National Archives catalogue reference WO 171/589 and 590

 

Abbreviations

Adm

Amb

Armd

Bde

BLA

Bn

Comd

Coy

Dist

Div

Ech

Fd

Formn

Gp

Incl

KOSB

LAD

MT

OC

OR

QM

RAMC

RASC

Rd

RE

Regt

Sec

Sigs

Tpt

Veh

Administration

Ambulance

Armoured

Brigade

British Liberation Army

Battalion

Command

Company

District

Division / Division

Echelon

Field

Formation

Group

Include

King's Own Scottish Borderers

Light Aid Detachment

Motor Transport

Officer Commanding

Other Ranks

Quartermaster

Royal Army Medical Corps

Royal Army Service Corps

Road

Royal Engineers

Regiment

Section

Signals

Transport

Vehicle

 

 

Month and year: August 1944

Commanding Officer : Major W.E. Balmer, The Border Regt.

 

13th August 1944

Place: Revesby Abbey, nr Mareham-Le-Fen, Lincs.

 

1st Lift Seaborne Parties of 1 Airborne Div  (incl units of this Bde together with 9 Fd Coy R.E. and 181 Air Landing Fd Amb., composed of the bulk of unit tpt together with RASC 3-tonners carrying units' stores, left their locations in LINCOLNSHIRE at about 0730 hrs and proceeded by M.T. in convoys to No.2 Transit Camp, LONDON DIST., where they arrived at about 2000 hrs and spent the night of 13/14 Aug.  At the transit camp pay was drawn and issued to the men in French Currency; also British money notes held by the men were exchanged for French currency.  24-hr Packs, Emergency Rations and Lifebelts were drawn for all ranks at the Transit Camp Q.M. Stores.

 

14th August 1944

Place: No.2 Transit Camp, London Dist.

 

All the vehs and trailers of units of the Bde., incl. those of 9 Fd Coy R.E. and 181 Air Landing Fd Amb left No.2 Transit Camp and proceeded to TILBURY DOCKS, where they were loaded into Transport M.Vs.  The vehs and trailers of Bde HQ and Sigs Sec., 7 KOSB, 2 S.Staffords, 1 and 4 Para Bns were loaded into H.M. M.V. "SAMNESSE".  The loading of vehs was completed by 1600 hrs and the Dvrs and Adm personnel embarked at 1800 hrs.  At 1900 hrs M.V. "SAMNESSE" left TILBURY DOCKS and anchored for the night in the THAMES ESTUARY.  Major W.E. Balmer was OC Troops aboard M.V. "SAMNESSE" and Capt C.R.W. Scruby, Border Regt., became O.C. Bde H.Q. Group.

 

15th August 1944

Place: M.V. "Samnesse"

 

M.V. SAMNESSE with other transport craft unanchored in the morning and proceeded down the Thames Estuary.  All the transport craft carrying the Seaborne Parties of the Div. anchored off SOUTHEND to await the forming of the convoy.  The convoy (incl. M.V. SAMNESSE) left SOUTHEND ROADS at 1800 hrs and proceeded down the English Channel, through which the convoy passed safely during the hours of darkness.

 

16th August 1944

Place: M.V. "Samnesse"

 

M.V. SAMNESSE and other ships of the convoy arrived and anchored at approx 2000 hrs in the roadstead off the Normandy "D" Day Beaches.  The weather during the trip was thick and misty, as a result of which the M.V. SAMNESSE collided with a returning I.L.C. just after midday.  Neither vessel was seriously damaged and both proceeded on their journey.  No unloading of Vehs or Personnel took place.

 

17th August 1944

Place: Normandy, B.L.A.

 

0630 hrs unloading craft came alongside and the unloading of Vehs and disembarkation of drivers and admin personnel commenced.  On landing on that part of the beaches called "JUNO", the vehs and trailers with their passengers proceeded to GOLDSMITH Camp where they waited until all vehs and personnel of the Brigade Gp were concentrated.  From 1530 hrs and at intervals of an hour, the Brigade proceeded in convoy blocks of 30 vehs to a camping area near the small town of LA MINE of the BAYEUX / ST LO / ISIGNY rd.

 

18th August 1944

Place: La Mine, Normandy B.L.A.

 

Major W.E. BALMER, BORDER REGT became O.C., 1 Air Landing Bde Gp (Seaborne Element), which consisted of 9 Fd Coy RE, 7 KOSB, 1 BORDER, 2 S STAFFORDS, 181 Air Landing Field Amb, Bde H.Q., (incl Sig Sec) and No 1 L.A.D.

