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Royal Army Ordnance Corps in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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Royal Army Ordnance Corps





    If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.



    Those known to have served with

    Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

    The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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    There are 6 pages in our library tagged Royal Army Ordnance Corps  These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.

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    WO1 Alfred Edward Smithard Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    My husband was in 383 and what he as told me he was on the escape committee and on day they where playing, puffer trains without the train, football with no ball and any other games they could think off. He had a book called the barb wire given to him, while in the camp they were not allowed any showers and one day somebody had made up some andrew liver salts tblets, and when the top man of the German came and checked the camp some of the prisoners put the tablets in there mouths and let it froth and a doctor was called and they where allowed to have showers after that.My husband has wrote abook about A Surviver returns but it is not in the shops to buy.

    Heather Smithard



    Edward Richard Alexander Bragg Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    My late father, Edward Richard Alexander Bragg was a POW, administratively under Stalag 8b. However he was in an Arbeitskommandos camp I believe at or near Riehe Waltringhausen. He worked in a factory making wood wool for packaging purposes.

    I am very interested in obtaining any further information about this camp. I have some documents relating to his imprisonment.

    Tony Bragg



    Warrant Officer Frank Albert "Topper" Brown MID. 5th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment

    I am currently researching my late father's army history. He enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment on the 24th February 1933 at Chichester. He was then transferred to the Indian Army Ordinance Corps on 7th August 1943. He was at El Alamein and was then transferred to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps on the 6th October 1944

    I would love to hear from anyone who knew or served with my father all those years ago. He was mentioned in despatches but would never divulge what he did to get this. I have been in touch with the records office in Glasgow and they are assisting me. Sadly my father passed away recently and I would love to hear from anyone who might of known him or served with him all those years ago.

    Kim Elizabeth Brown



    Pte. Norman Findlay Taylor Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    My father in law, Norman Taylor died in 1988, after his death we found records of part of his life as a POW in Poland in Stalag 4a. The following is a summary of the facts we have available:

    Norman served with the RAOC, he was captured in France on 20th June, and was sent to Ft Stalag 142 Basancon, France. We have a photo of him outside the Hotel Lorrane on 21st October 1940. We are not sure how or when he was moved to Poland but we think he worked on a farm east of Danzig until 1945 when we have his record of his march from Danzig starting on 18th February 1945 until he was finally liberated by the Americans on the 2nd May at Dummerstuck in Germany.

    We have a diary, map and other items he carried with him on the journey along with a list of his comrades and their pow numbers. We would love to find out more, if you can help please get in touch.

    Gary Thompson



    Staff Sgt. William John Hocking Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    William John Hocking was a staff sergeant on the Lancastria at that time and survived. He continued in the army until his retirement in 1975 as a Lt. Colonel. He will be 90 on March 16th 2010.

    R Richards



    Capt. Jack Spencer Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    The sinking of the “Anslem”

    Before the Second World War, one of my ambitions was to sail 1,000 miles up the Amazon on one of the Booth Line ships sailing regularly from Liverpool. The two vessels making this trip were the “Anselm” and the “Hildebrand” and the cost of the 100-day voyage was £100. Long before I was able to get anywhere near achieving my ambition the war came along and I quickly found myself a serving officer in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

    After going through some training and service in the UK, I was notified in June 1941 that I was to go on seven days embarkation leave. Naturally, no indication was given as to my likely destination, but this was in fact the second time I had been destined for service overseas. On the first occasion in early 1940 my name was removed from the list of men due to leave for Singapore; this was because quite suddenly I had been selected for an immediate commission in the RAOC and I was required to report to an entirely new unit. This posting has nothing whatever to do with this story, but I mention it because many of my colleagues who did leave for Singapore finished their days on the Burma Railway project and in later years when on a business trip to Thailand I visited the British cemetery at Kanchnaburri – close by the bridge over the River Kwai. It was on that visit when the man in charge of the cemetery – which incidentally was beautifully maintained – allowed me to look through the long list of names of those who were buried there. I looked for the names of many of those with whom I had served and discovered that many of them had finished their days in the cemetery at Kanchnaburri. It was a very moving moment for sad reflection, the more so when I looked around and said to myself “There but for the Grace of God go I”.

    At the risk of continuing this diversion from the main point of my story, it is worthy of recording that on this visit to Thailand I was working on a project for the World Bank and I was accompanied by a chap with whom I spent a lot of time while working for the Bank. The man to whom I refer was Japanese and during the war had actually worked on the survey and construction of the Burma Railway. When we went off on our duties on railway projects in various parts of the world it was the custom of this Japanese colleague of mine to wear a kind of field uniform with peak cap and high ankle boots similar to the uniform worn by Japanese soldiers during the war. On this particular visit to Kanchnaburri I knew in advance we would be visiting the cemetery so I told my colleague: “On this occasion please do not turn up in your usual outfit – wear something casual”. He was always willing to please and did as I asked, but the fact that he was with me made the visit even more emotional than it would have been without him.

