War Diaries of D Battery, Royal Horse Artillery



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January to April 1941





'D” Battery, 3rd Regt. R.H.A.



13th May 1941 to 25th June 1941



            This summary starts the day after UVOR column with Major GOSCHEN R.H.A. had had its epic battle against 42 German tanks. “B” to under 2/Lt. BLOOMFIELD, who was wounded, took part in it and 5 German medium tanks were disable by the three guns of the tp before withdrawing,


May 13th 1941.

            The location of the various units of the battery was as follows:-

A tp with PAUL column at RABIA


C tp with CALI (60th) column at HALFWAY HOUSE.

            C tp had moved from forward from SOFARI to cover the area of ALAM BETTUNA.


May 14th 1941.

            On the night 13/14th 22nd Gds and 4 R.T.R. (I) Tanks moved up behind ALAM BETTUNA and at 0530 hours advance on HALIFAY pass and MUSAID. PAUL (A tp) and BEAM (Major WITHERS R.H.A. and 1 tp 12 Aust A/TK guns) columns with 7 Armd Bde moved to BIN KIREIGAT and thence advances onwards towards Gap 41 and SIDI AZEIZ.

            The advance progressed satisfactorily if somewhat slowly, and at 1030 hours CALI (C tp) moved across to SIDI SULEIMAN and came into action there. PAUL column (A tp) were badly bombed twice during the day, and enemy counter attack on CAPUZZO causing a great many casualties to the D.L.I. holding the fort.


May 15th 1941.

            At 0500 hours CALI (C tp) moved to Gap 30 but in view of the changed situation these orders where alter and the column returned once more to SIDI SULEIMAN. B tp, which had three guns, came up under T.S.M. McCLARRON and joined C tp with CALI column. PAUL column (A tp) remained near Gap 40. At about 1840 hours, 50 enemy tanks advanced down the CAPUZZO – GAP 38 – SIDI SULEIMAN track. They were engaged by 25-pdr fire but came southwards from 207. PAUL and BEAM columns on the wire withdrew and 2 R.T.R. who were very weak, engaged the enemy from both flanks, imposing considerable delay and enabling CALI column to withdraw 1o miles South.

            During the afternoon 2/Lt. COLT-WILLIAMS with three guns of B tp was sent off to chase an enemy armoured car patrol but without result.


May 16th 1941.

            CALI (B and C tps) remained at GARET ABU FARIS. BEAM column were through the wire near BIR GHIRA, and PAUL further North on ridge overlooking CAPUZZO,

            At 1815 a column of 100 MET with 50 tanks advanced. PAUL and BEAM retired and CALI took on the column covered by one sqm 2 R.T.R. The other sqn of 2 R.T.R. which was the LIBYAB side of the wire was called to help. As they (the enemy) approached SIDI SULEIMAN they were engaged by a weak cruiser sqn of 2 Tks. CALI succeed in putting 750 rds into the enemy before again being forced to withdraw.


May 18th 1941.

            At first light CALI (B and C tps) changed over with BEAM and went just south of their old position at GARET ABU FARIS. Two guns of C tp were at on O.P. at Pt 207. Two were at another O.P. and during the day the two guns of B tp left with T.S.M. McCLARRON on a special armoured car hunting job with the 11 H.

            At 1840 hours the enemy again attacked in great strength, using 50 tanks as an advanced guard behind which was a large body of unarmoured MET. The 25-pdr fire was concentrated in this MET with considerable effect. At 1915 hours however, CALI withdrew south-westwards and after several false alarms leaguered at ALAM MAWI.

            After CALI withdrew PAUL took over the harassing and although forced to withdraw the combined firing had such a good effect that before dark the area N. of 360 Grid Line was clear of the enemy.

            The enemy used 105 mm (STURM) tanks for the first time. Why the enemy withdrew is problematical?!


May 19th 1941.

            CALI returned once more to an area East of SIDI SULEIMAN. Two guns of C tp in an O.P. at Pt 207 were shelled by enemy tanks and forced to withdraw. There was slight enemy activity during the day. TSM McCLARRON returned; his patrol had not been of much use as every time a small body of enemy A.F.Vs. were fired on they bolted, and the country by Gap 41 – 42 did not lend itself to ambush.


May 20th 1941.

            An official signal came through to say that 2/Lt. N.G.A. COLT-WILLIAMS have been awarded the Military Cross.

            B to with 2 guns under T.S.M. McCLARRON moved down to SIDI BARRANI to reform as UVOR column once more. The battery was then disposed as follows:-

A tp with PAUL column at BIN KIREIGAT.


C tp with CALI column in the SIDI SULEIMAN area.


May 22nd 1941.

            A tp went off with 2 tps of the Royals to BIN SCHERZEN. There were actually on a reconnaissance for an ambush, but had two guns for protection. Suddenly 3 enemy armoured cars were seen moving South on the Libyan side of the wire. The guns were hurriedly positioned and opened fire. After a few rounds a large pall of smoke arose, and the tp actually thought they had hit something. There were speedily disillusioned however, when exactly the same thing happened from another car, an it was realised that the enemy had put down a smoke screen behind which they escaped. One of the cars was however definitely hit, as only two cars were reported returning up the wire. The third must have laid low until such time as it could be safely towed away.


May 23rd 1941.

            The columns changed over, PAUL with CALI, which then went to the DEIRD EL BRUG area. BEAM column with Battery Commander in temporary command, went as centre column east of BIN KIREIGAT.


May 25th 1941.

            2/Lt. COLT-WILLIAMS and C tp reported to 11 H for special armoured car ambush work.


May 26th 1941.

            All was quiet until 1700 hours, when the enemy made a determined attack, using about 150 tanks. In the morning he shelled the ground between HALFAY and 207 as a blind. He commenced trickling tanks through gap 41-42. He the shelled the area just west of the X tracks north of SIDI SULEIMAN. In the mirage the column on the West came rapidly forward coincident with a          at Pt 207. Arriving in the area of the Northern cross tracks the column moved South about a mile West of and parallel to the Gap 38 – HAMRA track. The enemy moved very rapidly and threw off small columns to deal with PAUL and PAUL’s soft vehicles, BEAM and yet another column south of BEAM, to try and cut them off. The 2 R.T.R. put up a very good defence with very few tanks to assist BEAM, their H.Q. moving across to protect BEAM’s west flank. The columns withdrew in good order and without casualty and it was then discovered that 40 tanks had crossed the wire near Gap 56 and were sitting waiting to learn the outcome of the progress of their northern columns. Seeing that all was well they advance on HAMRA where they were engaged by CALI, who were forces to withdraw. It was a well thought out and executed by the enemy, and with a slight mistiming on our part might have succeeded.


