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True Loyals

A history of 7th Battalion, The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) / 92nd (Loyals) Light Anti-
Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, 9!"-9!#
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FROM CIVILIANS TO SOLDIERS
July 1940 to February 1941
'The sum total of the training equipment consisted of 40 rifles, half a dozen
impressed vehicles and a few boxes of grenades. Everthing was either
made of wood, borrowed for the afternoon ! or simpl imagined '
THE summer of 1940 was the most desperate hour in Britain's long history.
On May 10 !arely a month after o"errunning #enmar$ and %orway Hitler unleashed his offensi"e
in the &est.
O"er the ne't three wee$s the (erman pan)er armies s*ythed through the +ow ,ountries and
%orthern -ran*e . as they had done in /oland the pre"ious 0eptem!er . *arrying all !efore them
with their !lit)$rieg.
Trapped against the sea at #un$ir$ the British E'peditionary -or*e es*aped !y a mira*le .
112000 men snat*hed from the 3aws of the (ermans than$s to an e"a*uation fleet of ships large and
small. By late 4une most of the British soldiers who had managed to a"oid *apti"ity were !a*$
home. But the 5rmy lay stunned and "irtually impotent ha"ing left !ehind most of its guns and
e6uipment in -ran*e.
Bestriding the ,hannel *oast Hitler stood triumphant ready to in"ade unless an ignominious pea*e
was agreed. But e"en at this dar$est moment the mood in Britain was one of defian*e resolution
and a *alm *on"i*tion that there would !e no surrender. 7nspired !y ,hur*hill the nation was
determined to go down fighting rather than !e engulfed !y the tide of %a)i !ar!arism.
5s Britain loo$ed to its defen*es and waited for the !low to fall the *all.up of men for military
ser"i*e gained fresh urgen*y. 7f the (ermans *ame the new re*ruits would !e thrown into the !attle.
7f in"asion was a"erted these men would !uild the armies whi*h one day would go !a*$ a*ross the
,hannel and li!erate Europe.
8p and down the *ountry old and famous regiments found their ran$s swelled !y re*ruits who
would "ery 6ui*$ly ha"e to !e turned from *i"ilians into soldiers.
0o it was that on 4uly 4 1940 the 9th Battalion of The +oyal :egiment ;%orth +an*ashire< was
offi*ially raised at the +oyals' head6uarters in -ulwood Barra*$s /reston !ased around a *adre of
regulars .1= offi*ers and 1=0 other ran$s.
0tri*tly spea$ing the !attalion was !eing re.formed sin*e the 9th ;0er"i*e< Battalion of the +oyals
had !een esta!lished during the -irst &orld &ar seeing a*tion on the &estern -ront.
5s the regiment prepared to a**ept its new inta$e good!yes were !eing said in homes throughout
Merseyside +an*ashire and ,heshire from where the !ul$ of the unit's men were re*ruited.
-athers sons un*les and !rothers who until now had !een wor$ers in fa*tories offi*es shops or
shipyards found themsel"es *alled to the *olours . and the destination on their tra"el warrants was
,aernar"on %orth &ales.
There at ,oed Helen ,amp a large house surrounded !y a stret*h of wooded land within sight of
the medie"al *astle that dominates the town the *adre from the +oyals arri"ed on 4uly = ready to
re*ei"e a total of 2=0 re*ruits.
0oldiers in the *adre in*luded warrant offi*ers %,Os tradesmen *oo$s and !atmen se"eral of
whom had seen ser"i*e with the British E'peditionary -or*e in -ran*e. #uring the retreat to
#un$ir$ the +oyals had fought with e'*eptional "alour and determination and were among the last
soldiers off the !ea*hes. This *ore of professionals !rought with it 'a steadying influen*e of
pea*etime ser"i*e and dis*ipline' wrote Ma3or /eter ,rane M, one of the offi*ers tas$ed with
helping set up the new !attalion. On 4uly 19 the first inta$e of >00 men was re*ei"ed at ,oed Helen
and posted to 5 ,ompany. 0i' days later #a"id +loyd (eorge who had !een /rime Minister
during the -irst &orld &ar and li"ed along the *oast near ,ri**ieth *ame to the *amp to address
the re*ruits.
%e't day the se*ond *ontingent of >00 men arri"ed . to !e posted to B ,ompany . and a further
400 men two days later who were split into , and # *ompanies. Out of the whole inta$e more
than ?00 *ame from +i"erpool and distri*t 1>0 from +ondon and the rest from "arious lo*ations
mainly +an*ashire and ,heshire.
The 9th !attalion plus the 2th and 9th +oyals whi*h were raised at the same time formed part of
>1= 7nfantry Brigade with the 1>th :oyal &el*h -usiliers. The 9th's *ommanding offi*er was
+ieutenant ,olonel M &ilson the se*ond.in.*ommand was Ma3or ;later +ieut ,ol< & 0 /lant the
ad3utant was ,aptain ;later Ma3or< ,rane and the :egimental 0ergeant Ma3or ;later ,aptain< / &
(odden. Two days after the !attalion was fully formed a (erman plane flew o"er the *amp and
dropped two !om!s to the south !ut there were no *asualties.
5t first shortage of e6uipment was a*ute for the fledgling infantry unit. 'Training diffi*ulties were
"ery intense in the early stages' Ma3or ,rane later wrote. 'The sum total of the training e6uipment
*onsisted of 40 rifles half a do)en impressed "ehi*les and a few !o'es of grenades. E"erything was
either made of wood !orrowed for the afternoon . or simply imagined.'
5s the men tried to settle into !ell tents it was "ery mu*h ma$e do and mend. '&e were still
wearing *i""ies for wee$s after we got there and drilling with !room handles' re*alled ,orporal
:onald /rin*e one of the +i"erpool re*ruits.
Be*ause a (erman in"asion was thought to !e imminent following the -all of -ran*e training was
*om!ined with !ea*h defen*e patrols and pra*ti*e alerts throughout the summer and early autumn
ta$ing the 9th as far south along the *oast as 5!erdo"ey where a se*ond *amp was esta!lished.
The stay in &ales ended on 0eptem!er >2 when the !attalion entrained for +i"erpool and its first
ma3or operational role . helping prote*t the port against (erman in"asion. The 9th's !ase was to the
north of the *ity in the affluent su!ur! of (reat ,ros!y with head6uarters in the %orthern ,ri*$et
(round at Elm 5"enue. 5 and , *ompanies were stationed in 0eaforth Barra*$s in near!y
&aterloo and the rest of the regiment in !illets in 0eaforth and Blundellsands.
,oming under the *ommand of Mersey (arrison the 9th . wor$ing with four Home (uard
!attalions . *o"ered one of four defen*e )ones for the +i"erpool area. +i"erpool was now the most
"ital port in the $ingdom a gateway for the *on"oys that later !e*ame Britain's lifeline and the ner"e
*entre of the Battle of the 5tlanti*.
'Here the wor$ !e*ame "ery hard' Ma3or ,rane wrote. '5s in addition to intense training the
!attalion had a *onsidera!le operational role and was *onstantly *alled up to pro"ide wor$ing
parties for ships and do*$s.'
By now the +uftwaffe had !een defeated in the Battle of Britain after fier*e *om!at and high
*asualties on !oth sides and as winter approa*hed the threat of in"asion in 1940 re*eded. 7nstead
Hitler targeted British *ities with his !om!ers and in %o"em!er and #e*em!er Merseyside suffered
its first ma3or air raids as the +uftwaffe atta*$ed the miles of do*$s and whar"es either side of the
ri"er and the famous shipyards of ,ammell +aird on the Bir$enhead shore.
5s the Blit) too$ its terri!le toll the 9th +oyals were drafted in to help ta*$le giganti* fires whi*h
!la)ed for days in +i"erpool's (ladstone and 5le'andra do*$s. Throughout ,hristmas *ontingents
of 100 soldiers !attled night and day. #uring one dramati* operation the men found themsel"es
wading up to their an$les through molten ru!!er whi*h was flowing off a !la)ing ship. 'There was a
*onsignment of &ellington !oots near!y on the do*$side and we gra!!ed them and put them on to
prote*t oursel"es' ,orporal /rin*e re*alled. To the men's indignation a pun*tilious offi*er warned
them they might fa*e a looting *harge. Howe"er reason apparently pre"ailed and no su*h *harges
materialised.
-or many men of the 9th this period was dou!ly agonising !e*ause +i"erpool and Bir$enhead
were their home towns. 5s they stood guard and saw the night s$ies a!la)e or fought fires in the
midst of the air raids they had no way of $nowing if their lo"ed ones had !e*ome "i*tims.
7t was the Blit) that infli*ted the !attalion's first fatal *asualty. 5s the air raids disrupted *i"ilian
ser"i*es the 9th too$ on postal duties and /ri"ate 5l!ert 0tones who "olunteered for this wor$
was $illed !y a !om! !last in !illets in Bootle on %o"em!er >1.
5s 1941 opened another period of *hange dawned for the !attalion. 5t the start of -e!ruary the
,O ,olonel &ilson stepped down !e*ause of illness and his se*ond.in.*ommand Ma3or /lant
too$ o"er.
On -e!ruary 1 the >00th anni"ersary of The +oyal :egiment was *ele!rated with a parade at the
Marine foot!all ground in Blundellsands followed !y a mar*h through Blundellsands ,ros!y and
&aterloo. There was a wel*ome !onus for the men . a half day's holiday.
TE !OR"SIRE COAST
February to No#e$ber 1941
'There was deep snow and frost and the men were
thrown entirel on their own initiative. "t would be difficult
to imagine a harder or more exacting life '
T&O wee$s later the !attalion was on the mo"e again . a*ross the /ennines !y train to the %orth
:iding of @or$shire to ta$e up positions along the *liff.lined *oast either side of &hit!y as part of
the #urham and %orth :iding #i"ision.
5gain the 9th's role was *oastal defen*e guarding against possi!le (erman air!orne or sea!orne
landings at &hit!y or near!y 0*ar!orough. Head6uarters was at the :a"en Hall Hotel :a"ens*ar
with 5 and , *ompanies at ,loughton B ,ompany at :o!in Hood's Bay and # at Hay!urn &y$e.
'The !attalion's role was entirely operational and training was fittted in where"er possi!le' wrote
Ma3or ,rane. 'Howe"er opportunities for normal training were "ery few as for many months the
unit stood to along a 10.mile front with a s*ale of =0 per *ent all night and 100 per *ent at dus$ and
dawn.'
7t was a hard winter. 'There was deep snow and frost and in it the men had to dig tren*hes dugouts
and shelters in whi*h they li"ed entirely. The men were thrown entirely on their own initiati"e and for
wee$s on end $new no pleasures or entertainment of any sort.
'There were a few *asualties from mines and se"eral from e'posure. 7t would !e diffi*ult to imagine
a harder or more e'a*ting life. The whole front was patrolled *ontinuously e"ery night and se*tions
had to dig into the *liffs whi*h rise to ?00ft in pla*es.' #uring this time the !attalion had to a*6uaint
itself with a "ariety of weapons in*luding Ai*$ers and Browning medium ma*hine guns +ewis guns
si'.pounder Hot*h$iss guns and !ea*h and anti.personnel mines. '&iring was a wholetime 3o! with
*onstant re"etting of !illets and weapons pits. 5 -ren*h 9=mm gun was promised !ut . perhaps
fortunately . ne"er materialised.'
5s well as patrolling one of the assignments for a deta*hment of men in &hit!y was raising the
anti.su!marine !oom in the har!our ea*h morning to let the fishing fleet into the %orth 0ea. 0in*e it
was wound up !y hand it was an arduous tas$. Howe"er there was *ompensation . in the form of
fish from the grateful s$ippers when they returned.
Tragedy stru*$ along the *oast on 5pril = when two pri"ates were $illed !y a (erman sea mine
whi*h e'ploded after !eing washed ashore. On the >=th there was a hea"y air raid with hundreds
of in*endiaries and a land mine falling !ut no *asualties despite a !om! e'ploding =00 yards from
!attalion !illets at -yling Hall.
On May 9 5 ,ompany mo"ed from +arpool Hall &hit!y to !illets in :unswi*$ Bay 0taithes
and 0$inningro"e. B ,ompany was transferred from :o!in Hood's Bay to +arpool Hall and ,
,ompany mo"ed to &hit!y. # ,ompany left Hay!urn &y$e to !ase itself at 8pgang and
0andsend.
%ear &hit!y on 4une 4 a (erman plane *rashed $illing three *rew. 5s the month ended so did
the !attalion's long hard stint along the rugged *oast. 5fter !eing relie"ed !y the 9th 0outh 0taffs
they were transferred some >0 miles north east to #arlington ,ounty #urham with head6uarters at
The Highland +addie 7nn Haughton le 0$erne.
Here in 4uly intensi"e training started in mo"ement !y motor transport and ma$ing swift *onta*t
with the enemy. But at the !eginning of 5ugust the !attalion again found itself stationed on the *oast
mo"ing !a*$ north of its pre"ious positions to the :ed*ar distri*t with head6uarters at Bir$leatham
Hall.
On the 1st a training plane made a for*ed landing on B ,ompany's area and on the 19th a
(erman !om! !ro$e =9 windows in their !illets. -rom 5ugust >1 to >= the !attalion too$ part in an
e'er*ise to test *o.operation !etween infantry and artillery in defen*e of :oyal 5rtillery !arra*$s
and !atteries. ,oastal defen*es were strengthened.
0eptem!er started with a mo*$ atta*$ !y ,ommandos on the !attalion head6uarters. They
penetrated the grounds !ut *ould not get into the !uildings. '0e"eral wea$ spots were dis*o"ered'
the war diary noted.
On the fourth two sea mines e'ploded on ro*$s near :ed*ar /ier !rea$ing many windows in the
lo*ality. -i"e days later the !attalion too$ part in enduran*e tests and field firing e'er*ises with B
,ompany the winner. '5ll ran$s had a *han*e to learn the firepower of a *ompany and the sound
that "arious weapons and pro3e*tiles ma$e. The e'er*ises were most realisti* . at times almost too
realisti*.'
This note of apprehension had a grim e*ho on 0eptem!er 1= when /ri"ate 0ydney Taylor of 5
,ompany was $illed as he stepped on an anti.tan$ mine while out on a wor$ing party.
O*to!er opened with the !attalion undergoing anti.in"asion e'er*ises and *on*entrating on !ea*h
defen*e . # ,ompany was despat*hed to guard (rangetown 5erodrome near Middles!rough.
Ba*$ in :ed*ar a (erman !om!er stru*$ on the >1st *ausing *i"ilian *asualties.
But e"en as the 9th +oyals was slowly !eing moulded into an infantry unit . one that e"en at this
early stage showed mu*h promise in its fighting s$ills . a different destiny was !eing de*ided for it.
On O*to!er >9 1941 orders *ame through that the !attalion was to !e *on"erted to a mo!ile light
anti.air*raft regiment of the :oyal 5rtillery. 5s the *hange in role was !eing finalised infantry training
*ontinued. 5t the !eginning of %o"em!er sea mines again !rought drama. Two e'ploded on the
!ea*hes near the !attalion's !ase and se"eral others had to !e immo!ilised !y the :oyal %a"y.
On %o"em!er = a 1000l! (erman !om! hit #orman and +ong's steelwor$s at ,oatham
:ed*ar !ut failed to e'plode. Three days later # ,ompany too$ part in e'er*ises with the Home
(uard !etween Halifa' and Huddersfield playing the role of in"ading (erman para*hutists.
FROM INFANTR! TO %&NNERS
No#e$ber to De'e$ber 1941
'" #now ou will live up to our old motto,
$oaute %'&blige. 'ou will soon be holding more than our own
as a highl!efficient regiment of the (oal )rtiller '
B8T the new *hallenge that fa*ed the 9th +oyals was a!out to !egin. On %o"em!er 11 1941 the
men of the !attalion were *alled together in the %ew /a"ilion :ed*ar to !e addressed !y the
di"isional *ommander Ma3or.(eneral / 4 0hears. He wished them good lu*$ in their new role as
gunners saying it was 'a great honour' to ha"e !een sele*ted for it.
Two days later on %o"em!er 1= 1941 the !attalion was offi*ially *on"erted to an artillery unit.
But its proud lin$ with The +oyal :egiment was enshrined in its new title. 7t !e*ame the 9>nd
;+oyals< +ight 5nti.5ir*raft :egiment :5.
The 9th +oyals was one of 1> !attalions from British infantry regiments whi*h were swit*hed to
mo!ile +55 duties in the winter of 1941 to meet a shortage of su*h units in the e"er.e'panding
5rmy.
5s the (erman !lit)$rieg in /oland and -ran*e had shown so dramati*ally air power was now
one of the de*isi"e fa*tors in war. 7t was "ital that any army going into !attle had the means to
prote*t itself against enemy planes . and that meant *reating highly mo!ile anti.air*raft units whi*h
*ould deploy at a moment's noti*e to *om!at any threat from the s$ies.
Ea*h +55 regiment *onsisted of a head6uarters ;:HC< and three !atteries. Ea*h !attery was
di"ided into three troops ea*h of si' guns. The total of offi*ers and men was a!out 200 around the
same strength as an infantry !attalion.
+55 regiments were e6uipped with 40mm Bofors (uns the *lassi* light.anti.air*raft weapon of
the 0e*ond &orld &ar and after and with >0mm Oerli$on (uns and /olsten (uns. The Bofors
was designed for use against relati"ely low.le"el raiders su*h as fighters and di"e.!om!ers. :e*oil.
operated with a sliding !ree*h !lo*$ it fired its two.pounder shells at the rate of 1>0 per minute.
These were fed into the auto.loading unit from *lips or '*hargers' holding four shells ea*h whi*h
were *ontinuously supplied !y the gunners.
0hells had a mu))le "elo*ity of >900 feet per se*ond and were deadly against air*raft up to a!out
=000ft although they in fa*t went many times higher. -illed with T%T they were fused to e'plode
on impa*t and to self.destru*t through a tra*er.igniter on*e they had passed their effe*ti"e range.
