HQ RA 3rd British Infantry Division

 

19 September 1944: Op successful and class 9 bridge completed over canal by 0830 hrs. Achel and Hamont secured. Main HQ RA joined Tac HQ RA. Units moved up. 92 LAA Regt deployed with 474 SL Bty in gun and bridge area. Leading tps 3rd British Infantry Division entered Holland.

 

20 September 1944: No move as rd over bridge at Lille St Hubert reserved for 11 Armd Div. Opportunity tgts engaged.

 

21 September 1944: 76 Fd Regt moved. Quiet day.

 

22 September 1944: Move of HQ RA to Hamont. Weert captured by 8 British Infantry Division but railway bridge blown. Opportunity tgts engaged by Div Arty.

 

23 September 1944: 3rd British Infantry Division op to relieve 11 Armd Div and take over Asten (Phase 1 by 185 Inf Bde) and Deurne (Phase 2 by 9 Br Inf Bde). 8 British Inf Bde to remain in area Weert with under comd 76 Fd Regt and patrol Maastricht Canal to assist 3 Recce Regt in event of enemy penetration of canal South of rd. 61 Med Regt in support of 185 and 9 Inf Bdes in Phases I and II. 92 LAA Regt deployed to protect Asten br and Div HQ. HQ RA entered Holland and est at De Bult between Heeze and Someren. Capture of Deurne by 11 Armd Div delayed until 24 Sep, but 185 Inf Bde est in Asten bridgehead. 7 Fd Regt moved to area East of Someren.

 

24 September 1944: Deurne secured and 8 British Inf Bde moved up to take over from 11 Armd Div. 1 KOSB occupied Liesel. Small Op by 185 Inf Bde to secure Heusden. 33 Fd Regt in action to South of Someren. 61 Med Regt in action Vaarsel.

 

25 September 1944: 11 Armd Div entered Helmond, which was taken over by 1 Norfolk with 7 Fd Regt in sp. 11 Armd Div pushed fwd to Bakel and Milheeze with leading elements to Boxmeer on the Maas. 33 Fd Regt moved to area Deurne. 76 Fd Regt continued sp of 8 British Inf Bde in area Weert.

 

26 September 1944: 8 British Inf Bde concentrated Maarheeze area with 2 E Yorks in Gemert. On relief in Weert area by 4 Armd Bde,76 Fd Regt concentrated area Heeze. One tp 7 Fd Regt moved up in close sp 1 Norfolk in Helmond area. ME 109 shot down by A tp 92 LAA Regt in Div area.

 

27 September 1944: 8 British Inf Bde take over Bakel area. 76 Fd Regt moved near Bakel and 61 Med Regt to West of Deurne. HQ RA moved to East of Helmond. Tp of 7 Fd Regt near Helmond withdrawn. Roving tp sent to area Meijel successfully engaged tgts. Arty R shoots carried out by 61 Med Regt. 92 LAA Regt claimed three ME 109 aircraft hit and probably destroyed (Categorie 2 claim).

 

28 September 1944: 7 Fd Regt moved to East of Asten and 61 Med Regt moved one tp to this area under comd 7 Fd Regt. Opportunity tgts and HBs engaged; arty R employed.

 

29 September 1944: 7 US Armd Div took over area Deurne, Someren, Liesel. 8 British Inf Bde Gemert area. 9 British Inf Bde Bakel. 185 Inf Bde Someren. 76 Fd Regt moved.

 

30 September 1944: 7 US Armd Div directed on Overloon - Venray- Venlo supported by Div Arty. Opportunity tgts engaged nd pre-arranged shoots for CBO carried out. Deurne re-occupied by 9 British Inf Bde and Asten bridgehead by 185 Inf Bde.

