Indian & Cypriot Muleteers with the BEF

Discussion in '1940' started by Owen, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Serial 2:

  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    WO 167/126

  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    WO 167/126

    Dated 1st January 1940.

    Att. Offr. "Q" recced billeting area for Cypriot Mule Coy in villages Mory 5184 - St. Ledger5187. This Coy- Indian animals and Cypriot drivers - was due to arrive about 18 Jan, with a strength of about 300 mules. The intention was to station them near A.R.H., where they might be useful in clearing loads from train to dump.

    Dated 5th January 1940.

    Mules Coy arrived Orchies and Templeuve. A.Q.M.G. visited to see them detraining. Indians appeared in good heart.

    Dated 18th January 1940.

    Cypriot Mule Coy arrived Achiet Le Grand 0651 and proceeded to Mory
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Apart from several entries in the A & Q War Diary from Feb of senior officers visiting them (out of curiosity I suspect) there is only one entry of interest:

    Dated 25th February 1940.

    On instructions from AQ, 7 Mobile Bath Unit is disinfesting Cypriot Pack Tpt Coy at Mory.
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Interesting to read they at Achiet le Grand & Mory [they're between Arras & Bapaume] places with lots of WW1 connections.
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Just reading in I Corps Supply and Transport (ST) war diary WO 167/135 about the arrival of 32 A.T. Company (Indian).

    Unit instructed to draw supplies daily from RH Sup. Depot, Cantin in their own first line lorries. Supplies for Indian rations demanded weekly from Brest Sub-Area. Supply of live sheep arranged by GHQ and sent to SRH. Sheep then transferred by lorry to a farm adjacent to A.T. Coy billets south of Orchies. Arrangement made with the farmer for the sheep to be fed by him at a cost of 3.50 francs per day per sheep, plus 12 francs per day for labour.

    Dated 5th Jan 1940.


    Vehicles for Indian and Cypriot A.T. Coys drawn from V.R.D. by C.T. Sup. Col. as follows:

    1 M/C, 3 x 30-cwt 4-whd, 4 x 3-ton 4-wheeled for each A.T. Coy. Instructions issued that the 3 x 30-cwt lorries for each A.T. Coy. would be attached to the companies concerned, C.T. Sup. Col. to maintain.

    Dated 10th Jan 1940.
    Owen likes this.
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    HQ Force K6

    Remount Depot

    Reinforcement Unit

    No.47 Supply Depot Section

    No.22 Animal Transport Company

    No.25 Animal Transport Company

    No.29 Animal Transport Company

    No.32 Animal Transport Company
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I suspect these soldiers are No.22 Indian Army Animal Transport Company. This Company was with the 51st Highland Division.
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    From HQ Force K6 War Diary. Page 983

  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Another PoW picture found on Wiki-This one with a RSM
  13. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    I wonder if the Indian lads were treated OK by the Germans.
  14. mario

    mario Junior Member

    Hi I am new to this forum. Ι know this thread is rather old but since I am also interested in the contribution of Cypriots in WW2 and particularly in the Cyprus Regiment, I thought I would share some thoughts and information.

    The Cyprus Regiment

    Originally, even before the war broke out, there was a plan to enlist Cypriots in the British army and an infantry battalion was planned. This was abandoned in March 1939 and it was decided instead to raise units for the RASC, the Royal Engineers and other services of the British Army. When the war broke out 500 Cypriots enlisted immediately in the RASC and formed Mule Transport Companies and sent to France. Τhese were the the first Cypriot units to be formed and the first “colonial” or commonwealth troops, if you prefer, “to take the field against the enemy”. Ιt is important to note that the Cypriot personnel at that stage of the war were unarmed. Thus when the front collapsed all Cypriot personnel were ordered to head to Dunkirk for evacuation, while the armed British personnel joined ad-hoc fighting units. They were evacuated from Dunkirk on the 29th May 1940. Once in the UK the Cypriot AT Drivers were armed and retrained and played their part in coastal defence.

    In the meanwhile back in Cyprus, the Cyprus Regiment was formed in February 1940 and initially included Infantry, Transport and Pioneers.

