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

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Army Catering 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

    Army Catering Corps

    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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    Pte. Ronald Robert Broadway 35th Searchlight Regiment, 342nd Battery Royal Artillery

    On the 18th of April 1939, Ron Broadway, my Dad, enlists in the Territorial Army, Royal Engineers. He signs up for 4 years. His Attestation (enlistment) took place at Highwood Barracks, Lordship Lane, Dulwich. He was declared fit and assigned to 342 AA Company, 35th AA Battalion RE (TA). At the time of enlistment Dad was: 25 years and 8 months. He stood 5’ 6” tall, weighed 145lbs, his girth when fully expanded was 38.5”. He was of fresh complexion with blue eyes and fair hair. He was assigned as Sapper R R Broadway No. 2085852. His address at the time was given as 37 Playdell Avenue, Stockwell, SE19 and he was a Decorator by Trade.

    Highwood Barracks was so named from the Dulwich Volunteers who fought in WW1 at Highwood on the Somme. Although the Barracks no longer exist a block of flats built there in recent years bears the name Highwood. Home to 35th (First Surrey Rifles) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, Royal Engineers (H.Q., 340th, 341st, 342nd & 343rd Anti-Aircraft Companies, Royal Engineers) The 21st Bn. The London Regiment was also converted into a searchlight unit of the Royal Engineers in 1935. It was affiliated to the East Surrey Regiment. The headquarters and all the companies were based at 4, Flodden Road, Camberwell, London. In January 1940 it was redesignated as the 35th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery. In March 1942, it was converted into the 129th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery. The regiment served in the U.K. throughout the war.

    On the 18th of June 1939 Dad was embodied (put on stand by) into the Regular Army. As Dad was in the TA his unit was embodied into the Army and prepared for duty in the UK. As a member of the TA he was not expected to serve abroad, but could volunteer for overseas service. On the 16th of July 1939 his unit was Disembodied (stood down) from the Regular Army the TA volunteers would have returned to their normal peacetime occupations.

    On the 19th of August 1939 he married Dorothy Margaret Archer and on the 24th of August he was called out for actual Military Service and Reported to TA Barracks in Dulwich before being posted to 342nd Battery, 35th Searchlight Regiment at Wingham in Kent. On the 1st of September the 342nd/35 S/L Battery was embodied into British Army on the 3rd of September 1939 at 11.15am War declared with Germany

    On the 1st of August 1940 Dad Transferred to Wingham in Kent with the 342/ 35th Searchlight Regt., Royal Artillery, having mustered as a Gunner On the 21st of August 1940 hereported sick on leave and failed to return to Wingham on expiration of his pass. On the 3rd of September he returned from sickness on leave to Wingham.

    18th November 1940: 342nd S/L Battery vacated DG area, being relieved by 314th S/L Batt. The personnel concentrated at Herne Bay and billeted in town overnight. The following day the Battery moved by train to Seaton, Devon and were accommodated at Warner’s Holiday Camp, Seaton.

    1st to 26th December 1940 was a period spent on squad drilling, PT, arms drill and route marches. In addition much entertainment during period as well including boxing tournaments, football and rugby matches against other units. On the 8th of December 1940 a Defence exercise was held against local Home Guard and on the 19th a warning order was received notifying movement to Leatherhead, this was confirmed on the 21st and on 27th December they moved by rail to Leatherhead to replace 460th S/L Battery

    On the 10th of February 1941 Dad was admitted CBS Fetcham (this would have been through an injury received. CBS Fetcham was probably a casualty clearing station) He was discharged on the 18th.

    On the 28th of May 1941 Dad was Classified as Class 2 (Non tradesman) Cook at Leatherhead. 342/35 S/L Regt. In July the Battery moved to Herstmonseux and in August to Storrington. On the 5th of September the Battery moved to Funtington Hall Hotel, Chichester then on the 24th to Midgley Lodge, Farnborough.

    On the 28 March 1942 Dad was upgraded from Class 2 to Class 1 Non-tradesman cook wghilst stationed in Watford with 342/79 S/L Regt. On the 31st of May 1942 he became attached to London District School of Cookery from 31 May to 13 June. He undertook a Course of Kitchen Management, Organisation and Technical Control and achieved a pass rate of 88%. On the 25th of August 1942 he was Posted to 342(M) S/L Battery R.A. at Watford then on the 9th of December was Posted to 79th S/L Regt. RA Watford abd on the 11 December to 502 S/L Battery RA Field. On the 11th of February 1943 he transferred to the Army Catering Corp in the rank of Pte. as non-tradesman Class 1. Permanently attached to 79 S/L Regt. R.A. On the 29 May 1943 Dad Tested and Classified Gp. B Class 2 Tradesman Cook by Officer Commanding 502 S/L Bty. RA.

    On the 22nd of April 1945 he was Taken on Strength of Admin Battalion, Army Catering Corp, Training Command until the 20th of May when he embarked for the Middle East, arriving on the 3rd of June 1945 where he was posted to Army Catering Corp. On the 10th of July 1945 Dad was posted to 922 Company RASC and on the 26th was appointed Acting Corporal. He seems to have suffered an accident on the 12 September 1945 and on the 4th of October he was admitted to 27 General Hospital, being relegated to Private on admission to hospital. He was discharged and returned tohis unit on the 17th of October.

