Telegram help 3rd RTR

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Crock, Dec 1, 2018.

  1. Crock

    Crock Active Member

    Hi all,

    Does anyone know roughly how long a telegram would take to reach home?

    Its dated 26th May in Southampton, presumably the date it was received home?

    And can anyone confirm from where it was sent? does the CR/B stamp mean Crete?
    I know he was in Crete after Greece so would make sense if so,

    Just trying to work out where and when my grandad sent it from to pin him to a place and time.



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  2. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Well in theory Telegrams should have been received very, very quickly. We had laid (and controlled) very many underwater telegraph cables to most of the Empire by the end of the 19th Century, sufficient enough for Kipling to write a poem celebrating the achievement (The Deep Sea Cables, 1893). The first cable had been laid in October 1866. These Cables, alongside Greenwich and the rest of our technological achievements, are what made Britain the envy of the world. We'd been using these cables since the later part of the 19th Century to standardise time throughout the Empire to the extent that by the time of the Washington Conference in 1884 something in the region of 72% of the world's shipping was using British maps and referencing Greenwich as the First Meridian, i.e. Longitude 0. All the Washington Conference did was to recognise the reality of the situation.

    So the short answer to your question is that the facility to send telegrams very quickly had been in place for a very, very long time. However, I would imagine that during Wartime there would have been a priority of certain traffic so it's possible that Telegrams such as this one were 'bundled' for flash transmissions at certain times, probably once a week, or every two weeks (don't really know for sure) But once received in the UK it was a quick enough job to cut and paste it as they have done here, and send it round by boy on bicycle.

    Also, the telephone switching network around the UK was pretty sophisticated and pretty extensive too, so re-routing telegrams around the country was also pretty easy. Today's modern computer networks were all designed to mirror the old telephone networks, your IP address is essentially your telephone number and your router is the village post-mistress plugging cables into a switchboard.
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    CR could also mean Cairo - where I believe one of the main telegram cables was between UK and India/Far East

  4. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    That's a fascinating telegram. Thanks for posting up. Looking again in the war diary, there are these extracts that might be of use:

    'A' Sqn
    18. Embarked H.M.S. “ISIS” 0230 hrs 27.4.41. Disembarked SUDA BAY, CRETE 1230 hrs 27.4.41.
    19. Embarked CRETE 9.5.41. Disembarked ALEXANDRIA 13.5.41.

    'B' Sqn
    14. The Sqdn arrived Crete at 1300 hrs 27th April.
    15. Date of leaving Crete:
    1700 hrs 9th May on S.S. Papi Vericos.
    Date of arrival Egypt:
    13th May Alexandria.


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  5. Crock

    Crock Active Member

    Good point TD certainly a possibility.. dates might match up.. sort of lol

    Thanks Tom, again the dates might match up with TD's thought on the telegram coming from Cairo so could have been on either ship, presuming the telegram might have taken a few weeks to get home?

    OK let me post some more pics as this thread looks like it might have some legs, might interest a few detectives out there lol, Toms already in on the reasons behind my original questions but ill start again for everyone else.
  6. Crock

    Crock Active Member

    My grandad was serving with the 3rd RTR in Greece, towards the end of April my gran gets a letter to say he'd gone missing on the 16th April, 02.jpg

    The 16th April was pretty much in the middle of the Greece battle, so somewhere in the confusion he seems to be have separated from the 3rd, the next communication gran gets is his telegram above saying hes off of Greece and is ok, ( dated 26th May ) so 5-6 weeks after hes reported missing.

    He kept a list of countries he visited during the war and Crete is on the list ( unfortunately no dates lol ) so he has obviously somehow found his way after the separation from his unit to the evacuation point on Greece and was then dropped on Crete.

    Now he either sent his telegram while on Crete, his telegram does only mention evac from Greece? or he then was evac from Crete where he sent it from Cairo?

    Next part of the puzzle,


    Dated the 16th June a letter saying he was now back with his unit, if his telegram home was from Cairo would it have taken nearly 3 weeks for them to tell gran he was back with his unit?

    One last thing to complicate things... its long been said in family discussions that he made his 'escape' with a handful of men off the island via a small boat and was picked up by the Navy after 4 days at sea, which island i cant confirm but my money having read about the wars is more likely to be on Crete, if indeed it is true lol

    My interest and the discussion ive already had with Tom is how he got to be missing from his unit on the 16th and where he ended up between then and getting back with his unit presumably in Egypt.

    Unfortunately at this moment in time i dont know what Squadron he was with im afraid.

    There! pick the bones out of that lot! lol

  7. Crock

    Crock Active Member

    Tom has also kindly given me the following info that might explain his disaperance around the 16th

    WO169/1411 - war diary 3 RTR:

    15 April 1941 GREVENA
    Echelon arrived at Harbour area, wooded area 15 miles SOUTH of GREVENA.
    0630 Capt. Niedermeyer reached Echelon with message from the Colonel. Major Reeves went to consult Colonel Ledward, who could not be found. HQ 3
    Written message from Staff Captain appeared to sanction move to ATHENS. A
    Echelon left Harbour area. Route KALAMBAKA – TRIKKALA – KARDITSA – LAMIA – MOLOS – ATALANTA – ELEFSIS. Order of March HQ, A, C, B. Sqns to move independently.
    1000 Column heavily dive-bombed and HQ Sqn was separated from ‘C’ and ‘B’. The Column then consisted of Two Packets. HQ with most of A + B, and ‘C’ Sqn with 1 of A, 4 of B + 3 of HQ.
    0430 ‘C’ Sqn reached TRIKKALA and were advised not to go via KARDITSA as HQ had had trouble on that route whenthey passed earlier. C4
    Harboured 3 miles EAST of TRIKKALA till 0130 hrs when left for LARISSA. Routealready recced.