    The Cyprus Defense Force was created for the defense of the island against a German invasion (an idea abandoned by the Germans probably after their huge losses in Crete) and its volunteers were not supposed to serve outside Cyprus. Eventually a large number of the personnel of the CDF joined the Cyprus Regiment and served mainly in the Middle East and Italy.

    Around 20,000 Cypriots volunteered and enlisted in the British Forces most of them joining the Cyprus Regiment but also other British regiments and Corps (including the ex-president of Cyprus Glafkos Clerides who served with the RAF Bomber Command)- and taken POW when his bomber plane was shot down over Germany).

    Furthermore other Cypriots had already joined the Greek army and later the Greek resistance. This contribution cannot be underestimated since it represents roughly 10% of the male population of the island at that time, both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, (as well as members of other Cypriot communities). Some 600 men were killed in action or are still considered missing, and more than 2,500 were taken POWs during the evacuation of Greece and Crete, mostly Pioneers. (Cypriot veterans still bitterly complain that the British abandoned them in Greece to save their own troops – I guess from a military point of view and under the circumstances that was the right thing to do i.e. giving priority for evacuation to frontline troops).

    Also some 1,000 women had enlisted voluntarily to the ATS and the WAAF and served in the Middle East .

    The Animal Transport Companies and the General Transport companies of the Cyprus Regiment operated under the RASC. Notably the AT Companies, provided excellent services under the most difficult conditions during the battle of Keren and later at Monte Cassino where they daily supplied the Poles having to drive their mules for many miles every night under shell, machine – gun and mortar fire. Μules were the only means to deliver the much needed supplies and ammunition that the Cypriot AT Drivers dumped right at the frontline positions. On the equally dangerous return journey they evacuated the wounded. Many men – and animals by the way - were killed during those journeys.

    The General Transport and Pioneer Companies served in the Middle East, Greece, Crete, Ethiopia and Italy but their most notable participation was in Operation Compass as ΧΙΙΙ Corps troops (originally the WDF).

    Last but not least: AW (Xan) Fielding DSO, the well known SOE agent was actually an officer of the Cyprus Regiment.


    When one looks at the big picture, may think that the fight against Fascism was won by grand strategy. But a look to the smaller picture(s) will reveal that the war was won by the individual actions of anonymous or forgotten men and women that came from many parts of the world.

    This is the story of Private Jakovos Theodoulou No 1104, 4th Pioneer Corps, The Cyprus Regiment (sometime later his name was corrected in the London Gazette to Iakovos Theodoulou).

    He was awarded the DCM for the following actions as described in WO/373/61:

    Pte THEODOULOU's company was stationed at LARISSA, [Greece] repairing the road to TYRNAVO, when the Germans advanced. They were moved down to LAMIA by Lorry, where they entrained for PIRAEUS. Their train was attacked by German aircraft and they dispersed and marched to PIRAEUS in small groups. They spent two days at KOKKINIA BRIDGE camp in PIRAEUS, and were then moved to by truck to NAUPLIA, for embarkation. They stayed two days at NAUPLIA but no ships came in to take them away, and they were ordered to proceed by truck to CALAMATA. They reached ASPROHOMA, a small village near CALAMATA, where they waited for embarkation, going into CALAMATA for that purpose every night. Some British and Australian troops succeeded in embarking, but no Cypriots got away.

    On 28th or 29th April, at about 7 or 8 p.m. German tanks and Motorised infantry entered CALAMATA and attacked the British forces there with machine gun, while Italian submarines shelled them from the sea. Our troops resisted, but one hour later surrender. The Germans began rounding up our troops and concentrating them outside CALAMATA near the railway line, for transport to ATHENS.

    Pte. THEODOULOU escaped at about midnight to the hills with three friends. The next morning they walked in the direction of SPARTA, and reached the village of TRIPI near SPARTA two days later, where they obtained civilian clothes. From Sparta they walked on in the direction of ATHENS.

    At TRIPOLI his three companions remained behind with sore feet, and Pte. THEODOULOU proceeded alone. On the way he made friends with two Greek soldiers from KIMOLOS, an island of the CYCLADES, with whom he reached CORINTH, wearing a Greek Army cap and passing as a Greek soldier
    [*]. He was hold up at the Canal for two days, and then allowed to cross over a pontoon bridge built near the seashore by the Germans.

