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Many questions prompted while reading my Dad's Service Records

May 1 2017 at 2:34 PM
Melodie 

Hi,

I want to start by saying "Thank You" for this invaluable service you are providing by having this forum. I have been "lurking in the shadows" for quite some time now trying to get a better understanding of what my father did during his service in WW2 and have found many answers here. For that I am most grateful.

At first all I was trying to do was to replicate his Battledress blouse, but that task has snowballed into an all out research project and the more information I find the more proud and awestruck I am of my Dad and every other soldier who fought for our freedom.

I have my Dad's service records and have pored over the pages a thousand times and I have ended up having many questions that I am hoping you will be able to assist with.

I'm hoping to submit more inquiries later but for now I could use some help with some abbreviations that I haven't been able to find anywhere:

FTW, Spc Inc, WTO, Adm and Mac Increment

FTW - as in Leave P(1) no ftw.
Spc Inc - as in SOS (from 2 CARU) to 1st Med Regiment Spc Inc
Note -He ultimately ended up with the 3rd Medium Regiment
WTO - as in TOS WTO L/Bdr (This happened after he was injured)
SOS (from 2 CGRU) to 1 Adm Trp Coy
SOS (from 1 Adm Trp Coy) to 2 Mac Increment


Any assistance you can provide will be appreciated more than I could express.


 
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Dan Martel

My best guess is...

May 2 2017, 3:03 PM 

Melodie,

Some of the acronyms I know, some I don't. So here goes.

FTW. Judging by the context I would say that it has something to do with a travel warrant, as in "no f--- travel warrant. Maybe "no free travel warrant." Travel warrants were issued to soldiers by their unit when said soldiers had to travel on civilian networks, usually rail or bus. Some leave was granted with travel warrants, some without. It looks like this particular grant of leave was for a local destination.

Spc Inc. Special Increment. Units, in this case a medium artillery regiment, could be given a special increment to hold personnel over and above their establishment. The reasons for having a spc inc are many, and many units fought with additional troops in a spc inc till the end of the war.

WTO. Not exactly sure, but I do know that L/Bombardier was a unit appointment, not a rank. That means a soldier holding such an appointment would lose it when he left, or was SOS, his unit. Said soldier may receive a new L/Bdr appointment upon arrival, or TOS, at his new unit. This is what I think happened here. He was appointed L/Bdr at the same time he was TOS. I think the 'W' may stand for 'with' as in "TOS with TO L/Bdr.

Adm. Administration or administrative. 1 Administration Troop Company.

Mac Increment. Are you sure Mac is in lower case? MAC (upper case) stands for Motorized Ambulance Company. If your dad was injured while in the artillery, and as a result had his medical profile reduced to where he was no longer fit to be in an active artillery unit, but was still of a profile sufficient to work in a 'B' echelon unit, like a MAC, he would have been transferred to one after recovering from his injuries. Increment, again, as over and above unit establishment.

This is my best estimation. Hope it helps. Oh, and thanks for putting the acronyms in context. It makes translating from Army to English that much easier.

Cheers,
Dan.

 
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Melodie

Abbreviations

May 3 2017, 7:53 AM 

Thanks for your help with these abbreviations, Dan.

Regarding the Mac Increment, yes, it is in lower case. The exact entry is "SOS to 2 Mac Increment 1 CATC RCASC" "I don't have any info indicating that he drove an ambulance, but his medical records indicated that he was fit of L of C and we have photos of him on a motorbike. Additionally on the page that shows a short account of service it says O/S 48 months in U.K and N.W Europe with RCA as Driver I/C. I am of the understanding that he drove a motorbike to take various documents to the front but since I didn't get that info from my Dad, I can't confirm.

Regarding L/bdr, I didn't know that it was an appointment rather than a rank. What is the difference between the two? He never did get that appointment again after he was injured. I'm not sure if this helps to better determine what WTO is, but the preceding line on his service record was:
SOS x3 list to y3 list - under the "rank shown" column is L/bdr and the next line down is TOS from WTO L/bdr and in the rank shown column is Gnr. Also there's a second form that describes it slightly different. It says: UK & TOS from WTO on Adm to BN&PS hosptial (that's Bassingstoke)

I was trying to see about attaching a copy of these pages to this sight as it show it everything much clearer but so far I havnt' been able to figure out how to do that.

Thanks again for your help. It is greatly appreciated

Melodie



 
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Dan Martel

Aha!

May 3 2017, 11:12 AM 

Melodie,

Thanks for the additional info.