This was to pre"ent li"e shells whi*h missed enemy air*raft falling to earth and e'ploding on friendly
soil. Be*ause the Bofors . originally de"eloped !y the 0wedish armaments firm of the same name .
was su*h a su**essful gun many "ariants were !uilt for different situations and it was *ontinuously
de"eloped and impro"ed during the war. 7nitially +55 regiments used towed "ersions !ut self.
propelled models . with the gun set on the !a*$ of a Morris ,ommer*ial lorry *hassis . were later
!uilt for e"en greater mo!ility and !attle.readiness. 5nother mo!ile "ersion not used !y +55
regiments had a Bofors mounted on a ,rusader light tan$ *hassis.
&hile the designated tas$ of mo!ile +55 units was pro"iding defen*e against enemy planes guns
were used e'tensi"ely against ground targets later in the war when the Bofors pro"ed a de"astating
weapon for !om!arding infantry positions.
+oaded with solid shot they were also gi"en an anti.tan$ role. But the 40mm shells were ineffe*ti"e
against hea"y (erman armour . and as some "eterans ruefully re*all atta*$ing tan$s with Bofors
fire *ould !e a positi"e ha)ard !e*ause it more often than not earned a hot reprisal from the
undamaged pan)ers.
These then were the weapons with whi*h the newly.formed 9>nd had to familiarise itself and
!e*ome e'pert in their use.The regiment's three !atteries were designated 119 ;5 B , Troops< 112 ;# E - Troops< and
119 ;( H 7 Troops<. They were !illeted respe*ti"ely at Bir$leatham Hall :ed*ar ;with :HC< at
the town's ra*e*ourse and at a lo*al *on"ales*ent home.
5s far as possi!le whole *ompanies of the 9th +oyals were a!sor!ed into the new !atteries
whose *ommanders were Ma3ors % H 4oynson M 0 (ornall and Ma3or / ,rane. ,aptain (odden
too$ o"er as ad3utant.
+ater Ma3or ,rane noted . not without a hint of pride . that in ea*h of the !atteries two.thirds of
the men who ser"ed the guns were from 9th +oyals and most were from the +an*ashire area.
:egiment mem!ers !rought in after *on"ersion were largely dri"ers and tradesmen.
On the day *on"ersion too$ pla*e a (erman 4un$ers 22 ;48 22< flying !elow =00ft dropped two
!om!s whi*h ri*o*heted 100yards and =0ft high !ursting on #orman and +ong's. 0e"eral *i"ilians
were $illed and in3ured and the steelwor$s was e'tensi"ely damaged. The 9>nd fired its first shots in
anger as a Bofors deta*hment tried to down the raider !ut no hits were reported.
Meanwhile *oastal patrols *ontinued. On %o"em!er 14 a mine was washed up in the regiment's
se*tor and rendered harmless. The following day in the same area *ame a grimmer find . the !ody
of an :5- pilot who had !een !ased at +eu*hars in 0*otland was re*o"ered from the sea.
5s wor$ started on a*6uainting the men of the 9>nd with their new e6uipment intelligen*e tests
were *arried out and re"ealed an 'e'*eptionally high' aptitude for gunnery among the men.
0oon it was time for the regiment fully to ta$e up its fresh *hallenge. 7n a letter Brigadier 4ohn
&ells ,M( #0O ,olonel of The +oyal :egiment told the ,OD '7 am pleased and proud at all 7
saw and heard of the 9th Battalion when 7 saw them re*ently. &hat the regiment loses !y your
*on"ersion your new *orps will gain. The spirit in whi*h you are a**epting this *hange is the real
proof that you are true +oyals.
'5lthough you are no longer part of the The +oyal :egiment you *an . and 7 $now you will . li"e
up to your old motto +oyaute M'O!lige. 7 ha"e e"ery *onfiden*e that you will soon !e holding more
than your own as a highly.effi*ient regiment of the :oyal 5rtillery. Than$ you for all you ha"e done
for the regiment. (ood lu*$ to you all offi*ers and men. 7 shall always !e glad to hear of you.'
5nother letter to the ,O from Brigadier 4 H 4enson M, T# was e6ually warm. '7 feel 7 *annot let
you lea"e the !rigade without e'pressing to you and to all the ran$s under your *ommand my
grateful than$s for your loyal *o.operation during our short *onne*tion and my sin*ere regret that it
should !e ne*essary to se"er that *onne*tion.
'7 ha"e !een impressed !y the fa*t that all ran$s in your unit are im!ued with that $eenness and
determination to !e*ome effi*ient in the 3o! whi*h will stand them in good stead in their new role. 7
hope they will en3oy their wor$ and 7 feel sure that with the spirit they ha"e in the unit they will !e a
*redit to themsel"es to you and to their *ountry.'
0o on %o"em!er >? 1941 after 1? months as infantry the former 9th +oyals !ade farewell to the
windswept @or$shire *oast and tra"elled !a*$ a*ross the *ountry to start their new role as
artillerymen. /reliminary training for 119 and 119 started at 5!erystwyth in mid.&ales and for 112
at 0aighton ,amp outside ,hester.
AIR DEFENCE OF %REAT (RITAIN
De'e$ber 1941 to Mar') 194*
'Training has been constant, with man lessons
learned. *e are now equipped with all our guns
and have had some grand engagements.'
B5:E+@ a month later the newly.formed regiment was thrust into an operational role. 4ust after
,hristmas :HC mo"ed to 0tanmore north.west +ondon and 119 and 119 deployed to pro"ide
5#(B ;5ir #efen*e of (reat Britain< anti.air*raft *o"er from sites at 0tanmore and +uton.
Meanwhile 112 was deta*hed to start training for the tas$ that would !e the hallmar$ of the whole
regiment . mo!ility. The new gunners had to !e*ome e'pert in mo"ing 6ui*$ly and effi*iently in
preparation for their possi!ly "ital role on the !attlefield.
%ew @ear's #ay 194> saw the 9>nd on the mo"e to ,al"erton %ottingham with some units
going further east for gunnery training at the famous anti.air*raft s*hool at 0tiff$ey on the %orfol$
*oast . 'a desolate lonely pla*e with one little pu! that was full if it had four people in it' ,orporal
/rin*e re*alled.
On 4anuary 10 there was drama at ,al"erton when a (erman plane dropped four !om!s on the
regiment's area. Two failed to e'plode and no one was hurt. 4ust o"er a fortnight later the 9>nd was
on the road again transferring to -rogmore Hall a large red!ri*$ mansion set in e'tensi"e wooded
grounds near &atton.at.0tone Hertfordshire.
&hile 119 and 119 mo"ed into the new !ase 112 went to &alton.on.Thames 0urrey to ta$e
o"er prote*tion of installations in*luding waterwor$s at Bempton Hampton and 8'!ridge.
The regiment now *ame under the *ommand of 1rd British 7nfantry #i"ision . the '7ron #i"ision' .
to whi*h it would !e atta*hed to the end of the war and to whose fame it was destined to
*ontri!ute. Throughout -e!ruary while 112 stayed at &alton 119 and 119 undertoo$ mo!ile
training. By the end of a *old snowy month the regiment's new "ehi*les were starting to arri"e. On
Mar*h 1? there was an air raid alert at &alton !ut the raiders passed o"er without unleashing any
!om!s. -our days later the whole regiment *on*entrated in Hertfordshire mo"ing into tents at
Hit*hwood 0outh ,amp near Hit*hin to start a month's mo!ile training in *on3un*tion with 1rd
#i"ision.:HC and 119 personnel lined the route during an inspe*tion of the di"ision !y the Bing. On
5pril >0 the regiment mar*hed !a*$ to -rogmore Hall. Hea"y showers during the early part of
the month affe*ted training with "ehi*les !e*oming !ogged down !ut the latter part of 5pril
saw e'*eptionally warm and fine weather.
-rogmore Hall was the 9>nd's !ase for most of the summer as the men *ontinually trained and
pra*tised !e*oming e"er more s$ilful in the te*hni6ues of gunnery. Tragi*ally two men died
there in motor a**idents. On May >0 194> (unner (eorge #ansey was $illed !y a "ehi*le
!eing dri"en !y an offi*er under instru*tion. On 4une 19 (unner -rederi*$ &ilson died after
!eing hit !y a lorry as it dro"e around the winding inner road of the estate.
On 4uly >4 the regiment was on the mo"e on*e more. 7ts destination was :yde 7sle of
&ight where it lin$ed up with other units of 1rd #i"ision in*luding 2 7nfantry Brigade and :oyal
Marines. 5n 'e'hilarating' e'er*ise with the ,ommandos followed plus a two.day assault *ourse
at 5shey #own. The non.swimmers among the 9>nd's men were taught to swim.
By 5ugust 19 the regiment was *on*entrated !a*$ a*ross the 0olent at ,handlers -ord
0outhampton for the start of a four.day e'er*ise in Bent and 0usse'. 7t then went to ,la*ton.
on.0ea Esse' for a wee$'s firing pra*ti*e !efore mo"ing to 0and!an$s Bournemouth . on the
edge of /oole Har!our . on 0eptem!er 2.
Training *ontinued into O*to!er. On the 1>th two -o*$e.&ulf 190 ;-& 190< fighters soared
o"er a ferry near the guns of 119 one of the raiders firing its *annon. The !attery was later in
a*tion against enemy air*raft in the Brighton area.
En*ounters with (erman raiders along the 0outh ,oast were usually fleeting with !arely time
to aim and fire the Bofors !efore the plane had passed out of range. 'They used to *ome in "ery
low' re*alled (eorge Ba$er a young +i"erpudlian who 3oined the regiment . where his !rother
Billy was already ser"ing . in the autumn of 194>. '&hen they got near the *oast they would
sweep up and in either aiming at targets or 3ust gi"ing harassing fire.'
5t the !eginning of %o"em!er the 9>nd started a wee$ of hardening e'er*ises manhandling
guns a*ross ri"ers and 6uarries followed !y anti.tan$ pra*ti*e and anti.air*raft pra*ti*e against
targets towed !y na"al laun*h. 'Training has !een *onstant with many lessons learned espe*ially
in regard to the anti.tan$ role of 40mm e6uipment' wrote the ,O ,olonel Hollwey.
Early in #e*em!er the regiment mo"ed a*ross to Bent stationed at 5shford and -ol$estone .
where 119 engaged two Messers*hmitt 109s ;ME 109< and 112 fired against two -& 190s.
On the 11th an -& 190 was engaged !y an :5- Typhoon fighter in front of 112's guns whi*h
were una!le to fire for fear of hitting the British plane. Enemy air*raft also atta*$ed near!y :ye
with ma*hine guns.Training *ontinued into O*to!er. On the 1>th two -o*$e.&ulf 190 ;-& 190< fighters soared
o"er a ferry near the guns of 119 one of the raiders firing its *annon. The !attery was later in a*tion
against enemy air*raft in the Brighton area.
En*ounters with (erman raiders along the 0outh ,oast were usually fleeting with !arely time to
aim and fire the Bofors !efore the plane had passed out of range. 'They used to *ome in "ery low'
re*alled (eorge Ba$er a young +i"erpudlian who 3oined the regiment . where his !rother Billy was
already ser"ing . in the autumn of 194>. '&hen they got near the *oast they would sweep up and in
either aiming at targets or 3ust gi"ing harassing fire.'
5t the !eginning of %o"em!er the 9>nd started a wee$ of hardening e'er*ises manhandling guns
a*ross ri"ers and 6uarries followed !y anti.tan$ pra*ti*e and anti.air*raft pra*ti*e against targets
towed !y na"al laun*h. 'Training has !een *onstant with many lessons learned espe*ially in regard
to the anti.tan$ role of 40mm e6uipment' wrote the ,O ,olonel Hollwey.
Early in #e*em!er the regiment mo"ed a*ross to Bent stationed at 5shford and -ol$estone .
where 119 engaged two Messers*hmitt 109s ;ME 109< and 112 fired against two -& 190s. On
the 11th an -& 190 was engaged !y an :5- Typhoon fighter in front of 112's guns whi*h were
una!le to fire for fear of hitting the British plane. Enemy air*raft also atta*$ed near!y :ye with
ma*hine guns.
Ele"en days later a #ornier.1>9 ;#O 1>9< was engaged !y 119 !ut managed to drop its !om!
load on 5shford. On #e*em!er 10 four -& 190s were engaged at ,am!er and one thought to !e
hit. The following day %ew @ear's E"e the ,O wroteD '7t is the end of a "ery satisfa*tory month for
the regiment. &e are now e6uipped with all our guns and ha"e had some grand engagements.'
5lthough the regiment gained mu*h pra*ti*al anti.air*raft e'perien*e !y !eing atta*hed to stati* and
semi.stati* 5#(B !atteries along the 0outh ,oast it also ser"ed to highlight the different emphasis
!etween the two types of unit. -or e'ample di"isional 55 troops su*h as the 9>nd *ould not
possi!ly !e e6uipped with predi*tors for tra*ing enemy air*raft !e*ause they were so hea"y they
needed four men to lift them into position. On the other hand mo!ility was the $ey fun*tion in the life
of the regiment and e"erything was geared towards it.
/ride of pla*e in the 9>nd always went to the effi*ien*y and effe*ti"eness of the guns and the
supply of ammunition petrol water food small arms wireless and field telephones always had top
priority in using up essential spa*e. The !alan*e !etween these fun*tions was deli*ate . !ut was to
pro"e its effe*ti"eness in !attle.
The year of 1941 opened with more enemy raids. On 4anuary 4 a (erman plane dropped a sti*$
of !om!s near a 112 deta*hment at &in*helsea *ausing no *asualties. By the 11th the regiment
was on the mo"e again going to ,la*ton for ten days' firing pra*ti*e. 7t returned at the !eginning of
-e!ruary to 0eaford %ewha"en and Brighton where one gun was stationed in front of the famous
(rand Hotel.On the 9th a #O 1>9 was engaged !ut got away. %e't day howe"er *ame a signifi*ant
milestone in the 9>nd's history . the regiment a*hie"ed its first ,ategory One a *onfirmed $ill
of an enemy plane. The honour fell to ( Troop of 119 Battery whi*h shot down a #O 1>9
o"er the sea at %ewha"en with a fi"e.se*ond !urst of fire. On the >>nd the !atteries returned to
-ol$estone and 5ldington.
CO&NTDO+N TO OVERLORD
Mar') 194* to Ju,e 1944
'*e #new we were to be part of the invasion ! we
+ust didn't #now where or when. ,ut the
feeling of the men was for getting on with the +ob'
.
THE demonstration of the 9>nd's growing s$ill was timely. -or now a momentous underta$ing
was at hand.
Early in 1941 1rd #i"ision was ordered to start training for the in"asion of 0i*ily only to see
the assignment swit*hed . mainly for politi*al reasons . to a ,anadian di"ision. But soon after
1rd #i"ision was gi"en the tas$ that would test its s$ill and *ourage to the limit and assure its
pla*e in history. 7t was to !e one of only two British di"isions whi*h would spearhead the #.#ay
assault in Operation O"erlord the in"asion of %ormandy.
Being *hosen to lead the li!eration of Europe was a tri!ute to the military prowess of the '7ron
#i"ision' whose proud history stret*hed !a*$ to the %apoleoni* &ars and whi*h Montgomery
had *ommanded during the fighting retreat to #un$ir$ in 1940.
But it was also an awesome responsi!ility. E"erything depended on troops getting ashore and
esta!lishing a !ea*hhead in strength !efore the (ermans *ould re*o"er from the initial sho*$ and
hurl them !a*$ into the sea. 7f the 5llies failed to gain a foothold in Europe it would !e
*atastrophi* for the whole *ourse of the war.
0o in the early spring of 1941 all units of 1rd #i"ision were ordered to *on*entrate in the west
of 0*otland to start the intensi"e programme of training that would ma$e them ready for their
*ru*ial mission. Between Mar*h 1> and 14 amid e'*eptionally fine weather 9>nd +55 mo"ed
north in *on"oy from Bent staging at 0te"enage and #on*aster. 7ts destination was the small
towns of ,astle #ouglas and #al!eattie north of the 0olway -irth in Bir*ud!rightshire. Here
amid the hills woods ri"ers and lo*hs of the !eautiful 0outhern 8plands of 0*otland the men
started honing themsel"es and their e6uipment to a pea$ of fighting fitness. But initial in"asion
e'er*ises started e"en further north with *om!ined operations at :othesay on the 7sle of Bute.
Then at the end of Mar*h 112 mo"ed to 7n"erary 5rgyllshire . 40 miles north west of
(lasgow . for a fortnight of training with 2 7nfantry Brigade and na"al units. By day and night on
the waters of +o*h -yne the 9>nd pra*tised !ea*h landing disem!ar$ing guns and supply
"ehi*les from landing *raft and deploying them to their allotted area.
Meanwhile a series of wee$.long trips made !y ea*h !attery in turn started to 9 +55
/ra*ti*e ,amp at ,ar$ in ,artmel near (range o"er 0ands on the edge of the +a$e #istri*t.
-irst to go was 119 followed !y 119 and 112.
The men had to !e physi*ally fit for the tas$ ahead. 5s May opened the emphasis was on
enduran*e wor$ in*luding day.long hill wal$ing and ri"er *rossing. Throughout May and into
4une there were full di"isional e'er*ises during whi*h tra*er fire from a Bofors was used to
indi*ate the width of an infantry ad"an*e a te*hni6ue that later *ame into its own on the
!attlefield. There was also pra*ti*e on the anti.tan$ range at ,ummertrees near 5nnan wireless
e'er*ises night deployment and digging.in pra*ti*e.
-or the gun *rews digging.in was "ital. &hen a Bofors was deployed a pit was e'*a"ated for
it to gi"e as mu*h prote*tion as possi!le from *ounter.!attery fire and marauding air*raft.
Howe"er some of the 9>nd's more mus*ular mem!ers found their small infantry spades were
not up to the 3o! of digging a gunpit in anything li$e a reasona!le time . and ni*$named the
spades '-ifth ,olumn 0ho"els.' 5fter digging trials ,aptain : T :eid ,O of - Troop agreed .
and told his men they *ould ha"e hea"y.duty na""y sho"els instead.
On 4une 11 it was the turn of 119 to 3ourney north to 7n"erary where it 3oined 12= 7nfantry
Brigade for *om!ined operations training. Meanwhile to $eep it on its toes and test its mo!ility
the rest of the regiment was suddenly ordered south to Bent for a month of 5#(B duties.
