My Grandfather at war

Army No: T/14690324

Army Service from
14.12.43 to 15.8.46

REME Update

The start of his service

As you can see from the Record, he enlisted in the General Service Corps (GSC) on 14th December 1942 just short of this 19th birthday. His trade is given as Garage Mechanic. The major engineering opportunities were in the Royal Engineers (RE) for construction, Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) for vehicles and Royal Army Ordnance Corps Engineer Branch (RAOC(E)) for other engineering such as armoured vehicles, Artillery, small arms and electronics.

Enlistment and training

The record shows that he went to 17 Primary Training Centre (17 PTC). Primary Training Centres: From 1942, all recruits were enlisted in the General Service Corps (GSC) and attended a Primary Training Centre (PTC) in which they did their primary military training before being posted to their Corps. Primary Training Centres were set up throughout the UK to conduct the initial military training of those being called up, in great numbers, for the war - they introduced recruits to military life, kitted them out with uniform and their rifle; gave them a thorough medical examination and inoculated them; got them fit; trained for war; and selected them for a Regiment/Corps into which they would serve for the duration of the war. Recruits remained at a PTC for 6 weeks and then moved on for additional training specific to their selected role before joining their first unit

In your grandfather's case, as he was employed as a Garage Mechanic, it was to a Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) training unit and he was transferred into the RASC) - History of RASC . Prior to the formation of REME in 1942, the maintenance of vehicles was divided between the RAOC(E) for Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) and the RASC for wheeled vehicles, known as Motor Transport (MT). Many trades were not exclusive to REME. Some doing the same work, carried different titles in other corps, one being the vehicle trade which could be Fitter (Mechanical Transport), Fitter (Motor Vehicles), in some grades Driver Mechanic, Motor Mechanic, etc. Most ended up as 'Vehicle Mechanics'. In order to be recognised as a Vehicle Mechanic he was posted to 14 Training Battalion Royal Army Service Corps (14 Trg Bn RASC) as a Learner Vehicle Mechanic Class 3. It is there that he would have learned about the various vehicles he would be expected to work on.

Once trained, he was remustered as Vehicle Mechanic Class 3 on 31st March 1944 and posted to 915 Company Royal Army Service Corps (Anti Aircraft) (915 Coy RASC (AA)). This would have been supporting an Anti Aircraft Division in UK with the MT carrying fuel, supplies and ammunition. By July 1944 he was on his way to British West Africa, now Ghana and Nigeria, to join 792 Company West Africa Army Service Corps (792 Coy WAASC). He would have been supporting one of the West Africa Divisions who, by September 1944, were on their way to India to help drive the Japenese out of Burma, where he arrived in October 1944. The British, Indian, Ghurka and West African troops gradually pushed the Japenese Army south and there were plans to carry out an amphibious landing in Malaya but on August 14th 1945 it was announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, effectively ending World War II. He was awarded the Burma Star for this campaign.

Your grandfather's record shows him in Malaya between July 1946 and April 1947. A move to 812 (WAASC) GT Company in December preceded another move to HQ Burma Command in May 1946 before his repatriation from Rangoon in July 1947. He was also awarded the War Medal 1939/1945 and the 1939/1945 Star. The 1939-1945 Star was awarded for operational service between 3rd September 1939 and 2nd September 1945, the duration of the Second World War, whereas The War Medal 1939-1945 is a campaign medal award to subjects of the British Commonwealth who had served full-time in the Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy for at least 28 days between 3rd September 1939 and 2nd September 1945, not necessarily on operations.

Completion of Service

He left Rangoon on 18th July 1947 and was discharged on 25th August 1947 but still had a Royal Army Reserve liability. This is where his service changed to REME. The formation of REME was in two phases. The first on 1st October 1942 was the transfer of all the RAOC(E) and some RE responsibility leaving RASC with their transport companies still responsible for the maintenance of their own vehicles. In 1949 the Army Council approved the second phase of the Corps development and REME assumed the responsibilities of unit tradesmen of most arms. At the same time, REME took over the RASC field repair workshops. This took place in 1950/1951.

The records show your grandfather attending two weeks at 396 Company RASC Hereford in July 1952. If you recall, the Korean War ran from 25th June 1950 - 27th July 1953 and, perhaps, this was a 'Refresher' in case he was recalled for that but we cannot tell from the record

I apologise for the time taken to reach this rather unsatisfactory consulsion and I hope you may be able to find out more from the RLC if you wish. It is clear from the Record that your grandfather had an extraordinary time for a young man from Manchester seeing sights and having experiences that we can only now imagine.

I would like to say thank you to the team at the REME Museum for looking into my grandfather service history and I am looking forward to hearing back off the RLC Museum