In use at the Reichswald
A gunner with a Rocket, beside a Meyer-Dunford launcher
(photo C.C.Prothero-brooks RCA Museum)

1st Rocket Battery RCA:

On the 27 June 1944 a letter, written by Capt R.J.Rannie att to C.P.D. was sent to S.D.C.M.H.Q giving details of the "Land Mattress". The suggested use was put forward by C.P.D and Lt/Col Wardell of D.G.G.A M of S who had orginated several projectors in the past. Thw War Office had indicated its "requirements for a shock salvo of some description but had not accepted the Land Mattress as the answer.

 

30 October 1944: A Recce party comprising Lt N.C.Reid, Lt J.Briggs and Lt Jackson  met Major Royce at Breskens on the 30 October a recce of a gun area was carried out, our first in action. In the meantime the Battery moved to a concentration area at Lembreke arrving at 16.00hrs. That evening an orders group was held & preparations were completed to occupy the position next day. The 112th L.A.A Bty (Rockets) 6 L.A.A. Regiment were to support the attack on Vlissingen, D.Day was set for 1 November 1944. The gun position had been selected behind the dyke west of Fort Fredrick Hendrick. The battery was to neutralize open top enemy ack-ack concrete gun positions who fire could be brought to bear on our troops assaulting Vlissingen. The battery occupied the gun position on the morning of the 31th October. Ammunition had been dumped approx 1000yards to the rear and during the afternoon and evening assembling the ammunition was done by all personnel available and then transported by the L.A.A. tractors forward to the gun position. It was planned that instead of firing Battery salvos at the enemy gun positions, fire would first be put down by a troop salvo followed by gun salvos at three minute intervals until three battery salvos had been fired. Each troop was laid at different point along the line of enemy guns. At 06.20hrs on 1st November firing commenced and the firing programme was rigidly adhered to and completed on time. At 12.00hrs a target was received from the CCRA 2nd Corps and it was decided by Lieutenant-Colonel Harris to engage it with observed fire and to this purpose the top of a big lighthouse was occuppied by Harris and Major Royce. This lighthouse was situated directly in front of the gun position, some forty yards or so and presented a perfect a target for the enemy. No cable was used but runners between OP and the B.C.P were used instead. Ranging was opened with five rounds gun fire, a cardinal point correction was sent down and five more rounds were fired, a further correction was sent down with orders to fire the remaining rounds in the projector but the last correction necessataited a change from blue to red spoilers so a message was sent back asking if the OP could wait fifteen minutes while spoilers were changed, there was much fuming at the OP end, our own troops were nearly on the target, observed fire was never attempted again. Firing ceased at 12.00hrs and the Battery recieved orders to move back to its concentration area at Lembreke (Belgium) at 10.00hrs on the 2nd November.

An interesting P.W. report was received from 2 Canadian Corps. Colonel Reinhardt, the German garrison commander at Vlissingen, was captured and stated that he watched the Land Mattress being used and that the effects on battle-hardened men are no greater than from Artillery fire. However he admitted that many of his men were not of this type and that moral effect of this weapon was felt. He believed that this weapon was mainly used for this effect.

 

5 November 1944: The battery moved from Belgium to Breda. Gun position were selected in the village of Terheyden just east of the canal runing north and south and the Battery was in action at 18.00hrs. Firing was cancelled for that night but the following morning, 6 november, commencing at first light 764 rounds were fired at various targets in enemy F.D.L. between 07.30hrs and 08.20hrs, a further salvo was fired at midday. By the evening the enemy had withdrawn behind their concrete wal which runs for 3000yards south east from moerdijk and turns north east 6000yards up to the the hollands diep,and to keep up with his move the battery moved forward and occuppied gun positions at Drie Hoefijzers and were in action by 18.00hrs.

During the night 6/7 November 1944 six targets within the wall were ordered. At 22.30hrs three road targets in the SW corner were engaged and at 24.00hrs three other road targets were engaged along the souther boundary. Each salvo was a troop salvo with each troop laid on a different point. A complete battery salvo had not as yet been fired on one point. Insufficient time was allowed to prepare ammunition 3366 rounds were dumped at Ter heyden and only half this ammo could be prepared by the gun crews. Major Benson OC 112 LAA Battery, gathered every last man of the Battery HQ about him, about twenty men, and worked all night of the 6/7 november to prepare and dump on the gun position all the remaining rounds.

 

8 November 1944: At 0930hrs six troops salvos were fired into Moerdijk to cover the breaching of the cement wall by SP 17 pounders. Ttyphoons were planned to come in later but were prevented by rainstorms. Two breaches were made, one was covered by enemy MG fire and a tank blew up on a mine in the other blocking the breach. A third was made but was too narrow for tanks to pass thorugh but later was widened. At "Z" hour 12.30 a Battery salvo of 382 rockets was fired into an area just beyond the two breaches to cover the advance of tanks and infantry. The remaining ammunition 216 rounds were fired into an area at the southern end of the two famous spans bridges leading to Rotterdam, at 15.00hrs, where the Germans were mainly trying to escpae across the river.

 

10 November 1944: The 112 Battery moved trough Breda and Tilburg to Vught. The 338 Battery from 102 LAA Regiment replaced the 112 Canadian Battery from 6 LAA Regiment 2nd corps.

 

14 November 1944: Major Royce was posted to the 19 Field Regiment and Major H.S.Stronach assumed command of the Land Mattress.

