Royal Engineers June 1944

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

  1. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Michel and Arty.
    Would so loved to have seen that list. Would it exist anywhere I wonder? It would be great to place dad at that time.
    However I am thrilled beyond belief to have been given so much information and I cannot thank you enough for your graciousness in sharing it with me. I keep passing on all you are telling me to the family.and each day that I learn more I am busily recording it for the family history.
    Dad came home on embarkation leave in February 1944........ I was born November 1944.........I am told the wives knew something big was going to take place soon so its a miracle D-Day was kept under wraps as well as it was and for so long.
    Would it be of use in interpreting who was who and what was happening with the numbers if I included the pages relevant from the war diaries. Would that be appropriate I wonder?
    Michel I am showing my lack of knowledge by asking so please excuse my question if it too silly but am I correct in assuming that Lieutenant Broadbridge was the officer in charge of the 607 and that he was Royal Navy? The RNVR would indicate such. Would there then have been an Royal Engineers Officer there on board also to direct the men or possibly an NCO?
    For some reason the CO in charge of 999 POC changed from the 31st May when it was A.E.Yeo to J.K. Absen.(Major RE)
    Major Absen became CO from June 1st. Any idea why that would be?
    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with me.
  2. Marie,

    You are very welcome! Don't worry about possibly asking silly questions. If I had feared to ask silly questions I would never have asked any! :D
    Forgive me in turn if I ask you a personal (and probably silly) question, which of course you do not have to answer: does the (French?) spelling of your first name have anything to do with your father's being in France when you were born?

    Lists such as the one Arty described did exist at the time. They were not simply the result of the proverbial military addiction to paperwork, but were made necessary by the very real risk of the ship or craft being lost during the passage, so that the identity of any potential casualty should be known.

    Unfortunately, such embarkation nominal lists do not appear to have been conserved in a systematic way, and it is indeed exceptional to come across one, sometimes as a surviving appendix to some some War Diary, or in an officer's personal papers.

    Yes, please do post here any number of pages from the War Diary. You can even post all of them, for example as an Album in the Gallery section of this forum. This will maybe help us find some useful snippets, and attract readers with similar or even identical interests.

    Actually, Lieut Broadbridge was the officer (from the Royal Navy Voluntary Reserve, RNVR) in charge of LCI(L) 180, which I believe (but I am not certain) was alloted the Serial 607.

    You are correct in assuming that in a landing craft or ship the transported troops were under command of an Army officer, called the "OC Troops", who usually was an officer from the unit constituting the main party of the troops, when troops from several different units were carried.

    Serial 607 carried only troops from 999 Port Op Coy RE, therefore the OC Troops was from that unit.
    [Edit:] Wrong! She carried 102 men from 999 Port Op Coy (5 Beach Gp) + 59 men from 1028 Port Op Coy (6 Beach Gp), so the OC Tps might have been from either Coy.
    Thanks to Arty for pointing out my error.

    I unfortunately have no additional detail on them, so cannot tell whether the OC Troops was an officer or an NCO. Maybe the War Diary could tell us more, especially if it provides the time and place of embarkation of the various parties, so this is yet another good reason for you to post it!

    I also regrettably have not been able to find any photo showing LCI(L) 180, but I am confident that the minute I post this somebody (probably Arty) will show up with one! ;)

    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  3. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Bit of a novice but will try to upload the documents.
    I have a thought that dad would have well and truly been in France when I was born and would have been there since June of that year. I think I came as a surprise to both mum and dad as my brother and sister were almost grown up. In fact my brother was working. Arty has been so informative. We travelled to Normandy at the end of May as I had wanted to see the area and the beaches with the family. We stayed in Winston Churchill
    Avenue. It was two minutes from Sword Beach. I could not grasp the magnitude of how it as then.
    Will have a try at loading the file of the War Diaries. Are there any specific dates you think would be interesting.
  4. The War Diary for May and June would be a good start, plus any page which would include a mention of a Craft Serial or just a craft number.

    I have the following officers (plus RSM) for 999 Port Operating Company RE (part of 5 Beach Group, 101 Beach Sub Area). They must be also listed in the Field Report of Officers which was written weekly, but might not have survived in the appendices of the War Diary:

    Major H. W. S. HARVEY – Officer Commanding
    Captain F. E. COLES – Second in command
    Captain A. E. YEO – Administrative Officer
    Lieutenant W. O. ROBERTSON – Section Officer
    Lieutenant F. H. CROWTHER – Section Officer
    Lieutenant L. W. GIDLEY – Section Officer
    Second Lieutenant A. E. GILL – Section Officer

    Regimental Serjeant Major A. J. HAYWOOD

  5. The Admiralty War Diary states that eight coasters of Sailing Group (Convoy) L1 sailed at 0530 hrs on 6 Jun:
    #403 GLENGARIFF – destination Sword – 78 personnel to be embarked at Spithead
    #612 MARCEL – Sword – 78 personnel to be embarked at Spithead
    #1006 WESTLAND – Sword
    #642 MONKSTONE – Sword
    #843 SIGNALITY – Juno
    #740 POLGLEN – Gold
    #38 APRICITY – Gold
    #685 NORTHGATE – Gold – 78 personnel to be embarked at Spithead

    It therefore appears that the '622' in the War Diary is a typo for #612 MARCEL, and that #685 NORTHGATE was not bound for GOLD Area but for SWORD, as it would not have made any sense to send part of a unit under 5 Beach Gp to another Area (under a different Corps too!).

    The "78 personnel to be embarked at Spithead" are likely to be the 2 or 3 gangs of 999 Port Op Coy, possibly strengthened with personnel from other units.