 

HQ RA consisted of the following offrs during Sep: -

CRA                    Brig GG Mears MC

BMRA                 Maj V D'O Harmar RA

SCRA                  Capt EH Kimpton RA

IORA                   Capt JE Russell-Davis RA

CMO                   Capt R Law RA

A/SCRA (att)       Lt NH Barlow RA

EME (att)             Capt L Walker REME

OC H Sec Sigs     Lt R Bryson R Sigs

Met Offr (att)        F/O DG Reid RAFVR

Padres (att)           Rev PS Sprent CF C1 IV

                             Rev RJ Higgins CF C1 IV

 

1 October 1944: HQ RA moved to Heumen, 9 km South of Nijmegen. 7 and 76 Fd Regts in action North of river Maas. 33 Fd Regt in action South of river Maas. 3 Britis Inf Div less 9 British Inf Bde under comd 1 Airborne Corps. 9 British Inf Bde with 33 Fd Regt under comd under direct comd of 8 Corps. Two btys of 86 Fd Regt in direct sp 3 British Inf Div.

 

2 October 1944: Div Arty supported 325(US) Glider Inf Regt (82 US Airborne Div) in attack to secure line Riethorst - Middelaar. Objective reached on left but enemy held right stubbornly. Good shooting with air and ground observation. OP to flank occupied by 33 Fd Regt at St Agatha most effectively. First round fired into Germany by E Tp 76 Fd Regt.

 

3 October 1944: Relief on 325 (US) Glider Inf Regt by 185 Inf Bde with sp of RA 3 British Inf Div 8 British Inf Bde remained in reserve behind 185 Inf Bde. One bty 33 Fd Regt remained in direct sp 9 British Inf Bde in clearing up area around Oeffelt. 3 British Inf Div reverted to comd of 8 Corps.

 

4 October1944: Opportunity targets ad hostile btys and mortars engaged throughout day.

 

5 October 1944: 25 Fd Regt came under comd RA 3 British Inf Div, going into action. One ME 262 jet propelled and one ME 109 aircraft shot down by 92 LAA Regt.

 

6 October 1944: Counter Mortar Organisation formed. Maj JIL Syddall RA appointed CMO. Two ME 109 aircraft shot down by 92 LAA Regt.

 

6-8 October 1944: Opportunity targets engaged by day with limited scale of amn.

 

8-9 October 1944: Relief of 3 British Inf Div on Reichswald front by 43 Inf Div.

 

9 October 1944: Div Arty moved South of river Maas. Regts in action but silent in sp of 11 Armd Div in area of St Anthonis 7 Fd Regt (sp 3 Mon), 76 Fd Regt (sp 1 Hereford), 25 Fd Regt (sp 4 KSLI), 33 Fd Regt unchanged in sp 9 British Inf Bde. 146/91 (SP) A Tk Bty came under comd. HQ RA moved to Wanroij. Counter mortar OPs only deployed with each Bn sp.

 

11 October 1944: 33 Fd Regt moved.

 

12 October 1944: Tac HQ RA established at Oploo. Op Aintree - 3 British Inf Div to capture (i)Overloon by 8 British Inf Bde, and (ii) Venray by 9 British Inf Bde. 185 Inf Bde in reserve and 6 Gds Tk Bde (sp by 25 Fd Regt) under comd. Div Arty in sp with arty of 11 Armd Div, 15 (S) Div and units of 8 AGRA. Red smoke was successfully to indicate targets to Typhoons. Overloon captured. Opposition amounted to approx six Bns.

 

13 October 1944: Op Aintree continued. 9 British Inf Bde operating towards Venray from West and NW and 185 Ind Bde from Eas and NE. 33 Fd Regt sp 9 British Inf Bde with call on 11 Armd Div Arty and 63 Med Regt and 7 Fd Regt sp 185 Inf Bde with call on 76 Fd Regt and 61 Med Regt. 25 Fd Regt moved and remained in sp 6 Gds Tk Bde. 76 Fd Regt moved.

 

14 October 1944: OP Aintree continued. 8 British Inf Bde maintained firm base in Overloon with role of clearing to rly. 9 British and 185 Inf Bdes continued adv on Venray and reached fwd edge of wood.

 

15 October 1944: Op by 159 Inf Bde of 11 Armd Div to clear area bounded by Vierlingsbeek - Overloon rd South along rly thence West to secure left flank of 3 British Inf Div. Div Arty sp 11 Armd Div by firing barrage. Op was successful. 7 Fd Regt moved.

