RE 43rd Fortress Company, Mauritius WW2 - Seeking Information

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by Marcina, Mar 15, 2021.

  1. Marcina

    Marcina New Member

    Hi all

    I am researching the Royal Engineers, 43rd Fortress Company who were based in the former British Colony, Mauritius, during the second world war.

    There seems to be very little I can find online so any information / pointers during this period would be appreciated. In particular I understand that they were disbanded in October 1942. I am wondering what happened to the men / where they may have been sent next?

    Thanks in advance
  2. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    “Of Islands, Ports and Sea Lanes, Africa and the Indian Ocean in the Second World War” byAshley Jackson has a bit to say about Mauritius in WW2 over about 4 pages but no mention of the specific unit you are interested in.

    Activity on Mauritius seems to have begun in May 1942 in the aftermath of the Japanese Operation C sortie into the Indian Ocean with its strikes on Colombo & Trincomalee and the need to protect shipping lanes from South Africa to the Middle East and India. It also became a key communications centre.

    Royal Marines from the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisation were the first to arrive from the Maldives where they had also been setting up bases (probably Addu Atoll where they had been from late 1941).The work involved, probably amongst other things, the setting up of gun batteries on Mahe and St Anne’s Island. That would fit with the need for an RE Fortress Company.

    By Dec 1942 garrison forces were arriving under HQ Troops Seychelles with fresh troops to man the coastal guns etc from India. A local Seychelles Defence Force was raised and local volunteers were recruited into the Royal Pioneer Corps (service in the Middle East), Auxiliary Territorial Service and Mauritius Defence Force. RAF flying boat bases were developed and an airfield constructed. So by then I could see any British RE units being posted out either to India or the Middle East.

    There is a reference to another book “Air Raid Sirens and Fire Buckets: Wartime Seychelles, 1939-1945” (Kent: Rawlings Publications 1997).

    I hope this helps, or at least opens some further avenues of research.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2021
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  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    A starting point perhaps

    MAURITIUS: 43 Fortress Company. | The National Archives

    Maybe to late
    DEFENCE OF MAURITIUS. Report by the Defence of Bases Committee. | The National Archives

    If you scroll down then there are various file for Maritius - Browse records of other archives | The National Archives


    1939 Order of battle Mauritius
    IX. Mauritius
    The Mauritius Signal Section, Royal Corps of Signals
    HQ and 25th Heavy Battery, Royal Artillery: Port Louis
    43rd Fortress Company, Royal Engineers
    The Mauritius Territorial Force: Rodriques
    HQ Mauritius Garrison
    25th Coast Battery, RA
    43rd Fortress Company, RE disbanded 01-Oct-42?
    Mauritius Defence Force
    Mauritius Territorial Force Garrison Company
    Harbour Defence Detachment
    Mauritius Home Guard
    In September 1942 the Western Indian Ocean was transferred from India
    Command to the East Africa Command, as a consequence of which the defences of Mauritius
    were upgraded. The Mauritius Coastal Regiment of the Mauritius Artillery was formed in
    December of that year. In 1943 the Mauritius Defence Scheme was updated with all Mauritian
    armed forces falling directly under the imperial government and strengthened by the assignment of a new battalion of imperial troops

    On Ile de la Passe and at Pointe du Diable there are some structures built two phases,
    the first of which was most probably, but not certainly, constructed in the first years of the war,
    before the Civil Labour Corps were established in 1942

    seems to have been the camp built to accommodate (some of) the 7000 men
    recruited for the Civil labour Corps in 1942

    At Bois des Amourettes a Royal Navy facility was constructed for the storage of fuel (Fig.
    47). Construction began in 1942 and was undertaken by the Civil Labour Corps for the Royal
    Navy. The site was extensive and bears testimony to the size of the investment that was made to defend the Empire. By 1942 the principle threat was perceived as coming from Japan, although German submarines were also active in the Indian Ocean. Thus the facility at Bois des Amourettes was constructed for search operations by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force rather than for the purpose of coastal defence

    In all there were five fuel tanks (Fig. 70). The three at the front were built on one terrace,
    the two at the back on another. The creation of these terraces, all dug out by hand by the Civil
    Labour Corps in 1942, involved a huge input of man power

    While Mauritius itself was not attacked there was a strongly perceived threat until the Battle of
    Midway in June 1942. Mauritius was, however, of significant importance in the hunt for enemy
    submarines and warships in the western Indian Ocean. Additionally, it was an important link in
    communications and a weather station for the Royal Navy planes and the Royal Air Force. As
    elsewhere in the empire, the loyalty and sacrifices made by the colony were of significance in the
    gradual transition from colony to republic
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2021
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  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  5. Marcina

    Marcina New Member

    Just to say thank you so much to all that took the time to reply. Some good info / pointers to help me research further :)
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Maybe worth contacting them at some point - as a guess the 43rd was disbanded as the civil side took over and therefore the engineers (sappers) etc could have been transferred to many other units, possibly in Africa (specifically North Africa), India and the museum may have answers


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