356 Search Light Battery: A Troop-B Troop-C Troop

Unit No.

 

2 October 1944: Orders were received for 356 Battery less one troop tp proceed, early 3 october at a time to be notified later, to Nijmegen area. C.Troop will remain in present positions, Captain J.M.Laing ordered to proceed at first light to Helmond. Battery RC will be established at St.Oedenrode.

 

3 October 1944: Reveille for BHQ, packng and loading comenced, aided by good moon. Route to be taken by coln received from AA bde, from Beveren to Lommel, Eindhoven, Veghel, Uden, Grave, Nijmegen approx 150 miles. Captain Laing left for Helmond, arrived at 09.00hrs  At 10.25hrs one troop would be deployed in ground role on river defence at Nijmegen and another troop in a canopy role for the defence of Grave Bridge, no sign of Battery Commander,who owing to a slight misunderstanding had est an RC in the village of St.Oedenrode.

 

4 October 1944: B Troop, RHQ and REME moved forward to harbour in area and await further orders A troop are tkane over from 344 SL Battery and 2 LAA/SL Battery and coverers were waiting to lead out Dets from harbour area. The layout is in two parts, 4SLs under OC river defence, 4 SLs under CRE 43 Division.

River Defence: Sited in pairs, A1 and A2 on North bank east of bridges

Task: To illuminate anything i.e one man submarines, or other craft which might try to come up or down the river to destroy the bridge, method one of pair will be exposed continously on the water, and should anything float into the beam the second of the pair will on orders from the River Defence Comds OP, expose and follow it, There is an OP close to each pair of lights.

CRE: One pair A3 and A4, are sited on South bank West of bridges.

Task: To illuminate the main railway bridge and stop damage by saboteurs, the other pair A5 and A6 are sited one at either and below the main road bridge of Waal, task to illuminate continuously the brisge supprts and stop sabotage. SLs in action from 18.30hr to 06.15hr, five man manning, bridges and surroundings under intermittent shelling and bombing and mortarting.

A and B Troops reported and deployed and in action  A troop under indirect command of 344 SL battery, B troop with over riding OP control of 5 positions 557 SL Battery.

 

9 October 1944: Difficulty in getting rations. Lt Reid in the end managed to get one days. A. Troop who have previously been rationed by 344 SL bty.  B Troop now in Grave under command 112 LAA Regt. During night there were several Sl engagements in VA 1 but it is tought most aircraft were friendly. Very few however were giving IFF. In VA 3 NIJMEGEN Bridge, the posns around the bridge were shelled heavily all night. The Projector at A6 posn was hit by shell splinters and temporarily out of action. No casualties to personnel. One Atp Leyland seized up, and another lot of driving belts went.

 

10 October 1944: B4 det sent to A tp as a reserve - lorry will be used immediately. No signs of any carbons yet. Position made clear to Bde REME who called. IO also mentioned matter again to SC. Driving belts are also unobtainable at the moment. Red hot indents sent in. Shelling of NIJMEGEN Bridge eased off during day. Weather wet and poor visibility all day. A good lot of mail received from 12 Corps APO. Leylands returned with Polstens. Bty Comd returned from visit to C Tp who are deployed in canopy role in area DUNKIRK. No e/a over VAs during night.

 

11 October 1944: This all night running of Leylands and Projectors is beginning to tell. Atp 5 Projectors now with the automatic carbon feed out of action, the necessary replacement part is unobtainable at the moment. Carbons have to be hand fed all night. One Leyland ex RHQ, sent to Atp as a reserve. It is only a quenstion of time until more eqpt goes out of action. Our eqpt was designed for AA work not all night running of lorries and lamps and the will NOT stand up to it. Bde Amd Instr. No 1 received. All ord matters must go through BOWO, sup, pet and amnwill be done through 1619 Pl RASC. Two bombs dropped (1425) on each side of B2 posn. obviously intended for airfield half a mile West of posn. Shelling of NIJMEGEN much decreased. Weather dry and mild. No e/a over during night. A number of friendlies engaged.

