War Diaries of G Battery (Mercer's Troop), Royal Horse Artillery



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January 1940

Commanding Officer: Major H.E. Collett White RHA.

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
WEST DOWN 4.5.6 Jan   The bty was attached to 50 Div, Art for an Arty concentration re  WEST DOWN ranges & spending two nights in the open  


February 1940

Commanding Officer: Major F. D. Moore

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
WOTTON UNDER EDGE 4 Feb   Major H.E. COLLETT WHITE vacates command of the bty re posting to 65 A.T. Regt R.A.  
      Major F.D. MOORE takes over command of the bty re posting from 'K' Bty R.H.A.  
  18 Feb   2Lt P. H. SHERRAT joined the Bty  
  20/2/40   Lieut J.R. KYNASTON posted to 'K' Bty R.H.A.  


March 1940


NB. Comments on March included in entry for April 


April 1940

Commanding Officer: Major F. D. Moore

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
WOTTON UNDER EDGE     During the period Feb to March the Bty remained at WOTTON UNDER EDGE and was gradually made up with equipment. Several schemes were held and several training  carried out.  
      The weather was most unsuiitable  
  2 Apr   The road party left for the Port of Embarkation  
  7 Apr   The rail party left for the Port of Embarkation  
LOUVETOT 8 Apr   The battery concentrated again in billets  
LOUVETOT 12 Apr   The battery moved by road to billets in TRANSLAY.  
TRANSLAY 13 Apr   The battery moved by road to billets in in BOIS GRENIER.  
BOIS GRENIER 16 Apr   G.O.C. 3 Corps inspected the bty in billets.  
BOIS GRENIER 30/4/40   The bty remained in billets and carried out training,  


May 1940

Commanding Officer: Major F. D. Moore R.H.A.

