17th Field Company Royal Engineers

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

  1. Arty

    Arty Member

    Hello Mark/Peter,

    Damn nice work finding the debrief and the newspaper articles!!! The 620 Sqn ORB referred to an after action report by F/L Thring in the appendix. However, I couldn't find the appendix, but not for want of looking!

    The debrief of F/L Thring is interesting indeed. He reported being temporarily locked up in Mathieu - some 4km to the West North West of Beuville. And yet again we have the War Diary of 185 Bde stating:

    “BEUVILLE 066756 1010 Bde Hq moved to a field near BEUVILLE. Shortly after our arrival a party of Canadian airmen turned up. They had been held prisoner in the German HQ and [sic] BEUVILLE and had brought 61 of the captors captive to us..."

    And of course, we have the recollections of Cpl Bill Edwards and/or Pat Paterson stating that the encounter with the boys in blue was near Chateau Beuville.

    Perhaps F/L Thring was just slightly lost. He certainly was about his take off time on 06June, stating "1010 hours" That is just not correct! And, of note, it seems to have been F/O McMahon who later incorrectly reported Canadian soldiers being involved. Either way it was British Troops, not Canadians involved. On 07-08June 9 Brit Inf Bde was in Mathieu area, whilst 185 Brit Inf Bde was in the Beuville area, as was 2 Pl 17 Fd Coy.

    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020
    mark abbott and peter crush like this.
  2. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member


    My sister-in-law sorting-out her loft. I’ve recounted what Mike (my brother) told me in circa 2013. She is looking for any letters in Mike’s papers. She mentioned a web-site (not unlike this one) That he was on. She hasn’t got his password - so I might just have to join after her search in the loft (if that doesn’t yield anything).

    Loving your work guys ...... trying to keep-up with you.

    Won’t it be fantastic if/when we (by that I obviously mean mainly you guys) discover, after all these years, the truth behind one of the iconic d-day moments/legends

    Very Best Peter (Better get back to work now )
    mark abbott likes this.
  3. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member


    Plate III in RE Battlefield Tour 2: Normandy to the Seine (Dispositions of 3 Brit Div on night of D-day) shows 2 KSLI on BIEVILLE and 1 Norfolk’s to the North West of BEUVILLE (between the “village” and a “wooded area” - further to the North West (see earlier post about Paterson’s covering letter)).

    So that not only places 2 platoon and gives credence to Paterson’s recollection but probably explains where I was when “lost in France”

    Both BIEVILLE and BEUVILLE are between 2/3 miles South East of ST AUBIN D’ARQUENAY (“SADA”) according to the scale on Plate III (So depending upon terrain - which I haven’t checked - easily visible from SADA).

    But these dispositions take me back to my original question: Why was Dad and the detachment from 2 Pl, 17 FC RE in SADA on the evening of 6/6 / morning of 7/6?

    The dispositions of the infantry battalions of 185 Brigade (I.e. those mentioned above plus 2 Warwicks who were on BLAINVILLE and BÉNOUVILLE (along the CAEN Canal) seem to suggest the a location for a Brigade HQ either with one of them or in the middle of them all.

    What we know: Brigadier Smith was located in SADA evening 6/6 morning of 7/6 according to Paterson. I’ve also seen references to RE units RDVing with the CRE in SADA after 5PM on D-day. SADA’s location (central to all units of 3 Div and close to the strategic canal and river crossings) therefore makes sense both as a location of a Div “O” group and/or an RE “O” group. Dad was senior office of the REs with 185 Brigade so it makes sense (to me) why he’d be there.

    Going back to Plate III it therefore looks like the WDs of 2KSLI, 1Norfolks, and 2E.Yorks (all disposed between SADA and BIEVILLE may be worth looking at. And possibly 2RUR who according to Plate III were on the HERMANVILLE-BEUVILLE road where it crossed the COLLEVILLE-PERIERS-SUR-LE-DAN road (circa 2 miles nearly due North of BIEVILLE and BEUVILLE).

    I have a deposit with Drew5233 which I’ll happily spend on the WDs for 1Norfolks, 2E.Yorks and 2RUR. May need to top that deposit up mind

    BTW in a tea break at work just in case you were wondering
    mark abbott likes this.
  4. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    Just finished work: On a whim (and a bit of a tangent frankly) searched for the two German defensive positions in SADA and found this site.

    Wn15 & Wn15a St-Aubin-d'Arquenay (Sorry that hasn’t worked as a link)

    The reason: Immediately after the “Squadron Leader” incident in his diary Paterson states: “We lined up at the last house in ST AUBIN ready to for my carrier to lead the way down to the Chateau de BEUVILLE” ..... he then talks about the house being “right next to a German Pillbox” and the “Madame” coming out to complain that her garden wall had been knocked-down and asking if they (2 Platoon) could rebuild it.

