SRY - BLA - A Coal Trip to the Ruhr....

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Ramiles, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    This was a letter written home by my grandfather about a trip to the Ruhr to load coal. Pretty sure of the date(s) but I've left this out as I want to be 100%. I've included what I think I can of the place names he wrote but transcribed names can be hard to make out so I'll probably re-edit any as I get more sure of what he meant. The first excerpt is about the order, the next one about the trip itself. I've marked the comment about "officers*" as this seems unusually blunt for him ;) and one wonders if those reading it censors etc. were meant to get the jibe. I've never seen any of his mail censored out and whereas a lot of the early ones (9th and 24th L) were signed to say that they had been read by his immediate officer(s), the SRY officers didn't seem to do this - that is "over-sign" them. So I can't tell who his immediate officers were there.


    7880500 Sgt.B.Symes
    Sherwood Rangers

    Dearest Phyl,

    I wonder if these blasted storms in the Channel are going to spoil my chances for leave. They have given 72 hrs extensions over the radio and that of couse cancels moves over here.

    On Monday the 30th I have to visit the Ruhr Valley. I go from here to Paderborn, then Dortmund and up north to a place called Meur. 10 trucks for blooming coal is the job. Not pleasant…

    …taking so many trucks in one column, and only a Sgt. In charge, not quite the thing to my mind. They pay dopes to be officers* and then can’t trust them to do a job.

    Then a bit later this... about the trip itself....

    7880500 Sgt.B.Symes
    Sherwood Rangers

    Dearest Phyl,

    Unless the rail strike in England upsets all our calculations my leave is O.K. I am now due on the 8th and 15 group is warned from the 13th so it gives me five days clear.

    The journey to the Ruhr was good but once we entered the industrial area it became a nightmare. At a place called Warl I turned…

    Page 2:

    …to get on the Autobahn. I was worse off, bridges were blown and temporary ones are a nuisance. Then came a spot where there was not even a temporary bridge so I had to turn back and go through Dortmund. From there I had to cross a canal to get to Buer. Every darned bridge was blown and I was forced to go through Bochum and Geilenkirchen where I…

    Page 3:

    …got over, then through Gladback and I was there. Just 168 miles. The coal was loaded on Tuesday morning and we were away at 9.15 and were all in by 5pm, which is a nice average of 20mph for a ten vehicle convoy.

    To say the R.A.F. gave the Ruhr a hiding is an understatement, it really is awful. Add to all that the railway and road bridges, all of them, …

    Page 4:

    … blown up by the Germans themselves, and you can see how they’ve about fixed things up between them. Our people can sling a Bailey bridge over in no time at all, but why should they! The Germans also blew out the end of a viaduct in one place, so the people come by train to one end and then have a walk about 8 miles to get around to the spot where…

    Page 5:

    …they can pick up a train and continue their journey. You can imagine a trainload (and I don’t mean 1st or 3rd class, van and trucks are all there are) of people with their luggage tramping a country lane. My convoy came through them and of course they tried to get a lift. If I had stopped they’d have all piled on, and when they pile on a truck they’re all over it, and the trucks would never stand the strain. In any…

    Page 6:

    …case we aren’t allowed to give lifts to civilians.

    I’ve got my teeth too, three of them and you can hardly tell even by close examination which they are. They cost me 40 marks, £1 by rate of exchange. That includes the tidying up of the others. They’re quite comfortable and I ate a meal right away after getting them. So that job is done thank goodness.

    I have ordered a handbag for you but it won’t come through before I get leave.

    Cheerio and lots of love to you my sweet from your loving husband, Ben XX
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
    stolpi likes this.
  2. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    With a bit of detective work :smug: I noticed that he (gd) was still writing B.L.A. as his address, in the above 2 letters, and as...

    British Army of the Rhine - Wikipedia

    "The second British Army on the Rhine was formed on 25 August 1945 from the British Liberation Army.[4] Its original function was to control the corps districts which were running the military government of the British zone of occupied Germany. After the assumption of government by civilians, it became the command formation for the troops in Germany only, rather than being responsible for administration as well."

    I'd of assumed this related to events in June/July. Plus I saw something about a British Rail Strike in August:,d.ZWM

    "Reports from Europe talked about the continuing War Crimes trial of Marshall Petain in Paris and postwar conditions, including the British rail strike threatening to paralyze that country. Black market scandals surfacing with tea and canned milk supplies showing up in the streets of London and not with troops in France.

    From Washington, news that controversial Senator Hiram Johnson had died. Debates on postwar policy and our role in the United Nations and mention of a peacetime draft.

    And no mention of an Atomic Bomb in the news for this day in August, 1945, as broadcast by The CBS World News Roundup.

    And there was no mention in the letter either re. "the A bomb" and the "rail strike" seems not to have happened yet.

    Also... What day was 30th July 1945 - Google Search

    Monday 30 July 1945

    30 June 1945 was a Saturday
    30 August 1945 a Thursday,
    and really pushing it date-wise 30 September 1945 was a Sunday.

    Hence it being logical I guess that this particular coal trip to and through the Ruhr, was on Monday 30 July 1945. :blush:

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