Mac will be for Motorized Ambulance Company as they were RCASC units and operated within the L of C (Line of Communications) or the rear areas behind the battle zone. With possibly a reduced medical profile from his wounds, your dad would still have been useful in a support role and seems to have been employed as such.

Driver i/c stands for Driver internal combustion, or driver of a motorized vehicle. (Driver without the i/c meant the driver of a team of horses. It was a holdover trade designation from the beginning of the war.) If your dad was a Driver i/c with the artillery then after his release from the hospital he could be placed anywhere a Driver i/c was required (like a MAC). Being in a MAC didn't necessarily mean he drove an ambulance. There were many support vehicles in a MAC that didn't transport the wounded. He may have drove one of them.

By the way, artillery units did have motorcyclists. Most Army units did to, as you said, carry dispatches between headquarters.

There were two lance appointments in the Army: Lance Corporal (or Lance Bombardier in the Artillery) and Lance Sergeant. They were a non-permanent appointment that the Commanding Officer of a unit could award to those soldiers who were under consideration for a promotion to the substantive rank of Corporal or Sergeant. Every unit was allowed a fixed number of lance appointments. Usually about 20 Lance Corporals and eight or so Lance Sergeants. Because they were awarded at the discretion of the CO, they were only valid as long as the person holding the appointment remained in the unit. When a soldier holding one was SOS, the appointment was taken away, and the soldier was TOS at his new unit with only his substantive rank. There's probably a regulation somewhere that explains it better than I've tried to do here. I'll see if I can find it.

I'm not sure that I fully understand the paragraph about your dad's lance appointment. To post photos or documents on here, you have to subscribe to a photo service that will give your downloads an http address. Failing that, you can e-mail your downloads to me direct and I'll post them on here for you and try to provide a better interpretation.

Cheers,
Dan.

 
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Melodie

Very illuminating

May 3 2017, 5:11 PM 

Hi Dan, thank you, thank you, thank you.

You have shed tremendous light on all my questions. I haven't stopped smiling since I signed up for this forum.

I won't need any further explanation on the L/bdr appointment - you explained it very well. Thanks.

I wasn't quite sure about the WTO abbreviation so thought it might be clearer if you could see exactly how it was written, but it's all good.

I do have a three more abbreviations I'd like to ask about. Post Sufr, M.U. and TOA.

1. The very first entry on his record, the day he signed up says: TOS & Post Sufr T.S (very hard to discern the letters so not sure if it is correct)

2. This entry looks like a stamp: POST (?as?) replacement for M.U. (don't know what this means at all)

3. SOS on TRANS TOA
He was SOS from TC 132 for all purposes. (thats Grand Prairie, AB) and after the "TRANS TOA" entry was "Att'd to CATC A-1 in Petawawa" I wonder if TRANS TOA means "Transferred TO (A)advanced training??

Thanks again for all your help.

Melodie


 
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Dan Martel

Racking my brain...

May 4 2017, 3:08 PM 

Melodie,

I can't seem to come up with definitions for Post Sufr or TOA. MU is more than likely Manning Unit, but it doesn't really seem to fit with the entry you've provided.

I would like to take a look at your dad's documents, if possible. Might shake up my recollections a bit.

Sorry I'm not as helpful this time.

Cheers,
Dan.

 
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Melodie

I'm working on it............

May 4 2017, 4:20 PM 

Hi Dan, Thanks. I'm still trying to figure out how to get them to you. I have 4 pictures in the photobucket but I stuck on how to I attach. Any suggestions would be welcome.

 
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Melodie

I've got it

May 4 2017, 4:53 PM 

Hi Dan - I think I've figured out to download pictures but will have to do it later. Thanks again.

Melodie

 
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Melodie

Here you go.........

May 4 2017, 7:15 PM 

Hi Dan, Here are 3 pages of service records. Sorry that they are so messy. They're my working copies. Now that I know how to upload I may send more later.

Melodie


[linked image]


[linked image]


[linked image]

 
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Dan Martel

Excellent

May 5 2017, 3:10 PM 

Melodie,

Okay, so I'm thinking it's the yellow highlighted passages on the last page which are still confusing us. The last page posted is actually the first page of his record.

