War Diary 50 (Northumbrian) Division H.Q. R.E. 14 June -30 June 1942

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  1. War Diary 50 (Northumbrian) Division H.Q. R.E.
    [Handwritten and starting on 14 June 1942]
    Called Coy Commd’s conference for 1200, attended by Majors Osbourne (233 Fd Coy) & Pooley (505 Fd Coy). C.R.E. issued orders for R.E. work prior to evacuation of positions. Headquarters buried secret documents, large scale fires NOT being permitted.
    I.O. appointed Navigator Divisional Headquarters B Column (commd C.O. 2 CHES) to move with 69 Bde Coln through bridgehead made by EAST YORKS. Columns moved out of gaps in perimeter minefield at approx 2030hrs.
    Orders were to steer SOUTH for 20 miles SOUTH of BIR HACHEIM, swing EAST and go through the wire at LIBYAN SCHEFERZEN. Column ran into Italian leaguer South of TRICH CAPUZZO & was scattered.
    CRE & ADJ pulled across in front of navigating truck when machine guns opened fire & were not seen again. Head of column reached report centre SCHEFERZEN 1300 hrs 15 JUNE. Proceeded new site Div HQ at BIR THALATA arriving there at 1830 hrs.
    HQ R.E. consisted of I.O., F.E.I. & 2 O.Rs
    15 Jun
    ...Other personnel began to appear, bringing strength to 2 officers & 7 O.R.’s. Major Pooley, Lt Kent & the Pardre reported at Div HQ during the day. No news CRE or Adj.

    16 Jun
    Contact made with 233 & 505 Field Coys who were very close to HQ RE. Major Osbourne becomes A/CRE...
    No field coy officers missing – all reported somewhere in neighbourhood.
    .....Including CRE’s vehicle HQ lost 1 motor cycle, 1 utility, 1 8cwt, 2 30cwts. The Office vehicle was hit by shellfire &all office records existing were destroyed. Such other records as were in possession, save Intelligence files, were lost with the Adjutant.
    Fld Coys almost as badly off for transport as HQ. One O.R. reported wounded. F.E (LT ROLT) wounded in arm & evacuated to hospital, M.O. (Capt SANDERSON) & driver reported missing.