May 27th 1941.

            C tp who had been out with 11 H on 26th were forced to abandon one of their portees owing to a puncture and mechanical breakdown. The portee was later recovered by BEAM and put into running order.

            C tp moved into a central area with CALI by ALAM MADAM. A tp were resting at SOFARI.


May 28th 1941.

            BEAM column moved south westwards and then carried out a wide sweep North and North west. C tp were sent out to try and catch an armoured car patrol reported to be HALFWAY HOUSE. This was entirely a piece of false information.


May 29th 1941.

            On the evening of the 28th fresh ordered were received. Harassing as general role was to cease, were only to be undertaken when good opportunity offered, Delayand observation were the primary roles. BEAM column on West, CALI on East on a general line of observation running from ALAM EL BEIYID (519338) to Pt 184 (540351). This meant that columns could sit back and take it easy.


May 30th 1941.

            This however, applied little to the battery, as being the only really mobile A/Tk unit there in the area they were needed everywhere, and A tp reported to O.C. 11 H for a three day hunting of enemy armoured cars. There was a real necessity for this, because the 11 H Marman Harrington’s only mounted a Bren and a Boyes rifle and were at the mercy of even the smallest German armoured car, which had a 20 mm Breda. It was to prevent the enemy making our armoured car patrols confirm to their wishes, that a tp a time was attached to 11 H.

            A signal came through to say that L/Sgt. PORTER and Bdr. STEARN had been awarded the Military Medal. This with T.S.M. Whyman makes a total of 3 to date.


June 1st 1941.

            A tp remained at BIN KIREIGAT with 11 H. Owing to an error in orders B tp did not arrive to take over from them as had been arranged.


June 2nd 1941.

            On morning of 2nd they moved over to CARET ABU SAUD (513349) and lay in ambush with a patrol of 11 H.


June 3rd 1941.

            On the following day however, they were due to be relieved and at 0845 hours hadstarted to come away from position. The effe ct of withdrawal was further heighten by relieving tp of the 11 H arriving and the old tp withdrawing. Three enemy cars which had been watching decided to advance.  2/Lt. BLACKBURN put two guns into action and opened fire at 1000x. The effect was immediate and the armoured cars retired in considerable confusion. The less to learn from this is that A/Tk guns working with armoured cars are well worth while if a carefully plan is laid on.

            For the next few days much of the same roles were taken up, one tp remaining with 11 H and being relieved by another one.


June 9th 1941.

            On 9th however T.S.M. McCLARRON and 2 guns of B tp moved out with an infantry escort all under command of Major J. OSWOLD R.H.A. and laid an ambush during the night near ABU SHALIF south east of SIDI SULEIMAN, and close to what was believed to be an enemy leaguer. At first light on enemy armoured car (4 wheeled) came out on reconnaissance. B tp’s guns were hidden below the crest and when the car came within 1000x they were reversed slowly out and opened up at about 800x. The first shots were over and the car turned round as fast as it could go. The third round from one of the guns went through the turret and the next from the other gun went into the engine and stopped the car. The occupant fled but gave themselves up on being chases by infantry carriers. One man had received a 2-pdr shell through his shoulder and died on the way in. The armoured car was towed in to the column position. The section then endeavoured to repeat the performance but were shelled out by tanks carrying 75 mm guns. The planning and positions of the guns reflects real credit on T.S.M. McCLARRON.

June 12th 1941.

            A signal was received to say that 2/Lt. B.C. BLACKBURN R.H.A. had received the Military Cross and Driver Mechanic COVILL the Military Medal.

            The following letter was received from the C.I.G.S, Middle East:

“To       General Officer Commanding

                        Western Desert Force.




            General Headquarters

                  Middle East, Cairo.




30 May 1941

            The Commander on Chief has read with interest a report on the operations of UVOR column on 13th May 1941 in the Western Desertt

            This column consisted of:

                       Major G.N. Goschen, M.C., R.H.A., Commander.

                       B tp “C” Battery R.H.A., 4th Regiment R.H.A.

                       One tp “D” Battery R.H.A., 3rd Regiment R.H.A.

                       One Coy K.R.R.C.


General Wavell wishes his appreciation of the work done by the above units conveyed to the officers and men concerned. The conduct and fighting spirit of the troops is worthy of the highest traditions of the British Army”.




Chief of the Imperial General Staff.


A description of the operations which occasioned this let ter was forwarded in the previous summary.


June 14th 1941.

            Orders were received for a fresh attack to me made on the enemy, the troops taking part being:


            7th Armoured Division.

            4th Indian Division less one Bde plus 22nd Gds Bde.


            The Battery was as before under command Support Group and the three tps were working with the following columns:-

A tp with PAUL column (under 7th Armd Bde).

B tp with CONSETT (UVOR) column.

C tp with BASSETT (CALI) column.


            The Support Group was to protect the South and South East of the Armoured Division during its attack on HAFID and CAPUZZO. To do this CONSETT column covered SIDI OMAR and SHEFERZEN. WITHERS (BEAN) column were south of them and BASSETT column most southerly of all the ALAM EL SEIF.


June 15th 1941.

            All were according to plan and Pt. 207 Gap 38 captured. The enemy cleverly avoided battle with his tanks, relying on A/Tk guns to break up the attack before launching his tanks as a counter offensive. The enemy had a strong position on the BIR HAFID ridge, and although it was overrun with heavy casualties, the enemy was found to have built up a strong defensives line in great depth towards GABR EL MEDUAAR and HAGFET HAAR, and our tanks were driven off by heavy shell fire. The enemy launched counter attacks on CAPUZZO, which was defended by 22 Gds Bde and 22 A/Tk guns and 7th (I) R.T.R.

