National Archives catalogue number WO 170/1602.
C of E
Church of England
Light Machine Gun
Landing Ship Tank
Nothing to Report
Royal Army Service Corps
Support / Supply Point
Month and year : August 1944
Commanding Officer : C.W. Mason Capt RE for OC
1st August 1944
Further intensive training kept troops fully employed. A, B and C Tps carried out tp exercises; these consisted of moving across country, mining roads etc. They also experimented with the loads which each man carried. C Tp had found that five Mk IV mines were rather an overload and the Everest carriers buckled. B Tp used the following methods - 8 mines in kitbag carried by two men; 3 mines and small pack; 3 Mines and small pack contents in large pack. All of these proved satisfactory. Difficulty had also been met in digging in mines on hard roads; entrenching tools were of little use, picks frequently bent and cold chisels did not last long. B Tp, therefore, used explosive - ¼ lb PHE tamped. A ½ lb untamped proved highly satisfactory.
2nd August 1944
Ex CUMBERSOME was a further Bde exercise. Again the following were practiced - forming up into tactical gps; moving to objective; layout of Bde HQ at objective.
3rd August 1944
The morning was spent in preparations for Ex THISTLEDOWN. The objects of this exercise were - to "tie up" admin arrangements; to practice move to airfields and organisation at airfields; reorganisation on the ground. Tps moved to airfields during afternoon and slept on airfield.
4th August 1944
0500 - Planes took off, but there was considerable ground mist and it was decided not to drop tps.
0600 - Planes therefore returned and landed.
0700 - Lt Walker returning from Mountain Warfare School was involved in an accident and admitted to hospital.
5th August 1944
The day was spent on the ranges. The standard had not been high but each day at the ranges improved this and progress was maintained.
6th August 1944
Lt Burgess returned from hospital. A and C Tps spent half-days on the Field Firing range. B Tp carried out works chief of which were the erection and wiring off of the "Ops Tent" and the loading of operational stores onto RASC trucks.
7th August 1944
Lt Burgess worked on layout of the Ops Room and prepared sandtable model and aerial photographs. A Court Martial was held in the camp to try two members of the Squadron. The following officers took part:- Lt Cruikshank, Member of the Court; Capt Shaw, Defending Officer; Capt Simpson, Prosecuting Officer.
8th August 1944
A Church of England service was held in ROME for personnel of the Brigade. Lts Atkins and Holtam went to NAPLES to take part in a further Court Martial - this was postponed and they returned. Tp Comds were briefed at Bde HQ. The operation, a part of the invasion of the South of France, was known as BIGOT DRAGOON. The American VII Army was landing between TOULON and CANNES. The Bde formed part of the Airborne Task Force.
9th August 1944
The object was to block routes leading to the coast and the Bde was to drop in the area LA MOTTE - LE MUYS, about 16 kilometres inland from the Gulf of Frejus, 35 kilometres WEST of CANNES. A defensive posn was to be taken up on the high ground SOUTH of LE MUYS, and LE MUYS and LA MOTTE were to be taken later. The Sqn had to form rd blocks and prepare demolitions. The American 36 Div was expected to pass through on the evening of D-day. A sea party was later to join up so that the Bde could fight as a Light Brigade.
1800 - The sea party was under 6 hours notice to move. This consisted of Lt Legg and 24 ORs, cooks, office staff, storemen and rfts. The move was to be disguised - there was no indication of the formation.
10th August 1944
0730 - The sea party moved off and arrived at the staging area some miles NORTH of NAPLES. Those taking part in the operation continued preparation - all officers were briefed and time was taken studying air photographs.
11th August 1944
Further final preparations were made - mew drew kit; Bde HQ Gp practiced DZ drill; containers were packed and some despatched. All tps confined to camp; the men produced impromptu concert. (The sea party learned that there would be no hasty embarkation; shipping space was difficult to obtain and the number of vehs allowed on the D10 convoy was small:- the "jeep" on Ship 171, HMS EMPIRE GRANGE; the water truck on Ship 179 THE MARSHAL ELIOT and one 3-tonner and personnel on LST 10-D-15. No dates for move to Transit Camp and embarkation were given.)
