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Royal Air Force Beach Units

Nos. 68 and 69 Beach Units

Nos. 68 and 69 R.A.F. Beach Units were formed at R.A.F. West Kirby at the end of April 1943. They were the first R.A.F. beach units to be formed in the UK (see UK Beach Units, Spring 1943). They trained in Scotland and in late June 1943 they were embarked at Gourock on the Clyde, and landed on D-Day in Sicily, 10th July 1943 (Operation “HUSKY”). After the invasion of Sicily they were withdrawn to North Africa and the two units joined forces in Tripoli before taking part in the landings at Salerno, D-Day 9th September 1943 (Operation “AVALANCHE”). The Units moved on to Naples and were then withdrawn to Algiers, before returning to the U.K in December 1943. Back at R.A.F. West Kirby, Nos. 68 and 69 Beach Units were disbanded and reformed as No. 4 R.A.F. Beach Unit (later No 4 R.A.F. Beach Squadron) for the Normandy landings, D-Day 6th June 1944 (Operation “OVERLORD”).

 

No Operations Record Book has been found for No. 69 R.A.F. Beach Unit but a Record Book exists for No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit covering the period from 29th July 1943 to 27th October 1943.(1) In fact due to Nos. 68 and 69 R.A.F. Beach Units being combined for Operation “AVALANCHE”, this is also, to some extent, a record of No. 69 R.A.F. Beach Unit’s activities from 22nd August 1943. The Record is not entered on the proper R.A.F. Form 540 but is written in a small R.A.F. issue exercise book. Much of it is in handwriting that is difficult to decipher so in the following account, based largely on that record, mistakes may have been made in some of the names. (In the case of F/Lt “U”, the name was unreadable.)

Nos. 68 and 69 R.A.F. Beach Units in Operation “HUSKY”

On 28th June 1943, Nos. 68 and 69 R.A.F. Beach Units  sailed  directly from the U.K. to Sicily with the 1st Canadian Division for Operation “HUSKY”.

They were to land on the west of the Pachino peninsula in a wide shallow bay between Punta Castellazo and Punta di Formiche. This landing area was identified as “BARK” West (also known as Beach 57) and divided into Roger and Sugar sectors. No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit was attached to the Army’s No. 3 Beach Group and No. 69 R.A.F. Beach Unit was attached to No. 4 Beach Group to work in these two beach sectors.

D-Day for the assault was 10th July 1943. The landings were successful, Pachino airfield was captured by the Canadians on the first day and a large beach-head was secured.  After only a few days the “BARK” West landing area was closed and the beach maintenance area was moved to the more suitable “BARK” South area (Beach 56) where the 51st Division had landed. The last stores were landed at "Bark" South on D+13 (23rd July).(2)

No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit withdrawn from Sicily to North Africa

The record of No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit begins with  the Unit at the “BARK” South landing area in Sicily at the end of July 1943. R.A.F. personnel and stores are no longer being received over the beach. On the 29th July it was reported that the Unit’s camp was “rapidly becoming insanitary (sic)”, there was a plague of flies and the men’s health was “indifferent”. There were difficulties collecting rations and water due to the lack of transport.

F/Lt. Stevenson was admitted to No. 3 Field Dressing Station at Pachino on 30th July, while back in North Africa, F/Lt Kinsey was discharged from No. 4 Military Field Hospital in Tripoli and attached to No 38 P.T.C. at R.A.F. Tripoli on the authority of Rear H.Q. D.A.F. Next day,  it was F/Lt Liddell’s turn to be admitted to No. 3 F.D.C. at Pachino and Sgt. Drinkwater, who was attached to No. 103 Sub Area Headquarters, was admitted to the Field Dressing Station at Portapalo.

On 1st August 1943, F/Lt Cane visited F/Lt Hanns of No 2 R.A.F. Embarkation Unit (Overseas) at Syracuse and arranged for No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit to be embarked for Tripoli the next day, as authorised by A.O.C. A.H.Q. D.A.F.

