ASSAULT BRIGADE ROYAL ENGINEERS The Assault Brigade Royal Engineers controlled Assault Regiments Royal Engineers which each controlled squadrons which initially operated Armoured Vehicles Royal Engineers. Later some squadrons operated LVT Buffalo amphibians, Class 50/60 rafts and one squadron of assault dozers. Headquarters Assault Brigade Royal Engineers. War Establishment XIV/904/1. January 1945. Headquarters Assault Brigade Royal Engineers. War Establishment VII/752/2. May 1944. Assault Park Squadron. War Establishment XIV/903/1. January 1945. Assault Dozer Squadron. War Establishment XIV/901/1. November 1944 Assault Training Regiment. War Establishment XIV/951/1. July 1944. Headquarters Assault Regiment RE. War Establishment XIV/902/1 Assault Squadron RE. War Establishment XIV/901/1. July 1944 ASSAULT BRIGADE ROYAL ENGINEERS Headquarters Assault Brigade Royal Engineers. War Establishment XIV/904/1. January 1945. Headquarters Assault Brigade Royal Engineers. War Establishment VII/752/2. May 1944. Assault Park Squadron. War Establishment XIV/903/1. January 1945. Assault Dozer Squadron. War Establishment XIV/901/1. November 1944 Assault Training Regiment. War Establishment XIV/951/1. July 1944. The Assault Brigade Royal Engineers operated as part of the 79th Armoured Division which controlled all specialised armour including Flails, Crocodiles, Kangaroos and CDLs. In action the Brigades regiments and squadrons were widely dispersed and combined with those from other specialist armour brigades. The reference for Headquarters Assault Brigade Royal Engineers is War Establishment XIV/904/1 with an effective date of 13 January 1945. This establishment replaced an earlier one, War Establishment VIII/752/2, which in return replaced War Establishment VIII/752/1 in May 1944. The reference for 149 Assault Park Squadron is War Establishment XIV/903/1 with an effective date of January 1st 1945. Originally the organisation of the Assault Brigade Royal Engineers was intended to support an assault force of three divisions, providing one regiment per division. Each regiment provided four squadrons which gave two each for the two forward infantry brigades. Each squadron provided four troops to support an infantry battalion. Providing services for a wide spread unit was difficult but most such units were a divisional responsibility. When in action task groups composed of squadrons from several specialist regiments were formed. REME and RAOC were organised to provide a headquarters and self contained sections so that they could operate widely dispersed. Supply and the transport of 2nd line stores was performed by divisional RASC units. Initially there was only a small Divisional Troops Company but after the Normandy Campaign two Brigade Group Companies were added. These were not attached to brigades but were provided on the basis of one platoon per regiment. Signals were provided in the form of a brigade signal squadron. This had a troop for brigade headquarters communications and one troop for each regiment. HEADQUARTERS ARMOURED ENGINEER BRIGADE War Establishment XIV/904/1 Staff Brigadier, Commander Armoured Royal Engineers Brigade Major Captain, GSO3 Staff Captain Captain Intelligence Officer Major GSO2 Royal Armoured Corp (attached) Major, Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quarter Master General Captain Liaison Officer Captain Administrative Officer 2 X Subaltern Warrant Officer Class1 Clerk Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant intelligence serjeant serjeant mess steward serjeant 2 X transport corporal 2 X orderlies 7 X clerk 20 X driver IC draughtsman 2 X mechanic electrician storeman waterdutyman cook, officers mess 2 X cook 14 X sapper plus Captain RAOC WOI clerk RAOC driver RAOC Captain RASC corporal clerk RASC batman driver RASC orderly RASC Major REME driver REME 3 X chaplain Total (not including attached) 10 X officers 6 X Warrant Officers and serjeants 50 X other ranks. Vehicles 5 X motorcycle 2 X jeep 1 X heavy utility 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 Caravan 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 Office 4 X 15cwt 1 X 15cwt water 2 X Scout car 4 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 kitchen 2 X Armoured Command Vehicle LP (RS) Organisation for movement. Note that the above listing does not give details of the Royal Signals section which was attached to Brigade Headquarters. The organisation below does mention some signals personnel when they travel in vehicles used by the staff. There were other signals vehicles providing communications upwards to 79th Armoured Division headquarters and downwards to Armoured Regiments Royal Engineers. The Royal Signals personnel and vehicles were fully integrated into Brigade Headquarters. Office and Reconnaissance Group. This contained the elements of the headquarters that were required for operational planning and command. Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) signalman Royal Signals, driver IC Carries Wireless set No19 This vehicle was for the Brigadiers use when away from headquarters Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) Captain Liaison Officer, driver Scout Car Subaltern Liaison Officer, driver Scout Car Subaltern Liaison Officer, driver Caravan Class II intelligence NCO, clerk, batman, driver This vehicle provided sleeping and office accommodation for the Brigadier. 3ton 4 X 4 Office WOI clerk, 3 X clerk, draughtsman, driver Car 4seater 4 X 4 Captain Administrative Officer, clerk, driver Armoured Command Vehicle, Low Powered 2 X operator, signalman, driver IC (all Royal Signals) Carries Wireless set No19 and Wireless set No19 High Powered This vehicle was provided by the Royal Signals but was the command centre for the Brigade. There was accommodation for three or four staff officers Armoured Command Vehicle, Low Powered 2 X operator, signalman, driver IC (all Royal Signals) Carries Wireless set No19 and Wireless set No19 High Powered This vehicle was provided by the Royal Signals and was for the use of the DAA&QMG and staff Administrative Group. This group provided transport, supplies, cooking, maintenance etc. The vehicles of this group would be close to, but not part of, the command group. Motorcycle transport corporal Motorcycle transport corporal Motorcycle orderly Motorcycle orderly Motorcycle serjeant 15cwt GS Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General, officers mess steward, clerk, driver IC Carries officers baggage and officers mess. 15cwt GS 2 X mechanic, electrician, driver IC Carries fitters tools and spare parts 15cwt GS Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant, clerk, driver IC Carries Quartermasters stores 15cwt Personnel 9 X sapper, driver IC 15cwt water water dutyman, driver IC 3ton 4 X 4 GS sapper, driver IC Carries petrol 3ton 4 X 4 GS storeman, driver IC Carries stores 3ton 4 X 4 GS sapper, driver IC Carries stores 3ton 4 X 4 GS 3 X sapper, driver IC Carries baggage and small arms ammunition. 3ton 4 X 4 kitchen 3 X cook, driver IC Carries rations and cooking equipment. The Brigade Headquarters is provided with five Bren light machine guns and two PIATs for defence. Brigade Signals The establishment for Assault Brigade Signals Squadron is included in the War Establishment for 79 Armoured Division Signals. This organisation used the standard arrangement of a signals squadron headquarters controlling W troop for brigade headquarters and X, Y and Z troops for the three assault regiments. There was a shortage of long range communication for such a wide spread unit but it was usual to either locate the brigade headquarters close to a Corps headquarters where it could use its communication network, or to provide relays from ‘spare’ units. See Signals/79 Armoured Division Signals. Armoured Brigade Company RASC.: Presumably in the interests of standardisation on the one hand and flexibility on the other hand, the RASC provided 79th Armoured Division with two Armoured Brigade Companies. These were held under the control of divisional headquarters. Extra platoons may have been added since they were to be provided on the basis of one platoon per regiment. However it should not be assumed that each regiment had a platoon or each brigade a company since this was clearly not the case. The Armoured Brigade Company was large and contained the following. Headquarters Mechanical Transport Company RASC 4 X Transport Platoon with 3ton lorries Transport Platoon with 6ton lorries Composite Platoon with A,B,C and D increments 3 X Relief Driver Increment Workshop Platoon, Serial 5 Generally the 6ton lorries were semi trailers and operated in the rear areas thus do not concern the ARRE. Supplies, petrol, ammunition and engineer stores would be delivered by 3ton 4 X 4 GS lorries. Composite platoons were for loading and record keeping. Relief driver increments provided a spare driver for each vehicle in a platoon and whichever drivers were not driving or resting could also help with loading. 