 

12 October 1944:

Normal routine. Contact with C tp maintained by a 15 cwt truck coming to RHQ on Weds and Sats. A.P. Bombs dropped from high fast flying a/c presumably aimed at airfield at E 5854 wounded gnr J. MILBURN and Pte J.A. SMITH on B 3 det. Moderately severe, evacuated to 10 CCS. Letter to 100 AA Bde stating clearly position of SL Eqpt deployed on all night manning and Bty Comd and Bty Capt visited Bde HQ also 344 SL Bty. Lyon lights tried in place of 4 SLs for main road, bridge illumination. Several e/a, some ME 262s over VA 3 during daylight. Heavy AA barrage. No e/a over during night.

 

13 October 1944: Infmn received from B tp 557 SL Bty to move out and report to 43 Div. New canopy layout for VA 1 GRAVE Bridge made. Dets deployed and in action in new posns. B4 det and BL 8 returned from A tp. Further Leyland ex RHQ sent to A tp.

Bty Comd attended COs conference at 100 AA Bd HQ. Further trials with Lyon lamps. Results NOT yet known. E/A over area. Few Bombs dropped. Spasmodic shelling of area NIJMEGEN. No e/a over VAs during night.

 

14 October 1944: Normal routine. RASC Arty Pltn contacted. In future supt and POL will be drawn form 1619 Pt. Letter and indent for anti-freeze sent. Shelling of brs continued. Message from 112 HAA Regt ordering screening of 90 cm Projectors to cut down glare an obviate sihouetting of Inf. defs. Bty Comd held a conference with B tp DCs. Letter 100 AA Bde re Sl ops and manning. No e/a over during night.

 

15 October 1944: Lieut. H. WHITTLE admitted to 10 CCS with a fractured right wrist, caused through cranking a Lyon light generator. Returned a day later. Letter to 100 AA Bde regarding "Welfare of SL Personnel."

2 Unidentified a/c over VA 1 during daylight. No bombs reported. A tp now man 4 x Lyon lights in place of 2x90 cm Projs. They replaced close in on each side of main NIJMEGEN road br. Two illuminate anti - submarine boom and two illuminate bridge supports. Spasmodic shelling of br area continued at intervals. Weather showery an cold. No e/a over VAs during night. One jeep collected ex 12 Corps Field Park.

 

16 October 1944: Bty Comd and Bty Capt visited 474 SL Bty at Biers and discussed many mutual problems. Afterwards visited A tp HQ and went roud posns with Tp Comd and Lt WHITTLE. On descending stairs in Fort at A7 Lt WHITTLE slipped and fell 12 ft onto stone basement. He was taken immediately to 10 CCS in OCs car where a dislocated en cracked right shoulder were diagnosed. He was admitted immediately. Spasmodic Shelling of brs continued. Several men had lucky escapes from splinters. No e/a over VAs during night. A day of continuous rain - muddy.

 

17 October 1944: Normal routine. Lieut W.G. PINDER - WILSON ex RHQ posted to A tp in place of Lt WHITTLE, struck off strength.

Bty Comd attended Conferenc at Bde HQ learned that we are likely to be here for at least a month. Semi - Permanent posns will be made. Timber etc will be made available in due course. Three periods of shelling of NIJMEGEN brs - approx 80 shells incl airbursts.

3 Low flying e/a made an attackk believed on SLs an AP bomb dropped on FORT at A7 & 8 posns fell between Leyland Generators and put both temporary out of action. 1763986 gnr E.R. HEDGER slightly injured about face. Evacuated to CCS. Generators were soon in action again. This attack was thougt to be a prelude to a sea - borne attack, but nothing developed. No e/a over during night.

 

18 October 1944: Normal routine. Major J.D. REEKIE, I.S. 21 AG, visited RHQ. Two more Lyon lights collected. Carbons in very short supply for these but when sufficient are received six Lyon lights. Will replace 4 x 90 cm Proj. 3 x 90 cm Projs will be sent to VA1 GRAVE, one 90 cm being kept in reserve at A Tp HQ. One M/C collected from 12 Corps Field Park. Letter to Bde regarding state of mens clothing through no indents being met for last 10 weeks.

