War Diaries of K Battery, Royal Horse Artillery



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1942 1944 1945
Organisation & Officers of K Bty World War II





On Jan 12 1943 the advance to Wadi Zem Zem began At a gathering of all the C.O.s on the previous day General Montgomery had stated that it was ‘Tripoli or bust’. The Battery carried 14 days water and rations 200 miles worth off petrol & 200 miles per gun. All spare kit was dumped & every available space on the vehicles was packed with water & rations. On the 13th the Battery crossed Wadi Chebir & went into a concentration area 3 miles west of the Wadi. On the night of the 14-15th the Battery advanced in support of the Sherwood Rangers to the road running N and S between Gheddahia and Bu Ngem. At 07.30 on the 15th the enemy was contacted holding the high ground east of the Wadi Chebir. The Battery came into action was occupied most of the day in engaging enemy guns and infantry positions & M.T. During the afternoon Capt. Burrough the Troop Commander of Don Troop was moving to occupy an OP, came under short range fire from two German Mark IV tanks. His ‘Honey; tank was set on fire at all his crew were killed & Capt. Burrough badly wounded. After dark a Scout Car patrol from the Sherwood Rangers found Him & brought him back to the composition. At first light on the following day the enemy was found to have drawn and the Sherwood Rangers group began to push to pursue pursuit. At midday contact was made with the enemy south of SEDADA where it was found that they were holding positions with infantry anti tank guns & a number of Italian M 13 tanks. The Battery came into action and fired concentrations onto these positions after which the Sherwood Rangers advanced & took a number of prisoners. It looks as though the enemy were trying to disengage during the latter part of the afternoon & by first light on the 17th it was found that they had withdrawn completely. During the afternoon of the 16th the Battery Position was bombed occasionally and one Serjeant & three ORs were wounded.

Throughout the day of the 17 the advance continued & no contact was made by last light the Battery had reached the vicinity of BENI ULID where a leaguer was formed. During the morning of January 18th a two hour maintenance halt was ordered by the Brigade Commander. The strain on the vehicles was beginning to tell & during the halt the Battery was bombed again by Stukas when four ORs were killed & 2 Serjeants & two ORs wounded. 

At 10.00 hrs the Battery advanced again but progress was slow much the route was along very rocky valleys & through steep wadis. Once again whilst on the move the Battery was bombed when one OR was killed & Lts Simmonds & Tunstead & three sergeants & three ORs were wounded.  They were evacuated and Battery leaguered on the plain 10 miles south of TARHUNA. Once again at first light on the following day the Battery advance & steady shortly afterwards contact was made with the enemy. It was discovered that the enemy was holding rear guard positions in the hills around TARHUNA.

On the 20th the Battery moved West for about 10 miles & came into action in order to engage the enemy who was still holding the hill positions. The Battery remained in the same location on the 21st while the 131 Infantry Bde were brought up to clear the hills. As the Battery position was near an Italian farm, water was found to be plentiful & the day was spent in washing up. 

During the early hours of Jan 22 the 8th Armd Bde with 5 RHA in support advance by road towards CASTEL BENITO & by first light was about 5 miles from it. It was learned that the enemy was holding CASTEL BENITO in some strength & that the road was covered by 88 mm guns. The reminder of the day produced some very confused fighting with the enemy rear guards all round the aerodrome. As darkness fell the battle was continued by the light of blazing hangers and it was clear that the remnants of the enemy were frantically pulling out eastwards . By midnight the 1st Buffs - the motor battalion of 8th Armd Bde - who got forward in a small attack reported that the main road was clear & the Sappers were brought up to deal with the huge craters across the road which combined with an anti tank ditch made further advance of the tanks impossible. Meanwhile the rest of the Brigade formed up with 11th Hussars leading and by 03.00 hrs on the morning of the 23rd the road was opened again. Then began a wild & mad chase (many vehicles exceeding their maximum speed) and by 06.00 the 11th Hussars had captured TRIPOLI. Later in the day the remainder of the 8th Armd Bde passed through the town and moved into a concentration area at SUANI DEM ADIM. Everyone now expected a period of rest and refitting, but all hopes were shattered when it short notice the Battery with the Sherwood Rangers group were ordered to move to BIRNANI where on arrival there at 17.00 hrs it was found that the enemy was holding ZAVIA.