149 ASSAULT PARK SQUADRON War Establishment XIV/903/1. January 1945 Personnel Major, Commanding Officer Captain, Second in Command 3 X Subaltern Squadron Serjeant Major squadron quartermaster serjeant transport serjeant mechanist serjeant 4 X serjeant 4 X transport corporal 5 X batman driver 13 X blacksmith 32 X carpenter and joiner 6 X clerk draughtsman 8 X driver operator 12 X driver mechanic 58 X driver IC 10 X electrician 3 X engine fitter 3 X engine hand 12 X excavator operator 24 X fitter 15 X orderly 12 X painter and decorator 11 X plumber and pipefitter 16 X sheet metal worker storeman sanitary dutyman 17 X sapper 2 X turner 8 X welder 9 X cook ACC vehicles 22 X motorcycle 4 X jeep 1 X car 4seater 4 X 4 4 X 15cwt GS 3 X 15cwt FFW 1 X 15cwt Office 3 X 15cwt Compressor 35 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 Kitchen 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 Machinery Type X 1 X 3ton Machinery type RE 25kw 3 X 3ton 6 X 4 Coles Crane 1 X trailer Type P 6 X 6ton 4 X 4 Tractor 6 X 18ton trailer 12 X Armoured Angledozers. Organisation for movement Squadron headquarters Car 4 X 4 Heavy Utility (Humber FWD) Major (Commanding Officer), driver operator, batman driver Motorcycle commanding officers orderly Car 15cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) Captain (second in command), batman driver Motorcycle captains orderly 15cwt Office (Fordson WOT2H) Squadron serjeant major, 3 X clerk, driver operator Motorcycle orderly Motorcycle orderly serjeant Motorcycle squadron quartermaster serjeant Motorcycle transport serjeant Motorcycle transport corporal 15cwt 4 X 2 GS 3 X fitter, electrician, driver mechanic Carries fitters tools and spare parts This vehicle was intended to carry out repairs in situ. The machinery lorries were not readily mobile. 3ton 4 X 4 Kitchen 3 X cook, driver IC Carries cooking sets and rations. 3ton 4 X 4 Machinery Type X serjeant mechanist, turner, 2 X welder, draughtsman, driver IC 3ton 4 X 4 Machinery RE 24Kw 2 X carpenter and joiner, blacksmith, turner, sheet metal worker, driver IC 3ton 4 X 4 GS sanitary dutyman, sapper, 2 X driver IC Carries baggage and small arms ammunition 3ton 4 X 4 GS storeman, sapper, driver mechanic Carries quartermaster stores 3ton 4 X 4 GS sapper, driver IC Carries petrol 3ton 4 X 4 GS sapper, driver IC Carries MT stores 3ton 4 X 4 GS sapper, driver IC Carries technical stores and tools. There were three identical park troops. This would give one per Armoured Regiment Royal Engineers. Park troop Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) Subaltern, batman driver Motorcycle orderly 15cwt 4 X 2 FFW orderly serjeant, clerk, 2 X driver operator Motorcycle orderly Motorcycle orderly Motorcycle orderly Motorcycle transport serjeant 15cwt 4 X 2 GS engine fitter ( mechanical equipment), fitter, electrician, driver mechanic For repair and maintenance of the equipment. Tractor 4 X 4 6ton 4 X excavator operator, 2 X sapper, 2 X driver IC Tows 18ton low loading trailer Tractor 4 X 4 6ton 4 X excavator operator, 2 X sapper, 2 X driver IC Tows 18ton low loading trailer Tractor, crawler, ClassII Tractor, crawler, ClassII Tractor, crawler, ClassII Tractor, crawler, ClassII Note: Royal Engineer Field Park Squadrons were not normally self mobile in one lift thus only two tractors and trailers are provided for the four armoured angledozers. This would be sufficient to transport them to their workplace or to the holding area for an operation. If necessary further tractors and trailers could be provided from other engineer units. Although the establishment specifically lists 6ton tractors with 18 ton trailers, which was normal for moving D7 angledozers, it is known that the ARRE used redundant Scammell Heavy Artillery Tractors with 20 ton trailers. 3ton 6 X 4 Coles Crane MkIV engine hand, driver, driver mechanic 3ton 4 X 4 GS driver IC Carries technical stores and tools 3ton 4 X 4 GS driver IC Carries MT stores 3ton 4 X 4 GS driver IC Carries AVRE and Mechanical Equipment stores 3ton 4 X 4 GS 2 X driver IC Carries general stores 3ton 4 X 4 GS 2 X driver IC Carries general stores 3ton 4 X 4 GS driver IC Carries petrol 3ton 4 X 4 GS driver IC Carries personnel 3ton 4 X 4 GS driver IC Carries personnel 3ton 4 X 4 GS driver IC Carries mine stores Note; There are not sufficient vehicles to carry all the stores and equipment held by the park troop. Much equipment would be stored on the ground and moved forward as needed. 3ton 4 X 4 Kitchen 2 X cook, driver IC Carries cooking sets and rations. Tows 180 gallon water trailer There were also 36 tradesmen to be carried in the personnel vehicles and distributed amongst the other 3ton lorries. Again these were not required to be mobile since they normally carried out their work at the Park. They could be sent to work with Armoured Engineer Regiments and Squadrons if required. 4 X blacksmith 10 X carpenter and joiner 2 X electrician 6 X fitter 4 X painter and decorator 4 X plumber and pipe fitter 5 X sheet metal workers 2 X welders. ASSAULT DOZER SQUADRON RE War Establishment XIV/901/1. November 1944 One of the tasks of the Caterpillar Armoured Angledozer was the clearing of debris from roads and the filling in of craters. This was essential if the momentum of an advance was to be maintained. However the Armoured Dozer was too slow to keep up with an advance on its own tracks, and bringing it up on a transporter was time consuming. The Centaur Assault Dozer was developed to fill this gap in the engineers capabilities. The Centaur could move very quickly. It was an earlier version of the Cromwell and capable of over 30mph. Thus it could easily accompany a column of armoured fighting vehicles and be immediately available to clear obstructions. Being based on a tank the assault dozer was also better armoured than was the armoured angledozer. This was an important consideration if the vehicle was going to lead a column. There were ample stocks of Centaur tanks. Some had been converted to AA tanks and some close support versions served with the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group in Normandy. Most were used for training. The turret was removed, along with ammunition stowage etc, and a winch was installed in the hull. The turret ring was plated over A dozer blade was fitted at the front supported by a frame on either side of the hull. The blade was raised and lowered by a block and tackle mounted on a jib and operated by the winch. A box shaped cupola was fitted over the hull machine gunners position and the machine gun removed and the mount blanked off. This cupola was used by the vehicle commander and gave a view over the dozer blade which the driver did not have when operating. Centaur Assault dozers were operated by 87 Assault Dozer Squadron which converted from AVREs. They were first used operationally after the Rhine Crossing. Major Captain 4 X Subaltern Squadron Serjeant Major squadron quartermaster serjeant serjeant fitter serjeant storeman, technical transport serjeant 3 X duty serjeant 12 X lance serjeant 30 X corporal 17 X lance corporal 111 X sapper 47 X driver blacksmith 4 X carpenter and joiner 5 X clerk 4 X driver operator electrician, maintenance 5 X fitter 2 X engine fitter ME 109 X operator AVRE painter and decorator 18 X general dutyman 12 X motorcycle orderly 2 X signal dutyman 2 X storeman plumber and pipefitter sheet metal worker 7 X vehicle mechanic 6 X batman 34 X driver sanitary dutyman water dutyman 2 X transport NCO 17 X motorcycle 1 X car 5cwt 4 X 4 1 X car 4 seater 4 X 4 1 X 15cwt GS 1 X 15cwt office 1 X 15cwt water 26 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 stores binned 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 mobile kitchen 4 X scout car 36 X tank dozer 1 X ARV 41 X Bren lmg 2 X PIAT Headquarters Major Captain Subaltern Squadron Serjeant Major squadron quartermaster serjeant serjeant fitter serjeant storeman, technical transport serjeant 3 X lance serjeant 5 X corporal 5 X lance corporal 18 X sapper 23 X driver blacksmith carpenter and joiner 2 X clerk driver operator electrician, maintenance 2 X fitter 2 X engine fitter ME operator AVRE painter and decorator 6 X general dutyman 3 X motorcycle orderly 2 X signal dutyman 2 X storeman plumber and pipefitter sheet metal worker 4 X vehicle mechanic 3 X batman 16 X driver sanitary dutyman water dutyman 2 X transport NCO 5 X motorcycle 1 X car 5cwt 4 X 4 1 X car 4 seater 4 X 4 1 X 15cwt GS 1 X 15cwt office 1 X 15cwt water 8 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 stores binned 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 mobile kitchen scout car 12 X tank dozer 1 X ARV 3 X Troop each Subaltern duty serjeant 3 X lance serjeant 9 X corporal 4 X lance corporal 31 X sapper 8 X driver carpenter and joiner clerk driver operator fitter 36 X operator AVRE 4 X general dutyman 3 X motorcycle orderly vehicle mechanic batman 6 X driver 4 X motorcycle 6 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS 1 X scout car 12 X tank dozer 557 ASSAULT TRAINING REGIMENT War Establishment XIV/951/1. July 1944 This was an unusual training unit since it was very closely linked to the operational squadrons. Indeed its personnel had come from the squadrons. After D Day it was realised that there was no depot system to replace battle casualties in the Armoured Regiments Royal Engineers. The personnel were all fully trained field engineers who were then further trained as assault engineers using AVRE and other specialised equipment. The solution was to form a holding and training unit from the Assault Brigade Royal Engineers own resources. 