            During the night of 15/16 the Scot Guards entered MSUAID area.


June 16th 1941.

            Owing to rough handling the 7th Armd Bde has received the previous day CONSETT column was placed under command 7th Armd Bde as well as PAUL to give added fire power.

            BASSETT column took over CONSETT’s role and C tp spent the day preventingthe enemy from re-occupying Italian SIDI OMAR. Large bodies of enemy could be seen forming up to attack the 7th Armd Bde. Whilst there 6 German armoured cars came within range but as they did not threaten the security of the fort they were left alone (much to the fury of the men of C tp), as it was considered unwise to give away the fact that we have A/Tk guns in SIDI OMAR.

            Finally at about 1500 hours the enemy broke through at Gap 4 5 and forces 7th Armd Bde and Support Group East and South respectively. This created a large gap between 7th Armd Bde and 4th Armd Bde at Gap 39.


June 17th 1941.

            At first light all columns moved NORTH to contact the enemy, and A and C tps ran into large leaguers in the area if GUINGUINA. It is of the greatest pity that information did not get through to Support Group in time. They were watched going into leaguer by 11 H. This was reported to Division by 7th Armd Bde but Support Group were not informed. Had they been the story of 17th might well have been different. As it was the leaguer was shelled, but the columns and A/Tk troops were forced to withdraw by enemy tank shelling.

            After this the security of the whole force was clearly involved and a general withdrawal was ordered. The Gds Bde got out of CAPUZZON safely and Support Group once more reverted to their role of protecting and observing the front.

            Enemy air activity was particularly unpleasant. 2/Lt. BLACKBURN has his 8-cwt destroyed by a near miss,

            The battery therefore played a some what undistinguished part in the tank v tank battle and only fired some 50 rounds in 3 days fighting.


June 18th – 19th 1941.

            On the 18th and 19th the enemy set about systematically to destroy all the vehicles we had been forces to abandon and which we were unable to recover during the previous three days fighting. Owing to the poseession of tanks, which were not available to support our columns, the enemy drove us back and then held the ring with tanks whilst he destroyed vehicles at leisure.

            Several attempts at armoured car ambush were made by A & B tps, but in each case the enemy suspected something and did not come on.

June 21st 1941.

            On 21st however, an incident occurred typical of the enemy methods then being used.

            6 enemy tanks advances from ABU SHALIF southwards at 0700 hours. Their 75 mm guns shelled the 11 H patrol and PAUL’s O.P. The tanks advanced further and owing to the bad breakdown in PAUL’s W/T communications were not engaged by 25-pdr fire. Having come as far south as KIREIGAT they were retiring northwestwards when the say a large group of 11 H Armoured cars on GARET ABU SAAID. This was actually an O.P. of HASSETT column and had two guns of C tp hidden there. The enemy tanks moved South and West to cut off this party, which retired rapidly. The section C tp under Sgt. POTTER covered their withdrawal and as soon as the tanks came within range opened fire and continued firing without casualty. The enemy reaching GUBHRET EL BARASI (pt. 203) took up hull down position and carried out some very effective shelling.

            This shelling of our guns by 75mm tank shells is a problem that will have to be very closely watched if the A/Tk 2-pdr on a portee is to be of any real use in this type of desert operation.

            About this date two tps of 102 Regt (Northumberland Hussars) were attached to the battery for training. When they were sufficiently the batter y was to withdraw to GERAWLA for a rest.

            The location of the various portions of the battery on June 25th were as follows:-

                              Bty H.Q. 7 miles south if BIR HABATA.

                              A tp with PAUL at ALAM FAKRI.

                              B tp with CONSETT at ALAM MADAN.

                              C tp with BASSETT at QARET BU EL MILIK








W.D. Stewart






8.4.41                to                24.5.41



        On April 8th “D” Battery arrived in TOBRUK and on the morning of 9th visited “J” Battery and took over from them 7 portees complete with guns. The battery they moved out to the EL ADEM area and came under support group H.Q.

         The tps were disposed as follows:-

A tp. (2/Lt. B.C. BLACKBURN) with a mobile column under Major WITHERS R.H.A. in the area BIR FELFAA (385413).

B tp. (2/Lt. W.E. BLOOMFIELD) with the TOWER Hamlets at Kilo 31 aerodrome.

C tp. (2/Lt. R.G.A. COLT-WILLIAMS) and Headquarters with the 60th Rifles in the area 2000x S.E. of AL ADEM on top if escarpment.

 11th April 1941.

             The enemy attacked in strength and cut the roads TOBRIK – EL ADEM, TOBRUK – BARDIA. Capt. REDHEAD, who was in TOBRUK was unable to rejoin the Battery. At 1330 hours owing to lack of 25-pdr ammunition it was decided to withdraw the mobile column and a general line North and South through HALFAYA was taken up.


12th April 1941.

             There was an appalling khamssen all day making visibility 100x or less everywhere. A column called “Jock”, code  name “PAUL” under Lt.Colonel CAMPBELL was formed to operated in the MUSAID area. It had a coy 60th, G tp F Bty, A tp D Bty (2/Lt. BLACKBURN). The O.P. was on the SIDI AZEIZ – CAPUZZO - BARDIA fork with 2 tps Lt tanks, 7 H, 2 2-pdrs A tp under BLACKBURN.

            B tp went to BUQBUQ with Tower Hamlets and C tp with 60th to protect the SOFAFI passes.


13th April 1941 .

            At 0015 hours an enemy armoured car came down the BARDIA – CAPUZZO road evading the light tank parties, and was fired on by A Tp who hit it. The crew baled out in all directions. At 0500 an enemy lorry came silently to within 200x of the littleleaguer and disgorged 20 men, who spread out. On being fired at, but missed, some of the men returned to the lorry, which drove off at high speed. The remaining Germans could be seen creeping about trying to locate the pa rty, but at first light they were rounded up and captured.