    Not at all surprisingly Dad made it very clear that his men wouldn’t. Dad could not speak French and Paterson states “I won’t repeat Ted’s answer.”

    There is a little bit more detail which is interesting: -

    The boys in blue appear to have been waiving at an OP in a haystack only some 500 yards from the CdB (not to SADA). This got reported to Brigadier Smith who knowing Paterson had a German truck ordered him to drive to the Chateau adding the OP would cover him.

    Paterson adds that he talked to the “Squadron Leader” who said “he would most likely be in England on the following day (8th June by my calculations) and would I wish for him to send a message to my Mother to say that he had met me on the day after D-day ........ I have since tried to trace him (the Squadron Leader) but without his name it is an impossible task”

    This last comment suggests that Paterson was not influenced by the notoriety of the incident. Which may very well suggest this is as close to the truth as we are ever likely to get 76 years on.

    Paterson then states that he subsequently found out that the Germans were from RHQ Staff Officers from 736th Grenadier Regiment.

    As I said I will post these diaries for all to enjoy. Sappers Paterson and Churchill to be remembered as a result!
    mark abbott and JimHerriot like this.
  5. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member


    Just checked a map attached to Sapper Churchill’s diary. He’s marked it up:-

    First thing I noticed was SADA is located on ground between contour-line 30 and 40. From there, on the direct line of sight to BEUVILLE, the land rises to 40 then 50 before falling back through 40, to 30 and finally to 20, where BEUVILLE lies.

    Similarly, on a direct line of sight from SADA to BIEVILLE the land rises to 40 before falling back to 30 and then to 20 where BIEVILLE lies.

    So I don’t think there is a direct line of sight from SADA to either location. However, that “problem” was cleared-up by Sapper Paterson’s recollection that the boys in blue were waving to the OP (only some 500 yards from Chateau de BEUVILLE not SADA (see earlier post)) which was presumably reported to Brigadier Smith who along with the detachment of 2 Platoon were in SADA on the morning of 7/6/1944.

    The map (which I will scan and share) identifies the location of those units listed below. Be warned (when you see the map) the marks are not that easy to see:-
    • 2 Platoon’s location after it located at Chateau de BEUVILLE (I now see that when I was “Lost in a France” I was in BIEVILLE not BEUVILLE);
    • 2 Norfolk’s location (which tallies very well / exactly (allowing for the different scales and map formats) with their location as given on Plate III in RE Battlefield Tour 2: Normandy to the Seine);
    • A tank park close to the Norfolks; and
    • 17 FC RE’s HQ near BÉNOUVILLE.
    There’s another mark by the Chateau de BEUVILLE which I can’t make out.
  6. Arty

    Arty Member

    Hello Peter,

    Now it's my turn to be a bit lost taking in all the info from your last three posts! A quick response to all of them follows...

    Post #123
    Are you now content that the reason Lt Crush was in SADA on the evening of 06June was for an O Group? That sounds correct. The 185 Bde HQ was in Colleville Sur Orne that night - so it would have been no problem for the Brigadier to get to SADA.

    Regarding War Diaries, I already have an extract from the Norfolks for 05-07Jun, the RUR for all of June (thanks to another member of the forum sharing it with us), and, some years ago I aquired the 2 East Yorks War Diary for all of 1944. Not that I begrudge Drew5233 making some money (at all), however I can forward all the relevant pages to you. Having said that I, don't know if any of them will help with the 17 Fd Coy story.

    Post#123 & Post #124
    Something that is really bugging me. With due respect to Sapper Patterson, did he actually write his diary at the time, or did he write it, not just after the war, but decades after the war? Not surprisingly, the events veterans were involved in, becomes a blur when trying to recollect them some time later. Hey, ask me what I had for dinner three nights ago and I wont have a flippin clue! Having said that, a lot of the info that was written in war diaries, reports & debriefs very soon after the actual events was entirely dodgy.

    Anyway, the first contact between 2 Pl 17 Fd Coy and F/L Thring et al seems to have occurred on the morning of 08June. Yet Patterson's diary seems to indicate 07June??? And, I'm mentioning this yet again...the War Diary of 185 Bde has the Brigade HQ shuffling up from Colleville to "a field near Beuville" on the morning of 08June.

    Though, here's another small bit of info to tie things up a bit (perhaps). From my previous research on 716 Infanterie Division, the Chateau Beuville/Beuville was apparently occupied by the Stabskompanie Grenadier Regiment 736 - the translation being: the headquarters company of the 736th Grenadier Regiment. Which agrees with Sapper Patterson's later findings of "Staff Officers", and, tends to suggest that F/L Thring was indeed a bit lost.

    So being a 'bit lost' has become a common theme here.;)

    Last edited: Aug 28, 2020
    peter crush likes this.
  7. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

  8. Arty

    Arty Member

    Though this slice of the 12,500 scale map of the area around St Aubin d'Arquenay is quite useful too...

