102 (Northhumberland Hussars) Anti Tank Regiment: 99 Battery-107 Battery-195 Battery-196 Battery-288 Battery-289 Battery
M10 Tank Destoyers
23 September 1944: 12.30hrs RHQ arrives new location at Vlokhoven. Order received tp be ready to move off at 14.30hrs. 14.00hrs Recce parties go off to recce new area south of Sint Oedenrode. No one moves off at 14.30hrs and eventually at 16.00hrs the move is cancelled. The general position is very obscure. The enemy are still across the road at Veghel. A Regt of the Gds Armoured is to attack from the direction of Uden and 101 American Division is to attack from SW, 15 Scottish Div on our immediate left is to attack and take Best pushing on towards Hextel. Meanwhile on our right 11 Armd Div is to take Helmond. About 1600hrs there is much air activity and many hundreds of Dakota aircraft towing gliders pass over uw heading North and N.W.
The day which started by being very wet has cleared up and by 1400hrs it is dry with bright intervals. At 1730hrs Lt-Col Bright of 21 Army Group calls at RHQ to see C.O. and discuss M.10 problems. The C.O. brings up the following main points:
1) Bogie trouble (excessive wear).
2) Lack of radiotor protection.
3) Lack of overhead cover.
4) Unsuitability of Steel Battle Tracks.
5) Delivery of SPs with training tracks necessitating.
6) Swapping of 3" pieces for 17-pr.
7) Non-delivery of DMs AFV.
69 Bde Gp got split up during the move and 7 Green Howards are at present (1800hrs) on this side of Veghel while remainder of Bde is on the other side with the road cut in between.
One Tp of 99 Bty with 2 x M.10s under comd of Capt Spence are with 7 Green Howards while remainder of Bty is out of touch with Capt Spence and with main body of 69 Bde and the Bridgehead Det.
195 and 196 Btys which had been in coln which was held up to allow 50 Div coln to pass are taken under our comd again and 195 Bty is supporting 231 Bde while 196 Bty with 107 Bty is in our area.
Btys are deployed as follows:
289 Bty with 231 Bde in area East of main road Breugel.
195 Bty - One Tp sp of 231 Bde and two Tps sp of 7 Green Howards on West of road in area Son.
One Tp 6-prs and two M.10s 99 Bty in sp 7 Green Howards same area.
288 Bty - in support of 151 Bde in area Nederwetten (East of road).
196 Bty - One Tp in sp of 151 Bde area as above. Two Tps in support of 107 Bty covering
area West of road Vlokhoven.
At 2000hrs C.O. attends conference at Div HQ. C.O. is still doing duties of CRA who is unwell. At 0400hrs road open again and Capt Spence's half of 99 Bty move off with Green Howards up to Veghel and thence to join 69 Bde in area Nijmegen. 195 Bty revert to 30 Corps and are ordered to move up road behind Green Howards Gp. 196 Bty remain under our comd. Very wet.
24 September 1944: 231 Bty attacks N.E. across Zuid Willemsvaart Canal and succeeds in taking Erp. 288 Bty in sp 231 Bde.
1131hrs. Main Div HQ move to new area wood S.E. of St. Oedenrode - reach new location about 1130hrs. Still wet.
During afternoon enemy attack S.E. from Schijndel and succeeds in cutting road and established themselves in woods East of the road. 107 Bty deploy area facing N.W. Very noisy and uncomfortable night with the enemy machine-gunning, shelling and mortaring the road and general area St. Oedenrode. 196 Bty in area Son with two guns covering road South of St. Oedenrode. Five guns covering western approaches to road Nijnsel/Son and four guns at Son.
25 September 1944: 0600hrs. Situation on road still obscure and road still cut. By 0900hrs head of 7 Armd Div reaches St. Oedenrode to deal with the situation i.e. to clear the road and attack in the direction of Schijndel supported by a bn of 101 American Airborne Div.
9 D.L.I. moved and send patrols North and N.E. each patrol being supported by an M.10 from 289 Bty.
1500hrs. 288 Bty location North of Erp. A noisy day and by nightfall road still not open. A conference was held at Main Div HQ during the morning at which the following were present:
C-in-C 21 Army Group
Secend British Army Commander and
Commanders of 30 Corps, 8 Corps and 12 Corps.
27 September 1944: 107 Bty are deployed in Div HQ area facing West and N.W.
HO RA informs us move unlikely tomorrow. Very wet.
28 September 1944: RHQ and all Btys remain in same locations. Wet day with short bright intervals. Two new officers arrived today, both from 68 A Tk Regt, which had been disbanded. They are T/Maj T.A. Wigglesworth and T/Maj A.T.F Stallard. Former is to take over 99 Bty 107 Bty.
29 September 1944: No change in locations of RHQ or Btys. Two bns of 231 Bde pushed out N.E. and East from Mill and patrols reached the line of River Maas. Two 6-pr Tps of 288 Bty move in sp but Bty HQ and Bde HQ remains in present locations. No opposition was encountered. Wet, cold day.
30 September 1944: No change in locations. Fine clear sky. 1400hrs. Recce parties called for by HQ RA. Recce area but do not find a suitable place and return after dark at 1930hrs.
2000hrs. Instructions for recce parties to RV at 0700hrs. Div HQwill move tomorrow at 0830hrs. Bty will be split up through the coln for local protection.
1 October 1944: 0600hrs. Recce parties move off.
0845hrs. Div HQ column moves off via Boekel, Volkel and Grave. Arrive new area at 1130hrs. G.I. decides does not like new area so recce parties called to Div HQ at 1400hrs. Move again tomorrow. 231 Bde with 288 Bty in sp moved from area Mill to area Malden at 0630hrs. Cleared bridge at Grave by 0930 when main Div followed across. 151 Bde with 289 Bty in sp remains old location under 8 Corps. We have reverted to 30 Corps.
1730hrs. 288 Bty in sp 231 Bde. Bde in counter attack role behind American Airborne Div holding East edge of high ground 75 Easting. 1830hrs. Capt Spence visits RHQ and repots that heavy fighting had been going on all day on sector of 69 Bde front with the enemy attacking strongly. Lieut Gentleman of 99 Bty was killed during the afternoon and one M.10 was lost. The enemy gained a little ground.
One bn of 69 Bde cross the river to take up posns NE of bridge in a counter attack role - remainder of Bde with 288 Bty in sp crossing during night. Showery cold day. Noisy night. Our Arty firing a good deal and enemy replying.
HQ RA come on at 2345. C.O. wanted to recce and make an appreciation of A Tk situation in Bridgehead early tomorrow. C.O. to call at HQ RA at 0700hrs to be put in picture.
2 October 1944: 288 Bty give their new location across the Nijmegen Bridge at 0900hrs.
151 Bde with 289 Bty in sp moving up to the bridgehead. 289 Bty report their location at 0930hrs. 69 Bde with 99 Bty in sp being relieved as opportunity offers throughout day by 231 Bde. P Tp of 107 Bty is sent up to come under comd 288 Bty at 1500hrs. 107 Bty less one Tp remains with RHQ. Main Div HQ less as many vehicles as possible moves over bridge at 1100hrs and new location is near Ewijk. C.O. decides to send a small Tac with Div and keep B Ech and Main RHQ back. Regtl Tac consisting of C.O., I.O. and 9 O.Rs moves to area Main Div at 1430hrs. Vehicles on Tac are 1 x 15-cwt Wireless, Staff Car, 2 Jeeps, 2 M/Cs. Main RHQ, B Echelon and 107 Bty less one Tp move at 1600hrs. to new location across Maas Canal area wood.
SC RA informs us that reinforcements as demanded are awaiting collection at 31 RHU at Engheim near Brussels - 115 miles back.
Owing to moves we are unable to send tomorrow as requested i.e. to be at 31 RHU between 1000 and 1300 hrs but it is decided to despatch Capt Spence of 99 Bry with two 3-tonners early on 3 Oct to pick up reinforcements on 4 Oct. 1300 hrs. Capt Miller of 288 Bty calls at RHQ and reports one M.10 out of action with burnt-out clutch. He collects a spare one from RHQ. LAD will repair the clutch in two days.
1300 hrs. Capt Spence calls at RHQ and reports 99 Bty relief almost complete. During last two days heavy fighting 99 Bty casualties were:
One officer killed (Lieut Gentleman)
Three ORs wounded.
Four Carriers knocked out.
Two 6-prss over-run.
One M.10 knocked out.
Sgt Wherrell's detachment brewed up one Tiger and knocked out a Panther. 6-prs firing H.E. accounted for quite a number of enemy infantry. M.10s also fired a good deal of H.E. HQ Carrier of L Tp (99 Bty) which had been fitted with a .50 Browning out of a crashed Thunderbolt was fired at a close range, by an enemy 50mm A Tk gun. The enemy missed and the Carrier replied with the Browning knocking out the gun and killing all the crew - so much for unit modifications!
M.10 HQ was stalked during the afternoon and the Browning did further execution of infantry.
Present wireless netting in Regt is as follows:
H Section in Staff Car operating as control at Main HQ.
C.O.'s Jeep on CRA's frequency with flick to regtl net.
15-cwt wireless at Tac on regtl frequency. All Btys on regtl frequency with flick to Bdes. Second set in Bty HQs on Bde frequency with flick to regtl frequency.
Spare 22 Set in Main RQ on listening watch only for infm on CRA's net.
Lieut Lucas of 107 Bty evacuated sick.
Fine clear cold day. Noisy night until 2359 hrs. Enemy nuisance raiders dropping anti-personnel bombs over whole area. A little strafing from air. Our Arty firing a good deal. C.O. called at HQ RA at 0700 and during morning made an appreciation of A Tk posns in bridgehead. Area if anything over-gunned.
3 October 1944: 99 Bty now relieved and back on this side of Bridge, just South of Nijmegen. 0700 hrs. Bty locations and RHQ locations remain unchanged. Wet, cold day. Heavy overcast sky. Six OR's return to regt from hospital.
4 October 1944: RA 50 Div Operations Order No. 33 received. 151 Bde with 289 Bty in sp and 231 Bde with 288 Bty in sp are to extend bridgehead NE and East about 2,000 yards.
One bn of 69 Bde is at two hours notice to move across the bridge from 1200 hrs in role Div reserve. If a Tp of 6-prs is required in sp of this bn it will be provided by 107 Bty who for any future operations are in sp of 69 Bde. 99 Bty reverting to regtl control and Div HQ Gp. All locations remain unchanged.
O.R's Club open in Nijmegen. Cinema shows daily from 1000 hrs to 1700 hrs. Free teas. Concerts twice daily 1400 and 1600 hrs. 99 Bty, 107 Bty and RHQ all send parties. Officers Club and Shop open in Nijmegen als baths and showers. Tea served free and dancing in afternoons. Wet dull day.
Lieut C. Detmaur of 288 Bty wounded. Lieut D.I. Castiglione who has been doing L.O. in RHQ goes up to take his place.
288 Bty have one O.R. wounded. 289 Bty have 2 O.Rs wounded.
Enemy doing a good deal of shelling and mortaring. During an attack on 231 Bde front the A Tk l Comd of 1 Hants was killed and this led to confusion as to where Hamps A Tk guns were. Capt W.S. Brameld DSO of 288 Bty went forward and took over comd of Hamps A Tk Platoon. 289 Bty located with 151 Bde.
5 October 1944: All Bdes of 50 Div reach objectives and bridgehead extended about 1000/1500 yards East and N.E. No change in Regtl or Bty locations. Cold bright day. Slight air activity over Nijmegen Bridge, resulting in two enemy planes being shot down. During morning large formations of American four-engined bombers pass over Main RHQ flying East.
Capt Spence returns from journey to 31 RHU with 20 rfts for Regt. Further 6 rfts also come in from Supply Pt. Some of our wounded are being sent back from base areas without having had their kit made up and many are arriving without greatcoats, blankets etc. Regtl Quartermaster is finding it very difficult to supply the necessary items for these men as Regt had had a good deal destroyed by enemy action and normally in al previous campaigns personnel wounded were all kitted up in base areas before being despatched back to units.
Lt QM drawns two 6-pr buns and Carrier Starting and Charging from Veh Park some 50 miles back at Beverloo. Capt. Leslie visits 97 A/Tk Regt 15 (S) Div and brings back two of our old Sgts who had been posted to them. Still no signs of replacements for our two lost M.10s. Corps refuse to authorize delivery of one M.10X at present in Corps Dely Sqn.
One Tp of 107 Bty moves out at 1930 hrs and joins 7 Green Howards who are at one and a half hours notice to move into the bridgehead.
