5th Army Group Royal Artillery


Before the Airborne landings the three forward regiments had not gad much shooting except on the Albert canal where the Irish guards put up such a fine ahow, and then the break out over the Meuse Canal coinciding with the airborne landings on the 17 September. 84 went on up the  road first with Gds Arm Div., followed by 64 who had left 12 Armoured Div, and then 7 Medium. Eindhoven - Veghel - Nijmegen, but not quite to Arnhem. Within 5 AGRA 84 Medium was in the van on the way from the Escaut Canal up to Nijmegen supporting the Guards Armoured Division, and it is worthy of note that they achieved the following on behalf of the AGRA. The first medium guns to cross the River Rhine, a roving section which crossed after Nijmegen bridge had been secured. They fired the first medium shells into Germany on behalf of 82 US Airborne Div. and were first to give indirect support the 1st Airborne Div. firing HF tasks north of the Rhine on orders of 30 Corps. Also worthy of mention is the fact that Lieutenant Leach of 84 medium, who had been trained as a parachute FOO, dropped with 82 (US) Airborne Div. having left the Regiment, flown home to England and flown out again, all within 48 hours. The Journey from Escaut to Nijmegen was about 100miles and it took 17 hours to accomplish. 64 Medium on their arrival at Nijmegen found that fate had cast them for an important role in this Arnhem battle- but let 64th tell their story.

It was 09.35hrs on the 21 september just as RHQ was pulling into its area, that a wireless station with a strange code sign was heard on the Regt'l net saying, we are being heavily shelled and mortared, can you help?. When asked who it was, the voice said it belonged to the people who you are trying to join up with, and asked urgently for artillery support. This created a very thicklish situation. The people we were trying to join up with could only be the 1st British Airborne Division,and there was a note of urgency about every message that rang sincerem yet we dare not put down the fire asked for until we were perfectly satisfied that it was genuine. Fortunately our CO remembered the name of the CRA of the 1st Airborne Div, so we asked "does your name begin with the letter...?". the reply came back "yes my christian name is...?" To make certain we rackecour brains for a second check. Then the adjudant remembered that  a certain staff officer of his aquaintance was also known to the CRA of st Airborne Div. The strange station was then asked "does your Sunray know....?" gving the christian name of his mutual acuaintance. When the voice was able to supply the surname, we reckoned that we had established identity beyond a shadow of doubt.