Lt. C.J. (Bob) O'Bryen, Royal Tank Regiment

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by BobKat14, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member

    I joined the forum earlier this week and have been successful beyond all expectation in obtaining information about my mother's cousins, the Meikle twins. My thanks are expressed elsewhere.

    Looking now at my wife's side of the family, I would be glad to hear if anyone can help with filling in the WW2 background of Cyril Joseph (Bob) O'Bryen of the Royal Tank Regiment.

    I have the basic regimental information from the RTR website.

    Like many of his generation he spoke little about his wartime experiences. I only know that he was in Poona in 1941-42, where he is believed to have recovered from polio, and later, I am told, in Egypt. He never mentioned the Burma campaign or being in Italy. Can anyone help with where records might exist which would provide further information?

    I have a few photographs taken in Poona (Dhond?) including a Valentine tank with which, I assume, the regiment must have been re-equipped after the Burma campaign. Bob O'Bryen's photo is attached.

  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Bobkat - you have his regimental information - so can you share some of it - like his battalion(s) - brigades etc - you have obviously contacted Bovington already - so perhaps some of us can assist....?
  3. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member


    Thanks for your response. I have e-mailed the RTR via their website, but do not yet have their response. Because I know he was in Poona in 1941-42, I assume he must have been with 2RTR, but as yet I have no further details.

    Sorry, I may have mislead you - the basic regimental information to which I referred in my earlier message was only that for the regimnent as a whole, not for him.

    I was really seeking some guidance as to possible sources of information. As soon as I receive further details from the RTR, on the assumption they can provide them, I will post them.
  4. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    You could trace his commission dates in the London Gazette:

  5. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member

    Thanks Paul. Searching for O'Bryen yielded no result until I tried Bryen - the apostrophe obviously caused a problem!

    I now have the following information:

    London Gazette 6 January 1941 - joined 9th.L as 2nd Lieutenant after training at Sandhurst - number 160016.

    London Gazette 22 April 1941 - joined RTR from 9th.L to be 2nd Lieutenant from 3 March 1941.

    Where do I go from here?
  6. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

  7. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member

    Thanks Paul.

    I have just heard from the RTR who have suggested the same and have given me contact details.
  8. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member

    I see there have now been over 100 views of this thread. I should therefore provide a brief update.

    My wife (as next of kin) has written to Historic Disclosures in Glasgow to obtain information from her father's Army personal files. This may take some while to process.

    There may be further information in the Regimental War Diaries which I understand are held at the National Archives.

    In the meantime I have found a further reference in the London Gazette of 19 May 1953 when, as a Lieutenant in "R.Tks." he was awarded the Efficiency Medal (Territorial).

    If anyone has any information to share based on the little information I have to date, I should be glad to hear.
  9. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member

    I have now received Bob O'Bryen's service records from the MOD. It appears that, having been transferred to 2 RTR on 3 March 1941, he was posted to 10th Battalion Yorks & Lancs and embarked for India on 28 August 1941. On disembarkation he was absorbed into reinforcements and served with 150th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps.

    He was invalided to South Africa (and thence to the UK) on 23 August 1943.

    His records show he was entiled to the Defence Medal, 1939/45 Star, Burma Star and War Medal.

    I have some general information from the Burma Star website, but does anyone know what action he might have seen during the two years he was in India?
  10. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    BobKat 14
    I would admit that it does not take too much to get me confused - but you have managed it in one !

    First off - I can find no record of 150th RAC ? - I am sure there was a regiment of that number somewhere as my regiment was 145th !

    2nd RTR went off to Burma with 7th Armoured BRIGADE after Beda Fomm in Feruary '41 - returning late to Italy with 6th & 8th RTR again at Croce and gemmano- Aug/Sept '44 still in 7th Armoured Bde.

    So if he was in 2nd RTR - he was certainly in Burma in March '41 - BUT you state that he embarked for India on 28th August '41 - ?

    Therefore what was he doing between March - August '41 -then two years later invalided to Sth Africa thence to the UK ?

    So what is needed here is the diary of 150th Regt RAC - Bovington should have this record handy - so give them a call - OK ?

