13 (The Honourable Artillery Company) Regiment Royal Horse Artillery: G Battery  Battery - H Battery - I Battery-Sextons

 

Unit No.

 

20 September 1944: Regiment moved in to Holland as far as Heeze and Zomeren (Brabant). Very akward country for gun posns, open ground is soft and marshay and the wooded parts are liable to contain snipers.

 

21 September 1944: Going to Geldrop (Brabant), regimental position here.

 

22 September 1944: Forward to Helmond, I Battery remained in Geldrop, G and H moved forward, late afternoon doubled back to Zomeren to go through Inf Bde next day who had bridged the canal between Zomeren and Asten.

 

23 September 1944: Mopping up between Asten and Deurne (Brabant), hard laborious work, plenty of enemy shelling, particulary around Asten.

 

25 September 1944: Forward to clear and take up positions along road Milheeze-Oploo. section from H Battery fired a salvo into Germany at 18.27hrs and were thus the first Royal Horse Artillery Regiment to do and the first regiment in the Corps to do so.

 

26 September 1944: Guns in Oploo (Brabant) area , isolated and subjected to shelling, 2 casualties, moved to Div CL north of Rips (Brabant).

 

1 October 1944: Regt still in action West op Oploo.

 

2-6 October 1944: 7 US Armd Div commenced op from Oploo to Overloon, RA 11 Armd Div in Sp, fired a fair number of concs at call in sp of them.

Troughout this period the Regt Svy Party was deployed on the CRA's orders, in a flash spotting and sound bearing role. It was not the first time they had done this as it is the CRA's practice to use his Svy party in this way or at least to use them as a counter Battery Office. All shellreps go direct to them and from them to the CBO thus relieving the Adjt and his comns of much traffic. The Svy party also keep their own CB board, which had been found invaluable both as a guide and a supplement to the OPs, it has also in conjunction  with the Air OP, permanently attached to us by the CRA, who is sent at once to look at any intersection found by thr Svy party, enabled the Regt at times to make a speedy and effective reply to such things as Nebelwerfers and SP guns which are often too nimble for the necessarily slower work of the CB organisation. Moved to Oploo area where most of the Corps Arty is deployed. 7 US armd Div has moved to another sector and its place taken by 3 Br Inf Div and as part of the Corps Arty we now sp them in addition to our own divisional role.

 

11 October 1944: An uneventful day, but at about 22.00hrs, the enemy, doing some HF or CB landed several slavos on I Battery posn and a few strays around RHQ, as a result of which I Battery lost one killed and 10 wounded, one round landing on top of a bivouac, where these men were sleeping.

 

12 October 1944: Fired a fire plane in sp of 3 Br Div attack on Overloon (300rpg). OP orders received for Div op to clear area Venray to Amerika and Horst once 3 Br Div have taken Venray, Regt remains under comd CRA in sp 29 arm bde, one officer and 10 ORs to Brussels for 48hrs leave.

 

14 October 1944: Orders for likely move to area Sambeeksche, north of Overloon, 16.30hrs orders received for new area. Recce parties out and survey done, mostly in the dark.

 

15 October 1944: Move at first light to new area recced and prepared yesterday evening. Ready by 08.00hrs with 150rpg dumped. 18.00hrs G Battery moved to De Rips area to Sp 29 Armd Bde, with DFs etc in limited op across the canal. CO rejoins the Tac Bde at urgent request of the Bde Comd. Regt remains under cmd CRA. Op probalby starts tomorrow with slight change from orignal plan , Bde Axis now runs east from De Rips towards Venray and then south, further 150rpg dumped.

 

16 October 1944:  Barrage in support of 3 Br Div lasting 170mins 300rpg no rest, H Hr 07.00-10.00hr, on completon of barrage moved to Regt area at De Rips to sp 29 armd Bde which is still less the 2 F & F Yeomanry and plus the 3 Mons. FOOs normal for G and H Batteries, plus two and a BC from 146 Med Regt. BBC travels with RHQ netted to us and to his own Regiment.

