15 Field Regiment RCA:

 

19 October 1944: We moved here in the morning amid showers of rain and with a cool wind blowing. The Btys were ready on theatre grid by 1300 hrs. No firing and wireless silence were the orders so the afternoon was spent in digging in and preparing for a fire plan on the 2 Oth. Weather - cool and blustery.

 

20 October 1944: C tp fired over 100 rds of white smoke in four or five different shoots to make a bombing line for the typhoons. The weather was dull and rainy which was not too good for flying. We are now a part of 1 Brit Corps with some famous and veteran British Divisions as partners. Svy is now brought to us by a Svy Tp of the RCE. Also with us until the end of Oct if Capt Harvey, Toronto Scottish, Deputy Returning Offr for the Saskatchewan Provincial Election of a soldier candidate. Most of the boys from Sask voted today. A heavy harassing Fire program occupied the night hours. Weather - continues unsettled with scattered showers and quite cool.

 

21 October 1944: We spent the morning in the old posn and the recce parties left at 1450 to recce this one. Our posns were soft and the rds muddy so the Btys were given ample warning to be able to move quickly. P Bty moved first and after that R, Q and RHQ in that order. It was a very slow move because one of the armd regts held the rd ahead of us so that it was dark before we arrived at our new posn. Mines and mud were serious deterrents. Early this morning a mine put TLF out of action and seriously injured Gnr Fortin the dvr-op. Sgt Evans, Sig Sgt of R Bty was less seriously injured. These were our first mine cas. The veh was out as a relay sta and moving to an area where it could get good reception. The mine was struck when they tried to drive into a field after cutting the wire fence. Weather - Changeable. Cold nights, cool and showery during daytime.

 

22 October 1944: Not many tgts today as the front is too fluid. Capt D.M. Gillies, FOO from R Bty was injured quiet seriously when his Ram OP tk was hit by an enemy Atk gun. His sig, Gnr Hannah, was also injured. This made the fifth OP offr cas for R Bty. Miraculously enough the tk is still fit to use. Major Rutherford, att to us for battle experience and acting as FOO with Q Bty, also received a leg wound today and was evacuated. Mr. Lyman acted as LO with the CO at Bde HQ. Weather - Clear and cool with some wind.

 

23 October 1944: Last night's attack, for which we fired a good sized fire plan from 2300 to 2400 with concs on call for the rest of the night, was unique in two ways. First, the whole plan was hurriedly drawn up so that the Inf IO at Bde had to act as Arty IO and assist in drawing up the traces and getting them to the FOOs and reps. Second, in the attack itself, the FOO went fwd on foot with the inf relying on the inf comn net to call for fire orders. Actually the net failed after an hr or two but luckily the concs were not needed. Early this morning our recce parties were standing by ready to move but they did not move until about 1000 hrs. Continuous support was provided by moving P Bty first after the leading Bty of 19 SP Regt had gone by. Then followed R Bty, RHQ and Q Bty in that order. We were ready as a Regt in our new posn by 1400 hrs. Since coming under 1 Br Corps the problems of tgt numbering have been intensified. This is another matter that should be co-ordinated on a much wider basis. HFs for the night required 30 rpg. Weather - dull, scattered showers.

 

24 October 1944: 49 Br Div on our right forces us to move westward as the Div bdy was moved West to the rly. Recce parties left at 1300 hrs followed closely by Q Bty which was to provide continuous support in the new area. Then followed R, RHQ and P. It was a short move but far enough to move us right in with our inf FDLs for the night. The general area came under fire but none was particularly directed  at us and we took part in several M Tgts and even a V tgt. These brought forth over 100 PW and broke up some local counter attacks. Our COs Humber scout car is being prepared for use. It is not considered this is a very satisfactory type of scout veh for the use of an arty CO as it is so difficult to get into and out of and has such poor cross country performance. Weather - fair with some wind.

 

25 October 1944: We remained here today while supporting the Bde in their attack.The IO visited some of the guns with his I map and the men appreciated it. He also went to each Command Post. The guns and gun pits these days are a sight for sore eyes. Camouflage and track plans are also considered more than they were. We are trying to arrange that FNH propellant be used for night firing. There is an adequate supply of it now but the gunners dislike the fact that it makes the guns dirtier and fills the gun pits with smoke and fumes. It is certainly difficult to do flash spotting on them, however, and that outweighs the disadvantages. We helped fire a V tgt, scale 3, on one enemy rly gun.

 

26 October 1944: Capt J.B. Forbes, acting as FOO with a company of the Algonquin Regt, was pinned down in his tank for some hours and his tank suffered three direct hits with HE. We fired many DF tgts in their support and broke up many small enemy formations preparing to attack them. By 1700 hrs they had been safely withdrawn from the critical point. Their eqpt had been damaged but the personnel were safe though shaken up a bit. A small fire plan and a few HF tasks constituted the night's activities. Once during the day Q Bty fired 160 rds of smoke in an smoke screen. Weather - overcast and cool.

 

27 October 1944: From sitreps coming in over the arty net in the early morning it became apparent that we would be moving and we did. Recce parties left at 0900 hrs under Lt W.C. Miller, CPO of 17 Bty. All btys were ready on theatre grid by 1450 hrs. This was in good time as the guns did not leave until later (1230 for first bty and 1330 for the other two). Meantime R Bty had been in action in the new posn maintaining continuous support for our infantry. RHQ spent the night in a Jerry-built shack surrounded by a concrete wall with sentry stands in the corners. It proved a very convenient place. The rain at night made the rds muddy and the weather turned somewhat colder when the sky cleared.

 

28 October 1944: Still in the Heinie house. We fired very little harassing fire last night or in darkness this morning. No DFs or SOSs were called for. Lt-Col Walker came over from IO CIB to hold office for a few charges which had been laid and stayed to visit the troops. We fired a 10-minute fire plan at 1350 with one troop firing smoke, rate normal. Lt Rideout was despatched to 3 Netd near Dieppe. Capt H.F. Mogey was killed this afternoon while acting as FOO with the L&W. The Regt moved - first R, then P, RHQ and Q - to an area just South of Bergen op Zoom. One of E tp guns (ED) was sent to wksp with a scored barrel. We were in action in the new posn by 1830. Weahter - clear and cold.

