1052 Port Maintenance Company RE

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by tinal, Aug 23, 2020.

  1. tinal

    tinal Member

    I'm researching my Dad's war service and know he was in the Royal Engineers. I have his service record, but I'd love to know what all the different companies he was in did during the period 44-46, when he was eventually demobbed.
    After gaining his commision he was in:
    1052 Port Maintenance Coy RE 27 Aug 43 - 28 Jun 44 (With Exp Force 28 Jun 44 - 8 Aug 45)
    971 IWT Light Aid Workshop Coy RE 8 Aug 45 - 3 Oct 45
    1013 Port Operating Coy RE 3 Oct 45 - 18 Oct 45
    1057 Port Operating Coy RE 19 Oct 45 - 7 Feb 45 (back in the UK, I think)
    1045 Port Operating Coy RE 8 Feb 46 - 1 Oct 46
    X VIII A List (so demobbed 29 Oct 46)

    He notes that from 28 Jun 44 to 18 Oct 45 he was in NW Europe.

    I know he was stationed in Hamburg and Rotterdam. He met and married my Mum, whom he met on the outskirts of Lille on a journey from Calais to Hamburg. My Mum was French, so their 300+ letters written during the period he was in Europe and subsequently, that I am trying to translate, were written in French! Although he mentions bits of his day-to-day life in Hamburg and Rotterdam, there aren't any details (I would guess for security). I would love to be able to fill in the gaps. I'm thinking about getting everything down for my children and grandchildren, so this background would be very helpful.

    My brother seems to think Dad talked about landing with the Canadians on the Normandy beaches but I've looked at lots of posts on this really helpful site, but can't find out anything to support that. I have his beach map for the Creuilly area (Sheet 7E/5), which covers Juno and most of Gold.

    Any help or ideas where to go for info would be very much appreciated. I just wish I had asked Dad while he was still here :-(
  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    I am not near my records at the moment but I can tell you that 1052 Company was scheduled to arrive off Gold Beach in the afternoon of D Day and land soon after. Presumably your father was with the rear party and landed later. All the beach units landed an advanced party to get things ready, a main party and some time later a rear party which stayed behind to tidy up, tie up loose ends, collect stray personnel etc.

    More later.

    4jonboy likes this.
  3. tinal

    tinal Member

    Thanks for such a quick response, Mike. Much appreciated.

    I do remember Dad talking about bomb disposal at some stage of his service in Europe, although some of it other than during the landings. I know he did a Bomb Disposal course early on in his service career.

    He was a draughtsman with the Manchester Ship Canal before enlisting, so I assume that is why he seems to have been involved with ports and inland waterways, but what that might have meant is what interests me.
  4. Historic Steve

    Historic Steve Researching 21 Army Group/BAOR post VE day

    Can confirm the following post VE Day 8 May 45:

    1052 Port Maintenance Company of 8 Port Operating Group RE arrived Hamburg-Veddel 2 Jun 45.

    971 Inland Water Transport Light Aid Workshop Company RE were in Rotterdam and disbanded 3 Oct 45.

    1013 Port Operating Company of 8 Port Operating Group RE arrived in Antwerp 31 Aug 45 also disbanded 3 Oct 45, however there would have been a rear party, sorry unable to confirm exact locations.

    Best of luck with your research
    4jonboy likes this.
  5. tinal

    tinal Member

    Thanks for this info, Steve. I now understand why the change of company when Dad moved from Hamburg to Rotterdam.

    The first letter I have from Dad to Mum which indicates he was in Hamburg is dated 27th May 1945, so perhaps he was an advance party? The earlier letters don't say where he was, but I know he met Mum in October 44, and the family story was that he met Mum on his way from a trip to Bayeux (no mention if it was business or pleasure) to somewhere via Lille. I'm not sure if that fits with the timescales? Where else might he have been?!

    He tells Mum that his new address will be 971 IWT LA in a letter dated 3rd August 45, but then says, on 6th August, that he will actually be leaving the next day. His first letter from Rotterdam is dated 13th August.

    He then is moved to 1028 Port Operating Coy and arrives, according to his letter, on 3rd October 45 (missed that one off the list - haven't translated all the letters yet!) in Anvers. That fits with the disbanding of the 971 IWTLA you mention.