The first line is "TOS & post (posted) supy (supernumerary) TS" to No 13A District Depot in Edmonton. Still don't know what 'TS' stands for. (Maybe Temporary Status pending the completion of his enlistment paperwork?) "Post (posted) as replacements for MU" I think means he was posted to the Manning Unit in the Depot which would be a holding unit for personnel prior to proceeding to a Training Centre. For some reason he was transferred to the survey regiment reinforcements for six days prior to leaving for basic training. (Must have been an Army thing.) He was sent to CA(B)TC 132 in Grand Prairie two months after joining.

"SOS ON TRANS TO A1" is what I think it says. Right below that line it says he was attached to CATC A-1. SOS ON TRANS TO A is a stamp. All that was remained was to ink in the number of the advanced training centre to which the soldier was being posted. In this case, A1. He remained there until proceeding overseas in February, 1942.

I think "No ftw" is actually "no PTW." I can't see an acronym with a lower case 'f' and upper case 'TW.' Possibly no paid travel warrant?

Now that I see it in context, I think that WTO may have something to do with his transportation back to England after his injury. On disembarkation in the UK he was TOS from WTO on adm (admission) to hospital. Maybe wounded transport something?

Thanks for posting your dad's record. It was an incredible read of a pretty brave guy.

Cheers,
Dan.

 
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Melodie

A great help

May 6 2017, 4:57 PM 

Hi Dan, I’ve learned so much these last few days. I still have lots to learn but I’m extremely pleased with your explanations on all the abbreviations.

I did want to say that I believe your initial response regarding ftw was accurate. I have another page of Dad’s record that clearly shows FTW – definitely an "F" and in caps. And it makes perfect sense that it could be no “free travel warrant”

I was touched by your kind words calling my Dad a "pretty brave guy". That means a lot. He passed away at a very young age (56) and I was too young to appreciate what he had done. It wasn’t until many years later, when I obtained his service records and delved into them that I was able to fully comprehend his bravery and sacrifice.

I will have more questions but will submit later. Once again, I truly appreciate all your time and help.

Melodie


 
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Melodie

I'm back with more questions

July 29 2017, 10:55 PM 

Hello again (Dan),

I’ve finally formulated all my remaining questions regarding my Dads RCA service in WW 2. They are a continuation of the questions and service records I submitted back in May.

1. Would you know what ship soldiers sailed on from Canada to the UK and where they debarked in the UK? My Dad left Canada (I assume from Halifax) on Feb 28, 1942 arrived in the UK on Mar 9 1942.

2. I have a photo of the entire 3rd Medium Regiment (which my Dad was a part of) that was taken in October 1942. According to his service records, my Dad was TOS to 3rd Med on Dec 24, 1942. I am 100% certain he is in this photo. He was on PL from October 15 to Oct 22 1942 so he would have been available to be in this picture. But how could this be since the picture was taken about 2 months before he was actually TOS? Did soldiers have advance notice of what regiment they would be posted to?

3. On his blouse he had a shoulder patch with the letter "L". According to Michael Dorash's book "Dressed to Kill" (awesome and extremely helpful book btw) it is a "skill-at-arms badge - Layer RCA. I understand that means Gun Layer but can you elaborate a bit on what duties would be involved in this position?

4. Is there any way to find out where the 3rd Medium Regiment was situated on the night of Feb 8, 1945? My Dad was injured that night and I’m very curious to know exactly where that was. We know he was still in Holland as my Mum always said it was "spitting distance from the German border" and we also know that he never made it into Germany. He was evacuated that very night. I found some information on your website that says "The fighting in the Rhineland began with the launch of VERITABLE on 8 February 1945". I don't know if he was part of that particular operation but if he was, do know where they were just before crossing the border?

5. I'm having some difficulty following/understanding the TOS and SOS changes on the last few entries on his service records. I am typing them exactly as they are entered in hopes that you might be able to decipher.


SOS To 1 Adm Trp Coy –Sept 30 1945
TOS from 2 CGRU - Oct 1 1945
SOS to 2 Mac Increment 1 CATC RCASC - Oct 2 1945
TOS from 1 CATC RCASC - Oct 3 1945
SOS to 7 Cdn Repat Dep – Oct 15 1945
TOS from 1 admin Trp Coy - Oct 16 1945
He remained at 7 Cdn Repat Dep till he left UK in Jan 1946.

It should also be noted that these are “modified duties” assigned to him after his discharge from Bassingstoke Neurological and Plastic Surgery Hospital. Prior to his injury he had a L/Bdr appointment starting Aug 5 1944 and ending in May 1945 (after injury). I understand about the L/Bdr appointment as you explained it nicely in my last set of questions.

