Has anyone heard the terms Hoycol and Guycol? ... columns?

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Meloz, Dec 31, 2016.

  1. Meloz

    Meloz Member

    I'm editing my dad's memoirs and learning as I go, but even Google could not help with a single hit on either one of these terms. To put them in context, I think they're something to do with columns of troops/gunners in North Africa in early 1942. He was in an anti-aircraft brigade.

    "At this stage the army conceived the idea of small mobile columns that could hit small pockets or convoys of Axis forces whenever found. Consequently we, at different times, formed part of Hoycol and Guycol; in the former we had some success in shooting up German transport trucks and downed two Stukas when we were attacked. In Guycol we were confined within the Tobruk perimeter but did bring down a Macchi 202 fighter..."

    Has anyone heard either of these terms before, or does anyone have any bright ideas about what they could refer to?
  2. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    I've not heard of them but the British Army had a liking for ad-hoc formations named after their commanders and generally abbreviated.

    The brigade's war diary may help - check the officer returns for anyone with a name beginning 'Guy...' or 'Hoy...'
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  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    It's a similar idea to a German kampfgruppe - a composite unit named (usually) after its commander. Tracking them down may prove tricky as they were usually constituted for a specific mission/patrol. Identifying the parent units of Guy and Hoy is likely to be the key, but I won't pretend it will be easy.
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  4. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Try these links to a book entitled “Crisis in the Desert, May-July, 1942” by J A I Agar-Hamilton.

    Unfortunately I can’t find a full copy online but both these terms are mentioned, also Slatcol. May get you along the right path and note that the book is available to buy.


    It is also in some UK libraries:


    Perhaps someone here has a copy?

    Crisis in the Desert.JPG
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  5. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Bearing in mind the context of those book extracts, it appears reasonable to assume that the ...col part meant column, especially as it specifically mentions the word column in the text. The index page also mentions a Major Hoyle immediately after the Hoycol entry.....coincidence or not? Hoyles Column?
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  6. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

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  7. Meloz

    Meloz Member

    Thanks everyone for your useful contributions. :)
    Definitely getting very warm now!

    I'm actually in Australia, Adelaide to be precise, and by a stroke of good fortune, one of 3 copies in Oz is at Flinders University in the southern suburbs, I see. Now just have to hope it's intact and I'll aim to take a drive down that way soon and check it out.

    I'm not sure why Google didn't show me those entries, but thank goodness for forums like these!

    Happy New Year, all.
  8. Meloz

    Meloz Member

    Thanks. Lived in London for years, but in those days wasn't nearly as interested in my parents' stories. Now wish I had easy access to the IWM and Kew archives! ;)
  9. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    That book is full of ....col names. Just found Stopcol.

    Note: the link to the book mentioned in a previous post includes a search box! Found the .....col names that way.
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  10. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    mmmmm - I guess the oz part was a clue!
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  11. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Almost always the first syllable of the officer commanding's surname plus col for column, but I can't find any reference to these particular formations in the material I have to hand.
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  12. Meloz

    Meloz Member

    Thanks again SDP and also Charley. I think it sounds very likely that they were Hoyle's column and Guy's column, but I will report back when I get a chance to sight the book.
  13. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Bear in mind that although an officer named Guy is likely, as Rich says above his name need not be Guy, but may be a surname beginning with "Guy---".
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  14. Meloz

    Meloz Member

    Well, I managed to get down to Flinders the other day and consult Agar-Hamilton. Although it doesn't explicitly tie the two together, it seems likely that Major Hoyle (4th brigade, tank hunting company) was linked to Hoycol, and there was a Lt.-Col. G.E. L'Estrange (of Umvoti Mounted Rifles) in charge of Guycol. So I'm guessing that his first name was Guy!

    Oddly, my dad's memoirs say that Guycol operated only within the Tobruk perimeter when he was in it, whereas A-H records that they (with another one called Tonycol) were operating with their 25-pounders W and SW of the perimeter, and later mentions that they were 4-5 miles from the perimeter, due south of Carrier Hill.

    A-H also mentions Slatcol operating with Hoycol, who patrolled the interior of the fortress, with the special duty of dealing with airborne or seaborne assault.

    I think that my dad must have just mixed up Guycol and Hoycol in his memories - although it would have been unusual for him.
  15. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

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  16. Meloz

    Meloz Member

    Ah, brilliant, thank you, Owen! I don't know why Google didn't show me those, but perhaps I mis-typed something.

    Geni even tells me that he's my 12th cousin 4 times removed.

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