            At 1200 hrs a planned attack was put in and after some brilliant shooting by Captain K.WOOD of “F” Battery R.H.A. the O.P. were forced to withdraw beyond the wire. A fresh O.P. was taken up near BIR SHALTUT but at 1700 hours the enemy outflanked the O.P, and when BLACKBURN went out to investigate the enemy Breda guns of the floor opened up. The first round killed Gnr. LOWSON. The round went straight through the shield. The section thereupon beat a hasty retreat. BLACKBURN’s car, which had been left at the O.P. because of bad starting refused to start, and Dvr. BELL was in danger of being left behind when D/Mech. COVILL, who was driving another 15-cwt, turned his truck around and under heavy Breda fire went back and picked up Gnr. BELL and brought him safely in. Shortly after this the to Cmdrs car received a direct hit and was a write off with all BLACKBURN’s kit on board.

            During this time this action was taking place, “C” to from SOFAFO were making for SIDI OMAR. This meant travelling all night, and arrived there 0530 hours on the 14th. The operation in which they were to take place was cancelled. Both A and C tps became part of PAUL’s column under Lt.Colonel CAMPBELL.


14th April 1941.

            On the evening of 16th 7 light tanks of 7 H. with 4 2-pdrs from A tp “attacked” MUSAID, the 2-pdrs firing hard but not doing much damage as there was no one there. The chief advantage again was that Nos. 1 were able to test the accuracy of their guns and sights.

            This action, in which oneprisoner was taken, however proved that it was feasible to combine light tanks and portees. This was as follows.


April 17th, 1941.

            At midnight themain force of guns, tanks, 2-pdrs and infantry moved to Gap 4 3. There the tanks and 2-pdrs moved to HAGFET WAAR (the scene of D’s battle in August). The 25-pdrs went into action between 39 and 40. At 0730 a demonstration under Major Stewart was to be made on the right flank opposite MUSAID. This latter and then CAPUZZO were to be shelled. The light tank sqn of 7 H under Major YOUNGER and 4 A/Tk guns of A and C tps under 2/Lt BLACKBURN were to move down the SIDI AZEIZ road, skirt the fort and come out by Gap 38, their objective being enemy MET, Armd cars and infantry which could be seen on the outskirts of CAPUZZO. The tanks went ahead, the 2-pdrs just behind so as to deal with any attempted enemy counter attack by medium tanks;

            What follows is taken from Colonel CAMPBELL’s official report on this operation:-

            “The advance started at 0700 hours. At the same time “F” Battery R.H.A. were instructed to commence shelling CAPUZZO. The first 400X what uneventful but soon targets appeared, in the form of 2 or 3 men on the northern side of the road in sangers, four or five motorcyclists attempting to getaway, a staff car rendered incapable of movement, a German armoured car knocked out and three of four MET trying to getaway. When the sqn was within 800 X – 1000 X of the West perimeter wall of the thought they suddenly came under very heavy A/Tk gunfire of at least 6 guns from emplacements within the parameter. The squadron changed direction and thought line ahead, preceded south along the wall and engaged with their weapons the A/Tk guns, machine guns, infantry and MET. (Note. The 2-pdrs also used their Bren guns to some effect). A section of enemy field guns join in with the A/Tk guns, and unless the son withdrew it looked is slow they would receive very heavy casualties, as the enemy weapons were firing at point blank range.

The steadiness of the sSquadron and the four A/Tk guns is beyond all praise. They maintained their formation, preceded even pace and returned the enemy’s fire with everything they had. Had they wavered Hey disastor might have occurred.

During this Phase one A/Tk gun of the battery received a direct hit from a field gun and was knocked out, the whole detachment, only one of whom had been wounded (Dvr. Hollins badly in foot) were picked up by another portee.

             Is spite of coming under very heavy fire the squadron Leader decided to continue with his task, a railing of the south-west corner Of the perimeter preceded along the south face of the fort. When they commence to withdraw towards B.P. 39 two 75 mm guns came into play but were quickly neutralised buy some accurate shooting by “F” battery RH.A.”

             The party then rallied at B.P. 39. 2/Lt. Blackburn was especially mentioned at the end of the report, part of which went as follows: -

“this officer led the 4 A/Tk guns of “D” battery R.H.A. all of which were completely unarmoured an exposed to exactly the same fire as the armoured tanks. These four gun teams never wavered from start to finish”.

From the above it will possibly be realised that it is was a somewhat exciting action, it seems miraculous that no other guns were knocked out. Every vehicle bore some mark of the action, but nothing very serious.


April 18th, 1941.

             B tp moved to SOFAFI and came under command of Major G. GOSCHEN, R.H.A, C Bty R.H.A. in a column known as OVOR.

             A tp and H.Q. went to join 60th at SIDI BARRANI. C tp remained with PAUL common.


April 19th, 1941.

               The Battery were now scarcely able to take the road for one of portees, and even the most superhuman scrounging and work by Battery fitters could not produce spares. When it realised that 7 portees will take it over from “J” who had been steadily pursued for 14 days this is perhaps understandable. Major STEWART therefore went to WESTERN DESERT FORCE H .Q. at BAGUSH to see the Force Commander, Lt.General Sir BERESFORD-PEIRSE. The Battery’s plight was listened to very sympathetically, and immediate steps were taken to put it on a surer footing. There were instance is no spare firing pins or striker mechanisms in the entire battery. 16 portees were asked for whilst the battery was split and working with three mobile columns, as if a portee was machine gunned from the air it was unable to be replaced under 8 hours at the earliest, with only one spare portee in the battery and on this date the Battery didn't even have this.


22nd April 1941.

        JOCK FORCE moved south two SIDI SULEIMAN and UVOR came up from SOFAFI into its place. There were now two columns up in the front.


23rd April 1941.

         JOCK FORCE C tp moved into LIBYA and the guns protected the O.P. on Pr. 204, overlooking CAPUZZO. In the afternoon the left section near HAGFET WAAR went into action against two  armoured cars, setting one on fire, the other escaping behind it smoke. The right section were heavily shelled at the O. P., and as they were withdrawing Gnr. DAISLEY received a small piece of shrapnel under the left shoulder blade which must have gone through into his chest, as he died two hours later.


24th April 1941.

