A work in progress – the fuller biographies will emerge in due course: please sign up to the Newsletter (bottom of the page) and we’ll let you know when we’ve done more justice in writing up our extraordinary signatories.
T268373 Sgt T Albert STRONG MM for the ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS and TRANSPORT, and here the ubiquitous utility of the JEEP, here named “Jessie” & painted on, after his wife to be’s name, in particular for its use in the RECOVERY of the WOUNDED, plus Bert STRONG being a witness to the number of LIVES SAVED BY BOTH SIDES, of both sides, for both sides, at times through the intuitive medical propositioning and skills of the FIELD AMBULANCE and ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS SYSTEM, the ADVANCED DRESSING STATIONS, REGIMENTAL AID POSTS, MILITARY DRESSING and CASUALTY CLEARING STATIONS etc, right back to the FIELD HOSPITALS; always well forward, he needed to understand evolving actions on the battlefield and experienced first-hand the fierce fighting in ITALY.
Here a signatory for the steady breaching of the strong GOTHIC LINE, scene of GALLANT, DIFFICULT and COSTLY FIGHTING, as well as the changing fortunes of war; he witnessed the tragic loss of tactical ground. hard won by the GUARDS being handed over to a fresh American Unit, promptly attacked by the Germans, probably aware of changes at the front – then that lost, previously captured ground was heavily mined and defensively prepared rapidly by the Germans ~ the American Unit then had tremendous personnel losses, as the tragic cost of regaining those important original positions – a routine difficulty and danger in all battlefront handovers; there was ample evidence in Italy though of heroic AMERICAN stands, the 350th’s INFANTRY at BATTAGLIA being just one.
One problem being that much of the GOTHIC CAMPAIGN favoured the DEFENDERS, swallowing up masses of INFANTRY, with ALLIED ARMOUR’S reduced potential to help their hard pressed INFANTRY. Less than 5ft 2in, BERT, quickly christened “Titch” STRONG by his Army friends, lived up to his name in stamina and spirit, always prepared to go forward, often with his large RED CROSS displayed.
His Father, ALBERT, in WW1 trenches, also was with the then ARMY SERVICE CORPS, with special skills breaking in and working their horses, and later with a ROYAL ARTILLERY HEAVY ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY in kWZ – in early 1940, illustrating Britain’s dire shortage of guns after DUNKIRK and during the INVASION SCARE period, his Battery used dummy tree trunks, camouflaged as guns, to expand their armament! His Uncle JOHN, 28 when WW1 broke out, won a MILITARY MEDAL too with the INFANTRY – he had a large silver plate on the top of his skull, a souvenir of his courage but, although a skilled bricklayer, had great difficulty settling back into a post war life, too mundane and predictable.
His Cousin, John Henry STRONG, was at ANZIO with the SHERWOOD FORESTERS. Titch started as a cadet when 15, living at Oundle, and went out to ALGIERS, BONE & BOUGIE for some time before his landing at SALERNO. This lightly built, cheerful and chirpy 5th LIGHT FIELD AMBULANCE DRIVER, then DRIVER Titch STRONG, rapidly became a mascot for the tall lst Bn SCOTS GUARDS soldiers who had come through ANZIO. Titch joined up with them after the River GARIGLIANO CROSSING and, on their long fight up ITALY, often stayed near them for over nine months; their 2nd Bn was heavily involved at SALERNO and MONTE CAMINO (second Battle – five days and nights bitter fighting before the prominent position was taken – Titch recalled many German Snipers) & CASSINO.
He would reassure and bring back a CSM, wounded in the upper legs. the future RSM Ronald “Tibby” BRITTAIN MBE of the COLDSTREAM GUARDS, whose fighting background and parade ground presence, his at MONS Officer Cadet Training Unit, like W.O.1 (ACM) John C LORD MVO MBE GRENADIER GUARDS (1933-37 and recalled from the RESERVE for WW2, including 3rd PARACHUTE BN at ARNHEM), at SANDHURST & elsewhere, would become well known to a whole generation of post war British officers under training.
At several of the SCOTS GUARDS functions, Titch would be their only outsider & be specially piped in. With his job so far forward, it was not unusual for him to take surrenders and, in close working relationship with COMPANY MEDICAL STAFF he saw the effective, lifesaving work of Captain DOW RAMC and others. He would “COLLECT” OFF the BATTLEFIELDS a tremendous number of fighting soldiers of DIFFERENT BRITISH REGIMENTS, many from 56th Infantry DIVISION (the Black Cat), GUARDSMEN, GREEN HOWARDST OX & BUCKS, 9th COMMANDOS (a good friend here was Sgt SHAW DCM MM of the COLDSTREAM GUARDS & their field CO, a Col BROWN – proud of their motto “First In, Last Out”), lots of GERMANS, AMERICANS, CANADIANS anglophone & francophone (particularly 25th CANADIAN TANK BRIGADE, INDIANS and GURKHAS, POLES.
His memories were of many Italian Campaign RIVER CROSSINGS and the bridging work CASUALTIES among our ROYAL ENGINEERS, often lost in mine incidents, many at RIMINI. An interesting comment was his suspicion from the darkened German bodies compared with our British dead. that many had been given drugs, something also noticed with some Americans. A haunting memory, always remaining with him of the dying men he was with, was of a young GUARDSMAN saying “I don’t mind dying for King and Country but who will look after my wife and family?” … a poignant note of sombre reality for his Country and Brigade, our Benevolent Funds and their public
ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS
“Nil sine labore” …. “Nothing is achieved without Hard Work”
1794 Corps of Royal Waggoners
1855 Land Transport Corps
1856 Military Train
1869 Army Service Corps
1918 Royal Army Service Corps
1965 Royal Corps of Transport
1993 Royal Logistics Corps
…Provision of food, ammunition, petrol and above all transport
1939 10,000 men 1945 335,000 personnel = 10% of British Army & the Movements Service of the Royal Engineers an extra 180,000
Winston Churchill: “Victory is the beautiful, bright coloured flower. Transport is the stem, without which it would not have blossomed (“The Royal Corps of Transport” page 27)
The Army COMMANDOS, GLIDER PILOT REGIMENT, PARACHUTE REGIMENT and SPECIAL FORCES had dedicated RASC personnel and the first Parachute Regiment fatality was a Driver EVANS. 502 Company RASC of 30 ARMOURED BRIGADE manned the trenches at GEILENKIRCHEN to allow the infantry, 43rd (WESSEX) DIVISION to rest before a new offensive.
Mule trains, pack horses, the Army’s fleet of vessels, trains & railway rolling stock, canal barges and every type of motor transport, large and small, were among RASC responsibilities.
During WW2’s Second Campaign in North West Europe, a full 15% of British Forces were RASC (“Tribute” Alwyn Turner 1995)