 

29 October 1944: The tgts we fired last night were all at close range averaging 3000 yds and Ch I was used for the first time in a long while. The CPOs synchronise their night firing by using the bty omnibus line. Last night Q Bty did the timing. In this Regt we lay exchange lines to each bty and an omnibus line which connects RHQ and the three btys in series. When the Regt moves one bty at a time the omnibus line is maintained by tying the two ends together or by putting in earth pins. This is a convenient line for fire orders. Mr Spencer, CPO of 95 Bty, has been promoted to Capt and made B Tp commander replacing Capt Mogey who will be buried tomorrow. Weather - continued cold and clear with heavy frosts at night.

 

30 October 1944: Spent a quiet day today and fired only a few rds. H/Capt C.W. Foggo, our Padre, buried Capt Mogey. Most of his troop and many of the Regt officers attended the funeral. He was buried in a clearing at the SE corner of Bergen op Zoom (MR 607268). Some HF tasks were laid on for the night hours. These are at long ranges so we will likely move early tomorrow. Weather - overcast with a cold breeze.

 

31 October 1944: Still here and the 'front' seems dormant for we have fired very few rds. Capt J.B. Forbes is to become Bty Capt of 95 Bty replacing Capt D.A. Drummond who goes to C Tp. We have lost our old friend and good Aux Services supervisor, Al Clarke, who has gone to the 2nd Cdn Armd Bde now in Breda. His former helpers carry on in the absence of a successor. Yesterday and today they have shown the troops six showings of a popular movie 'Song of Russia'. Liberty vehs were sent to Antwerp at night. The CRA and the CO inspected the Regt today. The IO has been instructed to visit the Bty Command Posts at least once a day to post them on the intelligence situation. Troop offrs are to personally visit guns while the sight test is in progress. Weather - clear and cool with slight breezes.

 

1 November 1944: Recce parties moved off at 0800 hrs and the main body at 0900 - Q Bty, RHQ and P. The route was a circuitous one through the city and up the main route North. The gun area is flat, sandy, low-ying and damp. At least it is easy digging for gun pits. Our long wheel base 'sixties' are proving clumsy on these narrow roads and 90° turns. Our FOOs are being especially vigilant tonight with a view to detecting locns of enemy guns and mortars since the flash spotting and sound ranging troops are not set up here. Our 2 IC is relieving Lt-Col Walker at Bde for the afternoon and evening. Lt A.D. Petterley returned to the 95 Bty, this time as CPO. 17 Bty is now one offr under strength. Weather today - light clouds, cool breezes and scatterd showers.

 

2 November 1944: The Btys were notified today that, commencing 5 Nov, they would be able to send 4 OR every second day to Brussels on a 48-hr leave. Two offrs will go each time and may go to Antwerp. 17 Bty are sending the first two offrs. At 1700 hrs, Q Bty fired an Oboe smoke screen for the typhoons. Capt Creig's tank bogged down in a ditch while moving fwd with the Alq R in an attack on Steenbergen. We were unable to recover it immediately on account of enemy fire. Weather - cloudy and cool, showers at night.

 

3 November 1944: We fired a good many rds in the early morning and on into mid morning because the enemy was moving around in withdrawal or at least re-grouping. The Air OP assisted and by this means we silenced at least one SP gun. Liberty vehs on the scale of one per Bty and one to RHQ went to Antwerp. These liberty vehs can only be sent in such a way and at such a time that the Regt can move without the vehs or the personnel. The weather was wet and cold so a rum issue was authorized.

 

4 November 1944: Recce parties were ordered to be ready any time after 0930 hrs. They actually moved shortly after 0800 hrs but the rest of the Regt remained in action (with nothing to fire at) until about 1530 hrs. The move was accomplished without incident despite the fact that the weather became inclement and that the Germans had flooded a good deal of the countryside and mined certain of the rds. Our new RHQ was on the SW outskirts of Steenbergen and the HQs of the Btys were not far away in houses more or less shell-torn. It was wet, chilly weather with strong breezes blowing in off the water.

 

5 November 1944: Today was Sunday and a highlight in the Regt history for 100 of us attended a special Church Parade in the Cathedral at Bergen op Zoom. The local Dutch Pastor addressed us for a few minutes telling us how grateful they were to welcome us as liberators. We were of different race but of the same faith, he said, and the Nazies stood for something absolutely contrary to that Christian faith. After Church, there was an Artillery march past led by the pipe band of the A & SH of C and with our Regt at the front. The CRA took the salute. When we returned to the Regt we found everyone getting ready to move again. We were detached, together with the remainder of RCA, 4 Cdn Armd Div to sp the Brit 49 Div attack. The move was a Regt one throught Steenbergen and NE. We were ready in the new posn by 1700 hrs. We found ourselves deployed in front of the SP Regts and in open muddy fields. 48 hr leaves in Brussels for OR and in Antwerp for offrs started today. Two offrs and fifteen OR went. It rained again at night.

 

6 November 1944: We did a little harassing fire last night and one fire plan today but that was all. Lt-Col Walker, released from duty at 10 CIB, was able to hear all the office cases that were ponding and to inspect the gun posns. The YMCA showed a movie in the farmer's barn. In this open country we notice the winds and of course the rain is always with us.

 

7 November 1944:  This morning we moved back to where we had been on the 5th to concentrate. No guns were put into action. The YMCA ran a movie for our troops in a little cinema in the town. The first group of 48 hr leave personnel returned from Brussels and reported  good leave. Many of our guns had to be winched out of their posns in the mud this morning. Our gunners and drivers have learned to work with patience in difficult circumstances. All vehs and guns arrived here OK. We are all living under a roof. The strong cold breezes continue with occasional rain squalls.