    I have his notification of impending release form dated 19th October 1945: Pte. Ronald Robert Broadway No. 2085852 of 922 Company Army Catering Corp (Cook Gp. 8 Class2). Military Conduct: Exemplary. Testimonial: Has proved himself a willing worker and has applied himself with zeal to his duties and carried them out efficiently, sober and well behaved. A sound reliable man with good organising ability. On the 20th of October 1945 Dad was Posted to X List, Sidi Bashr, Egypt (The X list was the register of those personnel awaiting repatriation and discharge to the UK and on the 25th was released for embarkation to UK. He was released to Territorial Army Reserves on 31st December 1945.

    Bob Broadway

    Pte. F. Wally MacKenzie Army Catering Corps

    wally 6th june 2015 at arromanches normandy

    Wally Mackenzie knew that France had been invaded through Normandy, but he was in a field in the south of England, waiting to be called and as this was the Army he just continued to wait. He arrived in France around 54 days after the 6th June invasion. Eventually, in the rain, he scrambled over 3 ships to get to his channel transport. The hatch was screwed down tight...... that was when he knew fear. He doesn’t do dark closed in spaces, even now. He spotted a tank in the next enclosure so he knew he was on a TLC (Tank Landing Craft). On landing on the French shore (somewhere on Gold Beach) the lowered ramp enabled him to get onto the beach, without getting his feet wet, as Frank, his mate, held his rifle for him as he jumped off the ramp. The rifle was 6’’ taller than Wally. Wally does humour, this is the way he tells it. It was raining still, as in England, and they marched forever and slept under a hedge with Frank, one ground sheet beneath and one on top.

    The following day more marching and arrived at a large field, surrounded by barbed wire with a large group of other soldiers with 1 large water truck in the middle. For 2 weeks, lots of fatigues, did no cooking. I cannot find out what they ate - only that they had 2 X 24 hour packs that were not to be opened Meantime lots of shelling over the top of them from our artillery and naval guns. At the end of 2 weeks he moved to the outskirts of Bayeux with 8 other cooks to support Royal Engineers in 30 Corps while they waited to move forward. By this time he was cooking and drawing rations for 30 men and officers. It must be mentioned that most of the 2nd World War operated on 1918 Argentinean Corned beef and it was weeks and weeks before they saw a bread baking unit, as they had no flour to bake with. He learned to be resourceful, trade, acquire, steal, be creative and always have a burly Sergeant behind you as you served (and look after the sergeants specially).

    The War moved forward and he was on the outskirts of Caen, feeding, cooking what came to hand, collecting rations. Wally made friends with the French people where ever he stopped and helped them where he could, many were children, helping probably more than he should. Caen was Paul and Yvette, who were writing to him up to 2005, though I believe the family has passed away now.

    On to the outskirts of St Lo., where he cooked and did his job and helped more French people/children who were close to his cook house, he was adopted as a 4th son, though the family names have faded with time from Wally’s memory. How do you make tea for 100 men, 20 minutes to do so. Boil water, plenty of tea, but no sugar, solution pour 3 lbs of raspberry jam into large tea container. No one complained. No milk, the cows were dead

    This is his time in France, at no time was he told where he was or going and when speaking French he did so with a Normandy accent, so other French people have said. He shakes his head and says he did not know how he did it, feeding the men, but he was 20 then and resourceful. Then onto Holland, Breda, more Dutch friends and adoption. He left his appendix in Brussels and speaks fondly of an injured German soldier who helped him in the hospital. He spent time in Hamburg (it snowed) and cooked surrounded by Gerry cans of petrol as he and others cooked for a Tank repair and service group. By now he was a fully mobile in a 1.5 ton truck which moved him and cooking equipment around. The .303 rifle was long gone and was replaced by a Stengun which was a better size.

    Berlin in 1945 and he managed an escorted trip (with a Sergeant in charge) to where Hitler died. The Russians were armed; the Brits had to leave their guns in the British Quarter. ”Like a scruffy rubbish tip “ was Wally’s comments on the bunker area. In 1946 he was demobbed. Everyone one likes Wally, they still do now. No mention of guns and war but this was Wally’s WWII.


    Frank Lomas Army Catering Corps

    My father Frank Lomas was in the Army Catering Corps of the 8th Army and served in Egypt and Italy.

    Anne Bradley

    Pte. Harold Wharmby Leicestershire Regiment

    Harold Wharmby was born in July 1914. He served with the Leicestershire Regiment from 12th of Dec 1940 to 13th of Feb 1941. He transferred to the Pioneer Corps then to the Army Catering Corps on the 16th of December 1943. He was discharged in March 1947, but rejoined, continuing to serve with the Catering corps until 1950.

    Pte. Francis Walter MacKenzie L.d'H. Army Catering Corps Royal Army Service Corps

    Wally MacKenzie was born on 30th May 1921, and grew up in Irlam, Manchester Late 1941 saw Wally receive his call up. He enlisted on 8th January 1941 in Liverpool, in the Army. Stripped bare he was A1, at 4 foot 7 inches in old money (140cms ish) and 82lbs, 35 1/2" chest.

