National Archives catalogue number WO 171/5523.

 

Abbreviation

101000 hrs

110800A

A/B

Adj

Admin

Adv
AGRE

Air

A/L

Bde

BLA

Bn

BPB

Br

Cdn

CE

Cl

Comd

Comp

Coy

CRE

Diam

Div

DR

Excl

FBE

Fd

GHQ

HQRE

i/c

Incl

Junc

LB

LE

LI

LO

Lt

MA

Maint

MC

MG

OC

Pk

Pl

Pndr

POW

POWX

PT

RAChD

RASC

RE

RELE

Rly

RSJ

RUR

RV
SEAC

SP

Sqn

Tp

Tpt

Trg

u/c

10th (March), 1000 hrs

11th (March), 0800 hrs

Airborne

Adjutant

Administration

Advance

Army Group Royal Engineers

Airborne

Airlanding

Brigade

British Liberation Army

Battalion

Bailey Pontoon Bridge

Bridge

Canadian

Chief Engineer

Class

Command

Composite

Company

Commander Royal Engineers

Diameter

Division / Divisional

Despatch Rider

Exclude

Folding Boat Equipment

Field

General Headquarters

Headquarters Royal Engineers

In-Command

Include

Junction

Landing Bay

Land Element
Light Infantry

Liaison Officer

Light

Marshalling Area

Maintenance

Movement Control?

Machine Gun

Officer Commanding
Park

Platoon

Pounder

Prisoner of War

Ex-Prisoner of War

Physical Training

Royal Army Chaplain's Department

Royal Army Service Corps

Royal Engineers

Royal Engineers Land Element

Railway

Rolled Steel Joist

Royal Ulster Rifles

Rendezvous

South East Asia Command

Start Point

Squadron

Troop

Transport

Training

Under-Command

 

 

Month and year : March 1945

Commanding Officer : Maj A.H. Rutherford, R.E.

 

1st March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Adv party to ARRAS returned 0330 hrs and remained at last location as rear party until 1030 hrs.  Adv party for new company location at OSS, left old location at 0600 hrs under Lt MONCRIEFF, to meet guide near OSS at 1400 hrs.  The main body left at 0700 hrs to meet guide at R.V. at 1600 hrs.  Adv party reached R.V. by 1100 hrs and main body by 1400 hrs, so very rapid work was required by the adv party.  The billets allotted to us were only temporary as on 3 Mar we are to take over from 91 Fd Coy RE who are then moving out of the area.  This company is under comd 13 G.H.Q. troops and form part of 1 Cdn AGRE.  Probable tasks - road and br maint from 3 Mar.

 

2nd March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Recce of new billets to be taken over from 91 Fd Coy.  Tasks for following three days allotted as follows:- 2 Pl training.  1 Pl - Maintenance of B.P.B. at GRAVE.  3 Pl under comd 556 Fd Coy RE resurfacing main road br at GRAVE.

 

3rd March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Coy moves to new billets.  These taken over by 2 Pl and H.Q. are very dirty, and the whole day was spent cleaning them.  1 Pl take over maint of B.P.B. at GRAVE from 1600 hrs; one section is kept permanently on the br, and the other three sections work an 8 hour shift - 1600 - 2400, 2400 - 0800, 0800 - 1600.  3 Pl recce work for following day.

 

4th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

1 Pl Br maint.  2 Pl Training - route march, mines.  3 Pl under command 556 Fd Coy on main road bridge at GRAVE.  Approx length of bridge is 400 yds and width of roadway 25 ft.  The method of resurfacing is to cover the whole surface of the road with 4" of un-reinforced concrete.  Half the bridge is being worked on at one time, the other half is open to "down" traffic only, all "up" traffic is being diverted by B.P.B.  Work on the bridge is continued by shifts for 24 hours each day.  3 Pl work on shift 0800 to 1600 hrs.  Estimated date of completion is 6 March.

 

5th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

1 Pl maint of B.P.B.  This bridge was taken over in a very neglected condition, especially the maintenance and spare stores; and a lot of work has been required to restore these to a reasonable condition.  Also owing to half the main br being closed, there is a lot of traffic using the B.P.B., estimated at 500 vehicles per hour in daylight.  2 Pl Training and Baths.  3 Pl Work on GRAVE bridge.  First side completed, and work was held up while waiting for first side to set.

 

6th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

1 Pl Maint B.P.B.  2 Pl Training and half day in NIJMEGEN.  3 Pl work on GRAVE br.  The bridge is not complete, but should be finished by 1200 hrs tomorrow.  No change over of Pl tasks is to take place until the work on GRAVE br is completed.

 

7th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

2 Pl therefore remain on training for a further day, but take over B.P.B. maint at 1600 hrs.  This bridge is to be dismantled, starting tomorrow.  This is to be done by 156 Fd Coy RE, with two Pls of 249 Fd Coy RE under comd.  These Pls have been allotted the task of dismantling the Northern landing bay.  3 Pl on GRAVE bridge.  Work complete and road opened.  1 Pl on B.P.B. handover to 2 Pl at 1600 hrs.

