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  #1  
Old 14-09-08, 21:58
Helen Henson Helen Henson is offline
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Default My father, Don (John Donihee) Mateer, RCE

Just like everyone else, we had a father who did not talk to his children about the his WWII service.

We've gotten Dad's service records, but I still need help!

He was SOS from "C.E.R.U." on May 13, 1944 and transferred to "X4 List R.C.E." He embarked U.K. on June 2, and landed in France June 6. Later, on September 10. he was SOS from X4 List 10 Bn to the 9th Canadian Field Squadron R.C.E.

However, he didn't stay with that squadron long, as his jeep hit a land mine on September 30. We were never quite clear about whether that happened in Holland or Belgium. He was wounded and SOS to "X3 List R.C.E." He returned to England and came home to Canada in early 1945.

We are requesting the war diaries of the 9th Field Squadron, but it seems that most of the time Dad spent that summer was with somebody else!

What would X4 List, and X4 List 10 Bn be? I have a funny feeling that engineers were assigned all over, and that it will be very difficult to figure out what our father (a lieutenant) would have been doing. He did say, when we went across a Bailey bridge, that he had built those during the war.

Can anyone help, please? And whether or not, thanks for this site! It is wonderful...

Helen Henson
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  #2  
Old 15-09-08, 15:19
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Geoff Winnington-Ball (RIP) Geoff Winnington-Ball (RIP) is offline
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Hello Helen,

First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to MLU, and thank you for your support! We are quite unlike any other website in the depth of knowledge and variety of interests held by our membership, and I hope and believe we can help you find the information you seek. Certainly, the sappers on our forum will be able to enlighten you a bit as to the type of activities your father would have been involved with - bridge-building was just one of them.

From here, I'll turn this over to our sappers and historical experts for their input and expertise...

Geoff (aka 'Jif')
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  #3  
Old 15-09-08, 21:12
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Mark W. Tonner Mark W. Tonner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen Henson View Post
Just like everyone else, we had a father who did not talk to his children about the his WWII service.

We've gotten Dad's service records, but I still need help!

He was SOS from "C.E.R.U." on May 13, 1944 and transferred to "X4 List R.C.E." He embarked U.K. on June 2, and landed in France June 6. Later, on September 10. he was SOS from X4 List 10 Bn to the 9th Canadian Field Squadron R.C.E.

However, he didn't stay with that squadron long, as his jeep hit a land mine on September 30. We were never quite clear about whether that happened in Holland or Belgium. He was wounded and SOS to "X3 List R.C.E." He returned to England and came home to Canada in early 1945.

We are requesting the war diaries of the 9th Field Squadron, but it seems that most of the time Dad spent that summer was with somebody else!

What would X4 List, and X4 List 10 Bn be? I have a funny feeling that engineers were assigned all over, and that it will be very difficult to figure out what our father (a lieutenant) would have been doing. He did say, when we went across a Bailey bridge, that he had built those during the war.

Can anyone help, please? And whether or not, thanks for this site! It is wonderful...

Helen Henson
Hi Helen;

Welcome to the forum.

Basicly, you Dad was:

- Struck-off-Strength (13 May 44) of No. 1 Canadian Engineers Reinforcement Unit (in the UK) upon posting to the X4 List R.C.E. - X4 meant that your Father was a reinforcement and in this case, a reinforcement for the Royal Canadian Engineers.

- You say he landed in France on 6 June 44 - this meant that he landed as a '1st Line Reinforcement' (R.C.E.) and he was held on strength of No. 10 Canadian Base Reinforcement Battalion (of No. 2 Canadian Base Reinforcement Group). No. 10 C.B.R.B. was the first 'Reinforcement Battalion' to land behind the assault troops, holding a mixture of 'all arms' reinforcements.

- by the looks of it, from what you wrote, he spent the summer and into Sep 44 being held on strength of No. 10 Canadian Base Reinforcement Battalion, as a reinforement for the Royal Canadian Engineers, before, on 10 Sep 44, being Struck-off-Strength of No. 10 Canadian Base Reinforcement Battalion (X4 List (Reinforcement)) upon posting to the 9th Canadian Field Squadron, R.C.E. of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, with whom he served until being wounded (30 Sep 44) and Struck-off-Strength of the Squadron and Taken-on-Strength of the X3 List (Hospital). On approx 30 Sep 44, the 'Divisional Enginners' (of which 9th Canadian Field Squadron, R.C.E. were a part) of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, were operating in the area about Bergen-Op-Zoom, The Netherlands.

