17th Field Company Royal Engineers

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by MarcD, Jul 4, 2013.

  1. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    Marc, Sorry as a new member < 48 hours old still finding my round this site. Can't find my way back into our PVT message :). So have attached the 2nd photo here.

    Dad is just right of centre (looking into the photo). He's next to the other officer who doesn't look to be dressed as warmly as the others! So perhaps he was the c/o or 2i/c of 17 FC RE visiting 2 Pl. I say 2 Pl because of Dad's presence in the photo but I can't immediately see other know members of 2 Pl (e.g. "Tubby" Faulkner). If my assumption is correct then the visiting officer could be either Major D Willison (OC 17 FC RE) or Captain Watson (2 i/c 17 FC RE) ...... I have zoomed-in but can't make-out a crown or 3 pips so your guess is as good as mine.

    If you (or anybody else) can identify anybody in the photo I would love to hear from you (Please).

    Attached Files:

  2. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    Hello Peter,

    Having recently obtained an immediate Military Medal to this unit (L.G. 23.8.1945)1866720 L/Sgt F. A. Faulkner, for bravery on 17th April 1945 near Delmanhorst, I was delighted to read your contributions to this post.

    "On 17th April 1945, L/Sgt Falkner, (sic) R.E. was in command of a small party of Sappers attached to "C" Sqn. 3 Recce Regt. This Sqn. was ordered to advance in the area of South of DELMANHORST.
    During the advance a very large number of enemy mines were encountered. Sgt. Falkner volunteered to go forward with the most leading elements; this he was allowed to do. Completely disregarding his own safety,this NCO on several occasions successfully cleared mines from the road under direct small arms fire.
    Later, when a man was seriously wounded, this NCO again shewed the greatest courage and initiative bydriving his 1/2 track vehicle across the road in order to screen and protect the wounded man from the enemy small arms fire.
    Throughout the day this NCO not only set a magnificent example by his courage and determination, but his extremely gallant conduct enabled the Sqn to reach its objective."

    I have a wonderful photo of Faulkner taken in 1930 as a member of a regimental cricket team. I will post when I return home from the West Coast of Scotland.

    In Delaforce’s book (page 176, I have the book with me as essential reading!)on the 3rd Division, there is a group photo of some of 17 Field Company men. The photo is I believe wrongly captioned as “Tubby” Faulkner is I believe shown as far right not far left. At the time the photo was taken , he was entitled to wear the ribbons of the MM, General Service Medal (awarded for pre war service in Palestine) and the 1939-45 Star. On page 187 a further photo appears of 2 Platoon and I am assuming L/Sgt Faulkner is pictured on the extreme left smoking a cigarette although I can’t make out the medal ribbons from the photo?

    I would be delighted to know if you have seen any other photos of him and would be most interested to hear from you as it would appear that your father and Sgt Faulkner knew each other.


    Last edited: May 27, 2021
  3. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    I agree Frank is on the right as you look at that photo (left as you look out from it). Yep Dad often talked very fondly about Frank. They were blow-up together in that half-track pictured on page 112 of DLF's book. They met-up after the war. Frank often going to the anniversary celebrations of D-day he would call in to see Dad (in Dover). Dad only went once.

    Never realised Frank played cricket (my Dad's great love) after the war (46 to 49) Dad played FC cricket for Kent. So that would have been another common bond between them!

    Best Peter
  4. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    Looking at the training photo, is Sgt Faulkner shown seated far left as we look?
  5. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    This is becoming a really outstanding thread!
  6. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    yes with my Dad's head just over his left shoulder
    mark abbott likes this.
  7. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    Thanks Peter
  8. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    Frank Faulkner’s medals. EE8783EC-A495-486D-8D45-439C9729F853.jpeg
  9. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    I was always struck by that picture towards the rear of Monty's Ironsides (The one we discussed earlier). The caption reads "all are decorated". There were a very brave bunch weren't they.

    Dad's group has the same two stars, the defence medal, the war medal and the MC. I see frank has those plus the MM and 3 more. What are the medals: 2nd from the left and the last two on the right (looking onto the photo)?

    What relation are you to Frank?
    mark abbott likes this.
  10. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    The Detachment of 2 Pl 17 FC RE at ST-AUBIN-D’ARQUENAY on the night of 6th June

    According to Sapper 1876469 T.R. “Pat” Paterson’s recollections this detachment consisted Cpl Bill Edwards, Cpl Kemp, Sapper Paterson and Dad in a carrier. He mentions that Brigadier K.P. Smith was also there hence why I think there was an “O” group in ST-AUBIN-D’ARQUENAY during the evening / night of 6th June.