 

8 November 1944: RHQ was busy with sundry administrative matters and the btys likewise. For the men there were liberty vehs to Antwerp and an army show in Bergen op Zoom at night. Plans were laid for the Regt to move the next day. Weather - continued cold and wet.

 

9 November 1944: Today the entire div moved to a conc area near Tilburg prior to taking over a very wide front along the river Maas from 7 Armd Div. The route was along an important maint route and gradually more and more 'incidental' traffic fitted itself in between our vehs since our drivers were trying religiously to maintain their 40 yard interval. This process of incidental traffic gradually by-passing a convoy and 'squeezing out' the vehs in convoy beyond normal interval invariably takes place on any important rd.

It can only be cured by

 (a) Maintaining rigid provost control to prevent all vehs except the convoy from using the rd, and keeping someone at the rear of the regt convoy to refuse to let any veh pass him except a priority one, or

 (b) Driving the convoy nose to tail.

There were also several bad bottlenecks on route which accentuated the difficulty with the result that on approaching the dis P the Regt was quite badly split up. Just before the dis P we were met by a guide with the message that we were not concentrating but were to go into action in an area some considerable distance from the intended conc area. The route in to the gun area was then carried out in the dark, during a rainy night. Funnily enough, most of the Regt got in in reasonably good time in spite of all the difficulties. However, some did get lost and vehs were still reporting in even after daylight the next morning. Weather - continued rain and cold.

 

10 November 1944: We are again in sp of 10 Cdn Inf Bde, which is in a holding role along a very wide front. Our OPs and reps were sent out to meet their opposite numbers of the 5 RHA, which we are relieving. Our move straight into action last night turned out to be a good idea after all, since we now have time to carry out our relief properly. Five new offrs who arrived on 9 No were disposed a follows: Lt DM Sneath (posted) and Lt M Tapley (X-4(a)) to 17 Bty; Lts NG Liversidge and TRE Seale (X-4(a)) to 95 Bty; LT JR Browning (X-4(a)) to 110 Bty. Lt Liversidge went to Bde HQ to assist Lt-Col Walker with his duties as CRAs Rep. Our respected CRA, Brig JN Lane, was killed when his jeep ran over a mine. We shall remember him as a good soldier and leader. No rds were fired. Weather - blustery and cool.

 

11November 1944: One hundred OR, the RSM as a pallbearer and all available offrs attended the CRAs funeral. E tp supplied a quad and F tp two trailers to draw the coffin. The Regt sent a wreath of chrysanthemums to honour his memory.

On the front the OPs reported that observation was quit limited. The 19 A Fd Regt are moving out and we must shift East to be able to cover a wider front. Recce parties left for the new area. A few rds of HF were fired at night and 'Jerry' retaliated with some HF which did no damage. It rained enough to make the rds slippery.

 

12 November 1944: We moved to the new locn in the morning. F Bty had gone ahead the night before so as to provide continuous support. We are now deployed in the new area to cover a stretch of the Maas 25 kilometers in extent. To do this we are in three seperate bty areas with RHQ near the center bty, the distance between the extreme right and extreme left going 7500 meters. Because of the distance now between units we have our Regt A and B ech with us and Div Arty ech has been disbanded. Also one Air OP car has been placed under out comd and the plane is staying in a fd not far from RHQ. Because we are going to be here perhaps for a number of days we are preparing a temporary posn for one tp of each bty for HF purposes and will  move a tp into one of these posns for arty HF programmes if possible. We have asked Div Arty to restrict HF tasks to troop tasks and to give us enough notice to move the HF troop into posn before dark. Firing will be very restricted as our allotment is only 10 rpg per day. 5 can be fired without ref to Div Arty on observed enemy activity. Since OPs see no activity, probably the amn will mostly be used in retaliaton to enemy shelling.

 

13 November 1944: A quiet day here brought only sitreps from the FOOs and not much firing was done. The gunners dug in and tidied up their posns and tried to make arrangements more permanent for their billets, etc. Meantime the surveyors were busy preparing for the calibration of the guns which will be done on Wed, Thu and Fri. The NO began a routine typhus innoculation of all the men and offrs of the regt. The weather was windy and skies overcast.

 

14 November 1944: Since there is no F Sp unit in the area we have concentrated an org of shelreps in this posn. We now have a large number of OPs across the front, including all the inf OPs. Each has a name and has had its map ref fixed by the arty rep who has also been detailed in each bn to visit the inf OPs and make sure the staffs are oriented and know how to send in shelreps. Calibration prepartions went on during most of the day. A British IG came to us to offer us the benefit of his experience in the calibration and the Div Arty Met Sec is staying with us to give us frequent and up-to-date meteors during the calibration. The YMCA gave four showings of their movie for the troops. Trucks were also sent to 's Hertogenbosch to a movie there. Weather - wet and cold.

 

15 November 1944: We wonder how you, dear diary, will like the pressure of a new pen for today a new IO opens the Regt's heart to you. Lt D.E. (Bunker) Hill  move to G Tp as GPO - a good break for G Tp. Lt D.C. Stone is now ACPO of Q Bty. The calibration of guns is the main job of the day and proceeding according to schedule and the 'rules'. The 2 IC, RSO and Met Sec are the busy people in the Regt. Work will continue tomorrow and the next day. Generally quiet on our 'front' and little firing in anger from our guns. Weather fairly clear and cold.

 

16 November 1944: Calibration of guns continued today and will be continued tomorrow. Generally quiet on our front - a few tp tgts and a couple of bombards fired. We were all set to do a fire plan for a crossing of the river Maas by a patrol of the Linc and Welld, but they managed to get over without any arty support. The CO was in from Bde and disposed of serious office cases. Weather clear and cold.

 

17 November 1944: Calibration of the guns was completed today and all cogent data is being correlated. Results are expected to be ready to be put on the guns in a day or two. The weather being cold and wet a rum issue was authorized by the CRA. Practically daily now a patrol is organized by one bn or another with the object of crossing the river at night and getting infm or prisoners. The task is silent, but a small fire plan consisting of several cones on call is laid on, to be used in case the patrol runs into difficulties in trying to get back. Up to now none of these plans has been required, mainly because the patrols have been unable to get across owing to weather, boat trouble, etc. Movies were shown for the men in a nearby schoolhouse.

