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 Squadrons of the Royal Engineers
A field park squadron was a unit of the Royal Engineers which served in an armoured division during the Second World War. At the outbreak of war, they were known as field park troops. The equivalent unit in an infantry division was a field park company. The role of a field park squadron was to hold lighting for the divisional headquarters, bridging and field stores for use by the division, and anti-tank mines and reserve stores for its Royal Engineers units. Each unit of the British Army had its own war establishment, which recorded its structure and composition. In September 1939, field park troops were using an establishment which had been “Notified in Army Council Instructions for the week ending 23rd March, 1938”. This establishment was designated I/1931/7A/1. It was replaced by another establishment designated I/1931/7C/1 in April 1940 which is recorded below. The structure of what was then a field park troop was recorded on the title page:
Consisting of –
Workshop section, including two lighting sets for divisional headquarters.
Bridging and field stores section, holding –
Bridging equipment for immediate use of the Armoured Division.
Reserve stores and anti-tank mines for use of the engineers of the Armoured Division.
A field park troop contained 4 officers and 168 other ranks. A Captain commanded the unit who served in the troop headquarters. This was the smallest part of the troop, containing two officers and thirty-one other ranks. The workshop section had one officer, either a Lieutenant or Second Lieutenant, and forty-four other ranks. The bridging and field stores section was the largest part of the troop, containing one officer and ninety-three other ranks. Of the other ranks who served with the unit, 106 had passed a trade test in a specific skill. These included:
- 48 Pioneers, Royal Engineers
- 9 Fitters
- 8 Carpenters and joiners
- 4 Blacksmiths
- 4 Electricians
If a soldier had a trade it should be recorded in their service record. For transport, a troop had twelve motorcycles and forty-eight vehicles. Most of the latter were lorries and trucks which carried the bridging equipment, and stores. For weaponry, the unit had seventeen .38-inch pistols, 155 Lee-Enfield Rifles, five .55-inch anti-tank guns and five light machine guns. This establishment was changed later in the war.
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 a service record, it’s often impossible to research a soldier, unless they became a casualty, were an officer or you have documentation on them. Most service records are now held by the National Archives in London and I’ve written a detailed guide on how to order a copy. However, if you already know a soldier’s army number, or they have a rare surname, then search the Royal Engineers’ Tracer Cards on Findmypast. These cards will usually record which unit/s a soldier served with, and other important information. However, they only contain a fraction of the information which is found in a service record.
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 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 the 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. On 27 June 1942, the Squadron was stationed at Irvine and had a strength of 5 officers and 129 other ranks.
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. On 27 June 1942, the Squadron was stationed at Cambridge and had a strength of 2 officers and 127 other ranks.
147th Field Park Squadron
The 147th Field Park Squadron served with the 11th Armoured Division between 16 March 1941 and 31 August 1945. On 27 June 1942, the Squadron was stationed at Abinger and had a strength of 4 officers and 122 other ranks.
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. On 27 June 1942, the Squadron was stationed at Stoke-under-Ham and had a strength of 5 officers and 136 other ranks.
149th Field Park Squadron
The 149th Field Park Squadron served with the 42nd Armoured Division between 3 November 1941 and 17 September 1943. On 27 June 1942, the Squadron was stationed Ripon and had a strength of 4 officers and 131 other ranks.
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.