 

17 October 1944: Avd continued to Weversloo (Limburg) area. Batteries moved to area west of Merselo. Bad weather and very bad going, 5 tanks bogged, road almost impassable which caused worries over amn supply, all Ok however.

 

18 October 1944: Adv  Regt continued to Heide and Volen (Limburg). Regt moved to main road area some 2-3000 yards south of previous posn. State of roads and tracks so bad that only way of getting to new posn was by going back to to Deurne and then due east along the main Deurne-Venray road, a circuit of some 10 miles. Though a comparatively small increase in range was obtained by this move, it had to be done first ot ensure that the Regiment was albe to move further forward to sp any subsequent adv by the armour and secindly to ensure that supplies could be maintained. Move accomplished without hitch.

 

19 October 1944: Bde consolidated at Volen, Schiede and Leunen (Limburg). Bde moved to Heide, Regt moved to Weversloo.

 

20 October 1944: A static period, smaal patrols first two days, none there after, FOOs established OPs in church towers, etc. Much shelling by both sides, weather poor. Rest parties send to Helmond.

 

2 November 1944: Capt A.W. young evacuated.

 

4 November 1944: Inf from Guards Armd Div relieved own inf (both Bdes).

 

5 November 1944: Capt P. Kinnersley MC returned to unit from England whence he had been on 29 june.

 

6 November 1944: Regt on being relieved by 86 Fd Regiment moved to De Rips to rest, first time out of action since 27 August.

 

10 November 1944: Rest ends, return to Meerselo, amn expenditure limited to 20rpg per day plus 9 rpg for CB ordered by higher fmns.

 

12 November 1944: I ty BC and FOOs with Inf Bde relieving 151 Fd Regt.

 

16 November 1944: Amn expenditure reduced to NIL.

 

7 November 1944: I Bty B and FOOs rejoin unit.

 

20 November 1944: General re-shuffle prior to proposed op along Deurne-Amerika rly to Horst and thence to the Maas. Inf Bde moved over the rly. Arm Bde onrelief by Bde from 3 Div takes over 15 Bde's posns aound Ijsselstein area. Regt moves to Ijsselstein.

 

22 November 1944: Large fire plan laid on 230rpg dumped, Regt fired 10rpg on initial cones at H.Hr. Nothing else fired at all throughout the op. Enemy withdrawn, everyone bogged down. Frightful weather.

 

24 November 1944: Stand down.

 

26 November 1944: Moved to Gemert area to rest.

 

27 November 1944: Regt to Gemert area to rest, new gun areas recced.

 

29 November 1944: Regt moves to Melderslo in sp of 159 Inf Bde. repsy for arty sp shared with 151 Fd regt week and week about, guns both Regt remain in action throughout on call to controlling 151s turn now.

 

30 November 1944: FOOs from I bty in sp of attack by  Mons to clear enemy pocket from Kasteel.

 

1-30 November 1944:

The Division continued to hold the line in Deurne-Venray area with both Bdes, and the Regt remained in sp of the Armd Bde. A large scale op was planned by Corps at the end of the month to clear all enemy from West of the Maas on the corps front. This in turn was part of an army plan, the corps on ou right being engaged on the same job in the Roermond-Venlo sector. The Divisions share in the pat, though carried out as planned, was not in fact fought as the enemy had withdrawn. Throughout this period the Arm Bde front was the most active as regards enemy shelling and mortaring, and at leasyt equally active with the inf Bde front as regards enemy pattrolling.