    Night 15/16 April 1941
    HQ camped 7 miles south of KARDITSA.

    16 April 1941
    ‘C’ Sqn reached LARISSA. C5
    Whole column was halted owing to false rumour of bomb damage on road. Great congestion owing to Greeks of all shapes + kinds.
    0800 ‘HQ’ left KARDITSA.
    2130 ‘C’ Sqn halted at Hot springs atMOLOS for night. C6
    HQ reached ELEFSIS. Reported to Force HQ + Base Sub Area.


    18 - 22 April 1941
    Tank crews gradually rejoined and theunit reformed.

    Only thing that possibly confuses me is he’s not likely to be classed as missing if he’s still with either of the 2 groups that they got split into? Is he?
  8. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic


    Isn't there something about making their own way to Crete in a small boat in Bill Close book 'A View from the Turret' aka 'Tank Commander. From the Fall of France to......'. .?

    Busy day today but could look up some time if you haven't got a copy of Bill Close book.
  9. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    In the war diary there are several [badly and faintly!] handwritten reports such as this one that might indicate what happened to him (spelling is eccentric!):



    SUNDAY 26/4/41

    The above were with a party of B Sdn commanded by 2nd Lt Alison, who was last seen at 0730 hrs 28/4/41. R.S.M. White, SSM Booth, 2nd Lt Alison. Position 2 miles EAST of NAFPLION seen walking towards T Beach 0730 hrs 28/4/41.

    Sgt Stewart spent night of 27/28.4.41 in a barn 1 mile East NAFPLION with personnel of Bde H.Q. as follows CBT (Capt. dark, moustache, about 5’10”, broad, 35 yrs old) (Lieut. dark, tall, clean shaven, large eyes, medium build), 2 Sgt Majors wearing berries [sic] and 12 OR in Barn.

    At 1000 hrs 28/4/41 Parachutists reported 4 miles up the road.

    At 1200 hrs 28/4/41 Party Sgt Stewart & Tpr Byrne J moved down to the Beach under fire.

    At 1230 hrs 28/4/41, Sgt Stewart found a small motor boat with the engine broken. Met Sgt Stubley and 5 other B Sdn personnel before find motor boat. Tpr Byrne JP and Tpr Mellor B Sdn injured and found by Sgt Stewart. Had 15 in small motor boat, Australians, New Zealanders, RASC & 4 [??] R.T.R. Rowed to small island S of NAFPLION. Bosche now using field guns. Arrived at Island at 1345 hrs under MG & Arty fire. All disembarked except 4 RTR – got motor boat engine working by 1600 hrs. At 1630 hrs met Sgt Watt, Tpr Huskins, Tpr Bower, Tpr Western, rest 3 R.A.S.C., 2 Australians, 2 NZ and Veterinary Corps, total 15. Proceeded S to a larger Island. Difficulty with water pump & seized gasket. Returned to 1st Island and towed large boat with rowing boat. Sgt Watt got engine of large boat going by 2100 hrs.

    All firing from NAFPLION and finished by 1800 hrs. A Scout Car was definitely seen leaving T Beach and proceeding towards NAFPLION. Left Small Island at 2200 hrs. Proceeded to PARALIA – arrived at 0200 hrs 29/4/41 and restocked with food.

    Left PARAIA at 0400 hrs 29/4/41. Proceeded to LEONIDION and picked up Sgt Bryant and 8 men (Cpl Hamilton, Cpl Geldard, L/C Gusby, Tpr Rose & 4 others) in a rowing boat. Proceeded to ERAAS with rowing boat in tow. Arrived at MONEVASIA at 0100 hrs 30/4/41. Found lights, on investigation found bombed British lorries with lights left on.

    Arrived KYTHRA at 1600 hrs 30/4/41. Found message with food from Col Blunt at KAPSALI. Left in a Greek boat at 2100 hrs and arrived ANTIKYTHIPA at 0630 hrs.

    Spent whole day here.
    Left ANTIKYTHIPA at 1900 hrs and arrived at KASELLI at 0400 hrs 2/5/41 and returned to Unit in RAF lorry.


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  10. Crock

    Crock Active Member

    I don’t have a copy yet... it’s on the Christmas list lol
  11. Crock

    Crock Active Member

    Thanks again Tom..

    Looks like it was a common occurrence.. have found a couple of reports on the web pretty much saying the same thing... if it floated men were jumping on and just getting off the island without thought as to where they were ending up
  12. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Just a couple of 'tasters' from Bill Close book. Others apparently went direct from Greece to Egypt. Bill Close account seems to match your own findings and family lore. Left Greece on small boat. Picked up by Navy and taken to Crete. Escaped from Crete on small boat and escorted to Alexandria by a British submarine.


    Last edited: Dec 1, 2018
  13. Crock

    Crock Active Member

    Thanks :)

    Yes when they evacuated Greece they sent most straight to Egypt but sent some to Crete as ‘reinforcements’

    Units were split up and men spread all over the place in a lot of confusion

    A read about the wars on Greece and Crete is well worth it... very interesting
  14. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    There was clearly lots of confusion and improvisation. I think it's fair to say that the 'Bill Close' group were not 'sent' to Crete but 'ended up there' as much by accident rather than design. Quite an adventure in hindsight.
  15. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Confusion? What confusion!?



  16. Crock

    Crock Active Member

    Wow! Thanks Harkness :)

    Don’t suppose there are dates on the second 2?

    And yes what confusion! missing, not missing, lol
  17. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Afraid not.
  18. Crock

    Crock Active Member

    No worries thanks for posting them :)
  19. Crock

    Crock Active Member

    And that’s a lot of people gone missing on the same day!

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