  11. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Bobkat -
    if you keep digging - something will grow -the 10th Batt York & Lancs were converted to the 150th RAC in India - took part in the Arakan campaign - then later at Imphal and the advance near the end towqards Rangoon - but by that time he was back in the his service records should show where and when he was incapacitated - AND the regimental war diary.....

  12. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member


    Thanks for your help. I can find only two references to him in the Regimental War Diaries (150 Regiment, RAC), both in October 1942. He is shown on the Nominal Roll of Officers on Strength, but absent "Temp Depot", and then shown as quitting "on posting to Reinforcements R.A.C. Depot (India)".

    As you say the position is somewhat confusing! It seems he could never have been in Burma, but that he spent all his time in India. He was incapacitated with polio, and his Army Book indicates that he was in hospital for much of 1943 - at Ahmednagan and Poona before going to Durban and then eventually back home. His only 'active' time seems likely to have been in 1942.

    I will check on the Arakan campaign and see whether the timing is such that he might have had some involvement.
  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Bobkat -
    If I am right about his joining date - Summer 1942 - he would have spent the rest of that year,- six weeks infantry - three months Tank training - nine months as Officer training would bring him to close on his embarkation date August 1943.......but by then he would have changed his number to that of the officer list .....and the 150th was formed in Indai ......confusing - Right ?

  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Bobkat -
    OOPs am reading the wrong number here as he was with 9 Lancers in '41 - too many projects on at this time !

  15. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member


    Thanks again for your comments. I have his details from the London Gazette which confirms what you say about the 9th Lancers (see earlier in this thread). He then appears to have moved to the RTR and thence to the Yorks and Lancs and finally to 150 Regiment, RAC.

    It seems he quit the Officers on Strength in late 1942 to join the Depot, possibly in a technical capacity - he passed his Technical Adjutant exams in Ahmednagar in 1942. And then he fell ill.

    Unless anybody knows otherwise, it seems he was caught up in the frustrating period of inactivity in India - perhaps that's why he obtained a technical qualification? I can find no evidence that he was involved in any combat - the Arakan campaign does not fit with his time in hospital.

    It seems he may have been awarded his Burma Star for his technical expertise rather than because he was directly involved in any fighting!!
  16. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Bobkat -
    Technical knowledge does not count for any campaign stars - he must have been close to Burma - that is Assam or Bengal in order to qualify,,didn't even have to fight !

    One of Churchill's pet peeves was that in the 8th army there were 160 thousand showing up for pay and rations - BUT only 100,000 did the fighting - he couldn't get his head around that all through the war...
  17. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member


    It seems therefore that he must have headed to Assam or Bengal at the end of 1942, perhaps at the beginning of the Arakan campaign before he was invalided out? The first evidence of illness in his Army Book is in January 1943.

    Are you able to tell me anything more about 150th Regiment, RAC? You say they took part in the Arakan campaign, but as Bob O'Bryen had quit the officers strength to join the RAC Depot, it is not clear what his role would have been. There is no further evidence of what he was doing in the Regimental War Diaries after October 1942.

    His Army Book shows that he was with the Depot from August 1942 to January 1943 (first on a temporary basis, and then permanently). What exactly was the Depot? It sounds as if it should have been the unit responsible for vehicle maintenance (which would presumably have travelled as part of the regiment on the Arakan campaign)? Are you able to help to throw any light on this please?

    Many thanks again for your continuing help.
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Actually the "Depot" for most RAC purposes was to keep a supply of spare bodies on hand for reinforcements and training - taking newly arrived personnel from the transit camps when they landed in the country - or retreads from hospital - leave etc, they were invariably designated -RACTD -Royal Armoured Corps Training Depots.

    The Technical bit would be in planning training courses - forwarding men to the various units -keeping Commanders aware of personnel supply and needs etc

    The vehicles on the other hand were housed in what was known as an FDS - Forward Delivery Squadron -each Brigade would have one - they would take a newly repaired Tank from the REME fitters at Division or Corps base - ensure that it was stocked with Ammo - Fuel and Water etc ready to be delivered to the next crew who had lost a Tank - nothing too technical there though. They would keep up with their Brigade - hence the "Forward" -

    RACTD's were permanent - we had one in Italy in Rieti which was after Rome and they had moved from North Africa - there was another one further up at Gubbio after the Gothic Line - late in the game !

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