7 Field Regiment R.A.
24 September 1944: Regt moved to Someren, from which position is was able to fire in defence of the Asten bridgehead already established by 11 Armd Div. Our Tac HQ and OP parties had the familiar experience of being shelled heavily - they had not experienced this since mid August and consequently in very bad training.
25 September 1944: Forward troops pushed out from Asten a short distance down the Meijel road. This strong patrol was supported by the Regt.
26 September 1944: The enemy was reported to have withdrawn to the East of Meijel, leaving us nothing to fire but harassing fire. The Regt, Tac HQ moved into the Town Hall of the village of Asten, a new building which provided hitherto unequalled luxury. The Dutch underground were very helpful in this area.
27 September 1944: One tp of 9 Bty had the unique experience of going forward with infantry cover into the 'No Man's Land' between Asten and Meijel to engage targets out of range in their normal position. The excursion was carried out without accident. The infantry escort were carried back on the vehicles - a proceeding which pleased everyone. The Adjt undoubtably had the most unpleasant experience when he observed the shoot from the Air OP.
28 September 1944: Regt moves to area East of Asten. RHQ luxuriously accommodated in a mode school. There is no movement on our front. We harass Meijel and the area East of the Canal.
29 September 1944: Little firing; we harass Meijel area. Underground movement patrols by bicycles to locate targets behind enemy lines.
30 September 1944: 7th US Armd Div take over 185 Bde front; we have our guns in action but do no fire.
1 October 1944: The Regt moved up across the Maas to an area South of Malden, we have no infantry in the line which is at present held aggressively by the Americans 82 Airborne Div. The guns occupy positions during darkness after a 7 hour journey, again on crowded roads. On the journey we can but admire the good work of the Airborne Tp in the capture intact of the bridge at Grave, it must have proved costly to the Boche.
2 October 1944: 0530 hrs the Americans put in an attack to the SE to straighten their line, we are proud to support them. In the opinion of the IO supporting Americans is great work as the Tac HQ was situated in a very attractive small chalet, fully furnished: we were well organised with our easy chairs, polished tables and cups of tea; for comfort there is no doubt we were even better off than Army HQ. We gave our support in answer to every request and brought down heavy and effective fire for which we received the congratulations and thanks of Airborne Div GOC. We remained in support overnight.
3 October 1944: Infantry of 185 Bde took over the front during the evening, the operation took place during a counter attack by the enemy but the Americans returned our support of the previous day. The counter attack was repulsed, no doubt the Boche tps had wounds to lick.
4 October 1944: We harass the enemy.
5 October 1944: The day was quiet but harassing fire programmes during the night kep the guns active. We have put down quite a good number of rounds we must be doing steady damage. Major Fanshawe and Capt Handford, MC, of 16 Bty were wounded, one OR killed and one OR wounded.
6 October 1944: Another quiet day. HF tasks were fired on our immediate front. Again the Regt is in the lead, on the passing of shellreps to the CBO. Enemy pilot baled out into RHQ area, at least 100 men ran from all directions but were beaten to it by the LAA. Major J.A. Sulivan, RA, was posted to the Regt and took command of 16 Bty.
7 October 1944: We still occupy the area by the Factory, very little fighting on our front. 1830 hrs two shells land in area of RHQ. More shells follow causing casualties and at 1955 hrs a bad burst of gun fire keeps us well down in our trenches. This is the rudist period we have had for many weeks, it reminded us of the days behind Lebisey. More gun fire came down later in the night and one unexploded shell landed in one of 17 Bty's gun pits. The M14 carrying the set on the CRA's net had a very near miss which caused the set to be put out of action, reserve communications were immediately put into operation. One OR killed and three wounded.
8 October 1944: We are to be relieved by 43 Div tomorrow, recce parties leave at 1200 hrs today with an RV on the South of Mill. The day is much quieter for the forward infantry, perhaps our counter mortar targets have been effective. We fire 200 rounds of HE.
9 October 1944: The infantry start their hand over at midday, the 2 Warwicks wait for cover of darkness. The relieving guns take over by 1000 hrs coming into action wheel to wheel with our own. We are established South of the village of Oploo by 1430 hrs. 185 Bde are concentrated near Mill and our immediate front is held by 11 Armd Div with 2 Mons and 1 Herefords. We are to keep quiet but we do establish one OP, chiefly for counter mortar observations. We are surrounded by one of the biggest concentrations of arty that we have seen since the early days of France.
10 October 1944: We are allowed to register one gun, but visibility is too bad. This area is most unpopular, the ground is sodden and most of the slit trenches are filled with water. The men were still joking at breakfast even though they had laid in water all night. CO goes to HQRA for O Gp at 1730 hrs.
11 October 1944: We still remain quiet but we receive orders to take part in fire plan of 12 Oct.
12 October 1944: We fired in support of 8 Bde who were given the task of passing through the firm base of 11 Armd Div and of capturing and consolidating Overloon. We fired counter battery and counter mortar tasks for one hour before H hr and from then onwards we had over two hours coninuous firing in a barrage followed by concentrations. 185 Bde were at short notice to follow up and OPs and reps were standing by. 8 Bde infantry move forward quickly and were well up under the barrage. By 1330 hrs both forward battalions had elements on the ourskirts of Overloon. We continued to fire counter mortar during the afternoon. At 1825 hrs we fired on enemy forming up for counter attack, this never developed. BCs were ordered to be at their respective battalions by 2030 hrs. CO went to HQRA for O Gp at 220 hrs. Three ORs wounded.