    I must now come back to my embarkation leave in June 1941. After the seven days were up I reported to a transit camp for officers at the Great Eastern Hotel on Marylebone Road in London. There I met several officers with whom I had trained in the early days after our commissioning; one of them was John Tucker who prior to the war was an executive with Marks & Spencer; another was named Barrie and he was a Shell employee. There were several more I knew well, but Barrie (I have forgotten his first name) was the comedian of the whole party and soon after we had our first briefings he made the comment: “We are bloody silly to come on this lark”. I may say these briefings of course gave us no indication at all of where we were destined for, but as we were issued with mosquito boots and other paraphernalia – including pith helmets – it was generally assumed that we were destined for West Africa – the White Man’s Grave! For this reason Barrie lost no opportunity at very frequent intervals to make his famous comment reminding us “We were bloody silly to go on this lark”.

    After several days in London we boarded a train at some mysterious station I think near to Hammersmith. The train was a special one with only one stop – Liverpool. On arrival we marched down to the landing stage and, always having been keen on a sea voyage, I was delighted to see the magnificent Royal Mail ship “Reina del Pacifico” – she looked beautiful and our detachment made the for gangway. There we were advised that we had got to the wrong ship; the gangway man pointed a long way downwards to a very small vessel lying at the next berth. He said “That is your vessel – the Anselm.” Well, it looked a small ship but it was in fact about 6,000 tons and I was quite pleased to think I was at last going to sail on the Booth Line ship but I realised it was most unlikely we would be sailing 1,000 miles up the Amazon.

    We eventually set sail with other ships from the Mersey and headed for the Clyde where we were marshalled with many other vessels to form quite a large convoy. On the trip to the Clyde the “Anselm” had shown signs of tending to limp along very slowly, but a few days after leaving the Clyde she was in quite serious trouble and was left behind by the convoy as she was quite unable to keep up the pace. The convoy did not have a very big naval escort and it must have been very difficult for the Commodore to reach his decision to allocate two of his corvettes to the “Anselm” and “Challenger” (a Royal Navy survey vessel). We made very slow progress and Barrie continued to remind us how silly we were to come on this trip. I was fortunate to get accommodation in a four-berth cabin with John Tucker, Barrie and John Dow, and considering it was wartime we had quite a pleasant voyage – for about a week!

    For seven nights we were ordered to sleep with our clothes on as we were passing through an area at great risk from enemy submarines. On the eighth night we were considered to be safe and permission was given to sleep in pyjamas. However, on this particular night I was unable to get any sleep at all. I first went to my bunk at about 10.30pm; an hour later I got up, donned my dressing gown and walked all round the ship; on the boat deck it was a beautiful night with an oil calm sea. I looked all around and had a strange feeling of unease. I returned to my cabin and still I could not sleep. The other three occupants were fast asleep so I crept out again at 1.00am and again at 3.30am. On both occasions I marvelled at the beauty of the calm night, but I still had a most strange feeling of unease. It must have been 4.00am when I finally got to my bunk and at about 5.00am there was a low-sounding thud which seemed to knock the ship sideways from the port side.

    Even though there was not a loud explosion I knew straight away that we had been torpedoed and my immediate thought was – that is why I have been uneasy and that must be what my subconscious mind had been anticipating. I jumped down from my bunk and believe it or not I had to waken the other three officers and tell them we had been torpedoed. At first they thought I was fooling, but when the lights went out and the voice from the bridge gave orders to abandon ship they were fully convinced. We all went up on deck with life jackets and minimum clothing. I surveyed the scene and saw the torpedo had struck forward and must have exploded in the troops’ sleeping quarters. Afterwards I learned it had blown away the escape ladders and the men could not get out. An RAF Padre, named George, asked to be lowered to the men, knowing he would never escape. It was a very brave and Christian act. Several years afterwards – it was after the end of the war – I read in the newspapers that the Padre had been awarded the George Medal posthumously.

    The ship was sinking fairly quickly and the water was gradually creeping along the deck nearer and nearer to where I was standing with John Tucker at our lifeboat station. There was a lot of difficulty with the lifeboats; some were not lowered at all, while one was successfully lowered and filled with men when the next boat swung out and dropped on top of them. A lot of men threw rafts and other floatable material into the sea and then jumped in afterwards to their rescue platforms. This meant that some men already in the water got quite hefty stuff dropped on top of them. John Tucker and I watched all this and resolved not to jump until the water got close to our feet. While waiting for this to happen we could not help being amused to see an RAF officer clinging to a rope – he was in full service dress including peak cap – while trying to manoeuvre a raft with his feet so that he could get on to it, presumably hoping he would not get wet! There was also another humorous moment when our friend Barrie arrived on deck, exclaiming more convincingly than ever “I told you we were bloody silly to come on this lark!”