No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit left Pachino and embarked at Syracuse on 2nd August. There were 3 officers and 32 other ranks, plus 2 other ranks attached who had been with 103 Sub Area Headquarters. F/Sgt Gill was detached to work with W/Cdr Hackett and embarked for Sousse. F/Lt Stevenson was discharged from No. 3 F.D.C. Pachino and rejoined the Unit.

Whilst at sea on 3rd August there was nothing to report except that the food and accommodation for all ranks was satisfactory.

No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit disembarked at Tripoli. On 4th August and F/Lt Cane reported G/Cpt Sliff  No 214 Group. He received instructions to proceed to No 39 P.T.C. pending link up with No 3 Beach Group at 56 Div. H.Q. Tripoli. G/Cpt Sliff advised that 114 M.U. at Zavia had instructions to re-kit the Unit. Next day F/Lt Cane informed W/Cdr Hackett (who was at Sousse) about the location of No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit and contacted Col. Young of No 3 Beach Group. Col. Young advised that the Unit should remain at its present location until details of further operational moves were known.

On 6th August the Unit’s M.T. section repaired a damaged vehicle belonging to No 39 P.T.C., F/Lt Cane advised W/Cdr Hackett that No 4 Beach Group were leaving Sousse for Tripoli and arrangements were being made to re-kit the Unit to scale. F/Sgt Tressler F.M.T. was admitted to No 24 M.F.H. Tripoli. The Base Personnel Office was asked to take responsibility for him and arrange for his discharge from the R.A.F. (F/Sgt Tressler was in hospital for over three weeks and then attached to No 39 P.T.C. on 29th August). The B.P.O. was also asked to provide personnel to bring the Unit up to its full establishment.

The Unit was re-kitted as far as possible by No. 114 M.U. at Zavia on 7th August. The balance of items would have to be obtained from other R.A.F. or Army sources. F/Lt Cane visited No 214 Group, at their request, on 8th August and spoke to G/Cpt Le May, F/Lt Bennett, and W/Cdr McAllester. F/Lt Bennett was to be informed of any difficulty in obtaining kit.

On 9th August F/Lt Cane visited No 3 Beach Group, Aircraftman Fletcher was admitted to No 24 M.F.H. Tripoli and W/Cdr Hackett signalled advice of his intended arrival by air.

F/Lt Cane visited the Army Post Office in Tripoli on 10th August and requested that every endeavour be made to obtain the Unit’s mail. None had been received since 6th June 1943. Sgt. Drinkwater arrived from Syracuse, reported to No 39 P.T.C. and was admitted No 24 M.F.H. Tripoli.

W/Cdr Hackett arrived at Castel Benito airport on 11th August, en route for No. 39 P.T.C. He  had summoned a conference of all Beach Unit officers. W/Cdr Hackett arrived at No. 39 P.T.C. in the afternoon. Sgt Shapcott F.M.T. was admitted to No. 24 M.F.H. Tripoli. Next day, F/Lt Cane visited No 214 Group, Tripoli with W/Cdr Hackett. The Unit equipment and transport requirements were authorised and F/Lt Cane and W/Cdr Hackett went on to visit No. 3 Beach Group at Taguira. On 13th August F/Lt Cane visited No 214 Group again, with W/Cdr Hackett and received authorisation (from G/Cpt Sliff ) to draw the bulk of Unit equipment from 114 M.U. at Zavia.

On 14th August a Unit bathing parade was held and further attempts to locate the Unit’s personal mail were made at the A.P.O. There was still no mail to hand since 6th June.

F/Lt Cane visited 114 M.U. again on 15th August, regarding the issue of Unit equipment in accordance with the new scale for Nos. 68 and 69 R.A.F. Beach Units. A further visit was made the next day about supply of the equipment and collection was arranged for 17th August. No. 214 Group advised that Unit transport consisting of one 3 tonner, one jeep and two motorcycles had been authorised.