Brig. E.N. CROSSE visited B Tp HQ to discuss function of river def. SL at GRAVE. Decided that it is now unnecessary and no SLs will be employed in anything but an AA Role. Four fairly heavy periods of shelling of brs. in an some 200 + rds over. No e/a over VAs during day or night.

 

19 October 1944: Bty Comd went to see CO 123 LAA - AADC, VA1, GRAVE to discuss AA layout of GRAVE.

Gnr. S.J. HAM tried by Court Martial held at B Tp HQ Lt E.H. REID Prosecutor, Lt W.G. PINDER - WILSON Defending Officer. Fairly heavy shelling of NIJMEGEN area continued. In all 346 + shells, ioncl airbursts over during 24 hrs period. During early evening 2000-2150, 3 + unidentified a/c over VA 3. Weather mild and dry.

Capt D.W.S. HAINS spent four hours, 2200-0200, with Comd 3 rd Bn Irish Guards, OC River Def NIJMEGEN, experimenting with SLs and firing guns of all calibres from Brens to 3.7.

 

20 October 1944: Normal routine. All men at RHQ now sleep under cover. Bty Comd and Comd A Tp visited Bde HQ to discuss manning of Lyon lights. A few shells over brs, also 2 or 3 ME 109s were over VA 3. 40 mm held fire when friendly fighters attacked. No e/a over during night. A Tp HQ moved to NIJMEGEN. Weather showery.

 

21 October 1944: Normal routine. OC 344 SL Bty called. Weather bright and dry. Four periods of shelling. In all 100 plus shells and 12 mortar bombs over NIJMEGEN area. Over VA 3 more air activity than of late. 5 incidents reported. A few bombs including AP bombs dropped, but no damage to VA. ME 262s fly low a change from previous tactics. Anti - Freeze received and issued to all Lelyland generators. No issue will be made for otner MT, which wil be drained each night. Weather fair.

 

22 October 1944: 2 i/c 123 LAA Regt called to arrange for plots to be passed from an SL posn in the event of their RADAR going out of action. Trial runs arranged for tomorrow. Normal routine. Weather dry.

One FW 190 came over VA 1 at 2000 ft. Hit by LAA and claimed as down. 2 e/a over VA 3 at same time. Three periods of shelling of brs. No e/a over during night. Weather dry, but dull.

 

23 October 1944: Normal routine. Comd B Tp to BHQ to discuss layout of GRAVE canopy for 11 SLs. Trace produced. Capt LAING will recce new posns. The following L sgts were promoted to U/A/ Sgt J. WALSH, N. JONES, J.O. CLARK, R.J. TEALL, S.H. DOBSON, A. THOMAS, L.F. HENSTOCK, F. BERRY, F.W. HULME, O.C. SMITH Bty Comd and Bty Capt visited B Tp sites. Shelling EAST of brs. 42 shells over. No e/a over during night. Weather dry but colder.

 

24 October 1944: Normal routine. Timber collected from Bde pool to make huts etc on SL posns. OC 474 Bty called to discuss mutual problems. Three periods of shelling around brs - 92 plus shells over. One a/c over VA 3 during night. No bombs dropped. Weather dry.

 

25 October 1944: Normal routine. 3 dets (A1. A5. A6.) from A Tp deployed in VA 1 GRAVE layout under Comd B Tp. VA 1 is now an 11 SL Canopy. In VR 3 (River Def of NIJMEGEN brs) there are 4 x 90 cm SLs, 6 Lyon lights with 1 x 90 cm Proj in reserve. Lyon lights are manned by 4 men, on duty in pairs for 6 hrs. New Location Statement issued See APP 'C'. Dets now stand to from 1815 - 0630. Dets working hard on 'Site Construction', just like the good old ADGB days! Weather dry but cold. Bde have now started 48 hrs leave to Antwerp - no allocations yet for this Bty. Three periods of shelling 80 plus shells, no damage. No e/a over VAs during night.