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
BOIS GRENIER 4/5   Capt A.D.M. TEACHER & Capt A.E. BROCKLEHURST proceed on leave to U.K. pending joining the Staff College, CAMBERLEY, as students on 16 May.  
BOIS GRENIER 1 - 16 May The Battery remained in billets, and continues training  
      Anti-parachutist night patrols  
BOIS GRENIER     2/LT D.K. WELLS posted to H.Q. 5. R.H.A.  
BOIS GRENIER 13/5   2/LT O BARSTOW & 2/LT. D.L. BENKE joined the Bty from the Base camp.  
BOIS GRENIER 17/5   Battery left BOIS GRENIER and marched to ORCO, near TOURNAI.  
      Reconnaissance for O.P's and positions was started but before any were occupied, orders were received  to R.V. at BOIS DE FLINES, S.W. of ORCHIES.  
      From herre positions were taken up as follows :-  
      Bty H.Q. ....... LE MARICON  
      A Tp ...........   2 guns in RACHES, in A/Tk role  
                             1 sec in BOIS DE FLINES  
      B Tp ...........   1 Sec in ANHIERS  
                             1 sec in at LALLAING Bridge in A-Tk role  
      C Tp ...........   2 guns in VRED in A/Tk role  
                             1 sec in rear, near main road,  
      Forward W.L.  Chateau at BOIS DE FLINES.  
      The Battery was thus holding about 6 miles of front along the River SCARPE.  
BOIR DE FLINES 18/5   Battery H.Q. and forward W.L. moved to a farm at LE CRUPEZ  
  23/5   Battery moved with the regt to FORET DE NIEPPE. The route had been bombed and a diversion was necessary, as LA BASSSE bridge was blown up. The Battery spent the night in the FORET DE NIEPPE, knowing the enemy were in rear.  
FORET DE NIEPPE 24/5   The Battery moved with the Regt to CASSEL. The rear part of the Battery was under fire, leaving FORET DE NIEPPE. The convoy was machine-gunned from the air, en route, 4 men being wounded.  
      On arrival at CASSEL, A & B Tps took up positions at once. C Tp remained in the Battery W.L. about 2 miles East of CASSEL.  
CASSEL 25/5   Capt  Holman and 2/Lt Barstow took C Tp to WORMHOOT to form as strong point.  
CASSEL 26/5   Capt Holman, 2/Lt Barstow and C Tp returned, having been relieved by A/Tk guns  
      2/Lt Lanyon took out one gun (Sgt Bartle, B Troop) and the armoured O.P. to support a patrol of the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, and hit two tanks, which infantry subsequently burnt.  
CASSEL 27/5   Enemy attached CASSEL : B Tp were shelled and lost 2 killed and 10 wounded, and 1 gun put out of action.  
      Capt J A Norman took out a section to engage tanks, but results were not known due to smoke, which impeded vision.  
      Capt Holman took out a section but did not engage any targets.  
      B & C Tps brought down harrassing fire to aid F Tp, surrounded in HONDINGHEM.  
      In the evening and enemy gun was engaged and silenced from the W.L.  
      During the night, the Bty H.Q. & W.L. were moved about 2 miles to N.E. of CASSEL, 'G' and 'K' Btys being in the same fields.  
CASSEL 28/5   C Tp came into action N.E. of CASSEL, to fire on North side of this town. A Tp were in an A/TK position, N.E. of CASSEL. B TP were still in the same position.  
      At 1700 hrs, both batteries made preparations to move to REXPOEDE, as part of a force to clear up the situation South of BERGUES.  
      The move did not commence until 1930 hrs. On reaching OOST CAPELLE, the road was found to be completely jammed by traffic all going towards BERGUES.  
      The rate of progress was very slow, and it was impossible to keep contact. The rear portion of the battery was stopped by the regtl guide near REXPOEDE, the remainder went on almost to BERGUES before being diverted back to an area 2 miles North of REXOEDE.  
WEST HOEK 29/5   The Battery came into action with 1 sec : forward at RATTE - KO (B tp.), and the remainder of the guns at A/TK posns near WEST HOEK  
      The forward sec. engaged tanks with success and frustrated an attack.  
      B Tp was brought in and moved off about 2130 hrs, to join 'K' Bty, North of BERGUES - FURNES canal at LES MOEURS.  
      The rest of the Battery moved at about 2330 hrs, (with the enemy about 500x away), via HONDESCHOOTE, where it first took a wrong turn and then found the direct road to PONT DES CERFS blocked by burning cars.  
LES MOEURS 30/5   An alternative route was found, and the battery got across the bridge at PONT DES CERFS at about 0500 hrs, and took up a position with 2 guns covering PONT DES CERFS and 7 guns at LES MOEURS beside 'K' Bty  
      As many as men as possible were then sent off under Capt Holman with the intention of making LA PANNE, leaving all the remaining guns in action.  
      This party was forced to abandon vehicles after a mile, however ; vehicles were put out of action, and the party marched to BRAY DUNES beach, where it remained until 1900 hrs.  
      After being shelled, it marched to DUNKIRK, was shelled for 3 hours on the Mole, and embarked at 0330 on May 31st, aboard SS "Maid of Orleans" for Dover  
LES MOEURS 31/5   The Cookhouse was moved after enemy shelling has registers the Farm in which it was sited.  
      It was moved just in time, for this Farm and the C.P. nearby were shelled later, and also the O.P. in a barn nearby.  
      All guns were moved back to the rear positions during the afternoon : harassing fire was experienced during the afternoon and night. 1 killed, and 1 wounded.  
      A/Capt Nicholson took four detachments to the beach during the afternoon.  