2000 hrs. 69 Bde inform us that the 7 Green Howards move is off. Troop of 107 Bty remains in bn area however. Enemy shelling and mortaring. After yesteday's enemy attack on 231 Bde front 288 Bty spent day re-organizing A Tk defence of Bde front.
6 October 1944: Locations still the same. Regt receives a bath allotment of 100 at Nijmegen. 50 Div are to be relieved in the bridgehead during next 24 hours and regt is to concentrate. Major Barnett recces the area during the afternoon in conjunction with 2 i/c 2 Cheshires. 231 Bde relieved by 508 RCT (US Airborne). As 508 RCT have no A Tk guns 288 Bty have to remain in line supporting 208 RCT. P Tp of 107 Bty came infor a bit of 'stonking'. They suffer four casualties wounded and have a carrier brewed up. Fairly heavy shelling and mortaring throughout day on 288 Bty area.
7 October 1944: Major Barnett visits Tac HQ at 0830 to find out from C.O. the form. C.O. unable to tell him much except that relief of Div is to be completed today and that 99, 288 and 289 Btys should be back across bridge before dark with luck.
Recce parties consisting of Capts Q from 99, 288 and 289 Btys and Capt G of 107 Bty report to Major Barnett at 1000 hrs an Main RHQ.
1200 hrs. Areas allotted to Btys in general area.
1400 hrs. Main RHQ and B Ech move from present area back across Canal to within 200 yards of the place we left on 2 Oct. New location of Main RHQ. 107 Bty moves behind RHQ.
1600 hrs. Signal received from Tac saying the expect to arrive in Regtl area at 1730 hrs.
1630 hrs. C.O. arrives at Regtl. HQ.
1735 hrs. Tac RHQ arrive and rejoin Main RHQ. All Btys back across bridge and report locations.
Major Wigglesworth and Capt Spence visit RHQ at 1815 hrs chiefly to swap a bottle of gin for one of whiskey!
2000 hrs. Major Balfour and Capt Brameld visit RHQ. Regt is to be resting in present area for three or four days, and everyone is looking forward to getting bathed and washing done to say nothing of getting some well earned sleep. (99, 288 and 289 particularly). There is also much to be done in the way of maintenance etc.
2345 hrs. CRA rings up and speaks to Adjt. Change of plan. 50 Div is to go back across the Bridge and take up posns again on the Island. 69 Bde moving first followed by Div HQ and 231 Bde. 151 Bde may also cross but not yet known. Timings not yet known.
As Btys are now concentrating regimentally they have to be re-allotted to Bdes. C.O. decides to go back to normal affiliation, i.e.,
288 Bty with 231 Bde
99 Bty with 69 Bde
107 Bty with 151 Bde
289 Bty Div Reserve.
A Tk distribution for tomorrow is to be as follows. One Bty with each Bde and one Bty in reserve on Island. 231 Bde and 69 Bde contacted by phone and arrangements made for B.Cs to contact by 0830 hrs tomorrow 8 Oct. 107 Bty warned that they will cease to be in sp 69 Bde and revert to 151. 69 Bde told 99 Bty returning to them. C.O. is to visit BM RA at 0930 hrs 8 Oct to be put in new picture. So much for our regtl concentration, rest and maintenance. To date since landing the Regt has not been able to concerned there is much need of a few days out of the line and concentrated. Our tracked vehicles have done many hundreds of miles and are hard pressed. The general standard of replacement vehicles is the lowest it has ever been. For example (1) 289 Bty have just had their Carrier Starting and Charging replaced. The new one could neither start nor charge, the charging plant being completely rusted up and US. (2) A 3-tonner lost by 289 Bty recently was replaced and the replacement was minus all tools, canopy and had four burnt-out valves. (3) M.14 lost by RHQ on 3 Sep has just been replaced by a Guy Signal Truck (Gin Palace). The clutch of the vehicle was completely burnt out and the steering was bad, and the canvas penthouse had been removed. These are only three examples of many.
The distances which fighting units have to go back for replacements and reinforcements are anything upto 150 miles, necessitating an officer or Senior NCO who cannot well be spared making the journey. Standard of reinforcements particularly Tradesmen is low. It has been necessary for us to re-test recently thirteen of our so-called Dvr Mechs. Ten of them failed so miserably, having no idea of their job, that they voluntarily gave up their trades.
8 October 1944: Recce parties from RHQ and 289 Bty move off to new area at 0945 hrs. 99, 107 and 288 Btys contact their respective Bdes. Major Tripper 289 Bty visits C.O. at 1000 hrs. C.O. gives him area for his Bty and outlines tasks. 289 Bty is to be under Regtl control in area X rds and to be prepared to meet any threat from area Bemmel to the East, Elst from the North, Oosterbroek from N.W. Major Tripper to despatch message to his Bty. Recce party to recce area. 231 Bde are to cross bridge between 1345 - 1515 with 288 Bty in sp. They are to take over Elst sector.
Div HQ column is to cross bridge between 1315 - 1345 hrs. 69 Bde with 99 Bty in sp are to cross between 1145 - 1315 hrs. They are to take over sector North and West of Elst up to Nederrijn.
151 Bde with 107 Bty in sp is to remain in reseve South of Waal area Nijmegen. RHQ moves off 1240 hrs arrives new location at 1415 hrs.
1500 hrs. C.O. attended a Corps Co-ordinating Conference. P Tp rejoins 107 Bty from being under comd 289 Bty.
9 October 1944: RA 50 Div Operation Order No. 34 receivced. C.O. 86 A Tk Regt (12 Corps A Tk Regt) visits C.O.
C.O. 71 A Tk Regt (53 (W) Div A Tk Regt) visits C.O. Gun posns and locns of Btys unchanged. G.R.O. instituting frost precautions, draining of vehs. atc, received.
10 October 1944: RHQ and Bty posns unchanged. 107 Bty have two casualties from long-range shelling. One O.R. killed and one severely wounded.
Lt QM has now drawn three Lloyd Carriers to replace 99 Bty's losses. It would seem as if we are now to be inflicted with this frightful veh as a gun tower. Rained all day - mud appearing in large quantities.
11 October 1944: RHQ and Bty posns unchanged. Front generally quiet and static. Reliefs of Inf Bdes are to take place as follows:
Night 12/13 .. 151 Bde relieves 231 Bde;
Night 17/18 .. 231 Bde relieves 69 Bde;
Night 22/23 .. 69 Bde relieves 151 Bde.
Reliefs of supporting A Tk Btys to take place at C.O.'s discretion but not on same nights.The present situation is as follows:
99 Bty are supporting 69 Bde;
288 Bty are supporting 231 Bde;
107 Bty are supporting 151 Bde;
289 Bty are on 'Island" in Divisional reserve.
151 Bde are on mainland with 107 Bty. Job of 151 Bde is counter-attack role in almost every direction if necessary. Four officer reinforcements arrive. They are:
Lieut M.S. Gerrard - posted to 99 Bty;
Lieut T.W. Flatt - posted to 289 Bty;
Lieut H.W. Smith - posted to RHQ;
Lieut J.A.W. Dilks - posted to 107 Bty.
Actually none of the Btys are deficient but it is likely that the following deficiencies will occur:
289 Bty - (Lieut Ashworth to be attached HQ RA (CM Staff));
(Lieut White to course for Air OP duties).
107 Bty - Lieut Chicken to his old regt (97 A Tk (15(S) Div).
12 October 1944: C.O. discusses reliefs with all Bty Comds. Restrictions laid down by 12 Corps that no guns may cross from 'Island' to mainland except during hours of darkness makes relief rather more complicated and also means that the period of rest is considerably out down. C.O. therefore decides that as 288 Bty are fairly confortably dug in they will not be relieved meantime.
289 Bty in Divisional reserve are also fairly comfortable and fairly well concentrated. 107 Bty are not very comfortably concentrated in this wood. 99 Bty are well dug in but as they are overlooked movement is greatly restricted and they are subjected to good deal of mortaring and shelling. The following is decided:
289 Bty will relieve 99 Bty on night 15/16;
288 Bty wil remain in action;
107 Bty will look for a more comfortable area and will remain in sp of the Bde in their area.
This arrangement is satisfactory to all Btys and removed the necessity for constant crossing and re-crossing in Nijmegen Bridge by day and particularly by night when going from North to South. Rain continues - mud gets worse.
13 October 1944: RHQ and all Btys except 107 Bty in same locations. 107 Bty move from wood area to a Barracks in Nijmegen. 151 Bde have now relieved 231 Bde and therefore 288 Bty are now supporting 231. It was noticed that the restriction applying to our guns crossing the bridge from North to South did not seem to apply to 231 Bde who were seen to be moving their 6-prs over in daylight. Anti-freeze mixture now in issue. Lt QM draws 122 gallons. Our minimum requirements are 250 gallons.
14 October 1944: RHQ and all Btys locations unchanged. Replacement M.10 3" was picked up from 30 Corps Dely Sqn (254). As usual the SP M.10 was fitted with the wrong tracks, i.o. Rubber Training Tracks. A new A Tk Regt has apparently arrived in the theatre of operations (63 A Tk Regt). Various personnel from 63 A Tk Regt are to be attached to us for 'Battle Inoculation"
Tech Adjt and EME supervise the issue and filling up of 289 and 107 Btys with Anti-freeze mixture. EME says that his instructions are that all 'A' vehs whether full of Anti-freeze or not should be drained and re-filled. If this is to happen we shall not have nearly enough Glycol to do all our fighting vehs.
C.O. lays down that all vehs will be tested and if specific gravity of mixture at present in radiators is correct and if the mixture it is not to be changed.
15 October 1944: RHQ remains in same location. 289 Bty relieve 99 Bty. Pouring wet night. Slight hitch occured during relief as it was discovered artificial moonlight was being used in 69 Bde sector to facilitate movement in Rear Bde areas in the dark. Apart from this and filthy wet night relief took place without casualties or incident.
HQ RA informed us that a replacement M.14 is now available and Lt QM collects same. 50 two-men biviouacs are also available and Lt QM collects. This is first issue of shelters so far and is long overdue.
Winter clothing has not yet been issued contrary to notices which have appeared in sections of the popular (?) press at home. Today's issue of one M.14 now makes us one 15-cwt surplus; this has to be sent to HQ RA where they are trying to get the Counter Mortar section up to some new W.E. which no-one seems to know much about.
Allotments for entertainments and baths have been and are on a fairly generou scale. A 50 Div OR's Club has been opened in Colonial Barracks Nijmegen where in spite of the old shelling the following are available and are enjoyed. Free tea and wet and dry canteen - cinema - theatre - concert party, reading rooms etc.
The only trouble is te inability of everyone to get reasonable notifications of allotment. The usual time for allotments to be received is 2230 hrs for performances at 1000 hrs.
It is reported from a reliable source in HQ RA that Lord Haw Haw in his most recent broadcast stated that only one Division in the British Army had ever really made a prolonged effort in this war and that was 50 (Northumbrian) Division which had "slogged its way backwards out of France, across the Western Desert, through Tripolitania, Tunisia and Sicily and was now still being called upon to slog its way back to Germany so far without success, through Holland, having got there via Normandy, Nothern France and Belgium".
After this broadcast the difficulty is stopping the troops from believing everything Haw Haw says!
16 October 1944: Al Btys and RHQ still in same locations. In afternoon at 1400 hrs HQ RA sent for C.O. to attend a conference at HQ RA with CRA and CCRA.
50 Div is now to revert to 30 Corps who are taking over from 12 Corps the defence of 'The Island'.
53 (W) Div who have been responsible for East and SE defence are being withdrawn and 50 Div is to take over their part of the front. A Bty of 86 A Tk Regt (12 Corps A Tk Regt) is to come under our comd.
17 October 1944: 0930 hrs. C.O. visiting 86 A Tk Regt to find out what Bty is coming under our comd. Reply is 86 A Tk Regt have no orders on the subject and therefore unable to help meantime.
Lt-Col Norman-Walker, C.O. 71 A Tk Regt visits C.O. 86 A Tk Regt and arranges with him to send B.C of Bty which is likely to come under our comd to our RHQ as soon as possible.