    After crossing the canal he was put on the train with his two friends and other Greek troops, and taken to PIRAEUS where he lived seven or eight days with relatives of his two Greek friends.

    On the 12th May, Pte. THEODOULOU left PIRAEUS by motor caique with his two friends for KIMOLOS Island, after obtaining the requisite permits from the German military authorities, on which he was described as a native of KIMOLOS.

    On the 16th January, Pte. THEODOULOU met the Greek Captain and crew of the German auxiliary motor schooner “AGHIOS IOANNIS”, which had arrived at KIMOLOS Island on its way to BARDIA, with A.A. ammunition and explosives, who informed him of their plan to steal the schooner and escape to ALEXANDRIA. Pte. THEODOULOU was against this plan as he said the Germans would advise their authorities on CRETE and recapture them before they could reach safety, and suggested that they should put to sea, throw their two German guards overboard and then steer for ALEXANDRIA. This plan was agreed upon, but two members of the crew were afraid of the voyage and were replaced by two seamen from KIMOLOS.

    Before sailing on the 17th January, they got 5 okes of wine and 2 okes of fish and had a big feast together with the two German guards [**]. Pte. THEODOULOU says he put cigarette ash into the Germans’ wine to increase its potency. They sailed at about midnight, and the German guards were already too dazed to notice that two members of the crew had been changed. About 20/25 miles out they attacked their guards, threw them overboard, and continued their way southward towards ALEXANDRIA. When they were passing CAPE SIDERO, CRETE, the German observation posts fired flares at them, and they changed course and slowed down their engine to avoid detection. The next day a strong wind blew them off their course and they finally ran ashore on the Palestine Coast of GAZA, on the 22nd January at about 15 hours, where they were taken in charge by our authorities [***].

    This private not only showed courage in his undaunted efforts to escape, but it was obviously due to his leadership and daring that the schooner ‘AGHIOS IOANNIS” reached British territory. He also brought back useful information.


    J. Shearer
    Brigadier D.M.I

    [C.J.E. Auchinleck]
    Middle East Forces


    * After the capitulation of the Greek Army to the Germans “ ….In recognition of the valor with which the Greek troops had fought, their officers were permitted to retain their side arms. The soldiers were not treated as prisoners of war and were allowed to go home after the demobilization of their units. …” [Biau 1953]
    ** Actually they pretended that they were celebrating Theodoulou’s birthday.
    *** Theodoulou was initially arrested as a spy and was detained by the British authorities before it was confirmed that he was actually a member of the Βritish Forces. In order to confirm his identity they send a delegation to his family at his village in Cyprus and obtained a photograph of him. Until then his family thought he was dead since they had no news of him for months.
  15. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Not a muleteer but probably something to do with them: an escape and evasion MID for Nursing Sepoy Bashir Ud-Din Ahmed, IAMC.

    Attached Files:

    Owen likes this.
  16. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Written by Capt. E W B Berry MC

    When we arrived at Cassel we found the RIASC Muleteers just moving out to Dunkerque and the Chateau grounds we took over from them had been bombed or shelled and 18 horses and mules had been killed. The English NCO in charge also handed over a meal they had cooked of chicken and breadn and butter which was very acceptable as we had not had anything to eat, except a few biscuits, for two days.
  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Found this report having a quick flick through a E & E file.

  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Having watched the story of Paddy Ashdown's Dad & his Indian muleteers on TV tonight makes me think of the comment by that wanker Bernard Manning on here at 1m 46sec & 2m 03.

    He says 'No pakis at dunkirk.'

    11th Armoured likes this.
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Written by Capt. E W B Berry MC

    When we arrived at Cassel we found the RIASC Muleteers just moving out to Dunkerque and the Chateau grounds we took over from them had been bombed or shelled and 18 horses and mules had been killed. The English NCO in charge also handed over a meal they had cooked of chicken and breadn and butter which was very acceptable as we had not had anything to eat, except a few biscuits, for two days.

    Without checking I suspect this would have been Paddy Ashdown's father's unit.

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