Consequently our FOO's (now deployed as OPs) had an active and at times uncomforable life. Normally two sets of OPs were manned, the third bty being used as reliefs.but as during this month we had also to proivde releifs for the 151 (AY) Fd Regt and we ourselves had a short rest period, the OPs were in fact manned as follows: Leunen, Capts Davidge and Bugden of  Battery with the BC Major Gaunt a Heide with the Armd Regt HQ (23H), Scheide and Voolen, Captains Kinersley and Mather of H Battery, with the BC Major Smyth-osbourne) with the Ard Regt HQ (RTR). There was also in the line an inf bn (either 8R or 3 Mons) whose H was est with 23 H, Major Gaunt therefore was resposible for co-ordanating DF tasks with H Bty and liaison with the inf. At the same time the CO having as usual estab his TAC HQ at Bde H was in comn by RT on the Nde net with Nde and the Regts/Bns in the line, and on his own com net with BCs and OPs.

In fact wireless was only used in secondary means and the most important link was by line which in spite of matreatment by enemy patrols, shelling and  our own tracks, was remarkably reliable, cear and all embracing. In bad weather, difficult ground and generally adverse conditions, the line parties did a good job of work.

There were few opportunity targets, and mot of the shooting was HF or CB, of the  tgrts recorded in this period two-thirds were on the Regt front.

 

1-31 December 1944: The Division continued to old the line of the Maas north of Venlo from Grubbenvorst to just south of Wannsum with the Div Arty in spt. The regt role was therefore a duplicate of that of the preceeding month in a new location. The front was held by 159 Ind Bde with three Bn, the Bde having under comd the Ins of court Regt and 8RB.

The Armd de were out of action, we therefore sp the inf Bde,taking respy for thr frnt week about with the 151 (AY) Fd Regt. i.e. CO, BCs and OPs.

The lay out pf the OPwas normal, i.e. BC with each Bn HQ and two OPs fwd on each Bn front. There was an exhasustive regt line laypot wich made complete intercomm possible between all sub-units, all OPs, BC and Bn HQs, and Bde as well as the usual RA line from above. Maint of line was at times difficult owing to shelling and mortarting, and once again the system of fwd OPs exchanges was adopted.

 

15-19 December 1944: On December 15 the Div less 29 Arm Bde and this Regt moved south to tke over the Maeseyck-Roermond sector. 29 rm Bde went back to France to re-fit, and 4 Amd Bde with 4 RHA came under command the div in thir place. he Regt therefore became spare and was left behind in the Grubbenvorst area in sp 3 Brit Di a Bde from whom was taken over.

 

20-24 December 1944:  On 0 Dec on orders from 11 Armd div harbour parties were sent o Hamond near Weert, where it was thought the regt would res for 7 days prior to relieving either 4 RHA or 151 AY. On 21 Dec however the Regt moved in sp 4 Arm Bde and contnued in new surroundings its taks of he past 6 weeks, HQ at Neeritter. Only two BC's and four OPs were reqd on this front, so it was possible to provide some relief for OPs without having to take Offs and crews from the gun and though in addition we had to maintain an LO. Captain with 11 Hussars the left hand Regt of the right hand flanking fmn (7 Ard div) who were accross the river from us and at right angles to us.

 

25-30 December 1944: Christmas day as succesfully celebrated but throughout this period everyone was on his toes, due partly to the shock of Rundsted's Ardenne offensive, and more particulaly to active and bold Boche patrols n the Div front and PW stories of  a raid over Christmas.

 

31 December 1944: On 31 December the enemy air was active locally, but the AA tp attached to this Regt using their guns in AA role for te first time since Normandy shot down two. On the same day the first leave party left for the UK. 

 

7 January 1945: Recce of positions between Horn and Baexem.

 

13 January 1945: REME’s instrument inspection.

 

16 January 1945: CO at HQRA as active CRA. Operation Blackcock begins.

 

19 January 1945: Move to Baexem area to continue sp of 12 Corps attack. Almost complete thaw this night. Snow again next day.

 

22 January 1945: Investiture by C in C (Montgomery).

 

23 January 1945: Warning order to stand by to sp the Commando’s.

 

25 January 1945: Move to Roggel area in Sp  3 Para Bde, 3 BCs and 5 Ops out. RHQ with Bde at Heythuizen.

 

26 January 1945: Adv parties to France to 29 Armd bde Area, but move never came off.

 

27 January 1945: Major O’grady relinquishes comd of 1 Bty on posting to G2 (AA) 8 Corps Bty Captain Davis continues as OC. Lt A.N. Bickett returned to the regiment from England (whence he had been evac in September 1944, and posted to 1 Bty).