1115 hrs. C.O. holds BC's conference attended by Maj A.W. Tripper MC, Maj A.T.F. Stallard, Maj T.A. Wigglesworth and Capt W.S. Brameld DSO representing Maj G.R. Balfour MC. C.O. puts B.Cs in picture as follows:- The two Bdes of 53 (W) Div at present holding posns on 'The Island' are being relieved by 50 Div. 61 Recce Regt is coming back under comd of 50 Div. 61 Recce Regt will take over posns at present occupied by 69 Bde plus northern most coy of 151 Bde. 151 Bde will extend their present area NW and SE taking over from 6 Green Howards to NW and 6 RWF (53 Div) to SE. They will contact 508 RCT of 101 American Airborne on the right. 508 RCT remains in present locn. 23 Bde will be returning from Reserve South of river and will take over from 71 Bde of 53 Div. Right flank River Waal - left flank 508 RCT. 69 Bde less one bn which will be in Div Reserve area Elst, will be going South of river to rest.
The following tps are to be in sp; 2 sqns 44 RTR (151 - 61 Recce);1 sqn CLY (508 RCT); 1 sqn CLY; ((231 Bde); 1 sqn CLY 1 sqn 44 RTR (Div Reserve). This was all cancelled later and all the armour left the island.
1145 hrs. BC of 128 Bty 86 A Tk Regt arrives in middle of conference. The A Tk layout will be as follows on a Divisional basis. 289 Bty will have one Tp 6-prs in area 9 DLI which is the bn of 151 Bde taking over from 6 Green Howards of 69 Bde. The other 6-pr Tp will be in reserve not on ground but with posns recced to support 61 Recce Regt and other posns recced to give depth to 9 DLI posns. M.10 Tp will be in reserve in present Bty HQ area. BC 289 Bty to contact OC 61 Recce Regt on their arrival and to ave his Bty HQ near HQ 61 Recce. 288 Bty will have one 6-pr Tp in each of the areas of 6 DLI and 8 DLI. M.10s to be in reserve.
BC 288 Bty to link up with 289 Bty on left and whatever other Bty is put under our comd on his right. Confirmation is still lacking as to what Bty if any of 86 A Tk Regt is to come under our comd. 107 Bty will move up with 231 Bde and take over from Bty of 71 A Tk Regt supporting 71 Bde of 53 Div.
99 Bty will remain in present area on 'Island' as Divisional Reserve. BC of 128 Bty 86 A Tk Regt will do a recce in area between 107 and 288 Btys and to co-ordinate with the Americans. Two Tps are to be deployed and one Tp kept in reserve in area of his Bty HQ - 128 Bty is a Bty of towed 17-prd. The C.O. further decides that it is essential that some form of relief is provided for the Regt not only because the men are tired having been too long in action or at a very advanced state of preparedness, but because essential maintenance must be done.
The C.O. therefore makes the following arrangements: - 107 Bty Echelon will remain in Barracks Nijmegen, to keep the space previously occupied by 107 Bty reserved.
For this present exercise Tps will be 3-gun Tps. Each Bty with the exception of the Reserve Bty on the 'Island' will send two 6-prs and one M.10 South to the Barracks in Nijmegen. These guns will be formed into a Bty of 3 Tps (2x three 6-prs - 1x three M.10s). A Capt from 99 Bty is to take comd. Capt Q of 107 Bty is to adminster and one Subaltern from the Southern Bty and one from the Northern Bty are to act as T Comds. Personnel and vehicles only (not guns) will be changed under Bty arrangements every four days.
This arrangement will mean that each member of a gun det in each Bty will spend four days in approximately every sixteen days under cover, and should have a reasonable rest. At the same time vehicle maintenance will be done. The C.O. lays down that in addition the troops resting will parade daily for gun drill, laying practice, maintenance and miniature range. By 1400 hrs no news has been received as to which Bty of 86 A Tk Regt if any, is coming to our comd. HQ RA are informed and ring up G at 30 Corps who inform them that the Bty which is to come is 128 Bty but at present it is under comd Crosseforce who are under comd Gds Armd Div.
Crosseforce when asked by BC 128 Bty to release him refused to do so without orders. These orders were supposed to have been given by 12 Corps who have now pulled out.
Time is now getting short. The relief is supposed to be competed by 0600 hrs tomorrow and although the recce of the area has been done BC of 128 A Tk Bty, Lt-Col Matthews does not think that such recce is sufficient to expect a night occupation by 128 Bty - the country is difficult, the roads are narrow and thick with mud with deep ditches on both sides. As by 1530 hrs there are still no orders regarding the Bty which is to come under comd a mutual arrangement is arrived at by our C.O. with C.Os 71 A Tk Regt and 86 A Tk Regt. It is to the effect that both of these Regts will leave one Bty less two Tps in posn for the night.
1630 hrs. As still no orders are received regarding the Bty it is decided on authority of G 30 Corps to order the BC of 128 Bty to move his reserve Tp from present location and to occupy its new positions. The remainder of the Bty will move in at first light and SP Tp of 86 A Tk Regt will move out.
107 Bty report in by 1730 hrs
288 Bty report in by 2300 hrs
289 Bty report in by 2315 hrs
Tp of 128 Bty report in by 2300 hrs.
18 October 1944: Change over completed by 128 Bty by 1000 hrs.
Bty Comds are with the Bdes etc as follows : -
107 with 231 Bde; 288 with 151 Bde; 289 with HQ 61 Recce; 99 in reserve; 128 with 508 RCT (American)
Owing to the continual rain and heavy traffic road conditions in Holland and on the 'Island' particularly are giving much cause for concern. Orders are received to reduce traffic to a minimum and for units to reduce amount of MT on the 'Island' to a minimum. We reduce our total number of vehs on the island to 26 per Bty plus 14 in RHQ. We indicate however that we can reduce to a total of 112 vehicles, i.e. 26 per Bty and 8 RHQ.
On receipt of codeword 'NOAH' we are to reduce to maximum of 112 vehs. Other considerations affecting the issue of NOAH are that it may be possible for enemy to flood 'Island'.
Above figures do not include 128 Bty who have a further 26 vehs. The figure of 26 vehs per Bty including Gun Towers is 7 per Tp and 5 in Bty HQ. Ammunition is to be dumped by guns.
19 October 1944: Btys and RHQ remain in same locations. Everything is quiet except for spasmodic shelling and mortaring particularly in Bemmel area (107 Bty). Weather remains wet and cold. Road conditions continue to deteriorate. The C.O. informs us in the Mess after dinner that he has just spoken to CRA who has told him that he is leaving us to become CAGRA 59th AGRA.
This is a sudden blow to us all and everyone feels a bit depressed as he has been with the Regt since just afer Akarit and has led us successfully in two invasion assaults, both rather wet from his point of view as his L.C.T. struck a mine on both occasions and only just made the hostile shore.
20 October 1944: Btys and RHQ still in same locations. Road conditions getting worse. C.O. suggests to HQ RA that in view of very poor going and unlikelihood of tank attacks that all M.10s with the exception of four should be taken off the 'Island'. He further suggests that all the Crusaders (with the exception of one per Tp) of 128 Bty should also be withdrawn. He considers it necessary to leave one Crusader per Tp of 128 Bty to unditch Quads. HQ RA inform us that owing to breaking up of roads replenishment is to take place every two days. Movements is to be out down to a minimum and only Jeeps are to be allowed out without their authority on even dates.
During morning C.O. sees all BCs at RHQ and imparts the sad news of his impending departure tomorrow. Major Balfour MC and Capt Brameld DSO call in at RHQ Mess in evening and have a farewell drink with Lt-Col Matthews DSO. Aachen falls!
21 October 1944: No change in locations of HQ or Btys. Corps Comd and new Div Comd (Maj Gen L.O. Lyne) addressed an assembly of officers and NCOs in the TT Theatre Nijmegen. The new Div Comd outlined some of his future policy for the Div. Entertainment - Billets - forming of Div Batle School - improvement of morale - dress - saluting.
Corps Comd outlined battle since the break-out from Escaut Bridgehead and indicated that he thought 50 Div was not so good as it was and would have to start pulling itself together.
Lt-Col A.K. Matthews DSO RA left this morning to take up his new appointment as CAGRA 59 AGRA. He gave a short address to the personnel of Main and Tac RHQ before leaving and wished us all the best of luck. No other Commanding Officer has been appointed yet so Major R.A. Barnett MC RA assumes temporary comd.
Major R.A. Barnett MC visits guns of 288 Bty. Everyone is extremely sad at the unfortunate accident causing the departure of out old Div Comd, Major General Graham. He was, as Field Marshall Montgomery said "A very gallant old war horse".
Maj-Gen Graham sprained his leg badly in a fall in the blackout.
22 October 1944: No change in locations of RHQ or Btys. Lieut Marriott does recce in village of Slijk Ewijk with a view to finding billets for Tac and Main RHQ. A Major F.W. Ward RA arrives to do an attachement. He is sent to 99 Bty..
23 October 1944: Tac and RHQ start moving at 0800 hrs from present location to billets in Slijk Ewijk. A Dutch civilian tells Lieut Marriott that 75% of the population of the village are going to be evecuated off the 'Island' owing to the danger of the enemy flooding the 'Island'.
1700 hrs. One Major (2 i/c) One Capt and eleven Sgts arrived for Battle Inoculation. They have come from 63 A Tk Regt (Oxfordshire Yeomanry). 63 A Tk Regt arrived from England about a fortnight ago with personnel and small arms only. All the officers and NCOs are doing attachments to other A Tk Regts in or near the line to gain experience. We have divided them up as follows :- RHQ - Major; 289 Bty - One Capt - 3 Sgts; 107 Bty - 4 Sgts; 99 Bty - 4 Sgts.
24 October 1944: No change in RHQ or Bty locations. Brigadier of 231 Bde suggests that if possible something should be done to arrange the A Tk guns in his area so that more use can be made of any houses that are available for shelter.
107 Bty Comd does a recce with that aim in view. Corrugated iron and wood are indented for the purpose of constructing waterproof dug-outs. 107 Bty particularly requres material as they are in exposed positions to the weather. Come guns of 289 Bty also require dug-outs but as they are under observation of dug-outs is going to be tricky. Capt J. Miller of 288 Bty takes over the running of the Composite (resting and training) Bty from Capt R.L. Masters. RSM Rockett replaces Sgt Bull in the composite Bty.
25 October 1944: Arrangements are made for the withdrawel of the reserve 17-pr Tp of 128 Bty to a billet area in Nijmegen. 128 Bty effect in internal relief and the reserve Tp moves over the Bridge to billet area. The reserve Tp remains in wireless touch with the Bty. 99 Bty relieves 288 Bty during the afternoon and by 1830 hrs the relief is complete. 288 Bty are now in reserve on the 'Island'.
26 October 1944: Locations:-
RHQ - Slijk Ewijk; 99 Bty - Sout of Reeth; 107 Bty - Lent; 288 Bty - West of Vredelust; 289 Bty - Lienden; 128 Bty - Bounlust.
Echelons, RHQ and LAD.
99 Bty - Weurt; 107 Bty - Barracks Nijmegen; 288 Bty - Neerbosche; 128 Bty - Hees. Composite (Trg and Rest) Bty - Barracks Nijmegen.128 Bty (Reserve Tp) Billets Nijmegen.
27 October 1944: No change in locations of RHQ or Btys.
Lieut QM draws duckboards and corrugated iron for construction of dug-outs and gun pits. These will be issued to 107 Bty.
Lt QM goes to OFP to draw Battle Dress for Regtl bulk indent. We refuse to take delivery as the suits are in such bad condition. All are three parts worn and are dirty.
The Battle Dress position in the Regt is not good. Since landing we have only had one bulk issue of 80 suits. That is 80 suits since about May. Many suits are completely worn out and in some instances personnel are reduced to wearing denims.
107 Bty consider employing an M.10 to shell a house on their front said to contain enemy but after discussing the plan with inf it is decided in niew of heavy 'stonks' brought down on the slightest movement, to call it off.
28 October 1944: 208 American RCT relieved by 151 Bty. Lieut Lucas rejoins 107 Bty from 31 RHU. Some shuffling of guns contemplated in area of 107 Bty (151 Bde and 231 Bde). Nothing to be definitely decided until relief of 208 RCT is completed. It is hoped to relieve M Tp of 107 Bty who have been supporting 508 RCT. This is thought to be possible in view of fact that 151 Bde have 18 A Tk guns and 508 RCT had only eventually managed to muster 8. 506 American RCT relieves 61 Recce Regt North of Elst and 289 Bty remain supporting 506 RCT.
29 October 1944: Lieut-Colonel R.W. Jelf RA arrives at 1700 hrs to take over comd of Regt. Lt-Col Jelf comes from appointment of GSO I 49 Div.
30 October 1944: During afternoon Lt-Col R.W. Jelf visits 99 Bty in company with Major R.A. Barnett MC. C.O. calls at all Tp HQs and visits several guns in action. C.O. has tea at 99 Bty HQ.