 

18 November 1944: Another quiet day with scarcely any firing. Much interest (and envy) is evinced in the news that leaves to Canada are now permitted. As qualification calls for at least 5 years continues service overseas the eligibility list in the Regt numbers less than a dozen. RHQ clerks and the Adjt have been busy preparing documents for a court martial case (four persons). The 2 IC has been busy preparing accommodation in the conc area which the Regt will occupy shortly. Some snags were encountered in compiling the calibration data and as a result 7 guns will have to be re-fired and fall of shot re-observed tomorrow. One of the 95 Bty 3-tonners was stolen from the parking lot in 's Hertogenbosch tonight - allegedly by a drunk. It was found some miles from the car park in a badly battered condition. It had apparently been involved in an accident with a motorcycle as a badly smashed motorcycle was found under it. The DR was killed in the collision. Weather - fairly clear and cold.

 

19 November 1944: Another quiet day with practically no activity on our front. Our Air OP offr - Capt Halsey - has left us to take over another assignment. Preparations for the occupation of our new conc area go on apace under Capt A.W. Sinclair. No word yet as to when we will move. Weather - slightly overcast, fairly mild.

 

20 November 1944: Quiet again today although there was some firing in the early hrs of the morning. Reports from the OPs generally conform to a pattern - alternating between 'NTR' and 'All quiet'. The Y were hosts to Arty personnel at a dance in 's Hertogenbosch this afternoon and evening and later at a movie. There was a torrential downpour of this morning but it is interesting to not note how quickly the bulk of the water drains off the surface into the ground. Not quite so cold today as it had been.

 

21 November 1944: Generally quiet on the front during the day. In the early hrs of the morning some tgts and bombards were fired. Tomorrow we are to fire several tgts for the CBO with three tps and new gun areas were recced today for B and D tps in order to get the necessary range. Rainy and cold again today but in spite of the inclement weather the health of the men in the regt is generally good and morale remains at a high level.

 

22 November 1944: We fired 1200 rds today for the CBO and for the first time since we came into action supercharge was fired. The enemy returned some of our fire but none of the rds were close enough to do us any damage or interfere with our firing. C Tp had a premature on one gun, the rd exploding just outside the bore. No apparent damage to eqpt or personnel. Weather - still overcast, rainy and cold.

 

23 November 1944: Generally quiet again today as activity is limited to patrols. Recce parties of the 80 Fd Regt RA, 52 (Mountain) Div, arrived today. They are to take over from us here as the 52 Div is taking over our divisional front. We are going into a Concentration area for rest and refitting. Weather overcast, rainy and cold.

 

24 November 1944: Early this morning we fired a fire plan in sp of a crossing of the Maas river by a patrol of Linc and Welld R. Beyond this there was little or no activity on our front. Our move to the rest area will be made on 26 Nov and preliminary preparations, both here and in the new area are in progress. Non-essential vehs and personnel from Btys and RHQ are moving to the new area tomorrow. Preparations for take-over by 80 Fd Regt RA continue and take-over is to be completed by 1700 hrs 25 Nov. Weather  rainy and cold.

 

25 November 1944: Quiet again on the front and most of the time was taken up woth preparations for the take-over. First parties of the 80 Fd Regt RA arrived at approx 1400 hrs and the take-over was accomplished one bty at a time. Our vehs and guns are to harbour on the roadside overnight and move to new area will commence at 0800 tomorrow morning. The ROO and two clerks moved to the new area at 1600 hrs today to est RHQ office in the new area. Weather - cloudy and cold.

 

26 November 1944: The move to the new area was made today in good order and good time. Route followed was Nieuwkuik - Helvoirt - Vught - Boxtel; order of march: - RHQ, R, Q, P. The convoy arrived at 1000 hrs and the balance of the day was spent in getting settled in quarters and billets. Bty personnel are quartered in a large school on a fairly well self-contained basis as the building provides all accn for sleeping, cooking messing and ablution. Provision for movies, band concerts, roading and writing are also available. RHQ personnel are quartered in a damaged clubhouse and are reasonably comfortable. The bty orderly rooms and BCs rooms are in a schoolhouse which a the same time provides seen for lectures. Standings for the guns and bty vehs are on the Boxtel bypass and provide good space and ground for maintenance and repairs. Weather - cloudy for the most part. Some sunshine and some rain.

 

27 November 1944: Bty parades were held this morning and details of trg for the stay in this area were outlined to the men. The first three days are chiefly taken up with personal and veh maintenance and kit inspection. Today was a proud day for the Regt as two of our comrades, before a Regt parade, were decorated for gallantry by the CRA - Brig C.M. Drury. Capt H.H. Griffing was awarded the MC and Sgt F. Bartlett to MM for conspicious gallantry in action. The Regt was smartly turned out and before the ceremony was inspected by the CO. The parade was formed up on the football field at the rear of RHQ. Weather - cloudy, cold with rain.

 

28 November 1944: Trg and recreation were the order of the day and despite extremely inclement weather considerable progress in maintenance and repairs were made. The RCCS Band gave a concert in the men's mess and exhibited excellent talent. Liberty vehs are proceeding daily to Eindhoven. Weather - rainy and cold.

 

29 November 1944: Routine trg programme was followed today. In the afternoon a start was made on the Regt sports programme under none too favourable conditions of ground and weather. This morning oth the G)C in C - Gen Crerar and the supreme comd of the Allied Forces in this theatre - Gen Eisenhower - passed through our lines All vehs and guns were locking their smartest and maint crews were at work in the area. Weather - overcast and cold.

 

30 November 1944: Personnel equipment replacements have commenced. Weather - cloudy and cold.

 

Addendum; For the past month this Regt has deployed under especially difficult conditions of ground and weather. From these abnormal conditions we have learned several lessons and have been called upon to exhibit ingenuity and enterprise in the deploying of the guns. GPOs and gun detachments have met the challenge of the elements and minimum delays have been experienced getting the guns into action.