12th August 1944
All men were briefed.
13th August 1944
Briefing of tps continued. Camp generally cleared up. All wireless and intelligence stores handed in to Sqn Stores. Morphia capsules issued at 1000 hrs. Talk by Brigadier to all officers and men at 0930 hrs. Issue of maps and photos to officers and NCOs. All tps had full kit and equipment inspection in evening. Church Service in morning and M.O. talk at 1030 hrs. Briefing room packed up at 1900 hrs. Guard still kept on to safeguard odd maps and the sandtable. Security in the Sqn is good. Men's spirits are high and confidence great.
15th August 1944
Take-off 0150 hrs. Good steady flight. No enemy encountered over sea or coast. Dropped through clouds at 0500 hrs. Reached RV with all HQ sappers at 0615 hrs. Civil population report no enemy in LA MOTTE but few in LE MUYS. Sqn HQ set up in deep ditch watching the SOUTH flank.
0715 - Opened up wireless set for half-hour listening watch. No sign of any tps. Set and phones etc OK. All HQ kit complete.
0720 - Message from Capt Shaw reporting 8 men with him and 8 men with Lt Atkins plus 9 mines. Temporary road block on X-rds ordered by 4 Bn.
0740 - C Tp re-grouping. Spr Gauld casualty and Spr Scott wounded on DZ. Spr Pass slightly wounded and returning to Sqn HQ. C Tp almost complete.
0800 - Lt Atkins reported LZ clear of mines but many strong poles placed as glider obstacles.
0805 - Lts Atkins and Cruikshank reported to Sqn HQ.
0930 - Lt Cruikshank reported following stores - 4 explosive containers, 1 mines containers, 1 trolley and tools. The T.T. and E.X. containers taken by C Tp.
0950 - A Tp reported complete and proceeding to 6 Bn, having landed in wrong valley. Capt McHarg reported C Tp bridge to contain chambers in readiness for demolition. C Tp preparing to place rd block and preparing bridge for demolition as first arranged. RE stores dump SOUTH of LA MITEN.
1050 - Capt Shaw reported to Sqn Office giving sitrep at 1030 hrs. Cpl Norton and 2 sappers missing. 1 rifle missing and a few small kits. 8 sappers ran over LZ and found free of mines. Rd block at X-rds consists of two single rows across rd to LE MUYS and rd to LA MOTTE. Total 9 mines. 25 mines are spare and available. Tp HQ est at 6 Bn RV. Casualties minor. Hacksaws used by Tp to cut open a glider crashed in the vines.
1230 - Message sent to all Tps giving location of stores dump and contents. 700 lbs PHE and accessories, 24 mines, 1 set tools. Message sent in AB & SS Codex. Sqn HQ moved for second time in 2 hrs nearer Bde HQ and Sigs Office.
1250 - Lt Cruikshank established stores dump at Bde HQ.
1030 - Gliders landed. Good landing but few broke up owing to nature of vines and growth. Few casualties.
1600 - Capt Shaw reported to Sqn HQ giving details of bridge recce and rd blocks. LES SERRIES was captured by 4 Bn and a recce was carried out by Capt Shaw on the road-over-river bridge from a nearby house. Sniping and enemy covering sections prevented a detailed recce of the bridge. Mines were laid in the village between two houses and round the corner to the bridge. 20 American mines, which had crashed from the American landing, were used. These were flat and exactly suitable for the job of road mining. The lost rifle belonged to Spr Bignell of B Tp. The road from X-rds to LA MOTTE was open at midday due to the capture of CLASTRON by 6 Bn. Mines are lifted and replaced as MT used the road. The 4 Bn laid loose mines on the bridge at LES SERRIES, after attacking town. Lt Holtam produced a 4-seater saloon car from a French driver who had been driving for the Germans before they evacuated the town to the NORTH of the Bde area. Car included German rations and equipment. Mines laid across road NORTH of LZ by Lt Holtam. Field consists of 19 mines in 3 rows. Mines are dug in and level with surface. Capt Simpson reported bridge mined in 5 Bn area. Bridge consisted of 2 arches, centre arch much larger than expected. German chamber found in centre pier 2' 6" diameter and 10' deep. Similar chamber in far abutment. No German explosives found. 8' overall width. Masonry bridge. Dry gap. No diversion except for tanks but still difficult.