99 Bty now have a miniture range in actions and are combining a bit of training with their present holding job. Brig of 231 Bde suggests thinning out of A Tk guns should take place in view of their exposed positions and the continued bad weather. Arrangements are made for out C.O. to visit Brig of 231 Bde tomorrow morning.
31 October 1944: C.O. leaves RHQ at 0530 hrs and with I.O. visits the forward guns of 289 Bty. C.O. lunched with General in 'A' Mess. C.O. visited Brig of 231 Bde during morning. No alteration of our guns decided on.
2100 hrs. HQ RA Operation Order No. 36 received. This rather complicated order covers the Operation Noah which has been prepared in event of flooding, in case it become necessary to evacuate the 'Island'.
The order calls for the movement of Norththumberland Hussars as a Regt plus 128 Bty of 86 A Tk Regt. C.O. considers that Btys should move independently and thus save valuable time. He decides to see HQ RA tomorrow morning about this point.
During the afternoon HQ RA inform us that all RA 'B' Echelons at present handily situated just on South bank of Waal are to move a few miles further SW to area Hernen. All RA 'B' Echelons will be together in that area. Recce party of 2 i/c and Bty 'B' Echelon reps is laid on for tomorrow morning - RV 0900 hrs at Bridge.
It is thought that if this move takes place we shall lose the space in the Barracks in Nijmegen at present occupied by B Echelon 107 Bty and the Composite Bty (Resting and Training).
It is thought that the only way we will be able to arrange for training to carry on in Nijmegen will be for us to attach personnel to the newly-formed Div Battle and Training School. As during all this Regt's campaign we have always run our own show we are hoping to be able to fix up to do this still. C.O. speaks to SCRA on the subject of accommodation in Nijmgen and arranges that SCRA will endeavour to arrange with Comdt Div Battle School that we are allotted space in the School for our own training and that we operate it as a self-contained show under the Comdts benevolent eye. During afternoon C.O. visits 107 Bty Echelon and the Composite Bty in Nijmegen.
1 November 1944: C.O. visits foward Tp of 107 Bty at 0615 hrs. C.O. visits HQ RA at 0930 hrs and carries on to 288 Bty. No change in locations.
1700 hrs. BCs Conference attended by BCs of 99, 107, 288 and 289 Btys, and BC 128 Bty. C.O. goes through orders for Operation Noah.
1745 hrs. BC of 128 Bty leaves and conference continues on domestic lines. C.O. outlines to Bty Comds his ideas regarding general discipline and administration. C.O. discusses NCO positions and oulines his policy as "make or break". The question of one or two senior NCOs who are very old "Noodles" is brought and C.O. is of the opinion that it is unfair to carry them with Nos. 1 ranks if they are not doing the job of No. 1. Two particularly old members of the Regt are affected - Sgts M. Spowart and E Luckman. Both these NCOs are over 40 years of age and it is decided to get them returned to civilian life if possible.
C.O. outlines his policy for the running of a Cadre Class for potential Nos. 1. It is decided that each Bty will nominate 6 men for this and the Class will begin in the Barracks in Nijmegen on 4 Nov. Personnel will be accommodated with B Bty Echelon who are in the Barracks and the course will be run concurrently with the present Composite Bty.
Staff for the Course will be as follows: Major F.W. Ward (at present attached to the Regt), Lieuts F.L. Williams and H.W. Smith, R.S.M. Rockett, B.S.M. McCreedy (99 Bty), Sgt Kirkwood (RHQ).
Administration and rationing will be taken on by Capt C.R. Paine, Capt Q of 107 Bty.
The Course is to consist of Marching and Rifle Drill, 6-pr Gun Drill (incl Sight Testing), Duties of Nos. 1, Duties of NCOs, Maintenance of 6-prs, Maintenance of Carriers, P.T. Technical Instruction is to be carried out by Fitters on loan from 99 and 107 Btys. The duration of the course is to be a fortnight.
2 November 1944: C.O. visits some gun positions of 99 Bty at 0630 hrs. C.O. visits 288 Bty at 1130 hrs and talks to all the Bty NCOs. During afternoon C.O. visits gun positions of 128 Bty and also visits 107 Bty and 231 Bde. 231 Bde are being relieved tonight by 508 RCT (American). At 0930 hrs Major F.W. Ward visits C.O. at RHQ and is put in the picture regarding the Cadre Class which he is to run.
288 Bty relieve 289 Bty in the Snodenhock area. Relief completed by 2030 hrs without incident. 289 Bty returns to reserve on the island. 288 Bty do not take over all 289 Btys gun positions but alter the position of the most northerly guns, getting them into a rather more comfortable and less exposed and observed area.
3 November 1944: 0630 hrs. C.O. visits some gun positions in 288 Bty.
0930 hrs. C.O. goes off on tour of the Regtl and Bty Echelons accompanied by Major R.A. Barnett MC.
1200 hrs. C.O. visits the Barracks at Nijmegen to see Major Ward and discuss the final details of the Cadre Class which starts tomorrow at 0830 hrs.
1250 hrs. The General's ADC rings up to fix up GOC's visit to the Regt. The General is expected to visit the Regt at 1000 hrs tomorrow and will remain with the Regt until 1200 hrs.
4 November 1944: C.O. visited junior NCOs Cadre Class at the Barrack in Nijmegen at 0830 hrs and gave the opening address.
1000 hrs. Major General L.O. Lyne DSO (the new Div Cmdr) visited RHQ where he met the following officers: - C.O. Major R.A. Barnett M.C., Major A.T.F. Stallard, Major G.R. Balfour M.C., Major A.W. Trippier M.C., Major T.A. Wigglesworth and Capt J.K Boag (Adjutant), after chatting to these officers for quarter of an hour he went off to visit 289 Bty (reserve bty) and also visited Bty 'HQ' of 99 Bty. The C.O. visited 107 Bty and guns during the afternoon.
Except for usual spasmodic shelling and mortaring the front remains quiet but it is known that the enemy is getting more control and organization into the formations facing us, and he is definitely bringing up more guns.
5 November 1944: Bty and RHQ locations remain unchanged. The C.O. visited the Cadre Class in the Barracks at Nijmegen.
6 November 1944: At 0630 hrs C.O. visited 107 Bty.At 1700 hrs C.O. talked to all subulterns in the Regt at RHQ. All the subulterns on the strength attended except Lt. P.G. O'Neill and Lt. F.H. Garner both of whom are on leave in Antwerp (48 hrs leave).
7 November 1944: C.O. visited 288 Bty at 0630 hrs. Letter received from HQ RA giving establishment on guns of the new re-organized Inf A Tk Regt as 4 Btys each 3 Troop.
1 of 3 SP Valentines 17 Pdr. 1 of 3 Towed 17 Pdr. 1 of 4 Towed 6 Pdr.
As this new establishment is considered definitely inferior to our present one.
C.O. visits CRA at 1000 hrs to protest and give reasons which are as follows: -
(1) The towed 17 pdr is definitely not liked by any Regt equipped with them. (This Regt which had them in Sicily is no exception) The reasons towed 17 Pdr are not liked are:-
(a) Difficulty of getting them into action with present gun tower which is unsuitable.
(b) Large numbers of casualties in units equipped with them because of (a) above.
(2) The SP Valentines 17 Pdr while being an improvement on towed 17 Pdrs is not as good as M.10s for the following reasons:-
(a) Gun only fires' over a limited arc backwards.
(b) Power and engine performance of the mounting is not as good as M.10.
(c) NO intercommunication for the crew.
(d) Representatives from the Regt have already experienced them and reported adversely with result that our M.10 and 6 Pdr crews know that it is nog as good a weapon as they already have. Being armed with a less good weapon in the fifth year of war will have a bad effect on morale. Similarly the dis satisfacion of all units equipped with towed 17 Pdrs is also well known to all ranks.
C.O. visits Cadre Class in Barracks Nijmegen at 1100 hrs and carries on to Echelon where he interviews EME and T/Adjt.
T/Adjt to live at Main RHQ from today. 289 Bty hold a successful dance in Nijmegen. C.O. attends.
8 November 1944: C.O. visits 99 Bty at 0615 hrs. C.O. decides that we ought to move the reserve Bty off the island and concentrate it in Barracks Nijmegen where it can get ahead with maintenance and Training i.o. small arms shooting etc. HQ RA are asked if we may move the Bty off the island. The Tactical situation on COs opinion does not require reserve Bty on the island.
1700 hrs. BCs conference. C.O. informs BCs of relief of 30 Corps by 2nd Cnd Corps. We are now in Cdn Army. BCs told of reorganization. Everyone is unanimous on the futility of the reorganization and it is regarded as a definite step backwards. General opinion is that morale is bound to suffer.
Training will continue a at present and a further Cadre Class will be run. Btys resting in the Barracks to organize training. Particular reference to shooting small arms etc. Resting guns with composite Bty to be put on 5 day cycle instead of 4 as at present. Zeroing of Small arms. Start 103 Bty 6 Cdn A/Tk Regt/relieving 128 Bty/86 A Tk Regt at 1730 hrs.
Relief completed but for one gun at 2100 hrs. Cnd passing at 2000 hrs. Last gun will be put in tomorrow morning when last gun of 128 Bty will pull out.
9 November 1944: C.O. goes out as usual at 0600 hrs. Btys remain in same locations. Front quiet but for usual shelling and mortaring occasionally. River rising slightly. Area that Regt will assemble in event of "Noah" from area.
10 November 1944: C.O. out as usual. Relief of 107 Bty by 289 Bty postponed 24 hours.
11 November 1944: C.O. out as usual. River rising. L Tp HQ (99 Bty) gets two direct hits from fairly heavy shells. No casualties. In view of probability of 'Island' being flooded arangements are made so that guns can be got out quickly. 289 Bty relieved 107 Bty.
12 November 1944: Church service held at Barracks in Nijmegen. Padre reads out names of all fallen in the Regt in present campaign.
1030 hrs. First code-word of Operation Noah received, i.e. "Water Wings".
1400 hrs. Second code-word op Operation Noah received i.e. "Spring Tide". C.O. appreciates situation and reports to HQ RA. No action to be taken meantime river rising fairly rapidly.
Second-in-Command does a recce of the Regtl assembly area with representatives from Btys.
1700 hrs. Bty Cmdrs visit RHQ and C.O. rehearses with them action to be taken in event of Codeword "Deluge" being received.
13 November 1944: No change. River still rising slightly. HQ RA still refuse permission to get anything off 'Island', but are considering Regt's ideas on the subject. C.O. wishes to thin out in view of the state of ground and any tank threat being confined to roads.
Leaguering areas South of Waal recced in case of evacuation of 'Island'.
14 November 1944: River steady. No further rising. It is now up to bottom of Bund. In view of the heavy going on the Island, the threat of flooding, and owing to the fact that any tank threat must confine itself to the roads HQ RA agrees to a general re-shuffle. The following is laid on. The Cdn Bty with their 17-prs towed by Rams will pull out. 288 Bty less their M.10 Tp will pull out. 99 Bty and 289 Bty by a bit of adjustment will take over responsibility for the whole front: 289 Bty the Southern part up to excl AAM cross-rds; 99 Bty the Northern half from incl the AAM cross-rds. 288 Bty M.10 Tp will concentrate and will be Regtl reserve; they will come up on Regtl net. 288 Bty pull out less M.10 Tp and find quarters with 107 Bty, who are meantime in reserve in the Inf Barracks Nijmegen.
C.O. sees all BCs at 1030 hrs at RHQ, lay the plot on and by 1900 hrs all Btys report operation finished.
New system of reliefs from today is to be as follows:-
Nothern Area Southern Area Reserve Barracks
14/15 Nov 99 Bty 289 Bty 288 Bty 107 & 288 Btys less M.10 Tp
18/19 Nov 107 Bty 289 Bty 99 Bty 288 & 99 Btys less M.10 Tp
22/23 Nov 107 Bty 288 Bty 289 Bty 99 & 289 Btyw less M.10 Tp
26/27 Nov 99 Bty 288 Bty 107 Bty 289 & 107 Btys less M.10 Tp
In effect this gives 6-pr detachments eight days out - eight days in, and M.10s four days out - 4 days Regtl reserve - eight days in. The Composite Resting Bty is dissolved and all guns and personnel rejoin Bys.
15 November 1944: 0915 hrs. Div Comd visits NCOs Cadre Class at the Inf Barracks Nijmegen. Everything went well and the GOC was pleased with what he saw and in a short address to the Class told them so.
1430 hrs. C.O. attends a Conference at HQ RA.