13 October 1944: 9 and 185 Bdes are passing through with H hr 0730 hrs. Axis of 9 Bde is Overloon - Kleindorp - Venray. Axis of 185 Bde is Overloon - Brabander - Venray. We are prepared to fire barrage and concentrations in support. Tac HQ was established beween Lacteria and Overloon. 61 Med Regt were on call through rep at Tac HQ. We are fighting Para Bn Paul who are said to have a few tanks in support. Infantry of 185 Bde made a good start under heavy mortar fire and against slight ground opposition. The progress of 9 Bde was rather slower. The enemy held church in Venray gave good command of the battle area, this was attacked by typhoons and 61 Med Regt obtained 19 hits on the tower. At last light 185 Bde had cleared the woods to the South of Overloon. A new plan is devised for the following day.
14 October 1944: At 0730 hrs 1 Norfolk are to move forward to the wood in area to the North East of Brabander and 2 Warwicks are to move forward along the axis to Venray. 9 Bde on our right is also to move forward to Venray. We fire a different type of barrage in support of 1 Norfolk. The barrage was lifted considerably faster than the infantry could move and was than halted for 20 minutes, there were three such halts throughout the barrage. Little progress was made and no crossing of the Molenbeek was made. From the gun area an unfortunate accident to the Air Op was observed. The aircraft was evidently hit by a shell while flying in front of the guns and the fuselage disintregated in mid air. Recce parties were at 30 minutes notice to move from 1300 hrs.
15 October 1944: There was no planned move by our own infantry during the day but our guns fired in support of 11 Armd Div who cleared our left flank in a SE direction. They met little opposition and at certain points they reached the line of the railway. In this battle mortar fire and mines have caused considerable trouble and good observation from two points gave the enemy good assistance in a strong defensive action. The two points of observation were Venray church tower and a tall square tower in Maashees. Both these towers were engaged, by rocket firing typhoons and by 61 Med Regt, and although hits were observed neither was destroyed. The tanks at his disposal were few but the enemy fire was effective and slowed down our movement considerably. During the day the Regt moved forward to the area of Overloon with the gun positions between the brick factory and the road Oploo -Overloon. The move took considerable time as two batteries had to be kept in action in support of 11 Armd Div. A further attack for the 16 Oct was planned with a preliminary operation of crossing the Molenbeek during the hours of darkness. This was to bring the infantry on to a better start line. Artificial moonight was used to assist this preliminary operation and was provided by five searchlights projecting almost horizontally. Two reps from 33 Fd Regt joined Tac HQ for the morrows battle. One rep remained with CO and the other reported to the KSLI with the primary task of screening the left flank if this was found necessary.
16 October 1944: The crossing of the Molenbeek proved easier than expected and both forward battalions reached their start line. At 0630 hrs 185 Bde moved forward on their original axis through Barbander – Venray. Support was in the form of concentrations on call. Weather was very bad but good progress was made. The area over which the advance was made was thickly sown with mines. By last light 2 Warwicks were consolidated immediately North of Brabander. One officer wounded and Two OR’s wounded.
17 October 1944: The battle for Venray continues. 185 Bde with H hr 0830 hrs are to continue as planned. 8 Bde on our right are to approach the town from the West. The final objective of the Monastery to the South East of Venray was not reached; mopping up of Brabander was sufficient task for the day. Three Ors killed.
18 October 1944: 2 Warwicks reached the Monastery by 0730 hrs. Arty support was given to neutralize mortars which were still doing considerable damage. By the end of the day the Monastery was consolidated with the whole of 2 Warwicks and the battle of Venray bad been won. The infanteers say this was their hardest battle in the campaign. It was unpleasant to find the cellars of the Monastery filled with refugees and patients of the Mental Hospital who throughout the last week had hardly received sufficient food to keep them alive. On OR wounded.
19 October 1944: 185 Bde are relieved and our FOOS come in for a well earned rest. One OR killed.
20 October 1944: Very little to report. HQ RA orders HF tasks.
21 October 1944: More HF tasks are engaged.
22 October 1944: We send a rep from each battery to work with 3 Recce Regt.
23 October 1944: We fire few rounds to harass the Boche.
24 October 1944: Major J.F. Lister and Major R.H.W. Dunn were awarded the MC; due celebration in RHQ Mess on drink bought by 2 IC while in Brussels.
25 October 1944: We prepare to move into an area West of Kleindorp from which position we shall be able to give support to 185 Bde who are to go back into the line in the Venray area which is at present held by 8 Bde.
26 October 1944: 185 Bde go back into the line but our guns stay in their present locations. Support for 185 Bde will be given by 76 Fd Regt who are in a better position to cover the front whilst we are to work with 3 Recce. Our zone is between Moijen and Boxmeer.
27 October 1944: Reps are with 3 Recce. We fire to support patrols and engage HF tasks.
28 October 1944: 16 Bty leave the Regt area and go into action near St. Anthonis. From this position they are able to engage targets on the front held by 2 HCR and INNS of Court. 9 and 17 Btys are still in support of 3 Recce. Regt area shelled between 0600 hrs and 0800 hrs; there were no casualties.