1730 - American glider tps followed landing of Horsa craft. These latter brought guns and mines in panniers. All gliders had a rough landing, few smashed up completely. Waco craft landed fairly well but few serious crashes due to trees and poles.
1716 - C Tp concentrated Sqn HQ.
1730 - 68 Set and two operators to rd block in 5 Bn area NORTH of LZ, for purpose of keeping contact with Bde HQ.
2000 - Stand-to. Supper at 2100 hrs.
16th August 1944
0200 to 0300 - American guns in area opened up on LE MUYS. No return of fire.
0500 - Stand-to. Little small arms and LMG fire in direction of LE MUYS and LES SERRIES.
0750 - Breakfast. All men washed and shaved.
0845 - Spr Green relieved Spr Ward on 68 Set.
0930 - Re-supply drop successful. Mines, compo and explosives recovered from LZ and DZ by Lt Cruikshank.
1300 - CO reported having found a large RE dump, saws, screws, nails, tool chests etc in CLASTRON. MT now our main difficulty. Have petrol truck but no petrol.
1330 - Report from Capt McHarg giving conditions of his area. Bridge prepared for demolition. Road SOUTH of bridge mined between 2 houses. Rd junction WEST of LA MOTTE mined and rd block placed further round bend towards TRANS. Lt Thomas finished rd block on rd leading into hills SOUTH of LA MOTTE. Total mines 20. Hours 5.
1400 - Capt Shaw reported to Sqn Office giving information on rd block and condition in LES SERRIES. Mines now lifted but ready to place if American attack on LE MUYS should fail. During morning experiment by 2 American short-wave radio sets. Found to be OK. Squadron intend using same between A Tp and HQ. 68 Set, our only radio, still at 5 Bn and in contact with Bde HQ.
1600 - Capt Shaw reported following stores in factory area. Round poles 3" to 6", 10-15' long. Planking 6" x 1½" to 2 ". Boarding for boxes. Coil of wire approx 50. In sawmills machinery OK, but power units burnt out. Electric band saw. Quantity of sleepers near railway. Cement bags. Bridge EAST of town prepared for demolitions by Germans.
1700 - American radio set given to A Tp. This set was found with a similar set on the DZ. Strength about 2 at first, but after adjustments, strength 5 was obtained.
1800 - Our only car was put out of action by the sump bursting.
2030 - Stand-to.
2130 - Stand-down.
2200 - Lt Atkins reported to Sqn Office. Spr Skidmore returned to Sqn after marching from near DRAGUIGNAN, where he was dropped. The two other sappers were seen to land OK but nothing seen since. Frequency and times fixed for radio link with A Tp as follows:- 23 frequency, times 0600, 0900, 1200, 1600, 1800, 2100. Call sign FLOTSAM & JETSAM. AB.1.
17th August 1944
0500 - Stand-to. No incidents.
0600 - Stand-down. Radio contact with A Tp NTR.
1100 - Re-supply dropped. Squadron responsible for collection of stores and rations.
1200 - Capt Shaw and Lt Atkins reported to Sqn HQ.
1430 - 68 Set and all sappers on rd block NORTH of LZ called into Sqn HQ. All Tps to consolidate at new HQ, ½ mile away from present location, near the ration point and air strip (op).