The Library and Archives Canada references for the 9th Canadian Field Squadron's War Diary for North-West Europe are:

Reference: RG24 , National Defence , Series C-3 , Volume 14768
Serial : 917 , Access code: 90
File Title: 9th Field Squadron, Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers
Outside Dates: 1942/07-1945/03
Finding Aid number: 24-60

Reference: RG24 , National Defence , Series C-3 , Volume 14769
Serial : 917 , Access code: 90
File Title: 9th Field Squadron, Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers
Outside Dates: 1945/04-1945/12
Finding Aid number: 24-60

I hope the abovementioned helps.

Cheers

P.S. ... I'm not a Sapper, nor have I ever been one ...
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Last edited by Mark W. Tonner; 16-09-08 at 01:41. Reason: correction
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  #4  
Old 16-09-08, 01:49
Helen Henson Helen Henson is offline
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Default Wonderful Information!

Thank you very much, we'll settle on Holland then with a name even, and I have all sorts of new things to research.

Dad was 30 in 1943 when he went to England; he'd be 95 now, but I think others serving there would have been much younger. Maybe someone out there travelled the same road with that reinforcement group...

The information helped tremendously. We had been sort of stuck after getting the records.

You did beautifully, and, to think, not even being a sapper. Maybe you'll be luckier in your next reincarnation!

Gratefully,
Helen

Helen (Mateer) Henson
Clinton Tennessee
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  #5  
Old 16-09-08, 22:38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark W. Tonner View Post
On approx 30 Sep 44, the 'Divisional Enginners' (of which 9th Canadian Field Squadron, R.C.E. were a part) of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, were operating in the area about Bergen-Op-Zoom, The Netherlands.
I thought that the 4CAD only reached Bergen-op-Zoom on the 27th of October. At the end of September they should have being in the area south of the Scheldt.

Some additional information

8th to 10th Sept. – Crossing of Ghent Canal at Moerbrugge Belgium by 4th Canadian Armoured Division. Bridge completed over the Ghent Canal by first light on 10 Sept. The bridge site was heavy shelled by the Germans during construction.

13th Sept. – 4CAD attempt to break into the Breskens Pocket across the double canal at Moerkerkke. The Algonquin Regt. was able to cross the canals; however, the 9th Field Sqn. was unable to build a bridge due to heavy resistance by the Germans.

13th Oct. – 8th and 9th Field Sqns build a 120ft bridge across the Leopold Canal at Strooibrug Belgium.

Last edited by John McGillivray; 17-09-08 at 00:03.
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  #6  
Old 17-09-08, 02:01
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Mark W. Tonner Mark W. Tonner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John McGillivray View Post
I thought that the 4CAD only reached Bergen-op-Zoom on the 27th of October. At the end of September they should have being in the area south of the Scheldt.
Your right John, I got ahead of myself ...

... Lieutenant J.D. Mateer, of the 9th Field Squadron was wounded on on 1st October, when he drove his jeep over one that had been missed near Sas van Gent ... (The Netherlands)

Source: page 336 (third paragraph) - The History of The Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, Volume II, 1936-1946; Ottawa, 1966.

Cheers
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Last edited by Mark W. Tonner; 17-09-08 at 16:39. Reason: correction
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  #7  
Old 17-09-08, 16:00
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Originally Posted by Mark W. Tonner View Post
... Lieutenant J.D. Mateer, of the 9th Field Squadron was wounded on on 1st October, when he drove his jeep over one that had been missed near Sas van Gent ... (The Netherlands)

The full quote from page 336 (third paragraph) - The History of The Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, Volume II, 1936-1946:

"Since the 4th Armoured Division's abortive attempt to cross the parallel Leopold and Derivation Canals at Moerkerke, the 4th Divisional Engineers had cleared up most of the routes south of the Leopold Canal, removing the roadblocks and lifting the mines - or as many as they could find, for Lieutenant J.D. Mateer, of the 9th Field Squadron was wounded on on 1st October, when he drove his jeep over one that had been missed near Sas van Gent."