    17 Jun
    Indends for G2098 stores & transport submitted. I.O. departs for MATRUH to collect office machinery, etc. 2 Lt CAMPBELL apptd Adjutant and promoted A/Capt…
    Certain amount of clothing & necessaries available for troops. Parties bathing SIDDI BARRANI daily. I.O. returns. Lt O.R. SHEPHERD reports for duty.
    19 Jun
    Major Osbourne reports C.E. 13 Corps, discusses re-equipment & reforming. Detachments 233 Fd Coy required for operations with part of 69 Brigade. R.E. stores (about 20 loads) to be carried with group. F.E. 1 organises loading at railhead MISHEIFA. Recommendations for immediate awards submitted to Brigades and Division.
    20 Jun
    Report on work of Field Coys during withdrawal from GAZALA submitted Div I Branch. Sapper detachment from 233 subsequently to become 50 Div Coastal Group.
    21 Jun
    Lt. Col K A LINDSAY R.E. reported from C.E. 8 Army. Subsequently appointed C.R.E. w.e.f. 21 June 42. Headquarters under orders move over whole day. Moved at 1900 hrs, RV at approximately 708823.
    Arrived RV 0230 hrs. Moved BIR SIDI HAMZA arriving 1100 hrs. Division taking up defensive position in this area. Div HQ established in wadis along the escarpment SOUTH of the SIWA track. I.O. (now Lt G.E. MUNRO) went to MATRUH to contact CRE re stores etc. Casualties consequent of GAZALA evacuation returned on 21 JUNE. Missing LT COL J.R. KENNEDY D.S.O., O.B.E., R.E., CAPT., M.J.H. CHILDS R.E. CAPT R.L. SANDERSON (attd M.O.) & 3 O.R.’s. Wounded:- 2 LT R.L. ROLT, R.E., & one O.R.
    23 Jun
    Coy Commds Conference postponed as CRE had to recce new defensive positions with acting DIV COMD (CRA). Warning order possible move, 3 ton truck allotted HQRE making transport up to one Ford 8 cwt, one Dodge 8 cwt (on loan from 8 Army) & one 3 tonner. Some accommodation stores had been acquired & office was set up F.E.I. (LT SHEPHERD) departed for MATRUH to make arrangements for some water supply equipment to permit RASC establish a mobile water point with the aid of their tanker lorries. CRE reported CE 8 Army at MATRUH. 142 Field Park Squadron reported at 1200 hrs. HQRE moved with Div HQ to 72533428 outside Matruh perimeter. Departed 1300 hrs & arrived 1515. 142 moved in new Div area at 1800 hrs. F.E.I. reported completion water supply fittings for RASC. I.O. returned from MATRUH. Division took up new defensive positions.
    25 Jun 72533428
    Headquarters on short notice to move. CRE left to recce new positions with other commds. Adjt contacted 505 & 233 who were in immediate area. Bde move into new posns, R.E. stores for new positions drawn from MATRUH, mainly on RASC transport. Fd Squ form main dump & two subsidiary dumps, the latter in coy areas. I.O. organised loading at MATRUH R. U.
    1100 – Warning order – Div will move not before 1600 hrs. CRE visited Coys in afternoon. Both field coys moved into bde areas during afternoon and prepared to lay mines. Capt Magson (2 i/c 233 Fd Coy) reported in afternoon on return of 50 Div Coastal Group.
    Small minefield laid area Div HQ. Sited by Adj and Commd Defence Coy. Mining began 2200, completed 2400. 2 Subsections RE from 142 Fd Pk Squ & 2 sections infantry.
    Decision taken to attach Lt A.P. MONTGOMEREY of 235 Fd Pk Coy to 142 Fd Pk Squ, R.E.
    26 Jun 72533428
    CRE recces new site for Fd Pk Squ with Major WILSON (O.C. 142 Fd Pk Squ R.E.) & visits Coy areas. I.O. at A.R.H. MATRUH arranging movement of stores. Day much cooler than usual. In absence of C.R.E., Adj attends commdrs conference at 1100 hrs. G.O.C. issues verbal orders occupation GARAWLA posn. E.E. to lift mines already laid & move stores GARAWLA area. C.R.E. returned 1300 hrs & left with GOC’s R Gp at 1330. 40 lorries of R.E. stores attached Fd Pk Squ for movement new posn. Fd Pk ordered to move GARAWLA area NOT before 1800 hrs. I.O. left recce new posn 1430 hrs.
    1730 hrs GARAWLA 742331 Main Div departed 1500 hrs arrived GARAWLA 1730. Adj & I.O. recce site for Fd Pk Squ, less detachment under command C.E. 10 Corps, arrived 1930 hrs. Bombed on rd NORTH of Fd Pk Site. Two vehicles destroyed among attached RASC carrying mines. 2 killed, one wounded.
    C.R.E. returns to approx by 2000 hrs. Two convoys prepared for despatch to bdes. Convoy to 69 left at 2215 hrs guided by I.O. Convoy arrived safely & was offloaded. F.E.1 posted 505.
    27 Jun GARAWLA
    0200 – 2LT FITCH reported as guide for 151 Bde Coln [this convoy was bogged in soft sand & scattered by shellfire, only five vehicles out of 18 or so, reporting to 151 Bde].
    A.A. fire all night. Fd Pk & Div HQ machine gunned during night.
    0500 – I.O. returned
    Auth’ given by CE 10 Corps to collect 4 15cwt compressors from FUKA & 40% of wiring stores in Matruh – RASC vehicles from 69 Bde convoy were sent to Matruh for additional stores.
    233 instructed ‘Recce main Matruh rd fd bde posns for suitable demolitions. Wadi culverts especially important. Report earliest’.
    Report submitted by Major Osbourne but action postponed.
    142 Fd Pk Squ moved to HANEISN being det under command C.E. 10 Corps. Further stores convoy departed 151 bde, under 2LT FITCH, leaving at 1800 hrs.
    Considerable gunfire all day. 233 report 1500 mines laid by 1500 hrs. 505 laid consist of lorries which arrived bde from convoy of previous night.
    Telephone message to move in 30 minutes, timed approx 2030 hrs. Div HQ was to spend night on move avoiding enemy patrols operating in area. Road between Matruh & FUKA was cut at approx 1930 hrs. After 2100 hrs remainder of night was spent on move. At no time was enemy actually encountered.
    28 Jun 748336
    0400 hrs Arrived this area & leaguered night. Everyone fairly happy. E.F.I. had been opened for distribution & there was plenty of beer etc.
    0700 hrs Began moving along Coast Road in column in direction of FUKA. Rd heavily shelled about KILO 23 & column had to scatter. Enemy visable on escarpment to South East. Counter battery silenced enemy & headquarters moved into old area.
    1100 hr CRE received instructions regarding withdrawal of division to take place that night. CRE & IO recce’d possible routes.
    Div HQ & 3 columns are commanded by C.R.E.
    Headquarters under heavy shellfire all day, no casualties in HQRE.
    1300 hrs LT’s BROWN, O’BRIEN & RICHARDS (233 Fd Coy) arrived at HQRE with detachments of operation previous night. 69 Bde HQ in same area as Div HQ.
    1730 hrs Adj attended Staff Conference. G1 gave orders for withdrawal. C.R.E.’s column at F.U.P. at 2130 hrs, cross start line behind 69 Bde at 2300, move 10 miles SOUTH, then run EAST. R.U. at FUKA where division was to tke up new defensive positions. Pass through bridgehead of 5 E. Yorks at top of wadi.
    1900 hrs Enemy infantry attack. Completed digging-in, but became dark & enemy had not succeeded in reaching Headquarters.
    2115 Embussed & moved to F.U.P. Vehicles very close together whole bde & part of Div HQ. Enemy closed in & began machine gunning & shelling. Several vehicles set on fire.
    2130 hrs Crossed Starting-Line. Moved up wadi, under shell machine-gun fire. Enemy dug-in at top & along sides. 4 or 5 vehicles burning at top of wadi. Convoy scattered passing this. HQ lost 3 tonner & compressor (15cwt) at this point. For remainder of night C.R.E., Adj, I.O. were in separate colns. Personnel were split among these various cols.