 

8th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

2 Pl and 3 Pl under Capt Neilson RE, commenced stripping Northern landing bay of GRAVE B.P.B.  This landing bay is 220 ft T.S. [?] centrally supported at the span junction post on a special pier, similar to the normal B.P.B. Class 70 pier.  The effective end of the landing bay supported on a normal Class 40 pier.  Method of stripping is as follows:-

        1. Remove wearing surface and decking.

        2. Jack up at b[?] and lower onto rocking rollers.

        3. Pull all the landing bay and piers inshore by two KARRIER winch lorries, dismantling each bay as it passes over the rocking rollers.  By this method about 50 ft of the L.B. could be dismantled.

        4. Jack up on b[?] until the [? ?] of the junction posts could be joined by two Mk II links in each [?].

        5. Jack up until special pier could be floated out and dismantled.

        6. Jack down onto rocking rollers, winch the L.B. in and dismantle by the normal method for B.P.B.

At the end of the first days work 1 and 2 were completed and 3 started.  (1 Pl - Training on P.T., mines & route march).

 

9th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

2 Pl & 3 Pl on B.P.B. at GRAVE.  3 completed.  After putting in the pair of links on operation 4, it was found that they could not take the strain on jacking up.  It was therefore decided to remove them and to jack down dismantling pier and have only one link in each.  This meant that both [?] of the landing bay were in a straight line.  By the end of the day (working until 1830 hrs) the special pier was out, and the landing bay supported on rocking rollers.  1 Pl - Training.  Warning order to move with 13 G.H.Q. troops; advance party to be prepared to leave 101000 hrs.  O.C. details 1 Pl to act as advance party.  C.R.E. 6 Airborne Div arrives 1800 hrs, with orders that no personnel will cross River MAAS wearing Airborne identification, and sees C.R.E. 13 G.H.Q. troops to arrange cancellation of above move.

 

10th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Orders for move with 13 G.H.Q. troops held in abeyance.  No move by advance party.  1 Pl stand by ready to move, and in afternoon carry out training in movement and Pl harbouring.  2 Pl & 3 Pl continue on B.P.B., and hand over to Cdn Engineers to complete the task.  State of task on hand over:- Landing bay winched right in and all but 150 ft dismantled.

 

11th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Lt. MONCRIEFF R.E. moves to 6 Air/Div L.E. HQ near ARRAS as liaison officer for R.E.L.E.  At 110800A unit came under command 2[?] Army tps engineers.  Unit spent the day on trg, maintenance of vehicles stores etc.  3no 15 cwt trucks & 1no 19 & 2no 22 sets attached to coy.

 

12th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Coy is ordered to spend next few days on trg, as there are no immediate works.  All three platoons produce trg programmes and optimistically commence.  Lt Bence commences instruction of operators for 22 sets.

 

13th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Pl. trg continues.  Painting and maintenance of vehicles & stores.  Wireless trg continues.

 

14th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Coy on pl. trg, and wireless trg.

 

15th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Coy on pl & wireless trg.

 

16th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Coy on pl & wireless trg.

 

17th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Coy on pl trg.

 

18th March 1945

Place: Oss

 

Coy receives movement order from    to move to area ISSUN M.R. 0929 (1/100,000 Q.1).  Warning order passed to platoons 0900 hrs.  Adv. party under Capt G.L. Woodcock + 1 sec leaves 1200 hrs.  Platoons move in order 2 - HQ - 3 - 1 at ten minute intervals 1330 hrs.  Coy concentrates in coy [?] M.R. 0328 (1/100,000 Q.1) by 1830 hrs.

 

19th March 1945

Place: Kapellen

 

Coy settles into new location.  O.C. visits C.E. 8 Corps.  Instructed to proceed to road maint works on [veh recovery?] S. from main GELDERN - KAPELLEN rd (M.R. 028298 1/100,000 Q.1) to main GELDERN - WESEL rd (M.R. 043260) with a view to div L.E. tpt being able to marshal in this area.  1 and 2 pls carry out recce for works to [start?] 20 men.  4no tippers and 1no autopatrol allotted by 8 Corps for this work.  Lt. Moncrieff reports after duties at Div H.Q. (L.E.) as liaison officer.

 

20th March 1945

Place: Kapellen

 

1 and 2 pl commence road tasks.  3 pl called out 1400 hrs to assist 716 Lt Comp Coy RASC in establishing ammunition and supply dumps.  Work involved searching suspect areas and unloading trucks.  Work completed 210100A.

 

21st March 1945

Place: Kapellen

 

Work continues on roads with 1 & 2 pl, 3 pl resting.  6no tippers and 1no autopatrol employed.  Lt. Moncrieff departs 1900 hrs for further L.O. duties at Div H.Q. (L.E.)  Further assistance given to R.A.S.C. in searching suspect areas for mines.

 

22nd March 1945

Place: Kapellen

 

Lt. Moncrieff rejoins from Div H.Q. (L.E.)  1 and 2 pls continue on road works until 1400 hrs.  Adj RE arrives and gives preliminary instructions for the units crossing of the R. Rhine and link up with airborne elements.  Capt Clive rejoins unit after completion of tasks in England.

 

23rd March 1945

Place: Kapellen

 

Coy engaged in maintenance, issue of emergency supplies etc.  Coy will cross R. Rhine in [form?] sub units.  (a) Adv. party i/c Lt Moncrieff & 3 sprs. to cross on foot D day.  (b) Jeep and truck tpt of unit with Maj A.H. Rutherford in command D+1.  (c) Pl "F" echelon with Capt G.L. Woodcock in command D+1.  (d) Coy H.Q. + residual vehicles D+2.  Jeep party departs to Div marshalling area 231700A hrs.

