NW France

Discussion in '1940' started by Loop, May 1, 2021.

  1. Loop

    Loop New Member

    Hi, I wonder if anyone can help a newbie please? I have a relative (Sidney Bertrum Williams, Service No. 2184404) who was a Private in the Pioneer Corps and who died on 17th June 1940 at the age of 22. He is buried in the Rennes Eastern Communal Cemetery. I'm curious if it is possible to find out how he was lost, and would be really grateful if anyone can point me in the right direction? Simon
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Casualty Details | CWGC
    Service Number: 2184404
    Regiment & Unit/Ship
    Pioneer Corps
    Aux. Mil.
    Date of Death
    Died 17 June 1940
    Age 22 years old
    Buried or commemorated at
    Sec. 18. Plot 1. Row A. Grave 57.

    I think if you read this link it may explain - BBC - WW2 People's War - Rennes, Brittany, France, June 1940. After Dunkirk, escaping to the west. Chapter 1.


    Private William Nelson - Cookstown War Dead
    Private William Nelson was serving with Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps at Rennes Train Station when he was killed in action on Monday 17th June 1940
  3. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    There is a lot of expertise on the France 1940 campaign, so help will be along.

    Apply for his service record from the MoD Glasgow, do not rely on websites that claim to have them only. There is a long wait currently. See: Requests for personal data and service records: a detailed guide Plus threads here via: Service Records

    The CWGC records online provide some help: Casualty Details | CWGC

    Looking through the other 171 WW2 casualties buried there quite clearly something bad happened that day. I only looked at the first two pages, it appears that Rennes could have been a Base Depot. See: Nantes - BEF 2nd Base Sub Area 1939-40 Four other threads can be id'd searching with "rennes base" + site:ww2talk.com
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  4. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi Loop

    Your relative was one of a few members of Pioneer Corps to have been killed that day.

    Extract from Army Cas lists 1939-1945 on FMP.


    That was the day the Lancastria was sunk. But I could not find him on the roll of honour. Lancastria Archive

    Hope this helps

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  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    There are several threads on this forum which refer to the Rennes Railway Station bombing of 17th June. There was a jam of troop transport trains caught up there and surprised by an air attack. Unfortunately, munitions wagons were also hit..
    It's quite possible that Pioneer Corps troops were there in connection with unloading trains.

    This link is in French but is the best illustrated that I can find. If you Google 'Rennes Railway bombing 1940', it should turn up more.

    Bombardement du 17 juin 1940 — WikiRennes
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    But Google translate does a good job and the images help understand the situation

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  7. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Note the comment on the casualty list post #4, the previous list (281) dated 14 Aug 1940 this reports him 'missing' in May 1940, date of month not stated.
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  8. Loop

    Loop New Member

    Wow, thanks everyone for all your speedy, knowledgeable and very valuable input. It's fantastic and very much appreciated. I'll now work my way through the links that you've sent, so again many thanks indeed. Simon
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  9. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    There were many casualties from the Lancastria sinking on 17 May 1940 when it was awaiting sailing to Britain and lying in the St Nazaire roads .Of the units involved there were many Pioneer Corps personnel among the dead.

    When the order was given to evacuate France, St Nazaire was one of the western ports that the BEF were instructed to head for as an evacuation port.

    I would say that Private Williams was killed during this withdrawal and was caught up with the bombing of the troop train at Rennes on 17 June 1940.

    (All those lost on the Lancastria without known graves are remembered on the Dunkirk Memorial. Others,some unknown lie in coastal cemeteries south of St Nazaire.)
    Roy Martin likes this.
  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Harry - I dont usually contradict you but in this case

    RMS Lancastria - Wikipedia
    She was sunk on 17 June 1940 during Operation Aerial

    JimHerriot likes this.
  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Sorry Rich....... that certainly was a typo.

    I must be on the list for refreshed proof reading training :surr:

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