29 October 1944: We still support 2 HCR and 3 Recce. We engage HF tasks by day and night.
30 October 1944: Today we harass the Boche with an independent Tp with the object of creating a ‘fog of war’ followed by the covering of enemy territory with airburst. This successful operation was carried out by ‘B’ Tp of 9 Bty. This operation was enjoyed by the gunners and although results cannot be accurately assessed it must have had the desired effect on the German. Major Dunn returned to the Regt completely recovered from his wounds received at Lebisey. He took over command of 16 Bty and Major Sulivan was posted from the Regt.
31 October 1944: Once again we harass with an independent troop, this time ‘C’ Tp of 17 Bty, expending 80 rounds with 50 per cent airburst.
1 November 1944: Counter Mortar targets were engaged during the morning but apart from that and the registration of a harassing fire task during the afternoon the guns did not fire. The usual harassing fire was carried out during the night. The ASOP was requisitioned to watch the river Maas at periods during the day and to report on any activity.
2 November 1944: More counter mortar target engaged during the day. HQ RA passed daylight harassing programme entailing an expenditure of 400 rounds. Operation Merry took place during the afternoon, but this did not provoke any immediate retaliation.
Vierlingsbeek was shelled later in the afternoon and retaliation Den Bosch was called for. Several suspected hostile batteries were engaged with searching and sweeping.
3 November 1944: The Air OP was utilized for ranging during the afternoon. Harassing fire was fired during day and night. Shortly after midnight 2/3 Nov the harassing fire troop suffered very heavy shelling which fell very accurately on their troop position. The ‘G’ truck caught fire and three other ranks were injured The remainder of the harassing programme was carried out by the remaining troop of 17 Bty.
4 November 1944: The only targets during the day were counter mortar and counter battery.
5 November 1944: Today 9 Brigade took over the control of 3 Recce Regt the layout is now as follows:- Right, in area West of Smakt – 2 Rur. Centre, Vierlingsbeek – B Squadron 3 Recce Regt. Left, Vortum – C Squadron 3 Recce Regt. OPs Bty are now disposed., BC 9 Bty and FOO with 2 Rur. BC 17 Bty with Recce Regt and OP at Vierlingsbeek and FOO of 9 Bty in OP at Vortum. 16 Bty, less one troop, returned to Regimental area from co-operating with Household Cavalry and Royals. One troop remained to carry out any task requested. During the afternoon, a troop of 9 Bty took part in a fire plan which was directed at Afferden. Troop of LA, platoon mortars and MGs joined in. The troop had a few rounds fired at is as it came out of action – this surprisingly increased the speed of limbering up more than somewhat. Troop of 9Bty went inof HF position Soutn of Lacteria firing 160 rounds per gun during the night. There was some ineffective enemy counter battery fire. In the evening C Troop of 17 Bty relieved the troop of 16 Bty which had remained with HCR.
6 November 1944: Major Rae, 17 Bty, relieved Major Lister, 9 Bty with 3 Recce Regt. D Troop of 16 Bty relieved Troop 17 Bty, with HCR, this relieved troop moved into a harassing fire position in the wood South of Lacteria. During the afternoon enemy patrols entered Vierlingsbeek and the OP evacuated with some speed. Up to 2330 hrs some 200 rounds were fired into the village after which Recce Regt patrols entered finding that the Germans had withdrawn. The harassing fire troop fired 580 rounds during the night. During the morning several officers and men watched a demonstration of a new type of amphibious vehicle known to the London Illustrated News as a Buffalo.
7 November 1944: The CO took over duties of CRA, Brigadier G.G. Mears, MC, having been evacuated to CCS for medical examination. The Regimental Survey Officer visited ad demonstration of clothing for protection against Schu mines. This clothing certainly saved ones feet from being blown off but as in the case demonstrated the wearer is likely to lose his whole leg it was not thought that this suiting would be popular. F Troop, 16 Bty, took up a harassing fire position and expended 400 rounds during the night. D Troop returned on being relieved on the HCR front by a troop of 33 Fd Regt.
8 November 1944: A very quiet day, targets were counter mortar and counter battery. Lieut T.L. Bowles posted to CMO Staff at HQ RA.
9 November 1944: No harassing fire troop tonight. Harassing is done by Regimental fire. Bad visibility during the day. We request Medium fire on German HQ on behalf of 3 Recce Regt. Results were unobserved.
10 November 1944: Very bad weather, the GOC, who should have visited the Regiment postponed his visit until tomorrow. We fire an increased number of counter battery and counter mortar targets. 9 Bty sent out harassing fire troop for the night.
11 November 1944: The GOC, Major General Whistler, visited all Btys and RHQ. He spoke to all troops who were very amused by his jovial manner. The GOC congratulated the Regiment on their appearance during the morning and on the efficiency. 17 Bty send out harassing fire troop for the night. Is was recorded that V2 could be seen during darkness being fired from almost due East. They appeared as vertical shafts of light. Very little firing is done during this period as ammunition allotment is very limited. Retaliation targets take the small number of rounds available.
12 November 1944: The CO returned to Regt and was relieved of his duties as CRA by CO 53 Medium Regt. Major Dunn, 16 Bty, took over CO’s representative with 3 Recce Regt. A plot was made with 1 KOSB. The KOSB are to send a company into Vierlingsbeek before first light tomorrow with the object of ambushing an enemy ‘looting’ patrol. One FOO is to accompany them. The Bty were detailed to be laid on selected DF targets and these were on call from the FOO going in.