    P.S. I've just edited my post #42 above, to correct an eroor I made.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  6. Arty

    Arty Member


    That "eroor" was surely an error! Though I should add, if you pointed out all my errors we'd need an entire forum for them.:D

    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  7. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Michel, please direct me to the album you spoke about for this thread. In the meantime I have been sussing out how to reduce the size of the folders in order to get them to the group.
    So here goes.
    Oh and a thought... When I was younger we had a friend called Peter Bywood. On first introducing him to my family, my father looked over the top of the newspaper he was reading and said "Bywood?" My commanding officer was called Bywood.
    Our friend replied that would be Uncle Joel Bywood, his dad's brother. Joel was in the Royal Engineers and eventually rose through the ranks to become a Major. I don't think he was dad's commanding officer as such at that time in 1944 but more probably an NCO or some similar position of authority over dad's sapper rank.
    Does anyone know anything about Joel Bywood?
    It would be interesting to know. Wasn't that a small world?
    Am sending over May 1944.
    I wish to acknowledge that the War Records were researched for me from the National Archives by Claire Jordon of Poppy Research.

    Attached Files:

  8. Marie,

    Thank you for posting the May War Diary. On 29 May it mentions that the Operation Order for the Company is attached as Appendix "A". Do you have it by any chance?

    As for Joel Bywood, if your copy of the War Diary includes at least some of the weekly Field Return of Other Ranks, you may want to browse them all to see if he is mentioned.

  9. Arty

    Arty Member


    I've just liaised with Marie (via PM about 40 minutes ago) regarding the Op Order which can be seen lurking under the daily narratives.

    Apparently the Op Order is indeed in hand. I'm about to send another PM (to Marie).

  10. Arty

    Arty Member


    This chap perhaps...

    20Dec40 CQMS Joel Bywood 2182195, No. 3 Stevedore Battalion, Corps of Royal Engineers – Mention in Despatches

    26Oct41 - R.S.M. Joel BYWOOD 221218 – Corps of Royal Engineers, promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.

    01Mar45 - Major (temp.) J. Bywood 221218 – Corps of Royal Engineers - “Mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished Services in the field...”

  11. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Arty, that's the man. Well done. Thank you.
    Am on the case with the records you guys want.
  12. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Are these the documents you wanted to see?

    Attached Files:

  13. Brilliant! This nicely complements what Trux wrote about the actions of 999 Port Op Coy around D Day. Now for the June War Diary and any interesting appendices :).

    To create an Album, click on the Gallery button on the menu line on top of the page, then Add media, tick Add media to... "An album" on the right side, then on the arrow right of Choose an album... and select Create an album, and then follow the instructions. It may look complex but actually it is not!

    If you feel overwhelmed you can continue to post here, you are doing very well!

  14. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Michel, who is Trux?
  15. Ah, that is the question! You are not the first one to wonder who Trux might really be. For me, Trux is a legend, possibly even a myth, something like the Shakespeare of 21 Army Group researchers, who has produced innumerable and insurpassable threads in this forum, after producing equally prodigious scale models for more years than I care to remember.

    He also goes by the name of Mike, but I cannot really believe that a human being can achieve so much with a single body. He must be either several persons under one umbrella name, or an alien creature blessed with superpowers, but probably both.

    You will find links to a couple of his magna opera in TD's post #2 above.

    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  16. Arty

    Arty Member

    I was thinking that if the Forum was a crime syndicate then Trux would be "da Godfather" (however, less violent than most others)
  17. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    See his profile here > Trux
  18. Arty

    Arty Member


    I’ve had a read through 999 POC’s Op Order and come to a horrible conclusion. That is, some of the information from the oracle may be misleading.

    Insofar as I’ve now learnt, 999 POC had a total of sixteen “gangs”.

    working “gangs” apparently arrived onboard the coasters Glengariff, Marcel & Northgate on the evening of 06June. The Op Order has the information: "Three coaster which will land on D Day will carry gangs for first shift ie. half Company – 8 Gangs to discharge..." Onboard these coasters there was also three relief “gangs”.

    Arriving onboard LCI(L) Serial 607 at H +11 ½ were five more relief “gangs”.

    Unless I’m missing something, the four coasters that arrived on 08June ie. Antiquity, Demount, Gateshead and Weston could not have been carrying "gangs" from 999 POC. Not an earth-shattering conclusion, however, it now seems more likely, that the particular Sapper we are trying to locate, did in fact arrive on the evening of 06Jun44.

    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
  19. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    Enjoyed your reply Michel and to Arty and Owen thank you also.
    My father was Sapper 10706385 George Henry Hildyard R.E. His service records states he embarked UK on 3/6/1944 as part of 999 POC and part of 607. I doubt he will be mentioned in dispatches or anywhere really but it would have been fantastic to have found his name somewhere.
    Although he spoke about it very little, mainly because i did not ask the right or sufficient questions, one thing he did say was that he set sail from England and that he could not believe his eyes, when as the dawn broke that morning of June 6th he saw the vast amount of ships all gathering filled with men and supplies. It was breathtaking.
    When I went with my family at the end of May beginning of June I so wanted to see and understand where he had been. With what can only be a stroke of luck we stayed in accommodation on Sword Beach. Although I walked in his footsteps the sad thing is I did not have as much information as I have now. I walked the same beaches but failed to feel what I wanted to feel had I have known that was the correct beach. I was unsure whether it might have been Gold Beach which of course had the Mulberry Harbour. Being a stevedore I thought he might have been there. In the end we as a family paused and shed our tears and shared our memories at both places.
    I am sending over June 1944. Is that what you wanted?

    Attached Files:

  20. Marie Brown

    Marie Brown Member

    I am not sure if you need these two. I don't know what they mean but you might. They were at the end of the June entries.

    Attached Files:

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