 

16 October 1944: Adv on Venray continued, - 185 Inf Bde by Brabander and East of Venray, and 8 British Inf Bde by Beek. Div Arty with arty of 11Armd Div, 15 (S) Div and units of 8 AGRA sp advance by barrage and concs. Molenbeek crossed with great difficulty and country waterlogged. Venray entered by 1 Suffolk. One tp 2 AA SL Bty under comd to provide artifcial moonlight. Main HQ RA joined Tac HQ at Oploo. Maj JEH Wise MC RA relieved Maj V D'O Harmar RA as BMRA.

 

17 October 1944: 3 British Inf Div consolidate Venray and surrounding area as far East as convent of St Servatius. Op by 11 Armd Div to West of 3 British Inf Div to secure South and SW of Venray. 144/91 A Tk Bty came under com.

 

18 October 1944: Enemy continued to strenghten defences on both sides of river Maas.

 

19 October 1944: Responsibility for holding general line from incl Venray to incl Cuijk taken over by 3 British Inf Div with 8 British Inf Bde right centred on Venray, 9 British Inf Bde East of Overloon, 185 Inf Bde in reserve. 2 HCR Gp protecting left flank from incl Vierlingsbeek to incl Cuijk with in sp one bty 25 Fd Regt and two btys 91 A Tk Regt. 76 Fd Regt moved to Kleindorp area. 2 AA SL Bty reverted from under comd.

 

20 October 1944: Vigorous HF policy pursued night and day from today until end of month within amn limitation on 30 rpg per day.

 

21 October 1944: 12/25 Bty of 25 Fd Regt in sp 2 HCR Gp moved.  Tp 474 (Ind) SL Bty under comd until 27 Oct.

 

 

27 October 1944: Strongly sp enemy attack against 7 US Armd Div in area Meijel - Helenaveen recaptured Liesel.

 

29 October 1944: 25 Fd Regt leave area on coming under comd 15 (S) Div in Deurne area. Capt R.C. Baglin RA appointed SCRA vice Capt E.H. Kimpton RA admitted to hospital.

 

Officers of HQ RA posted and attached October 1944

CRA                   Brig G.G. Mears MC

BMRA                Maj V D'O Harmar RA : relieved by Ma J.E.H. Wise MC RA on 16 Oct

SCRA                 Capt E.H. Kimpton RA : relieved by Capt R.C. Baglin RA on 29 Oct

IORA                  Capt J.D. Russell-Davis RA

CMO                  Capt R. Law RA ; relieved by Maj J.I.L. Syddall RA on 6 Oct

ACMO                Lt S.T. Thomas RA

A/SCRA(att)        Lt N.H. Barlow RA

EME RA (att)       Capt L. Walker REME

OC H Sec Sigs     Lt R Bryson R Sigs

Met Offr (att)        R/O D.G.Reid RAFVR

Padres (att)           Rev P.S. Sprent CF IV C1

                             Rev F.J. Higgins CF IV C1

 

 

Note 1.

Throughout the greater part of the month of November bad weather and heavy rain caused the country West of river Maas to be completely waterlogged and flooding of the river which hampered all kinds of movement.

Note 2.

During the first part of November restriction of daily amn expenditure curtailed to some extent the activity of the Div Arty.

Note 3.

Throughout the whole month HQ RA was established near Oploo, although later it had to be moved slightly to be clear of the rising flood caused by the saturation of the ground.

Note 4.

On 1 Nov 44 the front line ran down the line of the river Maas from Cuijk in North as far as Vierlingsbeek line of rly to Smakt - East of St Servatius convent - Leunen.

Note 5.

During first half of month enemy (180 Div to North and Div Erdman (later 7 Para Div) to South of front) were fairly active in patrolling especially at night.

 

2 November 1944: Op Merry - successful arty, mortar and MG shoot on bridge and along Molenbeek, on 3 Recce Regt sector by 7 Fd Regt, one tp 92 LAA Regt and 2 Mx - provoked enemy shelling on Vierlingsbeek.

 

4 November 1944: Maashees Church tower engaged by 7.2' gun but Not demolished.

 

5 November 1944: Further provocation shoot by 7 Fd Regt and tp 92 LAA egt on Afferden.

 

9 November 1944: Afferden church steeple shot down by A Tk SP and med arty.

 

14 November 1944: 12 Corps Op Mallard to clear enemy West of river Maas from Wessem Northwards started. Slight opposition encountered and good progress made.