    Another sapper (Churchill of HQ Platoon and later 2 Platoon 17 FC RE) writing to Dad after the war recalled that Cpl Bill Edwards and Pat Paterson “liberated” a German truck in ST-AUBIN-D’ARQUENAY that night. Both Pat Paterson and Sapper Churchill also recounted that Brigadier K.P. Smith ordered them (via Dad) to use the truck to investigate “somebody waiving at them” from Chateau du BEUVILLE. Cpl Bill Edwards and Pat Paterson drove to the Chateau in the truck and discovered that the “person waiving” was an RAF Squadron Leader who had been a POW. The Squadron Leader shook their hands and invited them in to meet his former captors. Cpl Bill Edwards and Pat Paterson drove back to ST-AUBIN-D’ARQUENAY with one liberated Squadron Leader and “a group of smartly dressed German Officers” who were handed over to two Intelligence Corps officers.

    I’ll continue this story focussing of 17 FC RE later but this may also be of interest (particularly the last para) .......

    The disposition of 3 Div. REs (and attached RE units) on D-day: -

    · 246 FC RE with 8 Brigade (Assault Brigade at H-Hour, around HERMANVILLE SUR MER by nightfall on 6th June. However, 2 East Yorkshire was between COLLEVILLE and BEUVILLE by nightfall on 6th June. Distribution of RE units as follows: -

    o 1 Pl split into two detachments: -

    § Under Lt R.A. Field landed behind 1 South Lancashire at H + 30. After assaulting the beach to clear route through HERMANVILLE-COLLEVILLE-ST AUBIN to BENOUVILLE

    § Under Sgt Thomas landed behind 2 East Yorkshire at H + 30. After assaulting the beach to clear route to COLLEVILLE and then via OUISTREHAM to BENOUVILLE.

    o 2 Pl: -

    § 3 Mine Clearance Teams (MCT) and 4 Assault Demolition Teams (ADT) with 2 East Yorkshire

    § 1 MCT with 1 Suffolk

    o 3 Pl: -

    § 3 MCT and 4 ADT with 1 South Lancashire

    § ! MCT with 1 Suffolk

    o Coy HQ with HQ 8 Brigade;

    o Special Party (one NCO plus 2 sappers) under Lt G. W Pope landing at H + 45 to inspect the lock gates at OUISTREHAM and report to CRE 3 Div.

    o All units to RV at ST AUBIN D’ARQUENAY at 17:00 hours thereafter to prepare raft sites for ORNE crossings between BENOUVILLE and RANVILLE

    · 17 FC RE (less 2 Pl), under the command of CRE 3rd Div., and with under command 71 FC RE and detachments of 106 Bridging Company RASC to: -

    o Clear a route for wheels to BENOUVILLE; and

    o Construct and operate Class 5 ferries and construct and maintain class 40 crossings over CAEN Canal and RIVER ORNE at BENOUVILLE and RANVILLE

    o 2 Pl with 185 Brigade advancing on CAEN on the HERMANVILLE-SUR-MER – BEUVILLE – CAEN Axis. Probable RE presence with 185 Brigade’s units

    · 253 FC RE (less one platoon) under command of CRE 3 Div. but “on call” to 185 Brigade to: -

    o Open and maintain one single and one double way route forward to 185 Brigade “close behind” the advance. Possible RE presence with 185 Brigade’s units

    o One platoon under command of 9 Brigade

    · 15 Field Park Company (FPC) to provide bulldozer teams for FCs, take over local stores’ dumps, establish RV for returned empty bridge company vehicles and refill them with bridging equipment landed as stores over the beaches. Location close to the beaches; main store at LA BRECHE.

    · 629 Field Squadron (FS) RE to: -

    o Complete clearance of underwater obstacles (under command 5 Assault Regt) then to revert under command of 101 Beach Sub Area

    · 263 FC RE to: -

    o Assist 629 FC RE; then

    o Clear 2 glider landing strips East of ST AUBIN D’ARQUENAY

    · 5 Assault Regt: 77 and 79 Assault Squadrons (i.e. AVREs) to assist infantry units to reduce concrete defences

    185 Brigade’s Units

    2 KSLI on the tanks of the Staffordshire Yeomanry (plus 2 troops of Westminster Dragoons – 10 Sherman Crabs) with the 1 Norfolk on the left and 2 Warwick on the right.