On 16th August the Unit was made up to strength by the attachment of personnel from No. 69 R.A.F. Beach Unit. The strength of the Unit was now 4 officers and 37 other ranks. F/Lt Bennet of No. 214 Group advised that Army personnel of No. 3 Beach Group were to undertake the waterproofing of vehicles and No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit was to move when required under Army arrangements and in accordance with instructions from Col. Young of No. 3 Beach Group.

LAC Evans was admitted No 24 M.F.H. Tripoli on 17th August, stores were collected from No. 114 M.U. and a return of outstanding items was submitted to No. 214 Group for action by W/Cdr Hackett. The Unit strength was re-adjusted to meet the demands of the new operational move, so that the Unit now had 4 Officers and 35 Other Ranks.

F/Lt Cane visited 214 Group on 18th August and obtained authority to draw from Army sources the balance of Unit equipment that was unobtainable from R.A.F. Col Young (H.Q. No 3 Beach Group) issued instructions about the new operational moves and requested that No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit should re-join the Army group located near Tripoli on 20th August. The Beach Group was preparing for Operation “AVALANCHE”.

On 19th August F/Lt Cane obtained the balance of Unit equipment from No. 500 A.O.D., Tripoli. Next day, the Port unit was removed and rejoined No 3 Beach Group near Tripoli and F/Lt Stevenson departed by air for Algiers on the authority of H.Q. M.E.F. Mail was now arriving regularly. Also on 20th August, equipment was obtained for H.Q. Signals Section and G/Cpt Sliff requested that F/Lt Cane keep in daily communication with No. 214 Group. The Unit transport was now en route for No. 39 P.T.C.

No 3 Beach Group needed to have the Unit vehicles for shipment on 24th August but on 21st August there was no information about their arrival. F/Lt Cane visited No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit now encamped with No 3 Beach Group near Tripoli, and No. 69 R.A.F. Beach Unit encamped with No 4 Beach Group at Mellaha.

F/Lt Liddell reported on discharge from R.A.F. General Hospital, Tunis and he transferred to No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit (located with No 3 Beach Group) from No. 39 P.T.C. on 22nd August. Arrangements were made with No. 214 Group to collect Unit transport on 23rd and 24th August.

No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit and No. 69 R.A.F. Beach Unit combined

A signal was received from M.A.A.F. on 22nd August, requesting that No. 69 R.A.F. Beach Unit should join forces with No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit, attached No 3 Beach Group.

On 23rd August further unit equipment was drawn from No. 114 M.U. and No. 500 A.O.D. Two 3 tonners were collected from No 1 Fuel Transport Co and delivered to No 3 Beach Group to undergo waterproofing prior to shipment. Next day, two jeeps were collected from No. 114 M.U. and also delivered to No 3 Beach Group for waterproofing. W/Cdr Hackett’s jeep was also included and the Unit kits and equipment were stowed in the vehicles for shipment.

F/Lt Kinsey ceased to be attached to No 38 P.T.C. on 24th August and rejoined. He was now attached to No. 69 R.A.F. Beach Unit. A signal was received from Rear H.Q. M.A.A.F. advising that W/Cdr Hackett was sick and that S/Ldr Denvil (from Nos. 81 and 82 A.E.Us.) was assuming temporary command of Nos. 68 and 69 R.A.F. Beach Units.

On 25th August the remaining airmen of the Unit at No. 39 P.T.C. rejoined the main party with No. 3 Beach Group and F/Sgt Gill was posted supernumerary to No. 39 P.T.C. for disposal as surplus to Unit establishment. Next day F/Lt Cane rejoined No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit and F/O Chabrel with five airmen forming a signals section arrived to accompany Nos. 68 and 69 R.A.F. Beach Units on the next operation.

