8th Army Express Route

Discussion in 'Italy' started by hutt, Dec 31, 2018.

  1. hutt

    hutt Member

    I have the following entry detailing the route used by 1503 Coy RASC on the 22nd July 1944. While the places are easy to track I would be interested in knowing the likely roads used in more detail. I could probably make a reasonably good guess by selecting a direct route linking the towns by using the maps of the period but it would be much better if by chance a specific map of this exists.

    Does anyone have one or have any pointers? Any help would be appreciated.

    Unit moved from Frosinone 06.00 hrs and was routed after last minute changes by Traffic Control, through Valmontone - Rome and then by the 8th army Express Route Sutri - Viterso? Along the beautiful shore of Lake Bolsena - Acquapendente - to Radicofani. The urgency of the move was well appreciated, and by use of the comparatively clear Express Route a good 140 miles was covered during the day.
  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

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  3. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I know this route well - where were 1503 Coy RASC heading for?

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  4. hutt

    hutt Member

    Hi Tony 56

    Thank you very much for that link. While I have a good proportion of that series, I had lost the link to that specific page where you could click on the squares and go direct to the download and can now complete the set. I guess the logical thing is to assume the 'express route' used the 'red' or metalled roads but was wondering if (for at least part of the route) perhaps there was a one way system with traffic directed by different roads going north or south as hinted at in the map I've attached showing routes with directional arrows associated with movements on the east coast in October 43 taken from the 6 AGRA war diary (WO169/9408). If nothing detailed crops up I may just make some guesses but if you were to compare some of the tracings on the war diary map with say sheet 155, San Severo, they give routes that go along quite small roads which may well not have been surfaced so while the 'express route' may have been along former autostradas, parts, or diversions may have been over much more minor roads. On 22/07/44 there is a reference to 'traffic control' - what unit would have provided this and could there possibly by any sort of diary still in existence?

    Hi Vitellino.

    To complete the picture, here are the full entries for this period. The unit had been at Campobasso, (Grid Ref H5335) since the 16th June 1944 and the entries of interest are as follows.

    Details as 15 July. First vehicles from detail start arriving location 2100 hrs. Heavy rain hampered movement into location in the dark but by 2300 hrs all vehicles were in location except 4 which had been detached during the convoy. Average mileage per vehicle in 30 days since 21 June was 2604 miles. At 2330 hrs, orders were issued for the imminent move forward & arrangements made for the collection of 2nd line loads.

    16 vehicles despatched a.m to collect 2nd line amm and P.O.L. for 70 Med Regt. From N???. Remainder of platoon were able to spend the ???? on much needed maintenance: W/shops did their best to put all vehicles on the road and obtained a replacement 3-ton ??? vehicle to replace one of the 2 deficiencies.

    Unit moved from Campobasso 08.30 hrs staged at mid-day at Vairano where 16x3 ton with secon line loads were met. After 3hr delay caused by heavy movement up the main axis, unit moved up to stage night 21/22 in area Frosinone. Route - Campobasso - Vinchiaturo - Isernia - Venafro - Vairano - Cassino - Arce - Frosinone. Search parties were sent out for the 4 vehicles still not returned from detachment but without success.

    Unit moved from Frosinone 06.00 hrs and was routed after last minute changes by Traffic Control, through Valmontone - Rome and then by the 8th army Express Route Sutri - Viterbo Along the beautiful shore of Lake Bolsena - Acquapendente - to Radicofani. The urgency of the move was well appreciated, and by use of the comparatively clear Express Route a good 140 miles was covered during the day. Unit stayed night 22/23 July in river bed at foot of Radicofani hills. Earlier, by good fortune, the 4 missing vehicles were met on the main road heading for the old location at Campobasso with little petrol left, no rations and having had a somewhat scanty breakfast. They were quickly turned round and brought into the convoy.

    Unit moved from Radicofani through S. Quirico - Siena - to Presciano, arriving at 14.00 hrs. We were led to believe this was our destination and that we should remain there several days. Unit was still under command 317 Coy RASC (Arty) who were now under command 13 Corps. At 18.00 hrs that evening, information from 317 Coy that unit was to pass to command 2 NZ Div. for maintenance of 70 Med Regt RA who were placed in support of that Div. 20.00 O.C contacts Regiment and learns situation: B Ech is separated from FMC by over 105 miles of extremely bad & congested roads. It was agreed that unit must be sited within easy reach of Regt's B Ech to ??? the uncertain road conditions. 23.00 Arrangements were made for move up on 24 July and O.C contacted 317 Coy who agreed to the move. Harbour night 23/24 July Presciano.

