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Walter Heginbotham
Rank: Sapper
Walter Heginbotham



Royal Engineers


1940 onwards

Survived the war?
Royal Engineers

Royal Engineers

An impressive career

Walter Heginbotham  was born on May 18, 1920 and enlisted on August 2, 1940 in the Army as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers. He was sent to Ripon for training.


In March 1941 he was sent to Gibraltar, he did a lot of work on the tunnels and building defences. Once when using explosives for digging out tunnels with some Canadian Royal Engineers in St Michaels caves, they rediscovered the lower caves which are now part of the tourist tours there.


My Mam's story is she was born 6th August 1921 (we are all born and lived in Stockport). She joined up on 29th May 1942. She was based in Shrewsbury in the ATS, where she got promotion to Corporal. I am still trying to get more information on this as I only have their basic service records with no details.

In November 1943 he was brought home to my mother. They married on 16th November 1943 with (special permission off the Bishop of Chester to get married without having to wait) and she was discharged from Service on 2nd May 1944 as she was pregnant with my older Brother. After some leave, he went down south with thousands of others to prepare for the Normandy landings.


Amongst other jobs he did I remember him saying they had to look after PLUTO, pipeline under the ocean, he said it leaked a lot and had a strong smell, they also had to try to repair water Wells and other things the Nazis had destroyed. Whilst in Normandy he was in the Battle of Caen, he said the whole city was in ruins and it was very sad to see.


Eventually he ended up in Brussels where his unit was amongst the first to enter after liberation, he was billeted with a family whilst there. The Father was a fireman, and they became good friends, Dad tried to help them out with basics like soap, etc where he could.

Returning home

He was eventually demobbed in Dusseldorf and came home.

Story by Beryl Smith

Operation Pluto (Pipeline Under the Ocean)

Operation Pluto (Pipeline Under the Ocean or Pipeline Underwater Transportation of Oil, also known as Operation PLUTO) was a project undertaken by British engineers, oil companies, and the British Armed Forces during the Second World War. Its goal was to construct submarine oil pipelines under the English Channel to support Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy.

The British War Office estimated that over 60 percent of the supplies needed by the expeditionary forces would consist of petrol, oil, and lubricants. Pipelines would reduce the reliance on coastal tankers, which were vulnerable to bad weather, air attacks, and required unloading into exposed storage tanks onshore. Therefore, a new type of rapidly deployable pipeline was necessary. Two types of pipelines were developed: "Hais" and "Hamel," named after their inventors. These pipelines were linked to the Avonmouth-Thames pipeline through camouflaged pumping stations.

The initial attempt, known as the "Bambi" project, connected Sandown on the Isle of Wight to Cherbourg in Normandy. Deployment of Bambi began on 12 August 1944, but it was only moderately successful, delivering 3.300 long tons (3.400 t) of fuel between 22 September, when the first pipeline became operational, and 4 October, when the project was terminated.

The more successful "Dumbo" project ran from Dungeness on the Kent coast to Boulogne in Pas-de-Calais. The Dumbo system began pumping on 26 October, eventually expanding to 17 pipelines by December, and remained operational until 7 August 1945. Overall, the pipelines transported about 8 percent of all petroleum products sent from the United Kingdom to the Allied Expeditionary Force in North West Europe, including approximately 180 million imperial gallons (820 million liters) of petrol.

Veteran's personal medals
1939 - 1945 Star
1939 - 1945 Star
France and Germany Star
France and Germany Star
Defence Medal
Defence Medal
War Medal
War Medal
Veteran's personal file
WW2 Royal Engineers shoulder titles
WW2 Royal Engineers shoulder titles

Motto: Ubique and Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt (Everywhere and Where Right And Glory Lead)

Personal photographs

Click on a picture for enlargement

  • 25th October 2013
  • Stockport, Cheshire

Remember each and every sacrifice, made for your freedom!

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