    On 6th October 45, his address is now 1013 Port Operating Coy, but he tells Mum that this Coy will disappear on the 13th (presumably of that same month). Then, just as he expects to be transferred back to Germany with a new company, he is sent back to Englad with 1057 Port Operating Coy. I think he was indeed the rear party for 1013, as you suggest, Steve. He mentions being the only officer left in charge of 300 men with the senior officer having just be transferred elsewhere!

    All the info from you and Mike so far is helping to make some sense of a lot of numbers and changes in his record and letters. My thanks for your help.
    Historic Steve and 4jonboy like this.
  6. Historic Steve

    Historic Steve Researching 21 Army Group/BAOR post VE day

    On 27 May 45 Hamburg was under command 12th Corps and the unit's arrival was not recorded, on 2 Jun 45 8th Corps relieved 12 Corps and 1052 Port Maintenance Coy appears on their location statement, have found 1028 Port Operating Coy in Schooten-NL disbanding 2 Oct 45, hence the move to Antwerp-Anvers-B to complete this. No records found for 1057 Port Operating Coy.
  7. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Port Maintenance Company.

    This is the establishment for work on the ports of France and Belgian rather than the beaches. Its role was the maintenance and servicing of port equipment such as cranes, dock railways, etc. The table shows the wide range of skills available within the unit.

    War Establishment IV/22A/3. July 1944

    This establishment is for working with up to five port operating companies. An increment is added for six or seven companies.

    2 X Captain
    4 X Subaltern
    Warrant Officer Class I, Technical
    Warrant Officer Class II, Technical
    Warrant Officer Class II, Clerk
    Company Serjeant Major
    company quartermaster serjeant
    11 X serjeant
    3 X lance serjeant
    11 X corporal
    17 X lance corporal
    119 X sappe
    26 X driver

    Captain RASC
    2 X staff serjeant RASC
    4 X corporal RASC
    10 X private RASC
    Captain or Subaltern RAOC
    2 X Warrant Officer Class I, Clerk RAOC
    2 X lance corporal RAOC
    2 X private RAOC
    officers mess cook ACC
    serjeants mess cook ACC
    5 X cook ACC

    3 X blacksmith
    3 X blacksmiths striker or hammerman
    4 X boilermaker
    4 X brakesman and shunter
    2 X bricklayer
    10 X carpenter and joiner
    6 X checker
    3 X clerk
    15 X clerk, railway
    2 X draughtsman, mechanical
    draughtsman, rail and port
    2 X driver, crane
    9 X electrician, maintenance
    engine artificer
    2 X fireman, locomotive
    12 X fitter
    painter and decorator
    8 X platelayer
    2 X plumber
    4 X boilermakers mate
    10 X carpenters mate
    6 X dock gatemate
    12 X fitters mate
    2 X plumbers mate
    3 X railway engine driver
    9 X rigger
    2 X riveter
    6 X storeman, technical and departmental, railway
    2 X tinsmith and whitesmith
    2 X welder
    3 X batman
    batman driver
    6 X driver
    2 X motorcyclist
    10 X orderly
    2 X sanitary dutyman
    2 X water dutyman

    3 X bicycle
    2 X motorcycle
    1 X car 2 seater
    1 X car 4 seater
    1 X 15cwt GS
    1 X 15cwt compressor
    1 X 3ton 4 X 2 GS
    5 X Bren lmg

    Note: A fire boat section was attached.

    Increment for six or seven companies
    Warrant Officer Class II, Technical
    2 X serjeant
    5 X corporal
    5 X lance corporal
    38 X sapper
    6 X driver

    blacksmiths striker or hammerman
    2 X brakesman and shunter
    4 X carpenter and joiner
    4 X checker
    5 X clerk, railway
    draughtsman, mechanical
    draughtsman, rail and port
    driver, crane
    fireman, locomotive
    12 X fitter
    painter and decorator
    5 X platelayer
    2 X boilermakers mate
    4 X carpenters mate
    3 X dock gateman
    2 X fitters mate
    railway engine driver
    2 X rigger
    storeman, technical and departmental, railway
    batman driver
    4 X orderly

    1 X bicycle
    1 X motorcycle
    1 X car 2 seater

    The Port Maintenance Company supported a group of Port Operating Companies who operated the port facilities: loading and unloading and operating the dock railways.