 

18th to 31st August 1944

Place: La Mine, Normandy B.L.A.

 

This period was spent in camp maintenance, maintenance and overhaul [of vehicles?].

 

 

Month and year: September 1944

Commanding Officer : Major W.E. Balmer, The Border Regt.

 

17th August 1944

Place: La Mine, Normandy

 

15 ORs RAMC left 181 Fd Amb (Air Landing) and embarked from the Beaches and returned to the U.K. to join the Airborne Lift of 181 Air Landing Fd Amb.

 

1st September 1944

Place: La Mine, Normandy

 

Instructions received for the move of the Seaborne Parties of this Bde Gp on 2nd Sep to a location East of VERNON.

 

2nd September 1944

Place: La Mine, Normandy

 

The Seaborne Echelon of 1 Airborne Div., incl Seaborne Parties of this Bde Gp left the area of LA MINE in the early hours of the morning proceeding in convoy blocks of 60 vehs to each block.  The Bde Gp was split into two blocks.  1 Border, 9 Fd Coy RE., 181 Air Landing Fd Amb and Bde HQ Gp in Block 'F'.  7 KOSB, 2 S.Staffords and No.1 L.A.D. in Block 'G'.  The route being through BAYEUX, CAEN where the River ORNE was crossed, VIMONT, THIBERVILLE, PERRIERS LA CAMPAGNE, EVREUX, PACY SUR EURES, VERNON where the River SEINE was crossed, and arrived in the evening at the village of LA PETITE ST GERVAIS, some 40 miles West of PARIS.  Unit parties were billeted in houses in and around the village, where they spent the night of 2/3 Sept.

 

3rd September 1944

Place: Le Petite St Gervais

 

The Seaborne Parties of this Bde Gp left LE PETITE ST GERVAIS in the afternoon and proceeded by M.T. in convoy blocks to the village of LIHUS near the small town of CREVECOEUR on the PARIS/AMIENS road.  Bde Unit parties were billeted in farmhouses and fields around the village.

 

4th to 5th September 1944

Place: Lihus

 

The Bde Gp remained in LIHUS over these two days, the time being spent in camp maintenance, and maintenance and overhaul of vehicles.

 

4th September 1944

Place: Lihus

 

Personnel of No.1 L.A.D. were warned by the village people that a German soldier had been seen prowling around the village that afternoon.  A search party was immediately formed and the German was eventually caught hiding in a ditch.  He was taken prisoner without a shot being fired and taken to Div HQ for questioning and then handed over to the F.F.I. at CONTY.

 

5th September 1944

Place: Lihus

 

Units of the Bde Gp sent out parties to search the woods neighbouring their camps to find out if any of the enemy were hiding in them, but no Germans were found.

 

6th September 1944

Place: Lihus

 

Bde Gp Seaborne Parties left LIHUS at 1400 hrs and proceeded North by M.T. convoys, skirting AMIENS, and stopped at the village of BAILLEUX between AMIENS & ALBERT, where the night of 6/7 Sept was spent.

 

7th September 1944

Place: Bailleux, France

 

The Bde Gp Seaborne Parties left BAILLEUX just after midday and proceeded North by the following route:- AMIENS, ARRAS, VITRY, DOUAI, ORCHIES, crossed the Belgian Frontier, TOURNAI, ENGHIEN, near which the Bde Gp units were billeted in and in the neighbourhood of a big house between ENGHIEN & BRUSSELS, and spent the night of 7/8 Sept there.

 

8th September 1944

Place: Belgium

 

The Bde Gp Seaborne Parties left the neighbourhood of the big house at 0730 hrs and proceeded by M.T. convoy skirted BRUSSELS, passed through LOUVAIN, and reached the destination in the early afternoon, i.e. MEERBECK, a village some 5 miles East of LOUVAIN.  Units of the Bde Gp were billeted in farmhouses, orchards and field surrounding the village.

 

9th to 14th September 1944

Place: Meerbeck, Belgium

 

Over this period the Bde Gp remained at MEERBECK.  The days were spent in camp maintenance, maintenance and overhaul of vehicles.  Training was also carried out.

 

11th to 14th September 1944

Place: Meerbeck, Belgium

 

Each unit laid on a recreational truck each afternoon to take men to BRUSSELS over this period.