Group Captain Tyler, Movements, Algiers, visited the Unit on 27th August and notification was received from A.P.O. Tripoli that the Unit’s mail was being forwarded to 56 Division. F/O Andrews of 214 Group advised that four motor-cycles were available for collection at No. 114 M.U. Sgt Montrey (524590) was promoted Acting Unpaid Flight Sergeant and a vehicle landing schedule was received from D.A.Q.M.G. No. 3 Beach Group.

On 30th August the Unit (that is Nos. 68 and 69 R.A.F. Beach Units and Headquarters) was under eight hours notice to move. At 14.30 hours S/Ldr Denvil and F/Lt Hinchliffe attended a briefing conference held by Col. Young, O.C. No. 3 Beach Group. The Key Plan for the beach was received by F/Lt Hinchliffe. At approximately 23.00 hours notice was received from H.Q. No. 3 Beach Group that Serial 166 would move at 10.00 hours on 31st August.

There was a conference at Beach Group H.Q. attended by F/Lt Hinchliffe, at 08.30 hours on 31st August. Arrangements were made for Serial 166 to move at 12.00 hours. N.C.Os. and officers were given their first briefings on Unit plans by F/Lt Hinchliffe. The Beach Group failed to provide Mae Wests or 48 hours ration. Comfort packs were issued in lieu. Serial 166 moved off at 12.00 hours to Racecourse Transit Camp. Shortly after arrival F/Lt “U” and LAC Alston (1268117) went sick and were admitted to No. 24 M.F.H. F/Lt Hinchliffe arranged with F/Lt Bennett, Movements, No. 214 Group for transport to arrive at 11.30 on 1st September, to take the Unit and baggage to the Embarkation Point.

On 1st September the Unit moved off at 12.00 hours and marched to No 2 Lighter Point, Tripoli, to embark. The baggage party had been sent on ahead. LAC Alston and F/Lt “U” were left at 24 M.F.H. Notification of change of address was sent to the relative A.P.Os. The R.A.F. transport did not arrive. The Unit embarked on L.S.T 419 (Serial 166) at approximately 16.00 hours.

Next day, L.S.T 419 was at anchor outside Tripoli harbour. LAC Cropper was confined to his bunk that day and the following day, while the Key Plan was disclosed to Senior N.C.Os. and a weapons inspection was carried out. On 4th September LAC Cropper was removed, the ship not yet having sailed.

Nos. 68 and 69 R.A.F. Beach Units in Operation “AVALANCHE”

On 6th September 1943 the Unit (Nos. 68 and 69 R.A.F. Beach Units and Headquarters) sailed from Tripoli at approximately 06.00 hours bound for Salerno Bay. The engines of vehicles were started up and checked to be O.K. The Unit was split into three parties embarked in different L.S.Ts. The first party was in Serial 166 aboard L.S.T. 419, the second party was in Serial 168 aboard L.S.T. 64 and the third party {Cpl. Smith and one vehicle) was in Serial 170 aboard another L.S.T.

On D-Day, 9th September 1943, Serial No. 166 disembarked in the ROGER Sector at 13.00 Hours. L.S.T. 419 was under shell fire during landing. R.A.F. H.Q. and the Transit Area were established immediately as per the Key Plan. Contact was made with W/Cdr George, who had landed in the morning. Serial No. 168 disembarked at 16.00 Hours and the Petrol Section under F/Lt Holdaway (officer of No. 69 R.A.F. Beach Unit) and the Ordnance Section under F/Lt Liddell, proceeded to the locations of the respective dumps. A new Petrol Dump on the beach was recc’ied by W/Cdr George who bivouacked in the R.A.F. Transit Area.

On D+1 approximately 30 tons of Petrol and Oil were landed and despatched to the new P.O.L. Dump site. Sgt. Drinkwater and LAC McGowan were detached with W/Cdr George and S/Ldr Denvil to 56 Division H.Q. F/Lt Holdaway and the Petrol party were taken to the new P.O.L. site.