Tra"elling in *on"oy "ia ,atteri*$ #on*aster and 0te"enage it rea*hed its new lo*ations on 4une
19. (uns were deployed at Bir*hington -inglesham +ympne :5- aerodrome :i*h!orough
,heriton and Haw$inge aerodrome. %ine days later 119 re3oined the regiment deploying at
Minster 0nowdown ,olliery and 0andwi*h. On 4uly 9 the !attery's guns opened fire on a #O 1>9
raider.
-i"e days later the regiment was ordered !a*$ to 0*otland arri"ing there on 4uly 19. By now new
Mar$ A self.propelled Bofors (uns had !een deli"ered and one troop in ea*h !attery started
training with them.
7n 5ugust further e'er*ises were held with 12= Brigade and there were two *omplete di"isional
e'er*ises lasting into 0eptem!er. Trips to ,ar$ for firing pra*ti*e resumed and there was anti.tan$
training at ,raignair south of ,astle #ouglas.
On >1st 0eptem!er +ieutenant.,olonel :o!ert +oder.0ymonds assumed *ommand of the 9>nd
when +ieutenant.,olonel Hollwey was posted to ta$e o"er 1>4 +55. Throughout O*to!er training
went on with regimental deployment e'er*ises wire.*utting and night atta*$ !y patrols. 7n
%o"em!er there was an interlude of entertainment and re*reation in the form of inter.regiment
!o'ing and rug!y mat*hes plus a "isit !y the !and of The +oyal :egiment. 5t the end of the month
the final phase of 1rd #i"ision's assault training started when units mo"ed north to the area around
%airn and 7n"erness to lin$ up with %a"al Tas$ -or*e 0 whi*h was to *arry the di"ision to the
%ormandy !ea*hes. On %o"em!er >2 112 3ourneyed to Bra*$la ,amp near %airn spending the
ne't two months in a series of full.s*ale in"asion e'er*ises along the Moray -irth !etween ,hanonry
/oint and -ort (eorge.
Here often amid appalling weather the men refined their loading and assault te*hni6ues in tan$
landing *raft. 5s the histori* year of 1944 opened the rest of the regiment was training apa*e
espe*ially with "ehi*le waterproofing whi*h was "ital to pre"ent engines !e*oming stalled in the surf
of the in"asion !ea*hes. The 9>nd :EME wor$shop smothered "ulnera!le parts of the motors in a
greasy paste and atta*hed !reather tu!es to !e used for air inta$es.
7n one waterproofing trial on 4anuary 1= a *on"oy dro"e into the :i"er #ee near %ew (alloway
north of ,astle #ouglas. Three.tonner lorries fared well !ut the strong *urrent su!merged 1=*wt
tru*$s and 3eeps.-ast.flowing water was not the only ha)ard. 5lthough the 0/ Bofors were strong and solidly.!ased they
*ould !e*ome !ogged down espe*ially in the swampier parts of the 0*ottish
*ountryside. On these o**asions their !uilt.in win*hes pro"ed "ery useful pulling the gun free !y
fastening the win*h *a!le to trees or to other "ehi*les and slowly winding it in.
E"en so it *ould sometimes !e a *lose.run thing. 'One of our guns on*e !e*ame so deeply
swamped in a !og that it too$ two others as well as its own win*h to drag it to hard ground'
re*alled 4a*$ /rior who as a young lieutenant 3oined 119 in #e*em!er 1941 transferring to the
9>nd after ser"i*e with 5#(B units on the ha)ardous #o"er ,ommand.
'7t had sun$ to its a'les and we seriously wondered if we would lose it altogether. 7 *ould
almost hear the *ourt of in6uiry !eing turned into a *ourt martial with yours truly *ommitted to
repaying the loss from his pay . spread o"er se"eral hundred yearsE'
On 4anuary 19 119 mo"ed up to Bra*$la for its two months of intensi"e in"asion e'er*ises
with Tas$ -or*e 0 and the rest of 1rd #i"ision. The south shores of the Moray -irth were
su!stituted for the %ormandy !ea*hes as amid swirling snowstorms they pra*tised assault
landings in Burghead Bay. #uring one of these e'er*ises tragedy stru*$. 5 !rigadier waiting on
the dunes to o!ser"e the landings was hit and $illed !y a tan$ whi*h had failed to spot him as it
*rested the rise.
Early in Mar*h 119 tra"elled further north to Tain on the #orno*h -irth where destroyers
and a *ruiser demonstrated a na"al artillery !om!ardment on the headland of Tar!at %ess. This
dramati*ally showed the men the weight of firepower that would !e supporting them during the
%ormandy landings and ga"e them some idea of the hellish noise of it all.
On the >9th the !attery mo"ed south again to *on*entrate at Munlo*hy near 7n"erness for
further e'er*ises whi*h too$ the men into the hills around ,ulloden. On 4anuary >? the ,O of
the 9>nd +ieutenant.,olonel +oder.0ymonds left to ta$e o"er as artillery *ommander of
British 1st 5ir!orne #i"ision. He was in *harge of artillery during Operation Mar$et (arden at
5rnhem in 0eptem!er 1944. +ieutenant.,olonel ,harles Ba)eley #0O :5 assumed *ommand.
-e!ruary started for 112 now !a*$ from Bra*$la with anti.tan$ training at ,ummertrees. The
regiment pra*tised telephone silen*e *ommuni*ating !y radio only. On the ?th a deta*hment left
for a 1rd #i"ision *onferen*e at +angholm north of ,arlisle to !e addressed !y Montgomery
who was ,ommander.in.,hief of >1st 5rmy (roup and the land *ommander for O"erlord. The
rest of the month . amid snow . saw telephone silen*e *asualty e"a*uation and mine pra*ti*e
assault training le*tures and further waterproofing trials. 5 new troop of eight >0mm guns was
atta*hed to ea*h !attery.
Throughout Mar*h there were further le*tures instru*tional films and organised re*reational
training in*luding for*ed mar*hing *ompetitions. :HC personnel pra*tised on ,raignair range
with 0ten guns and /iat anti.tan$ weapons. But as always the main thrust of training was on
deploying the guns for swift a*tion.
'Other spe*ialised training in*luded ta$ing *o"er on the gun near!y or under other shelter
against shelling and mortaring whi*h were the main fire to !e a"oided. 7n fa*t of *ourse there
was little *han*e of this !e*ause the shelling was often a**ompanied !y !om!ing or strafing for
whi*h we had to !e prepared and ready for a*tion.
'Bnowledge of the gun me*hanism had !een gathered years !efore and we had !een handling
the guns until it had !e*ome se*ond nature. But we had to ensure that in doing our own spe*ified
3o!s we did not get in ea*h other's way in a "ery *onfined spa*e al!eit in the open air.'
5s winter slowly ga"e way to spring the men of 9>nd +55 along with the rest of 1rd #i"ision
were rea*hing a pea$ of fighting fitness and perfe*ting their O"erlord tas$s. %ow enthusiasm
!egan to !e tinged with impatien*e. F&e $new we were to !e part of the in"asion' re*alled
(eorge Ba$er. F&e 3ust didn't $now where or when. The men were all for getting on with the
3o!. The feeling was G&hy don't we go and get it o"er withHI'
But as 5pril opened the years of waiting were finally drawing to a *lose. -rom all parts of
Britain hundreds of thousands of soldiers and giganti* 6uantities of tan$s guns and e6uipment
!egan streaming south !y road and rail to assem!ly areas ready for the great *ross.,hannel
operation. On 5pril = 1944 9>nd +55 started its own 3ourney with :HC and 112 in the
"anguard.
5fter lea"ing ,astle #ouglas 112 stopped o"ernight at /reston . !i"oua*$ing in the stand at
/reston %orth End -, #eepdale a stone's throw from -ulwood Barra*$s . and at 0te"enage
Hertfordshire. -inally on the 2th the !attery rea*hed ,amp 54 south of Horndean near
/ortsmouth one of thousands of "ast tented towns that had sprung up in the Hampshire *ountryside
to a**ommodate the in"asion for*es.
119 still in the 7n"erness area tra"elled "ia ,arlisle #on*aster and +utterworth to rea*h
Horndean on 5pril 11. 119 did not start its 3ourney until the >0th transferring from ,astle #ouglas
"ia /reston &ellington and ,iren*ester to a holding *amp at Tournay Barra*$s 5ldershot.
The 9>nd was to !e split into four deta*hments for the in"asion. The ma3or tas$ fell to - Troop of
112 Battery whi*h . with a signals se*tion . would !e the only unit of the regiment to land on #.#ay
itself *oming ashore on Cueen :ed se*tor of 0word Bea*h.7ts assignment was right at the sharp end of O"erlord . prote*ting
the "ital !ridges a*ross the
,aen ,anal and :i"er Orne at Benou"ille on the eastern flan$ of the in"asion area. 5t that time
the !ridges were $nown only !y their *odenames of :ugger and ,ri*$et !ut would go down in
history as /egasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge. On # plus 1 # and E Troops of 112 would land
with :HC to reinfor*e - Troop. 5t the same time a mar*hing party of 112 men would land
separately and ma$e its way to the !ridges. On # plus ? 119 would ma$e its *rossing to
-ran*e followed !y 119 on # plus >1. &ith these s*hedules in mind :HC and # and E
Troops left /ortsmouth at the end of 5pril for 5ldershot from where they would tra"el to their
disem!ar$ation point in East +ondon. - Troop under the *ommand of ,aptain :eid stayed at
Horndean with 119 !ased near!y.
7n the following days unit *ensorship was imposed and the regiment was gi"en its operational
*odes to !e used for O"erlord. -or the men sealed in the *amps there was little to do !ut play
endless games of *ards !ingo and pit*h and toss to re.*he*$ e6uipment . and to wait. ,ut off
from the outside world the perimeter patrolled !y Military /oli*e they were gi"en small pre.
printed *ards to send to their relati"es telling them little else !ut that they were in good health.
5s the !uild.up to #.#ay intensified the troop and its "ehi*les were mo"ed out of the *amp
for three days while other units of the initial assault for*es were gi"en their !riefings. The near!y
roadside !e*ame the gunners' temporary home and they !edded down ea*h night underneath
their 0/ Bofors and lorries. There were stri*t orders not to spea$ to *i"ilians.
#uring this lull waterproofing of "ehi*les was *arried out and the soldiers ea*h re*ei"ed an
inflata!le life!elt >4.hour ration pa*$s and self.heating soups and *o*oa. -ren*h fran*s were
issued along with a !oo$let telling them a!out -ran*e and the -ren*h. Bright yellow pennants
were also distri!uted whi*h were to !e used to identify themsel"es to air*raft or other troops on
the !attlefield. 5ll personal letters and papers were ordered to !e !urned.
Then the men of - Troop were transferred !a*$ inside the *amp and fully !riefed on their own
mission. ,odenames were still !eing used for pla*es and enemy strongpoints !ut the gunners'
o!3e*ti"e was *lear . they must get to the !ridges.
Between May 1 and May = - Troop and the rest of 1rd #i"ision too$ part in E'er*ise -a!ius
a final rehearsal for O"erlord. 5ll along the 0outh ,oast the in"asion for*es were assigned to
!ea*hes *orresponding to those they would atta*$ in %ormandy. +oaded on to landing *raft the
di"ision disem!ar$ed near +ittlehampton with the o!3e*ti"e of F*apturing' the town of 5rundel
un$nown to most of the soldiers the *ounterpart of ,aen in %ormandy.
This was one of se"eral o**asions when the men still not $nowing when #.#ay would !e
!elie"ed the operation might !e going ahead for real. F&e thought GThis is it we must !e
goingI' (eorge Ba$er re*alled. F&e would get into the landing *raft go so far out into the
,hannel then *ome !a*$ again. @ou had to always !e on the alert.'
5nother young - Troop gunner +en Har"ey . a +ondoner in a unit o"erwhelmingly *omposed
of Merseyside '0*ousers' . remem!ered a sailor guiding them on to the landing *raft sayingD
',ome on !oys this is the real thing.' The men laughed . they had heard that one !efore. #uring
E'er*ise -a!ius 119 was transferred from Horndean to ,amp ?0 at Broo$wood near
5ldershot.
On 0aturday May 11 at #enmead outside /ortsmouth =0 men of 9>nd +55 paraded for a
"isit to 1rd #i"ision !y the 0upreme ,ommander (eneral #wight Eisenhower. He mo"ed
among the troops spea$ing to se"eral then addressed them all on their forth*oming mission .
promising that on*e they had *rossed the :hine he would stand them a party. F7t was good to
see your di"ision loo$ing so fit and in su*h good spirits' Eisenhower later wrote to the di"isional
*ommander Ma3or.(eneral Tom :ennie. 7n the same "illage on the >>nd the men of - Troop
and others from the regiment were *alled to 3oin another parade. &hile they stood waiting rigidly
at attention they were ama)ed to see sergeants *oming around and franti*ally gi"ing ea*h man's
!oots a final polish with a duster.
0oon after the reason for the e'tra.spe*ial treatment !e*ame *lear. The uniformed figure
ma$ing the inspe*tion was the Bing. But now with #.#ay fi'ed for 4une = all se*tions of the
great assault army !egan dispersing to final assem!ly areas. -rom 5ldershot # and E Troops of
112 and :HC transferred to ,amp T9 at &anstead -lats an open area of East +ondon where
they *arried out final waterproofing trials and prepared "ehi*les and guns for em!ar$ation.
On 4une 1 at Til!ury the mar*hing party of two offi*ers and =2 men from 112 went a!oard
tan$ landing ship 1>01 whi*h would *arry them to %ormandy. 5t the same time # and E
Troops and their e6uipment plus :HC were loaded a!oard the li!erty ship 0am!ut at Ai*toria
#o*$ on the Thames and steamed to 0outhend. -rom there they were due to lea"e in *on"oy
for %ormandy on #.#ay landing on 4une 9 to reinfor*e - Troop at the Benou"ille !ridges.
5t 9am on 4une 1 the waiting also finally ended for - Troop. ,arefully threading their way
through the mass of troops and e6uipment *rowding the har!our at (il$i*$er (osport near
/ortsmouth the si' guns a**ompanied !y lorries and signallers rea*hed the 0to$es Bay Hards
!erthing area. By 9.10pm that e"ening they had !oarded two tan$ landing *raft fleet num!ers
40= and 402 . three guns to ea*h "essel.
,lut*hing their myriad personal e6uipment . in*luding rifle and pa*$ 'inspiring' leaflets from
Eisenhower and Montgomery and a supply of "omit !ags . the men saw their "ehi*les safely
*hained to the de*$s then slipped into the spa*es in !etween the mo!ile guns trying to get some
rest and to *lear their minds of growing apprehension.
On*e all was se*ure the two +,Ts mo"ed out of har!our as part of -lotilla 49 to lin$ up with
the rest of the giganti* fleet. But agonisingly the waiting *ontinued. &ith summer storms lashing
the ,hannel Eisenhower was for*ed to postpone the in"asion. ,onfined in their swaying ships
the troops *ould only try to 6uell their seasi*$ness and hope that the misery would soon end.
Time dragged !y with painful slowness testing ner"es to the limit. Twenty.four hours passed
and still the storms raged still the soldiers waited.
By now many a man was fer"ently praying to get to the far shore despite all its dangers . the
prospe*t of fa*ing the shot and shell of the enemy seemed nothing *ompared with the terri!le nausea
!rought on !y the hea"ing seas.
Then Eisenhower's meteorologi*al e'perts told him there would !e a temporary impro"ement in
the weather around 4une ?. ,onditions would !e far from perfe*t !ut it was the only *han*e on
offer . any further delay *ould mean O"erlord !eing a!orted with unimagina!le *onse6uen*es. 5fter
a final *onferen*e with his senior offi*ers near /ortsmouth on the e"ening of 4une 4 the grim.fa*ed
0upreme ,ommander too$ his momentous de*isionD '&e go'.
5s the histori* order went out to the tas$ for*e the !earded s$ipper of the 9>nd's lead +,T
num!er 40= +ieutenant 4 - /ointon . a %ew Jealander $nown as Biwi . assem!led the gunners for
a !riefing. He grimly assured them that when they rea*hed the *oast of -ran*e he would get them as
far up the !ea*h as possi!le . parti*ularly if the (ermans set the sea on fire. He ended his address
!y re*iting to the men the prayer that %elson had written !efore the Battle of TrafalgarD
'%a the -reat -od whom " worship grant to m countr and to the benefit of Europe in general a
great and glorious victor. )nd ma no misconduct in anone tarnish it. )nd ma humanit
after victor be the predominant feature in the ,ritish fleet. /or mself individuall, " commit
m life to 0im who made me ! and ma 0is blessing light upon m endeavours for serving m
countr faithfull. To 0im " resign mself and the +ust cause which is entrusted me to defend.
)men. )men. )men.'
&ith su*h stirring sentiments the men of - Troop set sail at ?pm on the e"ening of 4une =. 5nd this
time there would !e no turning !a*$. -rom the *o"es of ,ornwall to the Thames estuary the great
grey armada of the in"asion fleet got under way. Off the *oasts of Hampshire and #orset the
"essels of Tas$ -or*e 0 slipped their moorings and steamed slowly towards their assem!ly areas
!elow the 7sle of &ight.
Then in the gathering dar$ness they turned south for the %ormandy !ea*hes.
S+ORD (EAC AND TE (ENO&VILLE (RID%ES
Ju,e -. 1944
')s we approached the beach, we quic#l came under fire from a large gun
to the east. The first shell landed on the port side, with the noise as if we
had been hit on the underside b a giant hammer.'
5BO5:# +,T 40= there was immediate drama. '5 su!marine had !een dete*ted and destroyers
!egan ra*ing up and down the *on"oy dropping depth.*harges' (eorge Ba$er re*alled. F5s they
e'ploded the landing *raft almost 3umped out of the water with the !last.'
7n *hoppy seas the massi"e *on"oy . in the 1rd #i"ision assault for*e alone there were 1=0
"essels in*luding 11> tan$ landing *raft . steamed through the short summer night. On !oard
apprehension was growing. 'But the main feeling was that we wanted to get on with it' said (eorge.
'&e still didn't realise what we were going into !ut there was no turning !a*$.'
