9 Army Group Royal Artillery
On the 23rd of October 9 AGRA left Bentile and moved to Lamswaarde from which position it was possible to shoot across the Scheldt on to South Beveland where a new operation was to take place by the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division and the 52nd Lowland Infantry Division.
This move was carried out at extremely short notice and the whole AGRA was committed to the covering of a long distance over roads which were by no means first class. The fact that the AGRA arrived complete in the space of a few hours constituted a creditable performance.
The Scheldt pocket had not at this time been finally cleared, but only a relatively small number of enemy remained on the North West side of the pocket who were to be mopped up whilst the new operation was in progress.
It has been rightly anticipated by the CAGRA that the AGRA would be in the vicinity of the Leopold Canal for two or three weeks and with this in view a Rest centre was established in Eecloo.
With the exception of the 9th Medium Regiment RA all were to support the Brigade of the 52nd Lowland Infantry Division who were doing a sea-borne attack across the Scheldt. With this formidable group and with a number of AGRA representatives with the infantry, a great weight of fire was brought down in support of the Division.
On 25th October the 11th Medium Regiment RA relieved the 9th Medium Regiment RA in support of the Canadians, and on the 26th, at 4.30hrs in the morning, 52nd Lowland Infantry Division operation began with the assault of the 156th Infantry Brigade. The attack met with initial success but at 08.45hrs in the evening the Forward Observation Officer of the 9th Medium Regiment reported that a counter attack had brought the enemy so close that even the use of wireless was most inadvisable , as his voice could be heard by the enemy. However, by 12.30hrs on the 27th he reported that the situation was much better. Later the same day the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division crossed the main South Beveland Canal.
On the 28th of October at 3pm the AGRA representative with 156th Infantry Brigade reported that the Brigade Headquarters was receiving a good deal of attention from a number of enemy 88mm guns. Later in the afternoon these were silenced with the assistance of the Counter Battery Officer who was attached to the Headquarters.
On the 29th of October at 09.30am came a warning of a move and at the same time news arrived that the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division and the 156 Infantry Brigade had linked up. The 79 Field Regiment, 9th, 10th, 11th and 107 Medium Regiments were not out of range and only the 155mm guns of the 51 and 59 Heavy regiments were able to give effective support. This they continued to do until 05.30pm on the 30th.
On the 31st of October the AGRA moved to the area of Ijzendijke. The 79 Field Regiment had moved round to the South Beveland isthums by way of Antwerp and were now in support of the 52nd Lowland Infantry Division.
It was interesting to note the damage done by artillery fire in the town of Ijzendijke and the surrounding villages. A good deal of this must be attributable to 9 AGRA. There was scarcely a building which had not been damaged and the roads too had sufffered their share.
At 04.45hrs on the 1st of November the first rounds of the programme of support of operation Infatuate were fired. The 52nd Lowland Infantry Brigade landed at Flushing and at 09.45hrs the 4th Special Service Brigade landed at West kapelle.
November the 2nd saw the AGRA firing concentrations on call, harassing fire and counter battery tasks throughout the day. On the 4th of November the 52nd Heavy Regiment came under operational command of 9 AGRA and the same day the Tac HQ was sent forward to Breskens. By 04.00pm on the 6th it was learned that our forward troops had entered Middleburg, and at 06.00pm all Regiments with the exception of the 10th Medium Regiment and the 155mm guns of the 52nd and 59th Heavy regiment were out of range.
The next day the whole AGRA moved to the area of Budel and came under command of the 12th British Corps on arrival. The 61 and 110 Field Regiments and the 52 Heavy Regiment ceased to be under command.
On the 8th November a recce was made of new gun areas and on the 10th Adv HQ and the 11 Medium Regiment moved up to their battle positions. At 09.20am on the 11th the remainder of the HQ moved to Weert and established themselves in the railway station. The regiments were now deployed around the town with the 10 medium regiment a little further forward at Swartbroek.
At 04.00hrs on the evening of the 14th operation "Mallard" started and went well from the first.
The 51 and 53 Infantry Division were driving the enemy back towards the Mass and steady progress was maintained through the next two days, the AGRA firing concentrations on call and country battery task as required. At 03.00hrs on the 17th of November, the headquarters moved to the area of Schoorstraat and although one night had to be spent in the open, more suitable accommodation was found the next day. By now the only enemy remaining this side of the Maas was a small pocket at Roermond and most of the firing consisted of bombards.
On the 20th November at seven minutes past 10 in the morning the CAGRA fired all the guns of the AGRA on to its first target on German soil.
The next few days tell of steady progress of our infantry and at 10.30hrs on the 26th of November the HQ moved to Koningslust Klooster with the gun areas west and south of Maasbree with a view to supporting the attack to clear up the small pocket of enemy on this side of the river opposite Venlo. The 107 Medium Regiment found themselves in the unfortunate position of having their position was bombed and shelled. The 11 Medium Regiment also suffered in this raid, two of their men becoming casualties.
On the 8th of December the HQ moved to Munstergeleen. The 107 Medium Regiment being in Geleen with the 165 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment next door to them, having the 421 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery of the 108 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment under command. The 3rd Super Heavy Regiment came under command for this operation, whilst 9th and 11th Medium Regiment were sent to be under operational control of the 5th AGRA since the gun positions they had been allotted made this arrangement more satisfactory.
All the regiments were to be engaged in supporting the Corps operation "Shears". The 3rd Super heavy regiment were given the particular job of breaking up re-enforced concrete shelters which formed part of the Siegfried line.
On the 21st of December 1944 HQ 9 AGRA moved to Rumpen to be in a more central positions in relation to the gun areas. The counter battery officer of 12 Corps was sent to 9 AGRA and the Commander 9 AGRA became responsible for all counter battery measures. An officer of the AGRA was sent to the Fire Direction Centre of XIII US Corps and they in turn sent a LO to live at HQ 9 AGRA.
9 AGRA moved from Rumpen to Haps on the 3rd of February and the HQ opened there the same day. At 04.30 on the 8th of February the first rounds of the opening programme for operation "Veritable"were fired. This proved to be a very large programme and a considerable amount of ammunition was expended. At least one of Medium Regiments of the AGRA fired over 300 rounds per gun on the first day.
On the 17th of February our own troops had progressed far enough to allow 11 Medium Regiment to cross over the River Maas and deploy in the area just South of Gennep, they were followed on the 18th by 165 HAA and the 107 Medium Regiment, and by the 19th, the 9 Medium and 53 Heavy Regiments were also in the new position. TC HQ 9 AGRA was established in Gennep itself on the 18th and the whole HQ moved over to this area on the morning of the 19th.
By the 2nd of March, all the Regiments in 9 AGRA were deployed in the new area between Hassum and Goch in Germany.