 

12th September 1944

Place: Meerbeck, Belgium

 

Men received their first issue of pay in Belgian Francs.

 

15th September 1944

Place: Meerbeck, Belgium

 

Units of the Bde Gp left MEERBECK at 0730 hrs and travelled East by M.T. convoys of Bde Gp Blocks, passing through LOUVAIN, DIEST, BERBINGEN and reached a new location between BERBINGEN & LILO about 1200 hrs, near a village called HEUSDEN.  Units of the Bde Gp were billeted in fields and woods.  181 Air Landing Fd Amb, for this journey, moved with Div Fd Ambs at head of whole Div convoy.

 

16th to 19th September 1944

Place: Heusden, Belgium

 

The Bde Gp remained at this location over this period.  Camp maintenance and vehicle maintenance was carried out.

 

17th September 1944

Place: Heusden, Belgium

 

News was received in the afternoon over the radio that a great Allied Airborne operation had taken place in HOLLAND at places between the rivers MAAS, WAAL and North of the lower RHINE.  Later news was received over the radio that a British Airborne Forces Division had landed near ARNHEM in HOLLAND on the North bank of the river RHINE - later confirmed to be 1 Airborne Div.

 

18th September 1944

Place: Heusden, Belgium

 

A conference of all unit comds of the Bde Gp Seaborne parties was held at Bde HQ.  Arrangements for the move of the Bde Gp on the following day were discussed.

 

20th September 1944

Place: Heusden, Belgium

 

The Bde Gp left their locations near HEUSDEN at 0630 hrs and proceeded North passing through HECTEL, crossing the ESCAUT CANAL but were forced to stop on the roadside some 4 miles over the Dutch Frontier to let Armd units and priority traffic pass through.  The night of 20/21 Sep was spent by the roadside.

 

21st to 22nd September 1944

Place: Holland

 

The Bde Gp remained in this area at the roadside until about 2000 hrs, when the journey recommenced travelling North all through the night of 21/22 Sept; passing through RUKSREGHAN, EINDHOVEN, where the river MAAS was crossed and finally halted at dawn between EINDHOVEN & GRAVE, where the forenoon and afternoon was spent at the roadside.  In the afternoon the Bde Gp closed up their vehicles to the Div Formn Seaborne Ech in front of them.

 

22nd to 23rd September 1944

Place: Holland

 

In the evening notification was received that the enemy in some force and with tanks had cut the road communication South of GRAVE, consequently at 2100 hrs the Bde Gp with other Div Formn Seaborne Elements retired down the road, finally halting at 0200 hrs in a lying-up area South of EINDHOVEN.

 

23rd September 1944

Place: Holland

 

News over the radio concerning 1 Airborne Div at ARNHEM gave the situation as critical.  The Bde Gp remained in the lying-up area near EINDHOVEN over the forenoon and afternoon.  From 1500 hrs to 1600 hrs a big invasion fleet of Gliders (both Horsas and WACOs) and C47 aircraft were seen passing over, heading in a Northerly direction.  It was later learnt that reinforcements of American Airborne Tps were dropped at GRAVE and NIJMEGEN and the Polish Para Bde south of the river RHINE near ARNHEM.  At 2000 hrs the Bde Gp with other Div Seaborne Elements left the lying-up area near EINDHOVEN and travelled North all through the night, passing through GRAVE, crossing the river WAAL and reached NIJMEGEN in the forenoon of 24 Sept; where the Bde Gp bivouacked in woods to the East of NIJMEGEN.

 

24th to 25th September 1944

Place: Holland

 

This period was spent in camp maintenance, maintenance and overhaul of vehicles.

 

26th September 1944

Place: Holland

 

In the afternoon a conference of Unit Comds in the Bde Gp was held at Bde HQ.  Major Balmer told Unit Comds that the Airborne lift of the Airborne Div would be evacuated from the North bank of the river RHINE during the hours of darkness that night.  Also that this Bde Gp was responsible for running a hostel for survivors.  Arrangements were made for accommodation, stores and clothing, messing etc.  The Hostel taken over by this Bde Gp was a big house with a Pagoda roof, situated on the eastern outskirts of NIJMEGEN.  Arrangements were made to accommodate, clothe and feed approximately 800 survivors.

