National Archives catalogue number WO 171/428.

 

Abbreviation

140703 

2 i/c

52nd L.I.

AA

A/Adj

A/C

ACC

Act

Adj

Adm

ADMS
ADOS

Adv

AFDC

Airldg

AL

Amb

Amn

A/P or A.Per

APO

Appt

APTC

Armd

A/T or A.Tk

Att

Bde

Bks

Bn

Br

BT

Cas

Cdn

Chat

C in C

Cl

Cnf

CO

Comd

Conc

Coy

CRA

CRE

CREME

Ctd

Def

Det

Diam

Div

DMA

DR

DS

DZ

Engr

Eqpt / Equip

Est / Estab

FBE

Fd

FDL

Galls

Gl

GOC

Gp

Grn

HQRE

Hy

i/c

Incl

Indep

Inf

Instr

IO

LAD

LMG

LSI

LST

Lt

Maint

MC

MDS

ME

Mech

MG

Minefd

MR

OC

Offr

Op

OR

Org

Oxf & Bucks
Paratps

Pk

Pl

POL

Posn

Pt

RA

RAMC

RASC

RCS

Rd

RE

Regt

Rly

RV

SA

Sec

Sigs

SP

Spr

Sqn

SS

Tp

Tpt

Tr

UXB

Veh

WE

Wef

Wk

Wkshop

Xrds

Map Reference

Second-in-Command

2nd (52nd Regt of Foot) Ox & Bucks Light Infantry
Anti-Aircraft

Acting Adjutant

Aircraft
Army Catering Corps

Acting

Adjutant

Administration
Assistant Director Medical Services

Assistant Director Ordnance Services

Advanced

Airborne Forces Development Centre

Airlanding

Airlanding

Ambulance

Ammunition

Anti-Personnel

Army Post Office

Appointed

Army Physical Training Corps

Armoured

Anti-Tank
Attached

Brigade

Barracks

Battalion

British / Bridge

Booby-traps

Casualties

Canadian

Chateau

Commander-in-Chief

Class

Conference

Commanding Officer

Command

Concentrated

Company

Commander Royal Artillery

Commander Royal Engineers

Commander Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Continued

Defence

Detachment

Diameter

Division / Divisional

Divisional Maintenance Area

Despatch Rider

Double Single

Drop Zone

Engineer

Equipment

Establish

Folding Boat Equipment

Field

Forward Defended Locality

Gallons

Glider

General Officer Commanding

Group

Garrison

Headquarters Royal Engineers

Heavy

In-Command

Including

Independent

Infantry

Instruction

Intelligence Officer

Light Aid Detachment

Light Machine Gun

Landing Ship Infantry

Landing Ship Tank

Light

Maintenance

Motor Cycle

Main Dressing Station

Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical

Machine Gun

Minefield

Map Reference

Officer Commanding

Officer

Operation / Observation Post (if upper case)

Other Ranks

Organised

2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Paratroops

Park

Platoon
Petrol Oil Lubricants

Position

Point

Royal Artillery

Royal Army Medical Corps

Royal Army Service Corps

Royal Corps of Signals

Road

Royal Engineers

Regiment

Railway

Rendezvous

Small Arms

Section

Signals

Self-Propelled

Sapper

Squadron

Special Service

Troop

Transport

Tractor / Trench

Unexploded Bomb

Vehicle

War Establishment

With-Effect

Work

Workshop

Crossroads

 

Month and year : June 1944

Commanding Officer : Lt-Col. F.H. Lowman, MBE, RE

 

5th June 1944

Place: Benouville

 

249 Detachment attached to Oxf & Bucks landed @ BENOUVILLE BRIDGE.  Bridge taken & examined for explosives.  1 Tank (tracked vehicle) knocked out.  Several enemy troops.  Two casualties wounded.

 

6th June 1944

Place: Benouville

 

0105 - 591 Sqn landed (parachute) several officers & OR's missing.  Capt Semple took charge & proceeded to clear DZ of Anti-airlanding poles.

 

0315 - CRE arrived having been dropped off DZ.

 

0320 - HQRE Glider No.1 landed with remainder of Div HQ.  286 Fd Pk Coy tr section arrived.  Additional personnel 249 Fd Coy arrived.

 

0330 - HQRE Gl No.1 arrived.  Glider No.2 missing.  IO & spr guard also missing.  Total Cas - missing (adj & I.O.) 2 officers & 7 ORs.  Lt Lockey attached from 591 Para Sqn to act as IO.

 

0400 - CRE & acting IO commenced to sort out Phase I Tasks.

 

0420 - Div HQ recced by A/IO.

 

0930 - HQRE settled in Div HQ @ LE BAS DE RANVILLE.

 

0945 - Lt BENCE on water point reconnaissance.

 

1000 - Mining by 591 commenced.

 

1130 - Le Mariquet mine field under way finished due to shortage of mines & loss of containers.

 

1300 - Seaborne force Commandos cross bridge.  1 SS Bde move to N. sector.

 

1400 - Sniping Div HQ.  HQRE moved.

 

1700 - Telephone cable to Paris cut by 249 Fd Coy.

 

2100 - Glider landing mortared & shelled.

 

2200 - Casualties to date HQRE 1 officer 4 ORs with unit.  2 officers & 4 ORs missing.  591 missing 2 officers 11 ORs wounded 1 officer 4 ORs.  3 Para Sqn not known.  249 Fd Coy RE 5 missing.  286 Fd Pk Coy killed 1 officer missing 5 ORs.

 

2300 - 286 Fd Pk Coy Jeep Trailer 100 mines arrived from sea party.

 

2400 - 591 increase minefield @ LE MARIQUET.

 

7th June 1944

Place: Ranville

 

0500 - Minefield complete.

 

0900 - CRE to CRE 3 Br Div.

 

1000 - DMA commenced & 286 i/c RE stores in dump.

 

1200 - Div HQ mortared.  Overhead shell bursts.

 

1500 - Lt Beaumont 3 Sqn arrived - 3 Para Sqn all Br blown.  Engr intelligence of 3 Bde area supplied.  Lt KNOX missing.  Attack on Div front "Stand to".

 

1700 - Attack held.

 

1800 - Lt Bence established water point in canal de CAEN.  Fresh water.

 

1900 - Dump commences (i.e. DMA) rations COMPO.

 

2000 - 1000 mines MK5 A/T from 3 Br Div.

 

2130 - APO & DMA working POL available.  CRE to 3 Sqn.

 

2245 - Water purification trailer located with 17 Fd Coy.

 

2310 - Water point commenced.

 

2320 - Mine field protecting Div HQ reported finished.  Capt Davidson 591 returned.  OC 591 still missing.

 

8th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

1000 - Heavy mortaring.

 

1200 - Heavy mortaring.  CRE to Bridges.

 

1330 - OC 249 arrived.

 

1800 - Det 249 dive bombed on Bridge.  Bridge BENOUVILLE side received direct hit failed to explode.  249 assisted 3 Br Div in construction of Bailey Bridge.

 

1900 - 249 Coy arrived with 286 Fd Pk Coy & Capt Dixon 286 Fd Pk Coy tr Det.

 

2000 - 15 ORs SEABORNE 591 Para Sqn arrived with 4 jeeps 2 trailers one compressor.

 

2100 - Reccy report rendered on new type A/P bomb dropped from A/C on "Devons".

 

2110 - UXB on Le Bas de RANVILLE.

 

2315 - 3 Sqn arrived 5 OR's 3 M/Cs 2 P/Bs.

 

2330 - 3 Sqn 10 OR's 4 Jeeps 2 Trailers 1 compressor.

 

2400 - Above personnel sent to 3 Sqn stopped @ 5 Bde owing to enemy action.

 

9th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0200 - Bombing of Bridge.  249 Fd Coy.  DMA.

 

0900 - Maj Roseveare OC 3 Sqn reported.

 

1130 - Cab to collect Capt Dixon to act adjutant.

 

1200 - 249 heavy casualties due to mortaring.

 

1400 - Shelling mortaring commenced 15.00 finished.

 

1600 - Move of HQRE.  Shelling continued.

 

1500 - Direct hit on HQ no casualties.  249 Fd Coy total 8 casualties.

 

1600 - Shelling continues.

 

2030 - Stand to.  Attack through 'Devons' front.

 

2230 - Attack held.

 

2300 - Minefield (Defensive) to be laid.

 

2345 - 591 commenced minefield @ 24.30.

 

10th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0515 - 591 minefield completed.

 

0630 - 249 Fd Coy who had gone forward to reinforce Devons when attacked previous night returned to HQRE.  HQRE direct shell hit during night no casualties.

 

0700 - Total casualties to date (Div. R.E.) killed 1 offr 4 ORs.  Wounded 2 officers 28.  Missing 5 officers 51 OR's.

 

0900 - CRE visited units.

 

1000 - IO to 3 Br Div obtain supply of stores incl sandbags & to take captured enemy documents.

 

1400 - Visit by CRE 51 Highland Div with reference to move 1 Bde of Division (51st).

 

1500 - 1 Troop of 591 on mine lifting.

 

1600 - Lt Fish wounded by shell fire further casualties to 591.

 

1700 - Sandbags required by "52" Oxford & Bucks L.I.  600 arranged.

 

1800 - Visited 3 Div to obtain 5000 sandbags as [?].

 

2000 - 5000 sandbags arrived @ Dump.

 

11th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

1100 - Visit by IO 51 Div.  Shelling by 12.5cm accurate straddling Div HQ.

 

1200 - Oxford & Bucks issued with 1200 more sandbags.

 

1300 - IO & Adj to reccy Timber yard for possible site for 286 Fd Pk Coy on their arrival.

 

1500 - 1 Section 3 Troop mine lifting discover new mine PANZERABWEHR mine 406 Belg "H".  One fatal casualty due to "S" mine.

 

2000 - CRE to 3 Sqn.  A/Adj to Enemy Dump of mines & explosives.

 

2330 - 591 ordered to take up a defensive position near Le Hom church to relieve a coy of 13 Bn.

 

12th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0600 - 591 in position.

 

0900 - CRE visiting units & dumps.

 

1100 - Cratered roads being filled by 591 with Bulldozer.

 

1200 - A/IO & CRE to Dump (Enemy) @ HEROUVILLETTE quantity of enemy B.Ts & mining stores.  Mortar Fire in vicinity.  Samples of BTs collected.

 

1400 - 591 mine clearance.

 

1600 - Conference of unit officers.  3 Sqn report that two craters (offensive) were blown by them @ 142748 to cover BREVILLE front.

 

2000 - Wire & mines sent urgently to 12 Para Bn for their attack on BREVILLE.

 

13th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0200 - 249 Fd Coy to HEROUVILLETTE under 3rd Bde to act as infantry.

 

0400 - A/P Bombing by enemy A/C.

 

0900 - CRE to 249 Fd Coy.

 

1000 - CRE discovered a disused German HQ a push-pull special BT mechanism found.

 

1200 - Shelling & mortaring HQRE & Div.

 

1400 - CRE to units.  3 Para Sqn.

 

1700 - Shelling & mortaring.

 

2000 - Maj Waters 286 Fd Pk Coy reported with seaborne element of his Coy HQ.

 

14th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0900 - CREs move of units & called in 3 Para Sqn.

 

1400 - 249 remained @ HEROUVILLETTE but sapper work continues during day.

 

1600 - IO to Corps to obtain details of airfield strips, also adv. portion of Fd Pk Coy Workshops (seaborne) reported.

 

1700 - New type of mine (      ).

 

15th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0900 - 286 Fd Pk Coy commenced moving from DMA to Quarry (i.e. new location).

 

1400 - CRE & IO to visit minefield @ 4. S.S. & area.

 

1600 - CRE & IO to 286.  Full ration cigarettes soap from Gen. Montgomery.

 

1700 - CRE to 3 Para Sqn.

 

16th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0430 - Attack on 3 Para Bde front CRE notified.  249 Field Coy to remain out @ HEROUVILLETTE.

 

0900 - 591 called in from road work (i.e. clearance) to work on digging in of TANKS of Armd Bde.

 

1000 - IO hit by mortar on way to 3 Bde.

 

1330 - UX Shell 88mm to be displayed.

 

1400 - Shell destroyed in situ by 3 Sqn.

 

1500 -  Report by 286 Fd Pk Coy that all workshops were destroyed (less welding trailer and circular saw trailer: 1 cas) by direct hit on "JUMBO" when disembarking on Beach head on 14 June.

 

1700 - CRE to 1 SS & Rd Reccy.

 

1800 - Completion of "digging in" of Div HQ, ADMS & MDS.

 

17th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

1400 - IO to 1 Corps to clear details of mines to hand over to Div entering area.

 

1700 - Lt Wharton killed "S" mine.  Lt Little badly injured by same mine.

 

1800 - L/Col Lowman to conference on advancement of Div. HQ.

 

2000 - 51st Div enquiring about Minefields in our area.

 

18th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0900 - Demand by 1 Corps to move 286 from quarry to commence blasting.  Adj to 1 Corps.

 

1000 - CRE on reccy for change of Div HQ.  AMFREVILLE & LE MESNIL reccied.

 

1430 - R. Group for reccy of new Div.

 

1700 - Visited by IO 154 Bde. 51st Div.

 

1830 - Work commenced by 3 Para & 249 Fd Coy on Dugouts.

 

19th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0200 - Movement of Div HQ cancelled.

 

0900 - CRE to conference of battle, visits to all Bde commanders to coordinate a defensive line (Engineer).

 

1100 - To 6 Airlanding Bde.

 

1330 - To 1. SS. Bde.  SORE to obtain Minefd information & details new grenades etc.

 

1500 - C.E. 1 Corps visits this HQ.

 

1700 - Installation of electric lighting set. Div HQ.

 

1900 - CRE to La DELIVERANDE.

 

20th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0900 - CRE to 5 Bde to co-ordinate defences.

 

1000 - IO to cnf. @ 1 Corps.

 

1100 - 591 Road Clearance.  249 work @ Div HQ.

 

1500 - Shelling 286 Fd Pk.  2 killed 1 wounded.  10 LAD 3 wounded.

