National Archives catalogue reference WO 171/1609

 

Abbreviations

2 i/c

682758

AA

Admin

Adv

Bde

Br

C in C

Col

Coy

CRE

Det

Div

Equipt

ESBD

Fd

GOC

HQRE

i/c

IOW

LAD
LST

Mec

OC

Offr

OFP
OR

Pl

RAP

RE

Ref

REME

Rep

Rly

RV

Sec

Sqn

Sta

Tp

Tpt

Wt

Second-in-Command

Map Reference

Anti-Aircraft

Administration

Advance

Brigade

Bridge
Commander-in-Chief

Column

Company

Commander Royal Engineers

Detachment

Divisional

Equipment

Engineer Stores Base Depot ?

Field

General Officer Commanding

Headquarters Royal Engineers

In-Command

Isle of Wight

Light Aid Detachment

Landing Ship Tank

Mechanical

Officer Commanding

Officer

Ordnance Field Park

Other Ranks

Platoon

Regimental Aid Post

Royal Engineers

Reference

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Representative

Railway

Rendezvous

Section

Squadron

Station

Troop

Transport

Weight

 

 

Month and year: August 1944

Commanding Officer: Major J.N. Chivers R.E.

 

12th August 1944

Place: Mareham-le-Fen

 

Ceased hutting work at 1000 hours.  OC to CRE conference and received movement order at 1400 hours to proceed on operations as follows.  Seaborne party HQ & Workshop & LAD complete.  Airborne party Stores Pl in 5 No C47 with 5 cars 5 [wt?] & trailers.  Mec Equip sec with U.S. Bn. Aviation Engineers.  Rear party of 1 NCO and 6 OR's [?] hospital personnel.

 

13th August 1944

Place: London

 

Seaborne party move under OC to transit camp London dock departing 0600 arriving 1900 hours.

 

14th August 1944

Tpt loaded personnel embarked 1700 hours in cargo ship FORT FAIRFORD.

 

15th August 1944

Sailed at 0700 hours - little activity passed through Straits of Dover approx 2400 hours.

 

16th August 1944

Arrived off JUNO beach NORMANDY at 1900 hours.

 

17th August 1944

Place: France

 

Arrived at beaches at 1000 hours proceeded to concentration.

 

18th August 1944

Established in bivouac area near BAYEUX ref 682758 heavy tpt still not with unit having been offloaded onto a Rhino ferry it missed the tide.

 

19th August 1944

Unit party in bivouac area - re-loading of stores and repairs to equipment.

 

20th August 1944

In bivouac area.  Church service 1100 hrs.  Normal work in morning.

 

23rd August 1944

Heavy rain - heavy A/A fire during night.  Road repairs.

 

24th August 1944

Unit on road repairs and trial water point, found to be useless due to suspended [matter?] from heavy rains.

 

25th August 1944

Road repairs, and normal camp work - heavy rain.

 

26th August 1944

OC & 2 i/c visit 21 Army Group to obtain work of some sort to do.  Suggested removal of Bailey Brs.

 

27th August 1944

OC & 2 i/c visit 5 CE works CAEN for details of Brs, recce made of Brs down to THURY HARCOURT.

 

28th August 1944

OC & 2 i/c final recce of Brs between CAEN and the sea.  Conference with O 'i/c' RE unit seaborne element at 1900 hrs to arrange movement up to ORNE river line.  Cancelled by phone conversation at 2200 hrs with 5 CE [?] owing to lack of liaison between movement control etc.

 

29th August 1944

Unit moves 80 D.S. Bailey on river line S of BAYEUX.  Sqn elements take urgent bridge parts from ORNE line to No.5 ESBD

 

30th August 1944

Unit on camp works and domestic duties.  ENSA show.  OC & 2 i/c visit 3 CRE works for further details of Bailey Brs for removal S of Bayeux and carry out recce.

 

31st August 1944

This unit with det 9 Fd Coy RE commence removal of 5 No Bailey Brs in TILLY area varying from 30 ft S/S to 80 D/S.  Sqn element on collection of essential parts from ORNE line to 5 ESBD.

 

 

Month and year: September 1944

Commanding Officer: Major J.N. Chivers R.E.

 

1st to 2nd September 1944

Place: France - Bayeux Area

 

HQRE. 2 LAD and 261 Fd. Pk. Coy RE depart from present location in Divisional convoy move 160 miles, cross R. SEINE and bivouac area GISOR.  Warning order received to move at 0700 hours 2nd Sept.

 

3rd September 1944

Place: Gisor

 

Depart GISOR 0800 hours in Priority group with Ordnance & REME. arrive LE GRAND CREVECOEUR at 2100 hrs. bivouac in rly sta.  OC to conference 2100 hrs at Div HQ.