13 November 1944: The patrol of KOSB were unfortunate in that no Boche visited Vierlingsbeek during the day, the company returned at last light without calling for fire. No harassing fire during the night. The Regimental Serjeant Major, Mr. R. Carden, completed 21 years service. He is spending the anniversary in Brussels, so we are not able to congratulate him in the proper manner.
14 November 1944: Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery visited the Div Area to present awards. Amongst those who received medals were Major J.F. Lister and Major R.H.W. Dunn, both of whom received the MC.
15 November 1944: Arrangements were ‘tied up’ with 76 Field Regt for the takeover of their gun area, probably on the 20 Nov. It was a quiet day for us but the distant rumbling of a barrage could be heard from 2200 hours onwards. Preparations were made to support on KOSB patrol which was to push out to a doubtful house forward of their FDL – H hour was to be 0200 hours 16 Nov. HF fire this night consisted of two Mike targets on the 3 Recce Regt front.
16 November 1944: The KOSB patrol found the house unoccupied and returned at first light. Arrangements are made to put down smoke screen in support of dummy RE bridging party. We fire this smoke at last light, there is no retaliation. We lay on patrol defence target on immediate call from 3 Recce Regt patrol. Patrolling is very active on this front and we have certainly got superiority.
17 November 1944: CO goes to plan with Brigadier 185 Brigade for the forthcoming advance onto Wansum. It is still doubtful as to who will do the attack but preparations are made to be ready if required. 76 Field Regt are still in support 185Brigade but it is planned that we shall take over before the operation. The days are very quiet. BCs conference took place at 1800 hrs at which the CO explained the plan for clearing the area West of the Maas.
18 November 1944: OP reports that enemy has been observed crawling and most probably engaged in mine laying. We fire on suspected enemy OP at Smakt otherwise a quiet day. Today we collect a Dutch interpreter who is officially attached, this will be quite a relief. Two other ranks injured.
19 November 1944: We have church services during the morning by a Church of Scotland padre. Many men say they enjoy the services each week, they always join in the singing very well. 25 Field Regiment take over responsibility of 3 Recce Regt, this is done to facilitate the move tomorrow, we have now commitments only with 8 Brigade. One other rank injured.
20 November 1944: The Regt moved to occupy a new area to support 185 Brigade, taking over the positions held by 76 Fields Regt. At the same time 76 Field Regt moved to take up positions near to the ones we vacated at Overloon. The move had to be carefully controlled as continuous support had to be provided for both 8 and 185 Brigades. Both Brigades had duplicate representatives from each Regt and the continuous support was proved when an Uncle targets was engaged during the move. The Regiment settled fairly comfortably although it rained heavily during the afternoon, the tractors and guns causing the usual depth of mud. The new area was Kleindorp.
21 November 1944: Rain makes the new area very muddy and the day is spent mostly in improvement of the position. One or two shells drop in the Regimental area but no damage is done, although one other rank was injured. Ammunition expenditure is limited to 4 rounds per gun per day.
22 November 1944: Very wet all day. Preparations go ahead for the coming attack. BC 16 Bty and one FOO per Bty report to 33 Field Regt, the FOOs are to work with 4 Coldstream Guards, Tank Battalion. The 185 Brigade is frequently shelled during the day but we cannot retaliate as we would wish with an allotment of ten rounds per gun. There are signs that the enemy is withdrawing from the Divisional front but that story is very rarely believed by anyone who has followed the campaign since D-day. CO held ‘O’ Group for BCs at 1800 hrs to give orders for tomorrows advance. We supply eleven representatives all told.
23 November 1944: The Regiment was prepared to fire a number of targets for the advance which was being carried out by 9 Brigade on our right, supported by 4 Coldstream Guards Tank Battalion. Little opposition was met and artillery support was not required. It is now proved that the enemy has pulled out, our own infantry ease forward without fighting. There is still a certain amount of firing both on 185 and 9 Brigade fronts. Venray is a target for enemy guns. Our representatives remain with 9 Brigade overnight. Three other ranks injured.
24 November 1944: The Regt moved to a new area in the Western outskirts of Venray. The five batman who were seen moving down the road obviously enjoying to the full the luxury of the CO’s staff car rather lost their dignity as they ran into a short burst of enemy shelling. Although the shells fell among vehicles just pulling into position no casualties were sustained. This position, apart from the shelling, was very pleasant as the suburban row of houses provided good dry cellars.
25 November 1944: Tac HQ moved forward to Landweert on the East of Venray and established themselves in comfort which would have made even Americans jealous. There is no battle as we had expected and there are no enemy in strength West of the Maas in this sector. There are reported to be 40 drunken German officer cadets in the Kasteel but in the morning they will no doubt be less determined to fight to the last.
26 November 1944: The forward infantry in Wansum area are subjected to mortar and shell fire and it is thought to be observed from the church at Well. 53 Medium Regt reply to our request by obtaining 32 hits which were sufficient to damage the tower more than somewhat. An OP officer, 16 Bty, was reported to have had a very good shoot when he crawled forward by the beek at Wansum and engaged several enemy on the far bank.