 

1800 - Coy commanders conference.  Promotion of Capt Davidson to Major.  Lt Beaumont to Capt and with Lt Lockey to 591 Para Sqn.  Lt Shaw became I.O.

 

21st June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

1100 - 2 Tps 591 Para Sqn R.E. up in to the line with 5 Bde, 1 Tp 591 part of 3 Sqn and most of 249 Fd Coy constructing dug-outs shelters etc for Div. and Bde Staff and 225 Para Fd. Amb.  Rest of 3 Sqn on road maintenance.

 

1500 - C.R.E. to conference at 1 Corps.

 

22nd June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

1000 - Shrapnel mine laying by Tp 3 Para Sqn.  One man killed and one man injured during this.  Unknown whether due to carelessness or accident.  Total casualties in Div R.E. including killed wounded and missing to date are fifteen officers and one hundred and thirty men.

 

1900 - Type of earthen ware pot made in Le Mesnil brickworks and said to be a mine discovered.  Information so far very vague.

 

23rd June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

591 Para Sqn in support of 5 Para Bde at LE MESNIL, and doing defence works.  1 Tp of 591 still constructing M.D.S. for 225 Para Fd Amb.  3 Para Sqn resting except for 1 Tp on road maintenance.  249 Fd Coy creating a water point at AMFREVILLE and 1 Tp resting.  286 Fd Park have erected a shower bath for use within the Div.

 

1500 - I.O. visited Corps to take earthenware pot, thought to be a waterproof case for a Tellermine for investigation.  They have been made in the brickworks at LE MESNIL and the man who made them only knew they were for mines but not what sort.  Three hundred thousand had been ordered of which he had only made two thousand, mostly sabotaged

 

24th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0900 - Dugout unexploded 15cm shell from in front of Div. H.Q.  About 50% of the shells which came from enemy battery last night appeared to be unexploded.  Not known yet whether they are delay action or duds.  Unit doing same jobs as on 23 June.  249 Fd Coy constructing water point outside Div. H.Q.

 

1330 - Ordered to use Div. R.E. to dig in Div. H.Q. Command Post proof against 15cm shells.  Major Rutherford of 249 Fd Coy put in charge of project.

 

25th June 1944

Place: Bas de Ranville

 

0930 - C.R.E. went on recce for new Div. H.Q. site 120759 in quarries.  Whole Div R.E. employed on job of making road diversion from 133726 to 138736.

 

Place: Ecarde

 

1600 - Div. H.Q. moved to new site.  Living in tents and slit trenches until shelters are put up.

 

26th June 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

249 Fd Coy changed location to 116755.

 

1400 - 1 Sec of 3 Para burying cows by blowing craters, pushing cows in and filling up.

 

1800 - 2 Tps of 591 Para Sqn move to new location 118757.  Sqn H.Q. stays where it is.  [Backacter?] been in use all day on digging H.Q. in.  All Div R.E. less 1 Tp 3 Sqn at work on this job still.  Small detachment 3 Sqn fortifying house beyond LE MESNIL for Canadian Para. Bn.  Lt KNOX 3 Para Sqn previously thought to be missing discovered to have been wounded on the DZ and evacuated to U.K.  Bridges over Dives River still unrepaired except for bridge at TROARN which is part repaired.  PONT DE VARAVILLE 218761 found to be blown with glider lying beside it.  Unknown who blew it or to whom glider belonged.

 

27th June 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

All units still employed on the same jobs.  Weather very showery and unsettled.

 

1900 - Concert held in La Deliverande to which some of Div R.E. went.  Thought to be the first since Div landed.

 

28th June 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

All units still employed on the same jobs.

 

1100 - C.E. from 1 Corps came to see C.R.E. and discussed roads.

 

1200 - C.R.E. and I.O. went to BAYEUX to deliver quantity of captured enemy igniters to 2nd Army mine museum and to see exhibition there.

 

2000 - Capt. Juckes 3 Para Sqn R.E. killed by mortar bomb at BREVILLE.  Discovered that PONT DE VARAVILLE 218761 has been rebuilt to allow one way traffic.  Load class unknown.

 

29th June 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

All units still on same jobs except for one troop of 3 Para Sqn R.E. engaged in putting two captured German 50mm guns in the second floor of a house in LE MESNIL.  This was being done in order to be able to shoot up some German S.P. guns when they approached as they were not visible from ground level.

 

1700 - C.E. came over.  Expert on basing for water came over to [appraise?] possibility of setting up permanent water point from a deep well.

 

2000 - H.Q.R.E. moved into new shelter, work being nearly finished on it.

 

30th June 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

Units still on same jobs.

 

1000 - Adjt and I.O. went to SALLENELLES and saw first Schü mine found in this area just previous to arrival.  Search was going on for more.  In view of the fact that so many appeared to be being manufactured in this area it is peculiar they have not been found before.

 

1800 - CRE paid visit to LE MESNIL to see work proceeding on fortifying house 143731 and putting up 50 m.m. gun on second floor.  Work is proceeding within 100 yds of the enemy and although the front is quiet at the moment it appears easy for an enemy S.P. to come up pretty close and beat it up.  Also went to LE MESNIL brickworks to investigate view obtainable from top of chimney in direction of R. DIVES.  Not very promising.  C.R.E. did water point recce during day for well boring.  LE PLEIN approx to be the best place from the point of view of transport.

 

 

Month and year : July 1944

Commanding Officer : Lt-Col. F.H. Lowman, MBE, RE

 

1st July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

1030 - C.E. came over to discuss roads and traffic routes in Div. area.  Conference attended by Adjt., C.R.E. 51 Div, C.R.E. 1 Corps Tps & R.E.

 

1100 - C.R.E. attended G.O.C. conference of all Commanders.

 

1400 - C.R.E. and I.O. went to 1 and 4 S.S. Bdes to discuss mine fields.  Units still employed on same jobs, finishing off the Div H.Q. shelters.  Troop of 3 Para Sqn putting up 50 m.m. gun on second floor of house had job washed out owing to enemy shells coming straight through position in which gunners to be.  This Troop went back on to road making.

 

2nd July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

0730 - Holy Communion Church service held at Div. H.Q.

 

1100 - Coy. Comds. conference.  Reinforcement officers and work in the next few days discussed.

 

1400 - C.R.E. and I.O. went out to 3 Para Bde.  12th DEVONS and OX and BUCKS to discuss mining and booby traps and to find the positions of the forward wiring and trip flare.  Job of digging in Div. H.Q. finished.  Coys resting to-day.  It was decided to start a 6 Airborne Div Mines school and museum in 286 Fd Pk quarry.  Idea to train sappers and pioneer pls of infantry bns in new types of enemy mines.

 

3rd July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

1 Tp 591 making shelters for A.D.O.S. in side of hill, other 2 Tps resting.  3 Sqn building culverts and in support 3 Para Bde with 1 Tp.  249 Fd Coy are on roads.  Lt Holloway did recce of roads in area of Div H.Q. and Bde stores.

 

4th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

3 Para Sqn employed on culverting and road making, 591 Para Sqn on making shelters for A.D.O.S. and C.R.E.M.E. except for one Tp in support of 5 Para Bde, who changed over with 3 Para Bde to-day.  249 employed on making road diversions for trucks and existing road maintenance.

 

1500 -  C.E. 2nd Army came round on a visit.

 

5th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

All Div R.E. employed on same jobs.  The troop of 591 Para Sqn in the line changed with another one which started improving roads with a bulldozer.  One Tp of 3 Para Sqn employed maintaining roads to and from Div H.Q. which in recent rains have got into a terrible state.

 

1400 - C.R.E. went to visit 5 Para Bde. and look round BREVILLE for Engineer store.  Found some tools of varying sorts and a carpenters bench.  Adjt went to Army and on to Reinforcement Holding Unit where he interviewed men to come to the Div R.E. as temporary reinforcements.  Appear to be rather poor type.

 

6th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

591 Para Sqn had one tp in the line [?].  3 Para Sqn had 1 Tp making shelter for C.R.E.M.E. and 2 Tps on culverting and road work.  249 Fd Coy was employed on road work.

 

1400 - One camouflage officer Capt. Sykes R.E. attached to Div. H.Q. arrived to live with H.Q.R.E.

 

1800 - 4 officers and 100 new reinforcements arrived.  They are posted to the Div R.E. only for the period of operations.

 

7th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

1030 - C.E. 1 Corps came on a visit to Div. R.E...

 

1115 - ...after visiting H.Q.R.E. he was taken to 3 Para Sqn and...

 

1200 - ...then onto 286 Fd. Pk. Coy.

 

1300 - He lunched with 1 S.S. Bde in AMFREVILLE and was shown round some of the Commando's F.D.Ls.  In the afternoon he visited 4 S.S. Bde and LE MESNIL where 1 Tp of 591 Para Sqn was in support of 5 Para Bde

 

1600 - Paid visit to 591 Para Sqn R.E. and 249 Fd Coy.

 

1700 - C.E. left.  Capt. Harbord Tp Comd of 1 Tp 591 Para Sqn R.E. was wounded by mortar fire at LE MESNIL to-day.  Fortunately not seriously.

 

2200 - Watched raid on CAEN by 460 Lancasters and Halifaxes.  Most impressive sight.

 

8th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

Lt. Baillie transferred from 3 Para Sqn to 591 Para Sqn to take over 1 Tp.  Div R.E. on same jobs as yesterday.

 

9th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

Div R.E. on same jobs to-day except for a troop of 591 Para Sqn who were putting up signposts.

 

1500 - Adjt and I.O. went to 3 British Div and 59 Div to find out the state of the battle for CAEN.  Battle appeared to be going well.

 

1800 - C.R.E. and I.O. went on water point recce for well boring as boring section is ready to start to-morrow.  Point decided on 124746.

 

10th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

Div R.E. doing same jobs.

 

1600 - Well boring section turned up and settled themselves down.  LE MESNIL heavily shelled in reprisal for raid by 7th Bn.  One casualty due to shellshock.  Raid by 7th Bn carried out with two pls accompanied by 1 N.C.O. and 3 Sappers.  They secured information with regard to placing of Booby Traps in the area.

 

11th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

Well boring section started work.

 

1400 - C.R.E. and I.O. visited beach defences at OUISTREHAM to see if there was anything of use there for inclusion in our own defensive positions.

 

12th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

1000 - I.O. went with C.R.A. to OUISTREHAM to see if proposed site for Regiment of Hy. A.A. guns to be used in a ground role was clear of mines.  Part of it was thought not to be so...

 

1400 - ...two troops of 3 Para Sqn were put on to clearing it.  Rest of 3 Para Sqn and 249 Fd Coy are now carrying out a training programme.  591 Para Sqn had one Tp in support of 5 Para Bde and two troops on road maintenance and building.

 

1800 - Well boring section have now got a 12" bore down 30 ft and appear to have got through the clay.

 

13th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

All Div R.E. doing same as yesterday.  The Tp of 591 Para Sqn R.E. in support of 5 Para Bde were putting up an m.g. post in the front line when L/Sgt Foster was shot in the leg by a sniper.  Very slight wound luckily.  R.E. [Mine?] museum started being open to R.E. units.

 

14th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

Div R.E. employed on same jobs as before.

 

1400 - C.R.E. went to Corps.

 

1800 - C.R.E. carried out for new roads with C.R.E. 1 Corps Tps R.E.

 

15th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

2 Tps of 3 Para Sqn were put onto repairing 6 Airlanding Bde HQ shelters.  1 Tp on training.  249 Fd Coy on making new roads & tank tracks in Div Area.  591 Para Sqn on road maintenance and building 5 Para Bde Command Post.  Announced to-day that Maj. Roseveare O.C. 3 Para Sqn had been awarded the D.S.O. and Capt Semple 2 i/c 591 Para Sqn the M.C.  Well borers down to soft, not struck sufficient quantity of water yet.

 

16th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

Div. R.E. were employed on same jobs to-day as yesterday.

 

1200 - C. in C. 21 Army Gp came and held an investiture at which Major Roseveare and Capt. Semple were decorated.  The C. in C. also spoke to all C.O's.

 

1830 - C.E. 1 Corps came to see about water supply and how the well boring was getting on.  They are down 120 ft but only getting 800 galls/hr.

 

17th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

Div R.E. employed on same jobs as yesterday.  Well-boring section got down to 155 ft with no sign of any plentiful supply of water.

 

1600 - 3 Para Sqn started to construct four shelters for A.D.M.S. by the brs. over the R. ORNE.

 

18th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

0545 - Operation GOODWOOD started with 5000 tons of bombs being dropped in 40 mins by eleven hundred Lancasters and Halifaxes.  C.R.E. and I.O. went and watched a most impressive sight.  591 Para Sqn employed on enlarging water point at RANVILLE.  249 Fd Coy. employed on road and track maintenance for Op. GOODWOOD.

 

2230 - C.E. rang up to congratulate Div R.E. on effort put up previous to the operation in getting tracks and signposts ready.

 

19th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

0001 - Bombs dropped in vicinity of Div H.Q.  10 kg A Pers bombs.  One dropped on top of G(Ops) shelter and had no effect, one on Sigs blast wall necessitated small amount of repair work by 591 Para Sqn.  3 Para Sqn has three casualties in this attack.

 

0830 - C.R.E. went on road recce to see if all roads were still clear.

 

1400 - C.R.E. went on further road recce as tracks seemed to be going down wheeled routes.

 

20th July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

249 Fd Coy still on road maintenance and 591 still constructing water point.  Yesterday the issues went up from 16000 galls daily to 38000 galls in the day.  It seemingly had no effect on the well.  3 Para Sqn was put on to the job of digging in 3 Para Bde H.Q. in their new positions up at LE MESNIL.

 

1330 - C.R.E. and I.O. went to COLOMBELLES shipbuilding yards area 0771 on Engineer Stores Recce.  286 Fd Pk Coy sent down some 3 tonners to collect [?] etc.

 

1600 - We had a torrential downpour of rain which went on for some time and made all track and wheeled routes into an absolute mire.  It depends on weather and quantity of traffic as to whether they will be usable at all to-morrow.