On +,T 402 the *rew of (un -1 despite their desperate seasi*$ness made a pledge among
themsel"es. &hen the rum issue was handed out during the *rossing none of them dran$ it. 7nstead
they poured ea*h indi"idual portion into a 3ug and put it to one side a!oard the gun for safe $eeping.
The rum would not !e drun$ they "owed until they *ould use it to toast the end of the war.
High a!o"e the dar$ened ships men of the British ?th 5ir!orne #i"ision were also en route for
-ran*e. 5t 1? minutes after midnight a spe*ially.trained *ompany of the O' and Bu*$s *ommanded
!y Ma3or 4ohn Howard landed !y glider almost on the Benou"ille !ridges. 7n a swift and dramati*
atta*$ . easily the most su**essful operation of #.#ay . they *aptured !oth *rossings from (erman
soldiers who were stunned !y the une'pe*tedness of the assault.
The *anal *rossing was later renamed /egasus Bridge in honour of the winged horse sym!ol of the
5ir!orne for*es and the ri"er *rossing was du!!ed Horsa Bridge after the gliders whi*h *arried the
men to war.
,ontrol of the !ridges and $eeping them inta*t was "ital to the su**ess of the in"asion. 7t meant
the (ermans *ould not use them for a flan$ atta*$ on the sea!orne assault troops while 5llied
for*es *ould *ross them and form a defensi"e shield east of the Orne. - Troop's #.#ay mission was
to ra*e to the !ridges deploy its guns around them and stop enemy planes destroying them or
ground for*es re*apturing them. 5s the grey dawn of 4une ? !ro$e in the ,hannel a sight unfolded
that would fore"er !e imprinted on the memories of the men who saw it. More than ?000 "essels
*o"ered the sea from hori)on to hori)on the greatest sea!orne for*e e"er assem!led *arrying
1=0000 troops of the spearhead di"isions to -ran*e.
The air shoo$ with a deafening !arrage of noise. &a"es of !om!ers and fighters !lasted (erman
positions !attleships sent massi"e shells roaring o"erhead towards the shore and ro*$et.firing
"essels re*oiled "iolently as they unleashed their deadly *argoes F7t was in*redi!le' said (eorge
Ba$er. F@ou would ne"er !elie"e how it *ould ha"e !een done . the organisation it must ha"e ta$en
to land so many men and all their "ehi*les and e6uipment in su*h a short time.'
5t 9.>=am pre*eded !y amphi!ious 0herman tan$s of the 11th K 12th Hussars the assault infantry
of 1rd #i"ision's 2 Brigade !egan landing on Cueen se*tor of 0word Bea*h !etween +ion sur Mer
and +a Bre*he and started fighting their way inland. On their left a ,ommando for*e under +ord
+o"at memora!ly a**ompanied !y /iper Bill Millin headed for the Benou"ille !ridges to reinfor*e
Howard's hard.pressed 5ir!orne troops.
%e't to land would !e 12= Brigade followed !y 9 Brigade . to whose *on"oy the 9>nd's two
+,Ts were atta*hed. Howe"er the first men ashore from the 9>nd were the ,O ,aptain :eid and
a sergeant . !oth of whom went ahead in a separate landing *raft to re*onnoitre !y motor*y*le and
to !e ready to re*ei"e the main !ody of the troop.
- Troop's landing *raft started their run.in at 1pm and were due to tou*h down on the !ea*hes at
1.>=pm. But hea"y fire from (erman artillery !egan landing dangerously *lose to the *on"oy and the
"essels had to turn !a*$ while the !attleship HM0 &arspite went in to reply with its own formida!le
firepower. On +,T 40= there was a !rush with danger as a loose mine floated along the port side
!ut fortunately passed !y without doing any damage.
-or Ben %ash a young dri"er.operator a!oard the landing *raft there *ame a moment of
poignan*y amid the drama. By *oin*iden*e his father a na"al offi*er was a!oard the *or"ette
es*orting the *on"oy. 5s the run.in started again at >pm his father sent a*ross a message of good
lu*$.
0oon Cueen :ed !ea*h was in sight smo$e rising from it as it the (erman !om!ardment
intensified with long.range guns from +e Ha"re . nearly >0 miles away to the east . finding their
range among the pa*$ed 5llied ships. 4im Holder.Aale another young dri"er.operator of 9>nd
+55 a!oard +,T 40= re*alledD 'The first shell landed not too far away on the port side with the
noise as if we had !een hit on the underside !y a giant hammer.
'&e were told to go to the sides of the +,T where wooden pa*$ing *ases had !een pla*ed to
help us $eep afloat in the e"ent of us !eing hit and ha"ing to a!andon ship. The ne't round landed in
the sea on the star!oard side and 7 remem!er thin$ing L&e'"e !een !ra*$etedEL But we were now
*lose to the !ea*h and had to 3oin our "ehi*les and start up.'
5s the landing *raft approa*hed Cueen :ed at >.10pm its -irst +ieutenant 5rthur &alters went
forward to super"ise the lowering of the ramp and the disem!ar$ation of men and "ehi*les. He
re*alledD '7 *an remem!er during this time seeing !odies floating past and wre*$ed landing *raft
drifting some way off the !ea*h . in parti*ular an +,T of similar mar$ to my own with an empty
open tan$ spa*e !ut with a "a*ant flattened smo$ing 6uarterde*$ where there used to !e a
wheelhouse wardroom and !ridge superstru*ture . and no sign of life. The sight of su*h a familiar
*raft in su*h an unfamiliar almost unre*ognisa!le state 7 found 6uite un*anny.' 5head of the -irst
+ieutenant went an 5!le 0eaman . an 7rishman named Breen . wearing a life!elt and atta*hed to a
lifeline with the unen"ia!le tas$ of *he*$ing the su!merged !ea*h for hidden shallows and mines
!efore the "ehi*les !egan rolling off the +,T. He returned safely and was rewarded with an e'tra tot
of rum.
4im Holder.Aale re*alledD '&hen the ramp *ame down the first "ehi*le off was one with a win*h at
the rear in *ase of any mishap and a "ehi*le needing help !ut it dro"e straight into a large *rater in
the sand and we had all disem!ar$ed !y the time it was freed.'
5s -irst +ieutenant &alters wat*hed the guns and men safely disem!ar$ he *lut*hed thoughtfully
at the ,olt .4= pistol with whi*h he had !een issued !efore setting out. '7 had orders to wear it and
to use it against any unauthorised person who might attempt to !oard while we were !ea*hed' he
re*alled. '5nd it was made *lear to me that this in*luded friend or foe.'
5t this hour of the in"asion the military planners had anti*ipated a *ounter.atta*$ !y the (ermans
!eing in progress with the possi!ility that some British troops might !e $een for a 6ui*$ return to
England. Thus *ame the un*ompromising *ommand to the landing *raft offi*ers. '7 was relie"ed at
not ha"ing to put this order into effe*t' said 5rthur &alters. '5nd at not *ausing myself any
a**idental damage for whi*h these ,olt .4='s were notoriousE'
5t 1pm the +,T despite triggering a small !ea*h mine pulled !a*$ off the sand to return to
England and pi*$ up further loads for %ormandy. The "essel immediately on its star!oard side +,T
10>1 was not so lu*$y. 7t suffered a dire*t hit from a (erman shell and was !adly damaged !ut
later sal"aged.
-or the other - Troop men on +,T 402 there was e6ual drama and ha)ard. 5pproa*hing the
!ea*h the landing *raft was di"erted at the last minute !y a %a"y motor laun*h . thought to ha"e
!een the ,ro*us . possi!ly !e*ause of some unseen ha)ard su*h as a mine.
Then when it finally started its run.in a wa"e *arried it on to an o"erturned landing *raft and the
impa*t pier*ed the side of the "essel. The +,T !e*ame stu*$ fast on the wre*$ with shells starting
to land all around it. But 3ust as its prospe*ts were starting to loo$ !lea$ a se*ond wa"e *ame
along . and mer*ifully pushed it off again.
Howe"er the peril was not o"er. 5s the landing *raft *ame free the hole in its side left it in danger
of foundering. The s$ipper urgently ordered e"eryone to mo"e to the opposite side of the "essel
and the listing +,T 402 managed to *omplete its run.in.
Be*ause of the di"ersion the landing *raft *ame ashore a!out a 6uarter of a mile west of Cueen
:ed in the neigh!ouring Cueen &hite se*tor opposite Herman"ille. By now the rapidly rising tide
was narrowing the strip of sand on 0word whi*h was a melee of men guns "ehi*les and wre*$age under
*onstant enemy fire.
5s the ramp went down the same sailor who had *alled out to the men during the pre.in"asion
-a!ius e'er*ise appeared again to gi"e them a final send.off shoutingD '0oldiers you are a!out to
find out this is the real thing.'
But as the guns splashed into 4ft of water the *rews had a more immediate worryD &ould they
*ome to a dangerous perhaps fatal halt in the shallows or would the engine waterproofing wor$H
0e*onds later they had their answer as engines re""ed healthily and the three 0/ Bofors powered
up out of the surf. 5!oard -1 a spontaneous *heer went up for dri"er 7$e /arry . who was
responsi!le for the waterproofing . and (unner +eo M*,arthy rea*hed forward to pat him on the
!a*$. The first test had !een passed. Ha"ing !e*ome separated from their *omrades in +,T 40= .
who had already set off for Benou"ille . the three guns made all speed to *at*h up. &ea"ing through
the *haos *arnage and *onfusion on the !ea*h they dro"e up the sands and on to the *oastal road
past lines of infantry who were digging in . and the tragi* figures of soldiers who had fallen.
E"entually they were reunited with the other three guns in ,olle"ille and the whole troop !egan an
agonisingly slow tre$ through the afternoon to try to *o"er the four ha)ardous miles to Benou"ille.
5t 0t 5u!in d'5r6uenay all traffi* was halted for a time !e*ause the road ahead was under
a**urate enemy fire from near!y woods and from Benou"ille itself. '-rom somewhere *ame the
order that L&e shall ha"e to go and *lear the !uggers outL and we were told to fet*h our small
arms and any grenades' re*alled 4im Holder.Aale. '5lmost at the same time deli"eran*e arri"ed.'
This 'deli"eran*e' *ame from the s$ies . the follow.up wa"es of the British 5ir!orne atta*$. 5t a
few minutes !efore 9pm the men of - Troop wat*hed awestru*$ as the s$y suddenly started to fill
with #a$otas and Halifa'es towing >=0 Horsa and Hamil*ar gliders !ringing reinfor*ements of ?th
5irlanding Brigade into the Benou"ille !ridgehead.
Minutes later the gliders *ast off from their towplanes and !egan sweeping into land *rashing and
tearing a*ross fields and through hedges straight a*ross the line of ad"an*e of the si' Bofors.
%othing it seemed was going to stop them. FThe (ermans had planted the fields with huge poles
whi*h ripped the wings off as the gliders landed' (eorge Ba$er re*alled. 'But the 5ir!orne poured
out firing at anything . in*luding us.'
5s the glider troops sprayed ma*hine gun fire se"eral infantrymen from the 0uffol$ :egiment one
of the 1rd #i"ision assault !attalions were hit and fell wounded !y the roadside. The Bofors *rews
also had to ta$e *o"er ha"ing possi!ly !een mista$en for (ermans. 'The reason 7 am sure was
!e*ause of our helmets' re*alled +en Har"ey.
'4ust !efore we left England we had !een issued with the new.style helmet whi*h had a rim
*ur"ing slightly downwards towards the !a*$. 7n profile and from a distan*e it *ould ha"e loo$ed
to the 5ir!orne troops li$e a (erman helmet. 7 found out later that they were 3ust following their
training . to get out of the air*raft as 6ui*$ly as possi!le firing all the time until they *ould ta$e *o"er
!y the wheels. But their arri"al threw e"erything into *onfusion.'
&ith the *olumn of "ehi*les temporarily stalled !y the 5ir!orne landings (erman snipers too$
ad"antage . leading to a remar$a!le !rush with death for one man of the 9>nd. Bill Hus!and
another dri"er.operator tells the storyD ' 7 was standing up in the *a! of our lorry and two or three
tru*$s in front a gun me*hani* was also standing up. 0uddenly he disappeared.
'7 *rawled down to a dit*h to find out what had happened to him. He was o$ay. &hen 7 as$ed
what had happened he showed me his tin hat. 5 sniper pro!a!ly in the wood had ta$en a shot at
him. The !ullet had gone into one side of his hat parted his hair and *ome out the other side . lu*$E'
That e"ening finally rea*hing the outs$irts of Benou"ille the Bofors *rews found !uildings still
o**upied !y snipers. One (erman was targeting the troop from the !elfry of a *hur*h tower and
was rooted out with a !last of 40mm. The guns were also fired at short range dire*tly into windows
and doorways and the troop too$ 1> prisoners. But !e*ause of the disruption *aused !y the
5ir!orne landings it was de*ided to dig in for the night on the approa*hes to the !ridges rather than
attempt a dire*t deployment in the gathering dar$ness. Huddled in their slit tren*hes the men $ept a
tense "igil until dawn. 5t 9am - Troop finally deployed its guns . two around the *anal !ridge two
around the ri"er !ridge and two in !etween. Half an hour later the first enemy air*raft . a s6uadron
of Messers*hmitts . *ame roaring in and were engaged !y the guns.
Throughout the ne't nine days as the (ermans tried to reta$e the narrow 5ir!orne !ridgehead east
of the Orne the - Troop men were to endure a true !aptism of fire in*luding 11 atta*$s !y
formations of up to 10 air*raft. 5t the same time persistent (erman shelling sniping and mortaring
of the gun positions started infli*ting *asualties.
5s the first day wore on with the Bofors *onstantly in a*tion it !e*ame apparent that the troop's
e'pe*ted reinfor*ements would not !e arri"ing. 8n$nown to the gunners around the !ridges the
li!erty ship 0am!ut *arrying the rest of 112 and :HC to %ormandy had !een sun$ around noon
on #.#ay !y shellfire in the #o"er 0trait. Eight men of the 9>nd died and all guns and e6uipment
were lost.
#espite this the !ridges had to !e defended at all *osts. On 4une 2 wa"es of -&.190s *ame in at
tree.top height to atta*$ !oth *rossings and time after time were repulsed !y the Bofors. The
following morning more enemy air*raft were engaged and at midday the ri"er !ridge *ame under a
fero*ious mortar !arrage lasting half an hour.
#uring the !om!ardment the !ree*h of (un -1 was set on fire and 0gt 5 ,lements ris$ed his life
!y *ourageously unloading its HE shells . earning a Mention in #ispat*hes. &hen the !arrage finally
lifted (unners M*,arthy and +a"ender of (un -1 were found to !e wounded and were e"a*uated.
There were some !i)arre moments. #uring one parti*ularly fier*e mortar atta*$ near /egasus
Bridge when most men were huddled in slit tren*hes (eorge Ba$er glan*ed a*ross from the gulley
where he had ta$en refuge and was stunned to see a padre from the 5ir!orne *almly *ondu*ting
di"ine ser"i*e. 5nother gunner dou!tless trusting to the greater prote*tion of the 5lmighty left his
own refuge and ran a*ross to 3oin in the prayers.
One stri*$en Messers*hmitt *rash.landed *lose to (eorge's gun. He wat*hed as the pilot strutted
%a)i.style out of the wre*$age . to !e helped into *apti"ity !y a push from the rifle !utt of an :8:
infantryman. Men rea*ted in "arious ways to their first e'perien*e of war (eorge re*alled. F0ome
too$ to it li$e du*$s to water others *ouldn't stand it.'
The first four days around the !ridges saw desperately intense a*tion with - Troop firing =000
rounds of 40mm at (erman raiders and shooting down 19 . !ut it paid off. Enemy air*raft *ontinued
their atta*$s o"er the ne't two days !ut at higher le"el ha"ing found their treetop ta*ti*s too *ostly.
5s +en Har"ey re*alled one 5ir!orne *orporal remar$ing to the weary - Troop menD '7t loo$s li$e
your guns ha"e won :ound One.' ,aptain :eid was later awarded the M, for leading the defen*e
of the !ridges.
Thwarted !y day the (ermans instead laun*hed night sorties mainly dropping the hated anti.
personnel !om!s *apa!le of tearing a man apart.
On 4une 9 the mar*hing party of ?0 men from 112 Battery . whi*h had landed in the ,anadian
se*tor east of 0word Bea*h ha"ing tra"elled separately from the 0am!ut *ontingent . rea*hed
Benou"ille !ringing some respite to their hard.pressed *omrades at the !ridges. 5 :EME
wor$shop deta*hment also arri"ed. But there was still no sign of the !attery's remaining guns. %e't
day the - Troop men finally heard news of the ,hannel tragedy from the ,O ,olonel Ba)eley
who made his way into the !ridgehead. The 0am!ut had sailed from 0outhend in *on"oy early on
#.#ay with the remainder of 112 and :HC .1>0 offi*ers and men . a!oard.
7n all the li!erty ship was *arrying a total of more than =00 troops from >2 different units plus
"ehi*les weapons and large 6uantities of ammunition and high e'plosi"es. 4ust after midday on 4une
? disaster stru*$. Three miles off #o"er the ship was hit !y two 1?.in*h shells fired from (erman
gun !atteries in ,alais . the most terri!le misfortune for the sal"oes *ould not ha"e !een aimed.
-ier*e fires !ro$e out and *ould not !e ta*$led !e*ause the pumping gear was put out of a*tion.
5fter a!out 4= minutes the master had to order a!andon ship. FThe troops went o"er the side in a
"ery orderly manner' wrote ,aptain & # 5lmond of 9>nd +55.
FThe wounded were also ta$en off the ship and !y 1400 hours she had !een *ompletely
a!andoned and the sur"i"ors had !een pi*$ed up !y a "ariety of small *raft. One offi*er and 91
other ran$s swam to a *or"ette and were not disem!ar$ed in the 8B until three days later after
en3oying a ringside "iew of the landing !ea*hes whither the *or"ette was steaming at the time.'
Of the 9>nd *ontingent on the 0am!ut three men were $illed four were missing presumed dead
one died of wounds and 14 were wounded. 5ll e6uipment and re*ords were lost. The !urning hul$
of the ship ro*$ed !y e'plosions was finally sun$ !y a :oyal %a"y torpedo at lo*ation =1 02 %
01 11 E.