 

15 November 1944: Order group held by CRA. Agenda - future ops.

 

19 November 1944: Relief of 159 Inf Bde (11 Armd Div) by 2 Warwick and 9 British Inf Bde extended Div front to area South of Venray.

 

21 November 1944: Op by 11 Armd Div to capture Amerika successful with 33 Fd Regt in sp.

 

22 November 1944: Enemy withdrawal along front to East of Nijmegen - Venlo rly from Smakt - Oostrum. Order group for Op Peacock.

 

23-24 November 1944: Op Peacock. 9 British Inf Bde attacked to clear enemy from SW of rly as far as Oorloo in three phases. Phase I. KSOB to clear wood and orchard and 2 Lincolns with one sqn 4 Coldm Gds under comd to subdue factory. Phase II. 2 RUR with under comd one sqn 4 Coldm Gds to adv to wood then school. Phase III. Adv to Oorloo. RA 3 British Inf Div (less 25 Fd Regt) supported attack with tasks at call (Not called for). Tac HQ RA established at Meerselo 23 Nov. Op successful - little opposition encountered except mines. Whole area West of river Maas cleared of enemy except the Kasteel at Geijsteren and three pockets East of Wanssum.

 

25 November 1944: Op to reduce Kasteel at Geijsteren by 1 Suffolk sp by 76 Fd Regt unsuccessful.

 

27 November 1944: Order group ref adjustment of Bde areas and roles of RA regts.

 

29 November 1944: Enemy withdrew from Kasteel during night: occupied by 1 Suffolk.

 

30 November 1944: Night Op to clear area West of Blitterswijk by 2 RUR unsuccessful in fade of determined opposition by enemy.

 

Officers of HQ RA during Nov. 44

CRA                   Brig G.G. Mears MC

BMRA                Maj J.E.H. Wise MC RA

SCRA                 Capt R.C. Baglin RA

IORA                  Capt J.D. Russell-Davis RA

EME RA (att)      Capt L. Walker REME

A/SCRA (att)      Lt N.H. Barlow RA relieved by Lt R.G. Sheldrake RA

OC H Sec R Sigs (att) Lt R Bryson R Sigs

Chaplains (att)      Rev (CF C1 IV) P.S. Sprent RA Ch.D. C of E

                            Rev (CF C1 IV) F.T. Higgins RA Ch.D. RC

Met Offr (att)       F/O D.G. Reid RAFVR

CMO (att)           Maj J.I.L. Syddall RA

ACME (att)         Lt S.T. Thomas RA

 

 

Note 1.

About the middle of Dec flooding generally subsided and the level of the river Maas between it banks returned to the normal for the time of the year.

Note 2.

During the month enemy patrols across the river Maas were frequent and together with HF these increased at the time of the counter offensive in the Ardennes on 16 Dec.

Note 3.

Artificial moonlight was provided continuously throughout the month by B Tp 474 (Ind) SL Bty except at full moon periods. The troop was divided into two sections each being under comd of fd regt affiliated to Inf Bde in the area.

 

1 December 1944: Further attempt by 2 RUR to clear the enemy pocket West of Blitterswijk and orchard during darkness met determined opposition and was unsuccessful. Move of RHQ and two btys 33 Fd Regt.

 

2 December 1944: All enemy on Div Front West of river Maas finally cleared. Relief of 8 British Inf Bde by 9 British Inf Bde started. Posns of 7 Fd Regt adjusted by RHQ. 317 LAA Bty in res at Gemert. HQ 20 A Tk Regt and two btys out of action at St Hubert.

 

3 December 1944: 76 Fd Regt concentrated out of action at De Twist

 

4 December 1944: Windmill shelled by 53 Med Regt and collapsed after 26 hits.

 

5 December 1944: HQ RA moved to Oploo village. Office still in CV which was sited adjacent to church.

 

6-10 December 1944: Nothing to report.