    Port Operating Company.
    War Establishment IV/210/1. December 1943

    2 X Captain
    5 X Subaltern
    Warrant Officer Class I, Technical
    4 X Warrant Officer Class II, Technical
    Company Serjeant Major, Technical
    company quartermaster serjeant
    19 X serjeant
    8 X lance serjeant
    18 X corporal
    34 X lance corporal
    248 X sapper
    23 X driver
    officers mess cook
    8 X cook including serjeant and corporal

    4 X carpenter and joiner
    32 X checker (railways or docks)
    4 X clerk
    11 X clerk, railway
    20 X driver, crane
    8 X driver, transportation plant
    4 X carpenters mate
    4 X wagon labeller
    3 X batman
    6 X driver
    2 X medical orderly
    8 X orderly
    4 X sanitary dutyman

    4 X bicycle
    4 X motorcycle
    2 X car 2 seater
    2 X 5cwt car 4 X 4, amphibious
    2 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS
    1 X water trailer

    Historic Steve, Osborne2 and 4jonboy like this.
  8. tinal

    tinal Member

    Wow! Thank you both for all the info. I did find info about Port and Inland Waterway Units Royal Engineers in your discussion thread, Mike, and some of the details about what the various groups were doing was filling in some of the gaps about what Dad must have been doing day-to-day - very interesting.

    Great to have confirmation about 1028 Port Operating Coy, too, Steve. I don't remember Dad ever mentioning Anvers, but clearly he must have been there from his letters!

    Would any war diaries be helpful, do you think? If so, any ideas which ones? I'm a long way off the National Archives but could put it on my To Do list of 'when things get back to normal'. I was hunting for WW1 diaries last time I visited for the previous generation.

    On his letter 15 Oct 45 Dad says that the 1057 POCoy was in Germany the last time he spoke to them. Then, that day, he telephoned them at Minden where they were located to find they had left four days earlier and were in England. On the 26th he writes that he will be posted back to England within 24 hours. On the 21st October, he writes from Belhus Park Camp in Purfleet, Essex. Things seem to move very quickly!

    On 23 November, his address (still 1057) is now Beckton Road Camp, London E16. That's as far as I've got from his letters in 1945, although he continues to write to my Mum in France for much of 1946. From a quick look at these, it seems he joins 1045 POCoy early in 46 and goes back to Hamburg. This is indicated in his service record, but not that he was sent to Hamburg again.
    Historic Steve likes this.
  9. tinal

    tinal Member

    Sorry, it's the 16th October when he writes he was going to be posted to England, not 26th - my typo!
  10. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    I was about to suggest War Diaries. I have a lot but not the ones you would be interested in. They vary a great deal. I have some which are hundreds of pages with almost evry piece of paper imaginable attached. One simply says 'Have not had time to keep records'.

    There are members of this forum who spent a lot of time at the archives in Kew and will copy documents for a very reasonable fee. They may be able to see if they are of any interest before copying them. They may even have them all ready.

  11. tinal

    tinal Member

    Ah! That's helpful. Glad I was thinking along the right lines! Do I just ask on one of the forums or are there specific people who might help? I know from searching around that someone called Drew 5233 seems to have given this help before?
  12. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Drew is a good fellow. I have used him a lot. Reasonable price but prefers to copy an entire volume, usually six months worth. Ask for a quote. He will find how many pages are involved.

  13. tinal

    tinal Member

    Thanks, Mike - will do :)
  14. Historic Steve

    Historic Steve Researching 21 Army Group/BAOR post VE day

    I have now found 1057 Port Operating Coy RE
    19 Jul 45 - Minden
    12 Sep 45 - Dankersem east of Minden
    11 Oct 45 - ceased to be under 52 (Lowland) Inf Div for admin
  15. tinal

    tinal Member

    Yay! That supports what Dad said in his letters. Thanks, Steve. I think I need to get on with translating the letters - currently only a third of the way through, so might be some interesting bits further down the line!

    He does talk about some of the recreational things he and fellow officers did, like going to the theatre or concerts. Going swimming and getting sunburn! All the additional info from you and Mike is adding to what else he was doing and where.

    Unfortunately Drew doesn't have any of the relevant war diaries, so will have to wait until he or I visit the National Archives.

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