Those who died were 0ergeant -rederi*$ Bla$er 0ergeant /er*y :ing Bom!ardier 4ohn &olfe
(unner &ilfred +e"er and (unner &alter Hartley . all of 112 Battery . Bom!ardier 0idney ,rane
and (unner Her!ert #a"ies . !oth of :HC . and ,orporal (eorge ,hallinor of the :oyal ,orps of
0ignals atta*hed :HC.
-or the - Troop men dug in at Benou"ille it was a tragi* loss !oth in *omrades and mu*h.needed
reinfor*ements. But gradually +uftwaffe raids against the !ridges !e*ame sporadi* and the gunners
were a!le to lend more support to infantry operations with ground shoots.
On 4une 1> *ame a potentially more formida!le tas$. 5 (erman *ounter.atta*$ from the east !y
Tiger tan$s was thought to !e imminent and all the Bofors (uns were dri"en !a*$ to the !ridges
and loaded with armour.pier*ing shot ready to meet the pan)er assault. -ortunately . espe*ially
sin*e tan$ armour was unli$ely to !e penetrated !y the relati"ely light 40mm Bofors fire . the ground
assault ne"er materialised.
On 4une 1= - Troop was finally relie"ed !y *orps +55 and sent to defend the airstrip at
/lumetot.
(ATTLE OF TE (RID%EEAD
Ju,e to Au/ust 1944
F)ll ran#s en+oed these night barrages, which were fired along li#el bomber
run!ins. )t first sight, the appeared a trifle chanc, as earl warning consisted
largel of the whistle of the first bomb. ,ut the wor#ed ver well '
O% the night of 4une 11 head6uarters and 5 Troop of 119 now *amped at :owland's ,astle
outside /ortsmouth !oarded a 80 tan$ landing ship. 5fter an*horing for 1? hours in the 0olent
they sailed for %ormandy on the morning of 4une 1= arri"ing off 4ig Bea*h opposite +e Hamel near
5rroman*hes the same e"ening.
%e't day as (erman air*raft atta*$ed the !ea*hhead the !attery disem!ar$ed and lin$ed up
with its B and , Troops whi*h had sailed earlier in tan$ landing *raft. The new*omers were
immediately deployed on the high ground at /eriers.sur.le.#an west of the Orne in defen*e of 1rd
#i"ision field guns. HC was esta!lished at Herman"ille. 7roni*ally a mar*hing party of
reinfor*ements for , Troop under the *ommand of 4a*$ /rior had arri"ed in ad"an*e of the whole
!attery landing on 4uno Bea*h at +a Aalette in the ,anadian se*tor on 4une 11.
5fter helping out with traffi* duty in the se"erely *ongested !ea*hhead 4a*$ made his way to
Benou"ille where - Troop was still "aliantly holding the line against repeated (erman attempts to
destroy the !ridges. On 4une 14 he temporarily 3oined - Troop as a repla*ement for +ieutenant 5 4
Hands of 112 who was wounded during shelling.
Two days later three enemy air*raft . two 48 22s and a #O >19 . were shot down as they
targeted the !ridges !ut (unner (ol!ourne was wounded. On the 12th there was a *on*erted
atta*$ !y ME 109s *oming in wa"es of three and two.
4a*$ /rior finally lin$ed up with , Troop at /eriers.sur.le.#an on 4une >0 the same day that the
troop s*ored its first ,ategory One in %ormandy !y shooting down an -& 190 *apturing its pilot
after he !aled out. O"er the following fortnight shelling intensified infli*ting *asualties throughout the
regiment.
5t the /lumetot airstrip - Troop guns too$ part in the prote*tion of 5uster planes whi*h were
*arrying out artillery spotting for the !attleship :odney . whose massi"e long.range guns were
helping $eep the enemy at !ay !y !rea$ing up tan$ and troop formations up to >0 miles inland. 7t
was a 3o! *lose to the heart of the 9>nd's ,O ,olonel Ba)eley . who had put his gunners up for the
3o! . !e*ause he had earned his #0O while ser"ing with 5usters in %orth 5fri*a.
4une >4 saw tragedy stri$e , Troop as it too$ its guns a*ross the road 3un*tion at Mathieu under
mortar fire. 0ergeant 4ohn Hesford standing up as he attempted to for*e his men's heads !ehind the
armour plating of the guns was $illed and +ieutenant 4ohn ':o!!ie' :o!erts was wounded.
'+ieutenant 4ohnny Bit*hin and 7 managed to rea*h a tren*h 3ust in time to !e missed !y the mortar
shell' 4a*$ re*alled. 'But it too$ :o!!ie a few se*onds longer to get off his motor!i$e and throw
himself on top of us !y whi*h time he had !een hit in the hand.' The !ody of 0ergeant Hesford was
ta$en a!oard his gun and *arried to the field regiment area. There were more mortar atta*$s ne't
day. But on 4une >? the British artillery unleashed a de"astating !om!ardment on the (erman
positions north of ,aen with one thousand guns ea*h firing >=0 rounds. The following day (unner
%ew*omen of , Troop was seriously in3ured !y mortar shrapnel as he ra*ed for the *o"er of a
tren*h. 5t ,olom!y.sur.Thaon and 5nisey.le.Mesnil B and - troops ga"e anti.air*raft prote*tion
to o!ser"er planes.
-ollowing the 0am!ut disaster the sur"i"ors of :HC and the two troops of 112 returned to
Britain and re.e6uipped at Blenheim Barra*$s 5ldershot. 0oon after they mo"ed to a *amp at
0il"ertown in East +ondon !efore em!ar$ing for 0outhend a!oard the li!erty ship 00 0amar$ on
4une >9. %e't day they left in *on"oy for -ran*e the same day that 119 Battery and some
,anadian units sailed from Til!ury a!oard the transport ship ,oom!e Hill.
On 4uly > the 0amar$ landed off ,reully and the ,oom!e Hill off (raye.sur.Mer . at last
reuniting the whole of 9>nd +55 in %ormandy. 112 was deployed in the Herman"ille area to
prote*t a gun and "ehi*le *on*entration while 119 mo"ed to the 5nguernay area of the /eriers
:idge 3oining 119.
Hea"y shelling strafing and low.le"el !om!ing *ontinued to infli*t *asualties as the (ermans tried
desperately to dri"e the in"aders !a*$ into the sea. But on 4uly 4 Maida #ay . mar$ing one of The
+oyal :egiment's main !attle honours . was remem!ered as was the fourth anni"ersary of the
raising of the 9th +oyals. +ater that day as the guns again engaged enemy planes the unit's !ea*h
ammunition dump was shelled the resulting !la)e attra*ting sal"oes of enemy artillery fire.
Two days later there was drama off the !ea*hhead when a flotilla of (erman Fhuman
torpedo' one.man midget su!marines infiltrated !etween the 5llied ships and san$ three. -ifty
(ermans were reported to ha"e landed. F/risoners to !e ta$en ali"e' was the order. On 4uly 9 men
of the 9>nd wat*hed as 4=0 !om!ers pounded mu*h of ,aen to ru!!le in an attempt to for*e a way
into the *ity for the ground for*es. '
They flew dire*tly o"erhead 6uite low straight into the fla$ from Epron and round ,aen and
dropped phosphorus and HE !om!s' said 4a*$ /rior. 'The raid was "ery *on*entrated and a *loud
of dust ashes and !urnt paper spread o"er our area so that it was impossi!le to see more than a
few yards. The raid lasted for half an hour after whi*h we felt it fairly safe to assume that the
(erman 5rmy on the rear slope of the ridge !efore ,aen had had it for we too were affe*ted !y the
phosphorus fumes.'
%e't day 5 B and , Troops mo"ed forward with the ad"an*e !ut the atta*$ stalled. 5s
the 5llied !ridgehead was *onsolidated and the !attle to *apture ,aen *ontinued the 9>nd
remained stati* with its HC at ,olle"ille suffering many *asualties. On 4uly 9 ,aptain :eid
*ommander of - Troop was wounded in !oth hands. On 4uly 11 the men of - Troop . who had
!een in the line sin*e #.#ay . and those of 119 were gi"en priority to mo"e to rest areas in +a
#eli"rande for a !rief respite from the !attle.
5s the +uftwaffe tried to re*o"er its !alan*e its planes made fre6uent !om!ing and strafing
sorties. 5t 0t 5u!in on 4uly 1> a !om!ing raid !y a 48 22 left a *rater =0ft wide and >0ft deep !ut
no *asualties. Two days later the (ermans made a *on*erted atta*$ on the forward field gun areas
with wa"es of !etween nine and 1= ME 109s and -& 190s. 0e"en ,ategory One *laims were
su!mitted.
On the 19th # and E Troops of 112 mo"ed east of the Orne to prote*t an airstrip. The following
night the men of 112 *ame under de"astating atta*$ !y a 48 22 dropping anti.personnel !om!s.
0ergeant 5lfred /enrose +an*e.Bom!ardier ,yril (uest and (unners (ordon Bone and -rederi*$
Bemp were $illed and +ieutenant :ussell and two other men were wounded. 5t noon ne't day the
fallen were !uried. The 12th saw the start of Operation (oodwood Montgomery's mass armoured
atta*$ out of the 5ir!orne !ridgehead to try to *apture the Bourge!us :idge south.east of ,aen.
1rd #i"ision now *ommanded !y Ma3or.(eneral + ( FBolo' &histler after Ma3or.(eneral :ennie
was wounded on 4une 11 prote*ted the left flan$ fighting forward to Toffre"ille Manne"ille and
Troarn.
On 4uly 19 Ma3or ,rane and three other offi*ers of the 9>nd e6uipped themsel"es with 3eeps and
a wireless and mo"ed forward to set up a *ounter.mortar o!ser"ation post hoping to stri$e !a*$ at
the (erman weapon whi*h was *ausing so many *asualties.
%e't day amid torrential rainfall two posts were esta!lished on the ridge of the Butte de la
Hogue with a radio lin$ to di"isional artillery head6uarters. FThey met with fair su**ess although the
methods at that time were somewhat e'perimental' wrote ,aptain 5lmond. FTheir e6uipment was a
*ompass a wat*h and a map. #espite initial la*$ of s$ill many a**urate fi'es were made and a
num!er of mortars were $no*$ed out or otherwise silen*ed.'
+ieutenant 4ohnny Bit*hin of , Troop 119 wroteD '5ll !usy 3un*tions *ould e'pe*t to re*ei"e
showers of mortar !om!s se"eral times a day as we found out when trying to mo"e our guns
forward. 7 was the first offi*er sent from our !attery and 7 had with me 0ergeants 5llen and
Bendri*$ ;great *haps< and a wireless operator
'&e approa*hed our "antage point at night and *alled in at 112 Battery HC. They ga"e us a *uppa
!efore we went on o"er the ridge. '&e found an old (erman dugout whi*h was useful e'*ept that
the entran*e fa*ed the (ermans !ut it was !ig enough for four of us and we !uilt a wall in front of
the entran*e.
'There were other similar small units li$e mine spa*ed out along the ridge o"erloo$ing the (ermans
and when a shower of mortars fell we had to ta$e the time of flight then get an angle on the small
*rater in order to pinpoint the position of the minenwerfer whi*h were mo!ile and as soon as they
had dis*harged their >0 !arrels mo"ed away smartly.
'5ll the units su*h as mine were in radio *onta*t with !rigade or 5rmy HC and from the information
sent immediately !y us they *ould put down a *on*entration of artillery at on*e and hopefully *at*h
the (ermans !efore they *ould mo"e.
'&hen the mortars were not falling we had the nasty e'perien*e of !eing shelled !y 22mm guns .
with their flat tra3e*tory and high mu))le "elo*ity. 7t was not pleasant espe*ially as we had a pile of
(erman mortars a little distan*e from our dugout. They were pro!a!ly !oo!y.trapped so we dared
not try to mo"e them. Howe"er we sur"i"ed and 7 !elie"e relie"ed the infantry *asualties from
mortar atta*$s.'
4a*$ /rior re*alled how the *ounter.mortar system . though seemingly ma$eshift . wor$ed
remar$a!ly well right from the !eginning espe*ially !e*ause of the radio lin$.up. '7t had of *ourse
to !e pra*tised !efore it wor$ed e"ery time. But within a few hours the (erman mortar *rews
suddenly found themsel"es !eing !om!ed or strafed !y our Typhoons or 0pitfires.
'%aturally the mortar *rews speeded up their deli"ery and then tried to hide in near!y woods !ut
the :5- pilots were not easily fooled and it was "ery rewarding for us when we sent in a target and
saw within se*onds that the enemy was under se"ere atta*$ from the air as a result of our efforts.'
5s the *ounter.mortar units pioneered !y the 9>nd !e*ame more e'perien*ed and su**essful they
formed a "ital element of the di"ision and were e"entually afforded the status of a distin*t unit. +ater
in Holland they also targeted A> laun*h sites along the Maas and :hine . helping alle"iate some of
the destru*tion the ro*$ets were wrea$ing on +ondon and the 0outh East of England. On 4uly >1 as
(oodwood de"eloped more elements of 9>nd +55 . in*luding - Troop !a*$ from its rest area .
*rossed the Orne and deployed in the neigh!ourhood of :an"ille and Herou"illete with :HC at
Es*o"ille. Two days later 119 too$ up positions at Es*o"ille 112 at +e Mari6uet and Herou"illette
and 119 at ,u"er"ille. 8nits also deployed on the Butte de la Hogue.
Bom!ing atta*$s *ontinued and on 4uly >= B0M 4oseph ,onnor and (unner 5rthur (rea"es
were $illed when four =00l! !om!s were dropped on - Troop area *ollapsing their dugout on top
of them. ,orporal &right and (unners ,onnor . the sergeant's !rother . Hardwi*$ and -urniss
were wounded. The !lasts also destroyed all - Troop stores and se"eral "ehi*les in*luding a water
*arrier.
Two days later 0ignalman 4ohn Henderson was $illed and three other men wounded in hea"y
!om!ing during whi*h three 1000.pounders fell around 119 head6uarters. But an -& 190 was
shot down and 112 and 119 too$ part in a night !arrage on the Herman"ille :idge under the *ontrol
of 40th +55 :egiment.
This period was Fsingularly unpleasant' ,aptain 5lmond noted. Bede"illed !y lone 48 22s
whi*h dropped anti.personnel and high.e'plosi"e !om!s . as well as propaganda leaflets ad"ising
the British to surrender . the regiment *ountered !y starting night !arrages. F5ll ran$s en3oyed these
!arrages whi*h were fired along li$ely !om!er run.ins. 5t first sight they appeared a trifle *han*y
as early warning *onsisted largely of the whistle of the first !om!. But they wor$ed "ery well and
there was an appre*ia!le sla*$ening of the enemy's air effort.'
The night !arrages were *ontrolled !y a *ommand post !a*$ near the !ea*hes with orders
transmitted !y radio. Ea*h gun had a set !earing and ele"ation for a parti*ular '!o'' . or se*tor . of
the s$y whi*h was named or num!ered.
'The *ommand *entre ga"e its orders o"er the radio and operators su*h as myself would relay them
to someone who shouted the details to the gun' said 4im Holder.Aale. 'The area was plagued with
mos6uitoes whi*h we tried to $eep away !y *ontinuously smo$ing . as we were in a tarpaulin.
*o"ered hole we *ould s*ar*ely !reathe. &e were also issued with anti.mos6uito *ream a
pleasant.smelling green Aaseline.li$e stuff.'
5nother e'periment !y the 9>nd around this time pro"ed to ha"e its share of ha)ards . instant
e'*a"ation of gunpits. '&e soon *ottoned on to the fa*t that there was 6ui*$er way of produ*ing a
large deep hole than !y merely using a pi*$ and sho"el' re*alled 4a*$ /rior. 'This was to get hold of
some anti.tan$ mines and set one of them off in the desired lo*ation. &e tried this se"eral times and
it wor$ed a treat so long of *ourse as one too$ ample *o"er while the de!ris was !eing flung to
the four *orners.
'Of *ourse there is always one idiot in any group of people and when one *hap suggested it would
sa"e us e"en more digging if we used two mines one on top of the other we de*ided to gi"e it a go.
5 !ra"e L"olunteerL dug a suita!le small hole put the mines in fitted a detonator tamped down and
withdrew to 3oin the rest of us !efore winding the handle. 8nfortunately we had all o"erloo$ed the
synergeti* effe*t and on this o**asion one plus one *ertainly e6ualled more than two.
'-irst the world went up into the s$yM then as is its wont it all *ame down again. But in addition to
going higher it also spread itself wider and we were !om!arded with mud and stones for what
seemed ages. -ortunately the gun was well away !ut e"en that was hit. There were 6uestions !y
neigh!ouring troops as to the origin of the e'*eptional !ang !ut that was all e'*ept so far as 7
$now the e'periment was not repeated.' 5fter holding the (oodwood flan$ for almost three wee$s
1rd #i"ision mo"ed !a*$ west of the Orne on 4uly 11 and ne't day 9>nd +55 o**upied 0t 5u!in
and Beu"ille with 119 Battery at ,resserons. The di"ision's ne't tas$ was to 3oin Eight ,orps in a
southward dri"e out of the !ea*hhead towards Aire. The aim was to inter*ept (ermans for*es falling
!a*$ under the onslaught of the 5meri*ans who were now !rea$ing eastwards in Operation ,o!ra.
By 5ugust > the 9>nd were on the mo"e with 112 *amped in an or*hard near ,aumont and 119
at Cuesney.(uerson. 5ugust 1 saw 119 dri"e forward to 0t Martin des Besa*es on the main ,aen.
5"ran*hes road defending di"isional HC administrati"e area while 112 prote*ted field gun areas.
That same day Ma3or (eorge &illiams ,O of 112 was $illed in a road a**ident near :e"iers as
he tra"elled !a*$ to ,resserons to !e a mem!er of a *ourt martial. He was stepping out of his 4eep
when he was stru*$ !y another "ehi*le. On the 4th a gun of ( Troop was !lown up !y a mine !ut
only one man was in3ured.
%e't day the regiment went three miles further down the ,aen.5"ran*hes road to -oret
+'E"e6ue with 112 esta!lished at +e Beny Bo*age . where Ma3or 4 &il$inson *ommander of 5
Troop too$ *ommand of 112. 119 deployed at Ma)ieres and 119 at +e Bas Mougard still
defending di"isional HC. Here +ieutenant :i*hard -or!es of 119 died of wounds and was !uried in
the *emetery at 0t 4ean des Essartiers !y the padre ,aptain + 4 Bir*h.