 

26 October 1944: Normal routine. Infm received that we are at last to be issued with tents. Arrangements made to have blankets washed. Bty Comd an Bty Capt visited three B Tp posns. Mail coming through 3/4 days. Rations satisfactory, but no fresh meat for some days now. Difficulty still experienced in getting our entitlement of soap - G 1098 and laundry soap ex RAOC. In all we are some 913 lbs underdrawn. Letter to 100 AA Bde on the subject. 'White Hot' Indent for Carbons dated 8 Oct 44, still not met. Shelling much reduced only two short periods 17 shells. No e/a over VAs during night. Weather dry.

 

27 October 1944: Normal routine. Bde Maj rang to enquire what experience this Bty has had of 'Movement Light'. Answer NIL. Weather, after a fine day rain an low cloud set in at 2000 hrs - INK ordered for VA 1 Sls. Very interesting report from C Tp Comd on weeks activities. They have been given two Cat 1s for bringing down by dazzle tactics two HE 111s flying low to drop sups to Garrison of DUNKIRK. Full story in APP 'D'. No e/a over during night.

 

28 October 1944: Normal routine. Bty Comd visited 474 SL Bty. Bty Capt to Bde to discuss movement of tpt SOUTH of MAAS. Shelling of brs eased off. A few high flying a/c over VAs during day NIL during night. Weather bright and dry - colder.

 

29 October 1944: Normal routine. Some soap and small amount of Vote 7 and 8 Stores collected form HQ 100 AA Bde. Considerable more activity by day over VAs. In all cases Me 262S in pairs, 3 bombs dropped close to Rly Br in VA 3. The others appeared to be recce a/c. Weather dry and bright. No e/a over VAs during night. All blankets being washed.

 

30 October 1944: Normal routine. Brig F.M. CROSSE Comd 100 AA Bde and CO 123 LAA Regt visited BHQ and discussed SLs cooperating with LAA. Decided that in future certqain LAA guns will follow the concentration of SLs, and engaged as soon as target is illuminated. Any orders for barrage fire will NOT apply to these specially detailed guns. CO 123 very satisfied with plots sent up from SL posns. accurate en adequate for guns to fire and a good stand by should GOR go out of action. Weather cold - rain in evening with low cloud caused INK at 1950.

Treatise "Appreciations of the problems affecting Independent Mobile SL Batteries" written by Bty Comd. Copy handed to Comd 100 AA Bde, and one sent to I.S. 21 A G.

 

31 October 1944: Normal routine. Bty Comd attended conference at Bde HQ to discuss SL def of NIJMEGEN. This Bty will likely take over def from 244 SL Bty. Bty Comd worked out an 11 SL defence layout. Weather damp low cloud.

Bty Comd attended hastily summoned conference at Bde HQ to discuss accomodation problem in and around NIJMEGEN. It seems that all non operational men, stores and tpt will have to be evacuated SOUTH of MAAS, and living accomodation reduced to a minimum. No shelling of brs. No e/a over during night. Report from O.C. REME Wksps on spares situation submitted to Bde. It is hoped that this subject will receive prompt action from 'higher up' as the position is in fact becoming very serious.

 

1 November 1944: Comds A & B Tps attended conference at BHQ to discuss accn and any possible reduction in space at present occupied in NIJMEGEN and GRAVE areas. Detailed return of all fields, barns, houses etc submitted to HQ 100 AA Bde. A supply of stationery collected fom a Mobile Stationery Unit - we now have a decent stock. Rocket-like objects reported seen form VA 3. Weather showery. During night ond Do 217 was lit by B Tp over VA 1 but no guns fired - reason GOR had not plotted it in. No attack made on VA.