557 squadron of 42 ARRE was detached to form the headquarters. Each of the operational squadrons then sent one troop to the new training regiment. This automatically gave each ARRE a training squadron and each Assault Squadron a training troop. At the same time it reduced each operational squadron to three troops each and reduced 42 ARRE to three squadrons The major difference between the training regiment and an operational regiment was that the transport was concentrated at headquarters while the squadrons and troops had none. This organisation was in place in September 1944. All replacements then passed through the Assault Training Regiment and practised the operation of all the operational equipment. This concentrated on the AVRE and its attachments but also the ARK and armoured angledozer. In December 1944 the training regiment took over the role of F Wing which was an experimental unit tasked with the general development of armoured engineer equipment including folding SBG bridges, ARK, tank dozers, carpet layers and mine clearing. The unit then was called 557 Assault Training and Experimental Establishment. Lieutenant Colonel 3 X Major Captain Adjutant 15 X Captain 2 X Subaltern Quartermaster Regimental Serjeant Major Mechanist Quartermaster Serjeant (M) Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant 3 X Squadron Serjeant Major squadron quartermaster serjeant serjeant clerk 2 X serjeant fitter serjeant storeman technical serjeant vehicle mechanic transport serjeant 14 X serjeant 5 X lance serjeant 9 X corporal 13 X lance corporal 68 X sapper 77 X driver Medical Officer RAMC 27 X cook ACC including 2 X officers mess cook ACC 3 X serjeant cook ACC 4 X corporal cook ACC 18 X cook ACC 3 X blacksmith bricklayer 4 X carpenter and joiner 13 X clerk concretor draughtsman mechanical draughtsman topographical 10 X driver mechanic 2 X driver operator 2 X electrician maintenance 4 X fitter 4 X operator, excavator 2 X painter and decorator 22 X general dutyman 4 X motorcycle orderly 3 X storeman 2 X plumber and pipefitter 2 X sheet metal worker turner 3 X storeman technical 8 X vehicle mechanic 2 X acetylene welder electric welder Non tradesman included 12 X batman 35 X driver 3 X officers mess orderly 17 X mess orderly 3 X sanitary dutyman 3 X transport corporal water dutyman 21 X motorcycle 4 X car 4seater 4 X 4 (to be fitted with wireless) 3 X car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 1 X 15cwt GS 1 X 15cwt compressor 25 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS (one to fitted with wireless) 1 X 3ton 6 X 4 Crane 1 X 3ton 6 X 4 Machinery X 1 X 20ton 6 X 4 Transporter, articulated (Federal 604) 2 X scout car (Humber) 1 X Loyd carrier S & C 1 X trailer 10cwt, 2 wheeled, Machinery Type P (welding) 1 X water trailer 78 X Churchill AVRE 5 X Churchill ARK 1 X Churchill ARVI 2 X tractor, crawler, Class II, Armoured. Fitted with angledozer and winch. Note 50% of AVRE are to be operational replacements. 50% are to be training vehicles with no mileage restrictions. Headquarters Lieutenant Colonel Captain Adjutant Captain Technical and Signals Officer Quartermaster Regimental Serjeant Major serjeant clerk corporal lance corporal driver 7 X driver Medical Officer RAMC 3 X clerk draughtsman mechanical draughtsman topographical 4 X motorcycle orderly 4 X motorcycle Headquarter Squadron Administrative Troop Captain Subaltern Mechanist Quartermaster Serjeant Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant squadron quartermaster serjeant 2 X serjeant fitter serjeant storeman technical serjeant vehicle mechanic transport serjeant serjeant lance serjeant 3 X corporal 5 X lance corporal 12 X sapper 50 X driver 2 X officers mess cook ACC corporal cook ACC cook ACC 2 X clerk 2 X driver operator 6 X general dutyman 4 X motorcycle orderly medical officers orderly 3 X storeman 3 X storeman technical 4 X vehicle mechanic 12 X batman 27 X driver 3 X officers mess orderly 17 X mess orderly 3 X sanitary dutyman 2 X transport corporal water dutyman 1 X motorcycle 1 X car 4seater 4 X 4 (to be fitted with wireless) 3 X car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 1 X 15cwt GS 25 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS (one to fitted with wireless) 1 X water trailer Park Troop Subaltern serjeant lance serjeant 2 X corporal 4 X lance corporal 34 X sapper 6 X driver 3 X blacksmith bricklayer 4 X carpenter and joiner 2 X clerk 4 X driver mechanic 2 X electrician maintenance 4 X fitter 4 X operator, excavator 2 X painter and decorator 4 X general dutyman 2 X plumber and pipefitter 2 X sheet metal worker turner 1 X vehicle mechanic 2 X acetylene welder electric welder transport corporal 1 X motorcycle 1 X 15cwt compressor 1 X 3ton 6 X 4 Crane 1 X 3ton 6 X 4 Machinery X 1 X 20ton 6 X 4 Transporter, articulated. (Federal 604) 2 X scout car (Humber) 1 X Loyd carrier S & C 1 X trailer 10cwt, 2 wheeled, Machinery Type P (welding) 2 X Churchill ARK 1 X Churchill ARVI 2 X tractor, crawler, Class II, Armoured. Fitted with angledozer and winch. 3 X Training Squadron Headquarters Major Captain Squadron Serjeant major lance serjeant corporal lance corporal 5 X sapper 7 X driver serjeant cook ACC corporal cook ACC 5 X cook ACC 2 X clerk 2 X driver mechanic 4 X general dutyman vehicle mechanic 12 X batman 35 X driver 3 X officers mess orderly 17 X mess orderly 3 X sanitary dutyman 3 X transport corporal water dutyman 1 X motorcycle 1 X car 4seater 4 X 4 (to be fitted with wireless) 2 X Churchill AVRE 1 X Churchill ARK 4 X troop Captain serjeant 1 X motorcycle 6 X AVRE Attached. Light Aid Detachment Type C Armoured. Two interesting oddities. Great Eastern Ramp The Great eastern Ramp was developed by F Wing as a means of erecting a ramp over a high wall or anti tank ditch. There was a fixed, sloping trackway built over the Churchill hull and a pair of rear ramps could be lowered to give access. The upper trackway was pivoted to the lower at the front end and rockets were attached to the rear end. When fired the rockets lifted the rear end of the upper trackway which pivoted on the front end and came down on the far side of the obstacle thus forming a shallow A shaped ramp. This was very spectacular and worked well. However the opportunity did not arise to use it in action. Orolo 40 ton transporter The Orolo 40 ton transporter was designed to be used with a Churchill ARV to recover disabled tanks. The four Orolo tracks were unsprung but gave a good cross country performance at slow speeds. When used as a recovery trailer it had a powered winch. It was not used in its intended role and was given to the engineers. Some were used to carry light diesel shunting locomotives across the Normandy beaches. It may have been the same trailers that were passed on to the Assault Engineers. They were towed by AVRE and could carry bridging materials or other engineer stores and equipment across country. The Orolo tracks were also used to move lengths of Bailey Bridge. Caterpillar Armoured Angledozer. The Caterpillar D7 Angledozer was standard equipment for Royal Engineer units. They were to be found in the Field Park Companies and squadrons of every division, as well as serving with other engineer units. In its armoured form it was simply a standard Caterpillar D7 with the addition of armoured plating to protect all the vulnerable parts including the engine, operator and hydraulic cylinders. There was also armour underneath to protect against mine blast. However the tracks remained vulnerable to both shellfire and mines. The dozer blade could be raised and lowered using the hydraulic arms. The angle of the blade could also be adjusted so that earth and debris could be cleared to one side. This could not be altered in action. A powerful winch was fitted at the rear. The angledozer could move only slowly and had to be carried on a trailer to and from its operating area. The trailer most often used was the 20ton Multiwheeler. This was easy to load and unload but its large number of small and closely spaced wheels made it difficult to use off road. Although the 6ton tractor (AEC Matador or FWD SU COE) is officially listed as the towing vehicle redundant Scammel Heavy Artillery tractors were used because of the greater weight of the armoured dozer. These tractors became available when the new old 7.2” howitzer was replaced by a new version. MARKINGS. Headquarters 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers carried the following signs Blue Royal Engineers Arm of Service square with the number 1232 in white 1st Assault Brigade Signals Squadron carried the number of the unit on the white over blue Royal Signals Arm of Service square. This gave the following Brigade headquarters signals had white over blue square with the number 1232 in red. X Squadron attached to 5 Assault Regiment RE carried the number 1233 in red Y Squadron attached to 6 Assault Regiment RE carried the number 1234 in red Z Squadron attached to 42 Assault Regiment RE carried the number 1235 in red The RASC platoons came from 16 Armoured Brigade Company RASC. This carried the following signs Red/Green diagonally divided Arm of Service square with number 1981 in white. There was also an Assault Brigade Workshop (special) REME the details of which are not known. In common with other workshops in 79th Armoured Division it was organised so as to provide self contained sections for working with widely scattered sub units and mixed task groups. 