 

24th March 1945

Place: Kapellen

 

D day.  Lt Moncrieff departs in morning with object of crossing river and contacting C.R.E. as soon as link up with airborne element can be effected, in order to gain advance information of likely coy locality and tasks.  Advance party crosses river in Buffalo at 1430 hrs and joins up with 3 Para Bde at 1700 hrs.  Link up with C.R.E. impossible.  Coy H.Q. remains in same locality, will get moving order to cross river on D+2.

 

25th March 1945

Place: Hamminkeln

 

C.R.E. arrives at 3 Para Bde and contacts Lt. Moncrieff with orders to find coy location in 6 A/L Bde Area at HAMMINKELN.  After finding coy location Lt. Moncrieff returned to river to guide company.  No organisation for marshalling and dispersing vehicles after crossing had as yet been made.  Jeep party with Maj A.H. Rutherford RE crossed the river at 1200 hrs and by good luck contacted Lt. Moncrieff and proceeded to HAMMINKELN.  "F" echelon under Capt. G.L. WOODCOCK R.E. crossed the river on the F.B.E.  bridge at 1900 and were guided to company location.

 

26th March 1945

Place: Hamminkeln

 

2 Pl maintain the road to the div area.  This is a sand track about 3 miles long.  In dry weather this was quite passable but after the rain last night, the track turned to mud.  Maintenance was carried out by covering bad patches with corduroy and sanding.  1 Pl set up water point with mobile water purification trailer in HAMMINKELN.  Coy HQ and residual tpt cross river at 1500 hrs and harbour in M.A.  A D.R. was sent to coy HQ for orders, and owing to the traffic congestion on the roads they were told to remain in M.A. until first light.

 

27th March 1945

Place: Hamminkeln 1/100,000 M.R. 208488

 

Coy HQ and residual tpt rejoin coy in area M.R. 208488 at 0900 hrs.  Coy moves at 1030 hrs to area M.R. 250430 with a view to bridging gap at 253439.  Adv M.C. park also established at coy location (1 autopatrol 2D4 dozers on transporters).  3 Pl commence preparation of bank seats and removal of bridge remains from gap.  Proposed bridge 50' D.S.  Bridging material arrives 2000 hrs.  Bridge built by 1 Pl and completed 281445A.

 

28th March 1945

Place: Brunen 250430

 

3 Pl start work on the removal of debris and road blocks in area BRUNEN 2748.  Coy receives orders to move.  Moves less 1 Pl (on bridge maint) and 3 Pl (road clearance) at 1600 hrs to area 3048.  1 & 3 Pls close on this location on completion of their tasks.  Lt. Freeman attached 286 Fd Pk Coy RE (Airborne).

 

29th March 1945

Place: Rhade

 

Coy moves to area RHADE 4450 at 0800 hrs.  1 & 2 Pls deployed to works.  1 Pl on clearance of debris and road blocks RAESFELD - RHADE; 2 Pl road RHADE - LEMBECK.  Water point also established M.R. 457512.  Further movement orders received at 1600 move at 1700 to area GR REKEN 5260.  1 Pl rejoin later on completion of task.  Orders are received that night for coy to move under command 3 Para Bde 300800A.  Coy to be deployed with a section moving with each bn, and remainder with Bde H.Q.

 

30th March 1945

Place: Gr Reken

 

Coy moves with 3 Para Bde on route COESFELD 6172 - BILLERBECK 6975 - ALTENBERGE 8183.  1 & 3 Pl are given a bridge construction task, 60 ft D.S. Bailey at 569629, with bank seat preparation and embarking by 3 Pl, bridge building by 1 Pl.  Task completed by 1815 hrs.  1 & 3 Pl are unable to rejoin coy that night owing to traffic conditions on roads.  Bde harbours for night at 310300A in area GREVEN 9188.  Coy harbours area 8585.  Warning order during night that main Bridge at Greven is blown - Footbridge (reported class 12) still intact.

 

31st March 1945

Place: Greven

 

1 & 3 Pl close on coy morning 31.  2 & 3 Pl commence work on strengthening cl 12 bridge over R. EMS at 907885.  Earlier plan of strengthening to cl 40 abandoned in afternoon and such improvements as [?] only carried out.  Coy remains present location night 31/1 and reverts to div tps.  Bridge to be open to traffic at 1200 hrs. had to be closed until 1700 hrs because overladen transport broke through decking and remained jammed between R.S.J's. for five hours.

 

 

Month and year : April 1945

Commanding Officer : Maj A.H. Rutherford, R.E.

 

1st April 1945

Place: Greven

 

Coy moves up into town of GREVEN and there concentrates.  Lt. Hobbs is evacuated with broken arm.  Lt. Bence takes over comd 3 Pl.  Orders are received that coy has come under command 6 A/L Bde, and will give sapper assistance when the Bde moves forward on axis LADBERGEN - LENGERICH.  No.3 Pl to come u/c 591 Para Sqn RE to assist in bridging DORTMUND-EMS canal.  3 Pl leaves for this task, and 2 Pl move to join battalions.  Remainder coy moves 1600 hrs to area of Bde H.Q. 931882.  Coy forms up to move over S.P. 2245 hrs, but no start is made 1/4/45.

