researching 23div supply col rasc

Discussion in '1940' started by stevehayden, May 14, 2012.

  1. stevehayden

    stevehayden Junior Member

    I am trying to research John Henry Rice 23 Div. Supply Col., Royal Army Service Corps
    T/166086 who died on 27 May 1940 Age 24,can any one tell me what 23 Div Supply Col Rasc means I have located him on the Dunkirk memorial he was a driver,My grandmother tells me they found his wallet with french money in and she recalls that it was unusal to have this ,also that he may have been a batman ,
    Thank you Steve
  2. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member Patron

  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    hello Steve

    a bit of info from wiki
    Royal Army Service Corps - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    Service No:
    Date of Death:
    Between 27/05/1940 and 28/05/1940
    Royal Army Service Corps

    23 Div. Supply Col.
    Panel Reference
    Column 138.
    Additional Information:
    Son of Jack and Agnes Rice; husband of Dorothy F. V. Rice, of Bournemouth, Hampshire.
    CWGC - Casualty Details
  4. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member Patron


    From the UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939 - 1945, on

    Name:John Rice
    Given Initials:J H
    Rank: Driver
    Death Date:May 1940
    Birth Place:Bournemouth
    Branch at Enlistment:Other Corps
    Theatre of War:At sea
    Regiment at Death:Royal Army Service Corps
    Branch at Death:Other Corps

  5. stevehayden

    stevehayden Junior Member

    Hi Mark
    Thanks for the info do you know how to find out the movements of this division on a given day thanks
  6. stevehayden

    stevehayden Junior Member

    Hi CL1
    Thanks for the info its slowly coming to me what all this means
    Regarsd Steve
  7. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Steve, sounds like you need a copy of the unit war diary. Luckily Andy (Drew5233) has a collection of war diaries for the BEF period and if he doesen't have that particular one he is a frequent visitor to TNA (the National Archives at Kew) and he could copy it for you at very reasonable cost.
    Try sending him a Private Message.
  8. stevehayden

    stevehayden Junior Member

    Hi Mark
    When it says theatre of war does that mean he died at sea ,
    Regards Steve
  9. stevehayden

    stevehayden Junior Member

    Hi Mike L
    I was under the impression that the war diaries for may 1940 were mostly lost or destroyed but I would certainly give him a pm
    Thanks Steve
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    The unit diary you are after is WO 167/265 23 Division Supply Column. I don't have this one and it is listed as only covering April 1940.
  11. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Blimey, that was quick Andy!
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I have a database of all 1447 Diaries ;)
  13. stevehayden

    stevehayden Junior Member

    Thanks Drew
    Would this account for Grandmother not knowing what exactly happened to him and would that be the end of my research .
  14. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member Patron


    The Theatre of War notation would indicate that he died at sea.

    You could try the, for information on the RASC.

    Andy will correct me, but you may only find general indications of the movements of the Division and the Supply column. Obtaining the file WO 167/265 23 Division Supply Column, Andy mentioned may help, even though it doesn't cover May. Andy will have more suggestions I am sure, (1940 is his area of interest).

  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    If he died at sea, that is quite interesting. There are quite a few Missing Men files at Kew that list men that drowned on ships sunk by the Luftwaffe that were evacuating the BEF.

    The next thing I would do is identify what ships were sunk on the day of his death. It may be a red herring but the 'died at sea' must have come from somewhere and my money would be on one of these ships files.
  16. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Andy that was my first thought - possibly embarked on a ship sunk somewhere in the Channel - but were records kept of who boarded what ship?
    I was under the impression the majority of the evacuation was that chaotic that nobody knew what men were boarded on what ship. Are you suggesting there might be records that shed some light on that?
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    There's quite a few records that list BEF soldiers that went down with ships.