    On looking around us I observed that the ”Challenger” and one of the corvettes were standing by to pick up survivors while the other corvette was sailing round dropping depth charges. I looked across to the “Challenger” and decided no matter what happened I could swim that distance – I should think it was no more than 500 yards. It was a strange feeling – for I had an inner feeling of confidence that I would make it. When the water crept up to us we did jump and I resolved to make a bee-line for the “Challenger”, but the strange thing is I remember absolutely nothing of the time I was in the water. This is not surprising for after I was eventually hauled up on the “Challenger” I developed the largest black eye I have ever had. This must have been caused by a small raft or other material dropping on me while in the water. I suppose I must have been in a pretty bad way for I was put to bed in an officer’s cabin on the “Challenger” and I must have slept for quite a long time.

    The “Challenger” was a very small vessel and she picked up close on 600 survivors. The “Anselm”’s total complement – troops and crew – was about twelve hundred and I believe over three hundred men lost their lives. The morning after the sinking an armed merchant cruiser, the P & O liner “Cathay” arrived on the scene. She was not allowed to stop but lowered scrambling nets and we had to scramble up in quite a heavy sea. The Royal Navy men on “Cathay” were very kind and helped out with clothing and necessaries; eventually we put in to Freetown, Sierra Leone and later sailed in a small vessel “Surprise” to Lagos, Nigeria where I stayed for two years.

    In Nigeria I landed a job in which I was very happy. I was in charge of an ammunition depot at Oshodi. I had five British NCO’s, about 100 African troops of the West African Frontier Force and a small army of casual labourers to handle the ammunition. I was the only officer on the depot and my house was a bamboo hut with palm thatch roof. The depot was about twelve miles from Lagos so I was pretty much my own boss.

    Being so near to Lagos I was able to go into the city about once a week and I often used to attend the Saturday night dances at the Ikoyi club. On one of these visits there were several naval officers in the club – obviously from a vessel newly arrived in the harbour. One of these officers came over to me and said “Are you Captain Spencer?” I said that I was and to my amazement he said “You were on the Anselm, do you not remember me?” I had to admit that I did not remember him. He then informed me that he had been in charge of one of the lifeboats going around picking up survivors and he had a very full boat when they encountered me in the water. As he couldn’t get me in the boat he put a rope round my shoulders and dragged me along to the ladder of the “Challenger”. I suppose this account of what happened – and the black eye – together explain why I do not remember my time in the water!

    Jack Spencer.

    Chris Spencer



    Pte. Ralph John Green Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    I am trying to research my father's POW history. His name was John Green and he was captured in Cyrenaica, Libya on 6 April 1941 whilst serving with Royal Army Ordnance Corps in The 2nd Armoured Division. Thereafter, he was held in various camps in Italy and Germany. The only information I have managed to receive is from the Veteran's Agency which states he was POW in Stalag IVB from 1943. He was repatriated on 19 May 1945. I would dearly love to gain more information about the camps in which my father was held to appreciate the trials and tribulations which he had to endure which, unfortunately, up until now I have failed to appreciate. In common with most, my father did not speak about his war time experience and I feel as a tribute to him and many others I should record his story.

    Valerie Luter



    Cpl. Thomas McDonald 17 R.S.D. Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    A couple of years ago, my wife and daughter were told about a son that my Dad, Tom McDonald left in Brussels. My mother supported the woman and child for a number of years after the war, as the people in Brussels were starving. All I know that there was a son born between 1945-1946 and that the woman's name was Yvonne. When the woman's father found that Tom had a wife and child in Scotland he sent Tom away back to his family. What happened to Yvonne in Brussels? I'm not sure where in Brussels my Dad was stationed or if his name on the son's birth certificate? He loved the woman, and wanted to leave the family in Scotland for her. My mom and Dad did get together once he came back to Scotland and they had two more daughters. I have tried to get Dad's military records, but no luck even though I have his pay book.

    I would like to find my half brother. Can anyone give me any direction?

    John Mcdonald



    Private Arthur Dobinson "Smudge" Smith Driver Mechanic RAOC

    North Africa 1940s - Arthur Smith back row 2nd from the right

    My grandad Arthur Smith was in WWII and was captured in Tubruck. He was taken to an Italian POW camp and then transferred to Stalag VIIIB. During his time at Stalag he was mentioned in the Clarion as being a producer of the theatrical events. I have a copy of a letter which my grandad kept all of his life from returning home after the war which was sent to him by another POW named Jack whose address was Ford View Road, Stowmarket, Suffolk. The transcript is shown below dated 18 May:- My Dear 'Smudge' I do hope the postman won't disturb you when he knocks on your door with this letter but I feel it my duty to write for I'm sure it is a doubtful thing whether I would have made it or not without your help. I often think of those last fee days - still its a thing of the past. I sincerely hope that you're like me and progressing nicely. You'll be surprised to hear that I didn't reach home till last Sat the 12th they pushed me in hospital for a week saying I looked rather 'run down' but really my legs were the worse trouble - they swell up a bit now when I do a spot of walking (which isn't much). My gosh 'Smudge' it is great - isn't it - to be with the missus and kids. When you curl into bed at night how nice it is not to have that maddening phrase 'fertig machen and weiser'. I just give it a thought and cuddle up closer - my gosh its heaven. I've told the missus all the tales of our cooking and pinching - or rather yours, even now I find it hard to keep my hands of my mother in laws eggs and rabbits - so how you must feel I don't know - still as I tell the missus I won't starve in England now. I don't know how your stomach feels but mine won't settle down just yet, they put me on a light diet in hospital. I try a little beer but find it won't do, am not worried about that though so long as I can eat and have the arm around the missus. Am glad to say that the kiddies are fine and remembered me all right - trusting yours are the same. So have a good time old boy - but go careful! Best of luck to you all - Jack! I really hope that Jack's family know who he is and that they get a chance to see this letter and feel as proud of Jack as I do of my grandad.

