War Establiment Airborne Field Park Feb. 1944

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by JohnS, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    I have the war establishment for the airborne field park for March 1943 and March 1945, but I just found out that there was one for Feb.10 1944. Was it was basically the same as the 1943 one, but with a Clark Air Tractor and a few other items added?
  2. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Where did you find out about another Field Park WE? There isn't one listed in the WE indices from the National Archives for the period Nov-Dec43 to Jan-Mar44 certainly, and no mention of an I/189/2 anywhere else. Doesn't mean there wasn't one issued, just that there isn't one in the WE lists (I'm still firmly convinced there's an Armd Div Sigs, Middle East for mid 1943, even if I can't find it!).

    The 6th Abn Div report for their activities of Jun-Sep 1944 does list certain WEs with their comments on changes required, and does refer to I/189/1, no /2.

  3. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Hi Gary,

    It is from the 261st Fd. Pk. Coy., RE regimental history. To quote: "The unit mobilized again on 10th February 1944 on the establishment for a Field Park Company." Every time it says this, there is a new W.E.

  4. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Oh btw: in your book (which I enjoy and refer to all the time) there isn't a Clark Air Tractor listed in the March 43 W.E., but they took one to Arnhem. So, I assume that it was added for the Feb. 44 one.
  5. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I've had a look back through my stuff, which also includes a list of all WEs published under Volume I for Airborne, and that only lists I/189/1. So to the best of my knowledge the only two actual WEs are I/189/1 and VIII/1020/1.

    When you say the reference to forming on establishment always refers to a new WE proper, how many times do they say this? I'm just trying to work out if there's a correlation between the dates and WEs themselves. Otherwise my instinct is the issue of the Clark Crawler tractor itself would not necessitate a new WE proper. 6th Abn Div took three of them into Normandy and still referred to being on I/189/1. Likewise the Atk Btys took 17-prs into Normandy and Arnhem that were definitely not on their WEs, and the Air Landing Bns never adhered to theirs, so adding items of plant equipment in itself I don't think would lead to a new Field Park WE.

    Thanks for the kind words on the books, seems such a long time ago now!

  6. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    I have 5 times. Jan 42 when they first converted to Airborne, June 42, March 43, Feb. 44 and March 45. Major Chivers seemed to complain a lot about the earlier WEs as they were too short on transport etc.

    Interesting re: Tractors and 17 pdrs.
  7. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Well five specific WEs, in a period of around three and a half years, would be a record number of issues in my experience. The Inf Div Fd Pk had six issues, but that took from 1936 to 1947 to achieve.

    There is an oddity with regards the first raft of Abn Div WEs of 1942 in that they do not include the Field Park Coy, even though 261 Coy moved from 45th Inf Div to 1st Abn Div at the beginning of 1942. It may be there was an early version that has been lost (at least as far as the National Archives go), but I can't find any reference to it, and if each of those five dates refer to a newly minted WE then three out of five are AWOL, which would be a heck of a lot missing. Perhaps some were 'internal' organisations issued by the Div itself?

    I'm still minded to say that there wouldn't have been a new WE issued just to accommodate the plant equipment used for particular ops. My old favourite, the Air Landing Bn, had one WE issued in March 1943 (updated but not substantially altered in March 1945), and not once did 1st or 6th AL Bdes actually adhere to it in NWE. The only one that looked like what was used for Varsity came out in June 1945.

  8. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Maybe the missing copies are in their war diary? I find with RCE units they usually have a copy of the new WE as an Appendix, the same should apply to the 261st. I only have parts of 1944.

    Or it was only an inner divisional thing, like you said.

    Is it possible that they tried to use the same WE without the Bridging Section in the new division and hence had no need for a new WE?
  9. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Possibly the War Diary could have something for the WE, and there might be a few folks on here who can help you with that!

    In the absence of an early Airborne Field Park WE I've assumed the Coy kept its normal organisation when it transferred across to its new role, at least initially. I imagine there was some debate and experimentation in the early stages of what the Field Park needed to do and just what could be delivered by air in 1942, at which point it was the only unit of its kind in the British Army.


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