Personal Diary 1942 Adjt A.J.S Mackenzie 50th (Northumbrian) Divisional Signals Regiment, TA

Discussion in 'Royal Signals' started by Kev1, Dec 20, 2011.


    HWALLBCOM Member

    Here is a photo of Jack Wallbridge as promised and the notification he was missing. Screenshot_20200602_075605.jpg Screenshot_20200602_075648.jpg
  2. Many thanks for this. I will add it to my history of 50 Div Signals if that is ok with you and also share with Kevin in Italy who is the keeper of all things 'diary' related.

    During the month between 27 May and 29 June 1942 the Regiment lost 171 personnel and the C.O. Ronnie Percival recorded that what was left of Signals collected behind the Alamein position before withdrawing to Mareopolis in the Delta. Nearly half the Regiment had been lost.

    I have posted what happened next which may be of interest.
    Any additional anecdotes Jack may have told would be appreciated.

  3. Capt Barry McVicker was in a 30cwt truck with twenty of his ‘D’ Section on the Sunday night they were ordered to move south across the Axis Lines of Communications before striking east to Fort Maddelena, which marked a gap in the wire back into Egypt. This would have been 14 June 1942. With tracer fire coming in from what seemed like every direction they crossed the wire and joined Divisional HQ.

    Here a defensive line of incomplete ‘boxes’ anchored on the coast at Sollum, and covered by minefields, led across the escarpment. This was to hold until a further line was organised at Mersa Matruh.

    ‘L’ Section went with 69 Brigade to act as rear-guard to 10th Indian Div. who were to retreat from Capuzzo while another night move on 21-22 June brought the remainder of Signals to Sidi Hamsa under command of 10 Corps. On 24 June they were in a wadi south east of Matruh and two days later 3 km south of the 25 kilo post on the coast road to El Daba.

    ‘Dixie’ Dean was part of the withdrawal and described bogged down vehicles and driving sandstorms which hampered navigation. Once he had reported at a collection point at Buq Buq he reported sick, was diagnosed with dysentery and sent to the rail head to board an ambulance train to hospital in Heliopolis, Cairo. After three weeks he was sent to a convalescent camp, where he spent a further three weeks recovering. At base depot Maadi and fully recovered he learned he had been ‘Struck off Strength’ and transferred from 50th Division Signals.

    Meanwhile, leaving bir Talata on the twenty-first Waltho’s party arrived in Sidi Hamsar next day and were at Matruh by the twenty-fourth. With enemy aircraft active during the night of twenty-fifth the Unit was put on one hour’s notice to move. As they leave Mersa Matruh next day ME109’s were bombing the coast road. He records that Bofors guns shot down one of these aircraft.

    With the withdrawal of allied troops from the threatened Sidi Rezegh and El Adem boxes on 17 June the protective screening for Tobruk was removed and the important Mediterranean port surrendered on 21 June.

    The ‘Gazala Gallop’ continued as Waltho reached Kilo 25 with the road bombed and machine-gunned sporadically and the sound of heavy gunfire coming from the direction of Matruh. A movement order received on the twenty-seventh lacked details and they spent the night searching for the Division before returning to their original position the following afternoon.

    During the night of 27 June the two Divisional Brigades attacked columns of Axis vehicles coming from south of Matruh. Division formed a tactical H.Q. with sections of 1 Company attached. Two and three Company along with Field Regt sections remained with their command. The following day, shortly before dusk H.Q. moved west as enemy armour approached from the east. Moving through the night they returned to their original positions that afternoon together with Tac H.Q.

    Another move was planned for that night, breaking out and to the east. 1 Coy and UHQ formed two columns and headed due south at 21:00 hrs.

    Exactly two weeks after his original escape with ‘D’ Section Barry MacVicker found himself part of a rear-guard action across the ‘coast road’ as the British flank was turned once again. In ground described as unforgiving and crossed by deep wadis he became separated from his Section and was picked up by Bill Bowman the L.A.D. attached Captain and former member of Signals in 1939. After two vehicles broke down on them, somewhere south-east of Fuka and surrounded by German armour, they went into the bag.

    Waltho had come across McVicker the previous day while looking for U.H.Q. Returning to their old position at 13:30 on the 27 June it became apparent that the concentration area had become compromised. The following evening he was part of the break-out, experiencing heavy shelling from 17:00 until dark. Once they got moving the truck following was hit by a .88mm shell causing panic and a rush to the south.

    A.D.M.S. Diary entry of 27 June notes receiving a delayed message dated at noon the previous day. This message stated that the evacuation was to be to El Daba, 25 miles south, and not Fuka as previously notified. Owing to the continuing fluid situation the validity of this message was questioned and many units continued to head for Fuka.

    Following Dunkirk Ray Bashforth had trained as a cook in the unit. Now in a camp on an airfield near Mersa Matruh cooking dinner for ‘J’ Section, attached to 151 Bde, Axis forces attacked and surrounded them.

    With their driver killed and no transport, together with three others, including ‘Jock’ Martin, he was captured. Ray went first to Tripoli before being taken across the Mediterranean to Tarranto, where Signals personnel were being confined.

    Percival recalled this time the break out was from different points with varying success. In the confusion many ended up at the compromised rendezvous point. Even when clear of the area there was sporadic fighting, and in one of these his car was hit by a shell at the back of the engine, killing his driver Marshall, wounding his batman Hill, ending his army career and the W/T Officer travelling with them lost an eye. This would be 29 June.

    Waltho may have joined up with this group, although there is no mention in his diary. After moving east during the night the early morning mist gave them cover from enemy armoured cars, and although harassed and shelled from Fuka through the mine fields, they reached El Alamein by night-fall. On route some of the more serious wounded were transferred to A.D.M.S.

    The last day of June and Waltho reached El Hammam. Here they transfered from Brigade reaching Div H.Q. at 01:30. Driver Gilbert, by then suffering from his wounds, was left at a South African hospital. Travelling from El Hammam to Mariut the next day they reached Mariopolis on 2 July camping near Alexandria.

    “The next clear memory is when we got told to move again that was when the Ak section lads got nipped. Horace Angus came and said there was a NAFFI thrown open up across the coast road and every-thing was “buckshee” (free). While they were away we got the shout. I saw him after the war and said something like that was an expensive trip to the NAFFI Horace!”

    Waltho concluded his Diary on 16 November; Static in Alamein original start line. Just after this he contracted jaundice, was evacuated into 18 Fld Amb. 14CCS, and was Struck Off Strength (S.O.S), ending his time with the Unit.

    As the Allies held a fighting retreat they moved closer to their main supply depots based around Alexandria and Cairo. The shortening of the supply line brought not only re-inforcements and replacement ordinance but fuel, ammunition and food to hold the enemy. Rommel’s troops, on the other hand, were struggling to meet fuel needs together with all types of ordinance. By the end of June they had fought themselves to a logistical standstill as they drew up facing the small rail halt of El Alemein.

    HWALLBCOM Member

    Yes please do. He really didn't talk about the war at all. The only other thing I know is that from the Italian camp he was taken to Fallingbostel XIB and on liberation and returning to England he saw the aircraft in front of his crash and never went on a plane again. Thanks for your help Mel.

    HWALLBCOM Member

    Hi Mel,
    I am undertaking further research into my relative Driver Jack Wallbridge. Do you have a copy of the war diary you could share with me please? Also, would it be possible to put me in contact Kevin in Italy? I sent a message but it hasn't been read.
    Best wishes,

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