Royal Engineers in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Discussion in 'General' started by susancammas, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    There's two 229 Company NW Europe (WO 171) War Diaries covering from April 1945 to June 1946 if that ties in?
    sjw8 likes this.
  2. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    From researching a local man who was part of the early garrison of Sierra Leone : In 1940 there was a great worry that the Germans would take control of Vichy French military assets especially in West Africa. The French fleet features in the histories however there was great concern that the land forces would play a part. The British Went into Sierra Leone (the legality is debatable) however it didn't give the French an excuse for war.

    From here they built up a force to :
    1/ Put pressure on the Vichy French to stay put. As it turned out many soldiers turned into Free French recruits.
    2/ To deter the Germans from trying to build naval bases in West Africa - Surface or U boat.
    3/ To have a British port between the UK and South Africa

    As the Vichy threat reduced the value as a base was realised. The Battle of the Atlantic and the increased traffic of troops to the Middle and Far East theaters meant there was a lot for Royal Engineers to be involved in.

    I trust this helps.
    Charley Fortnum and Tricky Dicky like this.
  3. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    What unit was he with?
  4. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    Sorry Charley all those notes got left with the museum I worked in. He was an infantryman with, I think, a Yorkshire Battalion. I had accesses to his papers, letters to his wife and the memories of his widow. Her stories were: (The classic of) his bemusement of being issued tropical kit, then cold weather kit then having it withdrawn at the last minute and being sent to SL in BD. Also that his letters and photos home all seemed to feature bananas, of course then unavailable in the UK. He caught a some kind of tropical disease which stayed with him the rest of his life.
  5. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    There's a good chance of it having been Malaria.
    The number of cases, particularly before good preventative practices were established, was huge.

    As to his being with an early garrison, the first non-native units to arrive were the 161st Infantry Brigade: 1/4th Essex in July 1940 and then the Brigade HQ along with 2/5th Essex in January 1941. Also, 71 Light A.A. Bty, 197 Heavy A.A. Bty and quite a lot of Engineers and medics.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018 at 3:16 PM

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