 

21st July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

Sqns employed on same jobs as yesterday.  Well boring section reached 230 ft and had yet [?] reasonable supply of water.

 

1400 -  C.R.E. went of tour of COLOMBELLE to look at demolitions there and across R. ORNE.

 

22nd July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

Div. R.E. doing same jobs as yesterday.  Water point in RANVILLE issued 40,000 galls yesterday.  New well boring section arrived to bore down an adjacent site to first one to a depth of 40 ft to get a temporary supply of about 800 galls/hour while the other one continued boring.  First one now down to 260 ft and no supply met.  Weather looked like clearing up this evening.  The tank tracks are now in a terrible state after all the recent rain.

 

23rd July 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

591 Para Sqn on repairing 6 Airldg Bde shelters and maintaining RANVILLE water point which achieved 34,800 gallons yesterday.  249 Fd Coy still on Road maintenance.  3 Para Sqn finishing off 3 Para Bde shelters.  Well borers down to 285 and 12 ft. respectively.

 

24th July 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para Sqn continued with additional work on 3 Para Bde H.Q. shelters - 249 Fd. Coy. carried out Route maintenance in Div Area.  286 Fd. Pk. Coy as usual.  591 Para. Sqn. R.E. extension of shelters and training.  C.R.E. Lt. Col. F.H. LOWMAN R.E. wounded.  I.O.R.E. Lt. L.P. SHAND R.E. killed.  Major J.H. WATERS R.E. takes over Comd of 6 Airborne. Div. R.E.

 

25th July 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3. Para. Sqn. started approaches to type B Waterpoint AMFREVILLE 126747.  249 Fd Coy carried out route maintenance in Div. Area.  591 Para. Sqn. training.  8 Well Boring Sec.  8" Tube in No.1 bore down to 300'.  No.2 bore down to 48' with no water as yet.

 

26th July 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3. Para. Sqn. completed 3 Para. Bde. wk, and continued construction of approach Rd to Type B Water Point.  249 Fd Coy carried out route maintenance.  591 Para Sqn on training.

 

27th July 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para Sqn R.E. Bomb disposal in 3 Para Bde area and construction of [turn outs?] on water point AMFREVILLE.  249 Fd. Coy. Rd maintenance in Div Area.  591 Para. Sqn. Bomb Disposal in Div Area and training.  No. 8 Well Boring Sec.  No.1 Bore Rising Main and Pump Rods inserted.  No.2 Bore:- Down to 80' still no water.

 

28th July 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para Sqn R.E. collection of Stores for Type B Water Point and completion of Approach Rds.  249 Route Maintenance in Div Area.  591 Para. Sqn. Bomb Disposal in Div Area, training.  No.8 Well Boring Sec.  No.1 Bore Pumping test carried out 3 hrs pumping at 2,000 galls/hour.  No.2 Bore was abandoned as no water available at 80'.

 

29th July 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn. collection and preparation of water[?] for erection of water and tanks Touffreville.  249 Fd Coy Route maintenance in Div Area.  591 Para. Sqn. Disposal of 10 K.G. S.D. bomb and training.  No.8 Well Boring Sec completion of well pump installation.

 

30th July 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn. construction of Grillage to towers on water point, Amfreville.  249 Fd Coy. C.R.E's shelter modified 40% complete.  A-Q shelter work commenced.  591 Para. Sqn. Road maintenance throughout Div. Area.

 

31st July 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn. construction of grillage and tower on water point Touffreville.  249 Fd Coy completion of C.R.E's shelter, training.  591 Para. Sqn. Road maintenance throughout Div. Area.

 

 

Month and year : August 1944

Commanding Officer : Lt-Col. J.R.C. Hamilton R.E.

 

1st August 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

Lt. Col. J.R.C. HAMILTON. R.E. appt C.R.E. 6 AIRBORNE DIV w.e.f. 25 Jun 44, arrived at Div. R.E. H.Q. and took over from Major J.H. WATERS R.E.  Capt. Clive returned to 249 Fd Coy and Lt. Thomas to 591 Para Sqn, both having been previously wounded, earlier in Normandy.  3 Para. Sqn.  Construction of grillage and tower water point type B. one tower 80% complete.  Water pipe not yet available on site.  -- 249 Fd. Coy.  Shelter maintenance and training.  -- 591 Para. Sqn.  Road maintenance in greatly extended Div Area.

 

2nd August 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn.  Mine and booby-trap clearance in new 3 Bde area.  Water Point T[?] towers up.  Excavation for 3 Bde shelters 30% complete.  -- 249 Fd. Coy. lifting mines for R.A. at Ouistreham.  Training.  -- 591 Para. Sqn.  Maintenance of Rds in Div. Area.

 

3rd August 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn.  Excavation to 3 Bde shelters 80% complete, clearance of booby-traps on routes for bulldozer, water points Trs started.  249 Fd. Coy.  Training and Recce for mine clearance at Herouvillette; mine lifting at Ouistreham.  -- 591 Para. Sqn.  Carried out Road maintenance in Div. Area.

 

4th August 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn. four shelters for 3 Bde complete.  Pipe trenches for water point 50% excavated.  591 Para. Sqn.  Route maintenance in Div. Area and improvement of Div. Water Pt at Ranville 1173.  Excavating for Tanks.  -- 249 Fd. Coy.  Mine clearance at HEROUVILLETTE 1272 and RIVA BELLA 1080.

 

5th August 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn.  3 Bde shelters complete site cleared, Tanks in water pt 25% complete.  Lifting booby traps 3 Bde Area.  -- 249 Fd. Coy. A.D.M.S. shelter 30% complete, mines at Ouistreham rest centre lifted.  Herouvillette 1272, mine clearance 40% complete.  -- 591 Para. Sqn.  Drainage of water point at Ranville complete; maintenance of roads within div area.

 

6th August 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn.  Collection of Stores for Div Rest Camp.  Water Tanks for Water pt. c[?], and 4" rising main.  -- 249 Fd. Coy.  Clearance of mines for Div rest area 70% complete.  Clearance at Herouvillette 50% complete.  -- 591 Para. Sqn. RE.  Gap cleared in Minefd serial 10317 at Sallenelles.  Road maintenance within the Div. Area.

 

7th August 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn.  Water Tanks in construction and pipe trenches 90% complete, 3 Bde baths drainage work 50% complete.  -- 249 Fd. Coy.  All mines cleared from Div Rest centre.  Herouvillette 60% Cleared.  Work on ADMS shelter stopped 50% complete.  591 Para. Sqn. maintenance of Roads in Div Area and advance party at Div. School.

 

8th August 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn.  Water point at Amfreville.  -- 249 Fd. Coy.  Rest Area clearing mines and repairing houses, also mine clearance in Herouvillette area.  -- 591 Para. Sqn.  Route maintenance Div Area and shelter construction.  Detachment sent to Div. School.

 

9th August 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn.  Water point at Amfreville.  -- 249 Fd. Coy.  Construction of Div Rest centre, completion of mine lifting at Herouvillette, construction 6 Bde H.Q.  -- 591 Para. Sqn.  Route maintenance in Div Area and construction of 5 Bde Comd Post.

 

10th August 1944

Place: Ecarde 121760

 

3 Para. Sqn.  Improvements to 3 Bde approach Rds.  Water Tanks 90% complete.  2" delivery pipe & screwing 90% complete.  4" Rising main ready for start.  -- 249 Fd. Coy.  6 Airldg Bde shelters 25% complete, Div Rest Area 95% complete.  -- 591 Para. Sqn.  Route maintenance Div Area.  Completion of R.A.P. for 5 Bde and F.D.L. positions 70% complete.  Comd Post 90% complete.

 

11th August 1944

Place: Riva Bella

 

249 Fd Coy RE - Construction of Div rest camp and clearance of damaged buildings continued.  Shelters for 6 A.L. Bde 70% completed.

 

Place: Longueville

 

286 Fd Pk Coy - commenced construction of three caravans, also rest camp showers.  Otherwise normal Fd Pk duties.

 

Place: Chat de Amphreville

 

3 Para. Sqn. RE. - Water point construction continued, 75% complete.  Mines instruction carried on at rest camp.  Road maintenance.

 

Place: Ranville

 

591 Para. Sqn. RE. - Maintenance and operation of water point (output 43,000 galls) F.D.L's and Command Post for 5th Para Bde completed.

 

12th August 1944

Place: Chat de Amphreville

 

3 Para. Sqn. - Water point construction 85% complete.  Mines course at rest camp.

 

Place: Ranville

 

591 Para. Sqn.  Operation of water point (output 53,000 galls).  Rd maintenance in the LE MARIQUET area.

 

Place: Riva Bella

 

249 Fd. Coy. RE.  Work on div rest camp 80% complete.  Work continues on 6 AL Bde shelters and MG post.

 

Place: Longueville

 

286 Fd Pk Coy RE.  Caravan construction continued.

 

13th August 1944

Place: Longueville

 

286 Fd Pk Coy - Work continued on three caravans and rest area showers.

 

Place: Ranville

 

591 Para Sqn RE - Water point operated, output 51,000 gallons.  Rd maintenance ctd.

 

Place: Ecarde MR 121760

 

249 Fd Coy RE - Div. rest camp [no number entered]% complete.  Work on 6 AL Bde shelters and MG posts complete.  3 Para Sqn RE - Water point 90% complete.  3 Bde shelters finished.

 

14th August 1944

Place: Ecarde

 

591 Para Sqn RE - Water point - Rd maintenance.  3 Para Sqn RE - Water point construction complete - Rd maintenance on Road ESCOVILLE - TOUFFREVILLE.  249 Fd Coy RE - 6 AL Bde shelters 91% complete.  Rd Maintenance.  286 Fd Pk Coy RE - 3 Caravans construction ctd - otherwise normal work.  Belgian Fd Eng Coy.  Road maintenance (Coy attached 6th Airborne Div).

 

15th August 1944

Place: Ecarde MR 121760

 

591 Para Sqn RE - Road maintenance and operation of crusher.  Operation of water point.  3 Para Sqn RE - Rd Maintenance - Mine clearing at rest camp.  249 Fd Coy RE - Shelter construction - Road maintenance.  286 Fd Pk Coy RE - Construction continued on 3 caravans.  Belgian Field Engineering Coy - Road maintenance - O.P. constructed.

 

16th August 1944

Place: Ecarde MR 121760

 

3 Para Sqn RE - Road maintenance (whole sqn).  591 Para Sqn RE - Road maintenance, operation of crusher.  249 Fd Coy RE - Rd maintenance.  6 AL Bde shelters completed.  286 Fd Coy - Normal duties.  Belgian Field Engineering Coy - Rd maintenance.

 

17th August 1944

Place: Ecarde MR 121760

 

Operation PADDLE - follow up of enemy withdrawal to R DIVES.  3 Para Sqn - Rafting, minelifting, route clearing for 3 Para Bde and 1 SS Bde.  249 Fd Coy - mine lifting route clearing for 6 A/L Bde.  591 Para Sqn - Bridging gaps at TROARN.  Belgian Fd Coy - Route clearing, mine lifting.  Br. equipment available - 140'0 F.B.E. remainder improvised.  80'0 Bailey Br. eventually released but too late for inclusion today.  All equip concentrated by CRE on TROARN crossing.  Now available for others.

 

18th August 1944

Place: Ecarde MR 121760

 

0400 - TROARN bridges reported open.  591 Sqn on maint.

 

0430 - Bulldozer crossing breaks bridge.  Tank crossing on old abutments being made.

 

1100 - Bridge reopened.

 

2000 - CRE estab Main HQ with Main Div at 1969.  3 Sqn 249 591 now in TROARN area.  286 Fd Pk est adv stores same place.

 

2200 - Div RE prepare to br DIVES CANAL at 235719 to follow up infantry attack.  Canadian Army Tps RE to take over rear water supply and route commitments.

 

19th August 1944

3 Para. Sqn. R.E.  Bridge maintenance, road improvements.  In support 3 Bde.

 

1900 - Ordered to improvise infantry bridge for night assault crossing of DIVES CANAL.

 

2359 - Improvised Bridge in place.  249 Fd Coy  Road maint.  Improvement of [?] route DIVES Canal.  591 Para Sqn  Improvement of DIVES fords at TROARN.  Route and bridge maintenance.  Water point.

 

20th August 1944

Place: St Samson

 

3 Para Sqn. in support 3 Para Bde.  249 Fd Coy.  Road clearing and maintenance.  591 Para Sqn RE.  Improvement to Ford in DIVES valley at TROARN water point.  Fords now passable to all loads.  249 Fd Coy.  Road maint in TROARN area.  BELGIAN Fd Coy clearing of mines, filling craters, maintaining routes, area SALLENELLES - CABOURG.

 

21st August 1944

Place: Beaumont en Auge

 

3 Para Sqn RE. in support 3 Para Bde for advance to DOZULE - mine clearing and recce.  249 Fd Coy.  Route improvement.  Verge sweeping for mines.  591 Para Sqn RE  Bridge and Ford maint TROARN Road maintenance.  Water point ST SAMSON.  Belgian Fd Coy  In support Belgian & Dutch Bdes area CABOURG and ROBEHOMME, maintaining route BAVENT - PLEIN LUGEN 2072.  286 Fd Pk  Adv Stores Sec at 1568, adv. M.E. sec at 1969.  Equipment 1 armoured bulldozer, 1 heavy Cl D dozer, 2 light D4 bulldozers, 1 Roller, 1 Transporter.

 

22nd August 1944

1000 - Div. H.Q. with HQRE moved to [no name entered]

 

2000 - Div HQ with HQRE moved to BEAUMONT EN AUGE 4603.  3 Para Sqn R.E.  Road clearance ANNEBAULT area.  Road maintenance DOZULE area.  Assault crossing of first obstacle, blown bridges at PONT L'EVEQUE by bulldozing and ramping.  Second obstacle impossible enemy S.A. fire.  Water point at DOZULE.  249 Fd Coy  Route checking, preparation bridging at PONT L'EVEQUE.  Improvement diversion DIVES Canal.  591 Para Sqn  Maint road and bridges TROARN.  Water point ST SAMSON.  286 Fd Pk move to DOZULE area.  Location night 22/23 Aug.  3 Sqn - DOZULE.  249 - 420024.  591 - 404038.  286 - DOZULE.