There was a large influx of R.A.F. and U.S.A.A.F. personnel into the Transit Area on D+2 and approximately 3 tons of R.A.F. Ammunition was received. No R.A.F. Stores or Petrol was received. The Unit was still under occasional shell fire. Contact was established with Captain Peister (U.S.A.A.F. Liaison Officer), Major Cobb and Major Ross (U.S.A.A.F.).

An airstrip had quickly been prepared in the ROGER Sector and on 12th September (D+3), the first planes were in operation on the airstrip. Various units passed through to the ROGER airstrip, and all the petrol stores held at the dump were despatched to the airstrip.

There was a continued large influx of personnel and vehicles on D+4. Owing to the tactical situation these could not be sent through to the forward area and considerable re-organisation and extension of the Transit Area therefore became essential, particularly with regard to sanitation, camouflage and routing through from the beach. There were problems due to a number of units failing to report to the Transit Area or moving off without instructions. LAC Herbert was admitted to the M.D.S. 167th Field Ambulance. F/O Chabrel’s signals section, and Cpl Cobden, were detached to Major Ross, Sele River. F/Lt Cane was detached to W/Cdr George at H.Q. Movement Control. The Unit was still under occasional shell fire.

On D+5 there was large movement of personnel out of the Transit Area. Notice was received that No 3 Beach Group was moving at 12.00 hours next day, to amalgamate with No. 21 Beach Group in the SUGAR Sector. No. 68/69 R.A.F. Beach Unit was instructed to remain in the ROGER Sector and continue operating the R.A.F. Transit Area. F/Lt Liddell with the ordnance and ammunition party was detached to No. 21 Beach Group, Ammunition & Ordnance Dumps. A.C.1 Morris was detached from the ammunition party to W/Cdr George, H.Q. Movement Control. Advice was received that for the immediate future, all R.A.F. & U.S.A.A.F. personnel would be landed in the ROGER Sector, and all stores in the SUGAR Sector.

Petrol was continuing to arrive in the ROGER Sector on D+6 and it was despatched to the ROGER airstrip, now known as Tusciano airstrip. No personnel were arriving. Instructions were received from S/Ldr Denvil to detach F/Lt Robey with 12 men and one 3 tonner to W/Cdr Tippet at Sele River (QUEEN Sector). F/Lt Robey and party went to the QUEEN Sector the next day. The Beach Party were engaged in the embarkation of A.M.E.S. personnel to Capri.

 IWM (CNA 1638)
© IWM (CNA 1638)

A Spitfire Mark Vc of No. 43 Squadron RAF raises dust as it taxies to the take-off point at Tusciano landing ground. (Picture by RAF official photographer F/O L.H. Abbott)

 

At 05.00 Hours on 17th September two bombs fell at H.Q. 3rd S.E.C. resulting in a leg injury to W/Cdr George and shock to AC1 Morris. Morris was removed to No. 30 M.F.H. Cpl Smith and LAC Martin were attached to W/Cdr George. Instructions were received from S/Ldr Denvil to form a Petrol Depot under F/Lt Holdaway, serving all Beaches.

On D+9 the Unit received its first mail and an issue of soap was made. Embarkation of the A.M.E.S. for Capri was completed. F/Lt Holdaway and a party of 5 airmen went to the new Petrol Depot.

F/Lt Hinchliffe went to S/Ldr Denvil’s H.Q. on 19th September. Instructions were received to immediately despatch 25 more men to QUEEN Sector. S/Ldr Denvil detailed F/Lt “U” to be in charge of all the R.A.F. Beach Unit personnel on the QUEEN beaches. The party left at 18.00 hrs in a 3 Tonner. Instructions were received that the petrol dump in the SUGAR Sector was to be the main depot, so F/Lt Holdaway went there with a party from the ROGER Dump.