At 10.00 hours on Jan 25th the Battery reverted to regimental control leaving the Sherwood Rangers group having been in support of them since early December. The Battery came into action with the remainder of 5 RHA a few miles east of ZAVIA & engaged hostile gun positions west of the town. On the 26th a small advance was made to a position behind a permanent midway feature which had been occupied the previous night by 1st Buffs. Throughout the day enemy shelling was accurate & the position to be taken exposed, but fortunately there were no casualties in the Battery. At 18.00 In the evening the Battery was placed in support of the 5th Queens. During the night the enemy withdrew and the Battery advanced to a position west of SABRATHA and on the 28th it was learnt that the enemy was holding MELLITA with a main position at the ZUARA and during the evening the Battery advance undeployed near the main road some miles North of AGWEERT. At midday EF troop were detached to join a column whose role was to attack ZUARA from the south making its way through the desert to south of the main road. This column consisted of companies of the 5th Queens & one squadron of 40 RTR. The Troop experienced great difficulty with the group and had to be helped by Valentines who towed the guns over difficult patches. EF troop carried out a lot of firing during this operation, the successful results of which were seen when the column later advanced.

On the morning of the 31st ZUARA fell and the Battery joined up again, the remainder of the Battery having come up the main road. The whole Regiment was now deployed to the east of the town with OPs working for forward to the west.

Throughout the move along the road from Tripoli the advance had been slow owing to the number of mines on the roads. It was amazing to realise afterwards that the BBC had reported that the enemy had been driven steadily westwards merely by one rather weary RHA Regiment. So bad was the MT situation that 8th Armd Bde lent the regiment 20 three ton lorries to help carry along the ammunition.


The Battery remained at the Regimental position at ZUARA until Feb 7th, spending a quiet time during which a number of reinforcements we received and also some replacement vehicles. On Feb 7 the Battery moved west to a concentration area at REGDALIN. The latter part of the day was spent in reconnaissance of the long belt of small lakes which ran down the Tunisian frontier. On the following morning the 8th Armd Bde captured EL ASSA and the Battery came into action about 2 miles east of the Tunisian border. Throughout the remainder of the day selected targets of enemy infantry & guns were engaged.


On the morning of the 9th the Ops moved across the salt marshes into Tunisia but were not able to shoot the Battery as the enemy were out of rang. Considerable difficulty was experienced in crossing the salt lakes & marches & the Battery could not move across until Feb 10th by which time the Sapper had made a bridge capable of taking guns & wheeled vehicles. The Battery remained in action two miles inside Tunisia until Feb 13th, during that day Don Troop occupied a forward position protected by a troop of LAA & some carriers & had a successful days shooting. The LAA brought down an ME 109 which attempted to machine gun the Troop position in the evening the


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Rommel, commented that the 8th Army had outrun its supplies, because in the ?????? ???? that enemy forces where safe in the MARETH Line & what was still more important the enemy controlled commanding positions in front of that line, had turned his attention on the situation that had developed during the winter in Tunisia. Having defeated the 1st Army at TEBOURBA he turned what remained of his measly command 10th Panzer Div against the U.S. Second Corps in the area in the KASSERINE GAP; The latter were caught completely unaware & in a very short time had been driven back 100 miles. The 8th Army were ordered at once to decrease of the weight of the enemys attacks & the 7th Armd Div duly received orders on Feb 18th to prepare to move at once to try and capture MEDENINE.


On the night of Feb 19th the Battery with the remainder of 5 RHA who were supporting 22nd Armd Bde, moved by road to a concentration area a few miles east of MEDENINE. At this stage the Battery were place in closest support to the Fourth City of London Yeomanry. On the morning of the 20th the Bde attacked north of the town with the object of surrounding the German forces which were holding the hills immediately to the west. The attack was successful & about 50 prisoners and several vehicles were captured. During the morning when the attack had been taking place there had been a thick mist but when it lifted the Battery found itself in a rather exposed position, the result of which there was rather heavy shelling of the gun position, which was situated in the WADI MEHACHEN. One Sergeant & two ORs were wounded. The great difficulty of movement was experienced owing to the extremely good observation held by the enemy. The Battery moved out of the body just before last light, one gun at a time, and rejoined the remainder of the regiment in the regimental gun position. The MM was later awarded to Sergt. Townsend for outstanding contact during this operation.