27 November 1944: The Regimental area was shelled during the morning and one gun of 16 Bty was put out of action. There were no casualties. There is no movement on the front and from all sources there is nothing to report.
28 November 1944: One of the quietest day for some time, there was no shelling in the Regimental area and very little over the Brigade front. The forward troops are almost pinched out of the line by 8 Brigade on the left and 15 (S) Division in Blitterswijk.
29 November 1944: A day even quieter than yesterday.
30 November 1944: The Regiment moved to a position North East of St. Anthonis, batteries are well spread out in order to support the 185 Brigade which holds the front line from Groeningen to St. Agatha. The Regimental Signal Section lay as much as 25 miles of cable. Communications work quite well during the day but as is normal in the area they deteriorate in the evening – we find it necessary to use relay stations. The three battery areas are 9 Bty St. Anthonis, 17 Bty Riekevoort, 16 Bty Haps. Two other ranks injured.
1 December 1944: Communications on the wide front are very difficult but contacts still maintained. A very quiet day with no firing. We bid for the use of static OP Towers but are unsuccessful.
2 December 1944: RHQ and 16 Bty move, the Bty goes to area Haps and RHQ to South of Wanroij. These areas are better for communications but in the HQ position the mud is very bad. Billeting is reasonably comfortable but this position could not be pleasant with so much mud. Again the guns have a very quiet day. Reps are as normal with BC’s at Bn HQ and one OP per Bn area. A certain amount of movement can be seen but we cannot afford the ammunition to engage small targets, the Boche seems to know this by experience and walks about in the open.
3 December 1944: Movement still observed but not engaged. Btys now settled in areas, we expect to stay until 12 Dec so a little extra attention is paid to comfort. Each Bty brings one troop out of action. One section of searchlights are to come under command to provide artificial moonlight for 185 Bde front, 16 Bty on the Left has wireless contact with HQ RA Cdn Div who are on that flank, DF tasks are discussed and we are now able to be called to fire on each others front.
4 December 1944: The system for artificial moonlight is that 185 Bde order light between 2 Northings lines and the Regt details the searchlight Section. If corrections are required the Bn concerned puts a request to Bde HQ this is passed to Regt and we order a sweep by degrees to the searchlight section HQ with whom we have wireless contact. Corrections were important tonight as 16 Bty officers Mess was silhouetted in a blaze of light.
5 December 1944: We engage a Nebelwerfer, there is a slight increase in enemy gun fire today.
6 December1944: The CRA visited OPs during the morning. Our daily allotment of ammunition is ten rounds per gun. Another quiet day. Capt Sprent, CE Padre for the Divisional Artillery left the Division today.
7 December 1944: A policy for engagement of targets was laid down by the CRA. Digging parties containing civilians are to be discouraged by odd rounds but no concentration is to be brought down. Vehicles on the road may be sniped with odd rounds. The whole front is very quiet with both sides just firing the odd rounds.
8 December 1944: Visibility poor, a certain amount of digging is observed across the river, the targets are engaged by infantry mortars. The Second in Command recces for an area into which we can move when we come out of the line.
9 December 1944: We try to give cross observations for the Cdn Div Arty on our left but visibility too bad to see. Very little observed during the day. 0750 one OP heard a line of tracked vehicles on bearing on 355° but his was not enough data to shoot on.
10 December 1944: 76 Fd Regt reps visit our area as they will be taking over when we move out. Lieut Strigner of an Air OP Sqn joined the unit temporarily. These attachments during quiet periods prove to be useful, liaison is always much better after a few days of personal contact. It is unfortunate that orders for restriction should be received, we now feel very grateful for an allotment of 10 rounds per gun.
11 December 1944: The Corps Commander visits 2 OPs. Between 0945 and 1030 hrs we fire and register a series of ‘Mike’ targets on areas in which we have observed movement during the past few days. 9 Bty fire a small fire plan on a locality opposite to Warwicks to cover the change over the forward company. Two civilians who crossed the Maas during the night told of the changeover of the Bns across the river. This was confirmed by noise heard during the night. The civilians also day that there is an evacuation between the river and 3 miles to the East of all non-military personnel.
12 December 1944: A very quiet day, we fire a little harassing fire at 2030 hrs.
13 December 1944: We get orders to move out of the line on 14 Dec. Although the Second in Command had recced good areas near Helmond we were to remain in the Div area at short notice. 17 Bty are to come out of action but remain in their present location. We fire only one target during the day; this is harassing fire.
14 December 1944: The move to De Twist takes place and we settle in billets which are much better than we first thought possible in such a bad area. The very first night patrol activity almost necessitated are coming into action on our emergency positions.
15-20 December 1944: This period did not give us the rest we had looked forward to but a good amount of maintenance was possible and it was such a relief not to be expecting calls for immediate fire! A recce was carried out during the period in the area of Horst, we had been warned that we should be taking over from the 13 RHA in that area.
21 December 1944: The Regt moved into the area East of Horst and took over the zone from 13 RHA. The move was carried out by Btys at intervals but the whole Regiment was in action by 1100 hrs. We are in support 185 Inf Bde who hold the front from Grubbenvorst to Ooijen. We fire several counter-mortar targets.
22 December 1944: One of 17 Bty OPs got the rare opportunity to engage a target in a destructive shoot with one gun. The target was an enemy OP. We try not to fire from normal battle positions in this area. Each day one troop per Bty goes forward to a HF position and as far as possible these troops engage all targets.