    Unit moved to Castellina, approx 10 miles from B Ech. Under command 2 NZ Div. 14.00 O.C contacted HQ NZASC and details of maintenance of Regt were agreed. NZASC were extraordinarily helpful & the Platoon was eager to maintain the Regt in its independent role despite the difficulties of the long lines of communication. 16.30 Inforamtion receieved from 317 Coy RASC that unit will NOT now remain with 2 NZ Div to maintain Regt and that all arrangements made were to be cancelled. Complete 2nd line amm dumped at Battery Wagon lines. Harbour night 24/25 July Castellina and order for move back received from 317 Coy at 01.30 hrs 25 July.

    Attached Files:

  5. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thanks. Interesting reading. I didn't know about this 'Express route' .

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  6. zola1

    zola1 Member

  7. zola1

    zola1 Member

    Hi Graham,

    I have my dads unit WD from Aquapendente Sept 44 please see attachments... there are lots of MR s , names of locations etc...i know from the dates of your dads that there is a lot useful info in them and hope you find some further info in these..please let me know ?

    Great post by the way..


    Attached Files:

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  8. hutt

    hutt Member

    Its a while since I posted on this thread but I would like to thank those who replied at the time. In the background I have made some excellent progress with trying to trace my fathers company as it drove through Italy and some of the roads it would have used to connect supply dumps with Medium Regiment positions. Anyway, one thread of research was to look through the Corps of Military Police / Provost diaries at Kew and these did produce some maps of the road networks in Italy so seemed to suggest a fruitful avenue of research in confirming if the simple point to point route on a map was likely to be a designated route.

    Attached is an example of such as map but they are few and far between.

    Now, I've searched for Provost / military on the Discovery search and all the WO170 series are for 1944 onwards. There are (at least by my search methods) no records coming up for 1943. Its a bit of a favor but can anyone confirm if I'm missing something obvious here and do records for Provost companies exist for earlier (1943) and if so what should I search for?

    Any help would be appreciated

    Attached Files:

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  9. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    I would suggest that you establish the Inf or Armd Div that the Coy was supporting and then look in the WD for that Div. It will contain lots of Operation and Admin Orders with lots of Annexes showing traces of the routes used by the formation.

    You might even want to one higher and look at the WDs of the Corps under which the Div sat for the period that you are interested in.


  10. hutt

    hutt Member

    Hi Frank
    Your post has probably confirmed what I suspected. I guess I have pretty well picked all the low hanging fruit at Kew and there is actually quite a lot in the Provost / Military Police diaries talking about traffic control (among much else, discipline, hygiene, who can and cannot go where, what to do with pigeons etc etc) and there are some descriptions and maps but not a 'magic' atlas of Italian routes unfortunately.
    For 1943 it will be 78th Division diaries for which I do have the CRASC diary and for later 44 it seems it would be 5 Corps of which I have the S&T Branch diary but there are others to check on a later visit.
    Thanks for replying.
    Finally, anyone have any idea why there don't appear to be any MP or Provost diaries in the WO170 series for 1943?
  11. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    You might want to give the RMP Regimental Secretary a ring at the Defence School of Policing & Guarding at Southwick Park.

    He is a guru on all things RMP.


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  12. dml34

    dml34 Junior Member

    I believe that you will find the 1943 Italian War Diaries in WO 169.

    The CMP War Diaries are WO 169/13206 - 13325. Note that these will include all War Diaries for the Mediterranean and East Africa, so you will have to identify CMP units that were in Italy. I think that these companies were there in 1943:-

    43 Coy (Traffic Control), 49 Coy (Traffic Control), 77 Coy (Traffic Control), 101 Coy, 105 Coy, 112 Coy, 115 Coy, 505 Coy and 506 Coy.

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  13. hutt

    hutt Member

    Frank, thank you for suggesting that line of inquiry and Dave for pointing out an obvious line of diaries to explore, I should have considered the WO 169 series earlier. I hope to be at Kew later in the month so I'll see what they reveal.

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