 

23rd August 1944

Place: Beaumont en Auge 448020

 

3 Para Sqn RE - Awaiting chance to bridge at PONT L'EVEQUE.  591 Para Sqn RE - Verge checking on main route DOZULE - PONT L'EVEQUE.  TROARN Brs handed over to Canadian Engineers.  Water Point TROARN closed.  249 Fd Coy RE - Construction water point at 484997.  Recce for Bailey at PONT L'EVEQUE.  VERGE checking 490016 - PONT L'EVEQUE.  286 Fd Pk Coy RE - DOZULE.  Adv bridging park formed at 439023.  Normal duties, one caravan under construction.  BELGIAN F.E. Coy - Route maintenance.  Minefield, railway 416090 - 416092 cleared.

 

24th August 1944

Place: Beaumont en Auge

 

1000 - Enemy withdrawn from R.  Line of TOUQUES.  G.O.C. decided main; br at PONT L'EVEQUE.

 

1130 - 3 Para Sqn construct FBE cl 9 br downstream of existing br also improvised assault boat raft br. same place completed by 1530 approach improvement continued.  249 Fd Coy recce and prepare to culvert at 1st obstacle and built 80'0 D.S. bailey at main stream.  [Buildings?] burned out and streets full of debris.  Route completed by 25 0050 also water point construction.  591 Para Sqn  Adapt German bridging equipment to form bridge at RONCHEVILLE 4906, open 1830 hrs.  Belgian Fd Coy  A.Tk gun raft at TROUVILLE improvised boat rafts.  Recce for booby traps.

 

25th August 1944

Place: M.R. 598077 St Benoit D'Herbetot

 

3 Para Sqn RE - Maintenance of FBE at PONT L'EVEQUE.

 

1300 - Repair of crater MR 536086 completed.  Route suitable class 40.  Sqn moved forward.  Recce made of forward routes.  249 Fd Coy RE - Road construction to water point.

 

2130 - Bailey Br 50' D/S at PONT L'EVEQUE completed.  591 Para Sqn RE - Clearance of demolished railway / road bridges at 578057 and 622010.

 

2200 - Br 622010 cleared for two way traffic.  Belgian Field Engineering Coy - Long move by whole coy.

 

26th August 1944

Place: M.R. 598077 St Benoit D'Herbetot

 

591 Para Sqn RE - Road maintenance in BEUZEVILLE area.  3 Para Sqn RE - Road maintenance.  249 Fd Coy RE - Road maintenance.

 

2000 - Belgian Field Engineering Coy no longer under command.

 

27th August 1944

Place: M.R. 482082 La Forge

 

HQRE moves to M.R. 482082 LA FORGE.  All companies continue route maintenance forward to PONT AUDEMER.

 

28th August 1944

Place: M.R. 482082 La Force

 

1300 - Railway bridges at 575056 and 627086 handed over to 174 Fd Coy RE.  Companies carried on road maintenance.  All troops rested as far as possible.

 

29th August 1944

Place: M.R. 482082 La Force

 

0900 - Message received that 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION is returning to ENGLAND on 8th Sept 44.  Day spent in organising return to England, packing stores etc.

 

30th August 1944

Place: M.R. 482082 La Forge

 

Message received that NO reinforcements will return with the division.

 

31st August 1944

Place: M.R. 482082 La Forge

 

Packing up continued.

 

 

Month and year : September 1944

Commanding Officer : Lt-Col. J.R.C. Hamilton R.E.

 

1st September 1944

Place: Touques Calvados

 

Returning stores and preparing for return to UK.

 

2nd September 1944

Place: Touques Calvados

 

IORE and main HQRE march party left for transit camp; embarked LSI at ARROMANCHES 3 Sep sailed 4 Sep disembarked UK 5 Sep and arrived SYRENCOTE HOUSE BULFORD 5 Sep.

 

3rd September 1944

Place: Touques Calvados

 

CRE and vehicle move to port embarked COURSEULLES, sailed 4 Sep, disembarked UK and estab HQRE at SYRENCOTE HOUSE BULFORD 5 Sep.

 

4th September 1944

Place: Touques Calvados

 

Reinforcements to Div RE, posted for ops only, returned to Corps Rft Camp.

 

5th September 1944

Place: Touques Calvados

 

March Parties all units Div RE moved to transit camp ARROMANCHES, embarked 6 Sep, disembarked UK and arrived BEACON BKS BULFORD 8 Sep.

 

6th September 1944

Place: Touques Calvados

 

Vehicle parties all units Div RE moved to COURSEULLES, embarked LST, sailed 6 Sep, disembarked UK and arrived Beacon Bks 8 Sep.  Adjutant with this party.  Equipment brought back to UK - jeeps trailers and special airborne eqpt only.

 

Place: Bulford

 

CRE and IORE to LONDON (AG7 and WO).

 

7th September 1944

Place: Bulford

 

Lieut HOLLOWAY taken on strength as IORE.

 

8th September 1944

Place: Bulford

 

CRE, IORE and bulk of HQRE on leave (10 days).  Eqpt check and deficiency lists prepared.

 

9th September 1944

Place: Bulford

 

Adjutant to AG7 to adjust postings.  All units checking eqpt, classifying vehicles and preparing deficiency lists.

 

11th September 1944

Place: Bulford

 

Deficiency Lists complete.  Units on block leave (10 days).

 

12th September 1944

Place: Bulford

 

Adjutant on Leave (10 days).  Capt HARBORD i/c Residues.

 

13th September 1944

Place: Bulford

 

All leave extended to 14 days.

 

 

Operation "OVERLORD"

R.E. 6 Airborne Division

 

PART I - PLANNING

 

CRE was rightly called in for planning very soon after it started some three months before the operation took place.  On grounds of security, no further RE planning staff was allowed until about a month later when the IORE was introduced to sift the vast amount of intelligence to be dealt with and assist with the stores side.  One L/Cpl. clerk was allowed three weeks afterwards.  Unit Commanders and Adjutant, although warned earlier of the nature of unit tasks to enable final training to be specialised, were not allowed to know their detailed tasks, including places, until a month before the operation took place, i.e. about three weeks before the move to transit camps.

 

The majority of the detailed planning was therefore done by CRE and IORE between them in order that demands for stores, both special assault and normal maintenance types, could be submitted in time.  In this connection, it must be said that 6 Airborne Division was introduced to the plan considerably later than other formations, and it was no easy matter to prepare detailed stores demands before the final date allowed.

 

The amount and quality of technical information available far exceeded our wildest hopes.  Air photographs of the DIVES bridges in particular were excellent, comprising very clear obliques taken from 500 feet.  As a result, models were made by the HQRE draughtsman of:-

    (a) the DIVES bridges at a scale of a quarter inch to one foot, and

    (b) the BENOUVILLE - RANVILLE bridges at a scale of one inch to ten feet,

which proved most useful for briefing.

 

A great deal of assistance was given by the SORE at the AIRBORNE FORCES DEVELOPMENT CENTRE over construction of special equipment and last minute clearance of special glider loads.

 

PART II - THE PLAN

 

1. Coup-de-main party on BENOUVILLE - RANVILLE bridges:-

    (a) 3 gliders to land on each of Landing Zones B.1. and B.2. immediately adjacent to bridges at P-5 hours.

    (b) The whole force to comprise six platoons of 2 OXF & BUCKS, detachment of 249 FIELD COMPANY, RE and detachment of RAMC.

    (c) RE to consist of two officers and twenty eight other ranks distributed as five in each of the six gliders.

    (d) RE to carry scaling ladders, handaxes, small crowbars, pliers, etc.

    (e) RE task to neutralise demolitions coincident with the infantry assault, the three parties at each bridge all being briefed to search the same places on their bridge, or, if necessary, the other one.

    (f) Four gliders to carry on Mark II Assault Boat each to enable a small bridgehead to be established on the outer banks if the bridges were blown.

 

2. One L/Sjt and 4 sappers of 591 Para Sqn RE to drop with 7 Para Bn on DZ "N" at P-4 hrs 30 mins and assist them across R ORNE and CAEN canal to establish a bridgehead on the WEST bank of the canal.  For this purpose 7 Para Bn were to carry down in kitbags 30 "J" type RAF dinghies and climbing ropes as ferry lines.

 

3. Bridging Equipment:-

    (a) Four gliders containing 5 ORs each, ie balance of RE platoon with coup-de-main force, to land on LZ "N" at P-2 hours.  Each glider to contain one A/tk gun raft complete with Mark III Assault Boats but less outboard motor, one dinghy ferry of five "J" type dinghies & ferry gear, 3" cordage ferry gear for 250 foot gap for A/Tk gun raft & two thirty foot rolls of chespale, all for use if bridges were demolished.  The chespale was coloured with hessian & spray-painted to cope with the mud banks on the river & canal if the lock gates on the latter were demolished.

    (b) Transport for moving these stores to bridging sites was to be provided from HQRE and the detachable trailer transoms produced by Airborne Forces Development Centre were carried in the gliders.

    (c) The original raft trestles had to be discarded & special ones made by 286 Field Park Coy RE in two-inch tubular scaffolding & couplers to accommodate the special narrow tracks of airborne vehicles.

    (d) Kingposts and balancing gear made also by the Fk Park Coy were taken so that, if all gliders arrived, it would be possible to make a double raft over each obstacle taking jeeps and trailers simultaneously.

 

4. Clearing glider landing zones-

    (a) Reconnaissance party of one section 591 Para Sqn RE split between two Albemarles to drop with 5 Para Bde advance parties on DZ "N" at P-5 hours to recce and tape out as far as possible strips A1 and BII.

    (b) 591 Para Sqn RE less 1 Troop to drop on DZ "N" at P-4 hours 30 minutes and clear 2 glider landing strips A1 and BII each 1,000 yards x 60 yards by P-2 hours for 68 Horsa gliders, at least half of third strip CIII 500 yds x 90 yds for HAMILCARS carrying 17 pounder A/Tk guns.  Working parties of 60 Infantry to be provided by 13 Para Bn and 20 from Div Sigs advance party.

    (c) Protection in the form of an outpost screen on EAST side of LZ to be provided by 13 Para Bn.

    (d) Recce, taping & preparation of the rest of the strip CIII and complete strip DIV to start as soon as possible afterward.  For this work glider pilots from initial landing would be available as a working party in lieu of 13 Para Bn and Div Signals.  Strips CIII & DIV were to be 90 yards wide as opposed to 60 and were to be ready for 150 gliders at 2100 hrs on D-Day.  Glider debris on the half of CIII already used and if possible on AI and BII was to be removed by the same time.

    (e) Explosive sausages for Phase I to be carried down in kitbags and for Phase II in Sqn containers.

 

5. To assist in completing the strips for the second landing and also, if necessary, in producing ferry ramps four mechanical equipment gliders with 1 officer and 15 other ranks of Stores Platoon 286 Field Park Coy RE were to land on Landing Zone "N" at P-2 hours.  Three of these gliders to carry one Clark Crawler Tractor (American Airborne Bulldozer) each, an American Airborne tipper trailer, petrol and tools.  The fourth glider to carry a jeep and compressor.

 

6. (a) The remaining Troop of 591 Para Sqn RE less a glider detachment was to drop with 9 Para Bn at P-4 hours 30 minutes on Dropping Zone "V" and destroy the guns and equipment on the capture of the battery position SOUTH of MERVILLE.  To assist in the carriage of explosives a jeep and trailer was allotted by 3 Para Bde.

    (b) The glider detachment comprised one officer and seven sappers distributed as three in each of two gliders, three carrying members of 9 Para Bn.  They were to land between the emplacements at the height of the assault, storm the emplacements & destroy the guns.

 

7. 3 Para Sqn were to create a demolition belt on River DIVES between TROARN and VARAVILLE both inclusive by H+2 hours -

    (a) 3 Para Sqn less one Troop were to land with 8 Para Bn on Dropping Zone "K" at P-4 hours 30 minutes.  One Troop was to destroy the main road bridge over River DIVES EAST of TROARN and the other two bridges at BURES, all protected by elements of 8 Para Bn.  The TROARN bridge was to be tackled with General WADE charges most of which were to be carried in two jeeps and trailers allotted by 3 Para Bde.  In the case of the other two the span was to be cut and one or both abutments destroyed.

    (b) The third Troop was to drop with 1 Cdn Para Bn on Dropping Zone "V" at P-4 hours 30 minutes and destroy the bridges at ROBEHOMME, a culvert near LE HOIN and the bridge at VARAVILLE protected the elements of the Bn.  The first was to be tackled like the BURES bridges and the other two by cratering the abutments and approaches.  One jeep and trailer was allotted by 3 Para Bde for carriage of explosives.

    (c) Enough explosive to make some sort of demolition at each place was to be carried down in kit bags or unit containers.  Glider-borne jeeps and trailers were to carry additional explosives to improve the scope of the demolition.

 

8. HQRE -

    An advance element consisting of CRE, IO, Clerk and DR orderly were to drop with 591 Para Sqn RE at P-4 hrs 30 minutes on Dropping Zone "N".

    The main HQ including Adjutant, two Clerks, Draughtsman, DR, Driver, APTC Instructor attached, one jeep, two trailers and 4 MCs were to land in two gliders with some Div HQ staff and a jeep on Landing Zone "N" at P-2 hours.

 

9. Royal Marine Engineer Detachment with 1 SS Bde after relieving 3 Para Bde in VARAVILLE area was to carry out minor demolition belt, destroying culverts and cratering roads, from exclusive VARAVILLE to approximately LE GRAND HOMME 164792.  The explosive for this in specially marked containers was to come down in the jettison drop around RANVILLE and be handed over on their arrival over the bridges.