'G' Battery R.H.A

Appendix No1

List of Officers and W.O.s at 17th. May 1940

B.C. Major F.D. Moore )
Bty. Capt. Capt. J.A. Norman )
C.P.O. 2/Lt. Lanyon )     Bty. H.Q.
A.C.P.O. 2/Lt. Benke )
W.L.O 2/Lt. Birley )
'A' Tp. Comdr. Capt. W.R. Holman )     'A' Tp.
'A' Tp. G.P.O. 2/Lt. Oulton. )
'B' Tp. Comdr. 2/Lt. Nicholson. )     'B' Tp.
'B' Tp. G.P.O. 2/Lt. Wixley. )
'A' Tp. Comdr. 2/Lt. Birch. )     'C' Tp.
'A' Tp. G.P.O. 2/Lt. Barstow, )
W.O. II Richardson )
    )     Bty. H.Q.
W.O. III Thomas )
W.O. II Matthews )
    )     'A' Tp.
W.O. III Leigh )
W.O. II Smith       'B' Tp.
W.O. II Lungley       'C' Tp.



Report by 2/Lt M.C. Lanyon 'G' Bty. R.H.A

Appendix No2

on action at LE THON on 25th May 1940

On the 26th. May, at approx. I received orders to take one gun to support a detachment of our own cavalry who were reconoitring a Forest to S.E. of CASSEL, with the intention of verifying information that it was clear of the enemy. By approx. 1200 hrs., I was in a position at LE THON, about 5 miles E. of CASSEL  so as to command a zone of about 180, including the near edge of the forest. A French avant-poste had reported unknown tanks in the area. At approx. 1300 hrs. two of our own carriers appeared and informed me that during a reconnaissance that morning a 2 pdr Anti-tank gun had had to be abandoned, and an attempt  was now to be made to recover it, by a detachment of the FIFE and FORFAR Yeomanry. I made arrangements to support this and the attempt was about to commence, when 2 enemy tanks (one heavy, one light) appeared and commence shelling the village below. I opened fire on them at just over 2000 yrds., and they took cover in a large copse nearby. I continued shelling the copse for some minutes; then my No.1 (Sgt Bartle) espies the tanks creeping down the side of the copse and we knocked them both out. A third enemy tank which I could not engages fired at us intermittently. As no further action then happened, it was decided to carry out the original plan; this was done , I covering the advance, and subsequent successful withdrawal of the Cavalry (with the anti-tank gun). During this time, some men from the French avant-poste nearby, went forward and set fire to the two deserted enemy tanks. On receiving the 'operation completed' signal from the cavalry, I returned to CASSEL at about 1800 hrs.


Appendix No3


                ON ACTION AT CASSEL ON MAY 27 / 1940

Ref. :- May - France and Belgium 1 : 50,000 Sheet 51

The Troops had taken up positions near CASSEL at 314656 on the night of May 24/25.


On the morning of May 27, the Troop engaged several targets by observation from the O.P.s of both Capt. Nicholson at 307571, and 2/Lt. Birch at 302576. During these shoots it seemed that our positions was being register by the enemy by air burst ranging, observation presumably being either from an enemy  S 'plane which was seen overhead at the time, or by an enemy agent in CASSEL. No. 1 Gun was out of actions as a result of recuperator trouble after firing only two rounds.


At about 1400 hrs. the B.C. gave orders over the telephone that if we were out of touch with both O.P.s the Troop was to fire on the village of BAVINCHOVE in square 2856, this village having been recordrd as a target earlier in the day.


A short time after this message was received several rounds of H.E. fell about 100 yards or 200 yards to our left flank. This fire was soon corrected on to our position and within a few minutes a number of rounds had fallen in the line of guns. Two direct hits were registered, one  on a quantity of ammunition dumped by Battery H.Q. a short time before about 40 yards left of No. 4 Gun, and the other on the ammunition limber of No. 2 Gun.


We were by this time out of touch with the O.P.s as a result of the line being cut and the R/T set being out of order. The assistance of the M.O. having been obtained to deal with the wounded, Nos. 3 and 4 Guns were manned and many rounds were fired at rate intense into the village of BAVINCHOVE. In order to economise ammunition, the Colonel later gave orders to cease firing until communication was again established with the O.P.s.


The Troop remained in positions until about 2000 hrs. on May 28.