 

4th September 1944

Place: Crevecoeur

 

In bivouac area CREVECOEUR. S. of AMIENS. maintenance of vehicles etc - little petrol.  Informed no likely move for next 48 hrs.

 

5th September 1944

Routine and construction of signs in bivouac area CREVECOEUR.

 

6th September 1944

Place: Albert

 

Move from present location 1200 hrs arrive in bivouac area W of ALBERT - heavy rain throughout night.

 

7th September 1944

Depart after delay in receiving petrol at 1200 hrs for area 2 miles S of BRUSSELS arriving 2100 hrs.

 

8th September 1944

Place: Brussels, Belgium

 

Move up behind forward tps to area near LOUVAIN arriving 1800 hours.  Distance covered to date from leaving BAYEUX (FRANCE) approx 400 miles - transport in fair condition.

 

9th September 1944

Maintenance of vehicles and equipment in bivouac area.

 

10th September 1944

Order received 'No move in next 48 hours' - construction of signs for [mist?].

 

11th September 1944

Further order received 'no likely move for 3-4 days' - completion of unit works.

 

12th September 1944

In bivouac area.

 

13th September 1944

In bivouac area.

 

14th September 1944

In bivouac area.  OC to GOC's conference at 0845 hrs at Div HQ - rain during night.  Warning order at 6 hrs notice from 2359 hrs.  Adv party to new area.

 

15th September 1944

Place: Lilo

 

Depart bivouac area 0800 hrs - move over ALBERT CANAL to area near LILO.

 

16th to 18th September 1944

LILO.

 

20th to 23rd September 1944

In bivouac area - continued delay of move since Div col. now sub-divided in Group A, B & C.  A and B held up by enemy cutting north route.

 

24th September 1944

Place: Eindhoven, Holland

 

Unit moved at 0700 hrs. halt at ESCAUT CANAL owing to 15 mile traffic jam ahead. for 3 hours, crossed DUTCH frontier at approx 1630 hrs. slightly less enthusiastic reception from Dutch people due to recent battles.  Halted N of EINDHOVEN at 2000 hrs owing to enemy activity 3 miles ahead. and on left flank.  Heavy rain. all remained in vehicles. very cold.

 

25th September 1944

Still halted on road side.  OC unit in command of Col C. included Polish Para Bde. O.F.P. REME workshops and own unit.  Heavy gunfire all day.  Armour and infantry only move up. to clear opposition.  Heavy rain.  M.C. report no move to day at 1600 hrs.

 

26th September 1944

Orders received to move at 1615 hrs. road still under fire, however no casualties.  C in C (Field Marshal Montgomery) halts to speak to Polish Troops.  Arrive in NIJMEGAN area 2100 hrs met by Div rep and conducted further 20 miles under heavy A/A fire to due E of NIJMEGAN. 500x from German border. bivouac in residential area.  Torrential rain. bivouaced at 0200 hrs on 27.  Saw good demonstration of rocket firing Typhoons on left flank N of EINDHOVEN - 1000 hrs 26 SEPT.

 

27th September 1944

In bivouac area, enemy air activity, area machine gunned, shelling late in evening.  Thunderstorm at 2230 hrs.  Orders received to move back to LOUVAIN on 28th.  OC to conference with new CRE Lt. Col. MYERS and those returned from ARNHEM at 2000 hrs.

 

28th September 1944

Fine weather - cold - enemy air activity - saw dive bombing of NIJMEGAN Bridge at approx 0700 hrs - 2 i/c on advance party.  Coy moves off 0720 hrs.  Enemy shelling road 10 miles N of EINDHOVEN. 50x off road nearest to unit.  Accommodated in Barracks LOUVAIN and joined 11 survivors of own unit.

 

29th September 1944

Place: Louvain, Belgium

 

OC and survivors of ARNHEM and Coy personnel return by Air.  Capt. W.T. Holgate RE commands seaborne party.  See Appendix A. B. C. D. and E.

 

 

Month and year: October 1944

Commanding Officer: Major J.N. Chivers R.E.

 

1st October 1944

Place: Mareham-le-Fen

 

Conservancy and preparation of billets.

 

3rd October 1944

Mec Equipt detachment returns from TARRANT RUSHTON airfield.  2nd Seaborne party returns from TILBURY ex offshore NORMANDY and not landed.  3/3 Ton lorries arrive to supplement transport for admin purposes.

 

4th October 1944

Spr Page, wounded at ARNHEM returns to unit now fit.  Normal camp works.

 

5th October 1944

OC to CRE conference.  No details of future yet available.  All [Coy?] rear party proceed on 14 days leave.

 

6th October 1944

Preparation of camp for return of 1st Seaborne party - documentation.

 

7th October 1944

1st Seaborne Party return complete with tpt at 1800 hrs.

