Royal Engineers June 1944

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by Marie Brown, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Hi Roy,
    Thank you very much for posting the link. I have spent some time reading them and I think I can get an idea off where my father was at that time.
    Amazingly last week we were in Normandy staying at Questerham next to Sword Beach. I spent some time in thought about him and all those brave men but I as the really sure if that was the beach he landed on. Thank you again.
    Roy Martin likes this.
  2. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Having done a little more research I now know that my father was definitely with the 999 POC on June 6th 1944.
    Entry for that date says " Weather Fine- Serial 607- disembarked Theatre of Operations- Discharge of Coaster 403,622,685 commenced at 2300 hours. Beaches under shellfire"
    Does anyone know what Serial 607 means or what were coasters. 403,622,685?
    I am leaning more but still not experienced enough to understand what many of the data words mean.
    Thank you and sorry for being such a pain.
  3. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member Patron

    can't help with Serial 607, but I expect that Trux or Michel can. Coaster 403 was called the Glengarry (more likely Glengarriff, arrived Sword in convoy L1 on 6 June). I don't have 622, but maybe Marie or Marie-Flore - I will cross check this. 685 was the Northgate arrived Gold in convoy L1 6 June. You are certainly not being a pain, it is great that someone takes an interest.
  4. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member Patron

    Only a Mari was in convoy L1, but she was coaster 616, will dig some more!
  5. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member Patron

    The only one in that first coaster convoy with a number like 622, was 642 Monkstone.
    Brave men all, including the civilian crews of these ships.
  6. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member Patron

    A bit more, of general interest:
    Five convoys arrived between 1800 on the 6 June and 0830 on the following morning. The Americans regarded them as part of the Assault Force. As most, if not all, carried troops I have included them here.

    Follow-up coaster convoy L1. All arrived Far Shore p.m. 6 June

    Vessel Flag Beach
    Apricity Br Gold
    Broomlands Br Juno
    Dunvegan Head Br Sword
    Glengarriff Br Sword
    Heien Nor Utah
    Lottie R Br Omaha
    Marcel Bel Sword
    Mari Nor Omaha
    Monkstone Br Sword
    Northgate Br Gold
    Polglen Br Gold
    Sarnia Br Omaha
    Sedulity Br Juno Cased petrol and Bailey bridging
    Signality Br Juno
    Skarv Nor Omaha
    Skelwith Force Br Juno
    Stanley Force Br Gold
    Starkenborgh Du Utah
    The President Br Omaha
    Westland Du Sword

    The Sword ships are listed as being loaded with priority stores; it is likely that the others were also.
    Coaster convoy EWC1A arrived 7/0600
    Vessel Flag Beach

    Crewhill Br Omaha
    Cushendun Br Utah
    Donaghmore Br Utah Naval Stores
    Erna Du Omaha
    Gem Br Utah
    Hawarden Bridge Br Utah
    Moelfre Rose Br Omaha
    Rockleaze Br Omaha
    Stuart Queen Br Utah
    Wallace Rose Br Utah
    Escorted by: HMS Goatfell and HMS Ryde

    EBM2, 34 ships in total, only 24 are listed. This seems to have been the first US Liberty ship convoy for the Western Task Force. They each carried 5/600 troops and their vehicles:
    Vessel Flag
    Benjamin Hawkins Am
    Bernard Carter Am
    Charles M Hall Am
    Charles Sumner Am
    Charles Willson Peale Am
    Edward W Scripps Am
    Edwin Abbey Am Photo below
    Eleazar Wheelcock Am
    Ephraim Bevard Am
    Ezra Weston Am Shelled 5 dead, ship saved.
    Francis Harrington Am Mined at beach 5 dead, ship saved.
    Frank R Stockton Am
    George E Pickett Am
    Henry W Grady Am
    Horace Gray Am
    Jedediah S Smith Am
    John S Mosby Am
    John Steele Am
    Josiah Nelson Cushing Am
    Oliver Wolcott Am
    Robert E Peary Am
    Robert L Vann Am
    Stephen B Elkins Am
    Walter Hines Page Am