 

2nd April 1945

Place: Greven

 

Bde convoy moves 0700 hrs.  DORTMUND-EMS Canal is crossed at 978893 by cl D.S. Bailey.  3 Pl (u/c 591 Para Sqn RE) commence work 0730 hrs in doubling up bridge.  Advance continues via LADBERGEN to LENGERICH 0898 which is reached by 1430 hours.  Pls billet in LENGERICH, whilst infantry continue, taking high ground north of town.  2 & 3 Pls close on coy evening 2/4/45.  5 Para Bde pass thro' 6 A/L Bde and 3 Pl are committed to clearance of road blocks etc on their line of advance, and also to setting up of water point in the town.  Bde axis NATRUP 1801 - HAGEN 1600 - OSEDE 2201.

 

3rd April 1945

Place: Lengerich

 

3 Pl continues on road works.  1 & 2 Pls take up infantry defence positions.  These positions are manned until evening when coy is concentrated for further roles.  3 Pl still continue on road works and rejoin coy at next location.  Remainder of coy to move u/c 6 A/L Bde 040830B.

 

4th April 1945

Place: Lengerich

 

Coy moves with 6 A/L Bde less 3 Pl.  Arrives area HOLZHAUSEN 543105 2100 hrs and there harbours.  No major sapper work necessary on Bde route.  3 Pl rejoin 2200 hrs.

 

5th April 1945

Place: Holzhausen

 

Coy receives orders to bridge R. WESER (F.B.E.) between PETERSHAGEN 8421 & TODTEN-HAUSEN 8116 at such time as 6 A/L Bde have secured bridgehead on east bank.  Work detail; 1 Pl i/c task with 3 Pl under command building bridge, 2 Pl approach work.  These 3 platoons deploy to assembly area 7816 at 1100 hrs.  Owing to opposition in wooded country first crossing of river WESER was not made until 1600 hrs at TODTHAUSEN by Ox and Bucks L.I. where site was examined by Capt Woodcock after assault and found unsuitable.  12 Devons captured second Div. bridgehead at 1930 hrs half-way between TODTHAUSEN and PETERSHAGEN from a tile factory flanking river on West bank.  Capt Woodcock examined site and found it suitable for bridging and returned to Coy assembly area recce completed by 2040 hours.  Then came the task of moving three Pls and a complete Pl of F.B.E. to the site on a very dark night through woods still infested by the enemy.  At the site was a large factory on the near bank it was decided to move en block for protection and to accept the delay in sorting ourselves out at the bridge site as artificial moonlight tho' requested was not a sure starter.  Marshalling the column took some time and the unit arrived on site at 2315 hours.  The organisation and recce of sub unit tasks and sites was then carried out quickly and the bridging commenced at the same moment as the artificial moonlight came on at 0015 hours 6 April 1945.

 

6th April 1945

Place: Near Todthausen

 

All went well at the start but not long passed before faults with the equipment were discovered - badly twisted anchor cables - unserviceable seagull motors - cross-threaded swan necks - immoveable adjustable raft connectors and to add to difficulties rain and mist came down blotting out all light and the enemy started shelling.  Fortunately he ranged too far up-stream and few fell in the bridge area.  Under the above difficulties bridging continued through the night but owing to the facts that 591 Sqn. had been unable to operate rafts due to the strength of the current we were unable to get equipment to the far approach over the river or get across a cable during the night.  At first light it was clear that the original estimate of twelve hours would be exceeded by about four hours and this fact reported.  The river meanwhile had increased speed to 5 1/3 knots, deepened by 1'4" and widened by 60' due to the demolition of an aqueduct up-stream.  At 1500 hrs we had brought the last two rafts into bridge and the extra trestle now required was being carried up when report came through that tanks were in 6 A.L. Bdes. positions.  We dropped the bay into the flood water 20' from far bank and man handled 12 Jeeps and 6 pndr. guns over by 1530 hrs.  We continued and completed bridge at 1730 hrs when 17-pndrs. were manhandled across.  All this put hours on the far approach work as the ground was very soft and this was not finally completed till 2000 hrs though traffic was running from 1900 hrs in a steady stream.  Unit handed over maintenance to 257 Fd. Coy. RE. and returned (on its knees) to harbour for the night having bridged a gap measured at 260' from bankseat to bankseat with 320' of bridge.  The FIRST BRITISH BRIDGE to stand across the R. WESER.

 

7th April 1945

Place: Near Todthausen

 

No.1 Pl. on maintenance of Bailey bridge approaches at Petershagen (bridge completed by 100 Fd. Coy. at 0500 hrs).  No.3 Pl. on maintenance of F.B.E. bridge and approaches at factory - to be called C[?] Tail bridge - the name of the Div. "sea tail" of which we were part during the RHINE crossing.  No.2 Pl. resting.  Coy. moved to LAHDE - just East of PETERSHAGEN over the WESER at 1500 hrs.

 

8th April 1945

Place: Lahde

 

No.1 Pl. on maintenance of F.B.E. and approaches which by 1700 hrs were in first class condition.  No.2 Pl. on road clearance and maintenance forward along Div. AXIS and by 1700 hrs had re-banked 3 corners and removed two large blocks.  No.3 Pl. on baths and resting after night maintenance of bridge and approaches.  One section of No.3 Pl. to maintain Br. throughout night.  Warning order to move Coy to 6 A.L. Bde. area at 1030 hrs to-morrow.

