Royal Engineers HQ Platoon duties/sergeants duties in combat

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by johneowens, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. johneowens

    johneowens Active Member

    Thanks, Mike. That's great. I recall from the 240th's WDs that the weather was so bad when the unit was due to land on D-Day that there were delays in one of the craft landing until after the others. I'll need to check the WDs again on Tuesday for the precise details.

    Please keep it coming


  2. johneowens

    johneowens Active Member

    Dear Mike

    Now looked at the 240th's WD's and deciphered the following:

    1-5 June 1944
    Tilbury, Essex

    2 June 1944
    08.15. A & B move in craft serials? towards Tilbury Docks
    11.15. A party landed on to LST517 (US Mowy) Serial No. 1565
    13.40 Craft sails and anchors off Southend Pier. Fine weather but stiff breeze blowing.

    3 June 1944
    Received maps from OC craft. Informed by captain of ship that D Day was to be 5 June
    14.00 OC 240 Field Coy takes over responsibility of briefing all serial commanders

    4 June 1944
    Sailing cancelled and D Day postponed for 24 hours. Weather very windy with big sea running. Troops enjoying American food.

    5 June 1944
    At sea
    09.35 Sail out of Thames. Craft is flagship of flotilla with Captain Shaw in command. Trouble with steering gear soon rectified. Followed coast as far as Isle of Wight

    6 June 1944
    At sea
    07.25. “H” hour. Proceeded across Channel with air cover and destroyer shield towards Nan Green Beach on N. Coast of France

    Courseulles-Sur-Mer, Normandy, France
    15.30 1 officer & 82 other ranks (C Party) lands waist deep in water from LCI (L). Act as burial party for 7 enemy dead & then proceed to assembly area
    17.30 A&B parties anchor 2 miles off coast. Weather too rough to beach!
    18.00 E party lands (F party have landed previously with parties of Corps Def. Coy)

    7 June 1944
    A, B & D party still unable to land. Capt. of flotilla unable to understand reason. A & E parties sleep in Assembly Area. Knee? Frankin?
    12.00 Lt. Richards senior subaltern? ashore reports to CE. ICorps road crating? near Tailleville (001823). Detailed to make road passable using Anglecro?en? from 184 Fd Coy RE

    Tailleville, Normandy
    13.00 One section commences work the remainder sweep road verges in vicinity for mines (no results)
    20.30 Tailleville road open to traffic without detour. Men dig slit trenches and sleep near Tailleville.

    8 June 1944
    04.20 A&B parties land dry? & proceed to Knee? Frankin? Assembly area far from organised? & unable to give locations or instructions. DR’s sent out to locate main body which should have been in Cresserons. Eventually located at Tailleville. A&B parties move towards Tailleville but get mixed up in tank battle near Dureeville having taken wrong road
    13.00 OC company reports to CRE for orders. Coy comprising of ABC & E parties continue clearing road verges and tank tracks in vicinity of Tailleville
    18.00 D party arrives having landed that day. Assist in digging groves with bulldozer. One shell buried vertically with DZ35 ignition in nose discovered by road clearance mine detecting party. Occasional sniping from nearby wood.

    9 June 1944
    12.00 Whole of D Day party less section attached to Corps Def. Coy move to Cresserons. Lt. Richards Advanced party officer. Take over farmyard and two fields (map ref. 03L3804). Take over responsibility of pre-arranged area at La Deliverande.


    So, it looks like the 240th's C Party (1 officer & 82 other ranks) landed waist deep in water from LCI (L) (LST Serial 1556, Glen Lamont) at 15.30. It seems likely that C Party were the advanced party to carry out a reconnaissance and meet the personnel and vehicles as they landed. The 240th Fld Coy had 4 platoons. Would C have included the HQ Platoon? Even by the following day, A, B & D party still unable to land.

    Do you recognise the US Mowy? (Difficult to decipher) LST517 Serial No. 1565?

    You mention Nan White Beach as part of Juno, which is at Bernières-sur-Mer. The 240th WD's say they landed at Courseulles-Sur-Mer.


  3. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    It all seems to fit together nicely. Should be able to correlate some of the information and fill in some gaps. I can identify the Assembly Areas etc.

    I think you have missed the obvious US NAVY LST 517, Serial 1565. This was a US Navy 6 davit LST.

    I have just today been looking at the convoy sailings for Juno. Only have details from the Solent so far. I have unsorted information about loading at Tilbury. Needs a few weeks yet.

    Interesting snippet about American food. My father was on a RAF rescue launch operating out of Courseulles and Mulberry B. They tried to moor next to US ships if possible. They were always generous with ham, ice cream and tinned fruit, especially when they told how many US bomber crews they had rescued in the N Sea.

    More later.

  4. johneowens

    johneowens Active Member

    Great stuff, Mike.

    Thanks for the tip on US NAVY LST 517, Serial 1565.

    Nice story about American food.

    With the reference to the "Nan Green" sector, it looks like my father was with the Regina Rifle Regiment, supported by a second squadron of the 1st Hussars.