    Anne Prentice



    Pte. Arthur Dobinson "Smudge" Smith Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    Letter to Arthur Smith ROAC from Jack

    Letter to Arthur Smith ROAC from Jack

    Arthur Smith and comrades in Egypt prior to capture.

    My grandfather Arthur Smith was a POW held in Stalag IVB. He served in the RAOC for the British Army and was captured in Tobruck. Taken to an Italian Prison Camp in Settore 1 he was then transferred to Stalag IVB as identified by his tags which my Dad has. He was moved to Stalag VIIIB at some time prior to undertaking the Death March.

    He spoke little of his time as a PoW but we know that he taught some other Soldiers to read and write during their time in Stalag and learned mathematics from another Soldier. We know he suffered (the same as the majority) with malnutrition and malaria but was one of the lucky ones that made it home. I have a copy of a letter sent to my grandfather from someone named Jack from Stowmarket, Suffolk, along with some photographs.

    Anne Prentice



    Major William McMurry Davidson Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    Bill Davidson was my uncle. I have pictures of him as Private in the RAOC and then Sgt, then as an officer in Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. He served in Egypt and after the war went to Thailand in 1955

    JIm Davidson



    L/Cpl. John Henry "Jack" Dickens Driver Mechanic Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

    My father was John Henry Dickens, but always known as Jack. He came from a small town in Warwickshire called Bedworth. From his Record of Service which I have it shows that he enlisted into the RAOC in January 1940 and transferred to the REME in October 1942. As is the case with many servicemen he talked very little about the War and I would love to hear from anyone who remembers him.

    I know he travelled to France, Belgium, Germany and Holland and was billeted with a family in Holland for a while. I also know he was involved with tanks and tank recovery and I have a photo of a tank being recovered onto a transporter which I always imagined he was driving, but I could be wrong. I also have a lovely photo of him with a big hammer in his hand and a look of absolute glee on his face as he demolishes an enemy factory machine. If anyone remembers him and has any tales to share I would be very grateful. He sadly died in December 1980 at the age of 61.

    Hazel Mountford



    2nd Lt. Jack Spencer Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    The sinking of the Anslem

    Before the Second World War one of my ambitions was to sail 1,000 miles up the Amazon on one of the Booth Line ships sailing regularly from Liverpool. The two vessels making this trip were the Anselm and the Hildebrand and the cost of the 100-day voyage was £100. Long before I was able to get anywhere near achieving my ambition, the war came along and I quickly found myself a serving officer in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

    After going through some training and service in the UK, I was notified in June 1941 that I was to go on seven days embarkation leave. Naturally, no indication was given as to my likely destination, but this was in fact the second time I had been destined for service overseas. On the first occasion in early 1940 my name was removed from the list of men due to leave for Singapore; this was because quite suddenly I had been selected for an immediate commission in the RAOC and I was required to report to an entirely new unit. This posting has nothing whatever to do with this story but I mention it because many of my colleagues who did leave for Singapore finished their days on the Burma Railway project, and in later years when on a business trip to Thailand I visited the British cemetery at Kanchnaburri – close by the bridge over the River Kwai. It was on that visit when the man in charge of the cemetery – which incidentally was beautifully maintained – allowed me to look through the long list of names of those who were buried there. I looked for the names of many of those with whom I had served and discovered that many of them had finished their days in the cemetery at Kanchnaburri. It was a very moving moment for sad reflection, the more so when I looked around and said to myself "There but for the Grace of God go I".

    At the risk of continuing this diversion from the main point of my story, it is worthy of recording that on this visit to Thailand I was working on a project for the World Bank and I was accompanied by a chap with whom I spent a lot of time while working for the Bank. The man to whom I refer was a Japanese and during the war had actually worked on the survey and construction of the Burma Railway. When we went off on our duties on railway projects in various parts of the world it was the custom of this Japanese colleague of mine to wear a kind of field uniform with peak cap and high ankle boots similar to the uniform worn by Japanese soldiers during the war. On this particular visit to Kanchnaburri I knew in advance we would be visiting the cemetery so I told my colleague: “On this occasion please do not turn up in your usual outfit – wear something casual”. He was always willing to please and did as I asked but the fact that he was with me made the visit even more emotional than it would have been without him.