 

9th April 1945

Place: Loccum (9629)

 

3 Pl. continue maintenance of bridge at PETERSHAGEN.  Remainder of company move to new location at LOCCUM at 1030 hrs.  2 Pl. repair road surface on bridge at 892200 with one section.  It is hoped that the unit will remain in this location for at least two days, and it is intended to utilise this time for general conservancy and maintenance of transport.

 

2030 - Warning order for possible move tomorrow at one hours notice after 1200 hrs.  3 Pl relieved of maintenance of F.B.E. by 15 Scottish div at 1800 hrs., and move to company location.

 

10th April 1945

Place: Frielingen (C 2230)

 

1045 - Orders for move with 6 A/L Bde. to new location at FRIELINGEN.  Company to move at 1250 hrs. to pass start point at 1430 hrs.  1 Pl. provide an N.C.O. recce party and one section to move with R.U.R.s (the leading bn.) and Capt G.L. Woodcock an liaison officer with Bde.  Owing to transport difficulties of Bde., the company did not pass the start point until 1720 hrs., and arrived new location at 1945 hrs.

 

11th April 1945

Place: Frielingen

 

2 and 3 Pl. recce Bde area for engineer stores and services.  Remainder of company on general conservancy and transport maintenance.  Mobile cinema section visits unit and gives show at 1945.

 

2100 - Warning order for possible move tomorrow to area of NEUSTADT.

 

12th April 1945

Place: Frielingen

 

2 Pl stand by to support 6 A/L Bde if required.  3 Pl. takeover maintenance of "square up" route from river WESER excl. to bailey br. at NEUSTADT (incl).  1 Pl. take over maintenance of "square down" route from river WESER excl. to br. at HELSTORF (2545).

 

13th April 1945

Place: Frielingen

 

Baths at mobile bath unit for half of 2, 3, and H.Q. Pls.  2 Pl. continue to stand by to support 6 A/L Bde if required.  3 Pl maintain "square up" route, and with the help of an interpreter enlist the help of local labour for this road maintenance.  1 Pl start maintenance on "square down" route, again with help from local labour, in the afternoon.  Bridges on "square" routes maintained by company by a section visiting them three times a day.

 

14th April 1945

Place: Altenhagen (N. Celle 601513)

 

2 Pl. take over "square up" route from 3 Pl., who stand by to support 6 A/L bde. if required.  1 Pl. continue on a "square down" route.  Civilian labour continues to work satisfactorily on maintenance of both of these routes.  6 A/L Bde ordered to move to area of UELZEN to take over from 15 Scottish div., but this has not yet been taken, so the Bde. harbour near CELLE.  L/Sgt Booth moved with Bde as road recce party, Lieut. Moncrieff for recce of public utilities in UELZEN, and C.S.M. Cunnell to recce harbour area for company.

 

1800 - Company moves to new location at ALTENHAGEN.

 

15th April 1945

Place: Weyhausen 788695

 

Two D.4. dozers and four tippers with culverting come under comd. company.  Company intends to move to area south of UELZEN, but again the area is not cleared of the enemy, and we only reached WEYHAUSEN.

 

16th April 1945

Place: Wrestedt (906823)

 

Lieut. Moncrieff moves to 6 A/L Bde. as L.O.  One section of 3 Pl. move with advance party of 6 A/L Bde. as they suspect that their new location is booby trapped.  No signs of booby traps were found.  Company less 3 Pl. move to new location at WRESTEDT.  6 A/L Bde. advance to N.E. to outflank UELZEN, with two bns. up.  A L/Sgt. recce party and half of 3 Pl. move with each of the leading bns.  The bridge at STEDERDORF (926832) is found partially destroyed, but is made passable to jeeps in 1½ hrs.  No other R.E. work was required during this limited advance, but the Ox and Bucks ordered a mine detector party to move with their leading Pl., just in case there were any mines.  No mines were found, and this party which had been under continual mortar and occasional M.G. fire was wrong placed.  The Churchill track bridge was put down to replace the temporary jeep bridge built by 3 Pl., so as to make the route class 40.  1 Pl. the prepared the abutments of the bridge for complete demolition, so that the Churchill bridge could be replaced by a culvert at first light tomorrow.

 

17th April 1945

Place: Wrestedt

 

All R.E. sub units return to company.  Churchill bridge is lifted and 1 Pl. replace it by a culvert.

 

2200 - Capt NIELSON with one sec. of 2 Pl. and a L/Sgt recce party join 12 DEVS for limited advance to capture the bridge at ROSCHE (031922).  The bridge was taken intact.

 

18th April 1945

Place: Hanstedt (972885)

 

Company move to new location at HANSTEDT at first light.  R.E. parties with Bde. return to company.

 

19th April 1945

Place: Hanstedt

 

3 Pl. clear road from ROSCHE to JARLITZ of mines; one truck of the 12 Devs had been blown up on a mine but no more were found on the road.  It is thought that the party laying the mines were surprised by this truck coming down this road.  1 Pl. carry out maintenance on culvert at STEDERDORF.  Mobile cinema section visits unit.

 

20th April 1945

Place: Hanstedt

 

1 Pl. move at first light to LÜNEBURG for offloading ammunition.  2, 3, and half H.Q., have baths at mobile bath unit.  2 Pl. maintain road HANSTEDT - RÄTZLINGEN.