         The O. P. again went to 204 and the section there chased out after two tanks, which made off fast on fire being opened. At 1300 hours a column of 20 MET we reported on the left flank. A section under 2/Lt. COLT-WILLIAMS went out to that flank. Although shelled by the enemy they continued to advance, assisted by some slight covering fire in the mirage from the 25-pdrs. When within 1400X they opened an accurate fire on the column, which withdrew in some confusion and did not reappear. For this action 2/Lt. COLT-WILLIAMS was recommended by Lieut.Colonel CAMPBELL for the M.C, which he has since been awarded.

          At 1500 hours 13 M.E.110’d attached the O.P. Mno damage was done to personnel, but Bdr. STERNS portee was hit and had to be evacuated.

B TP with UVOR column have been having an equally interesting time. 2 guns were hidden in the derelict lorries at Gap 38 when at 1300 hours an enemy column commencedto advance. They were shelled but persisted, and 40 vehicles came directly at the O.P. The 2-pdrs opened fire at 1800 X as well as the 25-pdrs, and the enem y withdrew. They formed up again and came on a slightly different direction, but were again driven back by the combined file fire, after which they gave up the attempt.


25th April 1941.

        The enemy again tried to advance what on a large scale in 4 columns, the main effort being directed at HALFAYA - MUSAID track. The main O.P. was again protected by 2-pdrs, which fired to some effect, and finally the enemy decided that the 25-pdr fire was too intense and withdrew.

C tp in LIBYA again wait chasing and dispersing two enemy tanks. At 1330 hours that tp was attacked by M.E.110’s for 40 minutes. One portee suffered damage to the radiator. Luckily for the battery, however, true new guns and portees arrived to make the Bat tery up to 12 guns for the first time.


26th April 1941.

          The enemy were by this time thoroughly determined to take HALFAYA and not be driven back. They decided therefore to attack with 300 vehicles including about 30 tanks and to push well past HALFAYA. The attack was launched at about 1600 hours in larhe columns, a right flank guard being pushed out to the South. Two tps of the Battery were involved, C tp on South and B tp in main line of advance, and it will be convenient to examine their actions separately.

          The right section C tp was in action protecting the left flank of C Battery and out about 1600 hours 2/Lt. COLT-WILLIAMS brought up the other section to carry out a normal evening shoot with the 25-pdrs. On arrival, however, the main German advance started some 3 miles to his North, moving from West to East.

          The other section was put in on the right of see battery. As he was motoring across to see the other section 2/Lt. COLT-WILLIAMS noticed 4 large vehicles about 2 miles away coming directly for the 25-pdrs. He went back and collecting the section he had just left brought them forward about a mile and as he swung them into action, he swa that a German field battery was just about to come into action, they were limbering. The 2-pdrs opened at once and the men scattered. In all the enemy fired only one round, the 2-pdrs 91. But this very prompt action 2/Lt. COLT-WILLIAMS enabled “C” Battery to withdraw without possible casualty and possibly inflicted some damage on the enemy battery. This action illustrates what quick thinking and bold action may succeed in doing, against superior armament.

         Later in the day about 1800 hours PAUL Commander sent a section of C tp out to engage enemy AFVs. reported 3 miles WEST of the column. These were chased for 6 miles the one hit was scored but the enemy escaped. PAUL column halted at HAMRA.

In the meantime UVOR column and B tp have been fighting a fierce rearguard action. B tp had one gun in the O.P. at Gap 38, two guns at main Battery position and one gun which had only arrived that morning protecting the leaguer area. A sandstorm blew up at 1500 hours and at 1615 it cleared and the enemy could be seen advancing in massed columns. The O.P. at Gap 38 was effectively shelled and cleared out. The two guns at the main position moved over to protect the right O.P, and the other gun came up and joined the Gap 38 O.P. one at the main position which quickly stepped back into the main leaguer position. Fight orders were coming down from “C” battery (B tp) O.P’s. on the move and all the guns were firing gunfire as hard as they could. The two guns on the right added to the confusion by opening up from the O.P. Theleft section under T.S.M. McCLARRON was with the guns and was doing some tremendous shooting. At BIR NUR, the 25-pdrs stayed until the range was 2500X and the left section 2-pdrs covered them out. They only finally withdrew only 500 X from the advancing columns and went on firing even on the move. This firing on the move was tried as an experiment (1) to keep up the morale of the crew by giving them something to do (2) to hope that by some lucky shooting further delay might be imposed on the enemy.

The troop Cmdr of “C” Battery said that the action of the left section of B tp undoubtly saved the 25-pdrs from being captured. Much damage must have been inflicted on the enemy vehicles. The range was so short, about 800X, and the mass of vehicles so great it was almost impossible not to hit something. It was very noticeable that when fired at all vehicles move to the flank to get out of the fire. At one time the confusion was so great that a German medium tank towing A/Tk gun was mistaken for a F.W.D. towing a 25-pdr. One Section-Sergeant’s 15-cwt stuck in the soft sand and had to be abandoned in there now fast deepening twilight.

         Three guns withdrew to SOFAFI, but Sgt. HALE and one gun stayed out with the 11 H patrol. The enemies withdrew right back during the night and in the morning the patrol went forward and rescued the missing 15-cwt, which was completely untouched, the enemy having missed it in the dark.

During the battle B tp fired442 rounds. One gun got so hot that the new camouflage paint blistered off the barrel and gave it a kind of mangy appearance. The troop was warmly congratulated by the column commander on their shooting.


April 27th 1941.

The battery was now dispersed as full follows:

A tp with Bty H.Q. at SIDI Barrani .

B tp with UVOR at SOFAFI.

C tp with PAUL at ENBA.

          All that could possibly be done in the way of repair was now carried out. The desert was combed for derelicts from which springs etc were taken. Chevrolet 30-cwt springs were almost unattainable for the portees. It was at this juncture the Regimental Quartermaster, Lt. WHITBY, came to the Battery’s aid. He brought new portees, 15-cwts andh vital spare parts he had managed to extract from reluctant O.F.P’s, etc. The Battery owe him a very real debt of gratitude for the tireless way in which he went backwards and forwards to get them spare parts. It was through him let the spare striker mechanisms and firing pins were obtained, as well as spare sights.


April 26th 1941.