    I must now come back to my embarkation leave in June 1941. After the seven days were up I reported to a transit camp for officers at the Great Eastern Hotel on Marylebone Road in London. There I met several officers with whom I had trained in the early days after our commissioning; one of them was John Tucker who prior to the war was an executive with Marks & Spencer; another was named Barrie and he was a Shell employee. There were several more I knew well but Barrie (I have forgotten his first name) was the comedian of the whole party and soon after we had our first briefings he made the comment: “We are bloody silly to come on this lark”. I may say these briefings of course gave us no indication at all of where we were destined for, but as we were issued with mosquito boots and other paraphernalia – including pith helmets – it was generally assumed that we were destined for West Africa – the White Man’s Grave! For this reason Barrie lost no opportunity at very frequent intervals to make his famous comment reminding us "We were bloody silly to go on this lark".

    After several days in London we boarded a train at some mysterious station I think near to Hammersmith. The train was a special one with only one stop – Liverpool. On arrival we marched down to the landing stage, and always having been keen on a sea voyage, I was delighted to see the magnificent Royal Mail ship "Reina del Pacifico" – she looked beautiful and our detachment made the for gangway. There we were advised that we had got to the wrong ship; the gangway man pointed a long way downwards to a very small vessel lying at the next berth. He said "That is your vessel – the Anselm!" Well, it looked a small ship but it was in fact about 6,000 tons and I was quite pleased to think I was at last going to sail on the Booth Line ship but I realised it was most unlikely we would be sailing 1,000 miles up the Amazon.

    We eventually set sail with other ships from the Mersey and headed for the Clyde where we were marshalled with many other vessels to form quite a large convoy. On the trip to the Clyde the Anselm had shown signs of tending to limp along very slowly, but a few days after leaving the Clyde she was in quite serious trouble and was left behind by the convoy as she was quite unable to keep up the pace. The convoy did not have a very big naval escort and it must have been very difficult for the Commodore to reach his decision to allocate two of his corvettes to the Anselm and Challenger (a Royal Navy survey vessel). We made very slow progress and Barrie continued to remind us how silly we were to come on this trip. I was fortunate to get accommodation in a four-berth cabin with John Tucker, Barrie and John Dow, and considering it was wartime we had quite a pleasant voyage – for about a week!

    For seven nights we were ordered to sleep with our clothes on as we were passing through an area at great risk from enemy submarines. On the eight night we were considered to be safe and permission was given to sleep in pyjamas. However, on this particular night I was unable to get any sleep at all. I first went to my bunk at about 10.30 pm; an hour later I got up, donned my dressing gown and walked all round the ship; on the boat deck it was a beautiful night with an oil calm sea. I looked all around and had a strange feeling of unease. I returned to my cabin and still I could not sleep. The other three occupants were fast asleep so I crept out again at 1:00 am and again at 3.30 am. On both occasions I marvelled at the beauty of the calm night but I still had a most strange feeling on unease. It must have been 4.00 am when I finally got to my bunk and at about 5:00 am there was a low-sounding thud which seemed to knock the ship sideways from the port side.

    Even though there was not a loud explosion I knew straight away that we had been torpedoed and my immediate thought was – that is why I have been uneasy and that must be what my subconscious mind had been anticipating. I jumped down from my bunk and believe it or not I had to waken the other three officers and tell them we had been torpedoed. At first they thought I was fooling but when the lights went out and the voice from the bridge gave orders to abandon ship they were fully convinced. We all went up on deck with life jackets and minimum clothing. I surveyed the scene and saw the torpedo had struck forward and must have exploded in the troops’ sleeping quarters. Afterwards I learned it had blown away the escape ladders and the men could not get out. An RAF Padre, named George, asked to be lowered to the men, knowing he would never escape. It was a very brave and Christian act. Several years afterwards – it was after the end of the war – I read in the newspapers that the Padre had been awarded the George Medal posthumously.

    The ship was sinking fairly quickly and the water was gradually creeping along the deck nearer and nearer to where I was standing with John Tucker at our lifeboat station. There was a lot of difficulty with the lifeboats; some were not lowered at all, while one was successfully lowered and filled with men when the next boat swung out and dropped on top of them. A lot of men threw rafts and other floatable material into the sea and then jumped in afterwards to their rescue platforms. This meant that some men already in the water got quite hefty stuff dropped on top of them. John Tucker and I watched all this and resolved not to jump until the water got close to our feet. While waiting for this to happen we could not help being amused at seeing an RAF officer clinging to a rope – he was in full service dress including peak cap – while trying to manoeuvre a raft with his feet so that he could get on to it, presumably hoping he would not get wet! There was also another humorous moment when our friend Barrie arrived on deck, exclaiming more convincingly than ever "I told you we were bloody silly to come on this lark!"