The following were casualties :-


- L/Bde. Ponting

   Gnr. Wallace W.

   Gnr. Gregory


- Sgt. Weddle

   Sgt. O'Donnell.

   Bdr. Gwynn

   Gnr. Moors



November 11/1940.

GRA Wixley




Report by Capt J.A. Norman 'G' Bty. R.H.A

Appendix No4

on section action at on 27 May 1940

1. At about 1030 hrs. on May 27th. 1940 I was ordered to take a section from the CASSEL position to an area to the S.W. in order to support 'F' Troop in HONDEGHEM if possible.
2. I established an O.P. but found I could not see owing to smoke. Our own artillery were shelling the O.P. I therefore decided to move the O/P. further up the ridge.
3. While moving, my driver proceeded to ditch 'T'. We could not get it out on our own so we decided to set up a ground station with an O.P. up a tree. The wireless would not work as a ground set as the ground spike of the aerial was broken, Meanwhile our locality was being shelled (by the enemy this time). I set up the set in 'T' and wirelessed 2/Lt. Barstow to send up a quad. We had three attempts to winch 'T' out but could not do it. I therefore abandoned 'T', salved the wireless and went back to the section position in the quad.
4. Taking over a wireless truck I proceed to the main CASSEL-HONDEGHEM road with the intention of establishing an O.P. near HONDEGHM. I was met on the road by an ensign of the Welsh Guards, He had with him a convoy of Bren carriers with were unable to proceed back to CASSEL as the German tanks some 1000yds. away commanded the long straight stretch of road up which they had to move. There were 4 2 Pr A.T. guns and an 8cwt. truck on fire in the road about 400 yrds. from us. The tanks were firing 2 pdr. shells and M.G.s down the road. I told the ensign we would give him covering fire while he got the carries out. We did this with one gun manhandles to the side of the road. Fired about 20 rds. through the burning guns without obtaining a direct hit. The carries got away without casualties.
5. The main road being unhealthy I decided to withdraw behind the next ride and did so by going across country for about 1 miles in a right handed circles and hitting off the road again. I dropped into action to cover some infantry withdrawing down a road and the received orders to return, Just before entering CASSEL a tank which was hidden on the left of the road put a round through one quad at 300yds. range. It did no damage.
6. On returning to the W.L.s this section engaged and knocked out at least one enemy gun at 4200 yds. from the W.L.s. This was confirmed by the FIFE and FORFAR Yeomanry.

Signed J.A. Norman 'Capt . R.H.A                  



O.S. France Sheet 40 POPERINGHE

Appendix No5


On the night of May 28th-29th the Battery moved Northwards from CASSEL towards BERGUES, 2776, and extricated themselves from the stream of refugee trafic, North of REXODDE, 3572, deploying and taking up covering positions half a miles N.E. of the main POPERINGHE-BERGUES-DUNKERQUE road in the area of WEST HOECK 352748. At 0900 hrs on May 29th, "B" Troop received orders to move two guns forward to a point where two side roads converged on the main road at RATTE-KO, 333746. The Troop Commander and G.P.O. (2/Lts G.N. Nicholson and G.R.A. Wixley) went forward with the left Section ("G" Subsection under Sgt Foster, "H" under Sgt. Bartle), and established a position directly on the West of the main road, which cover both side roads in enfillade, a Command Post in a ditch between the Guns, and an O.P. set up in the bed-room of a nearby cottage, manned in turn by 2/Lieuts. L.O.M. Barstow and H.C. Oulton. Here they dug shallow Gun Pits and sat waiting for Dinners and enemy, while a disorderly rabble of British and Allied Troops tramped past along the road behind the Coast.