    Convoy ETM1, Liberties six for Juno & six for Sword arrived 7/0700
    Samark (Br) 7,219 1943
    Samarovsk (Br) 7,219 1943 IWM Photos B 005215 (& B 5214?)
    Sambut (Br) 7,219 1943 Shelled in Dover Strait, burnt out
    Samdel (Br) 7,291 1943
    Saminver (Br) 7,210 1944 IWM photo A 23033
    Sammont (Br) 7,219 1943
    Samneva (Br) 7,219 1943
    Samos (Br) 7,219 1943
    Sampep (Br) 7,219 1943 Daily Telegraph correspondent
    Samphill (Br) 7,219 1943
    Samvern (Br) 7,219 1943
    Samzona (Br) 7,219 1943

    The coaster convoy EWC1B, arrived 7/0830 (H + 25 ½ hours)

    Vessel Flag Beach
    Activity Br Eastern Task Force
    Ardgantock Br Eastern Task Force – Naval Stores
    Avanville Br Sword
    Dunvegan Head Br Sword
    Durward Br Gold
    Ebbrix Br Juno
    Enid Mary Br Juno
    Galacum Br Gold
    Gladonia Br Sword
    Holburn Head Br Sword
    Ipswich Trader Br Gold
    Kenrix Br Juno
    Kyle Castle Br Gold
    Kyle Queen Br Juno
    Kylegorm Br Sword
    Leoville Br Gold
    Rockville Br Sword
    Southport Br Juno
    Stadion II Nor Juno
    Teeswood Br Gold
    Torquay Br Juno
    Vestmanrod Nor Juno
    Yewglen Br Gold
    Yewpark Br Gold

    The convoy identification letters were:

    E from England (the return convoys being prefixed F).
    Loading port: B - Bristol Channel, C - Cornwall & Devon, P – Portland & Weymouth, T - Thames, W – Wight (the Solent), X – Newhaven.
    Then C – Coasters, M – Mechanised Transport, P – Personnel
    Buteman, timuk and Tricky Dicky like this.
  7. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Hi Roy, thank you for replying. I am trying to gain a picture of what was going on and am pleased you are sharing your knowledge. Were the troops in those coasters coming over to France or were the troops on different transport? Would the coasters mentioned be the ships carrying the supplies that would eventually be unloaded?
    Sadly that same entry reported 4 men were lost to drowning that day which emphases your point about brave men.
  8. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Your last message staggers me. We have not the ability to grasp the the magnitude of the massive amount of ships making that journey across the water and the logistics involved.
    Presumably the stevedore trained Royal Enginees would have been hurriedly unloading all this needed equipment. I think that is what might have happened. . What do you think?
  9. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member Patron

    Most of the stevedores went over on the coasters that they were to unload. There was no special accommodation for them, so they slept under canvas on the hatches; as the weather was far from good, some went down the hold and slept on the ammunition. I will try to dig out a few pics. Incidentally, the crews had cabins, but no running water and many were still 'self messing', meaning that they were paid a few shillings a day and bought their own food! In all about 85o merchant ships went over, including forty infantry landing ships that were off the beaches at dawn on the 6th. The hospital carriers started to arrive on the next day - Google Martha Gellhorn' dispatch if you want to know more about those ships.
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  10. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member Patron

    Your previous message. The bulk of the infantry were brought over on Infantry Landing ships (not to be confused with Landing Craft), which anchored about nine miles off, then the troops were ferried ashore in assault landing craft. Other troops continued to arrive, both on the coasters and the deep sea ships, many of these were RASC etc with their vehicles and spares. Sorry about the detail!!
    Marie Brown likes this.
  11. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    You are so knowledgeable. I do thank you. Dad has obviously gone and I was the result of his embarkation leave before going across to France. Therefore I was too young to ask the questions I should have.
    I feel I need to know and understand what he was doing and my grandchildren are keen to know. I can't tell you how grateful I am for all your help. It's brilliant. I will check out the Google site also.. Pictures would be great.
  12. Arty

    Arty Member


    To get things rolling again, here's a photo taken inside Gooseberry No.5 (off Ouistreham) - in business some time after 09Jun44.

    In this photo (apparently taken at high tide), on the left we can clearly see the ships sunk to create a breakwater. On the right are two DUKW's (amphibious trucks) that will be used to carry cargo from ship to shore. On the far right and in the background are cargo vessels.

    IWM A24055.jpg

    Photograph is A24055 from the Imperial War Museum website


    Last edited: Oct 29, 2019
  13. Arty

    Arty Member

    Hello again Marie,

    As you’ve read in all the info provided in the various posts above, it may be somewhat difficult to nail down the exact time or date your Dad actually arrived. It would help to know his rank/role at the time. That is, was he in one of the “gangs”, or was he perhaps in 999 Company’s Headquarters?