    On looking around us I observed that the Challenger and one of the corvettes were standing by to pick up survivors while the other corvette was sailing round dropping depth charges. I looked across to the Challenger and decided no matter what happened I could swim that distance – I should think it was no more than 500 yards. It was a strange feeling – for I had an inner feeling of confidence that I would make it. When the water crept up to us we did jump and I resolved to make a bee-line for the Challenger but the strange thing is I remember absolutely nothing of the time I was in the water. This is not surprising for after I was eventually hauled up on the Challenger I developed the largest black eye I have ever had. This must have been caused by a small raft or other material dropping on me while in the water. I suppose I must have been in a pretty bad way for I was put to bed in an officer’s cabin on the Challenger and I must have slept for quite a long time.

    The Challenger was a very small vessel and she picked up close on 600 survivors. The Anselm’s total complement – troops and crew – was about twelve hundred and I believe over three hundred men lost their lives. The morning after the sinking an armed merchant cruiser, the P & O liner Cathay arrived on the scene. She was not allowed to stop but lowered scrambling nets and we had to scramble up in quite a heavy sea. The Royal Navy men on Cathay were very kind and helped out with clothing and necessaries; eventually we put in to Freetown, Sierra Leone, and later sailed in a small vessel Surprise to Lagos, Nigeria, where I stayed for two years.

    In Nigeria I landed a job in which I was very happy. I was in charge of an ammunition depot at Oshodi. I had five British NCO’s, about 100 African troops of the West African Frontier Force, and a small army of casual labourers to handle the ammunition. I was the only officer on the depot and my house was a bamboo hut with palm thatch roof. The depot was about twelve miles from Lagos so I was pretty much my own boss.

    Being so near to Lagos I was able to go into the city about once a week and I often used to attend the Saturday night dances at the Ikoyi club. On one of these visits there were several naval officers in the club – obviously from a vessel newly arrived in the harbour. One of these officers came over to me and said "Are you Captain Spencer?" I said that I was and to my amazement he said "You were on the Anselm, do you not remember me?" I had to admit that I did not remember him. He then informed me that he had been in charge of one of the lifeboats going around picking up survivors and he had a very full boat when they encountered me in the water. As he couldn’t get me in the boat he put a rope round my shoulders and dragged me along to the ladder of the Challenger. I suppose this account of what happened – and the black eye – together explain why I do not remember my time in the water!

    Jack Spencer

    Chris Spencer



    Norman Leslie Monaghan Royal Army Ordinance Corps

    My granddad, Norman Leslie Monaghan, was captured during WWII and taken to Lamsdorf camp number 344. He served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. His prisoner of war number was 267065. I am looking for all information regarding him. If anyone remembers him or has any info please email me.

    Amanda Farnaby



    Alec George Marsh 14th Army Field Workshop Group Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    Alec Marsh was held in Stalag 8b.




    Pte. John Leonard Richards Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    My father John Leonard Richards was a dispatch rider captured in North Africa in May 1941. His family later were told he was in Stalag V11A. Where he stayed until the war ended. We know little of what happened to him there but he came home in poor health and was classed as disabled. Dad never spoke about anything to do with that part of his life. He died in 1973 aged 58 yrs old. Soon after his death a fellow prisoner came looking for him and told us Dad was tortured but gave us no details. It's good to think he will be remembered via this site thank you.

    Susan Bolton



    Pte. Leslie Reynolds Royal Army Ordnance Corps (d.5th Jul 1941)

    Leslie Reynolds was my uncle he was born in Nottingham in 1920. He served with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and died at sea on 5th July 1941 on the ship S.S.Anselm which was hit by a torpedo. Leslie was the son of Edwin George and Ada Reynolds.

    If anyone as any information on the ship and what happened could you please contact me.

    Jacqueline Davies



    L/Cpl. William Taylor Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    William Taylor was my father and I would like to get in touch with any one who knew him. He was wounded in Africa. I have his Service Book, and his medals. He had a watch taken from an Italian POW, so he must have taken part in some action?? Any one out there can help will be greatly appreciated, please help.

    William Taylor



    L/Cpl. Francis Aldridge Royal Army Ordnance Corps (d.5th Jul 1941)

    Frank Aldridge lost his life when the SS Anselm was torpedoed by German U.Boat U96 near Canary Islands on 5th Jul 1941.Frank was one of 254 lost, but over 1200 were saved by escourting R. Navy ships.

    Frank was the son of Frank and Ellen (Nellie) Aldridge (nee McGennity) of Hesketh Bank near Preston, Lancs. Frank was a cousin to my mother Mary (Molly) Lunt deceased of Preston, and formerly of Liverpool. I discovered this information whilst doing family history research project. I would welcome any other information or photographs of McGennity/Aldridge families.