On urgent instructions, F/Lt Hinchliffe went to see S/Ldr Denville at 18.00 hrs on 20th September and was informed that the Unit might be moving forward and was to be kept at instant readiness to move. All the M.T. personnel were to be withdrawn, arriving back at 09.00 next morning, and were to form an M.T.L.R.U under F/Lt Hode. A despatch rider was sent south with these instructions and F/Lt Hode rejoined the Unit.

“At approximately 21.30 hrs F/L Liddell was involved in a serious road accident while returning from Beach Duty on Unit motor- cycle. He was in collision with a jeep coming from the opposite direction and belonging to the section of 232 Provost attached to 4 Beach Group. He was removed to Beach Dressing Station and thence to No 3 F.D.S for an immediate operation.” Sgt Harris and A.C. Brocklehurst of No. 68/69 R.A.F. Beach Unit, and L/Sgt Williams of 12th A.A. were named as possible witnesses of the accident. It was learned the next day that F/Lt Liddell’s left leg had been amputated above the knee. The Adjutant of No 4 Beach Group was informed.

F/Lt Vinney and the M.T. personnel arrived from the QUEEN Sector at 09.00 hrs on 21st September and left camp at 12.00 hrs with F/Lt Hode to form a M.T.L.R.U. near “Kings Cross”. F/Lt Holdaway and party were brought back to H.Q. from the petrol depot, which was taken over by a party detailed by F/Lt Wilson of 81/82 A.E.U.

The Unit was held ready to move on 22nd September but next day, information was received that the move was likely to be delayed. F/Lt Wilson of 81/82 A.E.U was to control ROGER Beach with the assistance of 68/69 B.U. in order that 68/69 B.U. could move quickly when the order came. F/Lt Ovington and a party of six airmen arrived from 81/82 A.E.U to take over the Beach.

On 27th September the Unit moved from the Transit Camp to a farm. ROGER Beach was now inactive. Information was received that F/Lt “U” and most of the party from the QUEEN Sector in the South were rejoining the Unit. Next day the M.T. section moved into the farm and F/Lt Hinchliffe visited the QUEEN Sector. On 29th September F/Lt “U” and the bulk of the Unit moved up to the farm from the South. S/Ldr Denvil had become ill but he gave instructions that the Unit was to be held ready to move to Castellammare.

S/Ldr Murphy and the R.A.F. Component of No. 35 Beach Brick move North on 30th September, taking with them a 3 tonner and a motorcycle, with Cpl O’Hara and LAC Elston from No. 68/69 R.A.F. Beach Unit. On 1st October instructions were received to detail 6 men to the Ammunition Dump. Pay books were issued to 4 officers.

F/Lt Hinchliffe accompanied W/Cdr George to Naples on 2nd October and they spent the night at Capodochino airport under occasional shellfire. W/Cdr George went off to Bari the next day and F/Lt Hinchliffe, accompanied by S/Ldr Black (81/82 A.E.U) and S/Ldr Murphy (35 Brick), went by road to T.A.F. H.Q. Bari four days later. They had an interview with W/Cdr George at T.A.F. H.Q. on 11th October and visited 67 E.U. at Taranto to investigate the possibility of setting up a transit camp at Taranto. It was the opinion of the C.O. that one was not needed. On 12th October they made a visit to the R.A.F. E.U. at Bari to discuss the Transit Camp question and in the evening F/Lt Hinchliffe was summoned to see W/Cdr George. The Wing Commander passed on information, in general terms, that had been received from Group Captain Bates regarding the future of Beach Units and he requested a list of officers and airmen of No. 68/69 R.A.F. Beach Unit that were recommended for future Beach Unit work. The information requested was handed to W/Cdr George the next day and  F/Lt Hinchliffe, S/Ldr Black and S/Ldr Murphy travelled back and rejoined their respective Units.

