Understanding Signals posts in BEF 1st Armoured Div Jan1940-Jun 1940

Discussion in 'Royal Signals' started by charlh, Apr 25, 2016.

  1. charlh

    charlh Member

    I have been trying to find out my grandfathers POW record in another thread. I am now trying to understand who he might have been with when he was captured.

    According to the MOD file his dates and postings up until capture at Saint-Valery-en-caux in June 1940 are as follows .
    Alexander Buchan,
    born 26/02/1920 but enlisted as 26/02/1919
    Army Service number 2574097

    Enlisted into the Royal Signals Territorial Army


    Discharged on Re-enlistment


    Re-enlisted into the Royal Signals Regular Army and posted to 4th Divisional Signals


    Posted to Holding Battalion


    Posted to 1st Army Divisional Signals


    Posted to 21st Army Tank Signals


    Posted to 1st Army Division No 2 Squadron


    Reported missing


    Confirmed Prisoner of War


    I know he was with the Royal corps of Signals and that is what is marked on his grave. However, I also gather that there are Sigmen dispersed among many different other army groups. (please excuse my lack of correct military terms, I don't like to get it wrong, but also don't know what terms I should be using)
    Based on his record above, should I look into him being part of the 1st Army Division No 2 Squadon, OR 21st Army Tank Signals (I do know he was in tanks) OR 1st Army Divisional Signals?
    Then I also wonder, am I reading it wrong and I need to think of him as being in the No 2 Squadron of the 21st Army Tank in his role in Signals as part of the 1st Army Division.

    I have only been able to find reference to the 1st armored division as part of the BEF, so also wonder if that is what is meant by 1st Army Division and perhaps there was a typo on his form.

    Any suggestions would be fantastic. I will be traveling to Saint Valery in mid May to see the memorials there and see where he was captured, so I hope to be able to wrap my head around it by then.

  2. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member


    Looking at the record for your grandfather on another website which is a transcription of WO417, War Office: Army Casualty Lists, 1939-45 War, it shows him as being a member of the 1 Armoured Divisional Signals.

    Your Grandfather's record will be in this set of records: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14546892. You can order a copy directly from The National Archives or visit yourself.

    The 1st Armoured Division is not the same as the 1st Army Division and would not be a typo on his form, to be sure of my statement would it be possible for you to upload an image of the paperwork you are quoting from. It makes it easier for people to make sure they are giving correct information.

  3. charlh

    charlh Member

    Hi Mark

    Thanks for your reply. A bury version of the document we have is attached and some close ups of it too. It has the letterhead in blue for
    Ministry of Defense then has the typed code CS(RM)2b then under the section Our reference the number 96/72612/CS(RM)2b/10 and is dated 8 November 1996.
    The paper is currently in England with my mother (I'm in Australia) who can't seem to scan it or photograph it all in one piece without difficulty. Hence, the reason I have transcribed it.

    I believed this to be his record of service, perhaps I am wrong.

    Attached Files:

  4. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member


    Your Grandfather's service records are available from https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records/overview, they will cost a little to obtain - free if your Grandmother is alive and she requests them if not then £30. These will probably clear up quite a deal of your queries and maybe provide more information.

  5. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    1st Armoured Division Signals, No2 Squadron will be correct. No2 Signal Squadron provided communications for the artillery of the division. They would be spread out, some at divisional headquarters and some with artillery regiments and batteries.

    21 Army Tank Brigade did not go overseas in 1940. Presumably when 1 Armoured Division was being readied to go to France, in rather a hurry, Alexander was transferred to make it up to strength. He had already been part of 2 Squadron 1 Armoured Division.

    I am afraid it is beyond my means to trace the movements of the units.

  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    An idea of the organisation and roles of No2 Squadron.

    No2 Squadron
    This contains signals sections for the artillery regiments of the division. Communications are normally provided to the regiments and within the regiments down to battery level.

    company quartermaster serjeant

    8 cwt truck GS
    Captain, batman, driver IC

    One section per field artillery regiment. These provide despatch riders, wireless communications and telephone communications.
    Motorcycle 1
    Motorcycle 2
    despatch rider
    Motorcycle 3
    despatch rider
    Motorcycle 4

    8cwt truck FFW 1
    Subaltern, batman, driver IC
    Can carry Wireless set
    8cwt truck FFW 2
    2 X operator
    Carries Wireless set No1
    8cwt truck FFW 3
    2 X operator
    Carries Wireless set No1

    15cwt truck GS
    3 X lineman, driver IC
    Carries a mechanical cable layer

    30cwt lorry GS 1
    2 X corporal, 4 X operator, cook, driver IC
    30cwt lorry GS 2
    electrician, driver IC
    Carries a charging set and hand cable layer

  7. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron


    If your mum received the records fairly recently, it might be worth ringing Glasgow and asking if they can send a full copy of his records as there appear to be errors in THEIR transcription, e.g. Army should be Armd (Armoured).

    If you've had them for a few years, it might still be worth reapplying for a full copy as there may be some additional information.

    My understanding is that they used to transcribe the records but now they just supply a copy.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Those are the old version of service records. The MoD used to pull the file and type up a list of units and dates, probably completed by civilian staff with no military knowledge hence the mistakes. You now get a photocopy of the original documents which is obviously much better.
  9. charlh

    charlh Member

    Thanks all!
    It clarifies how the error made its way into the record/document. I'll order the original copies, and for now just assume its 1st Armoured Division Signals, No2 Squadron as it makes more sense.

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