1800 - Sqn consolidated near Sp and airstrip in centre of DZ area. Bde HQ at CLASTRON. Sqn HQ map ref 422423. 68 Set and 2 operators not yet reported in.
2130 - Sitrep sent to BM and Bde IO.
18th August 1944
0600 - Reveille. Tp parade at 0800 hrs. Kit check and deficiencies sent in to Sqn HQ.
0900 - OC held orders for Tp Comds. Work to be done as follows. Men to clean up and wash up shirts, etc. All tools to be stored at Sqn HQ. Explosives and mines to be collected and stored near road under cover. All troughs and anchorages from Horsa gliders to be salvaged and sent to Ord Offr. No man allowed out of area except on duty.
1000 - IO visited Bde HQ for sitrep etc.
1300 - Capt McHarg reported stores dump at 419454. Wood hut sections, roofs and walls. Concrete mixer. Generator. 1,200' of 1½ pipe, 1000' of 2" pipe, 500' of ¾" pipe, sockets, bends, T's and elbows, 30-line telephone exchange, forge and anvil, 200 angle-iron pickets, paint, petrol, diesel oil, reinforcement bars, nails. Telephone installed to Bde HQ.
2030 - OCs orders. Capt McHarg to recce Callas rd and the area for water. Current password ANNABELLA.
19th August 1944
0230 - Message received over phone. Warning Order re 3 hrs notice to move from 1000 hrs. Move by march distance approx 15 miles NORTH. Task defence posns. MT will be provided for tools and stores.
0235 - Message received re rations. Sqn to draw ½ rations between 0800 hrs and 1000 hrs. Sigs opened up on 68 Set at each clock hour.
0600 - Reveille. Breakfast at 0700 hrs. Parade at 0800 hrs.
0900 - Capt McHarg proceeded to CALLAS on water recce in new Bde area. Tps resting and cleaning up and working on captured tpt.
1300 - Capt McHarg returned to camp. Little water could be found between present location and CALLAS but reports give water about 5 kilometres further on to the NORTH.
1700 - IO drew maps of new Bde area from Bde IO.
1745 - Phone message from OC warning Capt McHarg and Lt Atkins to be packed ready to move by 1815 hrs with 24 hours rations. Capt Mason to proceed to Bde HQ for conference at 1800 hrs.
1815 - Capt McHarg and Lt Atkins moved off in jeep with OC to recce new area. Warning Order from Bde to all units to be prepared to move from 1900 hrs. ½ rations to be drawn from Sup P at 1800 hrs. Tp Comds received no orders as to movement.
1915 - Capt Mason returned to Sqn HQ informing Tp Comds that no move was to be made by this unit. Rations drawn at 1930 hrs.
2000 - Telephone closed down. Bde HQ moved to new area near coast. 68 Set to keep on calling at clock hours but if fading occurs due to Bde control set moving out of range, Sqn set will close.
20th August 1944
0500 - OC departed from Sqn HQ, destination unknown.
0800 - Parade. Men given salvage jobs. Whereabouts of OC and recce officer unknown by Sqn HQ. Contact on 68 Set with Bde HQ faded out during night. No communication other than runner available.
1300 - OC returned and held orders. Tp to move by march route leaving camp at 2000 hrs. Approx 4 hours march to new location NE of FREJUS.
1600 - French 3-tonner arrived at camp and HQ loaded stores. IO set up office at Belle Vue 572371. Truck returned for more stores.
1900 - Opened communication with Bde HQ on 68 Set. Sent location of Sqn HQ by Codex. Information obtained from civilians re water supply. "Canale de la Siagnola". Length 40 kilometres. Begins at 3 springs at YOUS. Two conduits RC in galleries. Follows River Reyran to Pont du Doc where there is a distribution chamber and 3 pipes lead off:- 1 to S. Raphael 25 L per second. 2 to Frejus 13 L per second. 3 to Puquet 1½ L per second. MR. Pont du Duc 582394.
21st August 1944
0130 - Tp arrived at new location by march.
