A gunner of the Regiment, Nijmegen 1944

153rd (Leicestershire Yeomanry) Field Regiment: 129 Battery 130 Battery-131 Battery- Sexton /Sherman OPs

Unit No.75

 

17 September 1944: By the Regiment harboured in pouring rain on the side of the road just south of Valkenswaard and just beyond a grim place where eight Irish Guards tanks were still burning.

 

WD 17 September 1944: 1300 - Operation Garden followed less than an hour after Operation Market. 1500 - Moved in accordance with Div Orders & Marche Table. 2200 -

Harboured as a Regt in 5 Bde area.

 

18 September 1944: The Regiment moved again at first light, but by mid-day it had still not cleared the town, in fact it had to go into action on the outskirts, firing on troops the other side. It remained here during the afternoon, firing concentratins the whole time, until just as darkness was approaching, when it appeared that the opposition had been overcome. The Regiment had to come out of action very quickly, and the whole division pushed as hard as they could in the dark. Eindhoven was passed through between 22.00 and 23.00hrs, where there were terrrific crowds cheering and waving, and at every small river crossing there were American paratroops who had done a grand job of work in capturing them intact. Unfortunately they were just too late at the bridge over the Wilhelmina Kanaal at Son, and a halt was called just south of the blown bridge, and the Regiment went into harbour. The REs worked flat out all through the night an did very well to get it completed by first light. An amusing incident happened that night when a certain Gunner officer walked on to the bridge to see how it was progressing, when a German POW who was helping in the job turned and spoke to him in perfect English and told him to move off as he was "bloody well getting in everybody's way and holding up the work!". He was not in the Regiment.!

 

WD 18 September 1944: 0700 - Advance continued & by 1200 hrs the Regt was in action South of Valkenswaard. The enemy were opposing us between Aalst & Eindhoven. 1900 -  Advance continued - double banking through Eindhoven as far as Wilhelmina Canal over which the bridge had been blown.

 

19 September 1944: At first light we were on the move again with Grenadier Group and 130 Battery leading, the bridge at Grave had been captured intact but on the other side the situation was obscure. Contact was eventually made with paratroopa on the high ground South of Nijmegen, who had captured this, but the town and bridge remained in enemy hands. The Regiment went into action 3 miles South of Malden. The plan for the Regiment was to fire on the other site of the river for three minutes at intense rate pripr to the assault being put in. Although  it fired on it many times the Grenadiers were never able to get quite to it, and the attack had to called off unitl the next day.

 

WD 19 September 1944: 0700 - Bridge repaired advance continued & contact firmly made with Airborne at Son, Veghel, St. Oedenrode & Grave. 1200 - Leading Tps bumped opposition South of Nijmegen. Bridge reported intact but not held by Airborne Tps. 1500 - Regt in action area Malden.

 

20 September 1944: Throughout the day the Regiment remained in the same location. It was on that morning that the sad news of the death of Tony Tasker was reported. He was in a house near the bridge which was also being used by an American mortar O.P and the room he was observing from got a direct hit from a shell. He and his crew Bdrs May and  Ashwell and Gnr Chamberliain, had done really splendid work with the Americans. having had a most unpleasant time being continually shelled and mortarted. He was buried that evening in an orchard near the guns.

In the afternoon the Regiment fired smoke and HE concentrations to cover the airborne troops crossing the river west of the town. By this means the bridge was captured intact at about 17.00Hrs and troops immediately sent across to form a bridgehead. The bridge was soon to be known as Grenadier Bridge. At about 18.00hrs, 131 Battery were ordered to turn their guns round and support some infantry who were attacking south of Nijmegen near a village called Wyler, and with the first target taken on "C" sub of E Troop ranging, they were the first shells from British field guns to fire into Germany during this war.

 

WD 20 September 1944: Capt A.L. Tasker killed whilst acting as OP with Grenadier Gp in Nijmegen. Very fierce house fighting took place. Fired in support of attack on bridge which was captured intact in the afternoon. 1800 - 131 Bty fired at targets in the village of Wyler & are believed to be the first British Field Guns to have fired into Germany in this war.