As the afternoon drew on, reports of the enemy's approach came in, and a Platoon of the Fife and Forfars went forwad patrolling in Bren Carriers. We were asked to give supporting fire to these in an attack which was planned to be made from rising ground about 400 yards in front of the Troop Position. The stream of refugees thinned and the place seemed queerly quiet after the uproar of troops, horses and vehicles which had clattered by all morning. From the O.P. there came suddenly the command 'Take Post' ; and there ensued an orderly confusion of fire orders received over the phone at the Command Post and relayed through the noised by the Troop Commander and the G.P.O., the rifle fire from in front of a the Fire and Forfars engaged the enemy, and the noise of Guns, as a tank hull down in a nearby farm, fires tracer shells and S.A.A. across the fields at them, and was finally silenced by their answering volley of fire. They had somegood shooting, and certainly put one tank out of action, successfully destroyed the farm in case of other lurking tanks and stemmed the attack at this point. Soon all that could be heard was the crackle of ammunition and fireworks exploding in an ammunition vehicle burning by the road side in front of Bartle's position, and the quiet orders of the Nos.1 as the got their Gun Pits straighten out after the engagement. There were no casualties, though Foster's Gun Camouflage Net was burning and his Gas-Mask and Greatcoat had been pierced by a shot from the enemy tank.

There were still nineteen rounds to be fired: and as the Fife and Forfars withdrew behind the position, the Section found themselves along beside the deserted road, supported by only a few on the Welsh Guards who had gathered from a position further down the road. They waited and watched with slight apprehension on the white Verey lights of the enemy's advanced troops quietly moving forward as the evening darken. At last, about 1900 Hrs, orders were received to close on the Battery, at WEST HOECK; so loading up the still unfired nineteen rounds they limbered up and withdrew down the road from RATTE_KO in what must have been one of the Section's quickest, though most disciplined moves.




June 1940

Commanding Officer: Major F. D. Moore RHA

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
LES MOEURG 1/6   The remainder of the battery (7 Officers & 29 O.R's.) moved at 0400 hrs to Dunkirk, with the rest of the regt. Trouble was experienced in finding the East Mole.  
      Before moving, guns and vehicles were put out of action.  
      The party embarked in H.M.S "Winchelsea", were bomber twice. (nearest being about 15x), and landed at Dover.  
      Here men were put into trains and sent all over England and Wales.  
OKEHAMPTON 4 - 13 June Battery concentrated again at SOUTH TAWTON, Nr OKEHAMPTON.  
OKEHAMPTON 8/6   2/Lt H.C. OULTON, posted to 'K Bty R.H.A.  
      2/Lt R.M. BREMNER, posted to 'G' Bty from 'K' Bty.  
OKEHAMPTON 13/6   Battery moved with regt to billets at RHOS-ON-SEA, near COLWYN BAY, N WALES.  
RHOS-ON-SEA 18/6   Waterloo Day was celebrated with sports and an entertainment.  
RHOS-ON-SEA 24/6   The Battery with the Regt, proceed to CHELMSFORD, where it was posted to II Corps.  
      The battery was deployed on the G.H.Q line where temporary emplacements were made.  
      Armament ......... 6 Pdrs MKII in an anti-tank role  
      Location                   Bty H.Q.  ...... CHELMSFORD  
                                      A Tp        ...... NEVENDON      area  
                                      B Tp        ...... SPRINGFIELD    area  
                                      C Tp        ...... LITTLE WALTHAM  area  
      The rest of the month of June was spent in clearing fields of fire and erecting temporary emplacements  
CHELMSFORD 30/6   Capt W.R. HOLMAN posted to 'K' Bty. R.H.A.  


July 1940

Commanding Officer: Major F. D. Moore R.H.A 

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
CHELMSFORD July 1940 During this month the battery continued in the G.H.Q line and moved into the permanent pillboxes as soon as they were fit for occupation.  
      Work was continues clearing the field of fire, and strengthening the defences.  
  10 July   An accident occurred at one gun owing to the shell exploding whilst the breech was open. One man was killed, 2 badly burnt and blinded three slightly burnt and suffering from shock  
  24 July   2/Lt  M.C. Lanyon promoted A/Capt.  


