Germany, December1945, Sergeant Mess, 408 Battery, middle row, kneeling Sergeant Frank Brown (P. Brown)
My father, Frank Brown, was with 408 Bty 123 LAA Regt RA. He was a Sgt, later BQMS, and kept a short diary of his time in Europe. This is what he wrote of the action around Veghel, 22/23 September 1944

(Advancing from Eindhoven towards Nijmegen)

We travel on and halt at Vehghl for breakfast our first meal for 24 hours. There's another 5 hour delay. Things aren't going well. Nijmegan still hasn't fallen. At lunchtime we are heavily shelled. The enemy are trying to cut our lifeline. He blows up our Ammo truck and some other waggons and damages my tractor. The shelling gets worse. He's bringing up tanks. It looks like there's going to be a party.

We have shrapnel casualties. He breaks through. Things are bad. We get more casualties. He shells continuously. I take my detatchment in the field as infantry and try and hold the village until help comes. We hold on with some Yankee paratroops [I guess 101st Airborne]There's a stiff battle. He knocks more trucks out. Our position is grave as we can't hold on long. The lifeline is cut. The Airborne Div and Nijmegan are isolated. We ask for help and are told 50 Div are on ther way up and also 11th Armd Brig are near. We have to give up the village after knocking out a Tiger tank. Jerry bags some more transport and we withdraw to the town (VEGHEL).Meanwhile one of our Troops has been ambushed and lose 5 tractors, a jeep and 5 guns. God knows how many of our chap have gone. 60% are missing. RHQ lose everything except a jeep. The position is critical.

As we move to a new position we are mortared and shelled and get some more casualties. The Bty is now at 50% strength. Jock Hunter [Gnr] gets his lot. Jack Else is missing and a dozen injured. We were lucky to be let off so lightly [!]. My tractor and gun is riddled with shrapnel and although our ammo box on the gun blew up it caused surprisingly little damage and we went into action as Anti-Tank in the centre of the town determined to hold it at all costs until the morning. Our lifeline is well cut. The Yanks are marvelous, they go right in and fight it out. They are Paratroopers and really know their business. We owe them so much. My opinion of the Yanks will always be high from now on.

Jerry still shells the town and brings up tanks. We send out patrols with the Yanks. Help hasn't arrived yet, we can't hold out long. He shells all night and the small arms fire gets nearer but dawn comes and we still hold the town. We hear that 40 tanks are coming this way. [I presume he means Allied ones!]

A very sad morning this. Bertie Barratt, a fellow Sgt, killed by a shell while I'm talking to him. We get more casualties. It's like hell let loose. We move to the outskirts of the town and dig in. The 50 Div are six miles away and the armour nearer.

We are jubilant when 11th Armoured Brig arrives. Morale leaps and confidence is high. Our boys go in and give battle and by the afternoon the enemy is routed and the lifeline to Arnhem is open. [Although we now know the final outcome.]

We sleep and thank god we held on and got through. It has been the blackest day the Regiment has had this war. We lost quite a number of our friends who we shall always remember and never forget.

His account seems to fit pretty well with other reports of this action, although Dad seems to have been rather more impressed by the US contribution than does the officer who wrote the official report!

I also include a photo the 408 Bty Sergeant's Mess from happier times. Taken, I surmise, December 1945 in Germany, a relaxed and happy group of men, proudly sporting their campaign ribbons, who have survived one of the most successful and hard-fought campaigns in the history of warfare.

My father is the particularly cheerful looking man kneeling to the right of the middle row. He seems to be making sure that a clear view is obtained of the crown, gun and chevrons which denoted his rank of BQMS (perhaps he had just been promoted!). Above that can be seen the red/green/blue unit flash of 123 LAA Regt, the 'rampant boar' of XXX Corps, and the 'Royal Artillery' shoulder flash.

Regards and thanks for the site,

Peter brown