 

21 September 1944: The Regiment was ordered to move over the river, 129 Brigade moving first, supporting the Irish Group who were leading the attack. The traffic got into an awful jam, and it was actually just as 130 Battery was on the bridge that the column cold move no further. The bridge was a wonderful sight and one that will be remembered by all who saw it that day.While waiting on the far side, 130 Battery received information from H.C.R. that a church was a suspected O.P. in Bemmel and as this could be seen from where they were, Bob Hoare turned his guns round on a road and took it on over open sights, having great satisfactory shortly afterwards in seeing it blown up. At the same time A Troop of 94 LAA were shooting furiously at all the German planes, and a great deal of the credit must go to them for the two ME's that were shot down that afternoon. Just as it was getting dark, the Regiment deployed all round the northern part of the Bridge, in a very cramped and not at all desirable positions, but all that was available.

 

WD 21 September 1944: 1200 - Moved to a position in Nijmegen & then over the bridge. The Regt less 129 Bty which was ahead with Irish Gp & deployed at Lent, deployed directly after crossing the bridge to deal with enemy mortars.

 

22 September 1944: The Regiment fired on targets intermittenlty in support of the 43rd Division. The Germans in turn were mortarting and shelling the area round the northern end of the bridge. 130 Battery were very unfortunante in having a complete load of Nebelwerfers to land right in their battery position, which was in the garden of a hospital. Dough Hamilton and his signaller were both killed and Gnr Ames of D Troop was badly wounded. They all had done extremely well and were a very great loss. Grenadier Group with 130 Battery in support were sent back to Veghel area. They moved back in the eveninge days and the remainder of the Regiment was ordered back to its former position in allotments south of the river.

 

WD 22 September 1944: Remained at Lent until 1500 hrs when RHQ moved due to shelling and mortaring which had previously killed Lt. Hamilton and wounded 5 ORs. 1800 - Regt moved back through Nijmegen to previous position less 130 Bty which returned to Uden with Gren. Gp.

 

23 September 1944: The Regiment was ordered back and joined 130 Battery just north of Uden to support the Grenadier Group. Derek Baer did some very good shoots in the late afternoon, silencing the German light flak guns which were firing at the Dakotas and Stirlings.

 

WD 23 September 1944: 0900 - Remainder of Regt joined 130 Bty in support of 32 Bde who had been called on to deal with enemy in area Veghel who had cut the L of C.

 

24 September 1944: Patrolling.

 

WD 24 September 1944: Remained in action - 32 Bde was relieved South of the L of C & took up screening positions to the North.

 

25 September 1944: Patrolling.

 

WD 25 September 1944: Remained static while 8 & 12 Corps sealed off flanks.

 

26 September 1944: The Regiment moved north and went into action between Grave and Heesch, this attack took up the days until the 30th, it fired a very great number of rounds both by day and night, and once completely broke up a counter attack started by the Germans.

 

WD 26 September 1944: 1500 - A threat developed from 's Hertogenbosch towards Oss  Heesch and the regt with the Coldstream Group was ordered NW to counter it. 1600 - Regt in action facing west. During the night the regt was gradually placed out of range owing to advance of own tps.

 

WD 27 September 1944: 1700 - Regt moved forward to area of Schaijk.

 

WD 28 September 1944: Enemy attacks on Heesch beaten off. The Gren. Group with 130 Bty advanced from the SE via Nistelrode to clear Heesch.

 

WD 29-20 September 1944: Regt remained in action while enemy made further attacks and 7 Armd Div approached from the south east. This Div gradually took over the front and advanced on 's Hertogenbosch.

 

30 September 1944: 130 Battery stayed behind to the rest of Grenadiers in Grave. But the remainder of the Regiment with the Goldstream Group moved that evening to the south-east of Nijmegen. It was not a pleasant spot,as there was a good deal of shelling and, bombing mostly by night. Sometimes the Regiment supported the Americans and 43rd Division troops north of the river, with the result that the guns were continually having to alter their zero-lines.

 

WD 30 September 1944: 1700 - Orders received to move at 30 mins notice to area South of Nijmegen as the American airborne forces feared an counter attack in area Groesbeek. 1900 - 32 Bde and the regt were in position in counter attack roles South of Nijmegen. The regt was laid on a zero fire of 100°, Liaisn was made with the Airborne Arty control and 2 tgts engaged at the request of the Allied Command Post.

 

WD 1 October 1944: The Regt less 130 Bty in action in the suburbs of the town, in support of 43 Div & 82 US Airborne Div by night and by day respectively. Two different positions were occupied between 1 and 4 Oct and in the second 129 Bty experienced fairly heavy shelling nearby, but no casualties were suffered.