River steady. Shelling and mortaring as usual. 289 Bty guns also troubled by a good deal of spandauing at night.
16 November 1944: 0630 hrs. C.O. visits 289 Bty gun positions.
1000 hrs. New O.C. Div Signals visits C.O. accompanied by Maj. J. Habberfield.
1130 hrs. C.O. visits Barracks at Nijmegen to inspect the Cadre Class and go into training programme of 107 Bty.
River steady. It is not raining today.
17 November 1944: Front remains quiet except for usual spasmodic mortaring and shelling.
18 November 1944: Nothing of importance to report. 107 Bty relieves 99 Bty less M.10 Tp.
River receding slightly.
19 November 1944: Church Parade in village church (Slijk Ewijk). Very good attendance and turn out. Second Regtl NCOs Cadre Class assembles at the Barracks in Nijmegen. Six students per Bty.
20 November 1944: BCs Conference in the Barracks Nijmegen. C.O. addresses BCs on necessity for maintaining a high standard of discipline and weeding out of unsuitable Offrs, NCOs and men. Promotions discussed and several vacancies filled.
BOMS Peterson of 289 Bty to be BSM of 107 Bty. Sgt. Bailey F MM of 107 Bty to be BQMS of 289 Bty.
21 November 1944: Advance Parties called for. Regt will be moving on relief on or after 27 Nov, to area Vadslo just North of Diksmuide. Regtl advance party made up as follows.
2 i/c Major A Barnett MC 1-15 cwt - 1 jeep-1 M/C & 1 x 3 tonner plus Bty advance parties of 1-M/C - 1-15 cwt plus 1-15 cwt or jeep with a Capt in charge of each party. Parties to RV at DIV report centre near Diksmuide at 1000 hrs on 23 Nov 44.
22 November 1944: 288 Bty relieves 289 Bty less M.10 Troop. 151 Bde relieves 231 Bde. Wet day but river not rising.
23 November 1944: Front remains quiet except for usual shelling and mortaring. Still wet and cold. Lt. Col. Charles cmdg 5 Bn East Yorks comes to dinner in the mess along with Major D. Allen BMRA and Major J. Habberfield O.C. RA Sig.Coy.
24 November 1944: Front remains quiet except for usual shelling and mortaring. Wet miserable day. River rising. The C.O. is President of a F.G.C.M. in Nijmegen today.
25 November 1944: The Highland Division are relieving 101 American Airborne DIV and as their DIV HQ is moving into (Slijk Ewijk) which is within their DIV boundary our RHQ has to move.
Lt. Marriott recces an area in Oosterhout and at 1400 hrs RHQ moved to the village. This turned out to be a better village and everyone gets into good billets. The Electric light works.
Wet miserable day. River rising.
26 November 1944: The river has now risen to a point beyond its previous high water mark.
0945 hrs. Regtl Church Parade in the Prostetant Church in Slijk Ewijk. (Rev. T.A. Lovegrove. C.F.MC)
Relief of 107 Bty by 99 Bty put off 24 hours in view of pending move of DIV from the island. C.O. receives a copy of the New W.E. for an A Tk Regt in and Inf Div.
27 November 1944: 99 Bty relieves 107 Bty less M.10 Troop. 231 Bde relieve 69 Bde.
1400 hrs. C.O. visits Brig. Stanier who is at present Cmdg 50 Div to discuss arangements for A/Tk defence of 231 Bde area. Brig. Stanier is anxious to cut down guns to minimum.
28 November 1944: Wet miserable day. Recce parties of A/Tk Regt of 49 Div (55 A/Tk) arrive and do recces preparatory to taking over form 50 (N) Div.
29 November 1944: 1530 hrs. bomb dropped near gate of Barracks in Nijmegen 2 killed and 3 wounded in 288 Bty. 3 wounded in 289 Bty.
288 Bty pull out of their positions and concentrate in the Barracks with 107 Bty and 289 Bty prior to moving to area Deurne to join 15 (S) Di and to taking the place of 97 A/Tk Regt who are to be broken up for Inf and RA reinforcements.
30 November 1944: Major General Graham who has come back to the Div after his accident visits the Barracks in Nijmegen and addresses an assembly of old members of the Regt. He explains the position regarding 50 Div to everyone and tells them what is happening to each of the units in the Div. The General is full praise for the "Noodles" and says our efforts in the early days in Normandy did a great deal towards keeping us on the beachhead. 107, 288, 289 Btys and RHQ 'B' Echelon leave present areas in Regtl Column at 2000 hrs en route for area south of Deurne to join 15 (S) DIV.
M.10 Troop of 107 Bty leaves for RA Reorganization area near Bourg Leopold where it is to hand in its four M.10s and associated stores and draw the new establishment of 3 SP Valentines.
A week is to be spent at the Reorg Centre training with the new eqpt.
1 December 1944: 1000 hrs. RHQ moved from Oosterhout to the Barracks in Nijmegen to join 99 Bty preparatory to the move to Deurne area. At 0930 hrs. Lt. F. Moore L.O. at HQ RA 50 Div arrived at RHQ with the last instructions to the Regt from them. Everyone is feeling rather sad. The C.O. leaves at 0945 hrs to contact HQ 97 A Tk Regt RA and HQ RA of our new Division.
2000 hrs. Column consisting of RHQ and 99 Bty leave Nijmegen for new area. Fine moonlight night. Arrive area Lierop at 0115 hrs. Good journey down. Park vehicles round farm buildings and settle for the night. Men in barns. Area does not seem to bad and the hot tea waiting for us cheers everone up. Good work by Major Barnett, Lt QM Hutchinson and RHQ B Echelon.
2 December 1944: Changeover with 97 A Tk Regt has been postponed for 24 hrs. So there is little to do except remain in our incredibly uncomfortable concentration area, apart from recce of the areas occupied by 97 A Tk Regt.
Filthy wet day. Everyone is naturally rather depressed including 97 A Tk Regt. It is always sad when necessities of war make it imperative for moves which have recently come about to take place. Major-General Barber DSO Commanding 15 (S) Div paid an informal visit with his AQ - Lt-Col Letheridge.
3 December 1944: RHQ moves from area Lierop to Deurne. 97 A Tk Regt pulled out of Div area at 0900 hrs today. 288 Bty move from area Lierop. Troops are all under cover but areas are not comfortable. 44 (L) Bde is today clearing Blerick and up to R. Maas at Venlo. The Regt is not taking part in the battle as the area is waterlogged and not at all suitable for employment of tanks. Tank threat is nil. HQ 15 (S) Div is situated at Panningen. It is a very long time since the Regt was in a Division having a battle which it was not in, it is doubtful if it ever happened before. It is nearly as long since RHQ was as far from Div Q (18 miles) during operations. Today has been spent settling in and trying to find out the working of our new division. Much running about has been entailed for everyone and there is not a lot to show for it. Filthy wet day - with very odd bright intervals.
4 December 1944: Today has been taken up in settling in and getting to know the form in our new Division - 15 (S) Div. Already we have noted many difference from 50 (N) Div, which is only natural. It has not been decided yet what area the Regt is to occupy but the general form for the next few weeks seems to be that the Regt will remain in the rear of the Divisional area to rest and train. 288 Bty set up an Officers and Sgts Mess for the first time since landing (almost six months to the day).
5 December 1944: 288 Bty find themselves concentrated and able for the first time since landing to lay on a Bty parade and to see all the men and vehicles in one place at one time. An orgy of maintenance and re-drilling is begun.
6 December 1944: C.O. visits range near Bourg Leopold and sees Valentine SP Tp of 107 Bty shoot. OC 107 Bty and Capt F.R. Roberts accompany C.O. Maintenance in full swing.
7 December 1944: Nothing fresh to report. Second-in-Comd still trying to find an area for the Regt where we will have a roof over our heads and be able to do some training. So far the search had been exhaustive and fruitless. C.O. spends day co-ordinating B.Cs answers to the SP questionnaire preparatory to discussing the matter with representatives from Army tomorrow. Raining today.
8 December 1944: C.O. endeavouring to make arrangements for at least two Btys and Cadre Class to be accommodated in the Dutch Regugee Camp between Liesel and Deurne. This is an excellent camp and if we can get it we will be able to settle down in comparative comfort to training. Accommodation is terribly short in the whole Div area and up to dat the 2i/c, I.O. and even the C.O. himself have spent the best part of five days recceing the area and having meetings with the AQ and his Staff in an endeavour to reach a solution.
Lt-Col King visits C.O. and the questionnaire on SP eqpts is discussed. Brig. L. Bolton (CRA 15 (S) Div) also attends. 288 Bty M.10 Tp depart for Re-organization Centre at Bourg Leopold for change-over to Valentines.
9 December 1944: It is now decided that the following moves will takes place tomorrow. RHQ will move from present location in Deurne to nearer HQ RA at Panningen and 289 Bty will move from present location to RHQ's present location at Deurne. L.A.D. will move from Deurne into what we call the wilderness.
A bit of a crisis has also arisen in 99 Bty's area. The 15 (S) Recce Regt have to pull into that area and so we shall have to move 99 Bty and also 107 Bty. It is decided to move 99 Bty to the wilderness on 11 Dec and to try and find a place to put 107 Bty. C.O. visits AQ and is given the area of Vosberg. It is decided to put 107 Bty in Vosberg but meantime on a previous arrangement OsC 107 Bty and 289 Bty are out today looking at areas outside the Div area as also is Lieut Marriott. After all these officers have done their recces they are to report to RHQ this evening at 1700 hrs.
1700 hrs. B.Cs Conference about moves. Both Majors Trippier and Stallard have found excellent places for their Btys outside the Div Area and Lieut Marriott has found billets and good accommodation for whole Regt in Valkenswaard. However, we must not now go outside the Div area. It is finally fixed up 289 Bty move to Deurne tomorrow. RHQ move to Panningen and on 11th 99 Bty will move to wilderness and 107 Bty to Vosberg. 288 Bty remain in present location during all this. After these moves have taken place it is still not firm that we will remain in these areas.
10 December 1944: RHQ move from Deurne to Panningen. 289 Bty move to Deurne. LAD move to wilderness area. There is a lot of work to be done in both RHQ and LAD's new areas as there are no lights and no heating. If there were lights there is no blackout!! Everyone now concentrates on getting stores of every description out of ADOS, AQ, RE etc.
11 December 1944: 99 Bty move to wilderness. 107 Bty move to Vosberg. Both areas are pretty bloody and there is a lot of work to be done to make them "liveable in".
C.O. is still working on the Dutch Camp idea and sees innumerable AQ people to find out whether or not we are to have the Camp. It is a case of one day "Yes", another day "No", next day "Part". Nothing is definite in this world we know, but .....!
12 December 1944: Major-General Barber DSO, Cdg 15(S) Div does an informal tour of the Btys accompanied by CRA (Brig L. Bolton) and C.O. The General addresses the men in each Bty and welcomes the Regt to the Div adding that he expects is shortly to be wearing tam-o-shanters.
Shape of things to come. New Div signs for our arms arrive - 7¼d per pr. These new signs become quite expensive as this is the fourth Div the Regt has been with.
Greece 1941 2 Armd Div
Western Desert 1941-42 7 Armd Div
Western Desert/Tunisia/Sicily/Europe 1942-44 50 (N) Div
Europe 1944 15 (S) Div
288 Bty can add more being with 4 Indian Div for a time as well and also for a very short time with 1 Armd Div, to mention two. We received news today that Major R. Taylor DSO MC who commanded 288 Bty has been promoted Lt-Col and is assuming comd of 8 Corps A Tk Regt which is being re-formed. Regt paints out its TTs and adopts the 15 (S) Div sign - Scottish Lion.
13 December 1944: Field-Marshall Sir B.L. Montgomery held a presentation today at Someren. Sgt R.J. Wherrell of 99 Bty received the M.M. for the Bemmel party. C-in-C's Certificates arrived by post for the C.O. to present to Lieut Garner, (289 Bty), S/Sgt Bates (RHQ) and L/Bdr Gifford (288 Bty). The C-in-C addressed officers of the Div down to Second-in-Comd after the presentation. C.O. still endevouring to get an answer about the Dutch Camp. Arrangements are made to go ahead and put the Cadre Class into the accommodation in the camp which is spare at the moment. C.O. is invited to spend the night with Lt-General Barker at 8 Corps HQ near Helmond.
14 December 1944: C.O. goes straight from 8 Corps HQ to Bourg Leopold to spend day with 288 Btys M.10. Troop which is at the RA Reorganization Centre being reorganised into a troop of 3 SP 17pdr Valentines. B.C. 107 Bty accompanied by Capt. E.R. Roberts visits Brigadier of 44 Bde.