    29 Jun Area FUKA
    0800 hrs Adjt sent Armd car screen & learnt that enemy were occupying area of projected Div HQ. C.R.E. & I.O. arrived in area independently & obtained same information.
    HAMMAM 1800 hrs New Div HQ in area Hammam Station. Adjutant arrived 1800 hrs, with 6 O.R’s from HQRE & 5 from 2CHES &5E. YORKS.
    142 Fd Pk Squ less det already in area.
    30 Jun
    Adjutant contacts 505 & 233. 233 approx 2 officers & 80 O.Rs. 505, one officer & 50 O.R., but more known to be safe.
    I.O. arrived during morning, C.R.E. arrived in evening.
    Strength of Headquarters, 3 Officers & 17 O.R’s. Casualties all O.R’s, 4 missing believed killed, one missing believed prisoner. One G.S.W. in arm, two admitted A.D.S. & hospital with shock & exhaustion. Vehicles consisted of compressor (15cwt) & CRE’s Dodge P.U. 8cwt P.U. destroyed by 142 during this withdrawal.
    Demolition party of 142 Fd Pk Squ came out with HQ 10 Corps. Only LT HAMMERSLEY & driver reported during 30 June. Party ran into German tank leaguer on plateau above coast rd & was shot up. Almost 40 men missing.

    [Additional Officers listed as missing in later entries include Capt W Magson, Lt J Brown & Lt O’Brien from 233 and Lt’s Edgar & Shephard from 505]
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  2. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    505 Field Coy, RE, KIA between 14 and 30 June 1942 - The Gazala gallup.


    Rank: Sapper
    Service No: 2016336
    Date of Death: 15/06/1942
    Age: 24
    Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers, 505 Field Coy.
    Panel Reference: Column 49.
    Additional Information: Son of Thomas and Janet McAughtrie; husband of Jessie McAughtrie, of Whins-of-Milton, Stirlingshire.


    Rank: Sapper
    Service No: 2091244
    Date of Death: 15/06/1942
    Age: 26
    Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers, 505 Field Coy.
    Panel Reference: Column 51.
    Additional Information: Son of Charles Ernest and Mary Elizabeth Thompson, of Blyth, Northumberland; husband of Louisa Thompson, of South Gosforth, Newcastle-on-Tyne.


    Rank: Sapper
    Service No: 2007147
    Date of Death: 29/06/1942
    Age: 22
    Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers, 505 Field Coy.
    Panel Reference: Column 48.
    Additional Information: Son of Charles and Georgina Innes, of Bo'ness, West Lothian.


    Rank: Corporal
    Service No: 2075124
    Date of Death: 29/06/1942
    Age: 30
    Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers, 505 Field Coy.
    Grave Reference: XXXIII. F. 12.
    Additional Information: Son of Mary Rachel Jackson, of Newcastle-on-Tyne; husband of Irene Jackson, of Newcastle-on-Tyne.

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