 

10. For the above RE units were to be under command of Bdes.  Tasks to be carried out subsequently on orders of CRE were as follows:-

    (a) 3 Para Sqn RE were to mine road approaches in the following order of priority-

            (i) Road junction 141703

            (ii) Cross roads 142729

            (iii) Cross roads 134744

            collection of mines and marking equipment from jettison drop in their area.

    (b) 591 Para Sqn RE were to lay Anti-personnel minefields on covered approaches at 098735 and 113750 and also to wire and mine with Anti-tank mines the orchard area WEST of the road HEROUVILLETTE - LE MARIQUET.  The mines for this were to come from a jettison drop in the RANVILLE area.

    (c) If the bridges had been demolished 591 Para Sqn RE and the Platoon of 249 Fd Coy RE were to establish personnel and light vehicle ferries, subsequently assisting 3 Br Div, with their FBE ferries due to arrive at H+7 hrs.

    (d) Glider landing strips AI - DIV were to be cleared and completed as detailed above.

    (e) All units were allotted road circuits to recce, covering the div area.

    (f) A suitable source for a water point was to be recced in the area RANVILLE - LE BAS DE RANVILLE - LE MARIQUET.

 

11. 249 Fd Coy RE less one Platoon and plus the balance of the Stores Platoon and HQ detachment of 286 Fd Pk Coy RE were to land by sea at H+4 hrs under command 3 Cdn Div.  They were then to clear a route through both assault div areas to the bridges for an airborne column landing with them.  This route could not be cleared by the assault divs in time.

    On arrival in the div area 249 Fd Coy RE were to be prepared to mine the road approaches to STE HONORINE LA CHARDONERETTE and ESCOVILLE for 6 Airlanding Bde who were landing by glider at 2100 hrs on D day.  In addition an RE detachment was to be provided to accompany the Armoured Recce Regt when they tried to push SOUTH beyond the CAEN - TROARN road.

    'P' hour was civil twilight - in actual fact 0520 hrs and H hour was 0715 hrs.

 

PART III - ADM PLAN

 

1. The RE build-up by sea is shown at Appx "A".

    (a) This was the bare minimum considered necessary to meet the needs of units in a subsequent ground role.  Those vehs over and above the WE of units were provided under Q arrangements from Div RASC with their own drivers.  Load carrying trailers were lashed on top of jeeps to economise in craft space with a resulting reduction in the permissible load.

    (b) A few light weight motor cycles were brought in by 3 Para Sqn in their brigade gliders.  Remaining light weight motor cycles were loaded on vehicles as were the heavy weights.  Para Sqn and the Fd Coy brought in some 75% of their motor cycle WE eventually.

    (c) The two airborne water trailers belonging to the Fd Coy were allotted one to each Para Sqn and loaded in 3-ton lorries.

    (d) A number of "S" tanks were loaded on all arms water trucks.  These were additional to the normal Fd Pk holding, and were intended for distribution to brigades for local storage in view of the expected difficulties over water points of adequate capacity.

    (e) All workshop trailers were loaded in 3-ton lorries as separate towing jeeps were considered an unnecessary luxury and the 3-tonners would be of much greater use in the theatre of operations.

    (f) The initial Fd Pk loads to be landed comprised items of reserve equipment and spares, such as mine detectors, camouflet sets, compressor spares etc., as these were liable to be required early.

    (g) Some 5 tons of unaccompanied G1098 were to be sent which accounted for practically all the unit G 1098's except for vehicles.

 

2. The maint planned is shown at Appx "B" -

    (a) The policy over digging and pioneer tools was to make battalions up to a normal field holding and the Fd Pk to a normal field reserve holding.

    (b) The general policy over selection of stores was based on the occupation of a defensive position including demolitions, mining and wiring.

    (c) The RE jettison drop absorbed some 250 odd containers.  Their packing was the responsibility of the Div RE whereas the resupply containers were packed under arrangements made by Headquarters Airborne Troops.

    (d) The allocation of jettison drop stores to actual jettison areas (LE MESNIL, RANVILLE, ESCOVILLE) was based on probable requirements of RE units working in those areas.  Only priority items such as the explosive for 1 SS Brigade and explosive sausages for 591 Para Sqn's strip clearing were fitted with container location devices, but all were marked with "RE" and nature of contents in large letters.

    (e) The stores to be brought by 3 British Div were all demanded by 6 Airborne Div who were not concerned however, in their handling and despatch.

 

3. All engineer stores, explosive and anti-tank mines were to be handled by RASC until arrival of stores detachment Field Park Coy, CRE controlling issues of them all as soon as communications were established.

 

Operation "OVERLORD"

PART IV - Narrative D/D+1

R.E. 6 AIRBORNE DIVISION.

 

I - 'D' Day

 

3 PARA. SQN., R.E.

Sqn. HQ and two Tps which should have dropped between ESCOVILLE and TOUFFREVILLE with 8 Para. Bn. were actually dropped about 0050 hrs EAST of the road LE MARIQUET - ESCOVILLE due, apparently, to misplaced navigational aids.  The majority R.V'd at X-rds 123734 under the O.C. together with some members of 8 Para Bn.  Noise of firing from LE MARIQUET direction indicated that later members of the sticks had become involved with the enemy in that neighbourhood.  A satisfactory quantity of explosive and demolition equipment was available from kit bag and container loads thanks largely to the container locating device.

 

RE personnel and stores were adequate to make some sort of demolition at the three brs at TROARN & BURES, and the party therefore moved off about 0230 hrs with Major ROSEVEARE, Capt. JUCKES and those Sprs not harnessed to the heavy trolleys, leading.

 

At the rd junc 140703 contact was made with some offrs of 8 Para Bn about 0400 hrs whom Major Roseveare instructed to organise the def of the rd junc with the Inf accompanying him.  A medical jeep and trailer which had joined en route was reloaded with the General Wades etc necessary for TROARN BR.

 

Capt. JUCKES and the bulk of the Sprs were despatched to the brs at BURES with their stores on trolleys, whilst the O.C., Lt. BREESE, & 7 NCO's and Sprs set out for TROARN with the jeep and trailer with a Bren and several Stens at the ready.

 

Just before the TROARN level crossing, the veh ran into a barbed wire knife rest from which it took twenty minutes hard work with wire cutters to disengage.

 

The TROARN Garrison was now thoroughly roused so everybody climbed on the jeep and trailer, and the best speed possible with a load of 3000 lbs odd was made.  The passage through the town was a running fire fight and Spr PEACHEY did good work as rear gunner with a Bren.  Full advantage was taken of the steep hill down out of the town and the party went out with an M.G. 34 firing tracer over their heads.

 

On arrival at the br, 39 General Wade charges were placed in a continuous line across the crown of one span and in 5 mins a 15-20 ft gap was made.

 

As TROARN was too unhealthy to return through, the party retired NORTH along a track towards BURES.  The vehs were ditched when going became impossible at about 0500 hrs and the party moved straight to LE MESNIL avoiding the rd junc 140703 where a good deal of fire was heard.  LE MESNIL was reached about 1300 hrs.

 

Capt JUCKES' party moved through the BOIS DE BURES and reached the two brs unopposed at about 0630 hrs.  Lt. SHAVE and one Sec tackled the farm br and the remaining Sprs of 2 Tp amounting to one and a half secs under Lt. FORSTER the rly br.  In the absence of the Pl of 8 Para Bn, protection was afforded by the remaining Sprs of 1 Tp.  Meanwhile contact had been made by Lt. WADE with elements of 8 Para Bn and two RE jeeps and trailers loaded with additional explosive which had landed on the correct DZ.  An attempt by Lt. WADE to take a jeep and trailer load of explosive to increase the gap at the TROARN BR was foiled as the enemy were on the alert.

 

Later it was decided to make a second attempt at TROARN BR in spite of very limited inf protection, and a small force composed as follows set out:-

        One Pl 8 Para Bn

        Protective det. RE under Sgt. SHRUBSOLE.

        Lt. WADE & 6 OR's

        Jeep, trailer, & 40 General Wade charges.

 

The route taken was EAST to BURES and then down SOUTH towards TROARN.  In spite of warning from the local inhabitants about the strength of the German Garrison, it was decided to push on into the town.  The inf drove the Enemy up the street in a WESTERLY direction while Sgt. SHRUBSOLE and his party cleared the way to the Brs after a spirited engagement in which the enemy lost one killed and five P.W.  The rearguard was left in the orchard immediately NORTH of the town while the working party with jeep and trailer proceeded to the br.  An adjacent span to that already destroyed was tackled with Gen. Wades which brought down the intervening pier as well, increasing the gap to 35/40 ft.  Some boats found nearby were also sunk.  The time was now 1500 hrs and the party withdrew successfully.

 

Tps jumping towards the end of sticks and landing in the RANVILLE area became embroiled with the enemy at once and there are many stories of Sprs being cornered and escaping.  Individual reports all show that a heavy toll on the enemy was taken by these small bands.  The late Sgt. JONES for example killed 8 of his captors with their own weapons.  Spr. THOMAS, although shot at and wounded during his descent killed three enemy with two 36 grenades on landing.  Practically all these parties joined the Sqn later in the day.

 

Capt. SMITH's Tp, scheduled to drop on the DZ N.E. of VARAVILLE with 1 Cdn Para. Bn. were dropped largely in the flooded area to the EAST and in the village itself.  One a/c took such violent evasive action that the men were thrown flat and the stick stretched from VARAVILLE to ROBEHOMME, some 3500 yds.  Containers proved very difficult to retrieve even though the locating device showed up under 2-3 ft of water.

 

Lt. INMAN collected 12 Sprs and 3 containers of explosive and took them with considerable difficulty across a network of ditches to VARAVILLE where he met Lt. BAILLIE who was alone.  5 Sprs. and 200 lbs of explosive were left with Lt. BAILLIE who proceeded to destroy successfully the VARAVILLE BR.

 

Lt. INMAN then set out for the ROBEHOMME br with the remainder.  On his way, he met Capt. SMITH, Lt. HOLLOWAY, and 3 Sprs.  Capt. SMITH went to the VARAVILLE Br whilst the rest proceeded to ROBEHOMME.  BAVENT was held by the Enemy and the party therefore took to the flooded fields carrying the explosive on their backs.  They reached the br at 0900 hrs, only to meet Sgt. POOLE there and hear that he had dropped nearby and destroyed the span with a clean cut using 30 lbs of explosive collected off Cdn Paratps also in the vicinity.

 

Lt. INMAN's party then started to improve the demolition with two craters on the home abutment about 1100 hrs, but an attack by lorried inf had to be beaten off with the Bren Guns before the craters were successfully fired about 1300 hrs.

 

The remainder of the Sqn on returning to LE MESNIL from TROARN & BURES then set about retrieving the A.Tk. mines from the jettison drop in the area.  The Bde Staff assisted in org this.  The containers were widely scattered in a wooded area, many in enemy occupied territory.  Some Mk. V. A.Tk. Mines began to come in about 2200 hrs and Capt. JUCKES' Tp started mining the rd junc 140703.  Some 80 mines were laid, buried in the carriageway and verges by midnight, & the Tp returned to LE MESNIL about 0200 hrs.

 

Sqn. HQ was established alongside Bde HQ about 1600 hrs, but no contact was at yet established with HQRE, though completion of demolitions was notified over the Comd Wireless Net.

 

591 PARA SQN., R.E.

The two half stick parties to recce and set out the RANVILLE Glider Landing Zones were dropped about 0030 hrs, but Lt. MITCHLEY'S party were dropped short and did not arrive in time to carry out their recce task.  The other party under Cpl. STONER waited for a few minutes for Lt. MITCHLEY and then proceeded with the recce and setting out though they had very few tapes.  The main body of the Sqn comprising 1 & 3 Tps dropped about 0100 hrs.

 

Dropping by the STIRLINGS and 38 Gp was quite good on the whole, but the later numbers in some sticks dropped in RANVILLE and over HEROUVILLETTE, and got embroiled with the Anti-Parachute Commando operating in the vicinity.  The two Sqn HQ sticks with the OC and 2 i/c. failed to appear at all.  Capt. SEMPLE of 3 Tp took charge and allocated the task of clearing the two WESTERLY glider landing strips to 1 Tp (3 Secs) and 3 Tp (two secs) respectively.  They were assisted by a wk party from Div Sigs & 13 Para Bn amounting to 40/50 men, who arrived in due course as planned.

 

The removal of the obstruction poles proved easier than was anticipated.  Few of them exceeded 8" in diam and only 50% of the poles were in place.  Towards the NORTHERN part of the LZ they were securely wired together in the horizontal and vertical planes with 8 gage wire.  Manual removal with three men was found quicker in many cases than using the explosive sausages prepared.

 

The two WESTERLY strips were ready in good time for the gliders at 0320 hrs but lighting by the Indep Coy proved unsatisfactory owing to lack of personnel and special equipment.  In consequence, gliders approached from all directions, and many failed to recognise the strips prepared.  Some passed each other within 30-50 ft going in opposite directions but with the traditional ability of the HORSA to take punishment, cas were very very few.

 

Immediately the gliders were down, 1 & 3 Tps set about clearing the two EASTERLY strips C & D, and completed these by 0500 hrs.  Up to this time only lt rifle and LMG fire had been met.  A patrolling armoured car also kept at a discreet distance.

 

The rd from the LZ to BAS DE RANVILLE was recced visually for signs of mining and reported clear before Div. HQ and the A.Tk. Bty arrived in the gliders.

 

Earlier on L/Sgt. LEMON and 6 Sprs had accompanied 7 Para Bn to relieve the Coup-de-main force on the river and canal brs.  Sufficient "J" type dinghies and ferry lines in kitbags were available for an assault crossing had they been required.

 

Immediately on landing, Lt. LOCKEY set off on his own as instructed and made contact with Capt NIELSON of 249 Field Coy with the coup-de-main party on the brs.  He returned to the Sqn RV at copse 111738 about 0240 hrs to inform the CRE that the brs were intact - much to the latter's relief.

 

About 0600 hrs, the Sqn as it stood conc in LE HOM.