 

Low, soft ground and the proximity of water to the surface precluded the possibility of digging down to find solid platforms for the guns so normal drill was deviated from and gun emplacements were built up rather than dug down.

 

Soft ground also made normal deployment with gun tractors impossible in many instances and it was found both expedient and practical to take tractors only to the end of hard surfaced rds and manhandle the guns into their emplacements from there. Where ever this procedure was impractical the guns and tractors were unlimbered, one or two quads driven onto the postion and the guns and trailers winched up.

 

1 December 1944: A regt Ables course under Capt R.A. Spencer and a regt Signallers class under Lt W.C. Long, RCCS, are well under way and making good progress. An added attraction to the syllabus today as a mine circus from the RCE. Various typds of enemy mines and booby traps were displayed and exlpained for the edification of all ranks. In addition on group of 14 OR in charge of Lt A.D. Fetterly visited 9 Fd Sqn RCE for one day's specialist's instr. The RSM reports it the best day's instruction he has received for a long time. It is proposed to have these specialists undertake the trg of other personnel in the regt. Weather - clear and cool.

 

2 December 1944: Veh and sig eqpt inspections by the CO commenced today with 95 bty being inspected first. This afternoon RC Sigs Band played a concert in the men's mess hall during the dinner hr. All tanks were given an opportunity to see the film 'Left of the Line' depicting the part First Cdn Army played in the adv through France this year. As might be expected many of the scenes shown were familiar sights to personnel of the regt. This evening dances were held in both offr's and sgt's messes. A party of 30 Nursing Sisters from 10 Cdn Gen Hosp were guests in the offr's mess. A delightfully refreshing diversion from the tasks and routine of war. Weather - cloudy and cold.

 

3 December 1944: WOW!! Today we moved back to our immediately previous area and our guns are deployed in their original areas. The 52 (L) Div which relieved us are going to concentrate prepratory to going on ops on the Western Front and 4 Cdn Armd Div resumes control of the Maas river sector it originally covered. Initially 110 Bty will be under comd 79 Fd Regt RA and 17 and 95 btys will be under comd 186 Fd Regt RA. Regt will be under comd 52 (L) Div. Order or march for the move was RHQ - 110 - 95 - 17. Route - SP - Vught -Helvoirt. Weather - cloudy and cold.

 

4 December 1944: Front has been fairly quiet today firing being reduced to occasional bombards. We are advised today that 186 Fd Regt is to join 52 (L) Div in conc area and that we are to assume control of their sector on the left. For this reason it is proposed to move our centre bty (17) to a posn on the left flank. As soon as 110 Bty cease under comd 79 Fd Regt they too will move west and became our centre bty and 95 will be on the R flank of our regt. 23 Fd (SP) are taking over the R of our div sector replacing 79 Fd. RHQ is to move W area Kaatsheuvel so as to be centrally placed etween btys and not too far from the HQ of the Bde we support (10 Cdn Inf Bde). Plans are being made in all btys areas to stage Christmas parties for the children. Weather - cloudy and cold with rain.

 

5 December 1944: 17 Bty moved to new area at 0800 today. Area is 's Gravenmoer, RHQ moved to posn marginally noted at 1000 hrs. Both 17 and 95 btys are now under comd 15 Fd Rgt and 110 remains under comd 79 Fd Regt. The move to this area was made via Helvoirt - Udenhout - Loon op Zand - Kaatsheuvel. Although as the crow flies we are quite close to 95 bty, the bridge is under enemy obs and cannot be freely used, so it is necessary in order to reach them to take the circuitous route followed by RHQ in moving from Nieuwkuik. A Ech has moved to Loon op Zand. Succesful Christmas parties for the children in their vicinities were held by 95 and 110 btys and by A Ech. RHQ and 17 parties had to be cancelled due to the move but it is proposed to stage them in the new area later in the week. Weather - cloudy and cold with rain.

 

6 December 1944: Activity on the front is limited to patrolling and arty activity has very slight. OPs, manned by both inf and arty are thickly deployed across the entire front. A watchful eye is being kept on enemy move although the main purpose of the OPs is to obtain shelreps. The principle evidence of enemy activity here is spasmodic shelling and on this sector we have no Srg of FSp units. Therefore location by shelreps had become most important. 110 Bty moved to new area at 1030 hrs and reported ready at 1245 hrs. We are now in sp of 10 CIB on the left sector and 23 (SP) Regt will be in sp of 4 CAB on the right flank when the take-over by 4 Cdn Armd Div is complete in that sector also. Weather - cloudy and cold with rain.

 

7 December 1944: Activity slight again today with firing mostly on bombards. The CRA visited RHQ today and remained for lunch. Has indicated a desire to adopt a more aggressive policy towards the enemy on our front and with this in mind proposes a fire plan on a known conc in a town called Nieuwendijk North of the Maas river. Tgt presently out of range of our guns so temporary gun area closer to the front are to be recced. It is proposed to have the guns of the 22 Armd Regt participate in the fire plan. Weather - cloudy with some rain.

 

8 December 1944: Front again quiet. 95 Bty fired on an enemy patrol locn and fire was reported being very effective. Arrangements were made today to have the Air OP up and report locns of some enemy occupied barges in the canal North of the Maas river. Obs was poor so the project was cancelled pending good weather. Svy sec has been busy laying out the temporary area as well as tying in the btys in their new positions. 95 Bty is to move closer to us tomorrow in the area Waalwijk. Christmas parties, complete with St Nicholas, Black Peter, singing, gifts and a puppet show were held for the local children by 17 Bty and RHQ in 's Gravenmoer and 1st Straatje respectively. Weather - cloudy with some rain and some snow.

 

9 December 1944: Generally quiet on front again today. Some bombards fired but no obs shooting. We have one tp the 68 Med Regt RA in sp now. 95 bty moved to its new area today at 1500 hrs.