August - October 1940

Commanding Officer: Maj J. A Norman R.H.A 

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
CHELMSFORD Aug   During this month the battery continues to square off the pill boxes & strengthen the defences.  
  16 Aug.   2/Lt  T.J Cooke posted on appointment to R.H.A. from instructor at the FILEY O.C.T.U.  
  22 Aug   2/Lt  W.H Allen   "   " first      "       "       "           " O.C.T.U.  
  12 Sept   Capt. J.A. Norman R.H.A, promoted A/Major.  
  21   "   Major F.D. Moore R.H.A. interposted to R.H.A. as 2nd in cmd. Maj J.A. Norman assumes command.  
  21   "   2/Lt  J.P. Nobel posted on first appointment to R.H.A from an O.C.T.U.  
  2 Oct.   A/Capt N.B.C. Teacher R.H.A. posted from R.A. depot as Bty Capt.  
  12 Oct.   2/Lt's H.F.B Clough and R.L. Hudson attached from an O.C.T.U,  J  
      2/Lt  D.W.H Birch promoted A/Capt.J  
WRITTLE 13 Oct.   Bty H.Q. moves to Radcliffs WRITTLE 2 miles from Chelmsford. Bty reorganised on to 2 troop basis.  
  18 Oct.   The Bty takes over 4 new pill boxes & 6 pds A.T. guns at COLCHESTER. A troop man these. H.Q section moves Nos 1 & 2 (BOWERS GIFFORD and SOUTHEND bypass near NEVENDON). B troop moves remaining 4 guns up to DUNMOW.  
  30 Oct.   H.M. the King inspected Sgt, Gibson's (A troop) gun & pit in COLCHESTER saw some gun drill & expressed himself as highly satisfied with all he saw.  
      During these months the bty. continues to strengthen the defences & pill boxes.  



November 1940

Commanding Officer: Maj J. A Norman R.H.A 

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
WRITTLE 1 Nov 1940 2/Lt  T.J. Cooke R.H.A promoted to A/Capt & commanding 'A' Troop  
      Work was continues clearing the field of fire, and strengthening the defences.  
  6 Nov   3rd Bty formed in Regt. 2/Lt  Wixley promoted A/Capt  
  11 Nov   Capt, Birch, 2/Lt Hudson & 26 O.R.'s posted to 6 R.H.A on formation of this unit.  
  12 Nov   20 O.R.'s posted from 1st Def Regt (??????? 3 months service)  
  14 Nov   21  "           "          " 1st Red, Fd, Regt R.A. (??????? 3 months service)  
  20 Nov     6  "  (Sigs)"          " 38 Sig Training Regt R.A. (??????? 3 months service)  
  Nov   The gun pits were put in order & ???????? up in readiness for handing over 12 A.O.E.R officer were attached for training & a number of men from 903 Defence Bty (our relief) are in training at each gun pit.  


December 1940

Commanding Officer: Maj J. A Norman R.H.A 

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
WRITTLE 1 - 6   Continued instructing 903 Def. Bty. R.A.  
  7th   903 Bty take over our operational control of the gun pits 1800hrs.  
  14th   Advance part leaves under Capt. Teacher.  
  18th   Main body moves to Yorkshie, B.H.Q. & B troop in CROSSHILLS, A troop in SUTTON. R.H.Q. in GLUSBURN. K Bty in ADDINGHAM.  
      23rd Bty in SILSDEN. The Regt. is the R.H.A. Regt of the Support Group (Cmd Brig, Stanford). of the 8th Armoured Division.  
  20   2/Lt  FHB Clough R.A. posted to 12 RHA (H.A.C.).  
  21   2/Lt  S.P. Whitley RA attached  
  26   2/Lt  P.R.A. Birley R.H.A. posted to 121 O.C.T.O  
  31   2/Lt L.O.M. Barstow R.H.A posted to depot  



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