 

At 0730 hrs small rd recce patrols were sent out as planned, and Lieut DE WATTEVILLE tried to recce the RANVILLE - BREVILLE - MAMFREVILLE CIRCUIT.  Considerable enemy opposition was met and the task was therefore cancelled by CRE.  Lt. McCRIRICK recced the rd RANVILLE - BENOUVILLE, and reported the carriageway clear of the mines.

 

The rest of the Sqn set about searching for Sqn and jettison drop containers with mines, with a priority of A.Per Mines, but as most of them had fallen in the villages, collection was very slow and difficult.

 

Shortly after noon, there were enough A.Per Mines to enable 1 Tp to make some show of the minefield in the covered approach in the area 098736, but there were insufficient for the other A.Per minefield required in the area 114752.

 

At the same time 3 Tp made a start on the A.Tk minefield through the HEROUVILLETTE - LE MARIQUET orchards.  There were only enough mines to do the SOUTHERN half of the belt, and even that at 1 mine per 2 yards.  The NORTHERN belt was therefore laid as a dummy.  Fortunately, enough wire and mine-marking gear, although packed separately, was found for the job.

 

No.2 Tp scheduled to drop with 9 Para Bn N.E. of VARAVILLE were scattered far and wide.  Half the Tp under Lt. HINSHELWOOD were dropped near ROBEHOMME, but joined up with elements of 1 Cdn Para Bn with whom they fought until D+2.  Of the RE who were scheduled to land by glider actually within the SALLENELLES bty, Lt. SHAND'S party landed near CABOURG, but managed to rejoin 9 Para Bn after taking some prisoners, and rejoined the Sqn in the evening.  One other glider crash landed in ENGLAND.

 

No news in available about the Tp Comd, Capt JACKSON and his load.

 

Late in the evening, Capt DAVIDSON, the 2 i/c. rejoined the Sqn bringing a captured 3-ton lorry.  His stick had been dropped between SALLENELLES and HAUGER but ran into an ambush near AMFREVILLE.  Only after expending all their amn and losing several casualties were they taken prisoner.  They were released when 6 Commando assaulted the village.

 

No more is known about the O.C. Major WOOD, and his stick.  Capt DAVIDSON assumed comd on arrival, relieving Capt. SEMPLE, who had carried out all the scheduled tasks except for the NORTHERN A.Per minefield, showing great coolness and initiative throughout.

 

2 PL, 249 FIELD COY., R.E.

Capt. NEILSON'S party of 5 Sprs in each of three gliders with the 52nd Lt Inf all landed within 100 yds of the BENOUVILLE BR as planned.  Although no artificial obstructions were in fact in posn, the LZ was rough and marshy, and great tribute has been paid by all concerned to the skill of the Glider Pilots.  Even so, the shock of landing dazed most of the men for a few seconds.

 

The Spr work went according to the rehearsed plan and every man was at his appointed place searching for possible demolition charges within two minutes of touching down.  The intended posn of charges was indicated by paint and this enabled the br to be declared clear within 5 minutes.

 

A message came through by 38 Set that only one glider had landed at the RANVILLE BR.  Capt NEILSON therefore took RE dets to the br and was able to declare the br free just as Lt BENCE arrived.  The latter's glider had landed some 500 yds away.  The third glider landed in the marshes near the coast and EAST of the R. ORNE, and the party did not arrive until the evening of D+1.

 

The Sprs. then took up a posn in the def layout covering the brs and played their part in repelling counter attack.

 

A classification of both brs was carried out at first light and the approaches verified as clear of mines.

 

Recce of the footbridge at 114762 was not possible before 1100 hrs owing to snipers who were extremely active in the neighbourhood.

 

Of the four gliders with br equipment and the balance of the Pl, three landed on various parts of the L.Z. about 0325 hrs.  One was considerably damaged but the personnel unhurt and eqpt. serviceable.  Reps have reported at what has since earned the name of Engineer Copse, namely 112737, and the CRE instructed that equipment should be guarded until tpt could be made available from HQRE.  Equipment was then to be dumped on EAST bank of R. ORNE for use in case the brs subsequently went.  In point of fact, one jeep and trailer was produced about 0730 hrs and two glider loads dumped at the specified site by 1130 hrs.

 

The Pl. then remained throughout the day in a def posn covering the br and assisted in the capture of a gunboat trying to dislodge the grn.

 

MECH EQPT DET - 286 FD PK COY R.E.

Two out of three gliders containing Airborne Bulldozers and crews and one containing a Jeep, compressor, and American Tipper trailer landed on the L.Z. at 0325 hrs.  Unloading proved rather a problem as one bulldozer broke the ramp and buckled a trough, but safely survived the drop to the ground.  The other machine also got out safely in spite of a heavy landing and broken nose wheel.  Both machines were working on their strips within 1½ hrs of landing, i.e., about 0445 hrs.  In 8 hours, and well in time for the next glider force landing at 2100 hrs, they had cleared unassisted the four strips of glider debris from the first landing, as well as filling in the holes on the two EASTERLY strips where poles had not been planted.  During this time, the LZ was subjected to occasional sniping, mortar, and shell fire, and no praise can be too great for the calm and methodical way the operators of these small machines tackled these and subsequent jobs.

 

H.Q.R.E.

Of the parachute advance party with 591 Para Sqn, Lt. SHINNER, IORE, and Spr. GUARD in the same a/c. as Major WOOD, failed to appear and are still missing though the aircrew report dropping slightly SOUTH of the D.Z.

 

Of the other pair who dropped about 0100 hrs, Spr. SOUSTER arrived at the Sqn R.V., but the C.R.E. landed some 1200 yds SOUTH in HEROUVILLETTE where an enemy anti-parachute Commando was operating.  The streets were unhealthy by reason of several patrols, LMG's, and an armoured car, but after a steeplechase over back garden walls, he reached the Sqn R.V. about 0230 hrs.

 

Of the two HQRE gliders, only one arrived with S/Sgt RICKMAN (APTC att), L/Cpl. HULLIN and the draughtsman.  The second containing the Adjutant, Capt MAYNARD, and 3 OR's, is missing, having, it is reported, been hit by flak.

 

HQRE was established alongside Div HQ in LE BAS DE RANVILLE about 0600 hrs and Lt. LOCKEY was brought in from 591 Para Sqn as Adjutant cum IORE.  The staff was slender, consisting of only one L/Cpl. clerk, D.R., Draughtsman, & S/Sgt. APTC att.

 

RE Units and dets, except 3 Para Sqn, reverted under CRE's comd from 0600 hrs.

 

249 FIELD COY - LESS 2 PL - PLUS STORES DET 286 FD PK COY. R.E.

Meanwhile the marching party of 249 Field Coy less 2 Pl started landing under 3 Cdn Div on NAN sector at about 0915 hrs.  The first party under Capt SMERDON themselves had to capture the assembly area ARCHIE, taking five prisoners.  Since LA DELIVERANDE was still in enemy hands, they were not allowed by 1 Corps to go through to the 6 Airborne Div Assembly Area HOMER just SE of COLLEVILLE-SUR-ORNE.

 

DET 286 FD. PK. COY. R.E.

The odd glider allotted just two days prior to the Op which container L/Cpl. DAY, a fitter, a Carpenter from Wkshops Pl, a jeep & trailer, and 100 Mk. V. A.Tk Mines landed safely on the LZ WEST of the Canal about 2100 hrs, and reported to HQRE during the night.  In view of the limited success of the jettison drop, these mines were more than welcome.

 

II - D + 1

 

3 PARA SQN., R.E.

The OC made personal contact with the CRE early in the morning at HQRE.

 

Very few more mines had been retrieved from the jettison drop but a special allotment was forthcoming from a 1000 obtained by HQRE from 3 Br. Div. and the X-rds at 141729 were mined during the evening and night under small arms fire.

 

Although Capt SMITH had rejoined the Sqn on 'D' Day from VARAVILLE, the rest of 2 Tp were still out with elements of 1 Cdn. Para Bn.  About 1600 hrs L/Sgt. WREN and 7 Sprs blew two craters at rd junc 193736 near LE HOIN, being unable to find the correct culvert ordered owing to floods.  Contact had now been made by and inf patrol with 3 Para Bde HQ and the combined force made their way there under cover of darkness.

 

About 1600 hrs Lt MARSH was sent out to recce the rd circuits laid down in Op Instr, although many of these had been covered during the Squadrons' wanderings the day before.  He was unable to get round them all as some were still in enemy hands, but he returned some 4 hrs later having found no signs of enemy mining.  Ground comn with LE MESNIL Sector was still very precarious & hazardous, so the Unit was left under comd of 3 Para Bde until the situation was clearer.

 

591 PARA. SQN., R.E.

During the day and evening, the HEROUVILLETTE - LE MARIQUET minefield was thickened up with the extra 100 mines received by glider and the additional sup arranged through 3 Br Div.  The Squadron, already sadly depleted some unfortunate casualties through enemy mortar fire although dug in.

 

249 FIELD COY., R.E.

Although under CRE's comd, No.2 Platoon was still in posn on the br as its def was still rather thin and subject to counter attack.  They were, however, allotted the engr task of proving a water pt.

 

Water sup proved even more difficult than had been expected.  After from a few small shallow wells in the villages, the only adequate source was the Canal which fortunately was passed fit.  A type 'A' water point with a purification trailer was forthcoming during the afternoon from 3 Br Div as planned and a water point was established just NORTH of BENOUVILLE BR on the island spit.  Unfortunately the br was dive bombed during the evening and a direct hit obtained.  The bomb either disintegrated without detonating or detonated in the superstructure.  In either case the br escaped but the water point alongside did not and was damaged beyond repair.

 

The veh party by sea, although it had been lying off the beaches since 1130 hrs on 'D' Day, did not land until 1600 hrs or so on D+1, and the seaborne party of 249 Field Coy and 286 Field Stores did not all concentrate until about 1730 hrs in ARCHIE.  Even then, they were not allowed to proceed by 1 Corps and had to remain there overnight.

 

PART V - D+2 (8 Jun)

 

Vehicles and personnel parties of 249 Field Coy RE (Airborne) and stores detachment of 286 Field Park Company, R.E. arrived in 6 Airborne Division concentration area HOMER between COLLEVILLE-SUR-ORNE and ST AUBIN D'ARQUENAY about noon, and the O.C. Major RUTHERFORD, came straight over the bridges to make contact with the CRE about 1330 hours.  Vehicles and personnel had so far escaped casualties in spite of some sniping and had found no mines en route.

 

The Company and Field Park detachment went into harbour about 1900 hours in an orchard at 114740, one of the few places left in an already overcrowded area.

 

3 Para Squadron, still under command of their brigade, could not be withdrawn in view of the tactical situation and took their place in the line as infantry at LE MESNIL.

 

591 Para Squadron, trying to take a well earned rest, unfortunately suffered several Mortar casualties although well dug in.

 

During the late evening the first build up in personnel and transport for the parachute squadrons arrived just 24 hours late.  Those for 3 Para Squadron had to be held up as the route through was too precarious.

 

PART VI - D+3 (9 JUN)

 

Captain DIXON, 2 i/c of the Field Park Company who had arrived with the 249 Field Company was brought in as Adjutant, as there was still no news of Captain MAYMARD and Lieutenant SHINNER.

 

249 Field Company were occupied in the establishment of two water points in RANVILLE and LE BAS DE RANVILLE.

 

Fortunately, the 6 Airborne Division purification trailer which had come in with 249 Field Company, was serviceable and therefore replaced that provided by 3 British Division, and damaged in the bombing of the bridge.  This trailer did a series of milk rounds behind a 15-cwt truck, the intervals allowing the wells to recover.

 

During this day, 249 Field Company suffered badly from Mortar fire and shelling.  In the evening they went forward to assist 12 DEVONS hold an attack on LE BAS DE RANVILLE.

 

At 2300 hours a defensive minefield was ordered running NORTH and SOUTH astride the road running EAST from LE MARIQUET.  The mines were available and laying by 591 Para Squadron started at 2345 hours.  It was then completed by 0500 hours next morning.

 

PART VII

NARRATIVE - D+4 (10 JUNE) ET SEQ.

 

Before long it was possible to withdraw 3 Para Squadron from its infantry role, and in passing, it is interesting to note that the most important troop position was taken over by a Parachute Battalion.  Most of the Squadron had been in continual contact with the enemy at a range of 100 yards or less for several days and were in sad need of rest.

 

Before the Squadron returned however, one or two patrols were carried out with the infantry and in these the Sappers proved themselves fully capable of deliberate movement behind the enemy lines.  The most successful one of this type was done by a section of R.E. and platoon of infantry which succeeded in blowing two craters behind the enemy on the road leading out of BREVILLE.  Before retiring, they had the satisfaction of hearing an enemy half track vehicle go into the first crater.

 

Operations became more and more static and Engineer work correspondingly domestic.  From strengthening and blast-proofing of buildings, structures progressed, via a brigade headquarters of cut and cover splinterproof dugouts in an orchard, to a Divisional Headquarters of shellproof dugouts tucked in the side of an escarpment containing some small quarries.

 

The maintenance of roads and the development of tracks was a continual commitment.  The former absorbed a troop or platoon assisted by some local civilian labour.  Neither roadwork nor the shellproof shelters would have been possible without the mechanical equipment made available by 1 Corps and it was found that the following were always kept fully employed -

        4 3-ton tipper lorries.

        1 D-6 Bulldozer.

 

Additional mechanical equipment was required from time to time comprising

        One R.B. - 10 Face Shovel.

        Two Dumper Trucks.

        One D-8 Bulldozer

        One 5-ton Roller.

        One Auto-Patrol

 

The balance of the Field Park Company, including the Workshop Platoon, arrived 24 hours late and had the misfortune to lose 7 3-ton lorries by a direct hit on a Rhine Ferry.  Fortunately, the circular saw and the welding trailer survived, and these two proved invaluable.  The one lighting set to arrive filled a very definite requirement and to ensure a bare minimum of maintenance for it, offices were fitted with salvaged glider lights and batteries.

