 340.........................5 men with 1 handcart

    Total = 32 men, about right for an RN Beach Sig Sec. The above table is very similar to but not exactly the same as your info from 101 Beach Sub Area docs. What date are those docs?

    Your post on naval shore units is here: JUNO BEACH.

    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
  16. Anthony6000

    Anthony6000 Member

    Hi Michel, did you ever make any further progress on identifying HQ 101 Beach Sub Area Signals? Do you know if they were 17 RN Beach Signal Section? 101 Beach Sub Area Signals is mentioned in the war diary for the army signals unit B13 Beach Signal Section: on 11 July 1944 with reference to a signals office in Caen, and then 14 August 1944 ("Training programme in conjunction with 101 (Beach) Sub-Area Signals") (page images attached). I am interested in the signals office in Caen and I am looking for leads.

    Attached Files:

  17. Well, yes and no :D

    To sum up the various posts above, as far as I understand, the various signals units in 101 Beach Sub Area were organised as follows:

    101 Beach Sub Area
    - 101 Beach Sub Area Sig Sec (36096)
    - B13 Beach Sig Sec (36549) - att & in sp 8 Br Inf Bde for the Assault phase
    - B10 Beach Sig Sec (34337) - att & in sp 185 Br Inf Bde for the Assault phase​

    5 Beach Gp
    - F RN Beach Commando
    - 17 RN Beach Sig Sec ​

    6 Beach Gp
    - R RN Beach Commando
    - 16 RN Beach Sig Sec​

    1. Although not Sigs units, RN Beach Commandos are mentioned because each was associated with its RN Beach Sig Sec.
    2. Sigs units of the Beach Gp Inf Bns are omitted for clarity, as are RAF sigs units.
    3. The number within parentheses is the Unit Mobilisation Serial Number. Only Army (and RM) units were alloted a MSN. RN (and RAF) units were not.

    101 Beach Sub Area Sig Sec was a Royal Signals (read: Army) unit directly under HQ 101 Beach Sub Area, and distinct from the other Sigs units.
    Same goes for B13 and B10 Beach Sig Secs, with the difference that they were initially attached to the Infantry Brigade they were supporting during the Assault phase, before returning to 101 Beach Sub Area.

    17 RN Beach Sig Sec (full name Royal Naval Beach Signal Section Number 17) was a Royal Navy unit, not directly under command nor part of 101 Beach Sub Area Sig Sec but under command of the Beach Group.

    As for the Caen "signal office and wireless links of advanced Beach Sub-Area, in conjunction with 101 (Beach) Sub-Area Signals", more hints might be included in the War Diary of 101 Beach Sub Area.


  18. Anthony6000

    Anthony6000 Member

    Hello Michel, thank you for the clear and detailed reply, it's very helpful.

    I do have a log of events for 101 Beach Sub Area (retrieved from the Imperial War Museum), but only for June. Mike pointed out to me previously that there is likely none available for July owing to the closure of Sword. I haven't seen any reference to 101 Beach Sub-Area Signals in the document. However, the last pages of the document appear to contain the names of officers from the different groups and units making up HQ 101 Beach Sub-Area. I have attached these 4 pages, perhaps there is some clue there? I see on the first page under HQ 101 Beach Sub Area that there is a collection of names under RN Sigs CO

    Attached Files:

  19. Excellent list of officers under 101 Beach Sub Area! Thank you for posting it.

    The only clue I see towards 101 Beach Sub Area Sig Sec is what must be its boss:

    OC (Sigs) Major J.D.Mould

  20. Anthony6000

    Anthony6000 Member

    Agreed, it seems feasible that Major Mould was the boss.

    Thanks again for the help!

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