Cheers
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Last edited by Mark W. Tonner; 17-09-08 at 16:40.
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  #8  
Old 17-09-08, 22:47
Helen Henson Helen Henson is offline
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Default Thank you Mark and John!

Sas van Gent it is! Later tonight I'll pull up maps and locate those places and canals.

I've been reading your posts with Dad's records in front of me.

I bet Dad joined the 9th Field Squadron right after Ghent; the two dates I have for that transfer to that squadron are Sept 10 and Sept 17th. Your post indicated heavy shelling at Ghent, would he have been part of replacements to bring the squadron back up to strength?

I am sure he was trying to build the bridge at Moerkerkke, that matches with some things he hinted to my brother.

Now may I ask some stupid questions please?

What would the reinforcement battalions have been doing during the summer? I am sure I know what my father would have LIKED to have been doing, but I see no pictures of fine hotels and cheery pubs in Normandy at that time.

And if he landed at Juno as part of the first line of reinforcements, would not those reinforcements have been needed right then? Sappers had some hard times on that beach, didn't they? Wouldn't an extra lieutenant have come in handy for some group that was fighting? Dad was tall, quite athletic, and a VERY good engineer, in my totally biased opinion...

Thank you, both for the good information and (hopefully) for your patience!

Helen
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  #9  
Old 18-09-08, 00:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen Henson View Post
Sas van Gent it is! Later tonight I'll pull up maps and locate those places and canals.

I've been reading your posts with Dad's records in front of me.

I bet Dad joined the 9th Field Squadron right after Ghent; the two dates I have for that transfer to that squadron are Sept 10 and Sept 17th. Your post indicated heavy shelling at Ghent, would he have been part of replacements to bring the squadron back up to strength?

I am sure he was trying to build the bridge at Moerkerkke, that matches with some things he hinted to my brother.

Now may I ask some stupid questions please?

What would the reinforcement battalions have been doing during the summer? I am sure I know what my father would have LIKED to have been doing, but I see no pictures of fine hotels and cheery pubs in Normandy at that time.

And if he landed at Juno as part of the first line of reinforcements, would not those reinforcements have been needed right then? Sappers had some hard times on that beach, didn't they? Wouldn't an extra lieutenant have come in handy for some group that was fighting? Dad was tall, quite athletic, and a VERY good engineer, in my totally biased opinion...

Thank you, both for the good information and (hopefully) for your patience!

Helen
Hi Helen;

If it is not to much trouble, could you please quote here (line-per-line) what appears on your father's Record of Service from where it says that he disembarked France on 6 June to SOS from X4 List 10 Bn to the 9th Canadian Field Squadron R.C.E., on 10 September, it may help explain what he did from 6 Jun to 10 Sep 44.

Sas van Gent is located just inside The Netherlands (slightly north-east) of Ghent, Belgium. (see attached map).

Cheers
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  #10  
Old 18-09-08, 03:00
Helen Henson Helen Henson is offline
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Default Dad's Service Records

Of course!

Let me see if I can create and paste a table, if not I'll scan it in. Trying to type in columns is not working well for me!

Back later or in the early morning.

Thank you very much,
Helen
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  #11  
Old 18-09-08, 04:15
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Originally Posted by Helen Henson View Post
Of course!

Let me see if I can create and paste a table, if not I'll scan it in. Trying to type in columns is not working well for me!

Back later or in the early morning.

Thank you very much,
Helen

Hi Helen;

Don't worry about the columns, just type the line from left to right (you can leave out the last two right hand columns that deal with 'Rank' and 'Authority for entry'). Just type what is entered along each line, left to right, on a single line for each entry from the entry dealing with disembarking on 6 Jun. 44 - to the entry dealing with SOS of X4 List 10 Bn to the 9 Cdn Fd Sqn, R.C.E., on 10 Sep. 44.

Cheers
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Old 18-09-08, 04:25
Helen Henson Helen Henson is offline
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Default There! From Dad's record...

If this is not readable, I'll scan the original. The events are out-of-order in the original document too. The ditto marks in the original refer to France.

Prior entries list LOTS of training in the U.K. Entries following are mostly hospital, but he apparently spent some time at CERU. His feet and legs got messed up with the mine; about a year later in Canada they gave up trying to make his foot work and took it off. He did fine without it!


Date.... From Whom Rec'd.... Unit......... Casualty......... ...Place.... Date....... Form or Auth.....