    If he was in sapper in one of the gangs then he arrived on one of three coasters on the afternoon of 06June, or, onboard LCI(L) LTIN 607 at H+11½ on 06June, or, onboard one of four coasters on the morning of 08June.

    If he was in 999 Company’s Headquarters he probably arrived onboard LCI(L) LTIN 607 on 06June. However, there is also the (small) possibility that he arrived with 999 Company’s Ford GPA (ie. amphibious jeep) onboard an LST!

    More info/explanation on the LCI(L) & LST references coming up soon.

    Meanwhile, here are two more pics. The first shows the 101 Beach Sub Area plan. However, this plan had to be somewhat modified as the Germans in the area didn’t cooperate in a timely manner - as for-seen by the planners that is!

    Taking a close look at this plan you’ll see an area immediately South West of the village of Hermanville Sur Mer (No. 67) allocated as “Docks Op Bivouac Area”. As for the cargo that 999 Company (and others) unloaded it would have eventually ended up in the various Sector Stores Dumps marked on the map.

    101 Beach Sub Area plan.jpg

    The second pic is an aerial ‘slice’ of the Sword area - taken on 28Aug47 (the photo is from the superb IGN website). On the photo, I have indicated the location of the remains of Gooseberry No. 5, and, the beach sectors (the main weight of the assault on 06June went in on Queen White & Queen Red). Also, on the photo we can see the wrecks of various craft still on the beach – including the coaster Dunvegan Head – set on fire on the evening of 22Jun44.

    As you can see in the photo, the Gooseberry was fairly simple (whilst the Mulberry harbors were vastly more complex). The Gooseberry provided a breakwater of sorts, behind which vessels could unload. Of note, 999 Company arrived between the afternoon of 06June and the morning of 08June, and was unloading cargo before Gooseberry No. 5 had been put in place.

    'Slice' of Sword Area 28Aug47.jpg

    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
    Buteman likes this.
  14. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Good morning Arty. I will look at dad's service record and let you know the information you have asked for. I have also got the War Diaries for 999. As you can imagine they are not easy for me to interpret as a lay person. I will send you what I have that mentions the days 5th to 8th June 1944. Perhaps you could help me to understand what they mean. I know they always record the weather. What is the relevance of that please? It must be important. I will get to my files to see what might be of interest or of help to you. Then you can help me ( joking)
    Thank you so much for all your wonderful information.
    Regards, Marie
  15. Arty

    Arty Member

    Hello Marie,

    On the subject of the interpreting war diaries you will find that there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth involved! The quality and quantity of information found in war diaries varies dramatically. Some can be used as the basis of research, whereas others give you the distinct impression they are recording the details of a school excursion. Not to mention inaccurate information and even hearsay being included. Some entries were clearly written on the same days as the events recorded, whereas others were written days or even weeks later. So, don’t be too harsh on yourself!

    On the subject of the weather being recorded, most diaries give it a passing mention at best. However, if weather conditions particularly affect the conduct of a unit’s operations you will often see more information recorded eg. between 19 & 21June a powerful storm slowed down the movement of shipping /cargo significantly (as well as all but destroying the American's Mulberry A and damaging the Brit's Mulberry B).

    More tomorrow.

    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
  16. Arty

    Arty Member

    Hello Marie,

    To the subject of “Serial 607”. This craft was a Landing Craft Infantry (Large). The abbreviated form “LCI(L)” being used in documentation. This was one of a group of eight LCI(L)’s that were due to touch down on Queen beach on the afternoon of 06June. These eight craft were Serial’s 600 to 607. They were mainly carrying various units of No. 6 Beach Group. Serial 607, in particular, was to carry 102 men of 999 POC, as well as 59 men of 1028 POC. This group of eight craft were due to arrive at H+11½ hours. The letter “H” signifying “H-Hour” ie. the time at which the landings commenced in the Sword area - which was 0725 hours (or 7.25 AM if you like). Hence 11½ hours after 0725 was 1855 hrs (or 6.55 PM). I will send you a slice of the relevant document.

    And some more photos. The origin of the first is, indirectly, the Imperial War Museum (IWM B5119) – unfortunately this version is cropped and not particularly good quality. The photo was apparently taken about 1855 hrs as the group of LCI(L)’s including Serial 607 arrived. This should have been fairly straight forward, however it turned into a minor debacle….