0630 - Reveille.
0845 - Breakfast. C-type rations had to be opened and dixies found for Sqn cooking. Section cooking more popular and practical at this stage.
0930 - Radio communications faded but contact kept with 4 and 5 Para Bns, and at 1000 hrs, Bde Ord Dump.
1100 - Telephone cable alongside rd 300 yds from camp was tapped and found to be a line from Bde to Div. Telephone communication established until Bde closed at 1230 hrs. Communication still kept with 5 Bn.
1500 - Set closed down.
1900 - OCs conference at Bde HQ.
22nd August 1944
0800 - Sqn parade and arms inspection.
0830 - Tp Comds conference re occupation of Tps during next 4 days. Telephone communication established between Sqn HQ and Bde HQ. Tps allowed into FREJUS. Half-tp per half-day. Sqn at 3 hrs notice.
0900 - BBC news obtained and posted on situation map. Men take great interest in news and map of Europe. All Tps spent the day in cleaning up, and occupied building camp dining tables etc. Tps were occupied all day and no free periods were allowed.
1130 - "Q" conference for 2 IC at Bde HQ.
23rd August 1944
0800 - Troops received instruction of petrol driven saw by L/Sjt Stewart and German gun by Sjt Guyan. Panniers packed up ready for shipment.
1900 - Kit deficiencies drawn from Ord Dump.
24th August 1944
0800 - Kit issued to Tps.
0930 - C of E church parade at Bde HQ.
2355 - Message from Bde HQ. Warning Order re move. Sqn to be at 1 hr notice from 1030 hrs 25 Aug 44. Panniers to be taken to the port from 0800 hrs onwards.
25th August 1944
0800 - Check parade of Sqn.
0900 - OC at conference at Bde HQ. A percentage of officers allowed into CANNES during day. Not now at 1 hr notice. C Tp free day to FREJUS.
2300 - Telephone from Bde calling OC to immediate conference. Sqn to pack and to be ready to move by 1230.
26th August 1944
0030 - Sqn marched off to RED beach No.2 FREJUS.
0130 - Sqn reached beach and embarked between 0130 and 0230. Lt Cruikshank and sick personnel left behind at camp to bring up panniers and rations.
0300 - All troops aboard "Florence Nightingale", an American Liberty ship.
0830 - Breakfast.
0930 - Baggage party arrived with panniers etc. and off-loaded onto "Florence Nightingale".
27th to 28th August 1944
Sea trip uneventful. Reached port of NAPLES at 1700 hrs. Delay on docks caused the party to spend another night on board.
29th August 1944
Disembarked 1100 hrs. Proceeded to transit camp for meal and then straight on to old location near ROME.
2200 - Reached camp. Troops had tea and unloaded personal kit and rations.
Part II - The Sea Party
14th August 1944
Jeep and water truck moved off to IOWA transit camp.
18th August 1944
3-tonner and personnel moved to TEXAS camp. This proved to be just a large car park with few camping facilities.
20th August 1944
All vehs and personnel returned to original bivouac area. The Bde was returning to Italy and the "sea party" had to run a transit camp for the Bde. It was not known whether the Bde would return en masse or spread over a period of some days. The Sqn sea party had to deal with 1st Glider Pilot Squadron and the Indep Pl as well as its own unit. A recce was made of the area selected for transit camp. It was situated on the NAPLES - CASERTA in the Afrigola area. The sea party, less 2 3-tonners moved there - these returned to ROME.
29th August 1944
Sqn complete arrived 1000 hrs. It was fed, packs and free NAAFI and immediately despatched to ROME.
30th August 1944
Rear Party cleared up area; all tents, which had not been used were taken down and returned to 57 Area Tent Store.
31st August 1944
The party awaited arrival of more Tpt from ROME. This arrived 1130 hrs and the party moved off 1445 hrs. "Blow-outs" had proved common with the new Dodge vehs; the party returning to ROME had two tyres completely wrecked.