90 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment: 272 Battery, 284 Battery, 285 Battery

 

Mid September 1944 found the Radar Troop still with the L.A.A. and with 30 Corps, who trust up through Holland to beyond Nijmegen. Deployments were made in Defence of the bridges of the Albert and Escaut canal and then came the big thirst northwards. When the Boche temporarily cut the line of advance, an infantry role loomed up, but the trouble was cleared without the Troops aid and the pace then quickened for the deployment on the river Waal at Nijmegen.

 

In the initial deployments in defence of Nijmegen bridge, the Radar Troop remained in support of the L.A.A., but on 9 october the Regiment came forward to strengthen the defence with the 3.7inch guns. and the Radar operators then rejoined their own gun troops.

Nijmegen proved itself to be a good bait for the Boche and for the first time in the campaign, as far as the "90th" was concerned, the Regiment had a really good Anti-Aircraft task. In the early days the guns were in action every night and occasionally were in action every night and occasionally a daylight engagement was offered. All ranks were very enthusiastic about their task and this enthusiasm was increased when 272 and 284 Batteries were put in support of 43 Division in a Medium Artillery role. 285 Battery were preculed from accepting a ground role as their Anti-Aircraft 8-gun position was under direct enemy observation.

 

Due to the continued threat by night on the Nijmegen bridge by enemy bombers the task of firing in a ground role had to be limited to hours of daylight only, but this period did serve to emphasic the versatility of the "Heavy Ack Ack Gunner". During the day he was ready to take on any enemy battery or mortar positions, during the night that same gunner was equally prepared and qualified to engage aircraft travelling at speeds of 300 m.p.h or more and he was for every ready to man his gun in an anti-tank role.

 

After a six weeks stay in Nijmegen the Regiment moved south and deployed to give Anti-Aircraft defence to the communication centre of Helmond, 30 miles to the east of Eindhoven.

December was a month in which the Luftwaffe paid little attention to the Second Army front and towards the end of the month 284 Battery reverted to a ground role in support of 8 AGRA and 8 Corps. They deployed at Overloon and Boxmeer on the river Maas and were mainly concerned with counter battery fire. At the beginning of January 1945 they had one opportunity of giving direct support to our infantry and Armour who were sent in to clear up a Boche pocket that he was established on the east bank of the Maas.

 

New year's day gave the Regiment an opportunity to engage an enemy aircraft. The boche having mustered many hundred aircraft appeared to make an all out assault on our airfields. Heavy Anti-Aircraft guns had little opportunity of real action as the enemy never flew higher than a hundred or so feet, but by putting their Bren guns to good advantage the regiment bagged two "certs"and one of those went to 284 Battery who were in a wholly Medium Artillery role!. A bren gunner of 285 Battery who was fortunate enough to get his "bird" to fall almost at his feet dropped his gun racing to the crashed aircraft (an FW190) he dragged out the pilot from his cockpit to find that he had a .303 bullet through his head. He justly claimed this as his bag!!!.

 

On the 10th of January the Regiment deployed in a wholly ground role in the Grathem area, a mile or two to the west of Roermond and after a week or two counter battery work full support was given to the Second Army Attack from the line of the Maas at Maeseyck to the river Roer running south from Roermond.

In the course of approximately then days or less than 15.000 rounds were fired am one feature here is that is worthy of special mention is the fine work put in by the men on the guns for the way in which they handled the ammunition supply.

During the whole of this period Holland was suffering from an intense cold spell which produced tempartures down to zero. A great number of the ammunition boxes received from the supply points were completely frozen, and the rounds had to be prized out of the boxes, and cach unwrapped individually, as the packings were frozen to the cartridge case itself. Working in the intense cold, the gunners put a grand show and never once was a gun short of its fodder.

 

As the weeks passed, and the guns were kept fully employed, Reconnaissance parties began to consider positions further to the east. On the 8th February the attack south-east of Nijmegen opened up, and the Regiment, who remained in the Grathem positions, prepared to support to the great thrust later put in by the Ninth US Army.

 

On the 1st of March the Regiment came out of the line and moved to Nieuwpoort near Oostende, Belgium.