 

2 November 1944: Normal routine. Bty Comd and Bty Sub visited A Tp posns. Capt CHAPMAN arrived BHQ en route for 100 AA Bde where he had orders to report. Reported to Bde who had no idea why C Tp had been ordered to this area. C Tp in harbour for night shelling and mortaring of br areas continued. One ME 109 flew oer VA 3 at 1445 hrs - reported shot down. No e/a over during night. Weather cold but dry.

 

3 November 1944: Bty Comd went to HQ 110 AA Bde to find out the position regarding C Tp. No one could tell him anything, so it was decided to allow the Tp to rest in harbour area. It is remarkable that a sub-unit can be given exact instructions where and when to report, and on arrival the receiving fmn should know nothing about it. Spasmodic shelling of br area. No e/a ever during night. Weather dry.

 

4 November 1944: Sjt. BARLOW arrived from C Tp with a message that the Tp had been ordered to report early on 4 Nov to RA 51 (H) Div. No further infm regarding likely job given. Normal routine. All offrs, less C Tps, attended a lecture on 'Movement Light' given by Major R.H. TAYLOR, Comd 344 SL Bty, at B Tp HQ. Lieut. D.F. BURNETT had a crash on a motor cycle and was taken unconsious to No 4 CCS. After having 5 stitches in his forhead he was allowed to return to his HQ. More aerial activity over VAs than of late. Several Me 262s and 109s. Bomb dropped in VA 1, no damage. Weather bright but raining in evening. No e/a over during night.

 

5 November 1944: Normal routine. Bty Comd and Bty Capt visited B Tp Q to discuss trial arranged for tonight. LAA guns - 123 LAA Regt are to practice firing at our SL concentration. Afterwards visited CO 123 Regt. Bty Comds car 00A - broken half shaft. B Tp drew a very good game, 4 each, with Grenadier Guards.

Weather so bad - heavy rain, high wind and low cloud - Exercise cancelled. Weather however, was NOT too bad for 2 He IIIs which came over VA 1 at 2003 and 2105. Each time they were well illuminated by B Tp SLs for 25 secs. No LAA fire at first. A few wild shots at second.

 

6 November 1944: Normal routine. Bty Comd visited 474 SL Bty and stayed to lunch. Went afterwards to HQ 100 AA Bde for conference. Learned that take-over from 344 SL Bty immenient. Capt CHAPMAN reported to BHQ and gave an account of his deployment with 51 (H) Div. They seem to have done a good job of work. Full report is attached. Bo e/a over VAs during night. Weather cold and showery.

 

7 November 1944: Normal routine. Capt CHAPMAN visited BHQ and reported that they were remaining in HELVOIRT area. First party of 2 offrs (Lts KENNEDY and DAYMOND) and 7 Ors proceeded for 48 hrs rest period to BRUSSELS. Indents now being met for carbons and carbon blocks, good stocks will be maintained in future on the following scale: - Each Det - 200 Positive, 80 Negative, 20 prs Carbon  blocks. Each THQ 1600 Positive, 500 Negative, 160 prs Carbon blocks. Driving belts - 8 sets per Tp HQ 8 sets at BHQ Letter to Tps regarding holdings. No Driving belts yet received. No e/a over VA during night. Weather dry but cold.

 

8 November 1944: Normal routine. 1763986 Gnr E.R. HEDGER (A 7 Det) killed by shell - 0600 hrs - while sitting in the cab of his veh generating. Shell landed in back of veh and killed him instanteously. Veh 00A. Most G 1098 stuff, incl SLC Eqpt, in back of veh damaged beyond repair. Capt CHAPMAN did not come up to BHQ as arranged and it is thought the Tp must have moved, probably with 51 (H) Div. Gen HEDGER buried in Military Cemetry, NIJMEGEN. No e/a over VAs during night. Weather dry but cold, rain during night

.

9 November 1944: Normal routine. Learned that this Bty will relieve 344 SL Bty 11 or 12 Nov in NIJMEGEN, and come under Comd 74 AA Bde who are relieving 100 AA Bde on 10 Nov. Majors STRATFORD and CLARK, Comd 474 and 557 SL Btys, called to discuss change over in which we are all involved. Naafi stores, incl a bottle of Beer per man, collected. Weather very wet, sleet and much mud - rained all day and most of the night. No e/a over VAs.