79th Armoured division also had 827 Armoured Troops Workshop which specialised in AVRE,s but was not under the control of the Assault Brigade and could undertake other work as required. These carried the following markings Assault Brigade Workshop - Blue, yellow, and red REME Arm of Service square with number 1232 in white. 827 Armoured Troops Workshop REME Arm of Service square with number 1057 in white The RAOC provided an Assault Brigade Ordnance Field Park with three sections. Headquarters and sections all carried the same signs Blue, red, blue Arm of Service sign with the number 1232 in white. 557 Assault Training and Experimental Regiment carried Blue Arm of Service square with number 1238 in white 149 Assault Park Squadron carried Blue arm of service square with number 1236 in white. A brigade section from 16 Light Field Ambulance could be attached. This carried Black Arm of Service square with number 89 in white. Replacement AVRE were delivered by a small section attached to 264 Special Delivery Squadron. This carried Green over blue Arm of Service square with number 472 in white. Note that vehicles being delivered were unmarked, markings being applied by the unit on arrival. All vehicles carried the 79th Armoured Division sign of a bulls head on a yellow triangle. ASSAULT REGIMENT ROYAL ENGINEERS Headquarters Assault Regiment RE. War Establishment XIV/902/1 Assault Squadron RE. War Establishment XIV/901/1. July 1944 The Assault Regiments Royal Engineers came into being to provide engineer support in an assault, usually in co operation with armoured forces. The need for some sort of armoured engineer vehicle was realised early in the war. In May 1940 a War Establishment was issued which listed armoured demolition vehicles and armoured personnel carriers for field squadrons in armoured divisions. These vehicles were to be engineer versions of the AEC Armoured Command Vehicle. More precise specifications were formulated as a result of the ill fated Dieppe raid when armoured vehicles were soon bogged down and destroyed. A most important point to be borne in mind is that the Assault Regiments Royal Engineers were first and foremost engineers. The vehicle that they used was a modified Churchill tank but they were not in any sense armoured troops but assault engineers who used armoured vehicles to transport men and equipment and for carrying out many and varied engineering tasks. The reference for an assault squadron is War Establishment XIV/900/1 with an effective date of 22 July 1944. This reflects the changes made after D Day, including the removal of one troop per squadron to form a training regiment. In 1944/45 it was usual for engineer units to still be organised according to an earlier system. Normally there was no regiment as such. There were field squadrons and companies, field park squadrons and companies and there were RE divisional headquarters. In the case of the Assault Engineers they were not divisional troops as such and so had a regimental headquarters and a brigade headquarters, both with separate War Establishments. HEADQUARTERS ASSAULT REGIMENT ROYAL ENGINEERS. War Establishment XIV/902/1. The Headquarters of an assault engineer regiment was unlike the headquarters of similar sized units of infantry, armour or artillery in the following respects - It was self contained so that it could operate far away from the Brigade Headquarters. Normally they would be situated near to the headquarters of the division that they were supporting and they could use some of the services of that headquarters. - The assault squadrons were similarly self contained and did not rely on the regimental headquarters for supply and maintenance. - The regimental headquarters, like other Royal Engineer headquarters, could be used to control other engineer units for particular tasks. - It did not exercise tactical control of its sub units. Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Officer Major, second in command Captain, adjutant Captain, Technical Officer Captain, Field Engineer Subaltern, Intelligence Officer Subaltern, Signals Officer Regimental Serjeant Major Mechanist Quartermaster Serjeant serjeant clerk signals serjeant carpenter and joiner 3 X clerk draughtsman, mechanical draughtsman, topographical 3 X driver operator 10 X driver mechanic electrician painter and decorator 4 X general dutyman medical officers orderly 4 X motorcycle orderly storeman storeman, technical vehicle mechanic 3 X batman 5 X batman driver 4 X driver IC sanitary dutyman transport NCO water dutyman Transport 6 X motorcycle 5 X jeep 1 X car 4seater 4 X 4 3 X 15cwt GS 2 X 15cwt FFW 2 X scout car 2 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 Kitchen 1 X 3ton office 1 X water trailer The above organisation applied to 5 Assault Regiment Royal Engineers 6 Assault Regiment Royal Engineers 42 Assault Regiment Royal Engineers The organisation of the Assault Regiments Royal Engineers became somewhat complicated in the autumn and winter of 1944/45. The official War Establishment was not altered but several internal changes were made. - One troop per squadron was withdrawn to the training regiment - One squadron, 557, was withdrawn from 42 ARRE to provide the headquarters of the training regiment. - Squadrons trained on new equipment including Class 50/60 rafts - 5 ARRE operated Buffalo tracked amphibians - 81 squadron of 6ARRE operated Terrapin wheeled amphibians In December 1944 all the ARRE were reduced to three squadrons. 42ARRE had lost one squadron in July to form the training regiment and now - 5ARRE lost 80 squadron which was disbanded - 6ARRE lost 87 squadron. This became an assault dozer squadron under brigade headquarters. For the Rhine Crossing the major effort of the ARRE was with Class 50/60 rafts. The following squadrons were employed in building and operating these. - 79 Squadron 5ARRE - 81 Squadron 6ARRE - 284 Squadron 6ARRE - 16 Squadron 42 ARRE - 222 Squadron 42 ARRE - 617 Squadron 42 ARRE The following squadrons were also deployed - 77 Squadron 5ARRE with Buffalo - 26 Squadron 5ARRE with AVRE - 82 Squadron 6ARRE with AVRE The Royal Signals Section (Assault Engineer Regiments) The Assault Brigade Royal Engineers had a signal squadron. One section was attached to each regiment and was intended to provide communications and technical support within the regiment. Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) electrician For repair of wireless equipment. Later electricians were retitled wireless repairers. 15cwt GS 2 X instrument mechanic, driver IC Technical workshop This vehicle is listed as GS but was usually a wireless house body equipped for repairs. 3ton 4 X 4 GS corporal electrician, 2 X electrician, operator, driver IC Carries a Bren lmg Carries a 6Kw charging set This vehicle was for battery repair and recharging. Early wireless sets used a lot of power. The 15cwt GS delivered batteries and parts. 15cwt GS serjeant electrician, driver IC Carries batteries and stores 15cwt Wireless House 2 X operator, driver operator Carries Wireless set No 19 For A echelon 15cwt Wireless House corporal operator, operator, driver operator Carries Wireless set No 19 For Liaison ASSAULT SQUADRON ROYAL ENGINEERS War Establishment XIV/900/1. July 1944 This organisation applied to 16 Squadron 42 ARRE 26 Squadron 5 ARRE 77 Squadron 5 ARRE 79 Squadron 5ARRE 80 Squadron 5ARRE 81 Squadron 6ARRE 82 Squadron 6ARRE 87 Squadron 6ARRE 222 Squadron 42ARRE 284 Squadron 6ARRE 617 Squadron 42ARRE Personnel Major 4 X Captain 4 X Subaltern Squadron Serjeant Major squadron quartermaster serjeant serjeant fitter serjeant technical storeman transport serjeant 3 X serjeant 15 X lance serjeant 15 X corporal 25 X lance corporal 118 X sapper 42 X driver Trades included 8 X blacksmith 3 X bricklayer 19 X carpenter and joiner 7 X clerk 3 X concretors 2 X driver mechanic 8 X electrician 9 X fitter 27 X AVRE operator 4 X painter and decorator 27 X general dutyman 9 X motorcycle orderly 20 X signal dutyman 3 X storeman 8 X plumber and pipefitter 8 X sheet metal worker 9 X vehicle mechanic acetylene welder electric welder Non tradesman included 7 X batman 2 X batman driver 25 X driver sanitary dutyman 3 X transport corporal water dutyman Total personnel 239 all ranks. Transport 12 X motorcycle 1 X car 4seater 4 X 4 2 X car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 1 X 15cwt GS 1 X 15cwt office 1 X 15cwt water 2 X 3ton 4 X 4 stores 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 kitchen (Class 1A) 19 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS 5 X scout car (Humber) 1 X Loyd carrier S & C 1 X trailer 10cwt, 2 wheeled, Machinery Type P (welding) 20 X Churchill AVRE 1 X Churchill ARVI Note: All AVRE are listed as being fitted as control. This refers to the fit of wireless sets normally used only on headquarters tanks. 