    He was then put into a room with all the "odd ones" as he put it, but eventually trained as a cook with the Army Catering Corp (part of the Royal Army Service Corps). He was issued with two service chevrons on 28th April 1944. ACC was dedicated to cooking and providing food to keep the rest of the Army going.

    In basic training, he quickly learned that to get training runs at his pace, he had to volunteer to lead. His attitude owed much to leaving school at 14 to play in a band in London and tour the UK. This gave him a street wise approach to being away from home comforts, which was invaluable. So he wasn't homesick as many of the other recruits were. A low point (pun) was when he had to request assistance to remove his bayonet from the straw dummy.

    His cookery training was in Wrexham, as part of 4,500 cooks that were needed for the invasion of Europe. He remembers the training to be thoroughly professional, done by Army cooks teaching him everything he needed to know. His training completed, his pay was increased by thrupence (3 old pence) a week as he had passed the course. Then came the waiting and he moved around from camp to camp. Aldershot is remembered, with not much cooking being done, but training in the art of being a soldier continued.

    In July 1944 the order came to get into lorries with all kit and two days' rations (not to be touched, on pain of death). It was raining.

    In Portsmouth he climbed over boat decks to reach their ship, a tank transporter, and Wally was ushered down in to the bowels of the ship and the hatch slammed shut and locked. Now it was at this moment he decided he wanted his mother. Wally is claustrophobic and I can testify he is to this day.

    He had been issued with a Canadian Roche rifle which was as tall as he was, without the bayonet! At the end of the journey the landing craft ramp dropped onto the beach. It was still raining. Frank, his best mate, offered to hold the rifle as Wally jumped off the end of the ramp, which he did. This was all very British, even though Frank was Welsh.

    The Battle for Normandy started on 6th June 1944, D-Day, but Wally was not needed till 54 days later. He landed on Gold Beach on 30th July and marched on into a barbed wire enclosure with everybody else, somewhere near Bayeux.

    Caen had yet to be taken and Wally did what he was trained to do for the troops now arriving. It was a transit camp for troops passing through and moving forward. As part of the cooks pool he was not fixed, but went where he was told. "Mackenzie report to the RASC for placement" was the usual order. Food was not easily acquired locally as most of the rural area had already been stripped of anything that was edible. He went to issue points with a chit for food, for a certain number of men. There was an issue of corned beef regularly, the boxes were stamped 1918! Sell by date? Bread was nearly non-existent and stale when there was some. A most important piece of advice from Wally would be, bring your own can opener, it's difficult and dangerous opening so many tins with a bayonet.

    His main base, after landing, was outside Caen and he learned to speak French with a Normandy accent, pointed out on a few occasions on later returns to France. He had strong ties with families in France and was adopted as a son, which says volumes for his compassion and understanding. The last card he received was in 2005 from a local family, now deceased.

    Caen was eventually taken and Wally moved forward into Holland. Holland was eventually passed, though he left his appendix in Brussels and discovered the other side of war. The German soldier in the next bed used to hold Wally on the side of the bed so he could pee. The guy had half his face shot away.

    Germany was with a tank recovery unit with the kitchen in the middle of a fuel dump, with two very nervous cooks feeding 30 men. Then on to Hamburg and, wonder of wonders, a proper kitchen at the headquarters.

    Wally never knew where he was except in the most basic of terms - he blames it on the Army for not telling him. He had cooked his way across Europe with the only comment It sometimes got a bit naughty with the shelling. He was demobilized in 1946.

    Ian E Scott

    Pte. John Leggat "Jock" Ferguson 6th Btn Highland Light Infantry

    My dad, John Ferguson, served with the British Army. Dad initially signed up with the Territorials in Glasgow in October 1938. In December 1938, he enlisted with the 6th Highland Light Infantry at Fort George. He trained as a cook at Aldershot with the Army Catering Corp. He served in North Africa, Italy and France. He served a total of 12 years in the army.

    He had two brothers who also served during World War II; one of them, my uncle Dave, was captured by the Germans, spending much of the war as a POW. The other brother, uncle James, was injured by shrapnel, which ended his involvement in the army.

    In 1946 Dad moved to the Reserves, and entered the Merchant Navy. It was here that he met my mother, and emigrated to New Zealand. He passed away in August 1976.

    Maggie Fox

    Pte. Frank Miller 2nd Btn. Kings Own

    Frank Miller began his military life joining the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. After training he transferred into the Kings Own. Serving in India he became a member of the Chindits, his story (along with many others) was recently told on a programme aired by Channel 4 called "Calling Blighty. A message home". After his time in the jungle, Frank transferred once again to the Army Catering Corp when he came out of the Jungle. Many of the guys saw this as a fast track to food.

    Tony Moore

    Pte. Alexander Baxter Army Catering Corps (d.3rd Feb 1945)

    Private Alexander Baxter was the Husband of Mary Minnis Baxter of Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was 37 when he died and is buried in the Haldensleben Hospital Cemetery in Germany.

    s flynn

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