118 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment: 373 Battery 374 Battery 399 Battery:
Antwerp and the River Scheldt
The next move, involving a most interesting journey of some 300miles trhough the northern France and Belgium, was to the south bank of the River Schelde to the North-West of Antwerp. This, to everyones suprise, brought the Regiment into territory hitherto not occupied by Allied forces. None will forget the wonderful welcome which was given by those kindly Belgians and the farmers of Dutch flanders, nor their generous hospitalty, in appreciation of which a carved shield was later presented by the Commanding Officer to the Burgomaster of Kieldrecht.
It was all a most memorable experience, particularly as at the same time the occupation of the postions was a nearby amphibious operation in that flooded land. The role was ostensibly the A.A. Defence of Antwerp, the great port which was to become the main gateway for supplies into the Continent. One more the Regiment was under Command of 5 R.M.A.A.Bde.
To everyones joy (and, incidentatally further suprise) it was realised that the enemy were just across the river, at a range of some 7000 yards, in occupation of the Zuid Beveland peninsular, and holding the neck in considerable strenght. Within a few hours the Commanding Officer, determined to join in the fray, had the Regiment placed under command 2nd Canadian Division in a ground role,and shooting started in earnest. OP parties worked alongside those of the Division Artillery and reps moved with the forward battalions calling for fire a required. Communication to the Regiment Command Post was entirely by wireless since it was an impracticable propostion to lay lines for the 20-30 miles involved by the land route through Antwerp. 3.7 airburst were always in particular demand and one one occasion the fire of the Regiment was credited by the C.R.A with having broken up and prevented a formidable counter-attack by a paratroop division, then concentrating in woods to the South-East of Bergen op Zoom. By 26 Octiber the enemy were beaten back from the neck, and some elements were being driven down the peninsular towards the island of Walcheren. 118 moved in parallel along the southern bank of the river maintaining harassing fire and supporting the Canadian infantry. The operation was brought to a close when the 52nd Lowland Division carried out a seaborne attack across the Scheldt and, during this final phase, the Regiment was in support in a concentration of heavy and meduim guns under command of 9AGRA.
The approaches to Antwerp were now clear. The first ship entered the port on the 25th. It was a matter of considerable satisfaction and pride to feel, during this operation, that the Regiment, without any previous operational experience of ground shooting, was immediately entrusted with the most exacting and responsible arty, role that of close support of infantry. It reflected very creditably on all ranks to achieve such a great measure of succes. Although it is usually unfiar to give individual credit where a whole team is concerned, yet it must be generally quently, to the signallers (both R.A. and R.C.S) who maintained the all-essential communication under the most difficult conditions. They had throughout long months of training worked hard and quietly for all they might have rarely be operationally necessary. But they were ready for their big moment when it arrived and their results were terrific. November and the early part of December was spent in the A.A.role, first in defence of Antwerp and later at the estuary of the River Scheldt (105 A.A.Bde) There was only slight operational activity. On 23rd-25th November two batteries engaged ME's 262 flying a tremendous height and speed on a recce missions over Antwerp, and some two weeks later, unidentified aircraft suspected to be mine laying in the river mouth were taken on. Unfortunately there were no kills, and for 118 these engagements constitued the only A.A. operations in the whole campaign accounting for 219 rounds.
This fact, was and still must be, a source of great disappointment to many of the Regiment, particularly the radar operators and height-finders who had, perhaps, more than others, owing to the specialist nature of their task, to train so intensively and so patiently. But these and many others, were especially to be commended for having adapted themselves do quickly and intelligently to new tasks as "Acks" wireless and telephone operators and many other functions equally important in the roles which the Regiment undertook. On the 20th the Regiment oved back to France.