Royal Engineers Assault - D-Day ( looking for info )

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by IrishSoldier, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. IrishSoldier

    IrishSoldier Member

    My mates dad was a sapper and landed on Sword Beach on D-day... he is dead for some years but his soldiers release book has just turned up and will help in applying for his war records... however that will take some time, and in the mean time I said I would try and find out some info...

    The man in question is Sapper Edward (Dan) Farrell and so far all I have is the following:

    Army Number: 1929879
    Enlisted: 2 Mar '43
    Rank: Sapper
    Service Trade: Lighterman B3

    I would love to narrow it down a bit but that is unlikely without his records. Does anyone know which Engineer units took part in the initial assault on Sword beach as we believe Dan was among the first troops ashore... he always became extremely emotional on the subject as he lost his best mate right next to him on the beach, so it was a taboo subject while he was alive... any help much appreciated... Dave
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Sounds like he would have been with 3 Div which consisted of 15 Field Park and 17, 246 and 253 Field Coys.

    I've posted the diaries for 246 on here and and Sapper was with them on D-Day. Run a few searches in the forums search engine and you'll find plenty of info.
  3. singeager

    singeager Senior Member

  4. IrishSoldier

    IrishSoldier Member

    Thanks lads, I will run a few searches on the forum... that trade Lighterman B3, what does that mean? Dave
  5. singeager

    singeager Senior Member

    Lightermen were workers who transferred goods between ships and quays, aboard flat-bottomed barges called lighters.

    It would appear to be likely that was involved in moving supplies to shore, the RE had a large number of rafts and DUKW amphibious vehicles at their disposal and these were crewed by Engineers. Alternatively he could have been involved with the construction and shipping and setting up of the Mulberry harbours.

    I have an account somewhere of these activities and will try and find it for you.
  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    Based on the information you give it is most likely that the unit was 940 Inland Water Transport Operating Company RE. The basic sapper trade in this unit was lighterman but it did not actually operate lighters and did not operate on inland water ways.

    On D Day sections of this company arrived off Sword Beach on LSTs from H+7 hours onwards. Each of the first waves of LSTs towed Rhino Ferries which were used to transfer vehicles from the LST to shore. 940 IWT Company operated the Rhinos.

    Certainly the beaches were still being shelled when the first Rhinos beached. Sea conditions were also bad.

  7. IrishSoldier

    IrishSoldier Member

    Hi again... no he definately was'nt involved in building the Mulberry's... he went in early on with the first assault troops because he was under heavy fire and lost some close mates to shell and machine gun fire... its always the same story, he gave out snippets from time to time but never very much... he suffered alot with his nerves after the war, alot of nightmares and sometimes eratic behaviour... probably saw alot that he wanted to forget about... but would never fully open up to his family...
  8. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    All Sappers are craftsmen of some sort or another. That is the beauty of it. For what ever is needed, then a craftsman able to cope can be found. Even a goldsmith. So in this case, this Sapper may not have had anything to do with water....

    I have a full list of all the RE units that landed on D Day on Sword.
  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    If we are looking for an engineer unit landing on Sword early on D Day there are many to choose from.
    Here is a list more or less in order on the first tide.
    77 Assault Squadron
    79 Assault Squadron
    629 Field Company
    263 Field Company
    860 Mechanical equipment section
    246 Field Company
    17 Field Company
    253 Field Company
    15 Field Park Company
    84 Field Company
    71 Field Company
    50 Mechanical equipment section
    91 Field company.

    There were other smaller units. Any additional fact you have would narrow it down considerably. I can supply details of any the above but supplying all would be a big task.

  10. IrishSoldier

    IrishSoldier Member

    Again many thanks for the great info... having spoken to my mate recently, his dad did say he was RE Assault on D-day but I suppose that could still mean any of the above units... from his description of the shelling and casualties etc tho, it sounded like they copped it fairly heavily, so we might be looking at 77 or 79 Assault squadrons as kindly posted above by Trux... of course his records will tell all, but with them not even applied for yet it seems ages to wait... I'm worse than my mate now over this, so near and yet so far from knowing his unit...frustrating!!
  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    Drew has politely suggested that my list could be misleading since the first six units on it were all due to land at H Hour. In fact 263 Field Company was late but all the others landed on time to carry out different tasks.

