No 1 Docks Group Royal Engineers

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by J3nnyR, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. J3nnyR

    J3nnyR Member

    I am new here and hope that I have posted my query in the right place! My grandfather was in the No 1 Docks Group of the Royal Engineers and posted to France on the 10th September 1939. He returned home on the 21st June 1940. HIs wife stated that he was a machine gunner on the (lock gates!) at St. Nazaire and was one of the last to leave and had to find his own way home on a merchant vessel. He was in the Machine Gun Corps at the end WW1 and it might be that this is all pie in the sky. I have his full record but the story has always interested me because it seemed so far fetched (and probably is!) I have done quite a bit of research around St. Nazaire, but can find nothing that resembles this story. I am hoping that someone is able to shed some light for me. Many thanks.
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    What other details do you have

    - his WW1 details
    - his WW2 service records (please up load for use to see and help decipher if required)
    - his name, date of birth etc

    It is possible that he was manning a machine gun(s) as that would be the only anti aircraft deterrent at the port. I note also that the last references to embarkations from St Nazaire was on the 20/21st June when a number of Polish troops were lifted off. It is unlikely that during those hectic days any records were kept of any sort as the major activity was getting back to the UK. Which actual ship he returned home on will be lost in time I'm afraid unless there is a story/account by someone else on the same ship.

    Meidterranean, June 1940
    Thursday, 20 June
    British troopships ROYAL SCOTSMAN (3244grt), SOBIESKI (11,030grt), OTRANTO, ORONTES, ARANDORA STAR, ST HELIER, ETTRICK and destroyers IMOGEN, PUNJABI, GRIFFIN, WITCH, HARVESTER, VISCOUNT departed Plymouth late on the 19th for St Nazaire to embark Polish troops there.
    Destroyers IMOGEN, HARVESTER, PUNJABI were ordered to return to Plymouth very early on the 20th for refuelling.
    Later on the 20th, troopship SOBIESKI went to Le Verdon and destroyers IMOGEN, GRIFFIN, WITCH, VISCOUNT to Rade de Coisic.
    Destroyer PUNJABI embarked 409 troops at St Nazaire.

  3. J3nnyR

    J3nnyR Member

    Hi and thank you for your response. Although he was a machine gunner at the end of WW1 (having started, I think, in a NE Railway Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers) it appears from his records that at the start of WW2 he was gainfully employed in railway type work. I have just tried to upload the images, but they are too large even if done individually. I then tried to put them on a word document, but that will not upload either. I can write all the details, but is there an easier way of uploading the originals? I am fairly computer savvy, but obviously not in this case. Thank you so much for your help.
  4. ploughman

    ploughman Junior Member

    Try taking a photo of the images then upload.
  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Operation Aerial - Wikipedia
    St Nazaire and Nantes
    The last 4,000 British troops left for Plymouth at 11:00 a.m. on 18 June in 12 small merchant ships in two convoys; much equipment was abandoned after alarmist reports led to the convoys sailing in haste.[24] In the afternoon, Dunbar-Nasmith heard that 8,000 Polish troops were approaching the port and sent six destroyers and seven troop transports to St Nazaire, which arrived on 19 June but only 2,000 men appeared and no German forces were in hot pursuit.[25] Unserviceable Hurricanes were burned by their ground crews, a staff car was given to a friendly local café proprietor and an airman tried to sell off an Austin 7. The rear parties then departed in transport aircraft, a few hours before German tanks arrived.[26] (On the journey home during the night of 17/18 June, Floristan, a merchantman with 2,000 men on board, of the 27,000 troops and civilians in its convoy, was attacked by a Ju 88 but being under way, dodged the bombs as soldiers fired back with Bren guns and riddled the cockpit. The bomber carried away the mast tops and the aerial then crashed into the sea to the cheers of the rest of the convoy.)

