Grandfather in Royal Engineers

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by JamesW42, Apr 15, 2020.

  1. JamesW42

    JamesW42 Member

    Apologies to jump in but I've got an interest in 220 field company as well. If this would be more appropriate in it's own thread please let me know and I'll delete it and move it.

    I'm looking into my Grandad's WW2 service and am trying to piece it together from snippets of family recollections, the photos he kept and the intricate maps he made of their progress through Italy.

    Alas I know nothing about the military, so have a few questions if that's ok?
    The parts I've been told are that he was in the Royal Engineers and the 8th army clearing mines, I gather that these aren't mutually exclusive as he could have been a member of the royal engineers assigned to the 8th army. I've been told or found references suggesting that he was in the following groups:
    10 Depot Battalion Royal Engineers (based on his joining up card and discharge card)
    2nd Field squadron Royal Engineers,
    220 Field Company (based on a 220 Field Coy 1946 Christmas card he sent his mother)
    622 Field Squadron 2 - troop (based on a photo of him and others from Jan 24 1944 in Egypt)

    My first question is whether or not these would be mutually exclusive, indicating mistakes or misunderstandings?.
    Alternatively does this indicate that he was moved between different groups as some were disbanded or reformed?

    On his discharge papers it says:
    Egypt 8 Months
    Palestine 1 Month
    Italy 2 years and 7 months
    Anecdotally my parents said he told them he was at Monte Cassino and that at some stage but not at the liberation he was at Bergen Belsen.
    We have lots of photos of him in Egypt and the maps he drew of their day by day progress in Italy, but we also have some photos of him and others in Norway where he apparently said that they were under-equipped and several people died of frost bite and the cold.

    My questions here are whether the Bergen Belsen bit rings true?
    and whether you know whether Norway was before Egypt or after Italy (or indeed Bergen Belsen)?

    Very much appreciate any help that people can give.

    All the best,

    James W
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Moved your post to it's own thread.

    Norwegian campaign was April to June 1940.

    He must have gone to Belsen Postwar.
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  3. JamesW42

    JamesW42 Member

    Thank you Own, much appreciated
  4. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    The only way to get full details of his service is to send off for his official service records, they are ONLY available from the MOD:
    Get a copy of military service records

    These will give a timeline of units served in from where you can look out for the relevant war diaries.
  5. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    2nd Field Company was split into two in 1940 to form 220 Fd Coy RE & 221 Fd Coy RE.

    220 Fd Coy RE was one of three Fd Coys RE and a Fd Park Coy RE that supported 56 Infantry Division in Italy. In effect, they went where ever the Division went.

    56 Infantry Division had three Infantry Brigades in it - 167, 168 & 169 Infantry Brigades. Each Fd Coy RE tended to support an Infantry Brigade. In the case, 220 Fd Coy RE supported 167 Inf Bde.

    56 Inf Div were part of the Salerno landings on 9 Sep 44. They crossed the River Volturno in Oct 43 and were involved in the brutal two Battles of Monte Camino in Nov-Dec 43. On 17-18 Jan 44, the Division crossed the Garigliano.

    One of the Tp Comd's in 220 Fd Coy RE was Lt Christopher Robin Milne, son of AA Milne and the boy featured in the Winnie the Pooh books.

    Lt Milne was involved in the bridging operations for X (BR) Corps's crossing of the Garigliano on 17-18 Jan 44 as part of the First Battle of Monte Cassino.

    56 Inf Div was then diverted to the Anzio beachhead so it is likely that he was in the cauldron too.



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  6. JamesW42

    JamesW42 Member

    Thank you Frank that is fascinating and a huge help, I really appreciate it. I'm learning a lot!

    Best wishes,

  7. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    It would be good to see his intricate maps.


  8. JamesW42

    JamesW42 Member

    Hello Frank, after exploring this website and looking into things further I suspect 'intricate' might have been misleading. I have however found them interesting to look through and will try and tally the dates and locations up with the war diaries But here they are, if I find any pictures of the 220 Field Company or indeed the part he was in, would that be of interest?
    I've also uploaded the 1946 220 christmas card which I really like.

    And thank you Tony, I knew my parents had made this request but I've only just finished going through the military service record which they sent me this morning, it answered a lot of my questions.

    Attached Files:

  9. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    These maps are brilliant and show the route of his Fd Coy RE. Map 3, for example, exactly follows the route taken by 167 Inf Bde in 56 Inf Div.

    The maps are for the Gothic Line part of the Italian Campaign, the time on the 44-45 Winter Line and then the final push in Apr-May into Fruili and on to Austria.

    Any maps covering Sep 43-Sep 44?

    Pula, mentioned on the 1946 is now part of Croatia. I could think of worse places to spend Christmas.


    Last edited: Apr 16, 2020
  10. JamesW42

    JamesW42 Member

    That's great, he was quite a talented artist, one if the sadness's for him was that prior to the war he was due to go to the USA as a cartoonist for Disney. But it does mean that maps are quite good.

    I'm not sure about other maps, this is alas all being done online due to the lockdown as all of these items are with family members but if we find any other maps I'll be sure to share them.
    Crikey, yes just looked at pictures of Pula, looks wonderful!


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  11. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    If he joined 220 Fd Coy Re on 14 May 44, I now doubt that they will be other maps. Drat because I love his attention to detail.


  12. JamesW42

    JamesW42 Member

    I imagine that you may already be aware of these but looking through the Imperial War Museum's photo archive and I came across this one of 220 Fd Coy working on the Battipaglia bridge: INVASION OF ITALY : FIFTH ARMY BRIDGE BUILDING AT BATTIPAGLIA
    Although not recorded as such these other one's look like they were taken on the same day by the same photographer of the same bridge so would also be of 220 Fd Coy. Too early in the way for my grandfather to feature but I thought they might be of interest:
  13. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Very useful because I know where this is in Battipaglia.


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  14. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    An aerial recce photo of Battipaglia from July 1943. Existing bridges circled.

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