    Drew is also correct in saying that if 246 Field Company is the one you are looking for Sapper is your man. He was there and has a huge collection of records etc.

  12. leccy

    leccy Senior Member

    77 and 79 Assault Squadrons were Armoured Engineer Squadrons equipped primarily with Churchill AVRE's and belonged to 79 Armoured Division (Hobarts Div).
  13. IrishSoldier

    IrishSoldier Member

    It would also seem that the man in question completed a Commando training course... would that point in the direction of any particular unit within the Engineers?
  14. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    A Commando Training Course narrows it down a little. Many of the engineers in the initial waves went on Combined Operations courses of various kinds. I am not sure that they were strictly Commando training but involved much marching across the wilds of Scotland with heavy loads of explosives etc. So we might discount the Assault Squadrons, the Park Company and the Mechanical Equipment Sections.

    There was a Commando Engineer unit but they were Royal Marines.

  15. IrishSoldier

    IrishSoldier Member

    yep it was in Scotland alright, but I think nearly all Commando training was... the truth is he could have been stuck with one of several Engineer units and we wont find out till his records come back God knows when... it was worth a try though... many thanks... Dave
  16. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Hello Irish Soldier
    I know its frustrating waiting for service records to come back-they told me my dad's would take 6 months-I got them in 6 WEEKS. At least you'll know which unit he was in then get the war diaries from Kew or ask one of the forum members to do it for you. The war diaries are great.

  17. IrishSoldier

    IrishSoldier Member

    Lesley, thats the plan all going well... my mate is living in the UK and I am over here in Eire, my own grandfathers records took almost a year to come so hopefully he will get his dads much quicker!
  18. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    No Paybook? Sapper
  19. IrishSoldier

    IrishSoldier Member

    Cant be found sapper... just his medals and some piece of documentation that includes his service number on... but no unit information at all unfortunately, the pay book is probably stuck somewhere so might turn up when least expected... Dan rarely spoke abou the war for most of his life, then in the last 5-6 years before he died he started attending a few regimental gatherings and walked in rembrance day with his beret etc... unfortunately nobody in the family had any real interest while he was alive... the usual story!! His story is actually very comical in places, when war broke out Dan was a regular in the Irish army... when it became clear that we would remain neutral, he deserted and crossed the channel to England where he joined the Royal Artillery... due to a family breavment back home in Eire he came home and was promptly arrested by the Irish MP's for desertion and spent 3 months in the brig. Not to be deterred, when he was released he headed back across the channel, where he was arrested by the British Army for 3 months desertion!!... spent some time in the brig again and when he got out, he re-joined under his brothers name, so all Dans war service recored would be under Edward instead of his own name Daniel... so this man was determined to see action at all costs, second time around he was made a Sapper and landed on D-Day on Sword Beach... so you can see why I am really keen to finish off the tale and find out where he spent the end of the war.. by all acounts he got his belly full of action in the end, and was profoundly affected by it all for the rest of his life!
  20. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Irishsoldier.
    It is absolutely right that a great many of your countrymen came over to lend a hand in the defeat of the Nazi Regime.

    Much to their eternal credit!

    Without getting political. I Must also pay tribute to the Irish lads North of the Border. The RUR were splendid fighters. some years ago while broadcasting live for the BBC, I had lunch with the Colonel of the RUR at New Inn Church Knowle. Dorset. Got a photo here somewhere. What made identifying units so difficult, that there were a great many "Mobs" under command of Monty's Ironsides on Sword.

    Even today not all of it is known. For example: The RE had been over Pegasus Bridge to remove all the wooden stakes driven in the ground so that the Airborne could land...... Its odd the Airborne all landing. .But the Sappers had been there first to get the landing area ready...makes me smile... We called it "Rommel's Asparagus"!
    Cheers mate

    PS He would have seen a great deal of action. For there was always a shortage of Sappers. We got here, there, everywhere.

    PPS AS the Irish approached the shore, the fire got heavier. One of the Irish lads leaned over the Colonel (whose birthday it was) and said "Look Sur, they're sending you birthday presents".....

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