 

8th October 1944

Preparing for leave and documentation.  OC interviews new officer for stores pl ex 48 Div.

 

9th October 1944

Rear party only in camp, balance proceed on 14 days leave including OC, 2 i/c and Lieut Hepper.

 

 

Appendix B

261 Fd. Pk. Coy. RE (Airborne)

 

        15 Aug 44.  Mec Equip. Det. consisting of NCO x 3 2 No.D4's and 2 No.Graders etc. moved to TARRANT RUSHTON for attachment to 875 U.S. Airborne Engineers.  Equipment was several times loaded into Hamilcar for an unknown operation and destination.  Throughout this time personnel remained on Airfield.

        1 Oct 44.  Det and equipment returned to Normal location under arrangements made by OC with M.O.W.T.

 

 

Appendix C

261 Fd. Pk. Coy. RE (Airborne)

 

        15 Aug - etc.  2nd Seaborne left consisting of Cpl & 13 OR's which had originally set off with party in Appx A after many alterations etc came under command of RE Party 2nd Seaborne Lift.

        22 Sept.  Proceeded to transit camp at GRAYS. ESSEX.

        23 Sept.  Embarked on EMP. GENERAL a cargo ship and sailed at 1600 hrs from TILBURY.

        24 Sept.  In convoy off I.O.W. lay [astride?] owing to bad weather.

        25 Sept 44.  Sailed for NORMANDY beaches.

        1 Oct.  Arrived back at TILBURY having laid off the beaches for several days and informed 1 Airborne Div returning to U.K. disembarked 1700 hrs.

        3 Oct.  Arrived back in unit location under Divisional arrangements complete with tpt.

 

[Signed J.N. Chivers] Major RE

5 Oct 44

APO. England.

 

 

Appendix D

261 Fd. Pk. Coy. RE (Airborne)

 

        Sept 29/44.  Louvain Belgium.  Eleven survivors from airborne party, Coy personnel from sea party with O.C. making a total of 24 leave Brussels by air at 1645 hrs. arrive BARKSTON HEATH Lincolnshire at 1900 hrs. and proceed to unit location MAREHAM-LE-FEN.  Capt. W.T. HOLGATE RE i/c of unit seaborne party proceeding to NORMANDY Beaches.  Strength 2 offs and 57 OR's.

        Sept 30.  MAREHAM-LE-FEN.  Interrogation of air party by OC reveals loss of 1 offr & 10 OR's - one OR Killed and casualties of 1 offr & 8 OR's missing published plus 1 OR in hospital.

        Missing - Lieut. W.H. Skinner RE, L/Cpl Roff RE, L/Cpl Trim RE, Spr Macfarlane (wounded), Spr Diamond, Spr Belcher, Dvr Whitmore, Dvr Day, Dvr Clark (wounded).

        Killed - Spr Anderson.

        Wounded but Safe - Spr Page.

        Preparation of camp being done by permanent rear party, and re-equipping of personnel carried out.  OC to CRE conference 1500 hours.

       

[Signed J.N. Chivers] Major RE

5 Oct 44

APO. England.

 

 

Appendix E

261 Fd. Pk. Coy. RE (Airborne)

 

        29 Sept 44 - Operational Airborne party and advanced party under command Maj J.N. Chivers left for England by air.  Remainder of unit 2 officers & 59 OR + 13 OR 9 Fd Coy RE + 2 OR HQRE formed sea party complete with all remaining transport under command Capt W.T. Holgate RE.

        30 Sept 44 - Unit still accommodated in St Martins Barracks Louvain.  Under 2 hrs notice to move to Normandy.

        1 Oct 44 - Unit at Louvain.  Warning order issued for unit to move to Ostend area.

        2 Oct 44 - Unit move to Le Haan near Ostend via Bruges.  Move completed in 9 hrs and unit accommodated in Grand Hotel Le Haan.

        3 Oct 44 - Unit warned no move for 24 hrs.

        4 Oct 44 - Unit warned no move for 24 hrs but this was cancelled in view of extra LST being allocated & unit eventually moved to Ostend docks at 2230 hrs.

        5 Oct 44 - All transport & personnel loaded on to LST by 0130 hrs.  LST sailed at 1500 hrs for Tilbury.  Rough channel crossing.

        6 Oct 44 - Unit arrived at Tilbury 1200 hrs but unloading was not commenced until 1900 hrs owing to lack of room in dock.  Unloading completed by 2000 hrs & unit moved to transit camp ready for the night.

        7 Oct 44 - Unit left transit camp Tilbury area at 1000 hrs by road for Mareham-Le-Fen via Cambridge and arrived at destination at 1645 hrs.

 

[Signed W.T. Holgate] Capt. RE

8 Oct 44

APO. England.