131 Field Regiment: 319 Battery 320 Battery 495 Battery: 25 pounders

 

Unit No.

 

23 September 1944: Commenced move to Acht, near Eindhoven.

 

27 September 1944: Moved to position at Vleut, with guns in support of attack on Best and  northeaster drive to clear pockets of resistance.

 

29 September 1944: Moved posn to Nijnsel, 2,000 yards further east. Remained there until relieved by 51 (H) Div in early October.

 

1 October 1944: Continued support was given to the consolidation of the line at Best. No spectacular result were reported.

 

4 October 1944: Commitments and position taken over by units of 51st (H) Inf. Div.  Div moved into 'rest' area near Gemert, for maintenance and reinforcements. 54 reinforcements were received from RHU on the 5th Oct.

 

7 October 1944: Recce of positions at Cuijk, on the Maas, was carried out but the position was never occupied. Instead, the RA of the Division was ordered to the Oploo-Overloon area to support the 3rd Inf Div attack to Venray. This move was accomplished on the 9th, arriving at the gun position at approx 1430 hrs. The positions taken over had been evacuated the previous day by untis of 11th Armd. Div.

 

9 October 1944: The period 9-lith was occupied by local skirmishing and a general 'tee-ing up' for Op. Constellation. In the last days of the ops at Oploo-Overloon several recces were made. A position was chosen to cover the possible move forward of the guns to range beyond Venray, and in addition orders were received to recce a position near Weert on the American left flank. These positions were never occupied.

 

17 October 1944: The regiment moved back to its previous positions at Gemert, taking over from a unit of the "Buffs" who had been in occupation. The course of the next few days was spent in maintenance and awaiting ops role.

 

21 October 1944: Location was changed to Nistelrode to support the attack of the 53 (W) Div and its support armoured Bde (7th) on 's-Hertogenbosch. Actual location was at De Venhof, a small hamlet near Loosbroek.

 

22 October 1944: Commencement of move to support 227 Bde on left flank of 51st (H) Div in the attack forward from Best towards Tilburg. Position was reached about 1730 hrs, Route via: - Dinther - Veghel - St. Oedenrode.

 

25 October 1944: Location advanced towards Best. The Regiment was halted  and went into firing positions, but the same afternoon (1530 hrs) was pulled out without firing and advanced towards Oirschot. Final positions were where the enemy were engaged in the attack on Tilburg.

 

26 October 1944: Shelling on 495 "B" Echelon position at 0800 hrs resulted in 3 killed and 4 wounded (one slightly).

 

27 October 1944: Regiment moved forward with orders to be ready to move at short notice. Move finally took place at 0830 hrs the following morning, and the Regiment proceeded via Tilburg. At 1500 hrs on the same day, orders were received to proceed to Asten area. During the advance, GAF planes bombed Helmond in advance of the recce columns. No casualties resulted in the Regiment. The new location was finally occupied at 2130 hrs, and support was given while troops of the 227 (H) Inf Bde, and later the other Bdes of the Division were moving up. An average of 5000 rds per day were expended during the period until the end of the month.

 

29 October 1944: Recce parties moved forward to new position approx 2 miles West of Venlo. Rest of Regt followed at 1030 hours over appalling tracks, which after a brief improvement, steadily worsened in the bad weather at the beginning of December. Position was taken over from 49 Div, and Regt was in action by 1430. Most of the 49 Div targets were later cancelled. Activity from this side was practically nil, though an enormous array of arty was massed. Security probably forbade the revealing of gun positions. Some sporadic shelling, not always inaccurate, was experienced from enemy positions on both sides of the river. No casualties were reported.

 

30 October 1944: Activity nil. Very quiet.

 

1 November 1944: The infantry advance was very slow through the obstacles of carefully prepared minefields. Heavy Amn expenditure supported their attacks on strong points and positions.

 

2 November 1944: One carrier of 320 was mined with some casualties incl. 1 killed.

 

3 November 1944: Until the move to Heusden area little of note occurred, save a huge amn expenditure. Later during the month guns were withdrawn to workshops in small quantities with suspect barrels, due largely to the wear and tear of firing large quantities of supercharge over the first half of this month. In turn, too, in the order 319, 495, 320 Fd Btys, sub units were detached for a period of 48 hrs "rest".

 

8 November 1944: Regiment moved. 319 drew back into rest area.

 

9 November 1944: Civilians were evacuated from Divisional area to avoid espionage and casualties.

 

10 November 1944: 319 Fd Bty rejoined Regt from 'rest' and 495th Fd Bty pulled out into Ommel area for 48 hrs. On OP officer was killed by shellburst in the morning (Capt. Wiggens, 495 Fd Bty RA).

 

11 November 1944: For the next 8 days the Regt remained near Asten, firing considerable quantities of shells at long ranges. 320th Fd Bty were taken out of action at 1200 hrs 12 Nov, but remianed in the Regimental area. 495th Gd Bty returned to action at the same time, from rest area near Ommel. Finally recce parties with mineclearing groups went forward to clear a new area on the 18th Nov.