 

10 November 1944: Normal routine. Op Orders from 74 and 100 AA Bde order this Bty to relieve 344 SL Bty with 11 SL in VA 3 b 1600 hrs 11 Nov. All sites to be occupied have already been recced by Comd B Tp. All arrangements made for move. Bty Comd and Bty Capt vissited 344 SL Bty HQ and arranged to take over their accn as soon as they pull out - probable on 12 Nov. Visited HQ 74 AA Bde. Weather dry but cold. A number of a/c engaged over VA 1 Ond He III was illuminated for 45 secs - no hostile act commited. No AA fire. Remaining engagements were probably friendly a/c.

 

11 November 1944: B Tp started hand over of SL posns in VA 1 GRAVE to 557 SL Bty. Dets moved to new posns in VA 3 NIJMEGEN as soon as ready. Message from 344 SL Bty stating they were pulling out at 1630 hrs today. Arrangements made to move BHQ to NIJMEGEN today. Camp struck and all packed up ready to leave by 1430 hrs. Weather sunny but cold. BHQ had to move in several lots owing to lack of tpt - both load carrying Leylands ar Op deployed at the moment. BHQ set at NIJMEGEN. B tp deployed and in action, 11 SLs in AA role, 5 in river role plus 5 Lyon lights.

Major J.D. REEKIE IS 21 AG and Lt-Col  ASHFORD IS CMF visited BHQ and stayed over night. IS CMF was anxious to get particulars of Movement Light. General Policy, supply system for spares SL an MT and many other mathers discussed with Major REEKIE.

Br area shelled at intervals throughout day and night. Slight air activity between 2000 and 2100, one LIT target in VA 1 taken over in VA 3 - not identified. No bombs dropped.

 

12 November 1944: Settling in in new acon. Officers and Mess in house, bomb scarred and minus a good deal of glass. Q Stores in Leyland, MT Stores in Trailer both in Garage. Cookhouse and ORs sleeping accn above Garage. Suitable space for an Ration Store. The Bty is again under Comd 74 AA Bde 2nd Cdn Corps. Visitors left 1130 hrs. Bty Comd to Bde HQ 1200hrs for conference regarding Op 'NOAH'. Codewords 'WATERWINGS' and 'SPRINGTIDE' received. Weather cold but wet.

BM rang asking for SL posns 8 and 11 to give Movement Light at 2030 hrs on Grid North Bearing, 10o  Elevation, half dispersed. Comns - Bde to B Tp HQ via AAOR - B Tp to posn by no 17 Set. Orders sent out and all arrangements made. SLs 1 and 2 will expose for carbon changing period.

SLs 8 and 11 exposed on orders from Bde. Light quite satisfactory.

SLs doused - Job complete. No e/a over during night.

 

13 November 1944: Normal routine. Mail still collected from WIJCHEN - average time for mail 3/4 days. Some winter clothing - drawers short and vests, also gloves received. REME Wksps move to NIJMEGEN. Bty Comd and Bty Capt visited Bde. Question of Gum Boots, Jerkins and Jeep Drvs cloting taken up with SC. Weather very wet and cold. Rum issue authorised. Spasmodic shelling of brs and town area continued. No e/a over during night.

 

14 November 1944: Normal routine. Instrs for Op 'NOAH' issued. BM rang advising that B Tp and BHQ will be relieved on 15 Nov by 557 SL Bty. Be prepared to move under comd 30 Corps by 1500 hrs. A Tp will supply 5 Coverers at 1130 to lead out relieving Dets. Shelling of NIJMEGEN continued. Several heavy barrages, incl Mortars ('Moaning Minnie') during night. No e/a over VA. Weather cold rain.

 

15 November 1944: BHQ moved to Belgium, A.Troop stayed in Nijmegen.

 

18 November 1944: A.Troop moved to the rest of the Battery in Belgium.