Retaliation tasks are arranged with the Brigade Commander. These targets are selected to cover sectors of the front and are engaged if forward troops are subjected to shelling or mortaring. The particular target which is situated nearest to the gun or mortar causing the annoyance is the one engaged. The object being to return fire with sufficient speed for the enemy to connect the retaliation with his own fire. These targets have a good effect on our own Infantry. Although we have gun superiority the success is limited by the small allotment of ammunition.
23 December 1944: After a quiet night we engaged enemy platoon localities on the opposite bank of the Maas. We have reason to suspect that the German’s are celebrating Christmas Day a little early, we expect trouble on the 25 th .
24 December 1944: The CRA visited the Regiment and spoke to all available men. Two bombards of enemy guns are carried out on a request from the CBO. Enemy localities are engaged with one Troop; these localities are made obvious by smoke.
We are relieved to hear the enemy still enjoying their Christmas in a riotous manner but even so all ranks are warned to be specially alert.
25 December 1944: A remarkably good Christmas Day spent in eating – drinking and being merry, only drinking being below normal. We remember Christmas 1943 we think of the time which was joined the two anniversaries and thinking of the future, when the same memories will pass through our minds we hope that the conditions we experience then will give us even more pride.
26 December 1944: A very cold day. The Counter Mortar Officer at Brigade calls for a bombard. A small fire plan is arranged to give the impression of a river crossing near Grubbenvorst. This is planned to take place on the 28 th December.
27 December 1944: A quiet day we are engaged in firing counter Battery and harassing fire.
28 December 1944: Fire plan arranged 26 th December takes place with H hour 0630 hrs. 92 LAA and 2 Mx mortar platoon are included in the fire plan. Several known targets and a small box barrage are engaged on a time program. It is hoped to draw fire from the enemy indicating his mortar areas which we are prepared to engage. The firing was carried out according to plan but the operation was unsuccessful in that the enemy did not retaliate. All roads are iced and transport is cut to a minimum.
29 December 1944: 9 Inf Bde take over the front from 185 Inf Bde. The Regiment remains in position and supports the new Brigade. There is a slight change of company locations and a subsequent change in DF tasks.
30 December 1944: Visibility is limited, roads are still iced. Retaliation target is fired at 0800 hrs otherwise quiet day.
31 December 1944: Heavy Spandau fire SAA and flares fired well to the East of the Maas. We stand by to fire but later deduce that this is a German field firing exercise. We engage enemy guns by observation from AOP at 1515 hrs. Several targets are engaged with observation from OPs, these are either small groups of men or fires.
1 January 1945: Lt Col N.P.H. Tapp, who has commanded the Regt for the last two years was today posted to SEAC. This was a great misfortune for the whole unit; the success we have accomplished was due greatly to his guidance in training and his leadership in action.
Lt Col H.C. Bazeley, DSO, took over command of the Regt.
Comds of Bns in the line are gien two HF tgts. These are fired as M tgts and are the limits of the harassing fire we can put down with the present ammunition allotment. Many enemy aircraft fly low over the gun areas with objectives further West. We are proud of the Divisional AA Regt with their score of 11 and 4 probables.
2 January 1945: Lt Col Bazeley was introduced to btys during the morning and visited the battalions to which we are affiliated during the afternoon.
We fire CM tasks including a scale two on a suspected nebelwerfer position.
Arrangements are made to link the Regt with the 181 Fd Regt of 15 (S) Div who are on our right. 181 Fd Regt report increased activity on their front just North of Venlo which is within range of our guns. 8 Bde are engaged in a mopping up party against enemy who have infiltrated to the West bank of the Maas in the area of Wanssum woods.
3 January 1945: We notice an increase of enemy mortaring in the Div sector and engage during the day several CM targets. Thaw precautions commence and all movement by 3-tonners is stopped.
4 January 1945: Patrols are reported on our side of the Maas and Battalions in the Bde to our left stand to for a period of two hours. Activity decreases but patrols ma still be across on our bank.
5 January 1945: Enemy gun and mortar fire is still above normal. A dummy river crossing is planned for tonight. This is to assist 8 Bde in clearing the Germans reported earlier in the area of Wanssum woods. The plan is that this deception will take place at 0430 hrs with the intention of drawing enemy fire which could be neuralised during the actual mopping up operation.
6 January 1945: We fire the deception plan at 0435 hrs. During the early morning we fire many CM tasks as part of the Div Artillery. The operation is unsuccessful but the day developes into the normal quietness.
7 January 1945: We land an OP to 76 Fd Regt which is established in the Kasteel north of Wanssum. 185 Bde take over the front from 9 Bde and we go back to our normal affiliation. Tac HQ is established with Bde in Horst. Enemy mortaring has decreased but Blitterswijk still remains a target for the .. rounds.
8 January 1945: We fire again in CM role for the clearing of the Wanssum bridghead. This time the operation is successful, 35 PW's are taken by 8 Bde. With the West bank again cleared there is an adjustment of the Battalions and BCs now take up their normal affiliation.
9 January 1945: Recce parties recce new area for RHQ and 9 Bty in area Kleinerloo.
10 January 1945: RHQ and 9 Bty move to new area. Patrols are encountered during the night and fire is brought down on the Warwick front. The severe frost is back again and temperature drops to ten degrees F.
