RASC, Motor Coach Company, Gilford Castle/Bannvale, Co. Armagh

Discussion in 'Vehicle Names and Census Numbers' started by billh35, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    Can anyone tell me about the identity and history of this unit which I believe was disbanded around 1942/3. On disbandment a total of 229 buses were "sold" to the Northern Ireland Road Transport Board for use as civilian war transport. I have extensive notes on these and their pre-war identities.

    Did this represent all the buses based at Gilford or were they from other units as well?
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  3. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    There are three Motor Coach Companies in Northern Ireland which stand out, No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3.
  4. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    Why do they stand out? When I searched for "Northern Ireland" nothing came up?
  5. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    Does anyone have these War Diaries?
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Which ones - they are stored at TNA and we have members who offer a copying service but before they do that you would need to know which ones you need

  7. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    I am looking for the ones relative to the MCC at Gosford which Swiper said were Nos.1, 2 & 3 but he hasn't replied to me yet so I don't know if these are the correct ones.
  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    By "stands out" Swiper possibly meant - from memory. He's researched some units which were based in NI for a time.

    Location of units is a tricky one to deal with as far as War Diaries are concerned. Locations are mentioned within the diaries held at TNA Kew, not part of the title or search keywords. TNA catalogue them under Theatre: Home (series WO 166), BEF, Middle East, Italy etc.
    So, unless you have an idea of which unit, or someone else has knowledge or an Orbat source, it'd be a matter of checking all the Motor Coach Companies until you find mention of Gosford...
  9. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    The MCC, I believe, was specifically tasked with troop transportation in the event of a threatened invasion on either the coast of Northern Ireland, the Donegal Coast or via Eire (as it was at the time). Once American troops landed in Belfast in 1942, the unit's role was not required and the company, I believe, disbanded or moved on. Some 229 buses (there may have been trucks as well) passed to the NIRTB directly from RASC. I am hopeful someone with a knowledge of wartime RASC can throw more light on this.
  10. dml34

    dml34 Junior Member

    1, 2 and 3 Motor Coach Coys RASC were indeed based in Northern Ireland in 1942. 32 and 37 Motor Coach Coys were also there.

    A Feb 42 Order of Battle & Location Statement gives the location of four of them:-
    1 Motor Coach Coy at Markethill
    2 Motor Coach Coy at Saintfield
    32 Motor Coach Coy at Aughnacloy
    37 Motor Coach Coy at Market House, Enniskillen

    (It also states that 59 Division Ammunition Coy was based at Banvale House, Gilford. Possibly a Motor Coach Company replaced it?)

    In order to find more about the sale of the buses, you certainly need to look at the company war diaries.....I feel sure this big event would be mentioned! Unfortunately researching RASC companies of this era is complicated by the change in nomenclature in 1942 and 1943. The Motor Coach Companies were renamed and renumbered as Troop Carrying Companies in May 1942. and these were renumbered (to the company number instead of a 'role' number) in February 1943. (I attach A.C.I. 2703 of 1942 for clarification of the 1943 change). So the war diaries are:-

    1 Motor Coach Coy WO 166/4991 Jul 40 - Nov 41
    25 Troop Carrying Coy WO 166/9197 Dec 41 - Dec 42 (this diary covers 1 Motor Coach Coy & 25 Troop Carrying Coy - the same coy)
    41 Troop Carrying Coy WO 166/12992 Jan 43 - Mar 43 (ditto for 25 & 41 Troop Carrying Coys)

    2 Motor Coach Coy WO 166/4992 Jun 40 - Dec 41
    26 Troop Carrying Coy WO 166/9198 Jan 42 - Dec 42
    104 Troop Carrying Coy WO 166/13017 Jan 43 - Dec 43

    3 Motor Coach Coy WO 166/4993 Jun 40 - Dec 41
    27 Troop Carrying Coy WO 166/9199 Jan 42 - Dec 42
    317 Troop Carrying Coy WO 166/13087 Jan 43 - Apr 43

    32 Motor Coach Coy WO 166/5020 Jun 40 - Dec 41
    56 Troop Carrying Coy WO 166/9288 Jan 42 - Dec 42
    115 Troop Carrying Coy WO 166/13024 Jan 43 - Dec 43

    37 Motor Coach Coy WO 166/5024 Aug 40 - Dec 41
    61 Troop Carrying Coy WO 166/9233 Jan 42 - Dec 42
    323 Troop Carrying Coy WO 166/13092 Jan 43 - Dec 43

    Hope this helps


    Attached Files:

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  11. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    Wow! That's fantastic! I can feel a trip to Kew coming on!
  12. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    No. 1-3 Motor Coach Companies were part of 53rd Division.