    From WO 205/903 Report on Operation Overlord Phase I – 6 Jun – 30 Jun44 by PMLO (Principal Military Landing Officer) 3 Brit Inf Div, Appendix “E” pg 5:

    “Eight LCI(L) of Second Tide on D Day attempted to discharge on a rising tide. In all cases men were drowned while trying to land; from one ship four men were drowned. In no case did the craft succeed in discharging until HW or by putting the men into LCM, DUKWs or on to RHINO Ferries.”

    As we both know now, four of the drowned men were from 999 Coy.

    IWM B5119 -cropped.jpg

    The second photo is one of a series taken of men from these craft finally getting ashore (IWM B5001 to B5010). You’ll see in this photo (B5004) that the chap on the left appears to have ingested half the English Channel.

    IWM B5004.jpg

    As I mentioned (by PM) it's just possible that men from 999 Coy appear in these photos.

    Last edited: Oct 31, 2019
  17. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Dear Arty,
    I am fascinated by your knowledge. The numbers in the war records are beginning to make sense now. 607 makes sense and as you can see from the war diaries four men from 999 POC were drowned on that day.
    I am so thrilled to be given to opportunity to understand the events more clearly. I am wondering if you are a historian or just how you come to be so knowledgeable. I think the pictures are amazing as I stood on that beach at the beginning of June just a few days before the 75th commemoration events, but we were saddened because I just didn't know where dad had landed and on which beach. In reality I stood exactly where they landed as I now know.
    We were staying in a guest house just yards away as it happens.
    I want to get as much written down and recorded to enable me to write a record of where he was and what he was doing there at that time.
    I am so grateful for your contact.
  18. Arty

    Arty Member

    Hello again Marie,

    No I'm not a historian, I've just been at this esoteric interest for about 30 years or so. Mind you there's a few 'brainiacs' lurking on this forum...

    Thanks for the PM with the info from your Dad's service record. It’s fairly clear he was a Sapper, trained as a stevedore, as of 06June. So he was likely in one of the “gangs” that unloaded cargo. But were it so easy!

    The information in the War Diary for 04June to 07June doesn’t show the entire picture. And I must add, although the War Diary is a primary source of information on the Company’s activities, it may only mention, in name, Officers and possibly, Senior Non-Commissioned Officers. Lower ranks might not get a specific mention at all. Clearly, they would have been in the Company’s records at the time, but it is not likely that those records were archived.

    Back to the information in the War Diary and what we know from other sources (eg. the amazing body of work by “Trux” on the forum). So, we now can see that the Company was to be embarked on a plethora of vessels (of note, my assumption that the Company Headquarters was onboard Serial 607 was wrong!):

    A total of 3 Officers & 95 other ranks were to be embarked on LCI(L) Serial 602 & LCI(L) 607 – due at H+11½ on Tuesday 06Jun44 ie. D-Day. Edited... Serial 607 carried five relief "gangs". Although, curiously the Company’s reconnaissance party, who should have arrived first (on Serial 602), didn’t actually arrive until 1100hrs on 07June.

    Eight “gangs” – onboard three Coasters; #403 probably the Glengarriff, #622 possibly the Marcel, and, #685 probably the Northgate – due on the second tide (ie. late afternoon) in the Sword area on D-Day. Edited...These coasters also carried three relief "gangs".

    Company Headquarters – onboard LST (Landing Ship Tank) Serial 3113 – due on the morning of D+1 (ie. 07Jun44). This LST, was part of "Force L".

    17 other ranks onboard LST Serials 3109, 3110, 3111 & 3112 – also due on D+1 – these men travelled with 4 R.B. cranes provided by 1050 Port Maintenance Company.

    Eight “gangs” – onboard four Coasters, probably the Antiquity, Demount, Gateshead and Weston – due off the Sword area on D+2 (ie. 08June). Edited...this last info seems doubtful

    So, your Dad was in there somewhere! Perhaps someone else on the forum can assist.

    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
  19. Hello Marie,

    Craft Serial 607 was probably LCI(L) 180 commanded by Temporary Lieutenant Thomas George Ormsby BROADBRIDGE, RNVR (seniority 24.10.42) and belonging to 261 LCI(L) Flotilla, "E" Squadron. On board LCI(L) 180 was the Flotilla Officer, Temporary Acting Lieutenant-Commander Charles Robert WALL, RNVR (seniority 7.8.42 (as Lieutenant)).

  20. Arty

    Arty Member


    I was hoping to see a full list of all those embarked on Serial 607 by name, rank & serial number! ;)


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