27 X Bren lmg including 20 for AVREs 2 X PIAT 2 X signal pistol Headquarters Major Captain Subaltern Squadron Serjeant Major squadron quartermaster serjeant serjeant fitter serjeant technical storeman transport serjeant 3 X lance serjeant 6 X corporal 5 X lance corporal 2 X lance corporal driver 34 X sapper 24 X driver Trades included 2 X blacksmith 4 X carpenter and joiner 4 X clerk 2 X driver mechanic 2 X electrician maintenance 6 X fitter 6 X AVRE operator painter and decorator 6 X general dutyman 6 X motorcycle orderly 2 X signal dutyman 3 X storeman 2 X plumber and pipefitter 2 X sheet metal worker 6 X vehicle mechanic acetylene welder electric welder Non tradesman included 2 X batman 2 X batman driver 13 X driver sanitary dutyman 3 X transport corporal water dutyman 9 X motorcycle 1 X car 4seater 4 X 4 2 X car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 1 X 15cwt GS 1 X 15cwt office 1 X 15cwt water 7 X 3ton 4 X 4 G 2 X 3ton 4 X 4 stores 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 kitchen (Class 1A) 2 X scout car (Humber) 1 X Loyd carrier S & C 1 X trailer 10cwt 2 wheeled Machinery type P (welding) 2 X Churchill AVRE 1 X Churchill ARVI Note: The War establishment lists a 15cwt GS but other references list this as a 15cwt KL (light welding). This would be usual and would tow the welding trailer. The troop. This was a large unit for a troop. It was capable of operating independently for short periods. Typically it would make as many preparations for an action as possible before moving to its area of operation. On arrival it would need to make final detailed plans and make adjustments to the equipment to be used. This accounts for the number of craftsmen on the troop establishment. The troop would be withdrawn as soon as possible after an action. The troop commander might be with the headquarters of the unit being supported in which case he would be replaced by the troop subaltern. Alternatively the subaltern might be attached as a liaison officer to the headquarters of the unit being supported. Initially the troop worked as a single unit but it became usual to divide the troop into two sections since most operations required three AVRE to work together. Captain Subaltern serjeant 4 X lance serjeant 2 X corporal 5 X lance corporal 28 X sapper 6 X driver Trades included 2 X blacksmith bricklayer 5 X carpenter and joiner clerk 2 X driver mechanic 2 X electrician fitter 7 X AVRE operator painter and decorator 7 X general dutyman motorcycle orderly 6 X signal dutyman 2 X plumber and pipefitter 2 X sheet metal worker vehicle mechanic Non tradesman included 2 X batman 4 X driver Transport 1 X motorcycle 4 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS 1 X scout car (Humber) 6 X Churchill AVRE Organisation. Note: This organisation is not from the War Establishment but from other contemporary sources. Humber scout car Captain troop commander, driver The Captain and subaltern may change places according to circumstances Motorcycle Captain’s orderly Section 1 Churchill AVRE Subaltern, corporal demolition NCO, driver, co driver/loader, mortar man, operator Carries 18 X General Wade charges, 14 X Petard bombs Churchill AVRE lance serjeant, corporal demolition NCO, driver, co driver/loader, mortar man, operator Carries 18 X General Wade charges, 14 X Petard bombs Churchill AVRE lance serjeant, corporal demolition NCO, driver, co driver/loader, mortar man, operator Carries 18 X General Wade charges, 14 X Petard bombs Section 2 Churchill AVRE serjeant, corporal demolition NCO, driver, co driver/loader, mortar man, operator Carries 18 X General Wade charges, 14 X Petard bombs Churchill AVRE lance serjeant, corporal demolition NCO, driver, co driver/loader, mortar man, operator Carries 18 X General Wade charges, 14 X Petard bombs Churchill AVRE lance serjeant, corporal demolition NCO, driver, co driver/loader, mortar man, operator Carries 18 X General Wade charges, 14 X Petard bombs 3ton 4 X 4 GS corporal driver Carries 42 X Petard bombs and 54 General Wade charges plus explosives and stores 3ton 4 X 4 GS driver Carries 42 X Petard bombs and 54 General Wade charges plus explosives and stores 3ton 4 X 4 GS driver Carries petrol 3ton 4 X 4 GS driver Carries baggage and small arms ammunition There were a further 21 personnel to be fitted into the 3ton lorries. Light Aid Detachment Type D This was a large detachment intended to support specialist units of 79th Armoured Division. Since these units usually operated in widely separated squadrons the LAD provided separate sections to accompany them. The Light Aid Detachment was fully self mobile and did not require extra transport for a move. Personnel were not assigned to specific vehicles in the War Establishment table but the detachment would have a standard operating procedure and some personnel were attached to a vehicle most of the time. Trained drivers were not provided for all vehicles. The unit trained sufficient drivers itself. - the jeep was for the use of the Captain and was driven by the batman driver. - the driver mechanics were for the breakdown lorry and were trained in recovery work. Headquarters Captain staff serjeant armament artificers 2 X driver mechanic electrician turner vehicle mechanic 3 X acetylene welder clerk, technical storeman batman driver driver IC cook ACC 1 X motorcycle 1 X car 4 X 4 jeep 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS lorry 1 X 3ton Machinery M lorry 1 X Heavy Recovery Tractor or ARV 1 X 15cwt GS truck 1 X 10cwt trailer There were three sections, one per squadron of the unit to which the LAD was attached. Section armament artificer 2 X driver mechanic electrician fitter 3 X vehicle mechanic electric welder 1 X car 4 X 4 jeep 1 X 15cwt GS 1 X 10cwt trailer 1 X 15cwt Machinery KL 1 X 10cwt welding trailer 1 X 3ton stores lorry 1 X Heavy Breakdown Tractor The War diary of 5 ARRE gives some details including - the 15cwt and 3ton GS vehicles were Canadian Ford - the Heavy Breakdown Tractor was a Mack LMSW rather than a Scammel The Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) The original specification for an Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers called for an armoured vehicle - from which sappers could demolish obstacles using a Petard spigot mortar mounted in the turret. - which would provide armoured transport for sappers and their demolition equipment. - which would give protection to dismounted sappers and their demolition equipment. The vehicle chosen as the basis for the AVRE was the Churchill tank in its MkIII and MkIV versions. These were very near ideal since they had heavy armoured protection, a lot of interior space compared with most tanks, and they had side doors which would be essential for ready exit for sappers to place explosives or other devices. It is evidence of the importance attached to having a specialised armoured engineer vehicle that Churchill tanks could be spared. They were much in demand throughout the period. Tank regiments in Italy never had enough Churchill tanks and had to reduce the number of troops, and equip half the regiment with Sherman tanks. In 21Army Group some of the brigades earmarked for infantry support had to use the Sherman instead of the Churchill. During the NW Europe campaign there were frequent calls for more Churchill tanks to be released to the tank regiments rather than the engineers. Perhaps Montgomery’s known preference for a single Universal tank in armoured regiments had something to do with it but the engineers never had to go without sufficient Churchill AVRE. The 6pdr guns of the tank were removed, together with the turret baskets and ammunition stowage. The Petard mortar was fitted to the turret front. This took hardly any space inside the turret so that there was space for the crew and equipment. A modified co drivers hatch had to be fitted so that the Petard mortar could be loaded through it. The hull and turret machine guns were retained for defence and for giving covering fire to dismounted sappers. The Petard mortar had at first an accurate range of only 80 – 90 yards, although this was later increased to 150 yards. This meant getting close to an obstacle and then depending on other arms to provide protection against enemy tanks and anti tank guns. The mortar bomb weighed some 40 pounds and had to be finally assembled and fused inside the vehicle by the demolition NCO. It was then loaded through the sliding co drivers hatch. To make this possible the turret had to be turned slightly to the left to bring the loading tray of the mortar into line with the hatch. The bomb was then thrust vertically upward until it caught the spring grips. The mortar was then returned to its firing position. The mortar could thus be loaded with only the loaders hand being exposed. However loading was slow and a rate of two to three rounds per minute was all that could be expected. Before going into action the Petard was cocked by use of a hand winch but thereafter cocked itself when it was fired. Each AVRE carried 14 bombs for the Petard. 