 

WD 1-4 October 1944: The Regt remained in action in this area. 130 Bty remained south of Grave with the Gren Group in a counter attack role.

 

WD 4 October 1944: 0600 - Guns came out of action. 1400 - The Regt moved back from Nijmegen to a rest area at Reek, arriving at 1530 hrs.

 

WD 4-12 October 1944: The Regt remained in rest area. Time was devoted to maintenance of equipment, and a Div Club was opened at Grave Barrcks providing recreational facilities. Baths etc. were available in Nijmegen.

During this period it was expected that the Regt would move to support an attack in the Forest Reichswald area, but this did not materialise and orders were received instea to relieve 86 (HertsYeo) Fd Regt RA of their commitments in support of 82 US Div on 12 Oct.

 

4 October 1944: The Regiment pulled out and went down to the 130 Battery area near Grave and rest.

 

10 October 1944: 130 Battery were the first to come out and they went into billets in Malden.

 

WD 12 October 1944: 1100 - H.M. King George VI visited the area. Lt-Col J.S. Atkins RD RA was presented, and 18 ORs of the Regt were present on parade. 1630 - The Regt moved back to Nijmegen to relieve 86 Fd Regt. 1400 - RHQ task over a liaison HQ at HQ RA 82 US Airborn Div, known as Channel Command Post. The CO acted as British CRA and the fire of the arty of Gds Armd Div, 43 Div, 5 AGRA and the American guns was coorinated from this HQ.

 

13 October 1944: The Regiment was deployed and well dug in on the high grounds south-east of Nijmegen, were possible CPs were put near farms and houses to get the maximum of comfort. 130 Battery were unlucky in their position, for early in the morning the enemy started ranging on the only house on their position and did a copybook pin-point target finally scoring a direct hit.They had one casualty Sergeant Ellis who had to have a leg amputated. The Regiment remained in this position until 10 November, supporting the Americans.

 

WD 13 October 1944: 130 Bty position was shelled and a building near the Command Post was hit, one casualty resulting. The Comd Post moved, and its old locations proved to be a favourite target for enemy mortars.

 

WD 13-31 October 1944: Liaison was maintained between a skeleton RHQ at Channal CP and the HQ RA of the 82 US Div throughout this period at the end of which reponsibility was handed over  to 55 Fd Regt RA.

 

15 October 1944: Propaganda shoot, the pamphlets were placed in smoke shells,replacing the smoke, and the papers were shot out of the base in the same way.

 

WD 15 October 1944: 1530 - The Regt fired a propaganda shoot. Pamphlets were German and Polish and were specially dirtectd to the 84 Div which was known to be on this front. Only known results were 9 prisoners.

 

WD 16 October 1944: 0900 - Divisional arrangements began for sending parties to Brussels for 48 hrs. Rate of allotment shown a Appx.

 

WD 17 October 1944: 1200 - 130 Bty came out of action to maintain and went into harbour. 

 

WD 17-21 October 1944: 129 and 131 Btys in action - no special event.

 

WD 21 October 1944: 1700 - Propaganda shoot, directed onto 84 Div. No known result.

 

WD 22 October 1944: 1430 - League football match v 2 Armd I.G.

 

WD 23 October 1944: Regts blankets cleaned at local laundry.

 

WD 24 October 1944: 1200 - Calibrtion of Standard guns against 21 A Gp standard gun. Comparative calibration had been done troughout the preceding week at various times owing to bad visibility. All firing were done into Forest Reichswald area.

 

WD 25 October 1944: 1400 - Band of HM life Guards played at Div Club. 1700 -  Propaganda shoot.

 

26 October 1944: 131 Battery come out, and after that 129 Battery.

 

WD 26 October 1944: Sanitary duties course, one per Bty.

Return of number of misfires called for. Result: - out of 60,000 rds fired, - 615. 1200 - 131 Bty changed places in rst area with 130. No special activity. 129 and 130 Btys in action.

 

WD 27 October 1944: I.O. visitid the Siegfried Line in US XIX Corps sector.

 

WD 1-10 November 1944: Continued in support of 82 United States Airborn Division.

 

WD 1 November 1944: 1400 - Conference held by Corps for CPOs to discuss questions of technical gunnery.

 

WD 1-2 November 1944: 16mm Mobile Cinema allotted to the Regt. Film on VD Shown.

