RASC 203 FA and 106 Bridge + Alligator LVT information request

Discussion in 'Trux Discussion Area' started by alligator_hal, Feb 4, 2014.

  1. alligator_hal

    alligator_hal Member

    I have just joined this site and notice that you have at your disposal a vast wealth of knowledge and information.

    My father Harold Charles Cooper T/113679 nick named Hal was in the RASC and was a driver (also mechanic/electrician) and was transferred from 203rd Field Ambulance to 106th Bridge (possibly 8th December 1944). He landed at Arromanches (according to records on 9/6/44) He told me that after the restructuring that took place he was taught to drive a LVT Alligator and was attached to the Canadians for the push to Germany. I have little information of his route from D Day to the end of the war. He was very reticent to talk about his experiences due to the trauma of his memories. He spoke of the battle for Tilly Sur Suelles and Villers Bocage plus Forest Grimbosq and Falaise. He lost two of his platoon mates to mines one at the HQ entrance which I think was Chateau Cruelly (William Chadwick). The other in an orchard where they volunteered to drive into a mine field to collect casualty’s (Chris Webster) another called Nobby Noble was shot by a sniper in another orchard. He also mentioned the horrific sights at Belson and Bad Hausenburg concentration camps. Other entries in his diary were Louvain, Osnabruke, Oldenburg and Dumerzee.
    He said that amongst other things that he cleared mines and fitted infra red beacons to mark the safe path to the bridges. He also fitted the night sights to the vehicles to enable them to see the beacons. Later after the battle he had to retrieve the sights because they were top secret which took some time due to dispersal of the vehicles. He also spoke of building a dummy bridge over the Rhine for the Germans to bomb the following morning whilst other sappers built the proper Bailey bridge further along under a smoke screen. During his time in training he was taught German in two dialects and booby trapping techniques. He spent time in the UK setting up assault courses for the D Day training. He spoke about the type of booby traps that the Germans left behind that he had to deal with. A favourite of the Germans was to booby trap their own dead using mines or explosives. Lugers were a favourite to booby trap as they were sought after and could be sold to the yanks for good money. He hated the SS Hitlerjugend for the dirty tricks they played on the Allies, including pretending to surrender and then opening fire on them. I have various memories of other snippets of stories that he revealed about atrocities on both sides and a large amount of prisoners taken at a forest near Grimbosq. He and his mates were told to drive around this forest to make the Germans believe that they were there in force – the armoured column and bypassed it – the following morning the Germans surrended and there were hundreds of them that filed out of the woods. He had written a diary which had been stolen and was at one point attempting to rewrite it but only managed an humorous story about digging a trench for a bath and being strafed by three ME109’s which were then shot down by two Spitfires near to the Caen to Tilly road.

    The last two companies he was in were 262 Coy AT 29/4/45 and 516 Coy GT 26/10/45 he was billeted with a family called Beekhuizen at Akerstraat 21 in Eindhoven for some time towards the end of the war.

    I would be interested to hear from others that have access to war diaries and records to enable me to build a better picture of his route and experiences. Also as to which divisions and regiments he would have been attached to; I know he started with the 49th Div and then was posted to 59th Div on 5/8/40 Then he was taken out of line the same day and posted to 203 FA. I assume that 203rd FA was attached to 50th Div HQ, and that 106th Bridge was part of 3rd Div. But I have no idea as to what the sub divisions and regiments would have been to enable some sort of identification of route and campaigns. Or what Divisions 262 and 516 Coy were part of. I would also like to know which derivative of Alligator was used as dad said theirs had electric motors rigged up to allow for silent operation so they could work under Jerries noses.
  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG


    I do not work at your speed. I have seen your post and have been thinking. It seems that my areas of expertise and interest do not quite match what you are looking for. I have studied D Day for Sword and Juno but am only now starting on Gold, which includes Arromanches. I have studies 106 Bridge Company but only up to the Seine Crossings which is earlier than what you are looking for. I have not looked at the Normandy Campaign or the Canadian operations in Germany. I have studied the Rhine Crossings but only the eastern end in depth.

    103 Bridge Company was not a divisional unit but operated mostly under 2nd Army.

    I am sure there have been posts here about the Canadian operations and 106 Bridge Company. The best way to find them is to use the Google search on the Portal page of this site. You will find it on the right hand side. It is far better than the sites own search facility.

    My particular interest is the organisation of units, the War Establishment tables. I do not have many War Diaries.

    As a rule I think it would be better to start with one question and then develop it rather than a scatter gun approach which probably deters people from answering.
    There is a huge amount of information out there once you get started.

    Finally 262 Company must be 262 GT not AT.

  3. alligator_hal

    alligator_hal Member

    Thanks Mike for taking the time to investigate my posting, apologies if you think I am pushing for fast replies but another member advised spreading my post to other sections. I also think you are underselling yourself and your depth of expertise and knowledge.

    I have already gained lots of information from postings and replies that you have made i.e. the structure of the RASC and the make up of the Bridging Coy. I have also found tables regarding the proposed landings and some further detail over the actual landings from the various links. I am still not clear as to why father was listed as landing on the 9th June when he was grouped with the spearhead formation to land at D+3.5 or D+6. However, I am sure more digging around on this site will lead me to the answers maybe it was due to storms and the desire to get the beach clear in order to get the Mulberry Harbour installed?

    I was reading a section today about another RASC driver who was taking a NZ officer to the frontlines to check on the location of enemy mortar batteries. He answered a question as to why the Telemine that exploded under the Jeep Chaddy was driving didn't explode when father had driven several times through that same entrance i.e. it was no doubt a 'ratchet mine' triggered to go off after several vehicles had passed over it - sneaky German lottery of death! Details like this help in getting a perspective over the dangers and pitfalls the troops were confronted with.

    Back in the 1980's I knew very little about WWII or even about D Day, by researching my father's wartime career I achieved enlightenment over many aspects. By constantly trawling through this site I have achieved an even greater understanding over details previously unknown.

    I have started to revisit that transcript in order to fill in a lot of blank spaces. I am very thankful of all of the information that I have gleaned from this website. I hope to glean a lot more plus add the detail that answers all of those questions yet to be asked. I hope you will continue to monitor my progress and provide direction and advice as I am sure your library of knowledge is full of many of the answers I need.

    Many thanks Pete

Share This Page