2nd New Zealand Division Engineers

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by DavidW, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Does anyone know when the 2nd N.Z Division's engineer companies arrived in the Western Desert?

    My best guess would be somewhen in June of 1941.

    Thanks.
     
  2. andy007

    andy007 Senior Member

  3. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Hi Andy.

    I did not know that, thanks.

    Do you know when they returned to North Africa from Greece, and in what order?
     
  4. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here are the movements of 2nd New Zealand Divisional Engineers. New Zealand also had a large commitment of non-divisional engineers in the Middle East including 9th Railway Survey Company, 10th Railway Construction Company, 13th Railway Construction Company, 16th & 17th Railway Operating Companies, 18th & 19th Army Troops Companies, and 21st Mechanical Equipment Company. 19th Army Troops Company served under the division for a period to replace the company in England. I have included its service below:


    5th Field Park Company, New Zealand Engineers
    Raised
    5 October 1939 at Ngaruawahia (Hopu Hopu)

    The company moved to Waiouru during the first week of December 1939 and embarked at Wellington with the First Echelon on 5 January 1940 for the Middle East. It arrived at Port Tewfik, Egypt on 12 February 1940 and moved at Maadi Camp. The company left Maadi on 4 September 1940 to a camp near Baggush. During the first desert campaign, it moved to Sidi Barrani on 30 December 1940, to Sollum on 31 December, to Bardia at El Habhour on 5 January 1941, to Tobruk on 25 January, to Derna and then to the Barce area. It left there on 15 February 1941 for the seven day trip to Cairo at Helwan. It arrived in Greece under 2nd New Zealand Division on 20 March 1941 and served in the campaign there until it embarked on 27 April. It moved from Greece to Suda Bay, Crete and served on Crete until 31 May, when it left for Alexandria, Egypt.
    The company arrived at Alexandria on 1 June 1941 and moved at once to Helwan. At the end of the month the company moved to Ismailia on the Canal and remained there until mid-September 1941. It then moved with the division to the Western Desert at Sidi Haneish in the Baggush Box. It was located at Bir El Chleta under the division during the Crusader battles in November and December 1941. After the campaign, the divisional engineers moved to Baalbek in Syria by February 1942. It returned to the desert with the division at in June and was located under Rear HQ 2nd New Zealand Division near Matruh on 24 June. It served with the division for the remainder of the North African campaign.
    The division then assembled at Maadi during the last days of May and first days of June in 1943. It then concentrated at Burg el Arab for the move to Italy. It sailed for Italy on 6 October 1943 and arrived at Taranto on 9 October. The company remained with the division in Italy until the end of the war.

    6th Field Company, New Zealand Engineers
    Raised
    5 October 1939 at Ngaruawahia (Hopu Hopu)

    The company moved to Waiouru during the first week of December 1939 and embarked at Wellington with the First Echelon on 5 January 1940 for the Middle East. It arrived at Port Tewfik, Egypt on 12 February 1940 and moved at Maadi Camp. It left Maadi in August to the beach near Alexandria-Agamy. It remained there until 17 October 1940, when it moved to Garawala for water-pipeline work. It was relieved at the end of December on the Canal at the west side of Lake Timsah.
    The company moved to Greece with 2nd New Zealand Division and arrived at Piraeus on 8 March 1941. It served in Greece with the division through 27 April 1941 and then moved to Crete. It left Crete after the attack on 1 June 1941 for Alexandria. Upon return to Egypt, 6th Company moved to Garawi. It left there for Ismailia on the Canal in July and served there until early September 1941, when it moved to the desert at Baggush with the division. It fought in the Crusader battles in November and December and in February 1942 it moved to Kabrit in Egypt for one month. It moved to Syria with the division in March 1942 and was located at El Aine near Baalbek. The division was sent to the desert on 14 June and it served with the division over the next year in the North African campaign.
    The division then assembled at Maadi during the last days of May and first days of June in 1943. It then concentrated at Burg el Arab for the move to Italy. It sailed for Italy on 6 October 1943 and arrived at Taranto on 9 October. The company remained with the division in Italy until the end of the war.