18 General Wade shaped charges were also carried as well as Beehives and plastic explosives. AVRE were fitted with extra armour to the hull front in time for D Day and were fitted with additional side armour in July. These were standard kits issued to all Churchill tank Demolition tactics. When faced with smaller obstacles one or two rounds from a single AVRE might be sufficient but against more substantial obstacles team work was needed. To breach a substantial wall a section of three AVRE would line up facing the obstacle and the leader would fire a single round aimed at the obstacle and about three feet from the ground. The other two AVRE would aim some three feet to each side of the leaders round. All three AVRE would fire a salvo. Thereafter all three AVRE fired salvoes, each one a foot higher than the last until a breach was made. This should produce a gap some fourteen foot wide. Ideally an armoured dozer should be available to remove the debris. Similar tactics could be used against bunkers but such a large breach would not usually be needed. The occupants would probably be stunned anyway. The Petard was only one option available for demolition work. A variety of frames were used to enable explosive charges to be placed against obstacles without the need for sappers to dismount from the AVRE. All of these proved ineffective or inflexible in use and so the more traditional methods of placing charges by hand were used. The AVRE gave as much protection as possible. The prepared charge that was most often used was the General Wade. This was a shaped charge which was semi cylindrical with a hollow centre. It weighed thirty pounds of which twenty six pounds were explosive. When fired the charge directed the explosive force onto a narrow strip of concrete and cut into it. They needed to be used in mass and placed accurately. To achieve this the charges were fixed to a collapsible frame, four of which were carried on the deck of the AVRE. Each frame held eight charges. Most obstacles would need the contents of two AVRE, but three were usually deployed as follows - The section of three AVRE would approach the obstacle in line ahead with the section leader at the rear. - The two leading AVRE would park near the wall and at an angle of 30 degrees to it. This allowed for a rapid departure. - The section leader stayed back so as to control the operation and to give covering fire. - The demolition NCO and mortarman from each AVRE would dismount and assemble the frames and charges. - The co driver from each AVRE carried the assembled frames and placed them against the obstacle. - When all was assembled, placed and wired everyone except one demolition NCO remounted the AVRE. - The demolition NCO set the fuses and then hastily remounted and gave the signal to withdraw. The AVRE was designed with a number of fittings to take a range of attachments. More attachments were developed in response to problems that arose. The following were available, but not all were used at he same time. For example the carpet layers were specifically designed to allow tracked vehicle to cross patches of clay on the Normandy beaches and were not used in later actions. Obstacle crossing Fascines. Fascines must be the oldest method of crossing ditches and have existed throughout military history. In this case they were bundles of chestnut paling or brushwood carried on a jettisonable cradle on the front of an AVRE. The palings or brushwood were cut into fourteen foot lengths and tied into small bundles. The small bundles were then formed into a large roll. Often lengths of piping formed the centre of the roll making it lighter and providing drainage. The fascine was winched onto the sloping cradle on the front of the AVRE and shackled to the lifting eyes on the rear of the hull. The turret needed to be traversed to the side to provide sufficient clearance, and the lack of visibility meant that the commander had to ride on top of the fascine as long as was practicable in order to navigate the vehicle. In action the AVRE drove up to a ditch and then stopped. A quick release device which could be reached through the turret hatches was operated and the entire fascine rolled forward into the ditch. Sometimes more than one fascine was required but when the ditch was filled the AVRE and any following vehicles could cross. The frame was usually jettisoned as soon as possible but the Petard mortar could be fired as soon as the fascine had been released. Small Box Girder Assault Bridge. The Small Box Girder Bridge was widely used in the first half of the war but the Bailey bridge eventually made it redundant. The assault bridge used in conjunction with the AVRE used some SBG components but was mostly specially designed. The hornbeams, or end box sections from the SBG bridge were used but these were held together by specially designed girders and cross bracing. New, heavier bankseats were fitted and new wooden trackways designed. As manufactured the new assault bridge came in two halves which could be rapidly fitted together using the original bridges metal dogs. Parts for two bridges could be transported on a heavy equipment trailer and then assembled immediately prior to fitting to the AVRE. The AVRE carrying the SBG Assault Bridge needed several modifications. A hand operated winch was fitted over the rear of the engine compartment. This was used to raise the bridge into its travelling position and to partly lower it over an obstacle. There were also brackets on the front of the hull to support the near end of the bridge. Two poles were fitted to the near end of the bridge and cables ran over these and then onto the far end of the bridge. In action the AVRE was positioned and the bridge winched down to about two foot above the ground. Explosive charges then severed the cables and the bridge fell across the obstacle. The assault bridge could be used in conjunction with fascines to form a ramp or to cross longer obstacles. Folding SBG Assault Bridge. This was introduced in the autumn of 1944. The SBG assault bridge remained a useful piece of equipment for crossing anti tank ditches and for crossing the many craters and blown culverts left in roads by the retreating enemy. A major difficulty however was the strain imposed on the front suspension of the AVRE by the weight of the bridge, and the difficulty of passing under cables, bridges and other obstacles. The folding bridge was as for the normal bridge but it could be folded in the centre for travelling. In action the winch cable first pulled the bridge into line and then dropped it as above. Towed SBG Assault Bridge. This was used in 1945. An assault bridge was temporarily fitted with 3ton lorry wheels fitted to a makeshift axle. The bridge was fitted with a tow hook and the AVRE was fitted with a towing frame. The bridge could then be towed any distance and at any speed that the AVRE was capable of. This avoided strain on the suspension and avoided overhead obstructions. Before going into action the AVRE carrier winched the bridge into the normal carrying position. The wheels were removed, but they did not obstruct the use of the bridge if left in place. Skid Bailey bridge The Bailey bridge was so versatile it replaced most types of bridge in the last two years of the wear. The skid Bailey Bridge was used from January 1945 as a means of crossing the many craters and blown culverts in roads. They could not be used in open country so never replaced the SBG assault bridge. A length of normal Bailey bridge was constructed and fitted with skids which were bolted under each panel. The bridge could be of varying length according to need. Usually the length was twice the width of the crater to be crossed to allow for ease of launching. They could be double construction for extra strength and could have a launching nose, although this slowed construction since it had to be removed before traffic could cross. The pushing vehicle was an AVRE from which the Petard mortar had been removed. Vertical jibs as used on Armoured Recovery Vehicles were erected and horizontal jibs constructed. Pusher beams were made from Bailey transoms. Ramps were normally fitted so that the bridge could operate as soon as the pusher AVRE had backed away. Carpet Layer Type C and Type D The carpet was a length of Hessian strengthened at intervals by scaffolding tubes. It was designed specifically to cross patches of clay on the D Day beaches. The carpet was carried on a large bobbin on a frame carried on special fittings on the front of the AVRE. On arriving at the desired site the carpet was unrolled sufficiently for the AVRE to run along it and thus unwind the rest as it advanced. The device worked well but the carpet was soon damaged by tracked vehicles and more permanent trackways needed to be laid as soon as possible. There were two kinds of bobbin - Type C or MkII was smaller and the frame and bobbin could be lowered almost to the ground. - Type D or MkIII was larger and could carry a longer carpet but could only operate in on, high, position. Log Carpet Layer. This device was developed during late 1944 to enable armoured vehicle to cross soft or waterlogged ground without being bogged down. This was a common problem in the autumn and winter of 1944/45. The Log carpet Layer was developed by F Wing and produced by REME workshops. Lengths of tree trunk about fourteen feet long were linked together with wire rope. In this it was not very different from the log corduroy roads laid by engineers. However this carpet was carried on an AVRE which had the special side fittings and track guards removed and pairs of sockets added. The sockets supported a tubular frame on which the logs rested. The entire frame could be rapidly removed leaving the AVRE free to use its Petard mortar. The eight foremost logs were lashed to the sloping front of the frame. A cutting charge was fired and the foremost logs slid forward and their weight pulled the rest of the carpet forward. When the foremost logs touched the ground the AVRE could drive forward over the carpet and pull the rest of the logs into position. As long as tracked vehicles did not try to turn when they were on the