15 December 1944: Positions remain unchanged. C.O. Major G.R. Balfour MC and Capt. W.S. Brameld DSO visit 288 Bty SP troop at Bourg Leopold and watch practice shoot with Valentines. B.C.'s conference at RHQ 1730 hrs on subject "Blighty" Leave. Officers ballot for leave.
16 December 1944: Owing to general manpower shortage Regt has to post off as Inf reinforcements 29 men. These men must be A.1 and under 30 and must not hold a campaign medal. They will probably be replaced by A.2 personnel over 30. Draw for "Blighty" Leave.
17 December 1944: Good deal of Air Activity over Div area. Deurne bombed. 289 Bty suffer a casualty and have a couple of vehicles damaged (A.P. bomb splinters). 289 Bty recce an area in Liessel as they may have to move into that area.
18 December 1944: It is now thought Div will move from this area and concentrate 10/15 miles North of Antwerp in V1 & V2 alley and fair ground.
19 December 1944: Regtl Recce parties under Major R.A. Barnett MC RA proceed to recce area North of Antwerp. B.C. of 107 Bty and Capt Roberts do a recce in Blerick area prior to shooting up two houses on other side of river suspected of being occupied by enemy HQ's. Fairly heavy shelling in Blerick. 289 Bty move to Liesel.
20 December 1944: Regtl Recce parties report on new area is very depressing. Buildings very badly damaged and not a pane of glass to be found anywhere. Heating arrangements nil. Major Barnett MC RA was constrained to say a few pertinent words to a local Town Major who found that "troops coming out of the line did not mind what sort of area they occupied as any change was usually for the better".
21 December 1944: Inf A/Tk plus of 46 Bde visit 288 Bty and arrangements made for them to use Miniature Range. All Btys now have a miniature range going.
22 December 1944: Dull foggy day. Slight drizzle. C.O. visits HQ RA at 1200 hrs to discuss local defence with Lt-Col Young and BMRA. Officers i/c Bty Recce parties visit RHQ and report result of their Recce's North of Antwerp to 2 i/c. 2 i/c makes a trace of area and writes a description of the billets which is forwarded to HQ RA.
Move to area North of Antwerp now considered to be fairly definitely off. Div taking over a bit more frontage. This is no doubt due to Runstedts unexpected and large counter offensive against the 1st American Army in the Ardennes. It is rumoured that C-in-C 21 Army Group has now taken over Command of all operations in the threatened area and things are beginning to happen on a large scale.
23 December 1944: C.O. leaves RHQ with Capt. C.S. Spence to see the Valentines of 99 Bty do their shooting. Major Barnett goes to see CRA at 1000 hrs. Div are worried about enemy patrols crossing the river and infiltrating. A mild flap. Major Barnett sees OsC 99, 288 & 289 Btys and gives them areas to recce in case of enemy infiltration. Btys are to keep a Duty Troop with necessary tpt at short notice to move out in an Inf role. SP Troops are to be held available for special jobs and drews of SP's not to be used for the Inf role of the Duty troop.
CRA visited and addressed the senior NCOs Cadre Class accompanied by Major R.A. Barnett MC RA. A good show was put on and CRA expressed his pleasure. The following Officers arrived to be attached to the Regt.
Major. Turnbull MC)
Capt. Lane ) both late 97 A/Tk Regt RA.
The idea behind the attachment is to keep them from rotting in RHU's.
They will also be useful when leave starts. We are now considerably overstrength in Officers as follows:-
99 Bty 2 Subalterns
107 Bty 1 Subaltern
288 Bty 1 Captain
289 Bty 1 Subaltern
and we understand still another Capt is on his way. Major K. Turnbull, MC goes to 107 Bty and takes over from Major A.T.F. Stallard posted to 190 Fld Regt.
24 December 1944: Cadre Class breaks up. Btys preparing for Xmas celebration.
1500 hrs. CRA thinks the enemy may definitely try something on over the festive season and it is decided by Div that we had better have at least the equivalent of 2 full strength Plns. per Bty standing by at short notice to move.
1700 hrs. BC's conference and C.O. lays on the plot with Bty Cmdrs. C.O. inspects 289 Bty. 289 Bty play Liessel at soccer and win 9-0.
25 December 1944: C.O. visits Christmas dinners of 289 & 288 Btys. Major RA Barnett MC visits Christmas dinners of RHQ, 99 & 107 Btys. Rations are excellent.
26 December 1944: Training carries on as usual. No change in location.
27 December 1944: Second senior NCO's Cadre Class assembles in Maria School Asten. Other Training goes on as usual. Foggy frosty weather continues.
28 December 1944: Division are still worried about the thinnes of the Infantry on the ground. Div front covers some 30,000 yards from Grubbenvorst to Buggenum. Positions are to be recced in the 3 Bde fronts for the Regtl. or individual Bty (platoons) to take up and hold in event of a flap. BC's are to do recces and contact the Bde Cmdrs. Major. Barnett is to tie up the day after BC's have done their recces.
29 December 1944: BC's conference 0930. Defensive positions for Regtl or Bty Plns have been recced in 46 Bde area (288 Bty) and 227 Bde area (289 Bty). BC's point out areas which are in squares for 46 Bde and squares for 227 Bde. Brig. of 44 Bde does not allot areas as he does not know definitely where threat will come from nor definitely that will be available and in what strength if a threat does come.
30 December 1944: C.O. visits A/Tk Range in Lommel near Bourg Leopold and arranges for the Regts shoot on 4, 5, 6 and 7th of Jan. 289 Btys M.10 Troop (the last in the Regt for reorganization) is at the RA reorganization centre.
Lt. Marriott finds billets to be occupied by the Btys during the forthcoming practice camp.
Second-in-command recces Regtl defensive localities with B.C. 288 Bty in the morning and B.C. 289 Bty in the afternoon.
31 December 1944: C.C.R.A. is going to visit Regt tomorrow at 1415 hrs to present C-in-C's Certificates. Regtl parade of 42 OR's per Bty and 12 from RHQ is laid on to take place on the Football ground at Panningen. Shells continue to land in the general Panningen area at the usual daily rate of about 12.
We are gradually finding are feet in our new surroundings but it is going to take us a while to get used to the new administrative ideas. The amount of paper seems to be terrific and peace time accounting the rule rather than the exception.
This hits us particularly hard after Regts long period away from England. The six months in England prior to the invasion were rather to busy to learn up all multifarious orders, instructions, systems on administration and we just could not compete, so we really are hardly equipped to complete now.
1 January 1945: Considerable enemy air activity over Div area. 119 LAA Regt have a godish day and get five certainties. Three of them quite near our HQ from which a good view was obtained. Major G.R. Balfour MC RA of 288 Bty is evacuated with malaria. This is his third attack. We are all hoping he will be back soon. CCRA 8 Corps, accompanied by Brig Bolton CRA 15 (S) Div, visits Regt. A ceremonial parade of 4 offrs and 42 ORs per bty is laid on the football ground in Panningen. CCRA inspects the parade and presents C-in-C's cerrificates to 980513 S/Sgt Bates CE and 1091029 L/Bdr Gifford JRC. Parade reputation for "putting something on".
Three Valentines SPs of 107 Bty were on parade for the CCRA to look at, which he did with interest. RHQ turned out 24 chaps and 4 officers includign CO. CRA and BMRA visit RHQ Mess for dinner at 1915. Very pleasant and happy evening spent.
2 January 1945: Major R.A. Barnett MC RA with Lieut J.D. Marriott go off to Lommel (near Bourg Leopold) to watch 289 Bty's SP Tp shoot their Valentines. Lieut QM goes off to Brussels to do many routine jobs and pick up come welfare goods, boot polish etc. He takes with him the second deserter of 97 A Tk Regt and hopes to get rid of him to his own RHQ.
G.1 rings up and signifies his intention of calling on C.O. at 1415 hrs. A Capt from Battle Research Section 21 Army Group to see the C.O. who was not available. He came to ask the following questions. How many tanks had been knocked out by the Regt in this campaign and what guns did the knocking out? What were our casualties in guns, vehicles and personnel? How many guns were deployed on the floor at the time of the battle?
He was given Appx "A" to read and told as regards the last question that battles were so seldom set-piece that is was impossible to answer, and even more so months after. He was referred to the War Office records of the Battle of Medenine for answers to the last question.
3 January 1945: CRA visits NCOs Cadre Class at Asten. 288 Bty depart for Moll for practice camp. C.O. departs for Moll. Div Comd rings up and signifies his intention of visiting the range practice on 5 Jan. Thaw precautions instituted.
4 January 1945: 289 Bty depart for Moll. Foggy day. No shooting. Arrangement altered. 288 Bty with 46 Bde are now going to shoot on 5 Jan. 289 Bty with 227 Bde are going to shoot on 6 Jan. 107 Bty with 44 Bde are going to shoot on 7 Jan. 99 Bty are to try and shoot their 6-prs on the same day as Valentines are to shoot, i.e. 9 Jan. Recce Regt shoot cancelled.
Great flap on because owing to thaw precautions being instituted we should not have allowed any tracked vehicles or 4-tonners on the road. Unfortunately one of 289 Bty's Carriers towing a 6-pr got lost and rolled into 8 Corps HQ to ask the way!!
5 January 1945: 288 Bty and 46 Bde get their shooting in. Div Comd and CRA visit the range and watch the shooting. Brig of 46 Bde also visits range. Major Barnett goes down to see how things are going. Move down of 107 Bty and 44 Bde guns is postponed 24 hours.
6 January 1945: 107 Bty and 44 Bde move down to range at Lommel.
7 January 1945: 107 Bty and 227 Bde shoot on ranges at Lommel.
8 January 1945: 99 Bty moves down to Lommel.
9 January 1945: 99 Bty shoots on ranges.
10 January 1945: Adjt and T/Adjt leave for rear areas to collect bits and bodies. C.O. returns lunch-time from Moll and Lommel. The shooting has been quite successful in spite of snow, frost and fog, and the A/ Tk pls of inf bns, as well as our own detachments, had a shoot. In the absence of the CRA on leave, the CO is acting CRA. C.O. and 2 i/c dine with 2 Gordons.
11 January 1945: A four days course for all the subalterns of the Regt assembles at Asten.
12 January 1945: C.O. spends most of the day at Junior Offrs Course at Asten.
13 January 1945: Adjt and T/Adjt return, bringing with them L/Bdr. Cox RHQ, who was wounded on 3 Sept. C.O. lunches at 227 Bde and meet Corps Comd.
14 January 1945: C.O. 2. visits 44 Bde to discuss Regts emergency infantry role. B.Cs Conference at 289 Bty HQ: the following were discussed:-
(a) The deployement of four guns. An SS Bde is coming to reliee each Bde in turn. It has no A Tk guns of its own. It is decided to deploy two half troops with it as under:-
99 Bty ... 18-25 Jan 288 Bty ... 1-8 Feb
107 Bty ... 25 Jan-1 Feb 289 Bty ... 8-15 Feb
(b) Training indirect fire with 17-pr Valentines. It is decided to ask Fd Regts to assist.
(c) Future NCOs Cadre Classes. It is decided to hold another 14 day course, assembling at Asten on 17 Jan.
(d) Other domestic matters.
Lieut M. Davies (288 Bty) falls on ice and breaks his ankle and evacuated. Lieut J. Marriott returns from leave.
15 January 1945: Cold weather continues. Roads most treacherous. C.O. lectures to all W.Os and Sgts of the Regt on all duties required from them, then proceeds to Junior Officers Course, which is a great succes. AQ coming to meet C.O. at 1730 hrs, later cancelled. Regt informed that the Inspectorte of Army Equipment will pay a visit in the near future. Demonstration of 17-pr Sabot at Lommel ranges postponed owing to weather.
16 January 1945: C.O. meets AQ at HQ RA. Major Barnett holds conference with Capts Q and EME to discuss the visit of the Inspectorate of Army Equipment. C.O. is visited by Lt-Col Stuart CO 131 Fd Regt and 2 i/c of Recce Regt. C.O. Major Bartnett and a number of other officers from the Regt, attented a lecture given by Lt-Col Anderson DSO on the eqpt of 79 Div. Lt-Col Baker-Baker comes to lunch.
17 December 1945: Weather continues bad after thaw of previous afternoon, sharp frost takes place, roads a sheet of glass. The A.S.H. cancel the arrangements regarding our instructors being loaned to them, reason their A Tk personnel being used as inf. Capts Masters and Spence call in RHQ to see C.O. after making a recce of the front of 227 Bde. They state impossible to do anything with four guns - need at least a Bty.