 

1-30 January 1945:

The Regt continued in the Neeritter area in the same role. In addition however with the rest of the Div arty it sp 7 Armd div in the 12 Corps attack North from Sittard to Roermond, which ran across the Div front and eventually pinched the Div out, by which time the Regt, having already moved north with the attack into the Inf Bde area, found itself in the Roggel area under op comd of 6 airborne Div in sp 3 para bde, whose front ran from and incl Roermond northwards. During this 12 Corps attack Maj Gaunt and Capt Davis went to 5 RHA as reserves. Apart from this attack the overriding factor in the life of this Regt was the snow and extreme cold which had started before Christmas and had not finished by the end of them month. At its peak which lasted for about 10 days it imposed a great strain on everyone as in addition to the normal incidents of extreme cold in the field it meant that all guards were doubled and everyone sleep disturbed by the necessity of starting up and running for 20 minutes every veh in the Regiment at 22.00, 02.00 and 06.00hrs each night. On less cold night it was found difficult to omit the 02.00.

 

2 February 1945: REME measures H Bty’s guns for wear.

 

3 February 1945: Roads becoming very bad through sudden thaw and much rain. Drastic restrictions and traffic circuits imposed by higher fmns. No vech allowed on road without Cos certificate.

 

4 February 1945: No delivery of sups owing to thaw traffic restrictions. Reserve rations consumed.

 

5 February 1945: Lieutenant Freddy joins from 31 RHU and is posted to G Bty as a Tp leader.

 

9 February 1945: G Bty out of action. G are completely cut off except for jeeps: consequently amn replenishment is impossible. They at present hold full first line, they are therefore taken out of action unless required for some special emergency and henceforth find the whole of the Regt quato for road building fatigues in the area.

 

14 February 1945: G bty move to area Maasbree and come under comd 77 Med Regt in sp 6 Airlanding Brigade.

 

15 February 1945: Level of the Maas continues to rise. C Tp OP now cut off.

 

16/17 February 1945: C Tp OP evac and re-established farther back from the river.

 

18 February 1945: 11 Armd div move to conc area neat Tilburg. Regt remain in action in present area continuing in sp of 6 Airborne Div in direct sp of 3 Para Bde and comes under comd 8 AGRA.

 

19 February 1945: 76 US Inf Div moves in and take over from 6 Airborne Div, with Regt in same role.

 

20 February 1945: Americans take over complete and Regt out of action at 17.00hrs.

 

21 February 1945: Regt with G Bty move to Horst area and occupy the same posn as in December with the same tasks but this time in sp of 115 Ind Inf Bde who are under comd 76 US Infty Div.

 

21/23 February 1945: Various preps made for participation from this side of the Maas in Corps fire plan in sp of 1 Cdn Army offensive between Maas and the Rhine.

 

23 February 1945: Regt relieved by a bty of 25 Field Regiment and moves to Asten for rest and re-fit, coming under comd RA 8 Corps. Only op commitment is as part of Corps Reserve.

 

26 February 1945: Cos inspection of the Regiment

The days are now spent with full parades in the morning demoted to maint and refitting (The regt has just been re-equipped with Cromwells OP tanks in place of the Sherman) and to recreation and trips to Eindhoven and Helmond in the afternoon and evenings. This is the first complete rest this Regiment has had and is not even at 24hrs to move, though a skeleton recce party has to be in barracks available for duty each day. The regt is looking fir and well and the eqpt and vehs are once more getting back to their old high standards.

 

 

 

 

Ireland prior to the Normandy landings, in the middle Gunner Jack Beff G. Troop
(photo C. Pownall)
A Sexton of 13 HAC in Normandy
(http://www.hac.org.uk/home/)