           On April 29th the harassing started again but this time in a slightly different form. C tp with A Cou 60th went through the wire at Gap 43 and on into LIBYA West of SIDI AZEID. Most Unfortunately Bdr. FLINT’s portee , his new one, the other having been hit at CAPUZZO, broke a spring and had to be left with the 11 H at HAMRA.

            At 1700 hours the enemy attacked 11 H H.Q. with ME110’s and scored a direct hit on the front of FLINT’s portee. The crew were able to get clear and were unhurt. C tp went on into LIBYA and lay up. One gun was sent with a platoon to the escarpment overlooking the TOBRUK - BARDIA road but the road was so bad it was left. There the platoon laid mines on the road and captured the true the crew over 105 mm gun going along it. The next day the whole party with drew without incident. It was sheer bad luck that nothing came down the TRIG CAPUZZO whilst the main party was there.

C tp moved to HAMRA and thence North to KIREIGAT, the 25-prds. going into action 3000X North of that place. A recce in force of 1 Pl 60th and 2 2-pds. under 2/Lt. BLOMEFIELD went forward and on a signal from Major GOSCHEN came into action against a party of enemy MET and a gun that was being shelled from the main O.P. The MET were by this time making off and the gun was just starting with its tower when several 2-pdr rounds put the tower out of action the gun crew then fled, and the gun was towed I in triumph with two prisoners. It turned out to be an 88 mm A/A gun are very fine gun indeed. Had it not been for accurate shooting of the section at about 1500 X it will probable that the gun might have escaped. It is interesting here to note that 2 armoured cars and 2 tanks held a watching brief about 2500 X distant but make no attempt to endeavour to recapture their gun. The gun bore the German Colonial Divisional sign of a Palm tree with a swastika in the middle of the trunk.


30th April 1941.

          Two guns of B tp went forward with an O.P. towards 207 camp and had a most unpleasant day, being bombed and machine gunned. At 1300 hours the 25 pdrs sidestepped eastwards towards ALAM BEITUMA from which they could shell HELFAYA pass. The O.P. stayed where it was, sending out decoy messages to make the enemy believe the guns were still in position. The shoot was duly carried out and UVOR column withdrew to be BIR HABATA and finally to SOFAFI.


2nd May 1941.

           As C tp have not yet returned from the LIBYAN expedition, B tp had to go out again. In the meantime owing to various false alarms they had very little rest and were extremely weary. They returned to the KIREIGAT area.


3rd May 1941.

          A tp changed with C tp, the latter returning to SIDI BARRANI.


6th May 1941.

          A very bad khamseen. B tp endeavoured to stalk enemy armoured cars at Gap 41.


8th May 1941.

            B tp returned through the HALFWAY HOUSE area. A tp move forward into more or less the position they had vacated. They engaged 4 tanks and 20 MET which had retreated after being shelled as well as 25-pdrs. One section went down to SIDI OMAR being bombed and machine gunned on the way. They had a shoot an enemy armoured cars which retreated rapidly. At 1800 hours the wholeforce advanced to the area of KIREIGAT. Here A tp received orders for the night. One section and a platoon 60th were to act as a roadblock at the crosstracks due North of SIDI SULIEMAN. The other platoon section where to go to the crosstracks South East of SULIEMAN. Having with considerable differently got into position 2/Lt. BLACKBURN saw enemy 11 enemy medium tanks about 500X west of him, and the information was next received that 7 enemy tax had arrived at SIDI SULIEMAN itself. He and Captain Hope (1 K.R.R.C.) were then in a very ticklish position. There was an enemy camp at Pt. 207 to the north. There were tanks West and South, and South East was the other section which would certainly fight on them if they were too far in that direction.

        At 2100 hours the tanks  on the West open fire but Fortunately the fire was too low and patrol moved one mile S.E. On stopping they heard the tanks following so he moved a further mile. They then decided they were getting too close to our own patrol and went south. After long search in the darkness they failed the column Commander and informed him what happened.


9th May 1941.

         The guns went up towards the O.P. again, once more the enemy waited until the party were   in the Fort before opening far from behind thefar walls. The section opened fire and drove the enemy tanks off.

         Then the most appalling khanseen started just as a column was reported moving East from SIDI OMAR. One section of A tp was therefore in the khanseen with the O.P. and one section was sent out to the west with 2 25-pdrs to deal with the column approaching from SIDI OMAR. Thus the gun position proper had no guns (A/Tk). It was on this day that the German tanks ran into the battery position whilst the armoured cars were doing 5th column work in the wagon line. As a result of this unfortunate incident “C” Battery last 2 guns and 26 men missing believed captured. One man from “P” now in “C”, Bdr. WILSON broke his ankle but he was carried all through the day by another gunner, and most of the night as well. When it is realised the temperature was 108° it was a very fine effort, especially with no water. Both are picked up the next day by 11 H and the story was actually told personally by WILSON to 2/Lt. BLOMEFIELD.

The tp had now had no rest for 36 hours and many were in a state of exhaustion due to the khamseen. That night one section was on the road blocking, a most annoying role for A/Tk in a desert where guns all going was equally good, then to make matters worse are really scorching wind blew all the 11th up to 6:00 p.m.


12th May 1941.

          A tp had been withdrawn two SOFAFI and 60% of it sent to the sea after a pretty gruelling few days. B tp were near HALFWAY HOUSE and also had sent personnel to the sea and the tp was in a much depleted state. Only C tp, which was forward, was really up to full strength. CALI column (C tp) who were forward near ALAM El ARAD sent out O.P, and at 0720 hours enemy tanks were reported to be coming across the front. The two guns at the Battery position were taken forward to the O.P. by the B.C. to save time in there saw 10 German medium tanks. These were engaged at 1500X to try and turn them. The fire had little effect except to try and make them move further South-East. CALI column was forced to withdraw and started to move back by bounds, shelling the advancing dancing tanks with 25-pdr fire as they went.