    No. 1 Motor Coach Company was assigned to 158 Brigade while No. 2 and No. 3 Companies were similarly sequentially allocated (159 and 160). Each company was equipped with modified civilian buses, with the windowpanes removed and replaced with hinged boards (or thick canvas blinds) to allow for quick disembarkation, with several examples boasting retrofitted sliding roofs.

    They were restructured in mid-Sept 1940, in a move for efficiency as each company reshuffled to consist of one manufacturer’s vehicles. While this was great in theory, No. 1 Motor Coach Company bemoaned receiving Leyland Coaches from their sister companies in such atrocious condition.

    As more MT arrives, these three Motor Coach Coys decreased in importance and become III Corps assets when 53rd Division leaves NI (by 1 November 1941).

    Driver Alexander Whyte in No 1. Motor Coach Company committed suicide on 1 September 1940). The Court of Inquiry (under Captain F.L. Witcomb) established that Alexander was a recent arrival to the Company and witnesses testified that he was despondent (most likely depressed) after being transferred from his previous unit, confiding in some of his colleagues that he was frightened at the prospect of driving a coach. At around 1700, Whyte drew an SMLE out of the armoury to act as Headquarters Guard then calmly boarded his coach, 1260034, and shot himself.

    This was all the more tragic as they joined after a huge shake up across the Div to place men where they were best needed.

    The story of Motor Coach Companies is actually bloody fascinating... but I'm yet to find photos of these three aforementioned Coys.
    dml34 likes this.
  13. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    From "Commercial Motor" Archive of 9th October 1942:

    "In a reply to a Parliamentary question by Major Lyons, who sought details of the number's of motor coaches from all services lying redundant or derelict at depots throughout the country, or the proportion that had had the tyres removed or had been jacked up, Sir Andrew Duncan, Minister of Supply, stated last week that, in addition to 206 coaches returned to operators and 157 others offered to their former owners, 658 coaches notified by Service Departments for disposal had been transferred to other Departments or broken down for spares.

    Of the 616 remaining, many had only recently become available for disposal. In some cages it had not yet been possible to identify the former owners from the impressment records, and the Ministry of War Transport was considering whether, after expiration of a limited period, the vehicles should be offeted to approved operators. Under this arrangement the vehicles would soon be disposed of."

    I wonder where the impressment records are? (None of those impressed from the NIRTB ever returned)

    Swiper: I think I may have photos. I will need to dig them out....

    Read more at DISPOSAL OF REDUNDANT SERVICE COACHES I N reply to a | 9th October 1942 | The Commercial Motor Archive
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  14. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    This is NIRTB Q500 (GZ 727) which was acquired by the NIRTB (Northern Ireland Road Transport Board) 1942/3 from the RASC.. It was acquired before October 1943 because at that point it was re-numbered Q559. It had begun life back in 1937 registered AED 895 with Ashton Coaches, Warrington before being impressed. It was a Leyland Lion LZ2A. It would remain in use in NI until 1948 and it would be sold to Wallis, London SE23 in May 1949. By the time this image was taken, the side windows had been refitted but virtually nothing else had been done apart from putting NIRTB lettering on it.[​IMG]
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  15. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    I haven't had a chance to get to Kew yet but my researches continue. I found this image tonight hidden in a 1940 edition of the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph which shows a RASC vehicle on exercise in "the streets of an Ulster town"during a mock invasion. I am sorry I can't get the image any clearer. IF you have access to the Brtish Newspaper archive the original can be found on Page 4 of the 5th October 1940 edition of the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph. The same picture and text featured across a number of N.I. newspapers but this is the best example of the photo. https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0001706/19401005/089/0004 Bren Carrier & RASC bus 1940.png
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  16. ww2ni

    ww2ni Senior Member

    Amazing!! Did not know this.
  17. ww2ni

    ww2ni Senior Member

    Hi Bill,
    I have posted on my "The Second World War in Northern Ireland" Facebook site appealing for information regarding this.

    I will pass on whatever information I receive - Interesting subject which i was not aware of previously.

    Hope I can obtain some information for you.

  18. John Howie

    John Howie New Member

    i also have explored the Kew files (a few are missing) but am interested in any further information that is available, especially the previous identity of the vehicles allocated to Motor Coach Companies. I thought there were only three in Northern Ireland; each comprised 60 vehicles, making a total of 180 - did all these pass to NIRTB?
  19. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    A total of 229 vehicles passed from the RASC to the NIRTB - I have details on all of them but am curious where they were used prior to NIRTB acquisition. I have full identities of their pre-military careers and then subsequent careers.

    I am also looking for information on what became of the many vehicles "impressed" from the NIRTB - virtually none of which ever returned,
  20. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    Does anyone have any of these diaries?

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