Royal Engineers Railway worker help

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by LukeATurner, Jan 6, 2022.

  1. LukeATurner

    LukeATurner Member

    Hi all,

    while I'm waiting for my grandad's full records from the MOD (I just saw the thread about the huge and unsurprising backlog) I went on Find My Past and found something that I hadn't seen before – some kind of index card relating to his service. I know he worked on the Sierra Leone Government Railway in Freetown (we've his diary, letters, etc – he nearly died after being attacked for not taking a bribe) but not much about how it worked. I am wondering if "Class W Reserve" refers to reserved occupation due to the railway skills that were then used in his service in Sierra Leone? He was definitely in uniform as we've got photographs, but I'm intrigued to know if this was perhaps a sort of half in, half out military/civilian role? Any information on what the various letters and numbers stand for would be hugely appreciated,

    many thanks

    Luke Percy Turner war record.jpg
  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Think you will find it is "Released to Class W Reserve". I believe that is where they have an occupation more useful in the community as opposed to military.

    You say that you found the card on FMP, do you know it is his or just the same name? Make sure you have the correct person.
    4jonboy likes this.
  3. LukeATurner

    LukeATurner Member

    Yep it's definitely him, the DOB with the record checks out. I'm curious as to how it would have worked with a railway worker released to 'reserve' and then sent abroad, given he's wearing tropical gear in SL in the photos we have of him.
  4. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    Some thoughts.

    No1 RTC is No1 Railway Training Regiment, Royal Engineers) based at Longmoor Military Railway.

    No1 Mil, Port is No1 Miltary Port, Faslane. Built to receive shipping from USA.
    79/15 Rly. Bn. Is 15 Railway Battalion RE at Faslane. 79 I think is 79 Railway Operating Company.

    Class W Reserve is where a serving soldier is released to civilian employment but remains liable to be recalled for miltary service.

    Freeport, Sierra Leone was a major convoy port in WW2. I do not see any RE Railway units serving there so presumably your grandfather was released to serve with the Sierra Leone Railway.

    Aixman and 4jonboy like this.
  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Last edited: Jan 7, 2022
  6. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    The passenger lists for his travels to/from Sierra Leone in 44/45 would, to my mind, have him travelling as a civilian rather than military.
  7. LukeATurner

    LukeATurner Member

    Hi Mike, this is incredibly useful, thank you very much indeed!
  8. LukeATurner

    LukeATurner Member

    It see
    Yep he sailed on the Andalucia Star on one of her final voyages before she was sunk. He's listed on the manifest as 'traffic inspector' rather than anything military, and was allocated a first class cabin – he talks about this a lot in his letters as obviously in peacetime he'd never have been able to afford such luxury.

    I wonder what his status would have been, as he was in tropical kit in Sierra Leone? And that record says 'discharged' 5 September 1945, so presumably he would have been under the auspices of the military in some ways.
  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG


    I suspected that he was 'Royal Engineers Movement Control' rather than footplate crew.

    The ways of bureaucracy are mysterious. A traffic inspector is needed in Sierra Leone. The military have a suitable person. He is placed on Class W Reserve so that he can be loaned to Sierra Leone Railway as a civilian. When he is released from Sierra Leone he reverts to being a member of HM forces. Although nominally a civilian he can hardly decline to go to Sierra Leone. I have no idea what was his status with regard to pay, pension etc.

    Makes your brain hurt.

  10. LukeATurner

    LukeATurner Member

    Hi Mike, that would make sense – he was definitely more admin than footplate, worked his way up from clerk to inspector in the LNER. His letters back are mostly about railway traffic management and training new local recruits for the railway (and missing sausages).
    4jonboy likes this.
  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG


    Many years ago I worked with a man who had been a railway clerk with LNER prewar. When called up he served with Royal Engineers railway units and then with Royal Engineers Movement Control in Italy. I know this because he had a letter of commendation from General Alexander on his office wall. His rank and trade were staff serjeant clerk.

    Not as exciting as Freetown, Sierra Leone, which was something of a wild boom town in WW2. But the Italians do quite good sausages.

  12. Blutto

    Blutto Banned

    It wouldn't be surprising to find a civilian Brit in such places to be wearing tropical kit (and even pith hat) at the time, it was long before board shorts and flip-flops became the fashion :)
  13. LukeATurner

    LukeATurner Member

    Sounds like a very similar career path to my grandad - but as you say, with better sausages.
  14. Our grand dad was at longmoor in the royal engineers, on his war record it states191; 16 depot. he was then transferred to G.H.Q home on 05.10.1941. Can anyone shed any light where i can get more info please
  15. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Best to start your own thread on your grand dad, rather than within another thread.
  16. Thanks David, this may sound daft but how do I create a new thread please
  17. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Been away from the laptop, and you've got it!

    Unless there are "issues" best to include your grand dad's full name, service number and other clues in the free text. Often, sometimes years later, others searching find the name via search engines and come along. Plus, occasionally there is already a thread with their name / service number here. I know there are thread(s) on Longmoor here; whether they apply is a moot point! PM in a moment.

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