C.O. and Capt Spence go to see G.1. Arrangements made for the Valentine Tp to be moved further up in case of emergency. Suggested 289 Bty go under care of 107 Bty at their location. 288 Bty to 99 Bty - same rule.
18 January 1945: C.O. with Col Young and BM RA go to Lomel ranges to watch demonstration of VAT Fuze in ground role - very successful.
Major Barnett visits 44 Bde. Leave allotments for U.K. firstd 14 days Feb disgraceful. 2 Offrs and 35 ORs. 50% out on Jan figures - everyone mystified. Lieut K. Jarvis to be despatched to 33 RHU. 289 Bty report no accommodation for SP Tp in the area of 107 Bty. Start of NCOs Cadre Class.
19 January 1945: First day cancellation of leave to U.K. owing to gale in Straits of Dover. Bad weather continues, gale with sleet and snow. C.O. visited by Lt-Col Fitz-Leigh and Lt-Col Bateson. 289 Bty's SP Tp move to accommodation in 99 Bty area. Leave for second part of Feb is 2 Offrs 31 ORs - receive long letter from HQ RA explaining why so few. NCOs Cadre have moved from Asten on AQ orders, go to billets vacated by 289 Bty SP Tp.
20 January 1945: C.O. visits CRA to glean any news of Major Pumfrey and Major Dunkerley whose return would be a great help to the Regt. Learned that the former has passed medical board and has been instructed now to spend two months on A Tk course in U.K. before joining Regt. Is is very mysterious trying to fathom out how the 'Back Boys' in England work out such instructions. No news of Major Dunkerley.
C.O. visits 289 Bty to see Lieut Williams and also to see Cadre Class in new accommodation. 288 Bty SP Tp now not to move. Rumours of move.
21 January 1945: Move now certain. The whole Reft less two SP Tps to move 22 Jan - rather short notice. Recce parties setnoff for BOOM 20 miles North of Brussels. Instructors for inf cancelled. Artillery course cancelled. Cadre Class postponed. Considering the amount of re-fitting of vehicles, move in one is impossible.
C.O.'s conference in connection with move with the following results: - Regt will move at 0730 hrs. Two SP Tps who remain behind under comd Lt O'Neill. Route for move - Meijel - Nederweert - Diest - Bosch - Hamont - Lommel - Moll - Gheel - Lierre - Mechlin - Willoebrock - Boom.
Order of march - 99 Bty, 107 Bty, RHQ, 288 Bty, 289 Bty. First amendment arrives at 2130 hrs move postponed for 1¼ hours. Route changed, delete Hamont, Lommel read Hechtel, Bourg Leopold.
22 January 1945: Duty Officer phones atn 0400 hrs - plan once again changed. Major Barnett who is at Boom to report to Div Check Pt at Heinthals at 1530 hrs. Lt QM depatched to Boom with this information.
Regt moves at 0845 hrs, conditions bloody, roads like glass, will be tough going for carries and SP guns have to be towed behind wheeled vehicles. We pass may vehicles in ditch, expect to have many vehicle casualties on arrival. March of Regt excellent, arrive at 1545 hrs, distance covere 96 miles, good going under conditions.
Casualties to vehicles (RHQ Nil 99 Bty 2 carriers; 107 Bty 1 Carrier 1 15-cwt; 288 Bty 1 Sp Gun 1 Carrier; 289 Bty 1 Slave.
All Regt in Boom, people of town excellent, everyone knows by past experience that Regt could not stop in such a spot for many days.
Message from Major Barnett who is attending Div Conference, Bty Comds to be at new Mess at 2000 hrs. Later, Div Conference now at 2100 hrs instead of 1530 hrs - Bty Comds to be at RHQ at 2300 hrs. Never has there been such at C.M.F.U.
Major Barnett arrives back at 2330 hrs, details as follows: - Btys will go with Bdes, 99 Bty and RHQ at Hilvarenbeek; 107 and 288 Btys at Tilburg; 289 Bty at Poppel. Recce parties for new positions off at 0800 hrs on 23 Jan.
23 January 1945: Major Barnett off to recce at 0800 hrs, a very trying and tiring four days for him. 99 Bty recce away at 0830 hrs. 107 and 288 Btys away at 0600 hrs. 289 Bty away at 0700 hrs.
Major Balfour visits RHQ for information. Major Barnett holds B.C´s Conference at 2100 hrs, we shall perhaps move on the night of 24th. Considering state of roads this would be most difficult. An officer to be sent to Tilburg for details of move. Div say at Conference that rations are to be drawn at Tilburg - 70 miles away. Arrangements trying to be made to draw at Antwerp. EME goes back to sort out vehicles left at Panningen.
24 January 1945: Lieut Jones goes to Div Conference, returns at 1400 hrs. No move now before 26th. Good baths at 99 Bty location - all Regt got through.
We draw 2 days rations and petrol from Antwerp. Div cannot understand how we manage to get rations not going through them.We also manage to get one ton of coal - good work by 2 i/c ant Lt QM.
Big scare in RHQ - one of our billets is occupied by girls returned from Germany with V.D. Officer's Mess is once again in a collaborator's house - pity we don't want any Mess equipment.
Lot of work caused by changing money back into Belgian francs, bearing in mind that we shall need Guilders again in a couple of days. Two or three days lost through the fear of having to move any day. Recce paties are left at new area, getting everything squared up for move. No new od the two SP Tps we left behind.
25 January 1945: No fear of moving so the Regt got down to some real work. Still without news of the C.O. At 1830 the bomb falls, L.O. arrives at RHQ from Div, carying enough bumph to sink a battleship, and also the orders for move, which were: -
The Regt will move in Bty gps starting at 0830 hrs on 26 Jan.
Most personnel were enjoying well-earned entertainment, so once again Major Barnett was loaded with tons of work.
26 January 1945: Regt moves to new location, route Antwerp, Breda, Tilburg, Hilvarenbeek. Order of March: RHQ, 288, 99, 107, 289 Btys. Good progress was made and the first party arrived at 1230 hrs. Excellent organization by recce parties, all personnel in civvy billets, which are very good.
Btys with Bdes: 107 Bty with 44 Bde: 288 Bty with 46 Bde: 289 Bty with 277 Bde: 99 Bty in reserve with RHQ.
Locations: RHQ and 99 Bty at Hilvarenbeek: 107 Bty at Tilburg: 288 Bty at Tilburg. C.O. at new location on arrival. The two SP Tps are on the way to us. SP Tps arrive plus 4 M/Cs left behind by RHQ.
27 January 1945: C.O. attends secret conference at Div. Orders received for disposal of Lieut Jackson. At last we are in touch with Div with line although they are 30miles away. All personnel very cold - Lt QM unable to supply any fuel. C.O. and the C.O. of 119 LAA Regt return to RHQ after conference. Everyone greatly impressed by Russian progress, a lot of money being laid on the end of the war. T/Adjt busy with Accident Reports owing to our long marches on bad roads. Lieut Williams sees G.O.C.
28 January 1945: C.O.'s conference on future operations. Subjects discussed: -
Getting prepared for future operations.
Dumping of M/Cs which are useless on these roads.
Have we to dump any more kit? Bty Comds think we can move in one.
C.O. gets the changing of 6-pr Tps for 17-pds 'put off' for time being. We are supposed to receive 9 Valentines for BCs and Tp Comds. Impossible to cope with these at this stage. New W.E. discussed and we put in for amendment. C.O. goes to HQ RA, returns in good spirits, told he will fly home on 30 Jan. Lieut Williams sees the C.O. for compassionate leave and is sent to Second Army.
29 January 1945: C.O. goes on leave. Major RA Barnett MC RA takes over comd. Div trying to take L.A.D. 15-cwt from us. Impossible to move without it so we put up a fight, many of our vehicles having been in wksps for many weeks and we are below W.E. Acting C.O. goes to HQ RA.
30 January 1945: Major Ward reports to RHQ to assists while the C.O. is away. Capt Roberts visits RHQ for maps etc for coming operations. Maps not yet received. The amount of 'bumph' being received is terrific, orders coming in one day to be amended or cancelled the next results in a lot of unnecessary and hard work.
Bdes putting their Btys in full picture for coming events. EME and T/Adjt chasing new engines etc to get all vehicles on the road. REM Rocket and BSM McCreedy attend demonstration of blanket drying in 3-ton lorry.
31 January 1945: Complete change in weather, raining and nearly all the snow disappears. Major Barnett goes to HQ RA for a ruling on a TOP SECRET letter, returns just in same in the dark, the reason being the staff could not explain their own letters.
C.O's conference on future operations. Subjects discussed were what personnel and vehicles could be L.O.B. in next operations. Lt QM collects three Tabbys, which are TOP SECRET, something to do with lighting in the dark.
289 Bty, unable to attend conference as they are at a Bde Conference. Major Barnett attends bottle party given by G.O.C. at Tilburg.
1 February 1945: Transport still causing trouble. Unable to get vehicles from Wksps. Regt offered a quantity of champagne at 130 Belgian francs and white wine at 50 Belgian francs. Capt Roberts called to see Major Barnett to discuss future operations. Sgts Spowart, Cullen and Hynes called to say goodbye - a sad blow to the Regt after such long and good service. SCRA visits Regt to put us in the picture - we still find we are looking through dark spectacles after he has gone. C.O. goes tot HQ RA. Adjt returns from leave after being A.W.O.L. one day.
2 February 1945: Locations unchanged.
3 February 1945: Major RA Barnett accompanied by Major R.A. Wigglesworth went off and did a recce of the area allotted for our two SP Tps which are taking part in the "Pepperpot" fire plan. Rather unsuccessful as the area had already been allotted to Fd Regts in the Gds Armd. Div.
Major FW Ward recces assembly area for Tac/Main RHQ and A Bty. This is in the middle of a town and is going to be very cramped. Space for the forthcoming operations is going to be at a premium, and as much as possible is to be left back in the Admin Gp area which is being established for the Div in this area.
We are leaving personnel and vehicles behind as follows: -
RHQ/LAD 12 Vehs 27 O.Rs;
107 Bty 3 Vehs 12 O.Rs;
99 Bty 3 Vehs 12 O.Rs;
288 Bty 3 Vehs 15 O.Rs;
289 Bty 4 Vehs 19 O.Rs.
Until some progress is made with the battle it is going to be very difficult.
4 February 1945: Lt-Gen Horrocks Comd 30 Corps addresses all officers in 15 (S) Div in the ENSA Cinema, Tilburg, at 1030 hrs. He outlines the plan for future ops. This is the first time 15 (S) Div have been in 30 Corps. Maj-Gen Barber gives a short address after the Corps Commander. Major Barnett holds a B.C's Conference at 107 Bty HQ in Tilburg at 1200 hrs. (After Corps Comd's talk). Major Balfour of 288 Bty tells Major Barnett detailed plan for 46 Bde's effort. 288 Bty are moving up to assembly area tonight. Capt Roberts outlines 289 Bty's part in 227 Bde's effort. Arrangements for the Admin Gp are laid on.
Still no sign of the Regt getting the various vehs of which it is deficient, i.e. 4 carriers, one 3-tonner, 2 Jeeps. This is rather serious as we now no longer carry spares - having reduced our spare vehs over the past couple of months since joining 15 (S) Div. 288 Bty move off with 46 Bde Gp to assembly area in Nijmegen. Night move. Regt is still short of 4 Carriers Mortar, 1 Carrier AOP, 1 Jeep, 1 3-tonner 4x4.
This is now getting serious as time is short. The position is aggravated by the fact that 3 of the Regt's 4x4 15-cwts are now only 4x2 because of shortage of spare parts of Cdn 4x4, which is chronic.
5 February 1945: Preparation for move. Move order received from HQ RA stating RA Gp and HQ RA move tonight. There is doubt as to whether this includes RHQ and 99 Bty. I.O. goes off to HQ RA to find out. Meanwhile we prepare to move. I.O. returns from HQ RA and announces that we do not move until Div Tps move tomorrow night.
289 Bty with 227 Bde Gp move during ngiht to assembly area in Nijmegen. Release for 1 Jeep and 3 Carriers (2 Mortar and 1 AOP) came through.
Capt Leslie spent the whole day getting them. The AOP had no towing attachment. It is disgraceful that in the sixth year of war vehs are still being issued to units about to go into action without towing attachments.
As we are still short of 2 Carriers and 1 3-tonner 4x4 it is decided to send Capt Lesleie with the necessary driver to Veh Park at 30 Corps to wait for release coming through, while EME goes to Rear Div ADOS to sit there and wait for the release. Everyone is moving or has moved and it is now imperative to get these vehs. All the Regt's spare carriers etc have been handed in and if these vehs do not come through before the battle starts we may have to begin with a gun short.
