10th army field workshop

Discussion in 'REME/RAOC' started by Kevsnowdon, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. Kevsnowdon

    Kevsnowdon Member

    Hi all , I am currently researching my fathers war history . He was George Albert Snowdon and joined the R.A.O.C as a electric welder and enlisted on 15.7.1939 . He was based at Bovington and was sent to France with the B.E.F disembarking on the 6.4.1940.
    I understand he was in the 10 th AFW attached to the Saar Force but according to his service records he was evacuated from France on the 31.5.1940 wich does not tie in with the history of the Saar force , could anyone sugest were I might be able to find out about the movements of the 10th AFW.

    On the 20 . 3 .1941 he was sent via Liverpool to Singapore arriving ion the 15.5.1941 now part of "z"AOW and the last record of him was being classified as Electic Welder Class 1 in Kuala Lumpur Malaya.
    Further research has him at the Singapore Fortress just prior to the surrender.

    I knew he ended up as a POW in Palembang Sumatra after a ship carring him was sunk in the Banka Straight from his Japanese pow card , but how he got there was a bit of a mystery until I found www.dissfamily.org.uk (The Story of Eric and Mary). It turns out that Eric was also in the RAOC in Singapore when approx 80 men of the RAOC were put on a boat , the Pula Sugi with the intensional of setting up a workshop on Java , but it was sank by the Japanese in the Banka Straight.

    Unfortunately Eric Diss died in the POW camp Sunge Geron on the 20th of August 1945 five days after the Japanese surrender and three days before the Australian Air Force flew supplies in.

    My Father was one of the lucky ones to survive but was in a terrible physical condition and was admitted to hospital when he finally arrived back in the UK. He was discharged from hospital on the 17.2.1946 in Lanark Scotland to be finally reunited with my mother back on Tyneside.

    I would be greatful for any pointers for further research.
    Kevin Snowdon

    Attached Files:

    dbf likes this.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hello and welcome to the forum. The Saar Force was set up to rotate as many BEF units through a sector on the French/German border (Maginot Line) to give them as much realistic training, particularly patrolling by the Infantry. Many had contact with the enemy before 10 May and the first soldier of the BEF killed in combat was on this front in January 1940 if I remember correctly. All units that rotated through this area were at Brigade level. The last unit to be posted there before the German offensive kicked off on 10th May was the 51st Division (The first division) and the rest is history.

    I don't have the units war diary yet - WO 167/1210 No.10 Army Fd. Wksp. April - June 1940. I would be able to tell you who they were attached to but my books are still in boxes and under dust sheets until the decorator leaves - Get back to me in 7 days and I'll have more info for you.

    Good luck with the rest !
  3. hutchie

    hutchie Dont tell him Pike!!

    Interesting story, I would suggest speaking to Hebridean chindit & bamboo43, there area of specailty is round about that area

    I know quite a few passed through chilwell "central ordance depot"

    And also arnold bestwood lodge which acted acted as mobilisation centre

    He would also have been rebranded reme come October 1942
  4. Kevsnowdon

    Kevsnowdon Member

    Thank you both for your replay to my post , My Fathers Records state that he did infact pass through Arnold , Notts on the 22.2.41 prior to being posted to Singapore / Malaya . Thanks Drew5233 for you kind offer . I was going to try and get down to Kew , in September . Do you know the WO ref for the "Z" AOW Unit ?
  5. hutchie

    hutchie Dont tell him Pike!!

    Arnold was the mobilisation centre for all of the reme. It was situated at bestwood lodge which is still there today but as a hotel.

    Drew is your man for the war diaries.

    Does it say where he departed from as well?
  6. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Not much help regarding your father, but here is the burial card for Corporal DISS, ERIC SIDNEY 7634791 REME

    "Unfortunately Eric Diss died in the POW camp Sunge Geron on the 20th of August 1945 five days after the Japanese surrender and three days before the Australian Air Force flew supplies in."

    Attached Files:

  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Do you know what AOW stands for? Army Ord Workshop perhaps? It will make searching easier for me.
  8. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    My father was a RAOC driver in the 11th AFW and escaped from Dunkirk Harbouor to Dover on board the SS Killarney on 29 May 1940.

    The war diaries certainly helped me trace his movements around France & Belgium, but after the withdrawal of the Dyle Line it became very tricky to associate the 11th AFW with any specific unit.

    My impression is that it was almost a free for all towards the end.

    However, from my notes, this was the allocation of RAOC AFW & OFP in April 1940.

    1st Corps - 1st, 2nd & 48th Infantry Divisions - 1st, 2nd & 11th AFW - 1st OFP

    2nd Corps - 3rd, 4th & 50th Infantry Divisions - 3rd, 8th & 14th AFWs - 2nd OFP

    3rd Corps - 42nd & 44th Infantry Divisions - 4th & 9th AFWs - 4th OFP

    HQ LOC Force - 5th, 12th, 23rd & 46th Infantry Divisions

    SaarForce - 51st Infantry Division - 10th AFW

    Good luck with your research.

  9. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Advanced ordnance workshop.
  10. Kevsnowdon

    Kevsnowdon Member

    According to his Service Record he Embarked at Liverpool . In the Unit colum there is (serial ?) 3055y . Thanks for the meaning of the AOW . Also thanks for the other pointers. I will follow them up.
  11. Kevsnowdon

    Kevsnowdon Member

    Thanks for the Post , I am in contact with the son of a former POW in Sunge Geron , and he has a list of all the POWs in that camp compiled in secret by Lt R.(Bob) Arkley RNZNVR , he kindly sent me a copy of the page with my Fathers Name ,Rank and Unit. There are a few books concerning the POW camps in Palembang :- Prisoner of Nippon by Ray Stubbs , No Bamboo for Coffins” by David Roberts and An Ocean Without Shores by C.O. Jennings.
  12. hutchie

    hutchie Dont tell him Pike!!

    correct me if im wrong, but 51st infantry division is that the 51st highland division?
  13. Kevsnowdon

    Kevsnowdon Member

  14. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Kevin,

    I'm not sure if these file references for Kew are going to be relevant to you at all, but here are two missing in action files for RAOC personnel Malaya.


  15. Kevsnowdon

    Kevsnowdon Member

    Thanks Steve , I also have found wo172/286 z ord wksp coy and wo172/357 , Hopefully I can work through them with the help of my research assistant (my wife ha ! )

  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member


    I'm sure someone from the forum would have already told you, but take a decent camera to Kew if you own one and photograph the files you have ordered if they have relevant information for your research. Photographing files has saved us all so much time and prevents missing out on important detail. I have a very ordinary Sony Cybershot digital camera, but it takes good quality images using the camera stands available at Kew.

    The WO361 series may help you later when closing in on the later POW pathway of George, camps etc.

    Good luck at Kew.
  17. Kevsnowdon

    Kevsnowdon Member

    I visited Kew on Tuesday , having pre ordered the diarys I basically just swiped in to the reading room and got down to work. I have the 10th Army Workshop Diary 173 Mb and "Z" AOW Diary 275 Mb . Anyone interested in them I could upload them to my web site for Downloading.

    Once again thanks for all the help.

  18. Kevsnowdon

    Kevsnowdon Member

  19. michaelpether

    michaelpether Junior Member

    I am currently working on the story of the 'Pulo Soegi' and the men on board - as another of the memorial documents I have completed on evacuation ships sunk after leaving Singapore. My work/documents are shared gratis for non - commercial purposes. if you are still interested make contact om my email which is mncpether@xtra.co.nz and i will be happy to share the finished product with you in a few weeks. Cheers, Michael Pether, Auckland, New Zealand.

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