On 1945-04-21 this unit from the United Kingdom, the 521 Field Survey Company Repro 5 was present on this location: Schaerbeek, Belgium.
History of the 521 Field Survey Company (short version)
During June, 13 1942 (Corps) Field Survey Company went to Middle East, and one topographical section of 521 Field Survey Company was detached to South Eastern Command for special work in connection with the survey fixation of heavy guns, which were then being installed in the Dover area, as an answer to the German "heavies" which were firing across the Channel from the French coast around Calais. It was necessary to establish accurate cross-Channel observations to connect up the triangulations of Great Britain and France, and this was successfully accomplished.
Also by mid-1942 topographical units from the United States were beginning to arrive, and U.S. mapping liaison officers were available for cooperative action concerning map supply and production. Survey Directorates were assembled for the Allied Planning Headquarters for operation "Torch," and for the British First Army which was to take part. 518 Field Survey Company R.E. was mobilized for this operation and ceased to be under Home Forces control.
By October, 1942, the Survey organization in Home Forces was as under:
-Director of Survey, with Survey Directorate at G.H.Q. (now Colonel A. B. Clough who replaced Colonel Fryer on his appointment to Middle East in January, 1942).
-A small Directorate with each of the Home Commands and certain Corps.
-Field Survey Companies Nos. 14, 516, 519, 520, 521, 523 (515 in Northern Ireland), 1 Canadian.
-General Survey Sections Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
-Field Survey Depots Nos. 3, 4, 5, 7, 10 (No. 6 in Northern Ireland).
-Air (Survey) Liaison Section No. 1.
With the formation of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (S.H.A.E.F.) in January, 1944, the survey organization in preparation for "Overlord" was as under:
S.H.A.E.F. D. Survey (Brigadier A. B. Clough) and Survey Directorate (British-U.S. integrated staff).
H.Q. 21 Army Group.
-D. Survey (Brigadier A. Prain) and Survey Directorate.
- -No. 515 Field Survey Company R.E.
- -No. 1 Air Survey Liaison Section R.E.
- -Nos. 4, 5 and 9 General Survey Sections R.E.
- -Nos. 4. and 5 Field Survey Depots R.E.
- -Nos. 13, 14, 15 and 16 Map Reproduction Sections R.E.
First Canadian Army.
D.D. Survey (Colonel H. Meuser) and Survey Directorate.
- -Nos. 2, 3 and 4 Canadian Field Survey Companies R.C.E.
- -No. 1 Canadian Field Survey Depot R.C.E.
- -No. 30 Air Survey Liaison Section R.C.E.
British Second Army.
D.D. Survey (Colonel A. W. Heap) and Survey Directorate.
- -Nos. 14, 519 and 521 Field Survey Companies" R.E.
- -Nos. 1, 2 and 3 General Survey Sections R.E.
- -No. 3 (Army) Field Survey Depot R.E.
Remaining with Home Forces:
- -Small Survey Directorate at G.H.Q.
- -One small Survey Directorate at each of the home commands.
- -Nos. 520 and 523 Field Survey Companies R.E.
- -Nos. 6 and 8 General Survey Sections R.E.
- -Nos. 6, 21, 23 and 25 Field Survey Depots R.E.
The light scales organization for 519 and 521 Field Survey Companies, and the detachments in which they landed, were as follows:
- 1st Detachment ("D" + 3). Reconnaissance detachment of 1 officer (O.C.) and 1 other rank with one 15-cwt. truck.
- 2nd Detachment ("D" + 4). Company H.Q. and drawing section consisting of 1 officer and 22 other ranks, with one 3-ton lorry, one water truck, one motorycle, and one cycle.
- - Topographical H.Q. 7 other ranks with one 3-ton lorry.
- - Two topographical sections each of 1 officer and 14 other ranks, with three 15-cwt. trucks and three motor-cycles.
- 3rd Detachment. Reproduction section. 1 officer and 22 other ranks, with two 3-ton lorries, one printing lorry, one photo-mechanical lorry, one trailer generator and one motor-cycle.
- - Photo section. 11 other ranks, with one 3-ton lorry, one camera lorry, one process lorry and two trailer generators.
On 12th June, immediately after landing, 519 and 521 Field Survey Companies started work in the Bayeux-R. Orne sector. Their primary task was to check the existing triangulation as given in the S.H.A.E.F. trig lists, and to provide new control where necessary as a firm base for further surveys. Their second task was to provide co-ordinates and bearings where required by the artillery in forward areas, including the fixation of points in enemy territory, carrying these forward day by day as the tactical situation allowed.
From a common base, centrally situated, whose ends were resected from listed up-stations, 519 Company worked to the west in 30 Corps area, and 521 Company to the east in 1 Corps area, their trig schemes being so planned as to incorporate as many as possible of the listed trig points in their observations. Both units concentrated their topographical sections in the actual battle-zone, working in close co-operation with the R.A. Survey Regiments of 30 and 1 Corps respectively, and allotted the coastal strip to the General Field Survey Sections under their command.
519 and 521 Field Survey Companies carried forward a fully observed triangulation towards Falaise, ultimately tying their work together on common points. 521 Company also tied in on common points with First Canadian Army to the east, and 519 Company with First U.S. Army to the west.
Canadian topographical sections in the Caen area extended their work southeastwards towards Falaise, maintaining close co-operation with the Canadian Survey Regiments and, as the latter had suffered serious casualties, the topographical section survey was carried into A.G.R.A. and divisional artillery areas.
The German counter-offensive in the Ardennes
The comparative lull during October, November and early December enabled all concerned to go ahead with their mapping and revision programmes, to build up map stocks, and to carry out essential field surveys for artillery requirements along the front. Map planning for future operations was a major item, including preparations for the advance to, and the crossing of, the R. Rhine. The lull was broken during the latter half of December, when German forces counter-attacked strongly in the Ardennes, making a deep bulge in the allied line extending westwards nearly as far as the R. Meuse.
The resulting quick moves of supporting formations, both British and American, caused many unexpected complications regarding map issues. It was a good test for the allied map supply organization, and afforded proof of the excellent liaison and co-operation that existed between British and American survey staffs and units. As a temporary measure, the survey activities of the First and Ninth U.S. Armies were transferred to the control of D. Survey 21 Army Group, though Com. Z. continued to be responsible for the supply of bulk map stocks to the advanced map depots serving both these armies.
As a precautionary measure, in case the enemy break-through should be extended across the Meuse into central Belgium, the topographical sections of two of the Second Army survey units were brigaded, and worked as one team under the command of O.C. 521 Field Survey Company. They carried out survey work for possible artillery requirements along the R. Dyle, just east of Brussels. Happily the contingency did not arise and the work was stopped after two weeks of activity.
The final phase. (The Rhine to the surrender, March-May, 1945)
An important task was the provision of survey data for the construction of semi-permanent bridges over the Rhine, Neder Rhine and Ijssel Rivers. The Canadians placed two topographical sections
in support of Canadian Army Troops Engineers for the bridge sites at Emmerich and elsewhere, while with the British Second Army, 521 Field Survey Company undertook the survey work for bridges at Rees and Xanten.
The work involved at each site was briefly as follows: Five lines across the river, specified by the R.E. bridge construction unit, were measured to an accuracy of two inches in plan length and one inch in relative height.
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