This article looks at the role of a field park squadron in the Second World War and will help you research both the units and the soldiers who served with them. It is one of a series of guides I have written on how to research soldiers who served in the British Army during the Second World War:
I also offer a soldier research and document copying service.
Field Park Squadron Royal Engineers
A field park squadron was a unit of the Royal Engineers which served in an armoured division during the Second World War. Though the 141st Field Park Squadron served with the 1st Cavalry Division before it was converted into the 10th Armoured Division. The equivalent in an infantry division was a field park company. Two field squadrons also served with an armoured division.
How to Research a Soldier who Served in a Field Park Squadron
A soldier’s service record is the most important document to view if you’d like to research them. Without this document, it’s often impossible to research a soldier as the information wasn’t recorded elsewhere. All service records are still held by the Ministry of Defence and I’ve written a detailed guide on how to order a copy. Without a service record, you often can’t research a soldier at all unless they became a casualty, were an officer or you have documentation on them.
Only a handful of resources for researching British Army soldiers have been digitized and are available to view online. The most important can be found on Findmypast which has the British Army’s casualties lists for the Second World War. If a soldier died during the war, was wounded, went missing or was taken prisoner, they should appear in these lists. The unit a soldier was serving in was often recorded, though they may only state that they were serving in the Royal Engineers. Findmypast also has a selection of prisoner of war records and the British Library’s digitized newspaper archive. The latter resource is very useful if you’re researching a casualty of a soldier who was awarded a gallantry medal or honour. However, only a fraction of the British Library’s collection has been digitized.
If you’re researching a soldier who died between 3 September 1939 and 31 December 1947, you can find out where they are buried or commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s website. Their entry often recorded which unit they were serving with when they died, though it may just record Royal Engineers. If you’re researching an officer, then you can search for them on the London Gazette‘s website. An officer will be recorded either by their full name or just initials. Gallanty and honour citations for field park squadrons are part of the WO 373 series which has been digitized and they can be downloaded for a small fee from the National Archives’ website.
How to Research a Field Park Squadron
The most important document to research a field park squadron in the Second World War is its war diary. This was written by an officer of the unit and recorded its location and activities. By consulting a war diary, you’ll be able to find out where a field park squadron was on a particular day. The war diaries are held at the National Archives in London and haven’t been digitized. I offer a copying service for these documents. Another important source of information for field park squadrons are the war diaries of the Commander Royal Engineers of the division in which they were serving. These war diaries will contain information on all Royal Engineer units serving with that division. For example, the 143rd Field Park Squadron served with the 7th Armoured Division between May 1941 and August 1945. By turning to the Commander Royal Engineers 7th Armoured Division’s war diaries, you’ll be able to find out even more information on the 143rd Field Park Squadron. The field park squadrons order of battle below will help you find out which commander royal engineers’ war diaries you may need.
Field Park Squadrons Order of Battle
The order of battle below which isn’t complete, shows which division each field park squadron served with during the Second World War. This will allow you to identify the Commander Royal Engineers war diary for the formation which should contain further information regarding the squadron.
1st Field Park Squadron
The 1st Field Park Squadron served with the 1st Armoured Division between 3 July 1940 and 25 August 1944.
141st Field Park Squadron
The 141st Field Park Squadron served with the 1st Cavalry Division between 10 November 1939 and 19 May 1940. This formation was redesignated as the 10th Armoured Division on 1 August 1941, with the Squadron serving with it between 20 November 1941 and 1 April 1944.
142nd Field Park Squadron
The 142nd Field Park Squadron served with the 2nd Armoured Division between 7 February and 26 February 1941. The unit came under the command of 1st Armoured Brigade between 26 February and 1 May 1941. Between 24 June and 24 August 1942, the Squadron served with the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division.
143rd Field Park Squadron
The 143rd Field Park Squadron served with the 7th Armoured Division between 17 May 1941 and 31 August 1945.
144th Field Park Squadron
The 144th Field Park Squadron served with the 6th Armoured Division between 19 November 1940 and 31 August 1945.
145th Field Park Squadron
The 145th Field Park Squadron served with the 8th Armoured Division between 27 November 1940 and 9 November 1942.
146th Field Park Squadron
The 146th Field Park Squadron served with the 9th Armoured Division between 16 March 1941 and 25 July 1944.
147th Field Park Squadron
The 147th Field Park Squadron served with the 11th Armoured Division between 16 March 1941 and 31 August 1945.
148th Field Park Squadron
The 148th Field Park Squadron served with the Guards Armoured Division between 4 August 1941 and 11 June 1945. Following its redesignation as the Guards Division on 12 June 1945, the Squadron served with the formation until 31 August 1945.
149th Field Park Squadron
The 149th Field Park Squadron served with the 42nd Armoured Division between 3 November 1941 and 17 September 1943.
508th Field Park Squadron
The 508th Field Park Squadron served with the 79th Armoured Division between 10 September 1942 and 12 February 1943.
631st Field Park Squadron
The 631st Field Park Squadron served with the 1st Armoured Division between 26 August and 29 September 1944.