    GSGS 4490 12,500 map slice.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2020
    peter crush and mark abbott like this.
  9. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member


    Thank you for the map. What is the source?
  10. Arty

    Arty Member

    The short answer is scavenging in this case!

    The longer answer is that this is a slice of map GSGS 4490, 12,500, Defence Overprint, Sheet 86 Ouistreham - dated 12May44. Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to find a full version of this map available to download from the net.

    Last edited: Aug 30, 2020
  11. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    Dear Mark/Arty

    Quick post as in the office (tea break at the mo).

    As you will see (I have created PDFs) both diaries were written after the war but both are generally supportive of each other and tracking known facts quite well.

    Sapper Paterson’s diary is, to me at least, a little confusing (re dates about the move from SADA to Chateau de BEUVILLE and the drive to pick-up the “Squadron Leader” et al. 7/6 was my guess (nothing more than that). See what you guys think.

    My sister-in-law thinks Mike (my brother) may have met-up with the “Squadron Leader” or at least one of the crew. She is looking through his papers.

    @ Arty

    Do you know when the crew members died? That might give us the probable name of the “mystery person” who contacted Mike and that might make my sister-in-law’s search a bit easier.

    She‘a also looking for my mother’s defence medal which we are going to have framed for Mum’s 97th birthday in October.

    Best Peter
    JimHerriot likes this.
  12. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member


    I am looking forward to reading the diaries and hope to be able to contribute more to this thread.
    peter crush and JimHerriot like this.
  13. Arty

    Arty Member


    Of just when the crew members of Stirling LJ849 ‘E’ shuffled off this mortal coil I know naught (though Mark did post a link to the obituary of F/O McMahon in Post #120).

    Regarding the diaries, maps and pics you keep mentioning, I'm waiting with bated breath here. Are they to be or not to be?

    Adieu (for now)
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2020
    peter crush likes this.
  14. Arty

    Arty Member


    I'm about to (attempt to) send you the entire slice of the GSGS 4490 12,500 scale map that I have via PM...

  15. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    War Diary 7th September 1944 mentioning both Lt Crush and L/Sgt Faulkner.

    Attached Files:

    peter crush likes this.
  16. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    That is the question....... and the answer is yes........ I’ll post them on Saturday morning....... because it was nobler in my mind to do it outside of work hours ...... LOL
    mark abbott likes this.
  17. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member

    Good morning guys. The files are too big for the site. I have just sent a private e-mail to Mark attaching the diaries. Arty (if I may) just going to start a private conversation with you so together we can workout how I can get them to you.

    Best Peter
  18. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member


    Just tried to start a PVT conversation with you and can't. I assume you can start one with me. Suggest going to a PVT conversation so we can work-out how I can get these personal diaries to you via e-mail. I have just sent them to Mark in PDF attached to an e-mail.

    Best Peter
  19. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member


    If any other member would like a copy of these personal diaries (about 17 FC RE, by members of 2 Platoon) please "ping" me a private message with your e-mail address and I will send them in PDF format. Hopefully Arty may be able to help me find a way of give access to them via this site.

    In the meantime I have started a "Track & Trace" of the officer, NCOs and men of 2 Platoon 17 FC RE. Thus far we can see the following: -

    Establishment: 17 FC RE (256), 2 Platoon (69)
    Landed (and attributed to landing craft), but unnamed: 17 FC RE (225), 2 Platoon (unknown or unconfirmed)
    Named (ashore) in various Papers: 2 Platoon (our interest here) - 15 out of 67 (21.73%). 5 of the 15 named were subsequently decorated and 3 of the 15 were killed and that's frankly quite sobering! I will share the "Track & Trace" as soon as I have reformatted it into something the site likes.

    @ Arty any suggestions how (indeed if it is possible) I can build-up a complete picture of 2 Platoon; ideally breaking it into its 3 sections and HQ and naming all its members who landed on 6/6/1944. I recognise this will be a difficult (and possibly impossible) task.

    Best Peter
  20. peter crush

    peter crush Active Member


    As you will see (Mark you before Arty) on Page 24, Sapper Paterson talks about lining up "at the last house in St Aubin, ready for my Carrier to lead the way down to the Chateau de Beuville ..... It was the last house in the village and right nest to a German Pillbox that one of or sappers had fired with a Flame Thrower ..... No 2 Platoon led the way to the Chateau with me in the lead". To me that suggests Wn15a rather than Wn15.

    On Page 25 there's another reference to the boys in blue incident where he talks about when he went "alone to the Chateau for the first time I did not know that there were at least 60 German troops in the Barracks. I wonder why the Officers and the Squadron Leader" did not tell me about them. Maybe Brigade HQ were told at the interrogation."


Share This Page