Grave Registration Units (GRU) 32-36 Normandy, 21 Army Group

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by Rinalia, Sep 25, 2023.

  1. Rinalia

    Rinalia Member


    I am new to this particular WW2 Forum and I have done my best looking for information in the forum and in other places, but to no avail.
    I am looking for war diaries of the GRU units, specifically units 32-36 of the 21 Army Group for August 1-15 1944. Specifically anything around the battles over the Orne bridgehead near Grimbosq, Le Bas, Brieux. I am not sure which unit (32-36) was involved there. The Orne bridgehead battle was Aug 6-8 1944. And I am interested in burials of british and german soldiers in the area. I can't seem to find information in the archives either (documents available online). I am in Canada, so I can't physically make it to the National Archives in Kew.

    I would appreciate any kind of help.

    Thanks so much
  2. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hello Rinalia,
    I looked at the war diaries of 33 and 35 GRU in Kew for the period March 1945 and found them disappointing because they are cursory and unspecific, such as "normal routine", mainly reporting the unit's movements. They do not give details on graves and gravesites or individuals. As far as I know, burials as such were done by the units engaged in the battle or shortly afterwards by follow-up units - not by GRUs. But I cannot tell that for sure with regards to Normandy - any other observations by other forum members?

    The CWGC concentration reports are the best source in my view.
  3. Rinalia

    Rinalia Member

    Thanks so much Alex!

    That is helpful to know. I did go through the CWGC archive online earlier today and spent hours trying to navigate through it. Without luck. I could not seem to find anything that’s actually available online.
    Where would I find the concentration reports or any other documents like registers?
    Are they available online or would you need to go to the physical archive?
    Any help is appreciated.
  4. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hi Rinalia,

    it is best to start with names of soldiers KIA - do you know specific names? If so, go to "Find War Dead" and enter the details you have, a name plus entering the period you are interested in should get you a return. You could also enter "Army" or a regiment to narrow down results - or enter a specific date.
    first result.png

    Then go to "More details" and the next page should open giving more information, then scroll down and you may find "Concentration" - click on these to get the document. It shows you the initial burial location (usually with a six digit map reference) and very often other soldiers buried there... Good luck!
    2023-09-25 10_08_40-Window.png
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2023
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  5. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    If you don't have names just enter the dates/period, the country commemorated in and "Army" - that's what I did and here's an example. The penultimate column will have information that is telling with regards to the tactical situation that day.... so SJT Page was likely killed near Tilly La Campagne and buried there... as were a number of soldiers of 22 Dragoons. All buried at map reference 072604 - could be a whole tank crew.
  6. Rinalia

    Rinalia Member

    Thank you so much!
    That is very helpful.
    alberk likes this.
  7. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Just be aware that casualties from a single action might not have ended up in the same cemetery. Odd graves that were recovered later could have go to more distant cemeteries that were 'active'.
  8. Rinalia

    Rinalia Member

    Thank you Idler, that is good to know!
  9. Sean50

    Sean50 Junior Member

    Hello Rinalia

    This may be of interest. As well as several field graves in and around Grimbosq it seems many of the British dead were moved to the 'Grand Aunay' cemetery near la Caine.

    Grand Aunay map.jpg

    The plot is visible on this IGN 1947 aerial. Nothing now remains. The hedge dividing the field has gone bar one isolated tree.
    Grand Aunay cemetery.jpg

    Here are some of the field graves marked. Still work in progress. Do you mind me asking why this particualr interest?

    Field graves.jpg

    I'm hoping to get to the CWGC archive sometime this year. I've not been before so have no idea what to expect to be honest.

  10. Rinalia

    Rinalia Member

    Hello Sean,

    this is super helpful, thanks so much. May I ask how you put together the information? And am I reading the last map correctly if I assume that the red „x“ mark the field graves?

    I am researching the battle in Grimbosq/Brieux since a relative went missing there August 8 1944. I know of course that he’s not missing and that he was buried as unknown soldier. And from everything I‘ve learned about the battle and what happened there in detail, I can confidently say that both the British and the Germans who died on Aug 8, the last day of the 3 day battle, were buried by the same group of British soldiers on Aug 9 or Aug 10. So field graves in the area around Grimbosq, Le Bas and Brieux were all dug by the same unit for all the dead of the 8th.

    If you come across anything else, I’d be very grateful.

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