trackway it worked well. The recommended method of loading the logs onto the AVRE was to dig a pit into a slope, drive the vehicle into it and then load it by hand. Mine clearing. A number of devices were developed and trialled in order to find an effective way of clearing mines when Flails were not suitable or not available. Bullshorn Mine Plough This was used only on D Day because to explode mines with Flails - would have been difficult - would have blown sand everywhere - the exploding mines would have been a hazard in a crowded beachhead. - The craters would have interfered with the movement of vehicles off the beach The plough had a ploughshare in front of each track, and two small skids in front of them to set the correct height, or depth. A winch was fitted and operated a cable through the co driver’s hatch to raise and lower the plough. Mines were lifted out of the ground and pushed to one side for sappers to disarm. This provided a safe passage for the AVRE and for any vehicle which could follow in its tracks. Conger. This was a length of hosepipe which was fired across a minefield by a five inch rocket. When in position it was filled with nitro glycerine. When it was exploded any mine nearby exploded also. It was every bit as dangerous as it sounds and was banned after one operational use. The equipment was carried in a redundant Armoured Observation Post carrier which had the engine and controls removed. Some extra armour was fitted. A projector for the rocket was fitted in the right hand side of the front compartment of the Carrier. An air cylinder for filling the hose was stored in the left hand side and most of the rest was taken up by a tank of nitro glycerine. The three hundred foot hose was coiled in the right front compartment and connected to the rocket at one end and the nitro glycerine pumping equipment at the other end. It was towed into position by an AVRE which uncoupled and retired while the hose was fired and filled. It then recovered the Carrier and retreated to a safe distance before detonating the hose. Snake. This was a mine clearing device which used three inch metal pipe filled with explosive (not nitro glycerine). Twenty foot lengths of pipe could be fastened together to make lengths up to four hundred feet. The lengths were assembled some distance away from a minefield and they could then be towed for some distance. On arrival at the minefield the towing vehicle uncoupled and went to the rear end of the Snake. It then coupled the Snake to the front of the AVRE which could push it into position. A nose piece could be fitted to prevent the nose digging into soft earth. Charge placing frames. Onion. This consisted of a rectangular frame carried on two arms attached to the front AVRE fittings. The AVRE pushed the frame against an obstacle and the two legs automatically opened to brace it in position. The AVRE reversed and ignited the charges. The carrying arms could then be jettisoned. Goat. This was similar to Onion but was carried horizontally on the front of the AVRE thus making it less of a target. When pressed against an obstacle the frame dropped into the vertical position and could then be operated as for Onion. Both Onion and Goat were issued for service but were rarely used. They could only be used against a perfectly flat surface. Even a strand of wire prevented it working correctly. Furthermore the charges had to be prepared and fitted to the frame in advance. If the reconnaissance was in any way defective then the device would not be effective. If there was any last minute change of plan (not unknown in military operations) then the pre prepared Charges would not be suitable for other obstacles. In the end the crews had to dismount in order to correctly place the Onion or Goat by hand and so tended to use the General Wade on frames which could be used flexibly and which could be assembled on site. The worst scenario was not a charge that did not work but one that was too large, or too small, or was incorrectly placed, and made a mess of the job. Towed equipment carriers. The AVRE could tow any of the following according to need. Porpoise. The porpoise was used to carry explosives to a beach in an assault landing. It was of pressed steel and had watertight steel hatch covers. It was towed behind an armoured vehicle. If fully loaded it could be towed along the sea bed. If lightly loaded it would float. It could be rapidly jettisoned from within the vehicle if necessary. Gutted Carrier. A number of redundant Armoured Observation Post carriers were converted into towed stores carriers by removing the engine, all interior fittings and the rear armour. The Carrier could then carry engineering equipment of many types and could be towed at any speed the AVRE could manage. They arrived too late to see much service. AVRE sledge. This was a very simple and effective device that was widely used. AVRE could tow the sledge over almost any surface and it could carry reserve stores, fascines etc. It was about twelve foot long and seven foot wide so it was roomy. Churchill ARK. Churchill ARK MkI. The original Churchill ARK was developed for climbing sea walls and other obstacles on D Day. A Churchill MkII or MkIV had the turret removed and the ring plated over. Timber trackways were fitted above the hull and ramps fitted at both ends, supported by kingposts. The vehicle was driven into position, against a sea wall or in a ditch, and the ramps lowered by cutting the cables with explosive charges. Fifty were ordered. Churchill ARK MkII. The MkI Churchill Arks were rebuilt to make them more generally useful. The left hand tracks and ramps were widened from 2 foot to 4 foot to allow narrower track vehicles to cross as well as tanks. A square cupola was added to give the vehicle commander a better view since the driver had an even more limited view than usual because of the trackways and ramps. The standard ramps were 12½ foot long but longer ramps were fitted for specific operations. 9 foot extension ramps could also be hinged onto the ends of the normal ramps. Once in place it was expended as far as that particular operation was concerned since it could not recover itself or raise its ramps without assistance. ASSAULT SQUADRON ROYAL ENGINEERS, AMPHIBIOUS - Buffalo Note: This organisation is not taken from the war establishment but from other contemporary documents. Squadron Headquarters 2 X LVT 9 X motorcycle 2 X jeep 1 X car 4 seater 4 X 4 1 X ARVI Administrative troop 2 X scout car 1 X 15cwt GS 1 X 15cwt Office 1 X 15cwt water 2 X 3ton 4 X 4 stores 1 X 3ton 4 X 4 kitchen 7 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS 1 X Loyd carrier S & C 1 X welding trailer Troop 1 1 X motorcycle 4 X 3ton GS 1 X Weasel 6 X LVT Troop 2 1 X motorcycle 4 X 3ton GS 1 X Weasel 6 X LVT Troop 3 1 X motorcycle 4 X 3ton GS 1 X Weasel 6 X LVT In the autumn of 1944 the four squadrons of 5ARRE trained on the Buffalo LVT amphibian and then used them in operations to clear the Scheldt estuary. There was no separate establishment for this work. The ARRE War Establishment remained in force and was modified as required. The regiment was still regarded as a specialist engineer unit carrying out assault roles with Buffalo instead of AVRE. In early 1945 5 ARRE was still operating the Buffalo, although now with only three squadrons. They fought many small actions in the flooded Rhineland areas. By the time of the Rhine Crossings only one squadron, No 77, remained in action with Buffalo. ASSAULT SQUADRON ROYAL ENGINEERS, AMPHIBIOUS - Terrapin Note: This organisation is not from the War Establishment but from other contemporary sources. Squadron Headquarters 4 X Terrapin 9 X motorcycle 2 X jeep 1 X car 4 seater 4 X 4 1 X ARVI Administrative troop 2 X scout car 1 X 15cwt GS 1 X 15cwt Office 1 X 15cwt water 4 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS 1 X Loyd carrier S & C 1 X welding trailer Troop 1 1 X motorcycle 2 X 3ton GS 1 X Weasel 12 X Terrapin Troop 2 1 X motorcycle 2 X 3ton GS 1 X Weasel 12 X Terrapin Troop 3 1 X motorcycle 2 X 3ton GS 1 X Weasel 12 X Terrapin As far as is known there was no separate War establishment for a squadron operating Terrapins. The squadron was on the normal establishment for assault engineers and operated the Terrapins as any other specialised piece of engineer equipment. The normal crew of a Terrapin was only two so that a troop could operate more of them than it could of AVRE or Buffalo. Since we know the squadron operated forty Terrapin and there were three troops it seems reasonable to assume twelve Terrapin per troop and four at squadron headquarters. The Buffalo The Buffalo was developed in the USA for amphibious operations in the Pacific. The great need was for a vehicle which could swim ashore and then climb onto the beach before unloading. The first waves were usually infantry with support from armoured and armed versions. Later waves brought in weapons and light vehicles. They were not intended to travel far on their tracks, or to be used after the initial assault. The Buffalo had specially designed tracks which propelled it in the water, as well as on land. Within limits it could be used on water, sand, swamp and on dry land. It could climb over sand bars, coral reefs, beaches and river banks. However its tracks soon suffered damage on hard surfaces and this affected its propulsion in water. The British Army used both LVT 2 and LVT 4. 