 

WD 3 November 1944: Divisional Commander inspected the Regt and had luncheon at RHQ.

 

WD 6 November 1944: The Regt held a dance at the Roundabout Nijmegen.

 

WD 1-10 November 1944: During this period the Regt football side played 3 football matches in the Divisional League. The Officers hockey team als had 4 games against the Quick and the Union hockey Clubs. Leave Parties to Brussels and Antwerp continued and a daily truck was sent in with personnel on a day pass to Eindhoven.

 

10 November 1944: The Regiment moved out towards Sittard area.

 

WD 10 November 1944: 0600 - Recce parties in conjunction with OP Cygnet left. 1200 - Recce parties 13th Royal Canadian Artillery Regt arrived. 1400 - RHQ moved to new location in billets Nijmegen.

 

WD 11 November 1944: 0700 - Take over completed. The Regt concentrated in area of RHQ.

 

12 November 1944: The Regiment moved as far as Eindhoven, but after that it began to pour with rain, the traffic was awful, the night was spent by the whole Regiment in an enormous barn full of some by-product from a chemical factory in Geleen.

 

WD 12 November 1944: 0900 - Move to new area (OP: Cygnet) via Eindhoven, Hasselt and Berg. 2300 - Arrived area factory and harboured for the night.

 

13 November 1944: The Regiment moved to Germany, 129 and 130 Battery stayed just near the border at Jabeek,except for one gun of "C" troop who was just over the border.

 

WD 13 November 1944: 0930 - Moved into action area Hillensberg, Jabeek and relieved a Battalion of 13 US Corps Arty. RHQ was established in Germany. Each Bty established an OP with forward Coys of 1 Bn Grenadiers in area Gangelt.

 

WD 13-30 November 1944: The Regt remained in action in support of 32 Bde Group while 43 Div made local attacks on own right in the area Geilenkirchen. 0900 - 360 Civilians evacuated from Hillensberg followed by complete evacuation of remaining 40 who had been left to look after livestock on 17th November.

 

WD 23November 1944: Immediate retaliation Tasks issued from HQ RA to be fired Tp Scald 2 as a result of shelling - Counter mortar policy received from Div HQ.

 

WD 23-30 November 1944: Enemy shelling increased particularly in areas of Sittard and Gangelt. No shells fell in Bty or RHQ areas, but shelling was persistent in vicinities of OPs. No casualties.

 

WD 29 November 1944: 1930 - Junkers 88 crashed in vicinity - 3 members of crew captured one by A Tp 94 LAA Regt attached to the Regt. OP: Mother Hubbard arranged by 1 Mot Grenadiers Guards cancelled. 

 

1 December 1944: To Dutch interpreters joined the Regiment Willi Burki with 130 Battery who they had go to know in Malden and had brought down with them, and Jan van Wessen from Sittard, who joined 129 Battery.

 

6 February 1945: The Regiment moved from Belgium to Nijmegen  to support in Operation "Veritable". The GPOs were immediately presented with a vast fire-plan for the operation, which was to start at 05.00hrs the next day, and included a three-hour smoke screen and a three long lists of concentrations. The guns came out their hides during the afternoon, and the gunners were kept very busy preparing the ammunition that had been dumped and which came to 600 rounds per gun.

 

16 February 1945: The Regiment moved into Germany.

 

12 March 1945: Regiment moved back to Nijmegen to rest and to refit and once preparing for another operation.

 

22 March 1945: Regiment moved back to Germany.

 

30 March 1945: The Regiment less 130 Battery took up position south of Aalten. From here onwards the fighting was extremely difficult and not very fast, although the Regiment sometimes travelled 18 or 20 miles in a day. Aalten was lightly held by the enemy, and the Regiment fired red smoke on a large water-tower, suspected as an enmy OP, as an indicator for the Typhoons, they scored four direct hits on the tower with their rockets.

 

31 March 1945: The Regiment went on through Aalten and Lichtenvoorde to Groenlo. It looked like Groenlo was a difficult nut to crack, but with the help of Air OP reported that large numbers of enemy withdrawing to the north of the town, and so the Regiment went into action and did some good shoots on these.

 

1 April 1945: Willie Burki was captured,

 in a captured Opel when he went of to visit his grandmother at Hengelo.(He later rejoined the Regiment after being liberated as a POW in North-Holland)

 

2 April 1945: Regiment went into action in Germany.