6 February 1945: Major Barnett leaves RHQ at 1100 hrs to attend a CRA's Co-ordinating Conference at Nijmegen. 107 Bty goes to Nijmegen with 44 Bde Gp. RHQ and 99 Bty leave Hilvarenbeek at 1900 hrs and proceed to Nijmegen, arriving at 0700 hrs 7 Feb.
7 February 1945: Concentration of the Regt now effected in Nijmegen. EME and Capt Leslie report to RHQ at 1840 hrs having brought remaining 2 Carriers from OFP. Unfortunately these are Lloyd Carriers and are likely to be more trouble than they are worth. So far the Regt had succeeded in avoiding these gun towers like the plague.
8 February 1945: 1030 hrs. 288 Bty move with 46 Bde. SP Tp is moving with 2 Bn Glasgow Highlanders. 289 Bty move with 227 Bde. The roads are in very bad condition and it is almost impossible to move 6-prs.
Lt L.B. Bates of 289 Bty SP Tp is wounded and 2 O.Rs are also wounded. Valentine of 289 Bty is written off on a mine. Lt Wride takes over SP Tp.
107 Bty move to forming-up area. Bty HQ at Schildbroek. 2345 hrs. Plan of attack for 44 Bde changed and Axis switched from "AYR" route to 'Pearl Black' route. "AYR" is impassable owing to mud. Tp of 289 Bty 6-prs gets completely bogged.
9 February 1945: Lt Ward collects a replacement Valentine for 289 Bty at Grave at 0800 hrs. Major Barnett goes off at 0730 hrs to visit Btys forward. He found the going very bad indeed - the roads are in bad shape. Ltl Wride of 289 Bty badly wounded in the head by mortar splinter. 289 Bty also have 2 O.Rs wounded. 288 Bty HQ established in Groesbeek. 2200 hrs. 107 Bty HQ established in Nutterden.
10 February 1945: Major Barnett goes off at 0745 hrs to visit Btys. Going now worse than ever. Major Barnett goes off at 1315 hrs and visits 107 Bty, 288 Bty and 289 Bty.
One 6-pr Tp of 289 Bty is completely bogged in the middle of a minefield and is unable to move. 43 Div start to pass through 15 (S) Div. 1500 hrs. 44 Bde with 107 Bty in sp ordered to take Cleve.
11 February 1945: C.O. arrives back from leave at 1330 hrs. Tac RHQ moves forward to area Nutterden at 1000 hrs. Main Div and HQ RA move at same time but HQ RA only allow us to send a Tac. Tac consists of Maj. Barnett, Lt Marriott and 10 O.Rs, M.14 and 2 Jeeps.
C.O. leaves RHQ at 1500 hrs to take over from Major Barnett at Tac HQ. Situation in Cleve is still obscure. An attack is laid on to take place this afternoon. 227 Bde with 289 Bty attacking from NW and 44 Bde with 107 Bty from West. 46 Bde with 288 Bty are moving up this afternoon to take over the ground East of Nutterden.
Usual heavy rain falling in intermittent showers of about 2 hours duration. Conditions for movement very bad. All roads from Nijmegen to Kranenburg impassable except for the main road Nijmegen-Cleve. 6 German Para Div has put in an appearance at Cleve and is fighting well. Message received from Tac to send recce parties from Main HQ and 99 Bty to Tac at 0930 hrs tomorrow.
Div is being relieved by a Cdn Div. and is going into Corps reserve. Regt is going to concentrate in Nutterden/Kranenburg area. 288 Bty HQ established in Nutterden.
12 February 1945: Only 3-tonners can now make the journey from Nijmegen to Nutterden. Floods across road are up to 3ft deep. Recce party consisting of 15-cwt, Jeep and M/C set off. 15-cwt just managed to get through the flood. Jeep, M/C had to come back.
Move now out of question owing to floods. 15-cwt unable to come back because of floods. Water rising 1" per hour. Recce party except for driver of 15-cwt hitch-hike their way back on 3-tonners an DUKWS. Tac RHQ have a few requests. 2 i/c of 119 LAA Regt who have borrowed a Weasel take up a few things for us. Lt QM sets off in a 3-tonner with various things they require but after spending 5 hours on the road is turned back because floods are now impassable even by a 3-tonner. 43 Div, who have passed through 15 (S) Div and gone South of Cleve, bump into 116 Panzers who have come up from Venlo area.
Major APT Mason arrives. He has been posted to us from 31 RHU. He is ex-97 A Tk Regt RA. There is actually no vacancy for him as both Majors Dunkerley and Pumphrey have been posted back by War Office and will arrive at end of this month. Capt J. Leslie (T/Adjt) leave for a 6-weeks course at RHYL followed by his leave.
288 Bty SP Tp moves under comd Coldstream Gds (Tanks) for a mobile column role. 288 Bty HQ at Cleve. 116 Panzer Div identified on 43 Div front in area of Calcar and Hau. 107 Bty recce area of Bresserburg as long stop. 289 Bty deploy round 227 Bde HQ.
13 February 1945: Water still rising. 3-tonners not able to negoxiate the floods. Amphibious vehs only. Locations as follows: -
Main RHQ and 99 Bty - Nijmegen
Tac RHQ and 107 Bty - Nutterden
289 Bty - Donsbruggen
Regtl Residue Goirle nr Tilburg.
Battle going reasonably well in spite of floods. 289 Bty have a 15-cwt stolen in Nijmegen. 289 Bty 6-pr Tp at last gets out of bog and rejoins Bty.
14 February 1945: Still cut off by road from Tac RHQ in Nutterden. Official mail received from HQ RA by DUKW DRLS. Amphibious vehs only able to maintain service between the forward tps and echelons, but it looks as if "peak flood" has been reached. 288 Bty move East of Cleve. 46 Bde with 288 Bty in sp attack towards Moyland. Bty deployed on right flank of Bde as flank protection. Very heavy mortaring and shelling by enemy. 288 Bty have an SP knocked out by a direct hit. No casualties. 107 Bty HQ move to Cleve.
15 February 1945: Orders received from HQ RA via 119 LAA Regt that RHQ and 99 Bty will move up from present locn Nijmegen area to area of Cleve. Owing to flooding route will be Malden - Mook - Hekkens - Materborn - Cleve.
At 1640 hrs further order received stating no move today but to be ready from 1800 hrs on 16 Feb. A detachment of 288 Bty surprise a party of Boche and take 17 prisoners. Enemy still shelling and mortaring heavily. 288 Bty lose a 6-pr from shell splinters.
16 February 1945: Leave to U.K. postponed further 24 hours. Leave parties assemble at RHQ at Nijmegen and are despatched to Residue at Goirle.
Orders received that we shall move off past SP in Nijmegen at 2245 hrs. We follow 199 LAA Regt. We move off at 2245 hrs and are met at DP by Major Barnett and Lt Marriott. Arrive in new location at 0315 hrs. RHQ and whole Regt now in Germany less for residue parties at Goirle. 288 Bty take a further 7 prisoners. 288 Bty lose another 6-pr, this time mortar splinters. Shelling and mortaring continue on a heavy scale. Valentine of 289 Bty goes up on a mine. Detachment get out but SP unapproachable owing to heavy MG fire.
227 Bty with 289 Bty in sp given outline plan to capture Goch, but this is later cancelled.
17 February 1945: Goch is to be assaulted tomorrow afternoon and we are to supply two SP Valentine Tps to tak epart in the "Pepperpot" shoot. Tps concerned are 99 Bty's SP Tp and 289 Bty's SP Tp. 2250 rds reduced charge HE 17-pr are to be dumped on gun posns.
Majors Mason and Wigglesworth attend conference at HQ 119 LAA Regt (who are also shooting) during afternoon.
Major Mason attends final conference at HQ 119 LAA Regt at 2100 hrs for final laying of pepperpot party.
18 February 1945: 46 Bde to take Moyland. 288 Bty's SPs in sp. Party called off and Bde Gp concentrate in Cleve area. 44 Bde start attack on Goch with 107 Bty in sp. 289 Bty's SPs fire and indirect shoot. Two guns fire 260 rds each. 99 Bty's SPs also fire indirect shoot.
19 February 1945: 288 Bty organising and doing maintenance in Cleve. Bty area heavily shelled. Trucks are parked very close together and several amn and petrol dumps in area go up along with half a dozen Cdn vehs.
288 Bty pesonnel O.K. as there are good cellars, but B.C. decides vehs must be moved and moves Bty to an area 2 miles away. 44 Bde clear Goch. 99 Bty relieve 289 Bty and 289 Bty go to Cleve area and take over 99 Bty's billets. 99 Bty in sp 227 Bde for an attack to area Schloss Calbeck and rly crossing. 99 Bty HQ established by 1200 hrs.
20 February 1945: 288 Bty SP Tp takes part in an indirect shoot and fire 350 rds HE in sp 44 Bde. 107 Bty remains in area of Goch. Mortaring and shelling fairly heavy. 227 Bde attack towards Schloss Calbeck starts at 1030 hrs. Lt Gerrard of 99 Bty is slightly wounded but remains at duty. Heavy shelling and mortaring.
21 February 1945: A dry sunny day! 44 Bde area have good deal of bombing by jet-propelled fighter bombers. M.O. inoculates a large number of 289 Bty.
22 February 1945: 46 Bde attack woods East of Goch with 288 Bty in sp. Major GE Balfour MC slightly wounded but remains at duty. 44 Bde with 107 Bty in sp prepare for an attack through 46 Bde. Objective Goch - Uden roads.
23 February 1945: It is now known that 15 (S) Div is to be relieved by 3 Brit Div during the period 24-26 Feb. It is anticipated that the Div will move to Tilburg area were for a period of 14 days it will rest and re-fit. It is considered likely that the regt will re-organize on to an establishment of one Bty SP Valentine and three Btys of two Tps of towed 17-pr and one SP Valentine 17-pr Tp. All Tps will be three-gun and the number of guns in the Regt will be reduced to 36.
No-one is pleased at the idea of either three-gun Tps or towed 17-prs. 44 Bde pass through 46 Bde. 288 Bty concentrate guns in Tp area. 107 Bty Valentines get a few shots at a Panther and an SP gun but results not observed.
107 Bty area subjected to fairly heavy shelling and mortaring all day. 99 Bty and whole area round Schloss Calbeck heavily shelled. Several guns of 99 Bty have to be withdrawn slightly owing to the shelling and mortaring.
Recce party from 45/20 A Tk Regt arrives in 99 Bty area.
24 February 1945: 107 Bty area still being heavily shelled and mortared. A 15-cwt of Bty HQ gets a direct hit from an 88mm. Recce parties of 20 A Tk Regt (3 Brit Div) move in to start taking over from us. One casualty in 107 Bty. 289 Bty revert to 227 Bde for move out of area.
25 February 1945: RHQ, 99 Bty and 289 Bty leave Cleve/Goch area at 0930 hrs and proceed to Tilburg area via 's Hertogenbosch. Village of Hilvarenbeek is to be Regtl Area and RHQ will be returning once more to billets. We left on 6 Feb to take part in the attack on Cleve and the breaching of the Siegfried Line. We have now returned after hanging up our washing and arrive in Hilvarenbeek at 1700 hrs.
Flying boms continue to fly over regularly with the odd one dropping in the neighbourhood. Tilburg seems to be one of the objectives. Lt. J. Day joins Regt as a reinforcement and is posted to 288 Bty. Three casualties in 107 Bty during morning. Area still under heavy shell and mortart fire. Relief of 107 Bty completed by nightfal by Bry of 20 A Tk Regt.
26 February 1945: 288 Bty move out with 46 Bde and proceed to Diessen in Holland, SW of Tilburg. 107 Bty move off with Bde Gp to Diessen. 99 and 289 Btys in Hilvarenbeek. Maintenance. B.C's conference at RHQ in Hilvarenbeek. C.O. tells BCs of the new establishment, i.e., one bty of nine SP Valentines and three btys of one tp of three Valentines and two tps of three towed 17-prs. 99 Bty is to be the reserve and SP Bty.
27 February 1945: The unanimous opinion of all officers of experience in the Regt is that it is not a good establishment to say the least. The towers for the 17-prs are to be M.14s. This would seem to be an improvement on quads. The present period is to be one of rest and maintenance. It is hoped to get every-one in the Div off for 48-hrs to Brussels.
28 February 1945: Locations remain unchanged.