 

21st April 1945

Place: Hanstedt

 

1 Pl. return from LÜNEBURG at 2200 hrs. after completing task of offloading ammunition.

 

22nd April 1945

Place: Hanstedt

 

Div. R.E. church parade at HANSTEDT conducted by Rev. CHILDS R.A.Ch.D.

 

23rd April 1945

Place: Varendorf (8303)

 

Company moves to new location at VARENDORF arriving at 1230 hrs.  3 Pl. recce road from incl. CELLE to excl. UELZEN, prior to taking it over for road maintenance.  Capt. H.R.K. Nielson recces the bridge at CELLE with a view to increasing its load class to 70; but this is found to be impossible, without delaunching the existing 100 ft. of Bailey, and rebuilding with approx 200 ft. of continuous bailey over the two piers.

 

24th April 1945

Place: Varendorf

 

1 Pl. set up water purification trailer at EBSTORF, repair the road at WESSENSTEDT, and recce the area for engineer stores, and arms and ammunition, for demolition.  3 Pl. start maintenance of road from UELZEN to CELLE, by digging out potholes and hand filling with bricks.  This is very slow, but no other material or plant being available, it is the only method available.  2 Pl. recce area for dumps of enemy equipment that require destroying.  Major A.H. Rutherford and Capt. H.R.K. Neilson recce enemy explosive dump at ESCHEDE (700680), prior to 2 Pl. starting to demolish it tomorrow.  Altogether there are some hundreds of tons of explosive in the form of sea mines, made-up charges, and grenades.

 

25th April 1945

Place: Varendorf

 

2 Pl. start demolition of explosive dump.  Two shelters, each containing about 10 tons of explosive destroyed.  1 Pl. destroy enemy equipment found yesterday, including an 88mm. gun, Tellermines, and small ammunition dumps.  L/Sgt HAMLET makes detailed drawing of bridge at CELLE to show especially the damage to the old civilian bridge.  3 Pl. continue maintenance of road.

 

26th April 1945

Place: Varendorf

 

Since this road is breaking up very badly it is decided to do more temporary maintenance, so as to complete the whole length of the road.  The filling with bricks is therefore stopped, and the potholes just filled with earth as quickly as possible and consolidated.  In order to speed up this work still more 1 Pl. join 3 Pl. on this task.  2 Pl. continue the destruction of the explosive dump.

 

27th April 1945

Place: Varendorf

 

Most of the unit is brought up to date with inoculations.  2 Pl. continue the demolition of the explosive dump.

 

28th April 1945

Place: Varendorf

 

All platoons on conservancy and maintenance of transport in preparations for C.R.E.s inspection tomorrow.

 

29th April 1945

Place: Varendorf

 

Company stands by to move at one hours notice to staging area prior to crossing river ELBE.  C.R.E. inspects all the unit transport; his main criticism was the lack of paint on the vehicles, but this is almost unobtainable through normal channels.

 

30th April 1945

Place: Vastorf 8815

 

The company moves to staging area at VASTORF.  It appears that the unit will move in the early hours of tomorrow morning to cross the ELBE.

 

 

Month and year : May 1945

Commanding Officer : Maj A.H. Rutherford, R.E.

 

1st May 1945

Place: Boisenburg

 

0600 - Company crossed river Elbe at LAUENBURG at 0600 hrs, and harboured in LAUENBURG to await orders from HQRE.

 

1400 - Move to BOISENBURG to harbour for night 1/2nd preparatory to move with 5 Bde tomorrow.

 

2nd May 1945

Place: Wismar

 

1 Pl in support of the leading bn of 5 Bde, and the remainder of the coy under comd. 5 Bde.  The divisional objective for the day was WISMAR on the Baltic coast, and 5 Bde moved on the North route.  No opposition was encountered, except for one of our own planes which machine gunned the road just behind Bde HQ.  No sapper assistance was called for by the Bde until the final objective was reached.  There it was found that a bridge just outside WISMAR on the SCHWERIN road was demolished leaving a 100 ft gap.  1 Pl prepared a detour and redecked a timber bridge to make a class 9 route.  The company harboured about 3 miles out of WISMAR at 1700 hrs, and we prepared to make ourselves comfortable for a long stay, as the Russians had been contacted in WISMAR.

 

3rd May 1945

Place: Wismar

 

Conservancy, maintenance of tpt, and clearing company area of enemy weapons & ammunition.  Large numbers of POW and POWX and displaced persons [?] through the area of this location, and at night many have to be guarded and looked after, causing a lot of extra work.

 

4th to 9th May 1945

Place: Wismar

 

Displaced persons in 6 A/L Bde area are being stopped and harboured off the road.  About five thousand have already collected with their horses and carts, and naturally there is great difficulty with sanitation and water supply.  1 Pl are sent over to construct a water point for the displaced persons.  The nearest source of supply is SCHWERINSEE (a large lake 200 ft below the level of the camp).  Only very limited supplies of army equipment were available, and as far as possible the water point was to be made from local resources.  Capt WOODCOCK R.E. was put in charge of this.  WISMAR was searched for all available equipment, and two fire engines and a trailer pump were soon found, but one of the engines could not be started.  Plenty of hose was available, but no tanks.  So 8 "S" tanks were provided by field park coy.  The task of getting the fire engine to the side of the lake was not easy, as it had solid tyres, and the only road was a very steep mud track.  However it eventually reached the bottom, sank about up to the axles, and will probably never come up again.  The pipe from the pump to the tanks was laid through a culvert under the main road and railway.  Two "S" tanks were used for sterilisation, four for the first storage point, and two at the second storage point.  Water was pumped from the first to the second point by the trailer fire pumps.  The "S" tanks were supported on timber trestles.  The first supplies of water were obtained on the evening of 5 May 45, and the point was completed the next day.  For the next four days a maintenance party of one section was kept continuously at the point.  After this the whole point was handed over completely to German labour, and occasionally visited by an officer.  During this period the other two platoons cleared all of 5th and 6 Bde areas of weapons, explosives and ammunition, and destroyed everything not wanted.  All serviceable enemy transport was collected from the area.