 

Three very efficient bath houses were produced, fitted with hot showers, the roses for which were made from empty German egg grenades.  Units using these showers had only to provide their own fuel and stoker.  The RE were not a little amused when the Mobile Bath Unit arrived, heralded by A/Q as "offering better facilities", and broke down the first day.

 

The demands for sandbags always exceeded by a very long the Divisional allotment for stocks landed over the beaches and three special resupply drops, one of 20,000 and three of 100,000, were demanded.  Of course, some 70% found their way to the RE Dump.

 

One particular instance of air supply on special demand is worth quoting.  The stock of spare glass chlorine pump rods for the water purification trailer was almost exhausted and the demand was submitted to Divisional Headquarters at 1700 hours on one day quoting makers part number and address in SOMERSET.  Twelve glass rods were dropped by air at 2030 hours the following evening preceded two hours earlier by a message by wireless from the makers warning the user not to overtighten the pump glands.

 

Mine clearing did not arise except to gap an enemy field of French mines to provide a path for our patrols, and on another occasion to sweep paths to resupply containers which dropped in another enemy minefield in a rear area.  During the latter task,  a new type of mine of Belgian origin was found.

 

OVERLORD

PART VIII

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

 

1. Planning -

It is strongly recommended that the introduction of a representative from AFDC at a very early stage in detailed planning would be of very great assistance over abnormal glider and parachute loads, provision of special equipment, modification of that existing etc.

 

2. Equipment -

(a) Bridging -

For the majority of European rivers the Hoddy (recce boat) Raft Equipment is not suitable.  It also requires specially made superstructure.  The Anti-Tank Gun Assault Boat Raft with Mk III boats is much more suitable equipment.  A double raft with king posts and balancing gear will take a jeep and trailer or gun at once, thereby providing a prime mover to facilitate on-loading and off-loading.  It can also be made into a continuous floating bridge to take all divisional light equipment except light tanks.  It loads into a Horsa glider without difficulty, one glider taking 3½ rafts, i.e. 84 feet of bridge.  One raft, complete with outboard motor and ferry gear can be carried on a jeep and two trailers using the detachable trailer transoms developed by Airborne Forces Development Centre.  It is therefore recommended that Hoddy Rafts and special trestles be replaced by four assault boat raft superstructures.  The recce boats should remain as at present and the 24 assault boats should be changed from Mk II to Mk III.  The ferrying gear requires investigation and possible amendments.

 

(b) Mechanical -

The Clarke Crawler Tractors (Airborne Bulldozers), although obviously limited in their scope, are well worth bringing by air.  They definitely require some form of low loading trailer to tow behind a 3-tonner.  The prototype developed by Airborne Forces Development Centre is suitable.  Unloading from the Horsa glider also requires further investigation by Airborne Forces Development Centre and possibly special equipment.  A heavier machine is however essential for protracted operations and the addition of two D6 bulldozers on transports is recommended.

 

(c) Motor Cycles -

The allotment of light and heavy weight motor cycles in RE units is alright.  With a fair standard of maintenance, the lightweight was found to stand up to fairly hard wear and tear, but it will not cope with mud which clogs spokes and mudguards.

 

(d) Compressor Trailers and Warsop Drills -

Both have proved their worth.  Warsops were used by a Para Sqn for road mining, the only quick alternative at present being the preliminary use of No 75 grenades fired by a ring main.  The compressor trailer should benefit considerably from the air reservoir due to be incorporated in later models.  A reduced scale of tools was carried on the trailer itself but no bad cross country work was demanded.  The tool boxes and fittings being developed for the towing jeep by Airborne Forces Development Centre are definitely required.

 

(e) Lighting Sets -

The two 4 KW lighting sets at present held by Fd Pk Coy proved to be a definite requirement and it is doubtful whether a smaller set with fewer points would do.  These can come by sea while for immediate needs glider fittings suffice very adequately.  Div Sigs and RA can recharge the batteries for most people, but the Fd Pk Coy could usefully hold two 300 Watt charging sets themselves.

 

(f) Wireless Sets -

The six No 68 sets provided a most useful RE command net.  The set allotted to 3 British Division on the Airborne RE net had to be specially provided, and as this requirement may be normal, it is for consideration whether or not eight sets are required.  These would be distributed two per Para Sqn, two for HQRE, one for Airborne Fd Coy and one for flanking formation.  The question of operators for these sets will be discussed later.

 

(g) Tradesmen's Kits in Para Sqns -

The present scale is totally inadequate for normal ground operations.  Carpenters and Fitters kits in particular must be increased.

 

(h) Glider Troughs and Trestles -

Mention has already been made of lighting fittings and batteries, but troughs and trestles are invaluable for roof beams, trestle towers etc.  They must be collected and controlled early by RE.

 

(i) Divisional Reserve Tools -

The hundred odd picks and two hundred odd shovels with the Airborne Fd Pk Coy are quite inadequate and should be increased to a normal Fd Pk holding.

 

3. War Establishments -

(a) Para Sqn RE -

As was expected the need for more administrative personnel for an operation of even a few weeks was sadly felt.  It is obviously wrong that a unit, already small in numbers and further reduced by initial casualties, should have to withdraw working personnel from Troops for such duties.  The actual requirement is bound up with the additional vehicles discussed below, but proposals already submitted by Airborne Forces Development Centre and still held by them, would vastly increase the scope of the unit.  In a normal ground role twelve officers are ample, and although in the initial airborne operation the high proportion of officers proved very useful, twelve should suffice with Aircraft of the Dakota and Stirling types.  The minimum transport required is as follows:-

        Lorries 3-ton             - 2 (Sqn HQ)

        Trucks 15-cwt GS     - 3 (One per Troop)

        Cars 5-cwt                - 6 (One per Troop, three Sqn HQ)

        Trailers 10-cwt          - 4 (One per Troop, one Sqn HQ)

        Trailers compressor   - 2 (Sqn HQ)

        Trucks 15-cwt water - 1 (Sqn HQ)

 

(b) Fd Coy RE (Airborne) -

The personnel establishment leaves nothing to be desired but vehicles require alteration.  Motor Cycle Combinations are obsolescent.  They proved useless on training and were not taken on the operation.  They should be replaced by eight cars 5-cwt, two in Coy HQ and two per Pl (one towing a trailer compressor).  3-ton lorries should be increased from three to four to allow one in Coy HQ and one per Platoon.  15-cwt trucks should be increased from one to two as originally.  The two airborne water trailers should be reduced to one and the 15-cwt water truck retained as well.

 

(c) Fd Pk Coy RE (Airborne) -

The Airborne establishment of personnel and vehicles is alright except that two and not one operator per bulldozer are wanted, but for the ground role 3-ton lorries should be increased from three to six as airborne trailers are totally unsatisfactory for the carriage of engineer stores.  The question of heavy bulldozer and low loading trailers has already been mentioned.  The former will entail extra bulldozer operators.  The unit should have a 15-cwt water truck or an airborne water trailer and towing jeep.  There is a very good case based on experience in this operation for one officer and twelve other ranks of the Stores Platoon to be parachutists as in the divisional RASC.  These personnel are required very early, not to collect containers which can well be done by RASC already used for the purpose, but to sort and control engineer stores as well as to provide stores holding parties for local resources.

 

(d) HQRE -

The need for a Field Engineer has been proved by operations.  An additional cpl clerk and a pioneer (general dutyman) represent a necessity for operations and training.  A cook is also very desirable for protracted operations.

 

(e) Wireless Operators -

The present war establishments of HQRE and the Para Sqns make it impossible to man the RE command net sets without diverting personnel from other equally important duties.  Three operators are required at HQRE and in each Para Sqn.  In the case of the latter the operators can be included in the increased establishment.

 

4. Demolition Technique -

(a) The General Wade charge is excellent for the rapid work normally required of Airborne RE.

 

(b) The use of beehives as an alternative to the camouflet eqpt is firmly established.  There are very few soils in which it will not work and it is quicker - four craters per sec of a Troop or Platoon per hour.

 

(c) For a demolition belt to be done by a Para Sqn it is definitely not safe to rely on collecting stores from gliders.  The bare minimum at least must be carried down in kitbags or unit containers.  Accessory packs should be on the man.

 

(d) The adoption of a universal bulk explosive i.e. Plastic 808 would greatly simplify training and supply and demolition work on operations.

 

5. Maintenance -

(a) In spite of most detailed preparations for the supply early of wire, mines, explosives and tools by the flanking assault division, only the last materialised in the attendant and unavoidable confusion of an opposed landing.

 

(b) It is not easy to give a decision on the value of the Jettison Drop.  Since 3 and 591 Para Sqns found enough mines and marking equipment in very close country to start their prebriefed second tasks it must be reckoned to a large extent successful.  Of the rest of the RE jettison drop some was found later and some 40% fell into enemy hands.  In country where containers are likely to be fairly easy to retrieve it will always be a very great asset.  In any case it should be restricted to expendable items such as explosives, mines and wire and not include items of equipment.

 

(c) Resupply by air, particularly on demand, was one of the outstanding successes of the operation.

 

6. Local Resources -

Reports of local stocks by RE was inconsistent - at times good, at times bad.  Officers and NCOs must learn to reconnoitre the neighbourhood in which they are working irrespective of the job at hand.  Any stores of value must either be evacuated to the RE Dump at once or a Stores Holding Party put on site forthwith.

 

7. Training -

The tasks carried out as detailed in the narrative are all typical of the employment of an Airborne Div RE in the "Seize and Hold" role.  The need for paying adequate attention to military training for the airborne sapper was borne out fully and this should include a good working knowledge of enemy weapons.  Subjects in which the standard of training was not high enough were:-

    (a) Roads - maintenance and construction - theory and practice;

    (b) Road reconnaissance.

    (c) Use of mechanical equipment;

    (d) The sound and economical construction of field structures such as shelters etc.

 

8. Conclusion -

In some respects luck was with RE 6 Airborne Division and tasks proved easier than expected, but they also had their full share - more than many - of bad luck over casualties, faulty dropping and loss of equipment.  In spite of these, the determination to get the allotted tasks done somehow, a fighting morale that started very high and never flagged through the shelling and the tedium of road work, and outstanding initiative won through to be crowned with success.

 

Lt-Col RE

CRE 6 Airborne Division
In the Field

14 Jul 44

 

 

APPENDIX "A"

RE BUILD-UP BY SEA

 

Unit

Day

Lorries

3-ton

Cars

5-cwt

Trailers

10-cwt

Trailers

Compressor

Trucks

15cwt GS

Trucks

15-cwt

Compressor

Truck

15 cwt

Water

Trailer

REMARKS

249 Fd Coy RE

D

-

8

7

2

1(a)

1

-

-

(a) Carrying stores for both Para Sqns.
286 Fd Pk Coy RE(b)

D

-

1

1

-

-

-

-

1

(b) Detachments Field Stores & Coy HQ
HQRE

D

-

1

1

1

1(c)

1

-

-

(c) Towing water purification trailer & carrying stores for HQRE & Field Pk.
3 Para Sqn RE

D+1

-

4

2

1(d)

-

-

-

-

(d) From Field Park.
591 Para Sqn RE

D+1

-

4

2

1

-

-

-

-

(a) Carrying stores for both Para Sqns.
249 Fd Coy RE

D+2

2(e)

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

(e) Carrying packs and water trailers.
591 Para Sqn RE

D+2

2(e)

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 
3 Para Sqn RE

D+2

2(e)

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 
3 Para Sqn RE

D+4

1(f)

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

(f) Carrying unit stores.
591 Para Sqn RE

D+4

1(f)

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 
249 Fd Coy RE

D+6

1

1

1

-

-

-

-

-

 
286 Fd Pk Coy RE

D+6

2

4

4

-

-

-

-

-

 
286 Fd Pk Coy RE

D+7

10

1

1

-

-

-

-

-

 

 

 

Appendix "B"

ENGINEER STORES, EXPLOSIVES & A.TK MINES - AVAILABILITY

 

Serial No.

Estimated Time

of Arrival in

Dump

Method of

Carriage

Item

Quantity

Remarks

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

(6)

1

'D' Day

"Jettison Drop"

Picks

700

Div res 100: 3 Para Bde 170: 5 Para Bde 170: 6 Airldg Bde 260

2

-do-

-do-

Shovels G.S.

1350

Div res 200: 3 Para Bde 325: 5 Para Bde 325: 6 Airldg Bde 500

3

-do-

-do-

Axes, felling

150

3 Para Bde 40: 5 Para Bde 40: 6 Airldg Bde 70

4

-do-

-do-

Axes, hand

110

3 Para Bde 30: 5 Para Bde 30: 6 Airldg Bde 50

5

-do-

-do-

Saws, hand 26"

100

3 Para Bde 30: 5 Para Bde 30: 6 Airldg Bde 40

6

-do-

-do-

Bars, boring  & jumping

64

3 Para Bde 18: 5 Para Bde 18: 6 Airldg Bde 28

7

-do-

-do-

Grens, No.75

800

RE res 600: SS Bde 200

8

-do-

-do-

Mines, A.Tk. Mk.V.

2175

Including 500 for 249 Field Coy, R.E.

9

-do-

-do-

Explosives & Accessories  tons

0.60

For SS Bde

10

-do-

-do-

        "                    "             "

1.65

For 591 Para Sqn RE (Explosive sausages for glider strip clearing)

11

-do-

-do-

        "                    "             "

3.00

RE Res.

12

-do-

-do-

Pts for Cam Eqpt super light.

60

RE Res.

13

-do-

-do-

Camouflet sets super light

6

For SS Bde.

14

-do-

-do-

Mine Marking Sets 'B'

4

RE Reserve

15

-do-

-do-

Wire, 14 SWG  1000-yd coils

10

For minefield marking

16

-do-

-do-

Nails, assorted   lbs.

112

RE Reserve.

17

-do-

-do-

Tapes, tracing  50-yd coils

50

   -do-

18

-do-

-do-

Tapes, measuring  100-ft

10

   -do-

19

-do-

-do-

Paint & Brushes,  lbs

112

   -do-

20

-do-

-do-

Wire, barbed  56-lb coils

40

Approx 600 yds low wire obstacle.