11 January 1945: 9 and 16 Btys carry out witness point shoots to test meteor and result shows that gun ranges had to be increased by 500 yards in 10,000 yards. The reason for this is not apparent but the intense cold may affect the meteor computations more than is thought. There is very little firing on the Bde front during this period. Enemy patrols are still active on the West bank of the Maas, but arrangements for their detection are tightened up by 185Bde.
12 January 1945: Meteor is again checked, giving a similar result, gun range had to be increased 225 yards in 4650 yards. We fire an increased number of HF targets during the day. Lieut P.C. Wilbur, RA, was attached to the Regt under the Spark scheme. Three retaliation targets are arranged, these are to be fired if enemy mortaring increases.
13 January 1945: Quiet day with one CB target on a gun which was not harassing our own Bde front. During the evening an enemy propaganda van was reported to be operating on the far bank of the Maas, a target scale one was sufficient to persuade the operators that they were not likely to achieve much success; nothing more was heard.
14 January 1945: An enemy patrol was again located on the West bank, this was not engaged by the guns which were in their battle positions but the matter was in the hands of the infantry company concerned. These days are quiet and uninteresting, movement is seen on the far bank but rarely by more than individuals.
15 January 1945: Arranging the allotment of vacancies at the Div Club is probably the days most difficult task.
16 January 1945: There is an unconfirmed report that two Germans dressed in British uniform are in the Bde area, this is never proved.
Again a quiet day. The CRA visited the Regt during the morning.
17 January 1945: OPs nothing to report, day is spent 'tying up' battle alternative positions.
18 January 1945: We now have shells fired with propaganda leaflets describing the Russian offensive and the German failure in the Ardennes.
19 January 1945: Very quiet day with little firing, no Regimental targets.
20 January 1945: We received twelve propaganda targets which are situated over the enemy forward areas on our front. The pamphlet to be fired describes the failure of the Ardenne advance and the success of the Russian armies.
21 January 1945: Separate church services are held for batteries and RHQ. There is still heavy frost at night, this night the temperature fell to 16 degrees F. A fire plan is arranged for night 21/22 Jan. Two batteries are to fire on known locations and the third is to stand by to fire any CM targets on call. This is arranged to give the impression of a river crossing and we hope to catch out the enemy mortar is they fire. There is no reaction. This plan has now failed twice. During the morning the GOC, Maj Gen Whistler, visited the Regt and talked to gunners of one troop in each battery.
22 January 1945: A recconnaisance is carried out for an OP to be manned should a counter attack be necessary. A convenient place was found which overlookd Wanssum wood, which was previously occupied by the enemy during December, Wanssum village and Well village which is on the enemy bank of the river. The REs were asked to construct a wooden staging for this OP.
A quiet night, although enemy patrols were known to be on our bank of the Maas. The CO left for England to attend a course at Larkhill. Major R.H.W. Dunn, MC, assumed command of the Regiment.
23 January 1945: A quiet day, the single Regimental target is again enemy transport.
24 January 1945: EMERA visited the Regt to measure gun wear. Result showed average wear for guns in the first quarter of life.
We fire a CM bombard on call from Bde CMO. We fire two retaliation targets at last light, there has been a greater amount of mortaring during the day.
25 January 1945: We prepare ammumition for calibration on 27 Jan. Normal dumps of ammunition in forward areas have very mixed lot numbers and it is only with difficulty that sufficient of one lot are sorted.
26 January 1945: There are no rumours on the front at the moment and no sign of us crossing the river in strength, training has been started in boat handling for the infantry but no patrolling to the far side has yet been carried out. Each day is repetition of the previous one, life is very boring.
27 January 1945: Visits to the FDLs do not produce excitement. A little CM fire is brought down. We have the impression that the far side of the river is lightly held.
28 January 1945: The Warwicks plan to patrol the far bank during the night and targets are arranged on call. The moonlight is too bright at this period and they have no success, our covering fire is not required.
29/30/31 January 1945: Quiet days with nothing to report from OPs.
1 February 1945: Another quiet day for the guns. The thaw had now set in and restrictions limited us to the use of 15-cwts and jeeps.
2 February 1945: It was obvious that before long all rds in this area would been in a very bad condition. Fwd tps had a very quiet time and very little firing was done.
3 February 1945: Our own patrols were sent to the far bank. Again the only firing was bombardment of enemy mortars.
4 February 1945: We heard rumours of mov to a rest area near Louvain. This was quite a relief as there was now little interest in this part of the front. Both sides of the Maas enjoyed quietness.
5 February 1945: Adv party carried out recce of an area to the nw of Louvain. No firing was done.
6 February 1945: Preparations were made for the move.
7 February 1945: Rds were now in a very bad state and work was carried out to keep them passable. The front was still quiet but noises of heavy gunfire and bombing were heard to the North in the area of the Reichwald.
8 February 1945: Adv parties of fd regt of 52 Div arrived in our area. They were to take over from us on the 9th. Again no firing was done.