    Stephen Lunt



    Unknown Royal Army Ordnace Corps

    The three

    The man in the photo used to work on ammunition in a regiment somewhere in Cannock, Staffordshire with my Granddad's Mother, sadly she has just passed away, before she passed away her family members found a photo of a young looking guy, they asked who he was and she told them that she was engaged to him during the war and that he was her one true love. That was all the information she gave before she passed. I want to know more, I found that he could have possibly been from Richmond, Yorkshire and I found a picture of three guys who wore the same outfit and are in the same position as him. I want to know more, I've tried my best to research as much as I possibly can. Does anyone know who he is?

    Aliyah Miah



    Pte. Frederick William Mitchell Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    This is a picture of him when he joined up

    The letter that was sent to his parents from the home office saying that he was at stalag XXA

    My Father was Frederick William Mitchell, he was a private in the Royal Ordnance Corps. He was captured at St Valery and was at Atalag xxA. He died in 1976 I was only seventeen, he didn't often talk of his time in the Army, but I do remember him telling me that he worked on farms while a POW and walked off a few times, he also told me of the long march he had to do to get to the POW camp.

    Mark Mitchell



    Pte. Walter Grant Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    My Father, Walter Grant is 5th from right on the top row. He was a Private in the RAOC. In the same picture is my StepFather, Eric Tuckerman 4th from right in the middle row. He was a Private in the RASC. I hope other visitors will find their loved ones on the photograph and possibly put names to faces.

    James



    Pte. John Russell "Rusty" Norwood Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    My husband's uncle, John Norwood was held a prisoner of war in Lambinowice, Poland during WW11. He lost so much weight he he couldn't eat etc. and was in a really bad way when he got home to Wales. He had to have his food fed to him through a straw. He was held in Stalag 344 and his POW number was 221789.

    I would be very grateful if anyone can add any more to this story. We are very proud of him and his duty for his country.

    Catherine Southern



    Pte. James O'Brien 3rd Mobile Laundry Unit Royal Army Ordnance Corps (d.4th Jan 1944)

    My grandfather James O'Brien served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. He died age 37 and is buried in the Bone War Cemetery in Algeria. He left behind his wife Ellen Day and five young sons. His parents were Patrick O'Brien and Annie O'Brien from Liverpool. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Marie O'Brien



    S/Sgt. Harold Richard "Harry" Humphrey Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    Extract from a letter dated 1st August 1940 that my late Father sent to his civilian employer, Caffyns Ltd. Haywards Heath, Sussex, following his evacuation from Nantes, via St Nazaire:

    "We went back to the harbour next morning and after hanging around for what seemed an eternity and having to dive for cover every few minutes, when Jerry broke through our cordon of fighter planes and attacked us with machine guns (it was rather amazing really, but I don't think anyone was hit, although several received slight cuts from flying glass and debris,including myself)...we were then taken off by a destroyer.

    We had to back out of the harbour and had hardly got clear when there was a dickens of a commotion and we found we had run foul of a buoy anchor cable which had obligingly wrapped itself round our propeller and, of course, put the boat out of action. After a few minutes a French tug came along and took us in tow, but soon gave up that idea and we transferred on to the tug and left the destroyer to look after itself. It was while we were doing this that the Lancastria was sunk! I didn't realise at once what had happened as I was on the opposite side of the boat, and as bombs were dropping fairly consistently one bang more or less didn't make much difference. The Lancastria was about half a mile away but the Skipper had spotted it and as soon as we were all on board we made for it as fast as possible. The crew did their utmost in picking up as many as possible while we concentrated on keeping Jerry off with rifles and a Lewis gun we had managed to salve. But the Germans seemed to derive fiendish delight in harassing the poor devils in the water and kept diving and machine gunning them the whole time.

    The Lancastria very quickly went under, in about twenty three minutes as near as I could judge, it was a wonder it stayed up as long as that though, for the bombs appeared to have fallen right down the forward hatch and had blown a large section of the side out."

    Mike Humphrey



    Leonard John Lintern Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    Signatures of many guys on that photo

    Those left at end of war

    Leonard Lintern was my beloved grandfather who refused to talk about his wartime experiences so I would love to know if anyone has more info. He did tell one story about waking up in the night needing a pee, plodding off to the latrines, hearing gunshots in the dark and ducking down in the ditch. When he got back to the remains of his tent there were bullet holes in his 'pillow' and two of his comrades were no longer alive. That would have been two of those in the 'before' picture whose signatures can be seen. His unit was on the retreat in France, coming off at Dunkirk and the bigwigs shipped the unit back to Bristol to rebuild and recover.

    Judith Tope



    Sgt. Peter Basil Priddey Royal Army Ordnance Corps (d.17th June 1940)

    My uncle, Sgt Peter Priddey of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps was on board in Lancastria at the time of the sinking. Unfortunately he did not survive. He is buried in a multiple grave at St Marie Sur Mer, along with a few others from this disaster. The grave has a military headstone.

    Mary Jenner



    WO1 Frank Hibberd Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    Frank Hibberd was evacuated from Dunkirk

    John Hibberd



    Frank P. Doel Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    I would like to hear from anyone who knew or met Frank P. Doel. He served with the RAOC in the Middle East during WWII. Can you help?

