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Thread: No 2 HQCFF and 'X' Force 1940

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    Default No 2 HQCFF and 'X' Force 1940

    My research whilst writing for biographies of meteorologists who died during WW2 uncovered two unusual entries in a small number of service records, namely No 2 HQCFF (No 2 HQ Component Field Force) and HQ X Force. AHB had no record of either unit, so the following is offered in the event they may be of use to anyone coming across the two terms.

    1. No 2 HQCFF (AIR 24/440 - the unit's ORB)

    Quote from entry for 1 March 1940

    Headquarters No 2 Component Field Force began to form at RAF station Benson on 1 March, 1940, under conditions of great secrecy, for possible operations in Scandinavia as Air Component to an Army force composed primarily of 3rd Corps. No 2 Component was placed under the command of Air Commodore A J Capel, DSC, DFC.

    The entry of 5 March reads

    Certain Codes and Cypher and Meteorological Officers and other rank personnel proceeded on various units on detachment. This is consistent with the personal diary of one of the airmen I'm researching which notes he was detached to Biggin Hill on the 6th.

    In the event all movements/orders in respect of the fledgling unit were suspended on 13 March, and on the 19th it was ordered to disband. The dispersal of No 2 HQ CFF was completed on 15 April.

    The last entry in the ORB is a General Note:

    The units composing No 2 CFF never came under the command of the AOC as it was intended that the units should be mobilised and despatched by their home commands and would have come under the Command of the AOC on reaching the theatre of operations.

    Signed A J Capel
    Air Commodore.


    In the event an Air Component was formed on 22 April and operated as part of the North West Expeditionary Force, Norway, between April and June 1940 (Air 36).

    Edit.

    All ground forces, including those of the Air Component, were evacuated by convoy, sailing from the southern part of the operational area (Harstad) during the early hours of 7 June.
    (Pages 3177 and 3178 of https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/...ette/38011.pdf)


    2. HQ X Force (AIR 2/4555 - North Western (sic) Expeditionary Force - Meteorological Organisation and AIR 36 - Air Ministry: Air Component, North West Expeditionary Force, Norway: Registered files)

    This proved a bit of a puzzle and my initial thought was that the 'X' of HQ X Force was an abbreviation for 'Expeditionary', and that the entry was an abbreviation for HQ British Expeditionary Force in France. However, the personal diary of 'my' man records that he was never in France, but actually at Uxbridge awaiting transport for Norway.

    The answer came from AIR 2/4555 which covers May 1940. This slim file includes several references to 'X Force' which is clearly short-hand for North West Expeditionary Force. In the event only three meteorologists, one F/L and two Corporals** reached Norway, arriving on the 11th; another 10 men followed, but as their convoy reached its destination, Harstad, a decision was made to withdraw X Force, so they never disembarked.

    So far as I can determine only the Air Ministry appears to have used the term 'X Force' in respect of operations in Norway (happy to be corrected) although the War Office occasionally used it for operations in France.

    ** Shortly after returning to the UK, the two Corporals, Edwin Hedley-Smith (753648) and Richard Wrighton (754664) were posted to serve as meteorologists on the SS Toronto City and SS Arakaka which had been chartered to act as North Atlantic weather ships. Both ships were lost with all hands; the Toronto City was torpedoed on 22 June 1941 and the Arakaka on 1 July 1941.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 12th January 2019 at 13:09. Reason: Date of departure from Norway

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    Brian, Hi,
    One wonders just how many more of these "Forces" are still lurking - unread/unknown? - in the depths of TNA? They usually start out with what used to be known as the "Air Min/MoD Staff Officer's Friday Afternoon Good Idea"!! Few ever get into print, let alone get as far as nominating OCs/personnel/locations, etc, etc. But those that do make fascinating reading! For my own part I just wonder how far down the planning road the "good idea" on Op CORPORATE to build a strip on S Georgia capable of taking 4 x Hercs, and from there to mount a para assault on Falkland actually went? I was particularly interested in this 'mad idea' as I had a fairly good idea just who the Met Man might have been on S Georgia!!!!!
    Keep digging!
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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