    See this thread for examples: Crested Eagle and Devonia

    There were no losses for the 27th and I'll check the 28th tomorrow. It may be a goose chase but one I would check just in case.
  18. stevehayden

    stevehayden Junior Member

    Hi Drew
    I have just found this
    May 28 - Drifter BOY ROY (R, 95t, 1911), bombed, beached and abandoned in Dunkirk Harbour.
    May 28 - Drifter OCEAN REWARD (R, 93t, 1912), sunk in collision off Dover.
    May 28 - Drifter PAXTON (R, 92t, 1911), damaged by aircraft, and beached at Dunkirk.
    May 28 - Minesweeper BRIGHTON BELLE (R, 396t, 1900), collision with submerged wreck, The Downs, English Channel
    May 28 - Trawler THOMAS BARTLETT (R, 290t, 1913), sunk by British mine off Calais
  19. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member Patron


    Nice work!

    Found the following on the Boy Roy, the Paxton, and Brighton Belle:

    But the Navy had not escaped without loss. The Queen of the Channel (one of a number of passenger ships which were particularly valuable on account of their high speed and large carrying capacity) was sunk and the Maid of Orleans and several others were damaged by bombs or gunfire. It was therefore decided that such ships should no longer be used during hours of full daylight; only warships or smaller vessels would still be continuously employed.[34] Of the latter, two drifters, Boy Roy and Paxton, were so badly damaged by bombing that they had to be beached and one of the schuyts was hit and had to be abandoned. She and some of the similar Dutch boats had sailed with ammunition, food and water which were sorely needed by the Army. The troops suffered much from shortage of drinking water on the beaches, and although joint naval and military measures were taken to supply it in tanks and cans, and the ships off the beaches were directed to do all they could from their own resources, there was inevitable delay before requirements were met. Water and food did not reach Malo beach until two days later.[35]

    Difficulty and danger were not now limited to the French–Belgian coast and coastal waters: the battle extended to much nearer home. To protect ships as they crossed the sea Coastal Command, with the help of aircraft loaned by the Fleet Air Arm, patrolled between the French and Belgian coasts and the Goodwins; and the Nore Command similar maintained a protective patrol. One of the ships—the destroyer Windsor—was attacked near South Goodwin light vessel by fifteen bombers supported by ten fighters. She was severely damaged and had thirty casualties. And the Brighton Belle, returning with 350 troops on board, struck a submerged wreck off the Gull light buoy while manoeuvring in an air attack and sank, though her crew and the troops she carried were rescued by nearby ships.[36]
    From The War in France and Flanders 1939 - 1940, Major L. F. Ellis C.V.O., C.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., 1954. (On the HyperWar site: HyperWar: The War in France and Flanders, 1939-1940 (UK--History of the Second World War))

  20. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum Steve.

    The 23rd (Northumbrian) Division was the duplicate of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division and a second line outfit. Both were 'motorised infantry' and therefore consisted of only two Brigades (rather than the normal three) and supporting divisional troops.

    23rd Div:

    69th Infantry Brigade:

    5th Bn East Yorkshire Regiment
    6th Bn Green Howards
    7th Bn Green Howards

    70th Infantry Brigade:

    10th Bn Durham Light Infantry
    11th Bn Durham Light Infantry
    12th Bn Durham Light Infantry (rebadged '1st Bn Tyneside Scottish' and moved to the Black Watch Regiment just prior to the outbreak of hostlities).

    The 23rd Div went to France with the BEF mainly to act in a Pioneer role, guard airfields, etc., but ended up in some fierce fighting - albeit unprepared and ill equipped. Here is a link to a thread about the 1st Bn Tyneside Scottish during its time with the BEF:

    Shortly after the survivors from the BEF arrived back in the UK, a decision was made to convert some of the motorised divisions back to three brigades. As a consequence, the 23rd Div was broken up on circa 1 July 1940; the 69th Infantry Brigade transferring to 50th (Northumbrian) Divison, where it stayed for the duration and the 70th Infantry Brigade to the 49th (West Riding) Division, where it stayed until being broken up in August 1944 in Normandy.

    If I find any information specific to the 23rd Div RASC I will revert, but obtaining the pertinent War Diaries or similar information via Andy's (Drew5233) copying service is probably your best bet!

    Good luck with your search.



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