Blank........Blank.................CERU... .SOS to X4 List RCE .....UK... 13 May44... 113H13May44
7May44... X-4 RCE.............Blank..... TOS from CERU......... .UK....14 May 44... 18 22May44
Blank.......X4-10Bn............. RCE...... SOS to 9CdnFdSqn R.C.E. ..Fd... 10 Sep 44... 59-Sep 44
Sep44... EAR5/244.......... 9FdSqn. TOS from X4 List RCE 10Bn .France.17Sep 44.....42 7Oct44
Blank...... X4 RCE ..............Blank. Embarked UK 2Jun44. Disemb. France 6Jun44 ......32A 14Jul44
(Oc)t44.. .W3011 ..........9Fd Sqn ...SOS to X3 List RCE........ " .....30 Sep44 ...42 7Oct44
(O)ct44 ......X3............... RCE.... ..TOS from CanFdSqn RCE..Fd .....10Oct44 ........63/44


Thank you for helping...

Helen

Last edited by Helen Henson; 19-09-08 at 00:08.
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  #13  
Old 18-09-08, 04:36
Helen Henson Helen Henson is offline
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Default Oops, Mark

Was concentrating on columns and missed your post. I don't see any entries between those two.

Not much help, I'm afraid.

Thanks,
Helen
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  #14  
Old 18-09-08, 05:15
Helen Henson Helen Henson is offline
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Default From Mateer's Service Interview Summary

It (he?) says...

"Served with 9 Squadron 4 Division in France, Belgium and Holland till wounded by a mine."

Could he have been with them without actually being taken on service? If so, maybe the war diaries, which my brother has ordered, will help.

Thanks,
Helen
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  #15  
Old 18-09-08, 15:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen Henson View Post
If this is not readable, I'll scan the original. The events are out-of-order in the original document too. The ditto marks in the original refer to France.

Prior entries list LOTS of training in the U.K. Entries following are mostly hospital, but he apparently spent some time at CERU. His feet and legs got messed up with the mine; about a year later in Canada they gave up trying to make his foot work and took it off. He did fine without it!


Date.... From Whom Rec'd.... Unit......... Casualty......... ...Place.... Date....... Form or Auth.....

Blank........Blank.................CERU... .SOS to X4 List RCE .....UK... 13 May44... 113H13May44
7May44... X-4 RCE.............Blank..... TOS from CERU......... .UK....14 May 44... 18 22May44
Blank.......X4-10Bn............. RCE...... SOS to 9CdnFdSqn R.C.E. ..Fd... 10 Sep 44... 59-Sep 44
Sep44... EAR5/244.......... 9FdSqn. TOS from X4 List RCE 10Bn .France.17Sep 44.....42 7Oct44
Blank...... X4 RCE ..............Blank. Embarked UK 2Jun44. Disemb. France 6Jun44 ......32A 14Jul44
(Oc)t44.. .W3011 ..........9Fd Sqn ...SOS to X3 List RCE........ " .....30 Sep44 ...42 7Oct44
(O)ct44 ......X3............... RCE.... ..TOS from CanFdSqn RCE.." .....10Oct44 ........63/44


Thank you for helping...

Helen
This is fine Helen, Thank you.

Cheers
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Old 18-09-08, 15:52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen Henson View Post
Was concentrating on columns and missed your post. I don't see any entries between those two.

Not much help, I'm afraid.

Thanks,
Helen

Actually what you wrote is "much help"... Thanks
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Old 18-09-08, 16:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen Henson View Post
It (he?) says...

"Served with 9 Squadron 4 Division in France, Belgium and Holland till wounded by a mine."

Could he have been with them without actually being taken on service? If so, maybe the war diaries, which my brother has ordered, will help.