 

19 November 1944: The 112 Battey turned in all their rocket equipments and once more assumed their Anti Aircraft role.

 

31 November 1944: The 338 Battery with their traning completed came under command 15th Scottish Division.

 

1 December 1944: Lt N.C.Reid the G.P.O. recced gun positions at Maasbree which 338 Battery occuppied the same day, firing wasto commence on December 3rd and on 2nd December the day was spent assembling ammunition ad dumping it in the gun position.

 

3 December 1944: Two targets were engaged in the morning to cover the assault. These targets were enemy strong points taken from defence overprints maps and air cover. They were made up of slit trenches and what appeared to be light concrete cover. Only two salvos were fired and firing ceased at 11.00hrs and the guns were taken out of action and moved to an area one km to the rear.

 

6 December 1944: Lt Jackson was sent to 30 Corps as LO. An operation was planned by this corps and Land Mattress was requested. 30 Corps at this time were situated midway between Sittard and Maastricht in southern holland, in the village of Bree.

 

9 December 1944: 338 Battery moved to Germany.

 

16 December 1944: Battery moved back to Tilburg.

 

20 December 1944: 338 Battery 102 LAA Regiment was replaced by 337 Battery of the same Regiment. However of the 21st they were ordered back immediately to their Ack-Ack role with 1 British Corps.

 

23 December 1944: 1 Ech Adm O 2/45 granted approval for the formation of the 1st Canadian Rocket Unit under command Major R.S.Stronach on a field return basis wef 23 December 1944. The W.E. comprised 6 Officers and 103 other ranks.The 337 Battery once more came under command 1st Cdn Rocket Battery and recommend their training on 2nd January 1945.

 

5 January 1945: Two troops of 338 Battery reported to the Rocket camp at Waspik at 13.00hrs, were outfitted with operational rocket equipment for an impending operation. The Troops moved off at 15.00hrs to occupy gun positions.

 

6 January 1945: 05.30hr a battery salvo was fired into a cluster of houses at an enemy strong post. At 06.00hrs another battery salvo was fired on a communication centre and likely mortar area, and at 06.30hrs a troop salvo was fired at another communication and likely mortar area. Cease fire was given at 06.31hrs and by 07.00hrs all personnel and equipment were clear of the area.

 

22 January 1945: Battery moved back to Tilburg.

 

24 January 1945: 337 Battery 102 LAA Regiment were replaced by 30 Battery 6 LAA Regiment RCA. Training of the 30 battery did not commence until 29 january 1945.

 

31 January 1945: 30 Battery gave a demonstration shoot for the G.O.C in C. Fortunately the demonstration was not held until the 3rd february but still the Battery was prepared to fire on the 31st. Lieutenant Jackson with thirty vehicles left for Oostende to pick us as much ammuntion as could be carried by the vehicles and brought back to the Rocket camp, 10.000 rounds.

 

3 February 1945: 30 Battery moved to Den Bosch and took their position at 14.30hrs. The western edge of Hedel was picked as targetb area for the demonstration shoot. 860 rounds were fired by nine projectors.

 

4 February 1945: 30 LAA Battery rejoined their regiment and 337 Battery once more came under command our Battery the same day.

 

6 February 1945: All ammunition been prepared and loaded on some seventry trucks both RCASC and RASC.

 

9 February-1 April 1945: Battery fired in support of Operation Veritable and moved into Germany.

 

1 April 1945: Found the battery deployed at Ressen where two salvos were to be fired in support of 49 Div but due to the light opposition the attack went much faster than anticipated and only one salvo, to touch the attack off was fired.

 

2 April 1945: One salvo was fired at the outskirts of a defended village at Gent, the whole area was interwoven with trenches, weapon pits and wire which the enemy had all winter to prepare.

 

11 April 1945: The battery moved north on the Island to Elden from where it engage targets commencing on D.Day, 12 april H Hour 22.40hrs in support of 49 Div in their assault across the Yssel river and the subsequent clearing of Arnhem. For this attack another Rocket Battery was in operation. The 338 Batttery  with Lt Reid as C.P.O. were equipped with the twelve old Meyer Dumore equipments and occupied a position at Rijkerswoerd. Both came under the RHQ of 102 LAA Regiment of Major Stronach as orginally planned.

 

13 April 1945: The Battery moved to an alternative position on 22.00hrs at T'Zand. Except for the Battery medical trying to be helpful by leading a vehicle through a narrow entrance between two water deep waterfilled ditches and instead, falling into the ditch landing on a death cow, the night occupation went suprisingly well for a unit who had only done it once before. Only one vehicle was found the next morning laying on its side in a ditch. The move vack to the orginal position was completed at 13.00hrs on the 14 april but the re-occupation took place in full view of the enemy only 2500 yards away the friendly smoke screen had ceased to function and firing a salvo at 14.31hrs the same afternoon gave the show away completely.

 

15 April 1945: The gun position moved to Rozendaal which was occupied by both batteries at midnight and a final battery salvo was fired by both batteries at 06.00hrs in the morning. This two battery salvo finished the Arnhem operation for the Batteries and operations with 49 Div and both batteries moved into Arnhem to live. 17 targets were engaged.

 

25 April 1945 The battery moved to Germany, the base Rocket Camp m

oved from Tilburg to Almelo, where they live in tents until May 10, and then moved to Enschede.

 

June 1945: The 1st Canadian Rocket Battery, received their final job in the NWE and this was guarding the ADOS car pool on the Arnhem Airfield, four kilometer north of Arnhem.