21

By -do-

-do-

Warsop Drills

6

3 each, 3 & 591 Para Sqns RE.

22

0400 D 1

3 Brit Div. Tpt.

Axes, hand.

100

 

23

-do-

-do-

Axes, pick.

800

 

24

-do-

-do-

Shovels, G.S.

1500

 

25

-do-

-do-

Axes, felling

30

 

26

-do-

-do-

Shovels, RE

50

 

27

-do-

-do-

Wiring Stores  tons

17.5

3000 yds mixed, DAF, Dannert, & low wire.

28

-do-

-do-

Anti-Tank Mines, Mk V

2500

 

29

-do-

-do-

Explosives & Accessories  tons

2.5

Half explosive standard.

30

1000 hrs D 1

Resup Drop

Explosives & Accessories  tons

2.5

Half explosive standard.

31

-do-

-do-

Wire, barbed,  56-lb coils

200

 

32

-do-

-do-

Wire, 14 SWG  Coils 1000-yd

10

 

33

-do-

-do-

Nails assorted  lbs

112

 

34

-do-

-do-

Tapes, tracing,  Rolls 50-yd

50

 

35

-do-

-do-

Boats, recce

10

 

36

-do-

-do-

Spares, for Warsop Drills & pneumatic tools

 

As per G.1098 Fd Pk Coy RE

37

-do-

-do-

Tapes, measuring, 100 ft

10

 

38

-do-

-do-

Sets, Basic, Carpenters & Joiners

3

 

39

-do-

-do-

Sets, Basic, Fitters

3

 

40

-do-

-do-

Changed Spheres, elements & batteries  each

16

 

41

-do-

-do-

Fuel for flamethrowers  gals

32

 

42

-do-

-do-

Paint, black, white, red, yellow  each lbs

28

In 7-lb tins

43

-do-

-do-

Brushes, 1" 2" & 4"  each

18

 

44

-do-

-do-

Levels, FS

6

 

45

By -do-

-do-

Mine Detectors

6

 

46

0400 hrs D 2

3 Br Div Tpt

Wiring Stores,  tons

17.5

3000 yds mixed, DAF, Dannert & low wire

47

-do-

-do-

Mines A Tk Mk V

2500

 

48

-do-

-do-

A Per Mines

500

 

 

 

Subject:- War Establishments - RE 6 Airborne Div.

PNL/612/A

APO ENGLAND

29 Sep 44

 

HQ 6 Airborne Div.

1. Experience in NORMANDY has shown that several amendments are required to existing WEs.  The recommendations below embody those made by Lt-Col LOWMAN in his report on the first phase of OVERLORD.  They are also based on the assumption that the basic organisation of Airborne Div RE, namely two para sqns, one airborne fd coy and one airborne fd pk coy, remains unchanged.

 

2. Wireless.  Six No 68 sets were provided for OVERLORD and these were found to be essential.  If the stay of the division in a theatre of operations is prolonged a heavier No 22 set or equivalent set is required as soon as it can be phased in with the necessary transport.  No provision was made for operators as these are not included in the WEs of HQRE or Sqns and Coys.  They had therefore to be found by taking sappers off other duties, which with the shortage of numbers is clearly an unsatisfactory solution.  The ideal solution is for an N Sec Royal Signals to be provided similar in organisation to that of an Inf Div, namely, capable of manning six sets.  Alternatively, HQRE and each sqn or coy should have three operators included in their establishment.  The operators (RCS or RE) of HQRE should be parachutists.

 

3. HQRE.

(a) The need for a Field Engineer has been proved by operations.  This increase in officers can be offset by the proposed decrease in the numbers of offrs in a para sqn.

(b) A Cpl clerk to allow for casualties and a pioneer RE general dutyman represent a necessity for operations.

(c) A RSM is not included in the WE, though one is held surplus to establishment.  It is considered that a RSM is required in operations.  By virtue of his rank he represents a highly qualified man who can fulfil the duties of an officer if need arises.  At base the RSM is a considerable help in the training of NCOs. and at the same time gives an opening to the senior airborne NCOs for promotion to senior rank.  A RSM is provided for Inf Div RE but not for Armd Div RE.  The proportion of NCOs in the airborne div RE is higher than in either of these divs.

(d) Transport.  Truck 15-cwt GS to be replaced by Lorry 3-ton GS (4x4), as a better lift and a better performance is obtained.  Neither type of vehicle can as yet be transported by air.  No change in establishment of drivers IC is required.

 

4. PARA SQNS

(a) Administrative Personnel in Para Sqns.  An increment to Sqn HQ for administrative duties is a necessity for operations and training.  These personnel need not be jumpers.  They are required for the following purposes:-

        (i) At base to carry out administrative duties so as to avoid taking parachutists off training.  This difficulty has been overcome in UK by holding home details surplus to WEs.

        (ii) During operations to provide rear party at base to assist in packing containers and to take care of G1098 stores not taken on the specific operation.  First reinforcements 2 officers and 6 ORs are insufficient for this purpose, and in any case it is not their correct role.

        (iii) To join the para sqn in the field if the operation lasts for more than a few days.

        (iv) To supplement the number of tradesmen in the para sqn.  In theory the WEs allow a sufficient selection of tradesmen with possibly one or two modifications.  In practice volunteer tradesmen at many of these trades e.g. clerks, are not forthcoming and the para sqn is thus severely handicapped.

 

The number of sappers recommended is as follows:-

L/Sgt

Cpl

L/Cpl

Sappers

Total ORs

1

1

1

17

20

Trades

Blacksmiths

Bricklayers

Carpenters & Joiners

Clerks

Electricians

Engine Hand IC

Painter & Decorator

Plumber & Pipe-fitters

Sheet Metal Workers

Pioneers RE for duty as general dutymen

Motor Cyclists

1

1

1

2

1

1

1

1

1

8

2

 

(b) Transport.  The Para Sqns are severely handicapped by a shortage of tpt for engineer stores and equipment both during training at base and during a prolonged stay in the battle area.  The principle whereby tpt is provided by the Composite Coy RASC is not satisfactory as it was found during the later stages in NORMANDY that the Sqns were called upon to provide drivers.  The only source of supply was from sappers who had been trained as drivers.  This reduces the numbers available for work and for this reason is unsatisfactory.  The sqns are without tpt for water and also have a need for compressors as during a prolonged stay the amount of RE work inevitably becomes heavier.  It is recommended that their tpt should be classified under two categories, light airborne vehicles and heavy follow-up vehicles.  The latter should be on a 3-ton basis.  The scale of tpt recommended is:-

 

Sqn HQ

Tp.

Total

REMARKS

Cars 5-cwt 4x4

4

1

7

Increase of 7.  One replaces one car 5-cwt 4x2

Trailers 10-cwt (airborne)

1

1

4

Two recommended by 1 Airborne Div for carriage of demolition stores.

Trailers binned store

1

-

1

Increase of 1.

Trailers Compressor

2

-

2

Increase of 2.

Trailers Water 10-cwt 2-wheeled 100 galls

1

-

1

Increase of 1.

Lorries 3-ton GS 4x4

2

1

5

Increase of 4.  In UK, Fd Pk Coy have held a pool of 3-ton lorries surplus to establishment, for carriage of engineer stores etc on training.

 

Increase of driver personnel (non-jumpers)

Tpt Cpl (Driver Class)

Driver Mechanic (Driver Class)

Drivers Vehicles

1

1

10 (1 to be L/Cpl).

 

(c) Officers.  The numbers of officers in the Sqn is 19, including 2 officers first reinforcements.  Although in an airborne operation a high proportion of officers is initially essential to allow for casualties, three officers per troop will suffice with aircraft of the Dakota or Stirling type.  One extra officer is required in Sqn HQ for recce duties.  The number of officers required would be:-

        Sqn HQ - 3, Tp Offrs - 9, First Reinforcements - 2.  Total = 14.

 

A complementary decrease of 5 drivers IC jumpers (batmen) can be made, but in order to maintain the number of parachutists at present strength 10 sapper jumpers should be substituted.  These can be pioneers RE.

 

(d) A suggested revised WE incorporating the above amendments is attached as an appendix.

 

5. Fd Coy (Airborne)  The only proposals for amendments to the WE of this Coy relate to tpt.  The following recommendations are made:-

    (a) Nine motor cycles combinations to be replaced by nine cars 5-cwt(4x4).  The motor cycle combination has already been found unsatisfactory.  Jeeps have in fact been issued during the present re-equipment and the amendment therefore only requires official blessing.

    (b) An increase of 5 trailers 10-cwt (Airborne).  This is calculated as follows:- If amendment at (a) above is accepted, the Coy will hold 17 cars 5-cwt 4x4.  The number of trailers held is:-

Trailers 10-cwt (Airborne)

Trailers binned store

Trailers 10-cwt water

Trailers compressor

Total

4

4

2

3

13

 

One trailer 10-cwt water can be dispensed with.  It is considered that one trailer should be held on establishment for each jeep and an increase of five trailers 10-cwt (airborne) is therefore recommended.

 

    (c) An increase of two lorries 3-ton (6x4) winch making a total of three lorries 3-ton (6x4) winch and a compensating decrease of one truck 15-cwt (4x2) GS.  This will give a considerable increased lift for engineer stores and equipment and will allow one winch lorry per pl.

 

    (d) An increase of 10 drivers vehs will be required, i.e. nine for cars 5-cwt (4x4) and one for other vehicles.  A corresponding decrease of 9 sappers (pioneer RE) is possible.

 

6. Fd Pk Coy (Airborne).

    (a) Stores Sec.  One offr and twelve ORs of the stores sec should be parachutists.  These personnel are required early to sort and control engineer stores and to provide stores holding parties for local resources.  This proposal does not involve any increase in establishment.

    (b) Mechanical Equipment Det.

            (i) As the result of a recent amendment (July 44) the mechanical equipment held is:-

Graders blade 8 ft mould board (Caterpillar No 33)

Rollers Sheepsfoot ('Allan' with detachable feet)

Scrapers 4 yds ('Le Tourneau' cable operated)

Tractors Crawler class IV (Caterpillar D4)

Light Airborne (Caterpillar)

1

1

1

2

3

            (ii) The number of operators excavator on the WE remains at 3.  Experience in NORMANDY has shown that at least two and preferable three operators excavator should be held for each bulldozer, (1 Corps recommendation).  It is therefore recommended that the number of operators excavator should be increased from 3 to 6, which will also allow for operation of additional machines.

            (iii) Lorries 3-ton GS (4x4) should be changed from 3 (4x2) to 6 (4x4) to carry engineer stores and equipment, both during operations and at base.  One of these should be winch.  In UK a pool of 3-ton lorries surplus to establishment has been kept for this purpose.

            (iv) Two trailers compressor should be replaced by two trucks 15-cwt compressor.  The heavier truck 15-cwt Compressor is required during a prolonged stay in a battle area, when the trailers compressor are likely to break down through hard wear.  A recommendation has been made in Para 4(b) above to add two trailers compressor to a para sqn.  If this is accepted it is considered that the heavier truck 15-cwt compressor should replace the trailer compressor in the Fd Pk Coy.

            (v) One lorry 3-ton (6x4) Machinery RE 24 kw should be added.  The trailers machinery do not stand up to continuous hard work.  It was found that the heavier work fell on the fd pk coy whilst the preparations for operations were being made, namely, after detail planning started.  The trailers machinery therefore were overworked just before the operation.  The same difficulty arises if the trailers machinery have to work for a prolonged period in the battle area.  The need for the heavy machinery lorry was felt in NORMANDY.

            (vi) Total increase in drivers IC if the above amendments are accepted would be six.

 

7. Conclusion.

To sum up, the following increases and decreases in personnel are required:-

 

 

INCREASE

 

 

DECREASE

 

 

Offrs

Spr Class

Dvr Class

Offrs

Spr Class

Dvr Class

 HQRE

1(b)

2(a)

-

-

-

-

 Para Sqn.

-

20(a), 10(b)

12(a)

5(b)

-

5(b)

 Para Sqn.

-

20(a), 10(b)

12(a)

5(b)

-

5(b)

 Fd Coy (Airborne)

-

-

10

-

9

-

 Fd Pk Coy (Airborne)

-

3

6

-

-

-

 Total Airborne Div RE

1

65

40

10

9

10

                        (a) = Non-jumpers

                        (b) = jumpers.

 

J.R.C. Hamilton

Lt-Col

CRE 6 AIRBORNE DIVISION.

29 Sep 44
APO ENGLAND

JRCH/RE.

 

 

Appendix to:- RE 6 Airborne Div PNL/612/A dated 29 Sep 44

SUGGESTED WE for PARACHUTE SQUADRON RE

 

Detail

HQ Jumpers

HQ non-jumpers

Each Troop (3)

Total

Major

1

-

-

1

Captain

1

-

1

4

Subaltern

1

-

2

7

Total Officers =

3

-

3

12

 

 

 

 

 

Sqn Sjt Major.  Total WOs =

1

-

-

1

 

 

 

 

 

Sqn Quartermaster Sjt

1

-

-

1

Sjts

1

-

1

4

Total Sjts =

2

-

1

5

 

 

 

 

 

L/Sjts

-

1

2

7

Cpls.

2

1

4

15

Cpls (Dvr i/c)

-

1

-

1

L/Cpls.

2

1

8

27

L/Cpls (Dvr i/c)

-

1

-

1

Sappers

7

17

19

81

Batmen

3

-

-

12

Vehicles

-

12

3

12

Water Duties

-

1

-

1

Sanitary Duties

-

1

-

1

 

 

 

 

 

Total Rank & File

14

36

36

158

Total Other Ranks

17

36

37

164

Total All Ranks

20

36

40

176

 

ACC attached as previously.

 

Summary of Changes in Personnel

 

Officers:- Reduced by 5.

Rank & File:-

 

INCREASE

 

DECREASE

 Total INCREASE

Detail

Jumpers

Non-Jumpers

Jumpers

 

Sapper Class

10

20

-

30

Driver Class

-

12

5

7

 

Total increase Rank and File:- 37.

Total increase all ranks:- 32.