On 5ugust 9 the regiment was deployed in front of Aire with :HC at +a Aiellere. 5t this stage of
the *ampaign with the 5llies in *omplete *ommand of the air the need for anti.air*raft *o"er was
not as pressing as it had !een in early 4une . sin*e 4uly 11 the 9>nd had fired only ten rounds
against fleeting (erman targets. But in the protra*ted fighting for ,aen British infantry *asualties had
!een une'pe*tedly high. 0o on 5ugust 2 *ame an order whi*h was Fa !itter !low' to e"ery!ody
,aptain 5lmond wrote.
The regiment's strength was hal"ed with three of the 40mm troops . , E and H . and the three
>0mm troops N @ and J !eing dis!anded. Ea*h 40mm !attery was redu*ed to two troops ea*h
ha"ing one tra*tor.drawn and one self.propelled Bofors deta*hment. The personnel thus released
were sent !a*$ to England for redeployment as infantry or as artillery spe*ialists. 0ome were
dispersed to other units in the di"ision.
The regimental ma$e.up was now 119 ;5 and B< 112 ;# and -< 119 ;( and 7<. Ea*h
!attery retained a mo!ile *ounter.mortar o!ser"ation team *onsisting of a sergeant a !om!ardier
and four gunners e6uipped with wireless 4eep and a 1=*wt tru*$. The di"isional anti.tan$
regiment furnished the plotting *entre and an armoured o!ser"ation post and 9> +55 pro"ided HC.
'7t was hard to say good!ye to so many old friends in the 40mm troops and to the >0mm
troops who although they had !een in the regiment a *omparati"ely short time had !y their wor$
firmly esta!lished themsel"es as part of the regiment' wrote ,aptain 5lmond. The reorganisation
was !arely sin$ing in when there was fresh drama. On 5ugust 9 the regiment nearly !e*ame a
"i*tim of its own side when three 5meri*an Thunder!olts wheeled o"er the 9>nd's area and
dropped si' !om!s around 112 and 119 head6uarters.
5s the e'plosions re"er!erated re*ognition flares in the *olour of the day were desperately sent
s$yward to warn off the pilots. There were no *asualties !ut the in*ident was immediately reported
to di"isional head6uarters. %e't day 119 mo"ed to +a (roudiere two miles north east of Aire. On
the 1>th 112 mo"ed forward to +a #ia!line en*ountering many mines and !oo!y traps . one
deta*hment of - Troop neutralised more than a do)en Teller mines. The lo*al people were F"ery
friendly' and were allowed to listen to the news in -ren*h on 112's radio. 7ndire*t firing using
radioed or telephoned *o.ordinates to !om!ard an unseen ground target was !e*oming a larger
part of Bofors operations as the threat of (erman air*raft temporarily re*eded.
Be*ause the 40mm shells self.destru*ted after a few thousand feet they *ould !e used in open
*ountry for low.le"el air!ursts against enemy positions . sending out a fier*e hail of shrapnel. -ired
into !uildings or wooded areas the shells would e'plode against walls or trees with similar
de"astating anti.personnel effe*ts.
FBy the time we left the ,aen se*tor we were *onfident that we *ould shoot along the ground and
shoot with su**ess' wrote ,aptain 5lmond. F5 sal"aged steel pipe sawn into *ross.se*tions tinned
and engra"ed !y :EME personnel pro"ided our sight drums and offi*ers and %,Os trained hard in
the new method of firing whilst $eeping wat*h on the s$ies.'
The first ma3or indire*t fire shoot too$ pla*e in support of Operation &allup a di"isional artillery
!arrage on 5ugust 11. 0ome 1>00 rounds were fired at a *rossroads !ut the (ermans had pulled
out of the target area. On 5ugust 11 the regiment mo"ed to +a (ra"erie and three days later to +a
0aliere with 119 HC at +andisa*6 and 119 in the Tin*he!ray area. The !attle was mo"ing "ery
6ui*$ly with fre6uent a*tions against enemy air*raft. 5t one point 112 engaged si' -& 190s whi*h
*arried !la*$ and white striped 5llied mar$ings under the wings.
The regiment mo"ed to 0t Cuentin les ,hardonnets !efore *on*entrating on 5ugust >0 near
+a ,hapelle Bi*he south.west of -lers. F7n perfe*t weather we en3oyed ten days' refit and rest.' The
regiment was strung out along the edge of the Fgreat dar$' -oret de Halou)e. 5fter loo$ing at it
Fapprehensi"ely' for a day or two it was de*ided to *om! it for (erman stragglers .FBo*hes
!oo!y.traps !ooty and any suspi*ious persons or materiel.'
By now the (erman armies in %ormandy were !eing wiped out as the great 5llied pin*er *losed
around -alaise . the 5meri*ans swinging north from their eastward dri"e the British and ,anadians
pushing south out of the ,aen !ridgehead.
Trapped in what !e*ame $nown as the -alaise /o*$et 10000 enemy troops died and =0000
were ta$en prisoner. The sight . and smell . of the destroyed (erman *olumns of men ma*hines and
horses strung out in smo$ing de"astation along the roads where they had "ainly tried to flee from the
5llied onslaught et*hed itself into the minds of those men of the 9>nd who saw it.
5fter *apturing -lers 1rd #i"ision was ordered to halt for a period of rest and refitting. This started
for the 9>nd around +a ,hapelle Bi*he where on 5ugust >4 a gym$hana and sports day was held.
:e*reation was interspersed with training in*luding a night !ridge.*rossing e'er*ise and /iat anti.
tan$ shooting. 5t the start of 0eptem!er 1rd #i"ision !egan mo"ing north.east to a *on*entration
area near +es 5ndelys south of :ouen to prepare for its ne't assignment . the thrust into Holland
and (ermany as part of Operation Mar$et (arden.
The 9>nd *rossed the 0eine at >am on 0eptem!er 1 and deployed around the "illage of
Aatismesnil near Etrepagny with 112 !asing itself in an old !ri*$wor$s. The su**ess of the 5llied
!rea$out was *ausing se"ere pro!lems as the armies outran their supply lines so petrol was
temporarily rationed to 12 gallons per !attery. -or the 9>nd there followed a fortnight of training
maintenan*e /T and route mar*hes. 0ightseeing trips to newly.li!erated /aris were arranged !ut
only one party went !efore the programme was *an*elled. - Troop pra*tised indire*t firing at +es
5ndelys and 5 and B troops at Beau"ais. On 0eptem!er 2 119 personnel sear*hed woods at
/ro"emont for enemy troops. 5fter the !itterly.fought !attles of the !ea*hhead there was a
temporary respite and a *han*e to refle*t. 'The magnifi*ent sight of the *hateau at +es 5ndelys in
moonlight will always remain with me as a *ontrast to the unpleasantness of the pre"ious wee$s'
said 4a*$ /rior.
'5nother enduring memory is of the unlimited masses of mos6uitoes whi*h pre"ented sleep almost
as effe*ti"ely as the enemy. 0leep was also diffi*ult in the !o*age area when we had to !e alert for
LfriendlyL tan$s turning off the roads through the hedges where we were trying to sleep. The safest
pla*es at that time were *lose to the field guns !ut of *ourse their noise inhi!ited sleep mu*h of the
time.'
4im Holder.Aale was also enthralled !y the sight of the *hateau. '7t was the ,hateau (aillard in
whi*h :i*hard the +ionheart had !een held prisoner and it was lit up !y !right moonlight a!o"e us
on the *liffs as we *rossed the 0eine !y pontoon !ridge' he re*alled. '5lthough 7 had only e"er seen
a pi*ture of it as a s*hool!oy 7 $new instin*ti"ely what it was . if not its name . and 7 am still thrilled !y
the thought of it.'
+INTER ON TE MAAS
Se0te$ber to De'e$ber 1944
'"t was our sixth war 1hristmas, but it was the view
of everone that it was the best of the six, which
sas much considering it was our first in the line'

08%#5@ 0eptem!er 19 saw the start of the ill.fated Mar$et (arden operation. The plan was for
British and 5meri*an air!orne troops to *apture the !ridges at Eindho"en %i3megen and 5rnhem in
Holland and hold them until 10 ,orps *ould pun*h its way a*ross them. Montgomery hoped the
5llies *ould then pour into (ermany's industrial heartland and end the war !efore ,hristmas. The
tas$ of 1rd #i"ision was to widen the !rea*h in the (erman lines opened !y 10 ,orps.
On 0eptem!er 12 9>nd +55 left Aatismesnil to head west "ia Beau"ais -roissy
&arfusse 5!an*ourt 5l!ert Bapaume ,am!rai Aalen*iennes Mons Braine le ,ompte and
Braine +'5lleu' !efore rea*hing the /etit Broren neigh!ourhood of +ou"ain in Belgium. Their route
s$irted the !attlefields of an earlier generation on the 0omme and of an earlier age at &aterloo. On
the way food and ammunition were dropped !y para*hute.
5 day later 1rd #i"ision for*ed its way a*ross the Meuse.Es*aut ,anal and 9>nd +55 followed
up to prote*t the *anal !ridge at +ille 0t Hu!ert deploying along the Hee)e.Jomeren road. '5fter
fi"e wee$s of 6uiet we found the return to !attle rather a sho*$. Three of the ad"an*e party were
wounded !y !om! splinters in the *on*entration area and the main !ody arri"ed to find franti*
digging in progress.'
The regiment then *rossed the #ut*h frontier near Hamont and defended the "itally
important !ridges o"er the s'Hertogen!os*h ,anal. 112 and 119 mo"ed to the neigh!ourhood of
5sten and Jomeren while 119 went to Aaarse$ "ia &eert with 2 7nfantry Brigade. 5t &eert on
0eptem!er >? 5 Troop of 119 shot down an ME 109 in spe*ta*ular fashion.
The troop was 3ust pulling out from its positions prote*ting 9? -ield :egiment when two ME 109s
!ro$e from the *louds and started low strafing atta*$s. #espite their Bofors !eing on the mo"e the
troop opened fire and destroyed one of the raiders. FThese were the first rounds fired !y the
regiment in o"er si' wee$s and su**ess ga"e a great lift to morale.' The $ill earned a spe*ial signal
from the di"isional artillery *ommander Brigadier (erald Mears *ongratulating the men on their
alertness and good dis*ipline. FTo ha"e hit su*h a fleeting target after wee$s of ina*ti"ity is an
a*hie"ement of whi*h all *on*erned may !e proud.'
The following day the 9>nd was esta!lished at Helmond ten miles north of 5sten with 119 HC in
a slaughterhouse east of the town. On the >2th -i"e ME 109s were engaged near Ba$el. (uns
also too$ part in night !arrages on the (erman lines. -our days later with :HC at Heuman fi"e
miles south of %i3megen 119 Battery and # Troop of 112 *rossed the Maas at (ra"e and went into
a*tion on the edge of the :ei*hswald -orest.
The remainder of the regiment 119 and - Troop of 112 was deployed west of the Maas in
the neigh!ourhood of Mil Haps and Beer. 7n early O*to!er the regiment en*ountered the worst
enemy air a*ti"ity sin*e ,aen fighting off daily atta*$s !y ME 109s.
On the =th *ame their first en*ounter with an ME >?> the (ermans' new 3et.propelled plane. F7t
!e*ame in"ol"ed with some 0pitfires o"er %i3megen and showed them a *lean pair of heels as far as
Heuman where it !an$ed sharply to star!oard' wrote ,aptain 5lmond. F5s it !an$ed it e'posed
its !elly to # Troop whi*h was deployed in defen*e of di"isional HC. Three guns fired at "ery short
range and a !urst of four rounds entered the air*raft.'
7t was o!ser"ed to stagger "iolently then endea"oured to gain height in the dire*tion of (ra"e. #
Troop guns !ro$e off their engagement as the 0pitfires were now hot on the trail again and
indeed *losed with the >?> pouring rounds into it. The plane *rashed near (ra"e and the pilot was
$illed in a "ain attempt to para*hute.'
0oon after - Troop !rought down an ME 109 whose pilot para*huted into *apti"ity near
O"erloon. %e't day the same unit destroyed another ME 109 as it made a low.le"el strafing atta*$
in the Oefellt.(ennep area. On the 1>th as ME >?>s and a 48 22 raided the regimental area
indire*t fire support totalling 1200 rounds was gi"en to 1rd #i"ision as it fought fero*iously
for O"erloon in Operation 5intree. -our days later amid "ery !ad weather the Bofors again
opened up to help the atta*$ *ontinue on to Aenrai3.
By this time after the failure of Mar$et (arden enemy resistan*e had hardened.
Montgomery de*ided not to attempt a *rossing of the :hine that autumn !ut to *on*entrate on
*learing the port of 5ntwerp. 0o 1rd #i"ision was withdrawn a*ross the Maas and on O*to!er 1=
the 9>nd esta!lished its :HC at Oploo where the regiment was destined to remain for the ne't four
months. But drama and death were ne"er far away.
On the >=th F!u)).!om!' A.1 ro*$ets were spotted heading west. Two days later Bom!ardier
4ohn %i*holson of the *ounter.mortar unit was $illed !y a shell. On O*to!er 11 (unner 4ohn
:owland of 119 died and Bom!ardier (regg was wounded when two 102mm shells hit 7 Troop
!illet area. The F*almness and initiati"e' of (unner 4 0mith while attending the wounded %,O during
this atta*$ earned him a *ommendation from the di"isional *ommander.
5t the end of the month 2 ,orps on >1st 5rmy (roup's right flan$ had to e'tend its front and B
# and - Troops went into the line as infantry forming platoons to hold a se*tor of the Maas at
(roeningen. There was sporadi* shelling and mortaring plus Fintense and e'*iting' night patrols !ut
no *onta*t with the enemy. 5s %o"em!er opened torrential rain turned highways to mud!aths and
men were put on road wor$s to maintain *ommuni*ations. On the 10th +ieutenant :o!erts of 119
was wounded for the se*ond time when a tru*$ in whi*h he was tra"elling ran o"er a mine. 5n %,O
was also hurt. The regiment pro"ided parties for mine.lifting in the wooded areas of O"erloon
Aenrai3 and Horst.
F&e had ta$en a $een interest in mines whilst training in the 8B and spe*ial teams were ready to
deal with ma3or *ommitments of this sort. &e had no *asualties in minelifting throughout the whole of
the *ampaign.'
The 9>nd too$ part in se"eral ground shoots and night !arrages !ut some operations had to !e
*an*elled !e*ause of the weather. 0e*tion shoots a*ross the Maas targeting (erman !illets
strongpoints and parti*ularly meal parades were popular. FThis enthusiasm was not always shared
!y neigh!ouring units as our fire sometimes drew angry reprisals whi*h usually arri"ed 3ust after the
guns had gone out of a*tion and retired to their anti.air*raft pits.'
The regiment's stay in Holland also !rought home to the men that as well as fighting the (ermans
they were li!erating a *on6uered people. 4a*$ /rior re*alled an in*ident in 0eptem!er 1944 when
one of the 9>nd's petrol *oo$ers e'ploded in the !uilt.in !arn of a farm. 'The !arn and atta*hed
li"ing a**ommodation were destroyed and /eter ,rane and 7 organised sal"age teams res*uing as
mu*h as possi!le . sa"ing the o**upants animals and some of the furniture. But it was a fairly
hopeless tas$ to sa"e any of the !uildings.
'7n due *ourse there would ha"e !een a degree of re*ompense from the British go"ernment. But to
me the most em!arrassing aspe*t was that the farmer and his family did not *astigate us !ut were
6uite phlegmati* a!out it ma$ing *lear that they still preferred to ha"e us there than the (ermans.'
5s 1944 drew to a *lose there were fre6uent sightings of "apour trails from ro*$ets !elie"ed to
!e A.>s and engagements with ME >?>s around Oploo and Aenrai3. Towards the end of
%o"em!er the (ermans remaining west of the Maas started pulling !a*$ and !y the !eginning of
#e*em!er 1rd #i"ision had *leared the area to the ri"er line holding a >0.mile front !etween
Bo'meer and (ru!!en"orst.
5s #e*em!er opened it was de*ided that only two 9>nd !atteries should !e $ept at readiness
in defen*e of lo*al areas while one too$ turns to stand down. 0e"eral younger men in the
regiment were mar$ed for transferral to the infantry. On the =th a 1=*wt tru*$ of 119 was
destroyed when it strayed into a minefield after the white mar$er tapes had !lown down. One offi*er
suffered superfi*ial in3uries.
:egimental HC mo"ed to 0t 5nthonis on #e*em!er 2. Three days later Ma3or ,rane was
in"ested with the Military ,ross !y Montgomery in a *eremony at (imers Monastery in re*ognition
of his heroism during the sin$ing of the 0am!ut on #.#ay when he sa"ed many men !y his *alm and
resolute a*tion. Throughout the month ro*$et sightings *ontinued.
There was a mass raid !y 12 ME 109s and ele"en ME >?>s on the 19th with two hits *laimed.
%e't day 11 ME >?>s were engaged with one hit *laimed. That same day HC mo"ed to +eunen
and on ,hristmas E"e an unusual prisoner was ta$en . a (erman *arrier pigeon. The message it
*arried was inde*iphera!le and it was handed o"er to di"isional HC.
,hristmas #ay whi*h dawned !itterly *old with the temperature down to minus 1>- was mar$ed
in as festi"e a mood as possi!le. 112 too$ dinner in a de*orated !arn followed !y a sing.song
around a !orrowed piano. '7t was our si'th war ,hristmas !ut it was the "iew of e"eryone that it
was the !est of the si' whi*h says mu*h *onsidering it was our first in the line' the war diary noted.
On Bo'ing #ay at the height of the (erman *ounter.offensi"e further south through the 5rdennes
140 enemy air*raft were spotted approa*hing the *orps area from the north.east !ut there was no
atta*$. On the >9th 112 too$ part in an indire*t fire shoot and se"eral flying !om!s passed o"er on
the 10th. On %ew @ear's E"e as snow swept Holland a (erman plane *rashed on the east !an$ of
the Maas !ut its *rew was re*o"ered !y a &ehrma*ht patrol.