Owing to the fact that Nos. 81 & 82 A.E.Us. had broken camp to go to Bari, but had then been recalled, it became necessary to find accommodation for them. On 15th October, they were accommodated, with difficulty, in the farm grounds occupied by No. 68/69 R.A.F. Beach Unit. However, next day F/Lt Kinsey set off with S/Ldr Black C.O. of Nos. 81 & 82 A.E.Us  to search for better accommodation in the Naples area. This move was necessitated by the influx of Italian families to the farm, which was making sanitary conditions very bad, and bringing flies and refuse.

There was a visit from S/Ldr Cooke of T.A.F on 17th October. He was requesting further information about officers and airmen in order to complete the establishment of the new R.A.F Beach Group. As S/Ldr Cooke wanted to go on to contact W/Cdr Topper, S/Ldr Murphy and S/Ldr Black in Naples, F/Lt Hinchliffe took him there in a jeep.

Next day, acting on information from F/Lt Kinsey that new accommodation had been found at Portici, 3 miles south of Naples, arrangements were made for Unit to move. F/Lt Hinchliffe returned to Naples and picked up S/Ldr Cooke at No. 61 E.U. on 19th October, taking him from Naples to Monte Corvino. On arrival, they found that the air transport service had been suspended and they were obliged to returned to Naples.

On 20th October the main party of No. 68/69 R.A.F. Beach Unit moved from Salerno to Naples under F/Lt Holdaway and F/Lt Vinney, leaving behind a rear party and the party at the ammunition dump. The rear party and the ammunition dump party moved to join the main Unit the next day.

A Despatch Rider was lent to W/Cdr Topper on 22nd October. The Unit now had two D.Rs. and motor-cycles on temporary loan to W/Cdr Topper and one jeep and one motor-cycle, including a driver, on temporary loan to F/Lt Cane.

On 23rd October the services of as many officers and men as could be spared were requested by Group Captain Cullery of No. 3 R.A.F. Base Area. They were wanted to help organise the requisitioning of buildings, and to help with signposting and billeting. F/Lt Kinsey and F/Lt Holdaway were detailed, with Sgt Vickers and Sgt Howells. F/Lts Hode and Vinney, with the M.T. section were to undertake various M.T. work for No. 3 Base Area.

F/Lt “U” was admitted to 92nd General Hospital on 24th October. Next day a signal was received instructing F/Lt “U” to report on temporary attachment to No 67 Embarkation Unit, Taranto, on discharge from hospital. F/Lt “U” left the Unit on 26th October, to report to Taranto. He was taken there in a jeep driven by F/Sgt Bown.

A request was received from S/Ldr Bradley of No. 61 E.U. for a working party of 15 men and three 3 tonners. The vehicles and men were sent on 26th October. On 27th October the three 3 tonners and 18 men reported to W/Cdr Topper for dock clearance. Two officers, four sergeants, and six men were engaged at No 3 Beach Sub-Area.

The record ends here and it was soon after this that Nos. 68 and 69 R.A.F. Beach Units were withdrawn from Italy.

Some personnel from Nos. 68 and 69 Beach Units stayed in Italy and transferred to the new R.A.F. Beach Group or other units. F/Lt Robey and LAC McMahon were among those who were posted to No. 61 Embarkation Unit in Naples. On the other hand, some members of other units returned to the U.K. with Nos. 68 and 69 Beach Units.

Nos. 68 and 69 Beach Units were withdrawn from the Naples area to Algiers in November 1943 and then returned to the U.K., arriving at Liverpool in December 1943. They were disbanded and reformed as No 4 R.A.F. Beach Unit at R.A.F West Kirby in January 1944.

 

(1) Main source used for this page:
Operations Record Book of No. 68 R.A.F. Beach Unit - found in, ‘Air Ministry and Ministry of Defence: Operations Record Books, Miscellaneous Units’ AIR 29/438 at The National Archives

(2)  Further information on Operation “HUSKY” comes from:
Molony, C. J. C. “The Mediterranean and Middle East Vol. 5, The Campaign in Sicily 1943 and the Campaign in Italy 3rd September 1943 to 31st March 1944”, 1973, Chapters I to V.

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