Work parties arrived in the morning to prepare gun pits and CP area. Veh and eqpt inspections by the CO are continuing while we are in action. The ables class in charge of Capt R.A. Spencer and sigs class in charge of Lt. W.C. Long are also being re-formed and carried on. Some enemy aircraft reported in our vicinity today. Recce parties were fwd to the temporary area today and arrangements for the fire plan on Nieuwendijk are rapidly nearing completion. We are to be inspected by the GOC 4 Cdn Armd Div on 11 Dec. Inspection will be by btys and RHQ on parade grounds close to the respective areas. Weather cloudy and cold; high winds with more snow. The snow does not last long due to the very wet condition of the ground.

 

10 December 1944: Front was quiet again today with only a few bombards being fired. The Air OP was up today and registered some barges in the canal North of the Maas river. Another Air OP ranged the guns of 22 Cdn Armd Regt on various pts, in order to establish a relationship between elevation and range of the 75 mm tk gun at ranges between 7,000 and 11,000 yds. This is in preparation for their employment in the shoot on Nieuwendijk. The RSO assisted in surveying in the tks and for the ranges likely to be required it will be necessary to prepare a range graph as the 75 mm range tables only go up to 5500. Arrangements are complete for the GOCs inspection tomorrow. Weather cloudy very cold, some rain and more snow; high winds.

 

11 December 1944: We were inspected today by the GOC 4 Cdn Armd Div. - Maj-Gen Vokes -who expressed himself as emimently satisfied with the turnout. Front generally quiet with reports of some patrolling activity on both side of the obstacle. Arrangements for the fire plan tomorrow are now complete. Btys are to be in posn ready to fire at 1600 hrs. Routes and timings have been ordered with 300 yd interval between vehs. Trailers will not be taken, the amn required being carried in the quads. In addition to our guns 24 SP guns of 28 Cdn Armd Recce Regt (SAR) will also engage the tgt, also one tp of med guns. To reach the tgts both the gun and the tks must occupy posns very far fwd, will be under obs on the way in and will have imperfect flash cover in some cases. So we are firing in the late afternoon, - not so late that flashes will show badly, but late enough that we can pull right after the shoot in semi-darkness. Tk and gun routes are separate. Diversionary fire on the right by both in 19 Fd Regt is laid on, and all will fire simultaneously to confuse enemy flash spotters and OPs. Weather - cloudy and cold, some rain and high winds.

 

12 December 1944: The fire plan from the harassing fire posn was fired today without a hitch and the move in and out of the area was carried out smoothly and speedily. Timings were strictly adhered to and generally, the action was most satisfactory. All btys reported 'Ready' in their original posns by 2000 hrs - 95 bty as early as 1910 hrs. The firing by the tks under our comd was done by prediction, using meteor report. We attempted first to air burst range, but visibility prevented obs of the bursts. Enemy recce aircraft reported in our area today. Some bombards fired but activity on the front limited to patrolling and flash spotting. Strangely enough the enemy made no retaliation to our fire plan. There was no shelling of either our temporary or battle posns. The plan apparently did have its effect, however, as all night fwd tps reported unusual enemy move in that part of the front - probably either assembling against a suspected attack there by us, or evacuating the tgt area. Weather - cloudy and cold.

 

13 December 1944: Quiet again today. Some enemy mortar and arty fire and further reports of move on North side of river. Arrangements are being made with the local schoolmaster to teach Dutch language classes while we are in this area. CPOs are attending a tech conference at 1 British Corps HQ today. Small fire plans in sp of patrols were fired. Weather - cloudy and cold.

 

14 December 1944: Some enemy mortar and arty fire reported but front otherwise quiet. Plans are being laid to have one bty out of action for a week at a time while we are in this area. Guns are to be left on tp posns but need not be manned. Period out of action will be utilized for trg and maint and guns will not answer calls for fire unless advance notice is given. One gun per tp may be taken off the posn for maint. The btys will come out of action on the schedule hereunder - 110 - 14 Dec to 21 Dec; 95 - 22 Dec to 29 Dec incl; 17 - 29 Dec to 4 Jan incl. Batteries will be permitted to bring up their A ech for the period out of action. Capt W.G. Findlay has been SOS to hospital following a recent motor accident and Lt A. Fetterly has been promoted A/Capt and goes to 110 bty. Lt. W.W. Turner 23 Fd Regt (SP) has been promoted Capt and is posted to this Regt, 95 bty. Capt E.E. Campbell has returned to the regt and is tp comd C Tp, 95 bty. Capt K.A. Toms is posted to 95 bty as bty capt. OPs have been busy reporting launching of V2 projectiles from the area North of their posns. Weather - cloudy and cold; some frost.

 

15 December 1944: Some enemy mortar and arty fire again today and we replied with some bombards. Some fire plans in sp of inf patrols were arranged but were not called for. Activity light on front.Weather - very cold and frosty.

 

16 December 1944: Fire plans in sp of patrols were arrange again today but the patrols got across the river and back and fire was not called for. OPs continue to report launchings of V2s from area to the North. Our Padre - Capt C.W. Foggo - returned to the regt today. The sympathy of the personnel of the regt was extended to him in the loss of his father, who died recently. Permission has been granted to expend a considerable quantity of SAA in range practice and efforts are being made to secure a SA range to train personnel in the firing of their personal weapons. Weather - clear and very cold with more frost at night.

 

17 December 1944: A fire plan in sp of a river crossing by an Alq patrol was fired by our guns, those of 19 Fd Regt (SP) on our right and one tp of meds. Patrol was not successful. Some enemy shelling but front otherwise generally quiet. Weather- clear and cold; frost at night.

 

18 December 1944: Several enemy patrol pts engaged today and some fire in sp of our patrols. Enemy mor reported North of river. News of an enemy breakthrough on the Western front reached us today. Attack commenced yesterday morning and has met with some success. Arrangements for Christmas dinner are fast nearing completion and the menu is everything a Christmas dinner menu should be. Fresh meat, fruit and vegetables are being purchased and it should be a gala event. Weather - cloudy and cold; frost at night.

