A member of the Indian Army Services Corps at Dunkirk (1940)
Although often overlooked many Indians and Africans participated in the early fighting in France during WWII as well as the Dunkirk evacuation.
Amongst the British Expeditionary Force, there were around 2,000 Indians as well as several hundred Afrcians. Four contingents of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps were sent to support the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940. Three of them were successfully evacuated at Dunkirk while the 4th was taken prisoner by the Germans. In 1940, the French army included more than 100,000 black French soldiers from France’s African colonies, mainly Senegal, Mauritania, and Niger. More than 75,000 of them served in France before and during the German invasion; the rest of them served guard duty in the various colonies.
On the French side of things in 1940, the French army included more than 100,000 black French soldiers from France’s African colonies, mainly Senegal, Mauritania, and Niger. More than 75,000 of them served in France before and during the German invasion; the rest of them served guard duty in the various colonies. An estimated 40,000 Black-French soldiers took part in the Battle of France, holding off the German Army from the evacuation point, with 10,000 killed and the remained taken as P.O.Ws. Surviving Black regiments would go on to form the backbone of the Free French Army.
French civilians pass a British CMP (Corps of Military Police) despatch rider of Nº 6 Beach Group in La Brèche d'Hermanville, Normandy. 6 June 1944.
The Nº 6 Beach Group was a unit of the British Army during the Second World War. It was responsible for organising the units landing on Sword Beach in the Normandy landings on D-Day, 6 June 1944. The Beach Group was tasked with establishing dumps of equipment and supplies including ammunition, petrol and vehicles. The Group controlled all policing and unloading in the eastern flank of the Normandy invasion area.
Nº 6 Beach Group also included units of the Royal Engineers, Royal Army Service Corps, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Royal Army Medical Corps, Military Police and the Pioneer Corps. The HQ of the beach group moved to Lion-sur-Mer on 12 June 1944. (wikipedia)
The Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME; pronounced phonetically as “Reemee” with stress on the first syllable) is a corps of the British Army that maintains the equipment that the British Army uses.
Prior to REME’s formation, maintenance was the responsibility of several different corps:
Royal Army Ordnance Corps—weapons and armoured vehicles Royal Engineers—engineering plant and machinery, and RE motor transport Royal Corps of Signals—communications equipment Royal Army Service Corps—other motor transport Royal Artillery-heavy weapons artificers World War II’s increase in quantity and complexity of equipment exposed the flaws in this system. Pursuant to the recommendation of a committee William Beveridge chaired, the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was formed on 1 October 1942.
Such a major re-organisation was too complex to be carried out quickly and completely in the middle of a world war. Therefore, the changeover was undertaken in two phases. In Phase I, which was implemented immediately, REME was formed on the existing framework of the RAOC Engineering Branch, strengthened by the transfer of certain technical units and tradesmen from the RE and RASC.
At the same time a number of individual tradesmen were transferred into REME from other corps. The new corps was made responsible for repairing the technical equipment of all arms with certain major exceptions. REME did not yet undertake:
Those repairs which were carried out by unit tradesmen who were driver/mechanics or fitters in regiments and belonged to the unit rather than being attached to it.
Repairs of RASC-operated vehicles, which remained the responsibility of the RASC; each RASC Transport Company had its own workshop.
Repairs of RE specialist equipment, which remained the responsibility of the RE.
In 1949, it was decided that “REME Phase II” should be implemented. This decision was published in Army Council Instruction 110 of 1949, and the necessary reorganisation was carried out in the various arms and services in three stages between July 1951 and January 1952. The main changes were:
The transfer to REME of most of the unit repair responsibilities of other arms (Infantry, Royal Artillery, Royal Armoured Corps etc.).
The provision of Light Aid Detachments for certain units that had not possessed them under the old organisation.
The provision of new REME workshops to carry out field repairs in RASC transport companies. Maintenance of vessels of the RASC fleet whilst in port was given to the fleet repair branch, a civilian organisation who came under the R.E.M.E umbrella.
This organisation was also responsible for arranging and overseeing ship refits.
At the end of the war, the Allies occupied the major German industrial centres to decide their fate. The Volkswagen factory at Wolfsburg became part of the British Zone in June 1945 and No. 30 Workshop Control Unit, REME, assumed control in July. They operated under the overall direction of Colonel Michael McEvoy at Rhine Army Headquarters, Bad Oeynhausen. Uniquely, he had experience of the KdF Wagen in his pre-war career as a motor racing engineer. Whilst attending the Berlin Motor Show in 1939 he was able to test drive one. After visiting the Volkswagen factory he had the idea of trying to get Volkswagen back into production to provide light transport for the occupying forces. The British Army, Red Cross and essential German services were chronically short of light vehicles. If the factory could provide them, there would be no cost to the British taxpayer and the factory could be saved. To do this a good manager with technical experience would be needed.
Maj. Ivan Hirst was told simply to “take charge of” the Volkswagen plant before arriving in August 1945. He had drains fixed and bomb craters filled in; land in front of the factory was given over to food production.
At first, the wartime Kubelwagen was viewed as a suitable vehicle. Once it became clear it could not be put back into production, the Volkswagen saloon or Kaefer (Beetle) was suggested.
Hirst had an example delivered to Rhine Army headquarters where it was demonstrated by Colonel McEvoy. The positive reaction led to the Military Government placing an order for 20,000 Volkswagens in September 1945.
Sidney Edward Daniels on board the RMS Olympic, 1911 Sidney Edward Daniels (19 November 1893 – 25 May 1983), known as Sid Daniels, was a British merchant seaman and the last surviving member of the crew of the RMS Titanic. Daniels was only 18 when the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank on 15 April 1912, and survived by clinging onto an upturned collapsible boat which was rescued by the Carpathia hours later. He also served in World War I for the Royal Army Service Corps and World War II for the Merchant Navy.
“A Chinese soldier (a driver in the Royal Army Service Corps) pointing out various landmarks to a Corporal of the Middlesex Regiment. In the backgound can be seen the Central District of Victoria, the harbour, with Stonecutters’ Island on the far side, and the hills of the New Territories in the distance.” April 1962.