User:Tristan benedict/Eighth Army Order of Battle

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British 8th Army Order of Battle[edit]

British Corps of the Eighth Army in North Africa

  -  10 Corps
  -  13 Corps
  -  30 Corps

- British Divisions of the Eighth Army in North Africa

  -  44th Infantry Division
  -  50th Infantry Division
  -  51st Infantry Division
  -  70th Infantry Division

- British Brigades of the Eighth Army in North Africa

  -  1st Armoured Brigade
  -  2nd Armoured Brigade
  -  4th Armoured Brigade
  -  7th Armoured Brigade
  -  8th Armoured Brigade
  -  9th Armoured Brigade
  -  22nd Armoured Brigade
  -  23rd Armoured Brigade
  -  24th Armoured Brigade
  -  14th Infantry Brigade
  -  16th Infantry Brigade
  -  23rd Infantry Brigade
  -  69th Infantry Brigade
  -  131st Infantry Brigade
  -  132nd Infantry Brigade
  -  133rd Infantry Brigade
  -  150th Infantry Brigade
  -  151st Infantry Brigade
  -  152nd Infantry Brigade
  -  153rd Infantry Brigade
  -  154th Infantry Brigade
  -  22nd Guards Brigade
  -  200th Guards Brigade
  -  201st Motorised Brigade

|- British Regiments represented in North Africa


Eighth Army (British) [ of 15th Army Group, 9 Apr 1945 ] - 2 Polish Corps - V Corps (British) - X Corps (British) - XIII Corps (British) - 6th British Armoured Division - 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group (British) - 12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales) - 7th Queen's Own Hussars - 1st Special Demolition Squadron (Popski's Private Army) - 10th Battalion, The Rifle Brigade - F Reconnaissance Squadron (Italian) - Royal Artillery

  -  A Field Radar Regiment
  -  8th Survey Regiment [1trp]
  -  2nd Calibration Troop
  -  A Special Calibration Section

- 12th Anti-Aircraft Brigade

  -  8th Polish Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment [-1bty]
  -  55th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment [-1bty]
  -  57th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment [1bty]
  -  7th Polish Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment [-1bty]
  -  14th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment
  -  30th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment
  -  53rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment
  -  3rd Carpathian Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment [1bty]
  -  5th Kresowa Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment [1bty]
  -  23rd Battery, 7th Italian Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment
  -  49th Anti-Aircraft Operations Room
  -  831st Italian Searchlight Platoon

- Royal Engineers

  -  25th Armoured Engineer Brigade
     -  51st Royal Tank Regiment
     -  1st Armoured Engineer Regiment [u/c V Corps]
     -  2nd Armoured Engineer Regiment
  -  170th Chief Engineer Works
     -  1st Canadian Drilling Company
     -  82nd Workshop and Park Company [-4sec]
     -  16th Army Group Royal Engineers
        -  25th Road Construction Company, South African Engineer Corps
        -  173rd Army Field Park Company
        -  21st General Headquarters Troops
           -  228th Field Company
           -  562nd Field Company
           -  579th Field Company
        -  1210th General Headquarters Troops
           -  102nd Field Company
           -  107th Field Company
           -  754th Field Company
        -  466th Indian Corps Troops, Indian Engineers
           -  1st Field Company
           -  14th Field Company
           -  97th Field Company
           -  301st Field Corps Park Company
     -  20th Army Group Royal Engineers (Airfields)
        -  14th Airfield Construction Group
        -  15th Airfield Construction Group
        -  69th Airfield Construction Group
     -  24th Army Group Royal Engineers
        -  Commander Royal Engineer Roads
        -  South African Engineer Corps
           -  21st Field Company, South African Engineer Corps
           -  27th Road Construction Company, Royal Engineers
           -  803rd Road Construction Company, Royal Engineers
           -  857th Quarrying Company, Royal Engineers
        -  156th Commander Royal Engineer Works
           -  567th Army Troops Company
           -  288th Works Section
           -  291st Works Section
           -  171st Tunneling Company
           -  567th Army Troops Company (Palestinian)
           -  1st Camouflage Company (Palestinian)
           -  41st Harbour Construction Company, South African Engineer Corps [-1sec]
        -  Headquarters Oil Storage and Pipeline Construction Group
           -  723rd Artisan Works Company
           -  1st Pipeline Operation and Maintenance Unit
           -  2nd Pipeline Operation and Maintenance Unit
           -  36th Works Company, South African Engineer Corps
           -  863rd Mechanical Equipment Company
           -  139th Mechanical Equipment Company