By the end of the year 9>nd +55 had engaged enemy air*raft on 91 o**asions e'pending
14049 rounds of 40mm and 2?29 rounds of >0mm. 7t had 11 ,ategory One *laims in*luding 11
shared. 0ome =2>? rounds of 40mm had !een fired on ground targets.
FO&RTEEN RAIDERS DO+NED
Ne1 !ear2s Day. 1943
FThe enem attac#s were ver low!level indeed.
&n several occasions the guns had to brea# off firing
owing to the target disappearing behind buildings or trees'
O% 4anuary 1 +ieutenant ,olonel /eter Henderson :5 of the 99th 5nti.Tan$ :egiment too$
*ommand when +ieutenant ,olonel Ba)eley transferred to 9th -ield :egiment.
That same morning the (ermans laun*hed a massi"e air offensi"e with almost 1000 planes
against 1? 5llied airfields in forward areas of Belgium and Holland. Operation Bodenplatte
;Baseplate< was the last ma3or atta*$ in the &est !y the +uftwaffe . and !rought the 9>nd's most
dramati* and su**essful engagement of the war.
5t 9.1=am the regiment's air sentries saw a long line of =0 to ?0 enemy air*raft approa*hing from
the east. The first wa"e *onsisted of !etween 1= and 12 -& 190s flying in line astern at treetop
le"el. The planes ea*h *arrying one !om! slung !elow the fuselage passed o"er the 9>nd's guns
towards Helmond and !e*ame in"ol"ed in dogfights with British 0pitfires Typhoons and Tempests.
5s they !ro$e off from the !attle they swept !a*$ in strafing runs a*ross the 9>nd's area.
Ten minutes later three more -& 190s roared a*ross at =00ft from west to east followed shortly
afterwards !y a single unidentified air*raft flying at !etween >00ft and 100ft and an ME 109 at 100ft
o"er +eunen *hur*h.
The planes had light green *amouflaged li"ery and their (erman insignia were small . some of the
ME 109s were reported to ha"e :5- roundels and mar$ings and some had an unusual red surround
to the !la*$ (erman *ross. 5s more and more raiders . in*luding at least one 3et.propelled ME >?>
. filled the s$ies it !e*ame *lear that for the anti.air*raft *rews this was a moment of e'treme
danger !ut also a golden opportunity. 5ll their years of training had !een de"oted to identifying
targets in a *ouple of se*onds aiming and shooting almost instantaneously. 5nd here on this first
day of 194= there were targets galore.
-or the ne't 4= minutes with 4a*$ /rior *o.ordinating the radio lin$s with the gunsites from the
s*hool playground in +eunen the Bofors fired almost *ontinuously with de"astating effe*t. 5 gun of
# Troop 112 *ommanded !y 0ergeant &illiam FTaffy' 4ames destroyed three air*raft and shared
in the destru*tion of a fourth. 119 .whi*h was at rest at the time with many guns stripped down for
maintenan*e . rapidly !rought its Bofors into a*tion and shot down two more. 119 destroyed at
least one -& 190. FThe enemy atta*$s were "ery low.le"el indeed' Ma3or ,rane wrote in a report
soon after. FThe pilots were determined and displayed great s$ill in low flying. On se"eral
o**asions the guns had to !rea$ off firing owing to the target disappearing !ehind !uildings trees
or flying !elow pres*ri!ed safety limits.'
7n all the regiment fired 19?= rounds and destroyed se"en planes outright. Two more were shot
down in *on3un*tion with a neigh!ouring regiment and fi"e more were awarded as pro!a!ly
destroyed. -our of the (erman planes were downed in an area only 1000 yards s6uare . testimony
to the intensity of the !attle. 5s the a*tion ended at 10.1=am the gunlayers slumped from their
Bofors e'hausted and di))y from the fren)ied pa*e of the firing.
FToday was a really happy one for us' the 112 war diary re*orded. FThe +uftwaffe *ame
see$ing a*tion and we too$ it up.' The ,O summed it up e"en more su**in*tly. F0heer good
shooting entirely "isual' he said. By the end of the day the (ermans had lost more than >00 air*raft
o"er Holland and Belgium and the +uftwaffe's last gam!le had *ome to nothing.
+ater the 1rd #i"ision intelligen*e summary a*$nowledged the 9>nd's super! performan*e
during the %ew @ear's #ay atta*$. Twenty.nine planes had !een destroyed !y the *orps !ut the 14
shot down !y the 9>nd were F!y far the largest to the *redit of a single +55 regiment on that
memora!le morning.'
ACROSS TE RINE TO VICTOR!
Ja,uary to May 1943
'Through the earl hours of the )pril 23th, the regiment's batteries used up 45,000 rounds.
, that evening, organised resistance in ,remen was collapsing and prisoners testified in no
uncertain terms as to the effect of sustained ,ofors fire in an area shoot '
-O: the ne't fortnight amid snow and deep frost sporadi* shelling !om!ing mortaring
and ne!elwerfer stri$es followed as the (ermans tried unsu**essfully to gain a !ridgehead a*ross
the Maas. On 4anuary = a A.1 was spotted passing o"er at low le"el followed !y 1= more
"apour trails. %e't day 19 were seen. 0i' shells landed on di"isional HC and others on 5 Troop
area.
On the 9th a Mos6uito whi*h passed a*ross the regimental area on re*onnaissan*e o"er
the (erman lines was shot down. The pilot was seen !aling out and was assumed to ha"e
para*huted into *apti"ity.
Two days later 9>nd +55 was again reorganised with one troop in ea*h !attery !eing re.
e6uipped with Mar$ 7 towed instead of self.propelled guns. 7ts strength was 1? guns and a!out =?0
personnel. Towards the end of a snowy foggy month more ro*$et trails were sighted and indire*t
shoots were *arried out against (erman positions of the east !an$ of the Maas. Early in -e!ruary
as a rapid thaw set in 112 mo"ed to defend the Aenrai3.#eurne road and on the 2th an ME >?>
was engaged.
%e't day 1rd #i"ision was relie"ed and two days later 9>nd +55 mo"ed to rest areas at Boersel
east of #iest near Hasselt Belgium. Here regimental *hur*h ser"i*es were held and there was a
"isit !y the regiment's old ,O Brigadier +oder.0ymonds. On -e!ruary >4 1rd #i"ision *rossed
the Maas to reinfor*e 10 ,orps in Operation Aerita!le the *learan*e of the :hineland. 7ts 3o! was
to penetrate the 0iegfried +ine on the Nanten.Bonnighardt :idge and *lear the way for a !rea$out
!y the (uards 5rmoured #i"ision. That same day the 9>nd mo"ed from its rest area to Oisterwi3$
near Til!urg Holland. Two days later at >.10am on Tuesday -e!ruary >9 it *rossed the (erman
frontier at He$$ens and deployed around (o*h setting up head6uarters in *ellars on the south side
of the town.
0hoots were *arried out on enemy.held woods south of 8dem and there was a ma3or indire*t fire
operation to support 12= Brigade's atta*$ on Ber"enheim. 7n >0 minutes 112 Battery poured
>400 rounds on enemy tren*hes. +ater infantry o!ser"ers reported F*onsidera!le e'e*ution.'
By Mar*h 1 12= Brigade had !rea*hed the 0iegfried +ine along the Bonninghardt :idge and
(erman resistan*e was !ro$en. :HC of the 9>nd mo"ed to a farmyard in Ber"enheim while the
troops were temporarily employed in road *onstru*tion traffi* duties and guarding /o&s. 5 sweep
of the area for a!andoned (erman e6uipment re*o"ered 44 rifles ten pan)erfaust anti.tan$
weapons four ma*hine.pistols and more than 1000 3erri*ans.
-i"e days later :HC was esta!lished near 0ons!e*$ in a farmhouse on the &inne$endon$.
Bappellen road. On the 11th as 1rd #i"ision *losed up towards the :hine the 9>nd defended its
line of mar*h along the Nanten.Bal$ar road engaging three separate wa"es of enemy air*raft.
The following day the regiment mo"ed north to Bed!urg near Ble"e. On the 19th three troops
engaged atta*$ing -& 190s ME 109s and an ME >?> shooting one down. 0e"eral planes were
hedge.hopping too low to !e fired at.
Between 1=th and >>nd as the weather again turned i*y and roads fro)e planning and
re*onnaissan*e went ahead for Operation /epperpot the 1rd #i"ision !om!ardment to support
=1st Highland #i"ision in Operation /lunder . Montgomery's massi"e setpie*e *rossing of the :hine.
/reliminary operations dumping ammunition !etween &issel and Honnepel were *arried out in
great se*re*y . under *o"er of early morning mists at dus$ or !eneath the swirling >0.mile
smo$es*reen that !lan$eted the west !an$ of the ri"er. F&e grew to respe*t it for its *omplete
*o"er !ut hate it for its pungen*y.'
On Mar*h >1 9>nd +55 added its weight to the greatest artillery !arrage of the war in"ol"ing
more than ==00 guns of all types. 112 deployed its Bofors 1>00 yards from the :hine west of
:ees aiming on the Emmeri*h and Arasselt area . also the target for 119. 119 was !ased in a
disused fa*tory near &issel.
Between 9pm and 2.==pm that night the s$ies erupted in flame as ea*h 9>nd !attery fired !etween
4=00 and ?=00 rounds a*ross the ri"er pa"ing the way for the assault troops. 5s the Bofors
pounded away remorselessly se"eral o"erheated and suffered damage to re*oil me*hanisms and
!arrel wear . parts had to !e *anni!alised to $eep up the rate of fire.
There was a pause on the >4th to allow >1000 air!orne troops to land on the far shore. Then the
regiment redeployed north of &issel to pour fire on the se*tor of the :hine !etween /raest and
Emmeri*h. O"er the four days from Mar*h >1 to >9 the 9>nd fired a total of 1>000 rounds. #
Troop of 112 also sent a*ross 4? rounds from a *aptured (erman 22mm gun.
On the >2th with 119 leading the regiment *rossed the :hine (ermany's last ma3or geographi*al
!arrier and mo"ed to %eder Mormter !efore *on*entrating at :ees ne't day. %ow 1rd #i"ision
laun*hed an all.out dri"e north.east to *apture Bremen (ermany's se*ond port. &ith air atta*$s
only sporadi* 1> three.ton lorries were deta*hed from 9>nd +55 and used to form a troop.
*arrying platoon to assist 12= Brigade's ad"an*e. The greater part of the regiment and the towed
guns remained !ehind at :ees and only :HC and the three self.propelled gun troops . atta*hed to
the field regiments . a**ompanied 1rd #i"ision in its pursuit towards the :i"er &eser.
These left :ees on 5pril 1 and ad"an*ed north "ia &erth and Haldern then 3ust within the #ut*h
frontier passing through +i*hten"oorde and Ens*hede. Here delighted *rowds lined the road to
*heer the troops on. But when the *on"oy re.entered (ermany near %ordhorn on 5pril 1 there was
no su*h wel*ome only a sullen a**eptan*e of defeat. FThe *ontrast was "ery great.'
On 5pril 4 troops of 12= Brigade in assault !oats *rossed the #ortmund.Ems *anal under fire and
started mo"ing on +ingen. The 9>nd mo"ed up to defend the !ridges o"er the *anal and the :i"er
Ems and o"er the ne't two days the gunners were *aught up in a fero*ious !attle with the +uftwaffe. On the 4th they fought
off wa"es of up to 1= -& 190s and ME 190s whi*h made strafing and
!om!ing runs as Fhea"y and a**urate' mortar fire stopped deployment of the Bofors on the east
!an$ of the *anal. %e't day mo"ing on to the 0udlohn area more than a do)en ME 109s and -&
190s made ma*hine.gun and s$ip.!om!ing atta*$s . one ME 109 and one -& 190 !eing shot
down. Between 5pril 4 and ? the total $ill was fi"e enemy air*raft plus one pro!a!le.
5pril 2 saw the regiment *on*entrated at Hungarian Barra*$s +ingen. The following day after
mo"ing through :heine to Haldem the 9>nd started ad"an*ing with 1rd #i"ision dire*tly on Bremen.
5n -& 190 and an ME 109 were shot down as they ma*hine.gunned the regimental area at
0*hwarforden on the 1>th. On 5pril 1= with the 9>nd at 5pelstadt 1000 rounds were fired in
F/epperpot' support of 2 Brigade's atta*$ on Brin$um.
Two days later ad"an*e parties mo"ed on to Bassum 0tuhren and Mel*hiorshausen and
ammunition dumping started for an artillery !om!ardment to support 1rd #i"ision's dri"e to *apture
the se*tor of Bremen south of the &eser.
4ust !efore midnight on the >4th the !arrage opened . with the 9>nd targeting two stret*hes of
road in the Battenturm area and the *ity's airfield. +i$e the :hine !om!ardment the rate of fire was
staggering. Through the early hours of the >=th the regiment's !atteries used up 1?000 rounds .
e6ui"alent to 19 and a half lorryloads of ammunition.
The guns of 119 needed se"en new !arrels. By that e"ening organised resistan*e in Bremen was
*ollapsing and Fprisoners testified in no un*ertain terms as to the effe*t of sustained Bofors fire in an
area shoot.'
-our days later the 9>nd mo"ed to #elmenhorst west of Bremen where ?> *aptured enemy 55
guns and 11 pan)erfaust anti.tan$ weapons were destroyed. 5 sentry of 119 shot a (erman air
for*e unteroffi)ier who a*ted suspi*iously after !eing *hallenged.
On Thursday May 1 the Bofors were fired in anger for the last time when # Troop san$ two
enemy !oats on the &eser and !lasted a signal station on the far !an$. %e't day the (ermans in
%orth &est Europe surrendered and the order went out to 1rd #i"isionD F,an*el all offensi"e
operations forthwith and *ease fire 0200 hours May =.'
7t was the signal so many had waited so long for . not least the *rew of - Troop's (un -1. Ele"en
months after se*reting away their rum ration during their #.#ay *rossing on the +,T *arrying them
to 0word Bea*h they were a!le to !rea$ open the flas$ and . as they had promised themsel"es .
toast "i*tory. The following day the 9>nd mo"ed to (esmold south.east of Osna!ru*$ where it
too$ *ontrol of the distri*t around Melle. On May 2 AE #ay was mar$ed with a ser"i*e of
than$sgi"ing and a day's holiday. 0in*e #.#ay the regiment had fired 9=?>9 rounds of 40mm
ammunition at air and ground targets. 7n the air there were 119 separate engagements e'pending
12292 rounds of 40mm and 2?29 of >0mm.
The 9>nd's final tally was 42 enemy air*raft destroyed and pro!a!ly >1 others. #uring the
*ampaign two offi*ers and 12 men were $illed and four offi*ers and 4> men wounded.
OCC&4ATION ARM! AND TE FINAL DA!S
May 1943 to February 194-
''ou are proud to be $oals, and the division is proud of ou. 'ou can feel happ
and proud to have fought through from 6!6a and to have earned, b our behaviour
and our s#ill and courage, the affection and admiration of 4rd ,ritish "nfantr 6ivision'
-:OM AE #ay onwards the regiment remained with the army of o**upation !ut was employed
"irtually as infantry *on*entrating on super"ising displa*ed persons arresting 00 men and other
%a)is destroying enemy e6uipment and poli*ing trou!lesome freed :ussian /o&s.
On May 10 +ieut.,olonel Henderson stepped down and +ieut ,ol , M 5dderley too$
*ommand. May 12 saw the regiment mo"e from (esmold to the neigh!ouring town of Melle.
Towards the end of May 1rd #i"ision mo"ed 100 miles south.east to the neigh!ourhood of
Bassel and the 9>nd !e*ame responsi!le for the distri*t around &ar!urg. 7t guarded signals !ases
hospitals warehouses and a *amp for /olish :ussian :umanian and 0er!ian displa*ed persons.
5fter a wee$ here the regiment mo"ed on 4une = to 0ennelager ,amp . where the men learned that
the regiment was to lea"e 1rd #i"ision and *ome under the *ommand of =1st Highland #i"ision.
On 4une 11 the 9>nd paraded at 0ennelager !efore the 1rd #i"ision *ommander Ma3or.(eneral
&histler to say farewell. 7n a spe*ial Order of the #ay he paid an elegant and emotional tri!ute to
the regiment.
He told themD '@ou are proud to !e +oyals and the di"ision is proud of you. There is no dou!t that
the wor$ you did !efore #.#ay has shown its results in !attle and nothing *ould !e finer than that.
@ou loo$ed after the di"ision prote*ting it from air atta*$s almost *onstantly from the moment you
landed on #.#ay until AE #ay and 7 personally ha"e ne"er !een seriously worried a!out the air.
'On*e or twi*e we had a party !ut the raids were more en3oya!le than dangerous. &hene"er there
was an atta*$ you ne"er failed to get your men. 7 am 6uite satisfied that you got more (erman
planes than any other regiment of your $ind in >1st 5rmy (roup.
'@ou ha"e !een *alled upon to do some 6ueer tas$s. @ou ha"e fought for me as infantry. @ou ha"e
!a*$ed up the infantry of this and other di"isions !y your !arrages parti*ularly at the *rossing of the :hine and again at
Bremen whi*h was the di"ision's last real !attle of the war. @ou *an feel happy
and proud to ha"e fought through from #.#ay and to ha"e earned !y your !eha"iour and your s$ill
and *ourage the affe*tion and admiration of 1rd British 7nfantry #i"ision. On its !ehalf 7 wish
good!ye to you and (odspeed and good lu*$ in our future whate"er it may !e. 7 want you to
remem!er whom you ha"e fought with and whom you !elong to. 7n the days to *ome there may !e
a reunion of the 1rd British and 7 shall e'pe*t all of you to !e there to 3oin again your !rothers.in.
arms in !attle.'
(eneral &histler had de*lared that 4une ? should hen*eforth !e $ept as a holiday !e*ause of 1rd
#i"ision's histori* role in the %ormandy landing. Be*ause the 9>nd had !een on operational duties
that day it instead o!ser"ed the holiday on 4une 1>. -our days later the regiment mo"ed to the
north.east of Bremen guarding 1000 prisoners at the Milag detainee *ompound in &estertim$e.