100 LVT 2 were received. These had an engine at the rear and a crew compartment at the front. This left a well in the centre for personnel or cargo. However there was a drive shaft running down the centre which prevented large items being carried. There were armoured and un-armoured versions, although the British added armour to many their un-armoured ones. The LVT 2 was limited to carrying 30 fully equipped troops or four tons of cargo. It could only be fully loaded in calm water since it had a lower freeboard than the LVT4. The LVT 4 was much more numerous and had the engine immediately behind the driving compartment which allowed a hinged ramp to be fitted at the rear. This greatly assisted loading and unloading and allowed small vehicles and guns to be carried. Earlier model were un armoured and later ones had light armour. REME workshops fitted armour to most. The LVT 4 could carry - 30 fully equipped troops - a Universal Carrier - a 6pdr anti tank gun - 25 pdr field gun - an airborne bulldozer - 4tons of cargo All LVT were armed. As delivered the LVT2 had rails for mounting two .3” machine guns and a pintle mount for a .5” machine gun on the cab roof. LVT had a fixed machine gun mounting in the front of the driving compartment and two pintle mounts at the sides. The British progressively improved the armament by - replacing the rails with pintle mounts - replacing the .5” machine gun with 20mm Polsten cannon - adding armoured shields to the machine gun mounts. For the Rhine Crossing some Buffalo were fitted with log carpets on frames. These were laid on the river banks to allow Sherman DD amphibious tanks to climb out of the water. Some were also fitted with frames for carrying 17pdr anti tank guns and with RAF Wild barrage balloon winches for hauling rafts. Buffalos were intended only for the assault phase of an operation and were to be withdrawn as soon as was possible. Re supply was undertaken by Terrapins operated by 81 Squadron of 6ARRE. The Terrapin. The Terrapin was an unusual 8 X 8 amphibious vehicle. It was designed from scratch rather than being based on an existing truck as was the US DUKW. It was powered by two Ford V8 engines situated in the centre of the vehicle. Only the centre four wheels were driven and in normal use only these four were in contact with the ground. In soft going the rear wheels also made contact. The front wheels were set higher and were only used when climbing banks. There were no springs, the only shock absorption being provided by large section, low pressure tyres. Steering on land was by throttling back the engine on the side to which one wanted to turn. In the water propulsion was by two propellers, each driven by one engine. Steering was normally by a rudder operated by a cable from the steering wheel. A tiller was provided as back up and sharp turns could be made by throttling back one engine. Since the engines and driving positions were central there were two cargo holds, one in front and one behind. Four tons could be carried at a maximum speed of 15mph on land and 5mph on water. Terrapins had greater mobility than DUKWs for assault operations and could travel further on land than could a Buffalo. They usually supported the Buffalos and stayed in action ferrying supplies after the Buffalos had been withdrawn for maintenance. Vehicle Markings All vehicles of the Assault Regiment Royal Engineers carried the 79th Armoured Division sign of the bulls head on a yellow triangle on the right hand side. All vehicles in the ARRE carried a 9” square blue arm of service square on the left hand side. Vehicles of 5 ARRE carried the number 1233 in white on the arm of service square Vehicles of 6 ARRE carried the number 1234 in white on the arm of service square Vehicles of 42 ARRE carried the number 1235 in white on the arm of service square The signals troop carried the number of the ARRE to which it was attached on a blue over white Royal Signals arm of service square. The numbers were in red. The Light Aid Detachment REME carried the number of the ARRE to which it was attached on a blue/yellow/red arm of service square. In addition the vehicles carried the tactical signs usually carried by vehicles of armoured regiments. 5 ARRE carried signs in red Headquarters red diamond 26 Squadron red triangle 77 Squadron red square 79 squadron red circle 80 squadron red solid rectangle 6 ARRE carried signs in yellow Headquarters yellow diamond 81 Squadron yellow triangle 82 Squadron yellow square 87 squadron yellow circle 284 squadron yellow solid rectangle 42 ARRE carried signs in blue Headquarters blue diamond 16 Squadron blue triangle 617 Squadron blue square 222 squadron blue circle In addition AVRE carried tactical numbers in the same way as RAC armoured vehicle. Where tactical numbers were carried they were in the form of a troop letter and a vehicle number. They have been noted both painted inside the tactical sign and in a larger form on the rear of the turret. Vehicle names were also carried but no complete list has been found. Squadrons seem to have adopted names beginning with the same letter since 82 Squadron vehicles have been recorded with names beginning with L and 22 Squadron names beginning with S. 82 Squadron Lough Corrib Lucifer Loch Leven Lightning Lancer Loch Lomond Loch Ness Lifeguard Lynx Leopard Leviathan 222 Squadron Sabre Sepoy Scimitar What colours were AVRE The basic vehicles would almost certainly have been delivered in overall matt brown. However it is possible that the amount of modification work carried out was sufficient to justify a repainting in which case they could be in olive drab. It was laid down that vehicle should not be repainted simply to achieve uniformity so that vehicles could be in service in both colours at the same time in the same unit. Vehicles continued to be delivered to ARREs as replacements. These could come from disbanded units which could still be in matt dark brown while others were new production, (the Churchill MkIV remained in production until January 1945) which would be in olive drab. By 1945 one would expect even the older vehicles to be repainted and all would be olive drab. None seem to have been camouflaged. Class 50/60 Raft The Class 50/60 raft was designed with crossing the Rhine in mind but it could have been used for crossing any wide waterway if required. The first rafts were delivered to France in August 1944 and training was carried out on the Orne Canal. Training for the Rhine Crossing was carried out later on the Meuse. The role of the heavy ferry was to ferry armour in support of assault river crossings. They would be the only means of getting armour across a river, apart from the assault DD amphibious tanks, until Class 40 Bailey Bridges could be built. Given the width and the current of the Rhine this would be some time. A first priority would be for self propelled guns, followed by tanks and specialist armour. The Class 50/60 raft was shore loading, having its own ramps, and did not require a landing stage. For the Rhine crossing it was not practicable for it to be free ranging and it was operated by ferry cables between landing places. The pontoons were 35 foot long and 8 foot 6 inches wide. They were constructed on a steel frame and clad with plywood. Each weighed three tons. Bridge panels were 8 foot 6 inches long and supported a pair of trackways. Ramps were 15 foot 31/2 inches long and could be raised and lowered to match the height of the river bank. Five pontoons formed a Class 60 raft while four could form a Class 50 raft. A Royal Engineers troop could build one in 2 ½ hours. The pontoon was carried on a special trailer from which it could be launched. It was carried to its launching point complete with a length of roadway and girder panels. Ramps were carried in the towing vehicles. In trials the rafts had been powered by propulsion units but for the Rhine Crossing H Wing devised a system of winching the rafts using RAF Wild balloon winches and 3 inch cable. The RAF loaned 36 winches complete with operators and other personnel. Twelve of the winches were mounted on Buffalo for operations on the far bank. Normally the pontoons and their trailers were towed by FWD SU COE tractors. The heavy demand that the crossing made on all Royal Engineer equipment led to the Royal Artillery providing 60 Matador Heavy Artillery Tractors complete with drivers officers and support personnel. The final approach was made by Churchill AVRE towing the trailers. Pontoons could be launched very rapidly. The trailer was parked on a slope on the bank and the winch brake released. Gravity did the rest. Pontoons were positioned alongside each other by ropes, poles and manpower, quickly fastened together and ramps assembled and fitted. The raft was operated by having ferry guide cables across the river and firmly anchored at each end. The length of cable and the flow of the river were such that the cable needed tensioning and this was done by having an AVRE attached to it. The RAF winches could then haul the raft backwards and forwards. The rafts operated in pairs at four sites and were in continuous use for three days and nights. Since each ferry was operating continuously six ARRE squadrons plus a field company RE were required in order to provide relief crews.