War Diary - CRE - September 1940

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1 September 1940 – Reykjavik

16:00 hours. Royal Engineer work at Kaldadarnes landing ground organised by this Headquarters crowned by the arrival of 9 Fairey “Battle” Aircraft escorted 2 “Sunderland” Flying Boats; all down safely, and arrival witnessed by CRE, G 1 and FE 3. (See Appendix 1 attached to the War Diary – details below).

2 September 1940 – Reykjavik

State of vigilance imposed 31st August returns to normal.

10:45 hours. Adjutant and Flight/Lieut Du Cray leave S.S. TORDENSKOLD to reconnoitre possible landing grounds North East Sector.

2 September 1940 – Kaldadarnes

Windbreaks, consisting of H plan 15 feet turf walls with separate screen walls at either open end, to take 5 “Battle” aircraft each side, in course of construction.

Construction of second windbreaks for 10 “Battle” aircraft at Kaldadarnes ?

4 September 1940 – Akureyri

Adjutant arrives and inspects MELGERDI landing ground.

6 September 1940 – Seydisfjordur

Adjutant arrives and recommends site for landing ground at EIDAR.

7 September 1940 – Reykjavik

Battalions report German Transports movement North Sea, state of vigilance imposed again.

7 September 1940 – Seydisfjordur

Adjutant recces site for landing ground South West of Lake Logurinn.

9 September 1940 – Budareyri

Adjutant leaves BUDAREYRI on S.S. TORDENSKOLD for Reykjavik.

10 September 1940 - Reykjavik

12:00 hours. State of vigilance imposed 7th September ceases.

17:30 hours. Adjutant returns: result of recces – no recommendations of any site due to amount of preparatory work needed.

12 September 1940 – Reykjavik

Ten store ships (including considerable quantity Royal Engineer stores) arrive, escorted by 4 Armed Trawlers.

13 September 1940 – Reykjavik

High winds make movement of store ships in and out of harbour for unloading impossible.

14 September 1940 – Kaldadarnes

Arrival 9 Fairey “Battle” aircraft escorted 2 “Sunderland” Flying Boats – one “Battle” lands away from aerodrome and is damaged badly.

Concern felt for safety G 1 who, after leaving 18:00 hours Kaldadarnes for AKUREYRI on 13th September fails to arrive. Aircraft located on ground today, apparently intact – no signs occupants – search parties sent out. Day sunny but considerable wind.

15 September 1940 – Reykjavik

18:15 hours. News received of rescue of G 1 and party without injury. Calm and bright day.

17 September 1940 – Reykjavik

Arrival “Ulster Monarch” and “Chitral” with HQ 70 Infantry Brigade, 10 DLI and sundry personnel including 18 Royal Engineer Other Ranks of whom the following are for CRE/Ops staff:-

One Quartermaster Sergeant (Newing) – Clerk of Works.

Three Staff Sergeants (Palmer, Pither, Tarr) – Foremen of Works.

Thirteen Drivers (Internal Combustion) including two Artificers, two Stoker/Drivers.

Two Excavator Drivers (one Corporal and one Lance Corporal).

Weather – a fine clear day with little wind.

18 September 1940

Orders received for return of Section 294 of Field Company from AKUREYRI to Reykjavik by road. G1098 by sea. Responsibility for demolitions AKUREYRI transferred to 699 Construction Company. Also for move of 294 Field Company from Reykjavik to new hutted camp at Alafoss.

Stores convoy unloading.

20 September 1940

6 Diesel Rollers for Roadworks landed – 2 of about 8 tons each, four about 12 tons which local bridges will not carry. These rollers and the drivers, artificers etc transferred to 294 Field Company.

21 September 1940 – Reykjavik

2 small road rollers offloaded and sent with 2 Drivers and 1 Artificer to Kaldadarnes for work on landing ground and approach road – journey of 45 miles completed in two days.

22 September 1940 – Reykjavik

Work completed by 294 Field Company at this date:-

Targets for Royal Artillery.

Road construction No.1 Ammunition Depot.

Road construction No. 3 Ammunition Depot.

Road construction – 12 Reserve Motor Transport Company RASC.

Work in progress:-

Camp structures at Alafoss.

Roadwork VATNSENDI and Alafoss.

Preparation Hafnafjordur piers for demolition.

Force HQ Command Post.

Battle HQs for 1/6 and 1/7 Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, 1/5 West Yorkshire Regiment, 147 Infantry Brigade.

23 September 1940 – Reykjavik

Practice shoot by 273 Field Battery, Royal Artillery, firing inland from coast at KOLLAPFJORDUR.

25 September 1940

Demonstration of Molotov Bombs by RAOC – means of ignition not very effective yet.

26 September 1940

Work for which CRE (Ops) responsible to include during winter construction of 40 Pillboxes and, around the coast, a number of searchlight positions: this will be undertaken by 294 Field Company. Also structures on Field Firing Range North of Kleifervatn.

29 September 1940

Reconnaissance of landing ground site at DALSMYNNI, 45 Km North of Borganes on Blonduos road by Intelligence Officer Royal Engineers and Flying Officer Snowball: site considered suitable for one runway 800yards by 50 yards.

30 September 1940

Field Firing practice by Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa with rifles, machine-guns, mortars and by Royal Artillery with 25pdrs North of Kleifervatn.

Appendices attached to the September 1940 War Diary of Commander, Royal Engineers, Iceland (C ) Force.

Appendix 1 – Letter from Senior Air Officer Commanding, RAF, Iceland.

This single page document was a letter from Wing Commander G R Ashton A.F.C. to Major-General H O Curtis thanking him for the help afforded to 98 Squadron before the Commander’s arrival with the first air party.

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