 

8th May 1945

Place: Wismar

 

Owing to the rather overcrowding of our billets and the distance from the other RE units and Div HQ (all in WISMAR) it is decided to look for better billets in WISMAR.

 

9th May 1945

Place: Wismar

 

Company moves to new area in WISMAR.

 

9th to 14th May 1945

Place: Wismar

 

The week was spent largely on recreation - swimming, football, boating, table tennis etc.  A complete engineer recce of the 6 Bde area was carried out, but otherwise there was no RE work.  All tpt was painted.

 

14th May 1945

Place: Wismar

 

Orders received to prepare to move to U.K.; part of the company to go by sea with the vehicles and the main body to fly back.

 

15th May 1945

Place: Luneburg

 

Company moves to transit area near LUNEBURG, preparatory to sorting out into vehicle and flying parties.

 

16th May 1945

Place: Luneburg

 

Today was spent waiting in the transit area, and the first of the company should have flown back but owing to shortage of aircraft had to wait until tomorrow.

 

17th May 1945

Flying party take off between 1000 and 1100 hrs and return to U.K. via Brussels, landing at an airfield in ESSEX.  From there we moved by road to Bulford arriving 0430 hrs on 18 May.  Vehicle party start move to OSTEND, with Maj A.H. Rutherford RE i/c Div. RE vehicle party.

 

18th May 1945

Sort out barracks and accommodation etc in Bulford.

 

19th to 20th May 1945

36 hrs leave.

 

21st to 22nd May 1945

Leave particulars, pay, kit exchanges, barrack conservancy etc.

 

23rd May 1945

Those eligible for SEAC proceed on 28 days leave, and the remainder on 14 days leave.

 

26th May 1945

Vehicle party arrived in BULFORD.

 

 

Appendix

 

Subject:-  Report on Demolitions Carried out by Unit.

To:- C.R.E. 6 A/B Div.

        Place - M.R. 700680 Sheet M.4. Anlage Starkshorn.

        Dates - 25 - 27 April 45.

 

Altogether, eight shelters were placed on the list for demolition by the unit as these contained stores which could be used by the enemy against us in the Field.

 

The numbers and contents of these stores are list below:-

 

        G.1.  Containing 160 Barrels (approx 20 tons) of Picric Acid in a yellow crystaline form.

        K.1.  Containing 300 made up charges (these charges were encased in metal cylinders with two fuze pockets and two filler caps at one end - charges were of two sizes -

                (i) 2' 3" diameter, 2' 3" length containing 200 lbs of explosive.

                (ii) 1' 10" diameter, 2' length containing 120 lbs of explosive.

        Q.2.  Containing 500 made up charges and 200 boxes marked 22 Kg and filled with explosives.

        Q.3.  Containing 8,000 stick grenades in boxes and 200 "R" Mines.

        Q.5.  Containing 300 made up charges.

        Q.6.  Containing 3,000 stick grenades, 3 Boxes (3000' each) Cordtex.

        Q.7.  As for Q.6.

        Q.8.  180 made up charges.

 

It was decided to blow Q.2. first and this was initiated by placing three made up charges in contact with the three main stacks of made up charges.  These were linked by a cordtex ring-main which also branched into the stack of "R" Mines.

 

No alternative method was employed but two initiating sets of 10' of Safety fuse were attached to the main.

 

The firing party retired to a shelter - 180 yards from the Bunker to be destroyed and suffered no damage from the explosion.

 

The second shelter to be destroyed was Q.3. which was prepared in the same way as Q.2.  The explosion, however, was more severe and the firing party in the shelter was somewhat shaken, and it was decided that for future demolitions, the firing party should be supplied with a Jeep and would retire a distance of 1,000 yds from the Camp entrance.

 

On the second day of Demolitions, Bunker G.1. (20 tons of Picric Acid) was first, and this was prepared as before with three 200 lbs made-up charges as initiators plus two "R" Mines dug into the centre of two of the barrels.

 

The picric acid did NOT detonate but started to burn fiercely where the initiating charges had been placed - flames 3' to 8' in height and the quantity of the explosive involved resulted in the operations in the Camp Area being suspended for that day.  By the morning, the contents of the Bunker were completely burnt out.

 

It was decided on the third day to speed up the demolitions by initiating two Bunkers at once but in such a way that a two minute interval would elapse between the explosions - this was because of adjacent dwellings.

 

Thus Bunkers "Q.5." and "Q.6." were prepared as previously but "Q.6." had 4' additional safety fuse on its Main.  The complete Mains were carefully stored inside each Bunker in order to avoid fracture by blast, but this precaution proved ineffective as both lengths of safety fuse in Q.6. were sucked out of their detonators in spite of crimping when Q.5. went up.