 

18 November 1944: A troop was detached and moved independently going into action the following morning.

 

19 Novemer 1944: Engineers were still clearing possible Bty positions. "B" Troop moved up beside "A" Troop, and remainder of regt prepared to follow in small groups. One casualty was injured at OP of 495 Bty. 320th Bty reported that over 50 Teller and S mines were found in their Bty position, and some were removed, all this without a single mine casualty.

 

20 November 1944: Regt moved forward to area near Hof but 320 Bty was detached and crossed Deurne Canal. After brief harbouring this Bty went on to Beringen.

 

21 November 1944: "B" Echelon moved up to old gun position, while Regt went on to ??  arriving at approx 1530 hrs. The tracks were becoming almost impassable. 320th Bty moved forward from Beringen to join remainder of Regiment. For three days weather conditions made transport difficulties worse. Several recces were made of possible new areas, but final move was made to Horst for support of attack on the Bleyrick bridge setting.

 

24 November 1944: Recce parties moved away at 0900 hrs, followed by remainder of Regt at 1300 hrs. Route via Beringen - Meijel - Liesel - Amerika - Horst. RHQ moved onto Horst itself on the following morning, being fully established at 0945 hrs. The village of Horst received desultory shelling form enemy guns. Occasionally M Targets were fired on barges on the Maas and on sparse enemy who were being compressed into the Maas pocket. At 0900 hrs on 25th Nov, 1944, exactly 5 months after the first shot was fired in Normandy the C.O. fired a token round on to German soil.

 

28 November 1944: The CRA fired a token "U" Target on German soil at a range of 12000 yards. At 2200 hrs Amerika was bombed by a small force of enemy planes. "F" Troop 119 LAA attached 131 Fd Regt, claimed one hit.

 

1 December 1944: The Regiment remained at this position for several days to support the attack on Bleyrick and Venlo West. Sporadic enemy shelling of the wooded area around the Regimental position was experienced, but no veh cas and no damage of any consequence was reported, though some civilian buildings occupied by subunits were hit. The arty concentration in this area was as great as any previously experienced. Much needed intakes were received throughout the period.

 

2 / 3 December 1944: This day saw plans for Operation "Guildford" worked out. This final attack to clear the western bank of the Maas commenced as far as we were concerned with the order to fire at approx 0546 hrs. At 0745 hrs began a barrage of 800 yard lifts. As well as the actual fire plan, considerable "M" and "U" targets were engaged. Prisoner reports the following day asserted that the barrage was very effective.

 

4 December 1944: On the 4th a notable weather factor was a high wind, occasionally reaching a velocity of 60mph, and giving a met corr of 1000 yds. The day was inactive following the success of yesterdays attacks.

 

5 December 1944: Recce parties were held at short notice to move. Little activity was experienced or engaged. Desultory shelling by guns sit across the Maas was often heard, but no damage was reported.

 

7 December 1944: Gun groups, and Tac RHQ moved to a new position south of Maasbree and went into a defensive role. Line was to be held by two brigades while the third went to Rest near Asten. Gun position was wooded, but marshy, fairly widespread, and tracks in a very poor condition.

 

11 December 1944: Until this day there had been very little activity of any sort save administrative. Today one of C troops guns was firing over open sights at Belfield Church.

 

In addition to the normal positions for the guns, a "harrassing fire position" had been recced, and was occupied in turn by each of the batteries. This was in addition on the normal "2 up and 1 reserve" relief system on which the Battalions relieved each other, and which system naturally effected the O.P. sn  A number of German planes were seen over the area on occasion, varying from Jet propelled fighters to medium bombers. Some bombing of the neighbourhood was in the days immediately preceding 16th December, and an O.P. line was out of action due to enemy planes on the 16th.

 

21 December 1944: Visibility on these days often limited to 100 yds due to mist and bad weather.

 

24 December 1944: Recce parties were ordered to stand by in preparation for a possible move to a position north east of Helden in view of the fact that 25 Field Regt had moved back into support of the Div Arty, and that reports were received of concentrations of mortars within range of this position. The recce was carried out, and the move was possible on Christmas Day, survey having been completed in the new area by 1600 hrs 25 Dec 44. This move, however, was not necessary, and the Regt remains in the same position as before.

 

25 December 1944: Christmas Day was "Very Quiet". All sorts of disturbing rumours failed to materialise, and the German observed some at least of the spirit of Peace and Goodwill. The amn expenditure for Xmas Day was only 2 rpg from the Regiment. On the 26th, two missiles landed in the Regimant Area about 1200 hrs. one being a near miss on 320 Bty Comd Post at the forward position. There were examined and found to be bombs released from a great hight. No important damage was reported.