What is the difference between 1 Adm Trp Coy and 2 Mac Increment 1CATC?
It looks like he was with 1 CATC RCASC for only 1 day - am I reading that correctly? Seems like such a short time so why bother?

How was 7 Cdn Repat Dep different from 1 Cdn Repat Dep,(he was at this one in May) where was it located and what would he have done there?

Thank you so much for taking the time to look at these many (difficult to answer) questions. I know I’m asking a LOT so any help, answers, advise or suggestions you can provide will be very much appreciated.

Melodie

 
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Dan Martel

No problem.

July 30 2017, 3:37 PM 

Nice to hear from you again Melodie. Give me a couple of days to dig through my stuff and I'll see what I can find for you re: 3rd Medium Regiment, RCA, and the Gun Layer trade. I might have to ask around about the last one.

Veritable was a huge battle, the biggest one that First Canadian Army fought. The Canadian and British formations taking part suffered tremendous casualties. You might want to have a look at a book called The Guns of Victory by George Blackburn. He was a Canadian artillery officer and part of the book deals with his experiences during Veritable.

Unfortunately I can't help you today but I'll look at your Dad's repatriation details this week and give you my best interpretation. (I hate it when real like interferes with my hobbies!)

Cheers,
Dan.

 
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Melodie

Thanks Dan- no rush

July 31 2017, 11:13 AM 

Hi Dan, this is a pretty tall order so please take all the time you need. I appreciate you helping me with all this. I know what you mean about life getting in the way of hobbies.

I don't have the Guns of Victory but I do have The Guns of Normandy by George Blackwell and I also have Gunners of Canada by Col G.W. Nicholson. I've skimmed through them but I haven't actually started reading them yet.

Also I really don't know if my Dad was part of that particular operation- I was checking under the history section of the Canadian Soldiers website to see what was happening at that time and the Rhineland was listed. I was just grasping at straws.

I can also tell you that his injury was accidental. According to his explanation on his medical record, (somehow) a cordite charge went off while on a rest period in a dugout. He burned his face and hands.

 
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Kevin Lambie

3 Cdn Medium Regt RCA

July 30 2017, 7:08 PM 

Melodie,

For the location of 3 Cdn Medium Regt on 8 Feb 45, you might try the WW2talk forum http://ww2talk.com/index.php . I'd suggest the Unit History/Canadian or Unit History/Royal Artillery subforums. Rob Dickers, a member there has written a history of 2 Cdn Army Group Royal Artillery (2 Cdn AGRA), the higher formation that 3 Cdn Medium Regt served with. I think he has access to War Diaries that would provide their location for Veritable and as a long shot, info on the circumstances of his casualty.

 
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Michael Dorosh

Glad to hear the book was of use

July 31 2017, 2:02 PM 

And that you're getting good info from the posters here on the forum. Good luck with your continuing march through your father's records.

 
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Melodie

I will take a look

July 31 2017, 3:44 PM 

Hi Kevin, thanks for your suggestion and the link to it. I'll definitely take a look at that forum.

I actually know a little bit about his injury from the medical reports. It was an accidental. Some charges of cordite went up in flames though it is not known what ignited it. But I'd still like to know where it occurred.

Thanks again,

Melodie


 
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Melodie

Its awesome!!

July 31 2017, 4:06 PM 

Hi Michael,

Wowzers!! I can't believe I'm speaking with the author of such a great book AND webmaster of such a great website. OMGosh! (sorry - I do tend to be a little excitable)

Dressed to kill is an excellent resource. I'm replicating my Dad's battledress blouse and I probably purchased more than a few things I DIDN'T need BEFORE I got your book. Too bad I didn't get it sooner. But now that I have it, I know that most of what I have is authentic.

This forum is so wonderful. I've learned so much by accessing these resources. I still have lots to learn but it has been incredible. Dan was an amazing help with my last set of questions.

Thank You, thank you, thank you.

Melodie

 
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Dan Martel

Re: I'm back with more questions

August 13 2017, 11:56 AM 

Sorry for the long delay, Melodie. I'll make a stab at responding in numerical order as you posted them. Probably the easiest thing to do.

1. Would you know what ship soldiers sailed on from Canada to the UK and where they debarked in the UK?

I have seen a list of all the ships and their sailing dates which carried the Canadians to England, but I'll be darned if I can remember where. I think it might have been in one of the red official histories. I'm on the look out and when I see it I'll post it.

2. He was on PL from October 15 to Oct 22 1942 so he would have been available to be in this picture. But how could this be since the picture was taken about 2 months before he was actually TOS? Did soldiers have advance notice of what regiment they would be posted to?