    From reading the above it may have been the Floristan that your grandfather came home on - as mentioned above I think its highly unlikely to find absolute facts about his particular movements


    sorry - meant to mention that max file size is 2Mb

    BBC - WW2 People's War - Evacuation from St Nazaire and Sinking of Lancastria
  6. J3nnyR

    J3nnyR Member

    Hi Thank you for that. I have tried photographing the images, but the files are still too big. I have reduced the pages to 2Mb but after ten minutes of it appearing to upload it gave a message that it couldn't upload - something to do with the file extension not matching the destination. So unless I can figure out how to do it, I'm a bit stuck. The details are as follows if it helps.

    The attestation form gives the following details
    John Henry Ramsden 21.6.1897. Army number 1984955. Royal Engineers. Address in Sculcoates, Hull.
    Trade or calling = Pioneer brakesman and shunter.
    Previous army service = No 64183 Machine Gun Corps. Discharged 1919 on termination of hostilities.
    This form is overwritten at the side with Royal Engineers Transportation Dock Training Group 3. This whole form is crossed through and NE 1940 written through.

    The army form B200 gives his name, date of birth and army number (1984955).
    Under nature of engagement is written RESR Cert 'A' 4 years. Royal Engineers
    Service towards engagement reckons from 5.9.38

    No 1 Docks Group RE(S.R)
    Attested and posted
    Pioneer brakesman and shunter. Group 'E' Class III. For duty as wagon labeller

    Training group No 3
    Called up 1.9.39
    Disembarked France 10.9.39
    Disembarked E x BEF 21.6.40
    Discharged through ill health 16.11.40

    Those are the main bits. There are obviously other details such as his wife and family and address etc.
    As you will see from the above, it appears as though he's dealing with railways and transportation which was his normal job at home. So not sure why he would then be on the machine guns at St Nazaire although with previous experience, he might have done. He was also quite old at the start of WW2 but presume that he was called up straight away as he was in the reserves.

    Thank you for your help.
  7. ChrisR

    ChrisR Senior Member

    Your grandad gets a couple of mentions here -
    PM me your e-mail address and I'll send you copies of other pages from this war diary held at The National Archives.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
    PackRat likes this.
  8. J3nnyR

    J3nnyR Member

    Hi Chris
    Thank you so much for the information above. It certainly clarifies things for me. I am not sure how to pm from here but would love to see the other information. Thank you so much for taking the time to help
    Kind regards
  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Jenny - if you go to your profile you can start a 'conversation' with any member(s) that is private and is the best way to provide email details away from prying site eyes.
    The other way is to click on the username of whoever and it will allow you again to start a conversation with them

    PM is short for Private Message and was the system used before this site software was updated - as above that is now called a 'conversation'

  10. ChrisR

    ChrisR Senior Member

    Thanks TD - I wasn't sure myself if a pm and the conversation were the same thing.
    Jenny I have passed you a link to the copies in a conversation.

    Glad to be of help.

  11. J3nnyR

    J3nnyR Member

    Thank you everyone I now have the copies I am very grateful for you help
    kind regards
  12. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

  13. J3nnyR

    J3nnyR Member

    Hi Richard
    Thank you for this it really does help when reading the diaries. It's lovely to know that my grandma's stories were not too far off the mark.
    Kind Regards
  14. David A Thompson

    David A Thompson New Member


    I have read this post with interest as I am researching my Grandfather who was a Royal Engineer in No1 Dock Group.

    The family story is he was evacuated through St Nazaire and was due to embark the Lancastria but was late and ended up watched the catastrophe of the Lancastria's sinking unfold from the dockside. I don't know which ship he was eventually evacuated on.

    I am interested in tracing the movements of 1DG during WWII as the family stories state he was in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. There are family photographs of my grandfather sat on a dockside wearing a diving suit with lead boots and a brass helmet and chest plate. The family stories are patchy as there is one saying he saw Mussolini's body hanged in Rome.

    I'm trying to sort the fact from fiction by building-up my knowledge of his unit movements and where I can get further information.

    John George Hammond
    WOI - 1st Oct 1942
    No 1984310
    No 1 D.G.

    Attached Files:

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