    Note: KSLI’s advance was delayed because the Staffordshire Yeomanry (Staffs) could not get off the beach by the allotted hour. However, according to the KSLI War Diary at 12:30 the battalion advanced in the following order X, W, Y and Z (KSLI) with C Squadron Staffs, and the FOOs of 7th (Major Rea) and 33rd (Capt. Gower) Field Regiments (FR) Royal Artillery (RA) advanced over PERIERS RIDGE but came under fire from HILLMAN. At about 2:25 PM B Squadron Staffs and B (Self-Propelled) Troop of 41 Anti-Tank Battery caught up with C Squadron Staffs and the KLSIs. However, Z Coy KLSI and A Squadron were diverted (from the advance) to deal with a battery of 12.2 cm Russian-made guns located on the reverse slope of the “ORNE dip” at PERIERS-SUR-LE-DAN.

    Conclusion: Therefore, RE Activity on 6th June with 185 Brigade’s Units was probably 2 Pl 17 FC RE and possibly 253 FC RE.

    RE Activity with 185 Brigade’s Units

    Sometime between 2:25 PM and 4 PM the Russian Guns at PERIERS-SUR-LE-DAN were blown-up by an unnamed N.C.O. of the Divisional REs (emphasis added) who, though gravely wounded, succeeded in “spiking” them all (Page 45 Assault Division by Norman Scarfe refers. This act is confirmed by the KLSI war Diary and Page 42 Monty’s Ironsides by Patrick Delaforce). I do not know but I wonder if this “Unnamed NCO” was L/Sgt Paddy Johnson because …….

    Sapper 1876469 T.R. Paterson (Dad’s driver) recalled in 2001 in a letter to Dad that “The 3rd Infantry Battalions of our 185 Brigade had to capture CAEN on D-Day. They captured BENVILLE, BIEVILLE and BLANVILLE but were stopped at LEBISEY wood (at approximately 4 PM see Page 45 Assault Division) with heavy casualties, including some from No 2 Platoon and L/Sgt Paddy Johnson from Birr, Eire was killed. His body was found by a night patrol some weeks later and we had to roll his remains into a blanket and carry him back. He is now buried in the British War Cemetery at RANVILLE.

    Remarkably 17 FC RE’s War Diary makes no reference to the “spiking” of the Russian-made guns or L/Sgt Paddy Johnson’s death. However, he was an NCO from 17 FC RE and that was probably the unit that the “unnamed NCO” mentioned in these accounts came from. I think he deserves to be mentioned and remembered.

    At around 4 PM 24 German tanks counter-attacked; the advance on CAEN faltered as defensive positions were adopted.
    Owen likes this.
  11. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member


    The medals are MM
    General Service Medal bar Palestine
    Imperial Service Medal
    Efficiency Medal

    I am not related to Frank.

    Your posts are really interesting and I look forward to more.
  12. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    Amongst Frank’s documents and paperwork, there is a photo of an army Sergeant on the day of his wedding. It is clearly not Frank and I was wondering if it was one of his comrades from 17 Field Company? 58749464-3270-43C5-9EBC-CAF1B197EF53.jpeg
    peter crush likes this.
  13. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    Happily, I have found a copy of the photo I referred to . From the naming on the reverse, Frank Faulkner is pictured sitting in the centre of the front row. I believe Frank joined the army as a boy soldier. 94FC3E74-35D3-4082-ABEE-53F982FEF254.jpeg
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2020
    peter crush likes this.
  14. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    I’ll see if I can identify the guy in the wedding photo (by that I’ll see if he appears in any other photos I have). That will identify his unit. I just zoomed in and couldn’t see any patches.
  15. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    Have you seen an original copy of the 1/2 track photo?
  16. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    Mark, Sorry had to work today and now out with my youngest daughter. Don’t think Dad had a copy of that photo. I don’t know if my memory is playing tricks but I think I recall Frank telling Dad he was contributing to a book and sending stuff through to Dad - that’s how he got a copy of those other personal diaries. I’ll have a look see when I get home - my filing all over the place at the mo.
  17. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    Hello Peter

    Frank certainly contributed to Patrick Delaforce’s book on the 3rd Division and is acknowledged as such.

    Have you seen the IWM film on Operation Charnwood, Part 4?

    The following is a capture from the film and shows one of 17th FC 1/2 tracks.
  18. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    ADEC8CE8-9000-4634-97D9-31FD75C16724.png Apparently this is 17 FC on the same film
  19. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    Wow this is great stuff ...... really pleased I had an original copy of that half track photo for you.
  20. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    Looks like I have original copies of all Frank’s photos in Monty’s Ironsides; the exception is that photo with Major Scott Bowden.

    And quite a few unit photos some from Porton Down, some OTC and some after the war.
    mark abbott likes this.

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