Thanks,
Helen
Hi Helen;

From what I've found, your father's Struck-off-Strength (from 10 CBRB) to the 9th Cdn Fd Sqn date of 10 Sep 44 is accurate. On approx 7 Sep 44, Lieutenant R.B.W. Pyke of the 9th Cdn Fd Sqn was wounded and evacuated, this is probably the officer casualty that your father replaced, there was not another officer casualty that required to be evacuated suffered by the 9th Cdn Fd Sqn until early on the morning of 14 Sep 44, by which time your father would have already have been with the Squadron. At this time (approx 7 to 10 Sep 44), 9th Cdn Fd Sqn were located in the area of Moerbrugge, Belgium, engaged in bridging the canal at this point (Moerbrugge). The 9th Cdn Fd Sqn had crossed into Belgium on the morning of 7 Sep 44. Why the entry of his Taken-on-Strength of 9th Cdn Fd Sqn says 'France', I have no idea, because the 9th Cdn Fd Sqn had been in Belgium (approx. 7 Sep 44) since before his SOS date from 10 CBRB of 10 Sep. You father did indeed serve in FRANCE, BELGIUM and HOLLAND (where he was wounded), but he served in France with 10th Canadian Base Reinforcement Battalion, No. 2 Canadian Base Reinforcement Group and in Belgium and Holland with 9th Canadian Field Squadron, R.C.E., 4th Canadian Armoured Division.

I'll do some more digging and let you know where 10 CBRB (and your father) where located from landing on 6 June to your father being sent forward to the 9 Fd Sqn, on approx 10 Sep 44. I know were they were from mid July onwards, but from 6 Jun to that point ... I'll have to look ...

Cheers
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Old 18-09-08, 23:36
Helen Henson Helen Henson is offline
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Default I am cheering you on!

Actually the entry that says he was transferred to X3 List (Hospital) on Sept 30 has a ditto mark indicating that transfer happened in France too. That entry, and the two above it are typed, the only typed lines in the series. Maybe done later by an overworked and harried clerk with a lot of papers to transcribe?

However we are very grateful for the records. We had no idea Dad landed June 6.

Thank you so much for helping us understand that part of our father.

Highest regards,
Helen
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Old 19-09-08, 00:01
Helen Henson Helen Henson is offline
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Default Let me correct that last.

He was transferred to X3 List in Fd. Sorry.

Helen
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Old 19-09-08, 15:21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen Henson View Post
Blank.......X4-10Bn............. RCE...... SOS to 9CdnFdSqn R.C.E. ..Fd... 10 Sep 44... 59-Sep 44
Hi Helen;

If you take a closer look at the above mentioned line on the Record of Service, the date in column (e) 'Date of Casualty' actually reads '16 Sept 44' - not 10 Sept 44. The date of '16 Sept 44' for his being SOS X4 List 10 Bn to 9 Fd Sqn RCE, is reflected again on his Statement of Service (Form M.F.M. 1 & 2 (a)) under the column 'Effective Date".

Also on the Record of Service, under column (d) 'Place of Casualty', the letters 'Fd' stand for the word 'Field'.

Cheers
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Old 19-09-08, 15:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark W. Tonner View Post
Hi Helen;

From what I've found, your father's Struck-off-Strength (from 10 CBRB) to the 9th Cdn Fd Sqn date of 10 Sep 44 is accurate. On approx 7 Sep 44, Lieutenant R.B.W. Pyke of the 9th Cdn Fd Sqn was wounded and evacuated, this is probably the officer casualty that your father replaced, there was not another officer casualty that required to be evacuated suffered by the 9th Cdn Fd Sqn until early on the morning of 14 Sep 44, by which time your father would have already have been with the Squadron. At this time (approx 7 to 10 Sep 44), 9th Cdn Fd Sqn were located in the area of Moerbrugge, Belgium, engaged in bridging the canal at this point (Moerbrugge).
Hi Helen;

In regards to my previous post, with his SOS date from the X4 List being 16 Sept 44 and his TOS date to 9 Fd Sqn being 17 Sept 44, this means that your father joined the Squadron while "the 4th Armoured Division worked along the edge of the flooded area, which was more or less bounded by the Leopold Canal, and around behind the Braakman, an inlet west of the Ghent-Terneuzen canal. Several bridges had to be built during this period, (which was from 16 to 21 Sep 44) the most important being a pair by the 9th Field Squadron across locks at Sas van Gent. The spans were 60-foot double-single and 110-foot triple-single and they made possible a junction with the Polish Armoured Division, which had just cleared the south bank of the Scheldt from Antwerp to Terneuzen.

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Old 19-09-08, 21:13
Helen Henson Helen Henson is offline
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Default Dad's bridges helped!!!!

I had no idea how much I wanted to know that... until I read your post.

Thank you very much, Mark. A wonderful thing you are doing.

Helen
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