 

27th September 1944

Place: Nijmegen, Holland

 

At about 0300 hrs the first batch of survivors arrived and from then onwards regular batches of survivors clocked in all through the early hours of the morning and the forenoon.  The total of 800 survivors was passed and another big house nearby was requisitioned to accommodate the survivors arriving late for whom no sleeping accommodation was available in the "PAGODA" Hostel.  The Bde Comd, Brigadier P.H.W. Hicks DSO MC was amongst the survivors.  During the forenoon an enemy aircraft dropped a fragmentation bomb on the courtyard of the "PAGODA" Hostel, set fire and destroyed 3 Bde HQ vehicles standing there, and injured a few other ranks.  In the evening all survivors of other Div formations apart from Air Landing Bde personnel left the "PAGODA" and subsidiary hostels for other Div Hostels and camps where their Seaborne Element parties were billeted, and all Air Landing personnel of units of Bde Gp Seaborne Element were concentrated and accommodated in the "PAGODA" Hostel.  It was found from the census taken that 1052 survivors had clocked in at the "PAGODA" Hostel, of which there were 23 Officers and 476 Other Rank survivors of units of this Bde.

 

28th September 1944

Place: Nijmegen, Holland

 

The Bde Airborne survivors with a small party of Officers and ORs from the Seaborne Element left the "PAGODA" Hostel at NIJMEGEN and proceeded south by RASC tpt down the corridor, which was passed through safely, to a transit camp in barracks at LOUVAIN where the night of 28/29 Sept was spent.

 

29th September 1944

Place: Louvain, Belgium

 

The Bde Airborne / Seaborne spent the forenoon at the transit camp at LOUVAIN.  Orders were received at about 1400 hrs for the Bde Airborne / Seaborne party to proceed to the airfield outside BRUSSELS.  By 1530 hrs all Bde Airborne / Seaborne personnel were emplaned in C47 aircraft, which took off from 1545 hrs onwards and landed at WOODHALL, SALTBY & GRANTHAM Airfields in the U.K., arriving between 1800 hrs & 1930 hrs.

 

28th to 29th September 1944

Place: Louvain, Belgium

 

The remainder of the Bde Gp Seaborne Element left their camps in the woods at NIJMEGEN, spent the night of 28 Sept in the area of MEERBECK.  Arrangements were made for their returning to the Beaches in NORMANDY in FRANCE for embarkation with their vehicles back to the U.K.

 

29th September 1944

Place: England

 

The Airborne / Seaborne personnel of Bde HQ and Sigs Sec spent the night of 29/30 Sept at MARTIN'S MANOR near HORNCASTLE and similar parties of the 3 Bns at the camp occupied by their Bn Residue Parties in WOODHALL SPA in LINCOLNSHIRE.

 

30th September 1944

Place: England

 

Bde HQ and Sigs Sec were concentrated and established at MARTIN'S MANOR near HORNCASTLE, LINCOLNSHIRE.

 

 

2nd Seaborne Element

 

Month and year: September 1944

Commanding Officer : Captain G.D. Wilmot, 2 S.Staffords

 

18th to 19th September 1944

Place: England 

 

After the Div Airborne Element had left on their operation, the 2nd Seaborne Element of Units of this Bde left BRIZE NORTON on the 18th and returned to WOODHALL SPA where their vehicles were loaded up with stores and equipment.

 

20th September 1944

Place: England

 

The 2nd Seaborne Element under comd Capt G.D. Wilmot, 2 S.Staffords left WOODHALL SPA on the morning of 20th and arrived at a transit camp near to TILBURY DOCKS that evening.

 

21st September 1944

Place: England

 

The 2nd Seaborne Element parties of the Bde embarked with their vehicles, along with other Div 2nd Seaborne parties, on a transport cargo boat, M.V. "SAMHERN"

 

22nd September 1944

Place: M.V. "SAMHERN"

 

The 2nd Seaborne Parties left TILBURY in M.V. "SAMHERN" after midday 22nd Sept.

 

23rd September 1944

Place: M.V. "SAMHERN"

 

Anchored off SOUTHEND to await a convoy, which left SOUTHEND during the hours of darkness and arrived off the NORMANDY beaches on the evening of the 23 Sept.

 

23rd to 30th September 1944

2nd Seaborne parties of the Div remained aboard M.V. "SAMHERN" all during this period, no personnel or vehicles being disembarked.  With the return of the Airborne Element of the Div to the U.K., the M.V. "SAMHERN" left the anchorage off the NORMANDY BEACHES on 29th Sep and took the 2nd Seaborne Parties back to TILBURY, which was reached on the evening of 30th Sept.