9 February 1945: 181 Fd Rgt of the 52 Div moved into the Regt area and our guns conc for the night.
10 February 1945: The Regt moved down to Belgium, for an indefinite period. The journey was difficult at first over the rds, the surface of which had completely broken after the thaw but to the West of Eindhoven progress was easier and the head of the Regt coln arrived at Heusden at 1600 hrs. For the first time since D Day the men of the Regt occupied civilian billets. All ranks were very happy. A programme for this maint period incl the complete overhaul of vehs and stores for the first three days followed by training. 185 Bde was not with us in this area. Their task was to prepare for river crossing and they were training in the area of Maastricht, BCs and OPs parties were standing by to visit the Bde for Bn exercises.
11 February 1945: The Regt settled in to the maint of vehs.
13 February 1945: The Acting Div Comd visited the Regt. Maint continued.
14-24 February 1945: During this period the maint was completed and the Regt ook part in Course shooting on two days on Lommel ranges. By the end of the period the Regt was completely fresh and ready to take part in the battles to bring the British Army over the Rijn.
25 February 1945: Orders were received during the afternoon for the Regt to move to the area South of Goch. The head of the coln moved at 2000 hrs 26 Feb.
26 February 1945: Posns were occupied by 0800 hrs and the Regt was again in action. Overcrowding made the gun areas very cramped. 185 Bde we not in the line but they were under orders to relieve the inf of 15 Scottish Div.
27 February 1945: 9 Bde were the first to take part in the adv which was to take the Div onto the Rijn. We fire in their sp. Good progress was made but a strong counter attack was put in against their right flank. The Regt fired DF tasks from 1900 hrs to 2300 hrs during which time the guns were moved fwd by bty gps. 17 Bty were in action by 2305hrs and the remaider followed, the whole Regt being in action in the new area by 0200 hrs.
28 February 1945: Plans were made for 185 Bde to pass through 9 Bde and attack Kervenheim. H hr was 1400 hrs. Regt shot on a fire plan which was a series of concs on a time programme, followed by pre-arranged tgts on call. A second plan for phase 2 was fired at 1650 hrs. Phase 2 was not completed and further plans were made for the continuance at first light.
1 March 1945: 0100 hrs. Shot on Fire plan in sp of 9 Bde.
0200 hrs. Fire plan stoppd. Fwd inf meeting heavy spandau fire. Fire plan was resumed until 0325 hrs. Several tgts were called for until 0900hrs and the second barrage was fired still in sp of 9 Bde. Amn situation was rather precarious, one bty getting as low as 60 rpg. Capt A.H. Harper had the misfortune to get his ankle broken whilst doing Tp Comd with the 2 Warwicks who had now passed through 9 Bde and were adv on the Right. 1 Norfolk had passed through on the Left. Fwd tps were adv without cover against intense spandau fire from well camouflaged positions. Several Counter Mortar bombards were fired.
2 March 1945: Fresh plan was made and the Norfolks on the Right and the KSLI up on the Left went fwd to the final objective of Kervenheim. The Norfolks were held up by a strong spandau posn at which we fired a considerable number of rounds during the afternoon. Joker tgts were laid on but nearness of our own tps forced them to be cancelled. Recce parties were sent out 1030hrs. Capt Allen who was killed whilst ranging on an enemy SP gun was buried during the afternoon. 1745 hrs. Barrage Vandal was fired. 2230 hrs. Regt was warned to move during the night. Move was to be completed ty 0600 hrs. 2345 hrs. Two btys came out of action.
3 March 1945: 0430hrs. Regt in action in new area. 0450hrs. The third bty was allowed to move. Great difficulty was experienced due to bad rds and jammed traffic. Kervenheim in our hands. 9 Bde passed through on our Right to take Winnekendonk. 185 Bde after consolidating prepare to go through to the final objective Keppelen. KSLI leading, some progress was made without opposition. 1730 hrs. The KSLI were helped over a stream obstacle by ourselves and 33 Fd Regt. The objective was taken and the KSLI consolidated, the remainder the Bde moved up. News of the crack in the German Army on this front was now coming through and the Americans were intercepted over the air. Recce parties were prepared to move fwd at first light.
4 March 1945: The Norfolks moved off and occupied a fwd posn on the Left to the NE of Keppelen without opposition. The Warwicks moved into Keppelen. We fired Uncle tgts on call from HQ RA. Regt moved to the North of Keppelen. We were now heaviliy restricted by no fire line and by the end of the day we had only a strip some 1500 yards wide.
5 March 1945: The Gds Armd Div were to move through Keppelen and adv on an axis to the SE. They were heavily held up whilst coming into their forming up posn by cratered rds and at one time during the day it was thought that 185 Bde would have to still continue on. Fire plans were arranged but is was not known until a few minutes before H hr whether the Gds or ourselves would actually adv. The Gds Bde were ready in time and the fwd tps of 185 Bde remained in Keppelen. The Gds Div after a sticky start made good progress whilst 1 Norfolks cleared the woods on our Left flank. 185 Bde were now virtually out of the line.
6 March 1945: The Regt was allowed to stand down. The last week had seen some very intense fighting and the Regt was glad to have a day in which to get straight again.
8 March 1945: The Regt received orders to move fwd on the 9th to the NW of Bonninghardt.
9 March 1945: 1145 hrs. The Regt was in action in this new posn. The inf of 3 Div were not in the line. Fwd posns being occupied by Gds Armd Div on the Right, 4 Cdn Armd Div on the Left. Both Divs were adv against resistance but the Regt was not called on to assist. This was the last stage in the clearing of the enemy from between the Maas en the Rijn and this particular sector was the approach to the escape route at Wessel.