- 86th (Army) Area - 1st Armoured Delivery Regiment - 200th Armoured Delivery Regiment

Sinking of the SS Rooseboom[edit]

The Rooseboom was a 1,035 ton Dutch steam ship owned by KPM (Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij or Royal Packet Navigation Co.) built in 1926.

The sinking[edit]

In February 1942 British Malaya and Singapore had surrendered to the Japanese Army. Over 100,000 British and Empire military personnel had become prisoners as well as thousands of civilians. A few thousand more were escaping to the nearby Netherlands East Indies and from there to Australia, Ceylon or India in any ship that could be found. Many of these ships were lost to Japanese attacks amongst the islands scattered around Sumatra and Java whilst attempting to escape. The Rooseboom under Captain M.C.A.Boon, was taking around 500 passengers (mainly British military personnel and civilians) from Padang to Colombo in Ceylon.

On the 1st March 1942 at 11.35pm the Rooseboom was steaming west of Sumatra when it was spotted by the Japanese submarine I-59 and torpedoed. It capsized and sank rapidly leaving one life boat (designed to hold 28) and 135 people in the water. 80 people were in the lifeboat the rest clung to flotsam or floated in the sea. Two of these survivors were picked up nine days later by the Dutch freighter Palopo. Until the end of the Second World War they were assumed to be the only survivors.

The lifeboat[edit]

The story of the survivors on the lifeboat was told by Walter Gardiner Gibson (a soldier from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) in 1952 and is the only known witness of the events that would occur on the lifeboat over the next 26 days. So this account cannot be taken as proven fact as there are no other witnesses to these events.

According to Gibson in and around the lifeboat were an estimated 135 survivors, many with injuries, including Gibson himself who was in the lifeboat due to those injuries. Amongst the survivors were the Captain M.C.A. Boon and the senior surviving British officer Brigadier Archie Paris (who had commanded the 15th Indian Infantry Brigade during the Battle of Malaya). By the time the boat had drifted for more than 1,000 miles, to ground on a coral reef, less than 100 miles from Padang, Rooseboom's starting point, only five of its 80 passengers remained alive, and one of those drowned in the surf while trying to land.

In Gibson's account the ordeal that followed the sinking showed the worst of human nature under some of the most extreme conditions. On the first night many of those in the water drowned or gave up. Some twenty men built a raft from flotsam and towed it behind the boat. The raft slowly sank and all twenty perished. In the first few days discipline collapsed men and women went mad with thirst, some drinking sea water which sent them into hallucinations. Many threw themselves overboard rather than face further suffering, a gang of renegade soldiers positioned themselves in the bows and at night systematically pushed the weaker survivors overboard to make the meagre rations go further, until attacked by the others and flung overboard themselves. Brigadier Paris died, hallucinating before he fell into his final coma. The Dutch captain was killed by one of his own engineers. The situation deteriorated further when some of the survivors attacked and started to eat one of the others while he was still alive. This started a fight on the boat which left Gibson, a Chinese girl named Doris Lin (who turned out to be a secret agent for the British) and three Javanese seamen alive.

The lifeboat fetched up on Sipora an island off Sumatra and only 100 miles from Padang where the Rooseboom started its journey 30 days earlier. One of the Javanese seaman drowned in the surf whilst the other two disappeared into the jungle and have never been found. After a period of being treated by some of the local population Doris Lin and Gibson were discovered by a Japanese patrol. Gibson was returned to Padang as a POW while Lin was shot as a spy soon afterwards.

Gibson told his story in the book The Boat published in 1952 and in a second book Highland Laddie in 1954. He died on 24th March 2005.

External links[edit]