 

NOTE  This precaution would have been adequate had the Shelters been 150 yards or more apart - the actual distance, in this case, was 80 yards.

 

Q.6., 7., and 8. were then despatched singly by the same method as initially described.

 

Major R.E.,

O.C. 249 Field Coy R.E. (Airborne).

B.L.A.

28 April 45.

 

 

Appendix

 

Subject:-  Report on Demolition of Marine Arsenal.

To:- C.R.E. 6 A/B Div.

From:- 249 Field Coy R.E.(A/S).

28 April 45.

 

Nature of Dump - Marine Arsenal.

Location:- M2 700680 (entrance) Sheet M.4. Anlage Starkshorn.  Approach from Road Junc - M.R. 667666.

 

Description of Items and quantities (see pencil reference letters on attached site plan) and also list below.

 

Remarks:  The Arsenal covers an area of approx 400 acres of thickly wooded flat country.  The "Bunkers" or concrete store buildings number approx 120 and are all a standard design of approx 30' wide by 60' long with 2 sets double steel doors at one end.  They are at ground level but covered with earth, trees and grass.  They are at approx 100 yards spacing and connected by a system of narrow gauge rly.  The majority of entrances are demolished, necessitating a certain amount of clearing if any stores are to be removed.  The Admin buildings are normal, near the entrance and contain no explosive or other war like stores.

 

List of buildings and contents:

 

Note:  In list, figure following building reference mean quantity and small letters after quantity mean:

        a.  Mines, acoustic, 10' long x 2' diam.

        b.  Mines, acoustic, 6' long x 2' diam.

        c.  Sea mines, contact, spherical, 4' diam with sinkers.

        d.  Sea mines, magnetic, spherical, 4' diam with sinkers.

 

A1

A2

 

A3

A4

A5

A6

 

A7

A8

A9

A10

A11

A12

A13

A14

B1

B2

B3

B4

 

 

B5

B6

B7

B8

B9

B10

B11

B12

C1

C2

C3

C4

C5

C6

C7

C8

C9

C10

C11

C12

C13

D1

D2

D3

D4

D5

D6

D7

D8

D9

D10

D11

D12

E1

E2

E3

E4

F1

F2

F3

F4

F5

F6

F7

G1

G2

G3

G4

G5

H1
H2

H3

H4

H5

H6

H7

H8

J1

J2

J3

J4

J5

J6

J7

K1

K2

K3

K4

K5

K6

K7

K8

K9

K10

K11

L1

L2

L3

L4

L5

L6

L7

L8

L9

L10

M1

M2

M3

M4

M5

M6

M7

M8

M9

M10

M11

N1

N2

N3

N4

N5

N6

N7

N8

N9

N10

N11

N12

P1

P2

P3

P4

P5

P6

P7

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q5

Q6

Q7

Q8

Q9

Z1

Z2

Z3

Z4

Z5

Z6

Z7

Z8

48a

27a

34b

80a

26a

25a

30a

60 clock mechs

1a

46a

61a

60a

42a

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

38a

32a

20a

60a

13a

10 clockwork mechs

2 electrical mechs

64a

60a

61a

20a

60a

60a

60a

61a

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

64c (outside 1,500 coils of 1" SWR - 1,000 ft coils)

64c

Demolished, some sinkers

26c

27d

64c

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

64c

10c

50d, 40 boxes arming tools (spanners, pliers, wirecutters etc), 50 boxes fuses

100 sinkers

Demolished, some sinkers

50d

Demolished

120 sinkers

14d plus 6a

52d

12c

Demolished

Demolished

Demolished

Demolished

Demolished

Demolished

Demolished

Demolished

20d

52d

40 sinkers

21d (300 coils of 1" SWR).

32d

50 sinkers

50 sinkers

Contents destroyed by unit

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

32d

61c

50d and sinkers

Demolished by enemy

48d

Demolished by unit

61a

Demolished by enemy

64a

36a

Number of wheeled cradles plus 30a

83a

26a

200 fins

1c

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

70b

30b

34a

50a plus fuses and Gyro mechs

48d

64a

33a

Demolished by enemy

59a

32a

63a

44a

55a and fuses

55a

Demolished by enemy

Empty

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

80a

37a

Fuse parts etc

Demolished by enemy

25a

6a and bits of fuses - partially destroyed

Demolished by enemy

20a

15a

Wiring and electrical gear (bolts, screws - all sizes)

Demolished by enemy

Demolished by enemy

20a

23a

40a

40a

60a

Dry batteries (assorted)

40a

Fuses (Partially demolished) (outside large supply gauge 5.8 wire)

Demolished by unit

Demolished by unit

Accessories (SWR 1" and 2" slings, shackles, cable and cordage, blocks)

Demolished by unit

Demolished by unit

Demolished by unit

Demolished by unit

42 round sea mines (c)

Office partially destroyed

 - do -

 - do -

 - do -

Ablutions - Good fittings (baths, showers, lockers etc)

Office - destroyed

Cookhouse and Dining Hall (Good Fittings)

Garage - Empty

 

North of Z Buildings - in Sheds

Unlimited SWR - 1"

Unlimited, screws, nuts and bolts, Tool kits

Clock work fuses

Dry batteries and Accumulators

Bulldog clips, - shackles

Instruments - Rheostats.