    7th Field Company, New Zealand Engineers
    Raised
    12 February 1940 at Papakura

    The 7th Field Company departed from New Zealand on 2 May 1940 with the Second Echelon and arrived at Gourock, Scotland on 19 June 1940. It was then established at Rushmoor Camp at Aldershot. The 2nd New Zealand (UK) Division moved to the area of Maidstone and Dover on 6 September 1940, but returned to Aldershot Command at Crundall in early November. It left Aldershot on 3 January for Liverpool and embakred with the 5th New Zealand Infantry Brigade on 5 January 1941 for Egypt
    It arrived at Port Tewfik on 3 March 1941 and moved to Helwan. The company arrived in Greece with 2nd New Zealand Division on 6 April 1941 and served there until 25 April, when it moved to Crete. It fought on Crete until 1 June and then sailed for Alexandria, Egypt. On arrival, it moved back to Helwan and then to the Ismailia area at El Krish at the end of July. It moved into the desert at Sidi Haneish in the Baggush Box in mid-September 1941. It served under the division in the Crusader battles. On 16 February 1942, it helped 5th New Zealand Brigade set up a fortress at El Adem, but left there on 23 March for Maadi. It moved to Syria on 6 April and relieved 8th Field Company at Nerab Camp near Aleppo.The division was sent to the desert on 14 June and it served with the division over the next year in the North African campaign.
    The division then assembled at Maadi during the last days of May and first days of June in 1943. It then concentrated at Burg el Arab for the move to Italy. It sailed for Italy on 6 October 1943 and arrived at Taranto on 9 October. The company remained with the division in Italy until the end of the war.

    8th Field Company, New Zealand Engineers
    Raised
    15-17 May 1940 at Trentham

    The company was disbanded shortly after being formed and the personnel were used to create 18th and 19th Army Troops Companies. The company was then reformed and left New Zealand on 1 February 1941 for Egypt with the 3rd Section of the 4th Reinforcements. It arrived on 23 March 1941 at Port Tewfik and moved to Maadi, where it joined base troops in Egypt. It was relieved at Mena Camp on 19 August 1941 by 19th Army Troops Company, NZE, where it had been constructing pillboxes. It then joined 5th Field Park Company at Ismailia. It left there in mid-September 1941 and came under command of 6th New Zealand Brigade at Mena. From there, the brigade moved to the Baggush Box. It served with the division in the Crusader battles and returned to the Delta in January 1942. It was first located at Maadi and then at Kabrit. When the division moved to Syria in March 1942, 8th Company relieved 42nd Field Company, RE at Aleppo. It remained there until mid-April, when it was relieved by 7th Field Company, NZE. It then moved to Zabboud. The division was sent to the desert on 14 June and it served with the division over the next year in the North African campaign.
    The division then assembled at Maadi during the last days of May and first days of June in 1943. It then concentrated at Burg el Arab for the move to Italy. It sailed for Italy on 6 October 1943 and arrived at Taranto on 9 October. The company remained with the division in Italy until the end of the war.


    19th Army Troops Company, New Zealand Engineers
    Raised
    19 June 1940 at Trentham

    This company was raised when 8th Field Company was split to form 18th and 19th Army Troops Companies. The company left New Zealand with the 3rd Echelon on 28 August 1940 and arrived at Port Tewfik, Egypt on 29 September 1940. On arrival, it moved to Maadi Camp and was directly attached to 2nd New Zealand Division as a third field company. It left Maadi in late October 1940 and moved to Gebil Maryam. 6th Field Company relieved it there at the end of December 1940 and it moved to Ismailia. It then moved to Maadi but left at once for Burbeita a fortnight later. It was used to clean up the Sidi Barrani battlefield until the end of January 1941, when it returned to the Delta to rejoin the division.
    The company arrived in Greece with the division on 15 March 1941 and served there with the division until it embarked for Crete on 24/25 April. It left Crete on 31 May and disembarked at Alexandria, Egypt on 1 June. It moved to Amiriya and was ready to operate in a specialist role by the end of July. It left the division on 15 August 1941 and came under command of British Troops, Egypt, taking over the duties of 8th Field Company, NZE in Mena Camp, which in turn replaced the company in 2nd New Zealand Division. It assumed the role of port construction and supervision of native labour. No. 4 Section moved to Safaga on 25 August and No. 3 Section moved to Aqaba on 5 September. By the end of October 1941, the whole company, less No. 2 Section, was located at Safaga. No. 2 Section was sent to Aqaba on 25 April 1942 and No. 4 Section was sent to Adabiya Bay on 10 October 1942.
    A detachment of the company (3 officers and 90 other ranks) moved to Benghazi in November 1942 in the advance from Alamein. At this time, the whole company was at Safaga, less No. 4 Section at Adabiya Bay. In early November, No. 2 Section also moved to Adabiya Bay. The detachment for Benghazi left Maadi on 2 December and reached there on 7 December in order to fix the harbour. The rest of the company, less No. 4 Section, was replaced by 540th Field Company, RE and joined the detachment at Benghazi on 28 January and 1 February 1943. It remained there throughout March and was joined by No. 4 Section. 19th Army Troops Company left Benghazi on 17 October 1943 and marched into New Zealand Railway Details. It was disbanded on 21 October 1943.
     