    Steve Maggs



    Donald James Shaw Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    I am trying to help a family friend get in touch with the following individuals or relatives. Donald James Shaw RAOC, held at Stalag VIIIB. S/Sgt D. Grant, held at Stalag IVB. John Anderson, held at Stalag XXB. Can anyone help?

    Rod Davies



    S/Sgt. Leslie Bowness Read Royal Army Ordance Corps

    My father was a prisoner in Stalag VIIA and Stalag 383. He was captured on Crete in June 1941. Whilst in 383 he made wigs for the theatre productions, `Mikado', etc.

    Richard Read



    Cyril Frederick Harding Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    My grandfather, Cyril Harding, served with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps during the Second World War, along with a friend of the family, Aldrick Flockett. Does anyone remember them?

    Kevin Harding



    Frank Doel Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    Can anyone help find some information on the military servce career of Frank Doel? I believe he served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps during WWII, mainly in the Middle East. Mr Doel died in 1968. He is remembered as the manager of Marks & Co, the bookshop made famous by the book and subsequent film `84 Charing Cross Road'.

    Steve Maggs



    Pte. Walter Grant Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    My father and stepfather were both in Stalag XXA and XXB. Their names are Walter Grant from Sheffield, a Private in the RAOC, and Eric Tuckerman from Stanley in County Durham - I have forgotten his rank and regiment. I have many photos of XXA and XXB. My father used to have terrible nightmares. Anyone with information please get in touch.

    James Grant



    Pte. Enoch Jones 1 Base Ordnance Depot Royal Army Ordnance Corps (d.18th June 1943)

    My grandad, Private Enoch Jones, served in the RAOC during WWII. I think he was a POW and helped build the Burma Railway. He died in 1943. Can anyone help?

    Update

    Private Jones died on 8th June 1943 is buried in Kanchanaburi War Cemetery Grave 6.A.54.

    Joanne Jones



    Driver John James Knight Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    My father was a driver in the RAOC and was captured at Tobruk. He was sent to Italy and on to Stalag 7a.

    Chris Knight



    Pte. Albert Barker Attch. 32nd Army Tank Bde. Royal Army Ordnance Corps (d.14th November 1942)

    My great uncle, Albert Barker, was a driver with RAOC and attached to the 32nd Army Tank Bde in North Africa. He was killed on 14th November 1942 when, as a POW being transported in an Italian ship, the ship was sunk by an Allied aircraft. Does anyone have any knowledge of this?

    Joe Fletcher



    Pte. Thomas Clark Z Adv. Workshop Royal Army Ordnance Corps (d.15th February 1940)

    My father, Thomas Clark, served with the ROAC and was killed during the fall of Singapore in February 1942, he has no known grave. Is there anyone who could give me information on my father?




    Sgt. Gerald Charles Doughty No.5. Ordnance Depot Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    I am searching for some information on my grandad Gerald Charles Doughty, my sister and I are researching our family tree and were wondering if any of this means anything to anyone? He served at Number 5 Base or Brigade Ordnance Depot, Royal Army Ordnance Corps in Genefia with the Middle East Land Forces.

    Stuart Doughty



    Frank P. Doel Royal Army Ordnance Corps

    Would like to hear from anyone who knew or met Frank P. Doel who served with the RAOC somewhere in the Middle East during World War 2.

    Steve Maggs



    W/Cpl. Chil Jonkiel Lemberger Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps

    Chil Jonkiel Lemberger arrived in Palestine from Berlin in 1933. He volunteered in Palestine on December 1940, first in the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps. He spent seven months in Crete, where he had been stranded. He escaped by his own devices, and vitally, with the help of some saintly simple folks.

    Back in his own lines, he was next transferred to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, of which 37 months were spent in Africa. He was discharged June/July 1946, having served a total of 67 months (five years and 209 days). He received to war service medals.

    Lemberger had some pre-war technical background as an optics technician - to no avail at his age. However, his training and education came from the RAOC. He was sent on rising levels of courses on basic accounting and storemanship. These courses and an experience of large-scale war fought by big battalions, so all the harder to manage, move and supply, came in handy all too soon. At the outbreak of hostilities in 1948 he joined the Israel Defence Force (IDF). He was also in the Sinai in 1956 (of sour memory). He rose to command a major ordnance base, finally ending up as Chief Planning Officer/Chief Munitions Inspector. In this capacity, he travelled extensively on matters of 'acquisition', so his English was a bonus. This produces most interesting visas. I have photos and written documents, namely of AMPC, and the same man in RAOC in Africa. One Pioneer, seems most curious. Three men in a little boat No. H.R 218[5/3?]00, on a sandy beach, by a massive coastal castle. My grandfather ran the model workshop in 15th area camouflage. He received superlatives from his commander and was, citing his CO, a master craftsman in all materials.

    Abraham Yoram Lemberger









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