  5. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    Some thoughts.

    240 Field Company was a 1 Corps unit. It is a fairly common misconception that Juno was a Canadian beach. Canadian 3 Division assaulted it and then moved inland. They had their own Field Companies RCE. The beaches were operated by 102 Beach Sub Area which was British and had its own engineers. As a rough rule the division and its engineers operated from the front line to some two miles back. The Beach Sub Area operated from the beach to about two miles inland. Corps Engineers worked in the gap in between. This is a gross over simplification I know.

    As the War Diary suggests the Corps Engineers were mainly concerned with developing forward routes. This meant clearing roads, filling craters and widening where necessary. It also meant clearing mines and providing alternative routes for tracked vehicles which would ruin normal roads. They could also build bridges if required and carry out a variety of tasks including digging trenches and graves.

    ‘Knee’ was one of the personnel assembly areas. Franklin? Is a codeword that I have not found yet. There are many pages of such codewords.

    2 June.
    0815. A and B move in craft serials towards Tilbury Docks.
    11.15. A party loaded onto LST 517, Serial 1565.
    13.40. Craft sails and anchors off Southend Pier.

    The letters refer to groups of vehicles and personnel. These were based on the platoons but would have some additions and some personnel and vehicles were left behind to follow later. I imagine that A,B,C and D were the task platoons with E and F being command and administrative groups. Nothing left to chance. It was commonly held that any soldier left to use his initiative would immediately get lost. There is a map showing the routes to Tilbury Docks. Starting from Concentration Areas the vehicles and personnel assigned to each craft were arranged in craft serials. Vehicles would have their serial chalked on them, together with the serial of the craft they were to be loaded onto. They might also have the order in which they were to travel in the convoy.

    When loaded LSTs moved away from the loading hards to allow others to load. They moored all along the Thames, in this case down at Southend Pier. LSTs loaded first since they had reasonable troop accommodation and troops could live on them for some days. At this time the Thames was full of moored ships and craft. Convoys of coasters with motor transport, petrol, ammunition and stores had been loading for three weeks. Larger motor transport ships were also loaded.

    At this point very few people knew the destination. As the War Diary suggests even the CO did not know. Many documents referred to Exercise Overlord so that troops might not have known that this was the real thing.

    5 June.
    0935. Sailed from the Thames. This was Naval Force L, a follow up force.

    Not in the War Diary.
    LSI(L) Clan Lamont was moored in the Solent. Personnel boarded from one of the Isle of Wight ferries which were commandeered for the purpose. There is a map showing the anchorages. It set sail about 2200 hours 5th June, with a convoy of fast LSIs. They left the Solent through the North Gate and sailed down Channel 8 at 13 knots, overtaking slower convoys on the way. Arrived off Juno about 0530 D day.

    It seems that the personnel from Clan Lamont were collected and landed by LCI(L). These were used to transport infantry across the Channel. When they had landed the infantry some were available for the Ferry Service. Landing from them on Juno was generally wet since they were designed for use of beaches with a greater slope. The craft touched down some distance from the shore and the ramps did not reach dry land. Waist high was usual, neck high was possible.

    On landing personnel were directed to an area where they handed in their life belts. They then made their way to the Assembly Area to join the rest of their unit and receive further orders. Each man carried a landing card telling him where he should go. Personnel who had lost or damaged their personal equipment could get replacements at a Replacement Centre.

    A word of caution.
    The place mentioned in the War Diary heading is usually the place where the diary was written. This need not be the place where they landed.

    More later. May be much later.

  6. johneowens

    johneowens Active Member


    This is really wonderful material, for which many thanks. With this additional material one obtains an even more vivid picture of what was going on.

    I note very well your point about WD locations not necessarily being the same places where events occurred. The 240th were subsequently involved in Operation Rebound, when German forces counterattacked Allied forces that had captured Antwerp, during which my father was wounded, not at Sint Lenaarts from where the report was written but at nearby Wuustwezel.

    Your point about Juno not being a "Canadian beach" is well made. However, my father mentioned driving Canadian trucks both in the UK and in France. Of course. Fld Coys operated within very fluid command structures. I also need to read closely the 240th's WD's from D-Day backwards as well as forwards to confirm this.

    Many thanks and best wishes. I hope to hear more in due course.

    I am putting this up on my Ancestry tree and will need to know your second name to give you full credit for this invaluable information. Perhaps you can send me a PM.

  7. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    John re your Father's mention of Canadian trucks- my father was a driver- mechanic in 279 Fld Co.
    Wiithin the Co they had CMP (Canadian built) and Bedford QL 4x4 3 tonners. for your interest they had at least one Humber LRC and a White halftrack, The Mechanics section vehicle carrying their tools, spares etc was an Austin K5 4x4. At some point they had a White 6x4 10 tonner. Many UK units had CMP vehicles some RAF 2TAF sqns were almost totally equipped with them. Good luck with your quest.
  8. johneowens

    johneowens Active Member

Share This Page