  5. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Superb information David. Thank you very much.
     
  6. andy007

    andy007 Senior Member

    No problems David. No I don't sorry, but it appears dryan67 has that sorted for you!
     
  7. TimRE

    TimRE Member

    If dryan67 is correct about 10 Railway Construction Company RE being made up of New Zealand engineers (and I suspect he is) then the activities of this unit in Italy can be read about in Railway Reconstruction Italy 1943-1946: http://www.trenidicarta.it/reconstruction/1_2_1.html. They may also have been in North Africa before the Italy invasion.
     
  8. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Tim RE,

    Actually it is 10th Railway Construction Company, New Zealand Englneers.

    Here is a summary of their service:


    10th Railway Construction Company, New Zealand Engineers
    Raised
    14 February 1940 at Burnham

    The company was raised as part of the Railway Construction and Maintenance Group from the Public Works and Railway Departments. It sailed with the 2nd Echelon on 2 May 1940 and was diverted to Great Britain. It arrived at Gourock, Scotland on 16 June 1940. The company then moved to Woolmer, Hampshire and, after a short leave, came under command of RE Railway Training Centre, Longmoor. It did some work in England then entrained at Woolmer for Gourock on 3 August and embarked for Egypt.
    10th Company arrived in Egypt on 17 September 1940 and moved to Maadi Camp. On 1 October 1940, HQ Group and the company moved to Maaten Burbeita near Baggush and started work on an extension to the railway starting on 4 October. It was placed under command of 4th Indian Infantry Division to help with the defence of Baggush. It returned to work on 16 December 1940, but stopped work on 8 January 1941 due to the advance of Western Desert Force. The company moved to Qassassin by 18 February 1941. No. 2 Section left Qassassin 6 March for Wadi Halfa, Sudan to build bridges across the Gash and extend the line. It returned to the company at the end of June 1941. Sixty-five ranks of the unit served in the Composite Company in Greece.
    The company moved to Similla and started work on the line to Charing Cross on 26 June 1941. It worked under Group HQ at Qasaba and with 1209th and 1212th Indian Pioneer Companies. It operated on the extension from Capuzzo to El Adem with HQ at 109-Mile-Peg Camp through 9 June 1942, when it moved to Adloun, Syria. In Syria, it worked on the lines in the Haifa-Damascus area starting in June. It remained in the Levant on line maintenance through May 1943.
    By 3 June 1943, the Group started to be reduced due to furlough drafts and the company was located between Haifa and Beirut. At the end of October 1943, the entire group moved to Chekka. It then moved to Maadi for disbandment on 31 October 1943.


    Here is a brief summary of the service of 10th Railway Company, Royal Engineers:

    10th Railway Company, RE
    Station: Longmoor

    January 1885 – Redesignated as a Railway Company
    1920 – Disbanded
    January 1925 – Formed as a Railway Company at Longmoor
    1936 – Palestine
    1939 – Disbanded
    BEF 1939-40
    Later as 10th Railway Construction and Operating Company, RE
    The company was located at El Daba in Egypt in October 1940, when it was replaced by 16th Railway Operating Company, NZE. It then moved to the Sudan. Arrived in Italy in mid-October 1943 u/c 1212th Railway Construction Group as a Railway Construction Company.
    May 1940 – Formed as a Railway Operating and Construction Company in Middle East
    February 1941 – Eritrea
    November 1941 – Egypt
    1943 – Italy
    1946 – Austria
     
  9. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    A glimpse into the history of the 13th Railway Construction Company is shown on a Sapper's record. I note this passage:
    Link:Evans, Herbert Ernest Raymond "Treasure" 27135 Sapper 13th Railway Construction Company NZEF

    There is a 2003 book: The desert railway : the New Zealand Railway Group in North Africa and the Middle East during the Second World War by Brendon Judd. It covers:

    See for outline details: The desert railway : the New Zealand Railway Group in North Africa and the Middle East during the Second World War / Brendon Judd. - Version details and the book is 100% available via: https://www.nzsappers.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/The-Desert-Railway.pdf
     

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