          In the meantime, B tp and UVOR column were ordered to move South-West (a) to cover the weekend PAUL column at a SOFAFI and secondly to try and prevent them cutting in on CALI. When they had moved 3 miles on a bearing of 120° from ILWET EL MAWI, 2/Lt. BLOMEFIELD saw German tanks on the right, northern flank. This was at once reported to Major GOSCHEN who got the 25-pdrs into action. 2/Lt. BLOMEFIELD saw increasing numbers of medium tanks up to42, coming towards the guns. Hey himself had a section but had taken out a third party or which to travel himself this had a layer (L/Bdr. LEE E.G.) The tp Cmdr Posted his section on the right of the guns at his own gun on the left of the position. The enemy was still advancing and all the guns opened fired. The position was in a small fold and the 25-pdrs field of fire was only 800X. A few enemy tanks came at the guns direct and these were knocked out. Three tanks which tried to turn the left flank were turned back by 25-pdrs, but later came round on a much wider sweep. Here they were dealt with by 2/Lt. BLOMEFIELD’s gun, the latter acting as in No. 2. L/Bdr. LEE silenced all threein rapid succession before his own portee received a direct hit. L/Bdr. LEE was killed instantly and 2/Lt. BLOMEFIELD thrown off the portee and wounded. The section the other side had also been firing hard. They knocked out two tanks, for certain, but the enemy now adopted a Hull down position on the crest and were at a considerable advantage. Two of the gun towers were hit trying to get away, but the other two escaped although one was hit about a minute about a minute afterwards comma and set on fire. 2/Lt. BLOMEFIELD got back into the portee which fortunately was still running, and brought the other two guns out of action without further casualty. These three guns certainly knocked out 5 tanks and assisted




July to August 1941




'D” Battery R.H.A.


September 1941


September 1, 1941
    One M.E.110 machine gunned the O.P. at WARANI. No damage was done. Shortly after this an officer from the other column arrived in an 8-cwt at great speed – and left with equal speed. The result was an almost immediate shelling by 105 mm guns which forced the O.P. and Sgt. HALE’s section to retire.

September 3, 1941.
    Work was carried out on the North Point position. Concrete aprons were made, camouflage improved, they were heightened and new pits for Tp Commanders commenced.
R.H.Q. proceeded to ALMAZA somewhat unexpectedly.
    News was received that Brigadier GOTT had been appointed to command 7 Armd Div.

September 8, 1941.
    General CUNNINGHAM and General MESSERVY paid a visit to NORTH POINT position. They paid scant attention to this position but they wished to see the escarpment. So General CUNNINGHAM came to look at one of the portées and asked numerous questions.

September 10, 1941.
    A curious incident occurred which might have been much more serious. A patrol of 1 K.R.R.C. went out to ABU SAID passing through the WARANI O.P on its way out. They said they would be returning at 0530 hours. At 0400 hours two vehicles were seen coming in from a flank and the guns laid on them. As they came nearer they were identified as the patrol and 2/Lieut. SHURLOCK went out to speak to the patrol commander. At that moment a round from one of the guns went off narrowly missing both 2/Lieut. SHURLOCK and the patrol.
    The explanation was as follows. As the patrol approached from a flank the gun had to be traversed around at right angles. In traversing the gun back the No. 1 neglected to extract the shell, and as the layer traversed back he pressed the firing pedal. It seems to be a point worth noting for future reference.

September 11,1941.
2/Lt. P.C. DIXON returned from hospital. In hospital he was in the next bed to Captain Redhead, who is now in hospital in ALEXANDRIA with a chronic septic ulcer.

September 12, 1941.
Whilst C Tp were changing over with A Tp at WARANI the enemy shelled with 25-pdrs. Having searched the area they landed a shell 15 yards from one of C Tp’s portées, and pierced the differential.

September 13, 1941.
6 N.C.Os from the Northumberland Hussars were attached to the Battery for training. They were from the batteries who are coming up to relieve the Batteries here now.

September 14, 1941.
    On the evening of the 13th Little Brother column heard some suspicious rumbling and on moving forward from leaguer the next morning the carriers of D Coy 60th had a pre-arranged Verey light signal that they would fire if they contacted the enemy. At 0650 hours the signal went up and enemy tanks could be seen on the horizon about 2 miles away. These approached at great speed, shelling as they came and T.S.M. McCLARRON was able to put 2 guns of B tp and 2 of A tp in to stop the advance and allow the 25-pdrs of H/I to withdraw unmolested.
    The other section of B Tp had moved out to ARAD having changed over with A Tp, and they narrowly escaped being cut off. They managed to slip South and then East and rejoin the column, which withdrew to North Point position but luckily were not closely followed up. It is impossible to say what McCLARRON’s guns hit, but as a dense mass of vehicles and tanks were coming at ranges from 1200 – 800 yards, but an independent witness said 5 tanks were left behind, but this does not say they were knocked out by A/Tk fire.
In the meantime C Tp who were in reserve had listened somewhat anxiously to the firing and the rumble of tanks, and had got ready to move. Most unfortunately, however, the telephone line between the battery and column H.Q. was broken and orders were not received until 0800 hours, by which time of course Little Brother column had withdrawn through North Point position and was somewhat perturbed to find none of the reserve troops there.
    By 0815 hours 10 guns were in position in their pits. The two guns missing were those from the WARANI O.P. with 2/Lt. SHURLOCK. These had leaguered 3 miles south of WARANI during the night and on their way forward they were ordered to withdrew to GARET EL RUWEIBET because the enemy were on RUWEIBET EL WARANI and GARET RAMLIYAT (529342). They were then released by the South African Armd Car Regt, but as their line of withdrawal was cut by the enemy and had to go south and eventually arrived back about 1300 hours, by a very circuitous route.
    At 0830 hours the enemy column that had attacked Little Brother earlier, appeared on a ridge 1000[?]x West of the NORTH POINT position about 353338 and moved off Southwards. Had they advanced there were no 25-pdrs really securely in action to deal with them. The enemy seemed convinced that a large minefield existed from the escarpment south to the PLAYGROUND position.
    At 1230 hours two enemy trucks came slowly down the track near the escarpment and began to examine the wire guarding the minefield. They had been reported and watched and not fired on because one of them was a Chevrolet truck and it might be one of our own that was lost.
The 60th platoon watching in pits near Nos. 1 and 2 guns, and our gunners were tearing down the camouflage to try and bring a gun to bear on the trucks. The Chevrolet truck made off before 2-pdr fire could be brought to bear. But the other truck was knocked out and two men ran away. The Battery Commander and 2/Lt. COLT-WILLIAMS went out and inspected it. It was a semi tracked artillery tractor. It had been hit in numerous places by shell and .303 fire. One man had received a direct hit and saw merely a torso. The tractor was later burnt by the 60th.
    After this things were quiet and the enemy were reported to be passing in some strength south of the PLAYGROUN position at about 552320. The afternoon was quiet but at about 1730 hours rumblings were heard, and the enemy were reported on the move moving Northwards.
    A plan was in operation by which on a code word “VICTORIA” both Brother and Sister column back to the 595 grid line. The enemy now moved very rapidly, skirted PLAYGROUN and moved N.E. towards SOFAFI WEST. At this moment “VICTORIA” went. Brother column got out quickly, but owing to the speed that 25 German tanks were moving it was obvious that part of the force would be caught before it could clear the dangerous wadi at 560335.
    For the first time since the battery fought in the desert the battery commander was able to command his entire battery.
B Tp were pushed out South of the 25-pdrs and A Tp were brought well South with instructions to keep the enemy away from the retreating column. In the meanwhile C Tp were discovered on the escarpment side of the ridge and brought down to the battle. A Tp had done sterling work and were firing slowly and steadily and had knocked out 4 tanks. A and C tps were under fairly heavy fire from every sort of gun but the enemy fire was mostly over and very inaccurate.
    One most interesting point occurred in that instead of continuing across the front even at 1100x rang the tanks turned North and came straight for the guns. This naturally had the effect of lengthening the distance between the retreating column and the tanks, who obviously did not care to expose their thinly armoured flanks to 2-pdr fire.
    This was exactly what was required and the 8 guns withdrew in good order towards SOFAFI WEST. The enemy, continued to keep up a very heavy fire but the battery never even had a puncture.
    In fact the only loss was that of the Officers Mess Tent which fell off the mess lorry unnoticed in the shelling.
    On the guns withdrawing the enemy recced northwards to the main track and with the sun low behind them sent forward some smaller vehicles to shell the battery. This was again inaccurate and not in the least effective.
    The complete column leaguered for the night at SIDI ABBASS (500345).
    During the afternoon of the 14th Glen Martin bombers did two most successful attacks on the enemy. Subsequent recce showed two lorries, one tank and one staff car destroyed.