Towards the end of the month three new troops were formed and the !atteries were reorganised
ea*h with three troops. On 4uly 14 the regiment mo"ed to Harpstedt. Here the 9>nd finally said
farewell to the guns whi*h had ser"ed it so well for so long.
On 4uly 19 in the gun and "ehi*le par$ at &ee)endorf the oiled and *leaned Bofors were handed
o"er to ordnan*e troops for shipment out "ia Ham!urg. On 5ugust 11 +ieutenant ,olonel 5dderley
was su**eeded !y +ieutenant ,olonel : M*+ay.
5lthough o**upation duties still $ept the !ul$ of the 9>nd in (ermany some personnel were !eing
transferred to the -ar East where 4apan was stu!!ornly refusing to surrender . Ma3or ,rane and
4a*$ /rior were sent to 7ndia.
7n a top.se*ret plan *odenamed #ownfall 1rd British had !een earmar$ed as one of the assault
di"isions for a giganti* 5meri*an.led in"asion of the 4apanese home islands s*heduled for Mar*h
194?. The 1rd was to ha"e formed part of a ,ommonwealth *orps with a ,anadian and an
5ustralian di"ision . atta*$ing the main island of Honshu e"entually ta$ing To$yo.
Elements of one unit the >0th 5nti.Tan$ :egiment got as far as !eing emplaned for the 8nited
0tates. Mer*ifully . with 5llied *asualties predi*ted to !e one million . the atomi* !om!s were
dropped and 4apan finally *apitulated on 5ugust 1=.
Ba*$ in (ermany the 9>nd *ontinued its poli*ing duties. On 5ugust 12 the regiment e"i*ted all
:ussian displa*ed persons and freed /o&s from Harpstedt and #unsen to *amps at +une!urg. 5t
the !eginning of 0eptem!er while 112 stayed at Breis Hoya Harpstedt the regiment mo"ed to
0*heessel in the Breis :oten!urg area. On the >=th the !atteries *ompleted the reorganisation into
three troops.
#uring the month men !egan to !e released or transferred to other units and !y the !eginning of
O*to!er the regiment's strength was ?09. On O*to!er 9 the 9>nd :EME wor$shop was
dis!anded. /ioneers too$ o"er Harpstedt from 112 on the >>nd and the !attery mo"ed to
:oten!urg aerodrome. On %o"em!er 11 +ieutenant ,olonel ( E , 0i$es #0O too$ o"er
*ommand and as #e*em!er opened the regiment's assignment was guarding a "ehi*le par$ on the
Bremen.Ham!urg auto!ahn.
5ll the time num!ers had !een gradually dwindling. Be*ause two drafts of men were s*heduled to
lea"e on #e*em!er >4 ,hristmas *ele!rations were held on the >1rd with the weather snowy. By
now the regiment num!ered only ==>. 5s 194? opened the run.down a**elerated . and notifi*ation
*ame that dis!andment was s*heduled for -e!ruary.
Throughout 4anuary personnel num!ers dwindled rapidly as men were dis*harged or gi"en other
postings. By -e!ruary > most remaining stores e6uipment and "ehi*les were !eing shipped out.
Two days later on -e!ruary 4 194? as rain swept 0*heessel the 9>nd ;+oyals< +ight 5nti.
5ir*raft :egiment :oyal 5rtillery was formally dis!anded. 7t was fi"e years and se"en months to
the day sin*e the 9th +oyals had !een formed at -ulwood Barra*$s. Most of the men and many of
the offi*ers who had made up the newly.raised !attalion in that desperate summer of 1940 had
stayed with it on its long e"entful 3ourney from fledgling infantry unit to *ra*$ mo!ile anti.air*raft
regiment.
Through the long years of training in Britain and their many !attles . from the %ormandy !ea*hes
to Bremen . they had ser"ed the guns well. 5nd had pro"ed !y their s$ill *ourage and dedi*ation
that they were indeed Ftrue +oyals.'
7uo /as Et -loria 6ucunt
$oaute %'&blige
S4ECIAL RE%IMENTAL ORDER
by L5eut-Col C M ADDERLE!. RA
Co$$a,65,/ 97 8Loyals9 L5/)t A,t5-A5r'ra:t Re/5$e,t. RA
(LA Su,6ay. 1* May 1943
The following is a list of casualties 8excluding accidental in+uries and cases of exhaustion9 which have
occurred in the (egiment since 5 :une ;<44 until the cessation of hostilities.
"ILLED IN ACTION
41>11>= 5KB0M ,onnor T ;112 Bty<
1=?9119 &K0gt Hesford 4 ;119 Bty<
12?>9?= &K0gt /enrose 5 ;112 Bty<
1=0??19 5K0gt Bla$e - ;112 Bty<
12?>9=> +KBdr (uest , ( ;112 Bty<
1410=?4> (nr Bone ( : ;112 Bty<
12?1=92 (nr #a"ies H 5 ;:HC<
114011>9 (nr (rea"es 5 ;112 Bty<
12?>?92 (nr Bemp - ;112 Bty<
12?1=9> (nr :owlands 4 ;119 Bty<
>14199= &K,pl ,halinor ( ;: 0igs att :HC<
14>114>2 0igmn Henderson 4 + ;: 0igs att 119 Bty<
MISSIN% - 4RES&MED "ILLED
12?>991 5K0gt :ing / # ;112 Bty<
12?141? &KBdr ,rane 0 & ;:HC<
12?>999 &KBdr &olfe 4 T ;112 Bty<
12?>990 (nr +e"er & 0 ;112 Bty<
+O&NDED - SINCE DIED OF +O&NDS
12?>290 (nr Hartley & ;112 Bty<.
ACCIDENTAL DEATS
TKMa3or ( + &illiams :5 ;1141?1< ;112 Bty<
&K+ieut : ( -or!es :5 ;>110>1< ;119 Bty<
12=2941 (nr (oodman 4 ;119 Bty<
+O&NDED
TK,apt : T :eid :5 ;>1>411< ;112 Bty<
&K+ieut , ( :ussell :5 ;>>9004< ;112 Bty<
&K+ieut 5 4 Hands :5 ;>4990=< ;112 Bty<
&K+ieut 4 :o!erts :5 ;199144< ;119 Bty<
;wounded twi*e<
12=1?4= &K&O 1 ;:0M< %ott + ;:HC<
12=22>> &K0gt ,ooney T / ;119 Bty<
>0219>1 &K0gt ;5,< How T B ;:HC<
12?>?90 &KBdr 4ones & ;112 Bty<
12=909= &K0gt -let*her & ;112 Bty<
1==0119 &K0gt Bendri*$ H T ;119 Bty<
12?1910 &KBdr Bnight 4 ;119 Bty<
12?1?10 5KBdr (regg / 4 ;119 Bty<
1140>211 +KBdr Bale 4 - ;119 Bty<
12?40?4 (nr 5ndrews 0 ;119 Bty<
12?>924 (nr Brady # ;119 Bty<
121?>9= (nr Burgering 4 & ;112 Bty<
12?19>2 (nr ,onnor 4 ;112 Bty<
12?1?91 (nr #alton / ;112 Bty<
1140>492 (nr -urniss 4 ;112 Bty<
11401110 (nr (utteridge - + ;112 Bty<
12?>99= (nr Hawley - ;112 Bty<
11>?1>>2 (nr Ma*$ay & ;112<
12?1?22 (nr %ew*omen : ;119 Bty<
12?1944 (nr 0tanley E ;112 Bty<
11=?090 (nr &ard 5 ;119 Bty<
1410?2?9 (nr @oung H : ;112 Bty<
1=>=?>= &KBdr 06uirrell & ;119 Bty<
12?>19> (nr 5stley T ;119 Bty<
1411>144 (nr Bolton 4 E ;:HC<
121?=40 (nr Broughton + ;112 Bty<
12?19>? (nr ,ameron 5 E ;119 Bty<
;wounded twi*e<
12=9001 (nr Eastwood T ;119 Bty<
121??=9 (nr (oul!ourn T ;119 Bty<
1140111= (nr Hardwi*$ + ;112 Bty<
141144?4 (nr Beddie 4 ;119 Bty<
12?1=2? (nr M*%eil & 4 ;112 Bty<
1411919? (nr Oa$es & - ;:HC<
12?120> (nr /reston & ;119 Bty<
120>=>9 (nr 0$olton # ;>0mm<
120>=11 (nr 0ors!y 0 ;>0mm<
14>9?242 (nr @ardley - B ;:HC<
>1>=492 &K,pl &right - ;5,, att 112<
ACCIDENTAL +O&NDS
12?1?02 (nr -ran*e H H ;119 Bty<
12=41>9 (nr Hayes E 0 ;119 Bty<
190=>90 (nr /er$ins & : ;119 Bty<
ONO&RS AND A+ARDS
5 list of honours and awards to personnel of the :egiment for the period ? 4une 1944 until the
*essation of hostilities is pu!lished !elowD
MILITAR! CROSS
TKMa3or / 0 ,rane :5 ;1>41?4< ;:HC<
TK,apt : T :eid :5 ;>1>411< ;112 Bty<
CROI; DE %&ERRE
&K+ieut % 0 ,oom!s :5 ;>49?94< ;112 Bty<
CROI; DE %&ERRE +IT (RON<E STAR
14=2>4?2 +KBdr #ono"an 4 ;112 Bty<
COMMANDER IN CIEF2S CERTIFICATE
12=?299 &K0gt ,lements 5 ;112 Bty<
12?1=19 +KBdr -oul$es 0 ;119 Bty<
12=>994 (nr -orshaw 0 4 ;119 Bty<
12?0>=? (nr 0mith 4 ;119 Bty<
DIVISIONAL COMMANDER2S COMMENDATION CARD
TKMa3or / 0 ,rane :5 ;1>41?4< ;:HC<
&K+ieut % 0 ,oom!s :5 ;>49?94< ;112<
999?9? &KBdr Booth 4 + ;119 Bty<
=?99?14 +KBdr Burgess / & ;119 Bty<
12=9129 +KBdr ,rompton 0 ;119 Bty<
12?>1=9 +KBdr O'#owd 5 ;119 Bty<
12?4??= (nr Billingsley T ;119 Bty<
12?=21> (nr #un*alf 4 ;119 Bty<
114>=1?= (nr Har*us ( : ;119 Bty<
121404= (nr Bemp 4 & % ;119 Bty<
12?4>9> (nr :isley 5 ;119 Bty<
12?12>9 (nr 0herlo*$ # ;119 Bty<
12?0>=? (nr 0mith 4 ;119 Bty<
T)e Falle,
o: =t) Loyals > 97,6 8Loyals9 LAA R/t RA
-:OM the formation of 9th +oyals on 4uly 4 1940 to #.#ay si' men died while on duty in
England. The unit's first fatal *asualty was a pri"ate $illed !y (erman !om!ing during the Blit) in
+i"erpool in #e*em!er 1940. Three more men were $illed !y mines during training. 5 further two
died in traffi* a**idents.
5 total of >1 offi*ers and men from the regiment or atta*hed to it died during the 11 months from
#.#ay to AE.#ay. The largest toll for any one in*ident was on #.#ay when se"en men were
$illed in the shelling of the li!erty ship 0am!ut in the ,hannel. 5n eighth man died three days later of
wounds. On 4uly 12 four men were $illed in the Orne !ridgehead !y (erman !om!ing and on 4uly
>9 two men died in another !om!ing atta*$. Other deaths *ame singly.
#etails of *asualties are supplied !y the ,ommonwealth &ar (ra"es ,ommission. Those who ha"e
no $nown gra"e are honoured on the appropriate war memorial. The names are gi"en here in
*hronologi*al order of death. &here se"eral men died on the same day the list is in alpha!eti*al
order. %um!ers at the end of ea*h entry refer to positions on memorials or to gra"e plot num!ers.
12?1421 4r5#ate Albert E61ar6 Sto,es no age re*orded ;, ,ompany 9th +oyals<
#ied #e*em!er >1 1940
%o further personal information
=t >ancras 1emeter, %iddlesex, :oint -rave 5<
T1o 4r5#ates o: =t) Loyals
#ied 5pril = 1941
Billed !y a sea mine washed ashore in %orth @or$shire.
?o names recorded in battalion war diaries.
12?>>19 4r5#ate Sy6,ey Taylor aged >2 ;5 ,ompany 9th +oyals<
#ied 0eptem!er 1= 1941
0on of (eorge and 5nnie Taylor of Openshaw Man*hester
6rolsden 1emeter, $ancashire, =ection =, -rave 2<<
121?>1= %u,,er %eor/e arry Albert Da,sey. aged >0 ;Battery un$nown<
#ied May >0 194>
0on of Ai*tor (eorge and -loran*e +a"inia #ansey of ,la*ton.on.0ea Esse'
0ertford 1orporation 1emeter, 0ertfordshire, =ection 6, (ow 6, -rave 43
12=1=9> %u,,er Fre6er5'? +5lso, no age re*orded ;112 Battery<
#ied 4une >1 194>
%o further personal information
/ulham ?ew 1emeter, =urre, =ection 11, -rave 454
1=0??19 Ser@ea,t Fre6er5'? (la?er aged >= ;112 Battery<
#ied 4une ? 1944
0on of Edwin 5 and Beatri*e M Bla$er of &orthing 0usse'
,aeux %emorial, >anel ;;, column ;
>14199= Cor0oral %eor/e C)all5,or aged >2 ;:oyal ,orps of 0ignals atta*hed :HC<
#ied 4une ? 1944
0on of 5rthur and Emma Barlow ,hallinor of %antwi*h ,heshire
6over 8=t :ames's9 1emeter, @ent
12?141? (o$bar65er S56,ey +5ll5a$ Cra,e. aged 10 ;:HC<
#ied 4une ? 1944
0on of &illiam (eorge ,rane and Hannah ,rane ;nee Marshall<M hus!and of 7"y &innifred ,rane
of -ulham +ondon.
,aeux %emorial, >anel ;;, column ;
12?1=92 %u,,er erbert AleAa,6er Da#5es aged 1> ;:HC<
#ied 4une ? 1944
0on of (eorge and Maud #a"ies of +i"erpoolM hus!and of (ra*e Eli)a!eth #a"ies of +i"erpool
,aeux %emorial, >anel ;; 1olumn 2
12?>990 %u,,er +5l:re6 Sta,ley Le#er aged 1= ;112 Battery<
#ied 4une ? 1944
0on of 4ames 5l!ert and 5li*e +e"er of %orthwi*h ,heshire
,aeux %emorial, >anel ;;, 1olumn 2
12?>991 Ser@ea,t 4er'y Da#56 R5,/ aged 1> ;112 Battery<
#ied 4une ? 1944
0on of Mr and Mrs 4ohn :ingM hus!and of of 4essie :ing of :edhill 0urrey
,aeux %emorial, >anel ;;, 1olumn ;
12?>999 (o$bar65er Jo), T)o$as +ol:e aged 1> ;112 Battery<
#ied 4une ? 1944
0on of 4ohn and Eli)a!eth &olfeM hus!and of 5my &olfe of +i"erpool
,aeux %emorial, panel ;;, column ;
12?>290 %u,,er +alter artley aged 11 ;112 Battery<
#ied 4une 9 1944
0on of 4oseph and Hannah Hartley of Bootle
,ootle 1emeter, $ancashire, A@
1=?9119 Ser@ea,t Jo), es:or6 aged 10 ;119 Battery<
#ied 4une >4 1944
0on of 5l!ert Thomas and Maud Hesford of 5stley Bridge Bolton +an*ashire
$a 6elivrande *ar 1emeter, 6ouvres, B".:.4
1410=?4> %u,,er %or6o, Ray$o,6 (o,e aged >1 ;112 Battery<
#ied 4uly 12 1944
0on of Mr and Mrs , Bone of Botley Hampshire
0ermanville *ar 1emeter, 3.6.5
12?>9=> La,'e (o$bar65er Cyr5l %r5::5t)s %uest aged 11 ;112 Battery<
#ied 4uly 12 1944
0on of Martha (uest of ,hester
0ermanville *ar 1emeter, 3.6.;;
12?>?92 %u,,er Fre6er5'? "e$0 aged 1> ;112 Battery<
#ied 4uly 12 1944
%o further personal information
0ermanville *ar 1emeter, 3.6.C
12?>9?= Ser@ea,t Al:re6 Er,est 4e,rose aged 11 ;112 Battery<
#ied 4uly 12 1944
0on of 5lfred Ernest and 7sa!ella /enrose of +i"erpoolM hus!and of Elsie /enrose of +i"erpool
0ermanville *ar 1emeter, 3.6.;4
41>11>= +arra,t O::5'er Class II Fra,'5s Jose0) Co,,or aged 1> ;112 Battery<
#ied 4uly >= 1944
%o further personal information
(anville *ar 1emeter, "".,.24
114011>9 %u,,er Art)ur %rea#es aged 14 ;112 Battery<
#ied 4uly >= 1944
0on of Mr and Mrs 5rthur (rea"es of %ottinghamM hus!and of +ouisa Mary (rea"es of
%ottingham
(anville *ar 1emeter, "".).44
14>114>2 S5/,al$a, Jo), Le15s e,6erso, aged >1 ;:oyal ,orps of 0ignals atta*hed 119
Battery<
#ied 4uly >9 1944
%o further personal information
(anville *ar 1emeter, ".E.;4
1141?1 Ma@or %eor/e Lesl5e +5ll5a$s aged 1> ;,ommanding 112 Battery<
#ied 5ugust 1 1944
0on of 4esse and Ai*toria E"elyn &illiamsM hus!and of ,onstan*e Mary &illiams of Meols
Hoyla$e ,heshire
,aeux *ar 1emeter, """.:.2
>110>1 L5eute,a,t R5')ar6 %eor/e Forbes no age re*orded ;119 Battery<
#ied 5ugust ? 1944
%o further personal information
,aeux *ar 1emeter DD./.2C
12=2941 %u,,er Ja$es %oo6$a, aged >= ;119 Battery<
#ied 0eptem!er 4 1944
0on of +awren*e and Edith (oodmanM hus!and of Mary (oodman of Horwi*h +an*ashire
=t 6esir *ar 1emeter, "".1.;
12=2999 (o$bar65er Jo), N5')olso, aged >? ;,ounter.Mortar 8nit<
#ied O*to!er >9 1944
Their ?ame $iveth /or Evermore