Interesting question. PL could stand for Paid Leave or Personal Leave, or Leave of some sort. Yes, he could have potentially been a part of the Regiment prior to being officially TOS as a member of an increment or 'surplus to establishment,' a term used to cover those extra soldiers whose pay and rations the Regiment administered. (It's all rather technically administrative and I'll be first to admit not always easy to follow.) What was his unit prior to being TOS to 3rd Medium?

3. On his blouse he had a shoulder patch with the letter "L". According to Michael Dorash's book "Dressed to Kill" it is a "skill-at-arms badge. I understand that means Gun Layer but can you elaborate a bit on what duties would be involved in this position?

Michael who? A gun layer was responsible for setting the traverse and elevation of the gun barrel. Traverse meaning left and right and elevation meaning up and down. This was done by operating mechanical instruments attached to the carriage of the barrel. It was considered a skilled trade and required more training than a regular gunner received. I believe it was the layer who sat in the little seat to the left of the breech on a 25-pdr gun.

4. Is there any way to find out where the 3rd Medium Regiment was situated on the night of Feb 8, 1945? I don't know if he was part of that particular operation (Veritable) but if he was, do know where they were just before crossing the border?

Your best bet is to find a copy of the 3rd Medium's history from the war. Each unit published one just after VE Day which were distributed to its members, former members, and appropriate libraries. There might be one in the library of the Royal Canadian Military Institute. I will check the next time I'm there.

5. I'm having some difficulty following / understanding the TOS and SOS changes on the last few entries on his service records. I am typing them exactly as they are entered in hopes that you might be able to decipher.

SOS To 1 Adm Trp Coy –Sept 30 1945
TOS from 2 CGRU - Oct 1 1945
SOS to 2 Mac Increment 1 CATC RCASC - Oct 2 1945
TOS from 1 CATC RCASC - Oct 3 1945
SOS to 7 Cdn Repat Dep – Oct 15 1945
TOS from 1 admin Trp Coy - Oct 16 1945
He remained at 7 Cdn Repat Dep till he left UK in Jan 1946.

What is the difference between 1 Adm Trp Coy and 2 Mac Increment 1CATC?
It looks like he was with 1 CATC RCASC for only 1 day - am I reading that correctly? Seems like such a short time so why bother?

How was 7 Cdn Repat Dep different from 1 Cdn Repat Dep, (he was at this one in May) where was it located and what would he have done there?


First off, I can't make hide nor hair out of the various SOS and TOS entries that are shown, either. I'm afraid they make no sense to me. They'd probably be clear as a bell to a circa 1945 RCASC Grade 1 Clerk, however. A lot of it might just be administrative paper shuffling. For example: The records show his postings from Sept 30, 1945, to when he left the UK in Jan, 1946, a period of 4 months. It could very well be that he never physically relocated from one place to another. The changes could be coming from the fact that the name of the unit responsible for the camp at which he was stationed was continuously renamed as a result of post-war changes. Just a thought.

What would he have done there? He'd be waiting for his place on a transport ship home. Lots of sight seeing, lots of sports, lots of nights in the pub. Probably lots of avoiding camp details as well.

I still have some things to check out for you. If you have anything else, just ask. It justifies my having all of the stuff that my wife considers 'junk.'

Cheers,
Dan.

 
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Kevin Lambie

Re: I'm back with more questions

August 13 2017, 3:31 PM 

Assumed Dan would ace these questions, I'm not terribly familiar with Arty stuff (and can't see the uploaded docs). I believe PL is Privilege Leave, days of leave 'earned' like vacation days based on time in service. This is standard leave, differentiated from various special leaves (embarkation leave, farm leave, compassionate leave, etc.). He would almost certainly have been away from his unit at this time. What unit was he on the strength of in Oct 42? It's not unheard of for guys working with a unit but not officially on their strength to appear in these photos.

Another thought, did you obtain the standard genealogical package of his docs from LAC? If you don't already have something, you might request his complete file in hopes of finding records of a Court of Inquiry into the circumstances of his injury that might provide some helpful details. The complete file will cost extra $ and give you lots of fairly useless stuff like dental records, etc., but might be an avenue worth exhausting. CoI records are often found in the personnel files of those involved. Only caveat would be that as they were in action at the time, it's possible this didn't happen. Most CoI's I have seen have been from training in the UK, though I have seen a couple from the field.

 
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