 

11 December 1944: Increased shelling during 24 hrs: approx 600 rounds fell in Div area.

 

12 December 1944: Relief of 185 Inf Bde by 8 British Inf Bde.

 

13 December 1944: 7 Fd Regt relieved by 76 Fd Regt and RHQ 7 Fd Regt and two btys concentrated area De Twist.

 

14 December 1944: CRA's Order Group - Agenda: Extension of Div front to incl 159 Bde area South of Venray.

 

16 December 1944: Relief of 159 Inf Bde by 185 Inf Bde extended Div front Southwards to Grubbenvorst.  13 RHA (HAC) of 11 Armd Div came under comd 3 British Inf Div in sp 185 Inf Bde. HQRA moved to Castenray. 17 Fd Bty of 7 Fd Regt moved but remain silent. Increased air activity marked stat of enemy offensive in Ardennes.

 

17 December 1944: Bomb dropped in Div HQ area wounded one offr and destroyed  office lorry.

 

18 December 1944: 76 Fd Regt moved to Overloon area with guns in sp Royals Group. Relief of 8 British Inf Bde in Northern sector by 8 Cdn Recce Regt Gp (2 Cdn Inf Div) brings Div Northern bdy to excl Boxmeer.

 

21 December 1944: River Maas floods return to almost normal level between its banks. Lt Col MW Hope DSO RA appointed to comd 33 Fd Regt vice Lt Col ES Lindsay OBE RA posted.

 

24 December 1944: Brig G.G. Mears MC CRA awarded DSO.

 

24-25 December 1944: Christmas. Whole Div front fairly quiet.

 

28 December 1944: Fire by 7 Fd Regt on Lomm ara, failed to provoke enemy reaction.

 

29 December 1944: 3 British Inf Div came under comd 2 Cdn Corps 1200 hrs. Relief of 185 Inf Bde by 9 British Inf Bde in Southern sector. 7 Fd Regt in sp 9 British Inf Bde.

 

31 December 1944: Lt Col HC Bazeley DSO RA, 92 LAA Regt, appointed to comd 7 Fd Regt vice Lt Col NPH Tapp posted. Lt Col PR Henderson RAS appointed to comd 92 LAA Regt vice Lt Col HC Bazeley DSO RA posted.

 

Officers of HQ RA during Dec 44

CRA                  Brig GG Mears DSO MC

BMRA               Maj JEH Wise MC RA

SCRA                Capt RC Baglin RA

IORA                 Capt JD Russell-Davis RA

A/SCRA (att)     Lt RG Sheldrake RA

attached              Maj RH Farrant RA

EME RA (att)     Capt L Walker REME relieved by Capt LJ Hodson REME

OCH Sec Sigs (att) Lt R Bryson R Sigs

Met Offr (att)      F/O D Reid RAFVR

Padres (att)         Rev (CF C1 IV) PS Sprent RAChD relieved by Rev (CF C1 IV)                                 GR James RAChD C of E    

                           Rev (CF C1 IV) FT Higgins RAChD RC

CMO                  Maj JIL Syddall RA

ACMO (att)        Lt WM Herries RA        

 

Notes

1.      Until the thaw which started about 29 Jan the country was under snow for the whole month and the ground was frozen hard. River Maas was at approx normal level for season and only local freezing took place. Until thaw rd conditions were fair generally. Visibility from OPs was on the whole poor.

2.      The enemy was active in patrolling across River Maas and almost every night patrols crossed to the Western Bank. Our patrolling actors River Maas started during later part of the month and was on the whole successful.

3.      B Tp 474 (Ind) SL Bty was under comd throughout and artificial moonlight was provided except at full  moon periods.

4.      Conversion of one tp per bty of 20 A Tk Regt from 3” M 10 to 17-pr Valentine SP took place. At beginning of Feb this was extended to a further two tps in 101 A Tk Bty and towed 6-pr tps were converted to towed 17-pr, The Regt thus has six SP tps and six towed tps – all 17-pr.

5.      21 Army Group leave scheme came into effect on 1 Jan and by the end of the month 4 offrs and 7 Ors had been or were on leave.

6.      319 LAA Bty (92 LAA Regt) was under command 100 AA Bde for def of Deurne for greater part of Jan.

 

1 January 1945: Main effort by GAF on allied airfds in Holland and Belgium. More than 350 aircraft sent over. Confirmed successes by 92 LAA Regt:- 9 Category I (incl two shared with another unit) 5 Catergory II: the highest total in 21 Army Group.

