Sexton SP guns of the 8th Field Regiment, R.C.A., firing 21 gun salute to celebrate VE Day, Groningen, Netherlands, 8 May 1945.
Photo by Jack H. Smith. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-114372.

A8 Field Regiment RCA: 61 Battery 71 Battery 107 Battery

SP Sexton

Unit No.

 

5 April 1945:  A 200 mile trip to Nijmegen. The tanks and SPs made the journey by rail. After staying overnight near Nijmegen, the Regiment deployed on the Island on 6 April to await the forthcoming attack on Arnhem. By noon the following day 750 rds per gun of smoke and 200 rds per gun of HE had been dumped on the gun position. The plan of attack changed several times within the next week. Even the troops and formations to make the attack changed.

 

12 April 1945: At 19.30hrs, we fired our first rds on a fire plan issued by HQ RCA 5 Canadian Armoured Division. The plan called for artillery fire only, supposedly in support of a non existence diversionary attack on the west side of Arnhem to draw attention to that sector until the real attack by 49 WR Division went in east of Arnhem at 23.00hrs. After firing several targets for HQ RA during the night the Regiment opened fire on a pre-arranged observed smoke screen at 08.40hrs.

 

13 April 1945: The screen was 4000yrds long, 11 Field Regiment RCA being responsible for the northern half  and the 8 Field Regiment RCA for the southern half. A steady rate of fire was maintained all day until the order to "stand easy" was given almost twelve hours later at 20.25hours. In the 25 hour period of firing, the Regiment expended 6487rds of HE and 12960 rounds of smoke. Every available man was employed carrying and preparing ammunition to archieve this regimental record of 810 rounds per gun in one day. At 22.00hrs, under cover of darkness the Regiment came out of action and moved to new concentration area. The route was through Nijmegen and across a corner of Germany, though Cleve, Emmerich to Didam in holland.

 

14 April 1945: CO reps and FOOs reported to LDSH,8 NBH, BCD and Westminster Regiment and the Regiment was placed under command 5 Canadian Armoured Brigade. The plan 5 Brigade was to pass trough to 49 WR Division after arnhem was cleared and advance north-west to Zuider Zee. The Regiment deployed in Arnhem late that night and at 06.00hrs 8MBH and BCD attacked.

 

15 April 1945: A Canadian Air OP and one battery from 3 Medium Regt were placed under command 8 Field Regiment RCA. The advance was rapid and met only scattered resistance. The 2IC Major E.M.Hodson and the advance party prepared a gun position near Deelen Airfield in the afternoon. In addition to the normal preparations they also capture the "de-souvenired" 120 prisoners including a Lieutenant-colonel and his lady. Before the gun group arrived, the advance party had moved in again to prepare another position and the guns followed along. At dusk the Regiment occupied a position about 4 miles south of Otterloo. During the deployment in the dark, Lieutenant S.M. Macsymic mistook, what the prisoners reports the next day indicated the depature of a German Panzer Company, for the arrival of his own battery guns, unsuccesfully dashes across the field shouting at the top of his voice and flasing a light. Fortunately their lone pursuer, the tanks got away.

 

16 April 1945: The chase by 5 Canadian Air OP was replaced by a British Squadron which kept planes in the air continually but the observers were only able to spot a few targets The Regiment took another 80 prisoners during the day and uncovered two American fliers and a British Secret Agent. In the evening several souvenirs collectors from RHQ made contact with the enemy about a mile behind the gun position and were forced to send for help to extricate themselves. The paymaster, Captain S.F.Donnelly gallantry led his RHQ Commander to the rescue. Captain Evans working as FOO with 8NBH, saw activity and brought fire to bear, necessitating a slew of 185 degrees from zero line. The final result was 5 men from RHQ and attached RCCS signal section wounded, the 2IC half track bazookas and the paymaster and one OR spending a cold night in the long grass hugging mother earth. Souvenir hunting away from gun position ceased after this episode.

 

18 April 1945: Thanks of 8NBH reached the Zuiderzee north-west of Putten. In three and half days, 5 Canadian Armoured Division with 5 Canadian Armoured Brigade setting the pace had advanced 50 miles and fought off a determined counter attack on Divisional HQ on Divsional HQ . The guns of the Regiment were always close behind the leading tanks and ready to answer calls for fire or any point of the compass.

 

19 April 1945: The Regiment fored a salute of 3rd rounds salvo and 5 rounds gun fire in memory of personnel of the Regiment who had fallen in battle. Presuamably there were to be the last shots to be fired by the Regiment in WOII. Ten  minutes later the Regiment took post and fired in anger at the enemy.

 

23 April 1945: The Regiment cmae under command 5 CAB and moved to Northern Holland. Due to the lack of bridges it was a long roundabout journey of over 150 miles. Through. Apeldoorn, Zuthpen, Assen and Groningen. The Regimental Advance party prepared a gun position near Wierden in the afternoon and wheeled vehicles of F echelon arrived in the evening. The guns and tanks travelling in a later convoy from Putten arrived on the gun position during the night.As the Westminster Regiment sector was out of rangeof our Rep and FOO had to call on 17 Canadian Field Regiment RCA for fire. The Delftzijl Garrison was surrounded by flat open flooded country across which armour could not move.The divisional plan was changed and the available forces were regrouped.

 

25 April 1945: The German fire was accurate and frequent. The weather was very wet. Daily we over expeneded our ammunition allotment on targets ontargets for Reps and FOOs, the Air OP and HQ RCA. Slowly the size. Slowly the size of the pocket decreased due to the unrelentless efforts of the three infantry regiments of 11 CIB and the Westminster Regiment.

 

2 May 1945: The Commander of the Delftzijl garrison surrendered to the CO of the Irish Regiment. However the war was not ended for the Regiment. 61 Battery moved to Bierum to cover the Ems Estuary. 107 Battery came under command of HQ 5 CAB and deployed north of Roode school facing the North Sea.

 

4 May 1945:  The Active service in Battleo f the Regiment ended.