 

19 December 1944: Small fire plans in sp of patrols were laid on today but were not fired. Several bombards on enemy gun posns fired during the day. 17 bty moved guns to alternative posn to do some course shooting for junior offrs. Visibility was extremely poor and very little shooting was done. SA ranges are to be available to us for approx a week after Christmas and it is planned to make full use of the facilities. In order to bring down fire on enemy gun posns a regt CBO is now operating in RHQ. Shelreps are plotted and data recorded and bombards on a limited scale are fired on tgts revealed. Lt F.W. Vickers 17 bty is currently on the job and it is planned to rotate the work amongst the regt subalterns. Div HQ, were there is an ACBD, is so far away that comn is always rather difficult, and as a result there has been considerable delay up to now before our retalitation to enemy shelling has taken place. With this ad hor CB arrangement at RHQ we hope to bring about quicker retaliation. Then as comns allow we will send back the shelreps to the CBO at Div or Corps, for infm only. Weather - cloudy a cold.

 

20 December 1944: A fire plan in sp of patrols was laid on but not fired. 17 bty guns engaged an enemy patrol on two sectors on our side of the river. A warning order for move of the regt was received from HQ RCA 4 Cdn Armd Div and the 2 IC went to HQ RCA for orders at 0930 hrs. Recce parties were called and met the 2 IC in the vicinity of Oosterwijk. We are to move to a conc area in this vicinity preparatory to moving if required to another area - indicated as being South of Brussels - to be available as rft of the Western front. Recce parties returned this afternoon and the move by the regt will take place tomorrow morning. Our sector of the front is to be taken over by 1 Polish Armd Div and take-over is to be completed tomorrow. The fd regt of the Polish Div is not taking over bty by bty from us, providing continuous sp on the front. For the first time we are moving out as a regt before the relieving regt arrives. It means the front will be without arty sp for a short time.

 

21 December 1944: Move to this area was made today leaving the old area and passing div SP in Loon op Zand at 1000 hrs. Order of march was RHQ - 17 - 110 - 95 - A ech. Route - Loon op Zand - Udenhout - Oosterwijk - Haren. The move was speedy and orderly and without incident. We do not know how long we are likely to be in the area and the regt is on 6 hrs notice to required to stem his fwd thrusts. RHQ, btys and A ech are fairly close together but billets in the bty areas are quite scarce. Arrangements are being made to have Christmas dinner on 23 Dec in ease the regt should be on wheels on Christmas day. The guns are not in action. Weather - bright and cold with heavy frost at night.

 

22 December 1944: Int reports from HQ RCA indicate a gen build-up by the enemy to the North of us and possibilities of an enemy attack from that direction. It is expected that airborne or paratps will participate and as a consequence of this reasoning, precautions against surprise attacks by this method are being taken. Div Arty are responsible for their own conc area and a system of warnings, foot patrols and mobile patrols is being implemented. The CO held an orders gp and a system of patrols was laid on in our sub-sector. Also an anti-airtps pl was org, with three secs, one from each bty, who are to be used to counter attack any small gp of airtps coming into our sub-sector. This is one of several similar pls org in neighbouring regts, all of which may combine at any one of several pre-arranged RVs and deal with airtps should there be too many for one pl to handle. Weather - bright and cold; severe frost at night.

 

23 December 1944: Regt Christmas dinner was held today. Two mess halls were set up -RHQ and 110 Bty dined in one and 95 and 17 btys in the other. Liquid refreshment, largely from private stocks, put the edge on appetites and the repast was enjoyed by all. A pleasant surprise was a gift of 120 lbs of fresh fowl from the govt of the USA. The menu included turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, celery, pudding, mincepie, Christmas cake, bread and butter, coffee. Each man also received a pint of beer, an orange, cigarettes, candy and six cigars. WOs and sgts took over guards and regt duties during the meal hour and assisted in serving the men's meal along with the offrs of the regt. Later, the offrs waited on table in the sgts' mess. The offrs dinner was held in the Swan Hotel in Oosterwijk and was very swank affair with the same menu as the men's meal. A special guest was Lt-col W.A.B. Anderson former CO of the regt. Perhaps in all a far cry from the Christmas feasts op peace time days but nevertheless a very fitting and most satisfactory substitute. Word received today that Capt J.B. Forbes, former C Tp comd has been awarded the MC for gallantry in action. Orders for 2 IC to recce routes E and N were received from HQ RCA. These are two of the routes we might take to a deployment area in the event of a Southerly attack by the enemy. Weather - clear and cold with heavy frost at night.

 

24 December 1944: " 'T was the night before Christmas and all through the house, etc, etc" may have had some substance to lend it reality under more peaceful auspices, but not so with us. Orders to move to a new conc area in this vicinity followed a conference at HQ RCA as the possibilities of enemy action from the North appeared more imminent. The div moved during the afternoon and the regt passed the 10 Bde SP at 1700hrs - Udenhout. Orders of march from regt SP - was 17 - 95 -RHQ - 110 - A ech. Route - Krankzinnigengesticht - Udenhout - Houtschestraat - N Bridge Tilburg - Hulten. The move was not as orderly as it should have been and the convoy was broken at one pt. Btys reported in completeby 1945 hrs with the exception of three 95 bty vehs involved in a rd accident. Billetting accn in the area is very scarce and as a result many of the men spent Christmas eve and morning under the stars. We are on short notice to move from this area. Guns are not in action. Weather - clear and cold; very hy frost at night.

 

25 December 1944: Christmas day as such proved to be just another working day for us and the 2 IC was off to recce both gun areas and billetting areas almost a first lt, the former in the morning the latter after lunch. We were ordered to the billetting area at 1500 hrs and the hd of the coln passed the regt SP at 1530 hrs. Order of march - P - Q - RHQ - R - A ech. Convoy was orderly and move was made in good time. As the possibility of attack from the N is till real the regt is taking all reasonable precautions to neutralize the element of surprise on the part of the enemy. We are on 4 hrs notice to move by day and two hrs by night. We are in sp of 10 Cdn Inf Bde again. The CO is CRAs rep and reps are at the various bn HQs. However, both the bns nd ourselves are merely concentrated and are not deploying until the shape of the expected enemy attack becomes more clear. 10 Bde is in a counter attack role and not primarily in a def role. Weather - clear and very cold with hy frost at night.