 

2/3 January 1945: During night enemy raid took place in area Wanssum and enemy established himself in about coy strength in woods between Wanssum and Blitterswijk.

 

7 January 1945: Re-arrangement and regrouping in Div sector. Unsuccessful attempt by 1 S LAN R with arty sp to clear woods East of Wanssum. Two direct hits by enemy arty (105 mm) on Div HQ killed one sigs Sergeant and wounded G3 (CW).

 

8 January 1945: Move of HQRA to Voolen near Venraij. Office established in house. Op by 1 Suffolk with arty sp cleared wood East of Wanssum. Kangaroos used with success. Several PW taken and a number killed and wounded amongst those enemy who had not already withdrawn across River Maas.

 

10 January 1945: Adjustment of gun areas and OPs to normal Bde affiliations.

 

18 January 1945: 3 British Inf Div reverted to comd 8 Corps.

 

26 January 1945: Adjustment of Bdys of Div sector on relief of Southern bn by 6 Airborne Div.

 

28 January 1945: Recce parties sent to Louvain area to recce Div rest area.

 

28-30 January 1945: Absolute calibration of all guns of Div Arty in situ by Calibration Tp. 8 Corps IG Major JS Cobley RA in charge.

 

 

31 January 1945: Planning for Op VENTILATE – crossing of River Maas between Grubbenvorst and Blerick – started.

 

Offrs of HQ RA during January 1945

CRA                Brig GG Mears DSO MC

BMRA             Maj JEH Wise MC RA

SCRA              Capt RC Baglin RA

IORA              Capt JD Russell-Davis RA

A/SCRA (att)   Lt RG Scheldrake RA (evac to hospital 19 Jan)

SO (att)                       Maj RH Farrant RA until posting to 43 (Wx) Div on 29 Jan.

                        Maj JS Moss-Blundell RA 26 Jan.

EME (att)         Capt LJ Hodson REME

Met Offr (att)  F/O JH Brown RAFVR

OC H Sec Sigs Lt RC Bryson R Sigs

CMO               Maj JIL Syddall RA

ACMO            Lt WM Herries RA

Chaplains        Rev (CF CL IV) GR James RA Ch D (CofE)

                        Rev (CF CL IV) FT Higgins RA Ch D (RC)

Chief Clerk     SM (AC) (WO I) N Bucknall.

 

Generally

1.      Conversion of 20 A Tk Regt to one SP Bty (101) complete with three tps, each 3 guns, of 17-pr Valentines and three Btys each with one SP tp and two towed 17-pr tps, each of three guns.

2.      The thaw at the end of January caused the country West of River Maas to be completely mudbound. For several days Div HQ was inaccessible by wheeled traffic. Flooding of River Maas started again.

3.      B Tp 474 (Ind) SL Bty was under comd until Div moved to Belgium. Artificial moonlight was provided except at full moon periods.

4.      Planning for Op ‘VENTILATE’ started at end of January continued until move and plans passed over to relieving fmn.

 

1-8 February 1945: 3 British Inf Div held sector West of River Maas from Boxmeer to Grubbenvorst. Patrolling both by own tps and enemy across river was active. Several PW taken by own tps.

 

8 February 1945: Relief of 3 British Inf Div by 52 (L) Div took place. 30 Corps VERITABLE started: object to across River Maas, capture Reichswald and to clear country between River Maas and River Rhine. RA 3 British Inf Div with 79 and 186 Fd Regts of 52 (L) Div under comd provided cover plan for Op by 51 (H) Div by laying smoke to screen possible crossing places and by firing predicted concs. 7, 33, 79, and 186 Fd Regts plus 84 Med Regt took part.

 

9 February 1945: Move of 3 British Inf Div to rest area Belgium. HQRA to Rotselaar NE of Louvain: 7 Fd Regt to Heusden SE of Beeringen: 33 Fd Regt to Wychmael East of Louvain; 76 Fd Regt to Moll: 20 A Tk Regt Moll and Heusden, 41 A Tk Bty with 185 Inf Bde to Eysden,  92 LAA Regt to Course East of Beeringen. Div under comd