RASC 203 Field Ambulance

Discussion in 'RASC' started by alligator_hal, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. alligator_hal

    alligator_hal Member

    My father Harold Charles Cooper T/113679 nick named Hal was in the RASC and was a driver (also mechanic/electrician) and was transferred from 203rd Field Ambulance to 106th Bridge (possibly 8th December 1944). He landed at Arromanches (according to records on 9/6/44) He told me that after the restructuring that took place he was taught to drive a LVT Alligator and was attached to the Canadians for the push to Germany. I have little information of his route from D Day to the end of the war. He was very reticent to talk about his experiences due to the trauma of his memories. He spoke of the battle for Tilly Sur Suelles and Villers Bocage plus Forest Grimbosq and Falaise. He lost two of his platoon mates to mines one at the HQ entrance which I think was Chateau Cruelly (William Chadwick). The other in an orchard where they volunteered to drive into a mine field to collect casualty’s (Chris Webster) another called Nobby Noble was shot by a sniper in another orchard. He also mentioned the horrific sights at Belson and Bad Hausenburg concentration camps. Other entries in his diary were Louvain, Osnabruke, Oldenburg and Dumerzee.
    He said that amongst other things that he cleared mines and fitted infra red beacons to mark the safe path to the bridges. He also fitted the night sights to the vehicles to enable them to see the beacons. Later after the battle he had to retrieve the sights because they were top secret which took some time due to dispersal of the vehicles. He also spoke of building a dummy bridge over the Rhine for the Germans to bomb the following morning whilst other sappers built the proper Bailey bridge further along under a smoke screen. During his time in training he was taught German in two dialects and booby trapping techniques. He spent time in the UK setting up assault courses for the D Day training. He spoke about the type of booby traps that the Germans left behind that he had to deal with. A favourite of the Germans was to booby trap their own dead using mines or explosives. Lugers were a favourite to booby trap as they were sought after and could be sold to the yanks for good money. He hated the SS Hitlerjugend for the dirty tricks they played on the Allies, including pretending to surrender and then opening fire on them. I have various memories of other snippets of stories that he revealed about atrocities on both sides and a large amount of prisoners taken at a forest near Grimbosq. He and his mates were told to drive around this forest to make the Germans believe that they were there in force – the armoured column and bypassed it – the following morning the Germans surrended and there were hundreds of them that filed out of the woods. He had written a diary which had been stolen and was at one point attempting to rewrite it but only managed an humorous story about digging a trench for a bath and being strafed by three ME109’s which were then shot down by two Spitfires near to the Caen to Tilly road.

    The last two companies he was in were 262 Coy AT 29/4/45 and 516 Coy GT 26/10/45 he was billeted with a family called Beekhuizen at Akerstraat 21 in Eindhoven for some time towards the end of the war.

    I would be interested to hear from others that have access to war diaries and records to enable me to build a better picture of his route and experiences. Also as to which divisions and regiments he would have been attached to; I know he started with the 49th Div and then was posted to 59th Div on 5/8/40 Then he was taken out of line the same day and posted to 203 FA. I assume that 203rd FA was attached to 50th Div HQ, and that 106th Bridge was part of 3rd Div. But I have no idea as to what the sub divisions and regiments would have been to enable some sort of identification of route and campaigns. Or what Divisions 262 and 516 Coy were part of. I would also like to know which derivative of Alligator was used as dad said theirs had electric motors rigged up to allow for silent operation so they could work under Jerries noses.
    Clive Wiley likes this.

Share This Page