 

26 December 1944: The day passed uneventfully in this sector and routine maint and adm were the order of the day. We were still alerted but so far no evident move by the enemy has been made. Weather - clear and cold.

 

27 December 1944: With the exception of slight enemy aircraft activity in the vicinity the day passed uneventfully. Btys are busy on veh and gun maint and as it appears likely that we will be in this area for some time a trg syllabus is to be drawn up to be put into use while we are here. Weather - fine and cold.

 

28 December 1944: Another uneventful day. The CO attended a conference at HQ RCA ref anti-paratp def in the area and orders were passed on to sub-unit comds. All units in the area are on the alert a to travel even short distances after dark without being challenged is a difficult task. The system of patrols, mobile pls, duty bty, etc, is now in effect and regt org for counter measures against paratps is in full op. Weather - clear and cold.

 

29 December 1944: The CO held an orders gp with the BCs ref trg programme for this area. Btys are to submit syllabi covering a two week's period from 1 Jan 45 and emphasis is on hardening trg, the effects of which will be evident in the regt cross country run which is to take place, tentatively, 12 Jan 45. The able classes under Capt Spencer are to be restarted and completed while we are here. Weather - clear and cold. At a regt parade Brig C.M. Drury presented L55515 L/Bdr B. Clark with the ribbon of the DCM for distinguished conduct in the field.

 

30 December 1944: Arrangements were completed today for the regt to use a nearby SA range for firing practices and times have been allotted to btys and RHQ. Facilities are available for firing rifle, bren, sten and pistol and there is also a throwing bay for grenades. Practice will commence 1 Jan and continue at intervals during our stay in the area. As a part of the trg programme the MO - Capt C. Zale - will conduct refresher classes for First Aid personnel during the next two weeks. Movies and concert parties are showing in Breda and an attractive recreational schedule was received from HQ RCA and passed on to the btys. Weather - fine and cold.

 

31 December 1944: The old year was laid at rest with little fuss or fanfare in the regt and there seems to be no evident nostalgia for its passing. The hope is generally held and freely expressed that 1945 will see the end of hostilities and produce the longed-for opportunity to return to home and loved ones and more peaceful pursuits. Preliminary orders for a tac move were issued by the CO to bty comds tonight. The CBO staff in the course of the past week or ten days have fixed, largely from air photographs, an unusually large number of enemy posns North of the river Maas. The number is so great that it is suspected that many of the posns are dummy as efforts to draw fire and accurately fix the posn have proved unavailing. The Corps Comd has decided to call the enemy's bluff by staging a fake attack across the Maas with Corp Arty in sp on very wide front. Smoke and HE are to be employed on a subtantial scale and when the air clears the exact nature of the enemy posns should be definitely indicated. We are dumping 145 rpg HE and 30 rpg smoke on the posn. Normal trailer and quad packings will also be carried. Firing will be done 2 Jan 45. Ech, RHQ and bty personnel not taking part in the programme are to remain in this present area and the regt will return to the area when the fire plan has been completed. 95 bty guards brought two suspicious individuals into RHQ for questioning by the IO, but they were released after giving a satisfactory account of their mov and producing proper identification.

                               Well, that's all for '44.

God grant us, as we stand on the threshold of a new year, continued strength and courage to discharge our obligations to Him and to our fellow men; to play our part in the forces of good against evil; and maintain the finest traditions of our regt and army.

                                Victory and Peace in ' 45

                                 Happy New Year !

 

Addendum; The present incumbent of the editorial chair says that the Christmas activities would be more fittingly covered by an OR and has passed the proverbial buck to the orderly room staff. Be that as it may it is a pleasure to tell others the details of the highlight of the festive season - the regt Christmas dinner.

The 2 IC - Major J.H. Moore - with uncanny foresight (how did he know we would be on wheels on 25 Dec ?) laid on that Christmas dinner should be served on 23 Dec and with equally rare judgement placed the onus for the details on the capable shoulders of Capt A.W. Sinclair. The result was a dinner to gladden the heart of even a fastidious gourmet. True, plates, tablecloths and other niceties were lacking but the cooks proved that these essential requisites at home are not necessary in the battlefield and the menu listed below really "hit the spot" served in lowly mess tins.

                 Fresh and Canned Turkey with Dressing.

                      Hot Roast Pork and Apple Sauce.

                Mashed Potatoes     -     Brussels Sprouts

                                  Stuffed Celery (Cheese)

                                       Plum Pudding

                 Mince Tarts  -   Canned Fruit   -    Xmas Cake

               Coffee   -   Cigars    -    Beer   -   Oranges   -   Candy

                                             -------------

                Bottled ?    -    Cognac  (not issued)   -   Bottled ?

                                              ------------

 

Overflowing with goodness after such a repast our thoughts turn to those who helped make it a success and the thanks of the whole regt go to our hard working, co-operative and obliging trio comprising the Aux Service team - Supervisor M.E. (Morley) Williams, Cpl A.J. (Archie) Gallagher and Pte A.R. (Muscles) Govett - not only for their labour at this particular time but for their untiring efforts ever since we came to a theatre of ops. And now for a word about the Christmas dances. 95 and 110 btys and RHQ held these functions while the regt was on the river Maas front and methinks there must have been much co-ordinated so smoothly. All three were voted highly successful, not only by the men themselves but also by their fair companions who particularly enjoyed the snacks which were served. In fact Wellington's offrs on the eve of Waterloo had nothing on the rank and file of 15 Cdn Fd Regt when it comes to revelry with voluptuous damsels (or was that adjective applied to the music) or to having their plans for revelry disrupted by the call to duty. 17 bty had planned their dance for some time around the New Year but so far it is still a "coming event". Ops take precedence, but in the words of Burns - come it will for a' that.