September 15, 1941.
    As was to be expected the enemy withdrew well back during the night, but owing it is understood to some disorganisation in the Armd Car patrol system the move forward of columns was delayed until 1400 hours. This was a pity as the enemy might not have had so much time to recover his damaged tanks.
    At 1730 hours Little Brother column moved west to take up its old position but hurriedly returned on hearing 20 enemy tanks were reported in the area. Then began a period of order and counter order, guns moved backwards and forwards until dark when the force leaguered in two portions.
    At 1145 a rumble was heard and both columns stood to, C Tp moving to a more central position at Pt. 221. The night however passed without incident.

September 16, 1941.
    At 0800 hours Little Brother Column stated to move forward, but at 1000 hours for some unknown reason the last of the column was still in the NORTH POINT position. C Tp had a portée with electrical trouble; A Tp had one with leaky radiator. To make things easier the Captain came back to say the spare portée had been evacuated with a burnt out gear box. The rations were also with the spare 15-cwts which had not yet returned from the “soft vehicle” rendezvous.
    At 1500 hours permission was given for conditions to “resume normal” and the NORTH POINT position was evacuated.

September 17, 1941.
    A reconnaissance of the forward area showed that the enemy had made direct for the Little Brother Column and had topped up there leaving their containers to be picked up by soft vehicles moving behind. This was not down however and the battery collected many of them.
    This probably accounts for the delay in following up Little Brother Column. They then went South East towards ZIODIN EL AKMAR (540335), one party coming due East before moving south. It was this party that was seen moving South from the NORTH POINT position at about 0830 hours.
All tanks and vehicles then concentrated at EL KALATA (547322). Here they stayed until 1730 hours when they moved North East as has been already described. No tanks came further East than the 564 grid line.
    They shelled SOFAFI WEST camp as they approached it and appeared particularly interested in the wadis about 560335.

September 19, 1941.
    Major PUMPHREY of D Bty 102 (NH) Regt R.H.A. arrived in the forward area and the handing over commenced.

September 20, 1941.
    Brigadier MIRRLEES and Colonel HARVEY, Commanding 65 A/Tk Regt were taken around the North Point position by the Bty Commander. The 65 A/Tk Regiment will soon man the position which is to be considerably strengthened. A Tp were relieved by a Tp of 102 Regt.

September 22,1941.
    On night 21/22 B and C Tps of the Battery were relieved by tps of D Battery 102 Regt and by 0830 hours on 22nd the complete battery were concentrated in the B Echelon area. From here the Battery moved by tps at 15 mins interval to PICCADILLY (610339).
    From there the Battery moved as a whole to ZAWYET SHAMMAS (643367) on the coast North of Mile 90 on the SIDI BARRANI road. Here the hand over of portées to 65 A/Tk Regt was to take place.

September 24, 1941.
    C Tp handed over its portées to 257 Battery.

September 25, 1941,
    A and B Tps handed over portées to 258 Battery receiving 8 English Type portées in return. These had been in continuous use since May and were in a very shaky condition.

September 26, 1941.
   Owing to 259 Battery not arriving for 2 days to handover 4 English portées, it was decided to leave a tp behind and move the main body of the Battery to CAIRO.
   The first stage of the journey to MATRUH was done in the afternoon.

September 27, 1941.
    Main body moved to Mile 160 on road ALEXANDRIA – CAIRO.

September 28, 1941.
    Main body arrived in CAIRO and went to R.A. Base Depot ALMAZA.

September 29, 1941.
    Settling in – digging slit trenches etc. A Tp arrived and the battery was complete.

September 30, 1941.
    Dvrs. WHYATT and ELTRINGHAM who had been left with Capt. REDHEAD in TOBRUK rejoined the Battery after 5½ months absence.

    (Sgd) W.B. STEWART             
1.10.41.   Major R.H.A.



October to December 1941



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