 

Comparative and Standard calibration of all guns was carried out during the month in an attempt to tighten up the standard of gunnery. There had been a drop in the efficiency of "M" and mors so, of "U" tgts. Much of this was due to the spread of the Regt over a large area, and the constant detachment of one submit in the H.F. Position. Great improvement was reported as a result of the calibration and a firing exercise "Exercise Bolton".

 

 

1 January 1945: Almost at the stroke of Midnight, both out own infantry and the enemy proceeded to see the New Year in with a storm of mortarbombs, Later in the day several enemy aircraft, mostly FW190s flew over the Regimental area at zero feet. these were engaged by LAA troop in support of this unit. A direct hit was observed on the nose of one a-c and several others were also claimed.

 

3 January 1945: Front continued to be fairly quiet. Enemy move was observed and engaged by arty. Cyclists and HF tpt were engaged and scattered.

 

6 January 1945: Heavy traffic was heard and engaged. At 16.00hrs one gun believed LAA shelled 320 battery OP with 2 Gordons, only one round hitting the OP doing no damage and the gun was engaged and stopped.

 

10 January 1945: Lt-Col J.M Hailey relinquished command of the regiment to take up appointment as GSO I a 15 (S) Div. Lt-Col H.D. Stewart TD RA took over comd of the Regt, with Major J.A. Oliver MC RA as 2 IC. 

 

11 January 1945: Heavy snowfalls and severe frosts have been prevalent, it was necessary several times to fire round on known enemy locations to warm the gun.

 

12 January 1945: Satisfactory shoot carried out on hostile guns on the riverbank with the aid of SR trp.

 

13 January 1945: A few propaganda shells were fired into the regt area, containing leaflets calculated to cause dissent between British and US troops. The leaflets met with derision troops being more interested in the `pin up` picture than the printed blurb on the reverse.

 

15 January 1945: Lt C.E.Montague fired on outside his OP, spent bullet passing between his arm and ribs without touching him.

 

16 January 1945: Slight desultory enemy shelling, incl some airburst over area at about 1930 hours. No damage or casualties. Retaliatory fire put down on Belfeld area from fwd bty.

 

23 January 1945: The harassing fire battery position was abandoned, as so many rounds had been fired from from the main gun area as to render the forward position. Throughout the month, until this day numerous HF, DF,CB tasks, observed and unobserved, were fired but there has been very little activity among the enemy.

 

24 January 1945: Regiment left location Maasbree(Brabant) and went to rest area near Tilburg, akk troops accommodated in billets in the village, the Regiment remained in the rest area for the remainder of the month.

 

31 January 1945: TEWT at Bty HQ attended by CO, 2IC and Bty Comds.

 

1 February 1945: Regiment still in rest area. Flying bombs have been seen for the first time, passing overhead.

 

5 February 1945: 2200 – Regiment left Goirle en route for assembly area near Nijmegen for operation Veritable. Security was very strict, travelling only by night without lights, and as we were still on the road when down broke all Divisional signs had to be painted out, covered up, and Bonnets hidden in the vehicles. The remainder  of the  day was devoted to preparations for the battle and rest. Vehicles were ‘frozen’ owing to the bad state of the roads which were deplorable, and also to help security.

 

8 February 1945: The Operation began for us with a large-scale counter-battery program opening at 0515 hours. This was followed at 0915 hours by a barrage from one thousand guns, ours playing their share;  this lasted until 1503. First objectives were gained early in the afternoon. The Regiment moved up in order to keep in range, over filthy roads to location near Camp. Only the consistent drive of the Second-in-Command Major J.A. Oliver, MC, got the guns into action at all as the whole area was liquid mud, having been ‘no-man’s land’ for several months.

 

9 February 1945: The 2 Gordons started off at 0400 hours, supported by our guns, for their objective – to breach the Siegfried Line, which was accomplished by about 1000 hours. The weather is abominable, very wet and the roads are little better than rivers of mud.

 

10 February 1945: This was an easier day from the firing aspect, although in no way easier as regards weather which continued to be very wet. Four members of Major Campbell’s crew were killed in the evening when the house is which they were sheltering received  a direct hit from a heavy shell.

 

11 February 1945: Into Germany.

 

28 February 1945:No firing. Regiment moved out at 2100 hours for rest area in Tilburg, arriving there at 0500 hours 1 March. We have received congratulatory messages from this Div Comd and CRA and messages were also received by the Div Comd from the Corps Commander and GOC 1 Cdn Army. They all carried the praise ‘Well done the Fifteenth Scottish”.

1 March 1945: Regiment arrived in Tilburg , cleaning and maintenance occupied the morning, but as far possible troops were free afternoons and evenings.

 

6 March 1945: Regiment moved to Belgium.

 

 

 

My Father :- B.F McLEAN is furthest right and was 22yrs old at the time. At some point he was billeted with some Canadians in a place called Goch near Celle and was sent to Bergen Belsen for a couple of hours with five others on the day of liberation to witness the atrocities , they were told to only give out cigarettes and no food or drink. (photo I.Mclean)