The Battery remains static until Feb 26th, apart from a short move to an alternative position on the 23rd. On the 27th the Battery moved to a position South of MEDINENE where its role was to guard the left flank of our forces which will which were leaning up against the Mareth Line. The next three days were spent in reconnoitring positions which would be occupied in the event of a German thrust which had now become probable. On March 3rd the Battery moved by night towards the physicians since the evening attack seemed imminent.


The expected enemy attack eventually commenced at first light on March 6th. Throughout the morning they attacked with Armour from the South of the Mareth-Medenine road, during the afternoon they also launched inventory attacks but all ground was held. They lost a large number of tanks and a very large proportion of infantry. Throughout the day the Battery was constantly in action & enemy positions reported that our shelling was terrific & that we landed at least 30.


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move at last light to a position for which this attack be supported. Two patrols from the inventory were sent to the objective every night & found them to be strongly held by infantry & mortar positions supported by artillery. On the morning of the 27th at 0500 hours the Rifle Bde attacked the SAIKEA feature, supported by heavy concentrations from our guns comma the attack was successful and 140 Italians were captured. On March 28th the Battery was relieved after this successful attack.


During this time the attacker EL HAMMA a by the 10 Corps had forced the enemy to withdraw from the Mareth positions and go back to a line North of GABES on the Wadi AKARIT. With the remainder of 5 RHA the Battery occupied a leaguer on March 31st 8 miles South of GABES, once again we were in direct support of 5 CLY.


On the evening of April 2 the Battery went into action South of ROUMANA from which position it was to support the coming attack on the AKARIT position. At 04.30 hrs on April 6th the British offensive safe started. The Battery supported the attack on the right by the 51st Highland division taking part in concentrations and a heavy barrage. The attack was successful & at midday the Battery was once again placed in support of 4th CLY, who had a squadron of tanks forward in each of the bridgeheads that had been gained. Both Troop commanders were already forward with the squadrons having joined them the previous night, and after a quick reconnaissance the Battery moved forward to a position nearer ROUMANA. Dawn on April 7th found the enemy in full retreat & the 4 CLY Regimental Group rallied 4 miles North of the ROUMANA bridgehead during the early morning. By last light the group had advanced about 12 miles, meeting scattered opposition on the way from enemy guns and tanks.


For the next three days the advance continued & during the morning of the 10th the Battery passed through SFAX & later in the day joined the rest of the regiment in the gun position about 9 miles west of SFAX.


Later in the day the regiment went into a leaguer and remained static until the 13th, much overdue maintenance to guns & vehicles was carried out and the party from the Bty visited SFAX. On the 13th the Regt moved to a new leaguer area South of KAIROWAN where remained until the 15th when it moved to another area at El ALEM 20 miles North of KAIROWAN. April 15 the Bty moved forward from the League area North of KAIROWAN and went into action in the WADI KRACHI in support of 131 Inf Brigade. On the night of April 19 the Battery supported the Brigade who were taking up part in the new offensive launched by the 8th Army against ENFIDAVILLE. 131 Inf brigade were on the left (of the front) with 22nd Armd brigade. The night of the 19-20th was very hectic and the Battery fired many concentrations and by first light it was learnt that the infantry had gained their first objective.


The Germans counterattacked fiercely during the next three days but the main weight of their attacks was directed against 4th Indian Division who were holding part of the GARCI feature on our right throughout these three days the Battery was constantly in action helping to disperse these attacks.


On the evening of the 22nd the Bty moved forward under the cover of darkness to a position 6000 yards further North. This enabled us to bring fire to bear on enemy gun positions which had been located during the previous days. There Bty remained in this position until 26, giving continuous support 231 brigade, throughout. On the 26th the Bty with the remainder of The Regt was withdrawn to divisional reserve are moved into a legal area near the coast, 8 miles North of ENFIDAVILLE. At 1400 hrs on April 17th 27th the Bty learned that 7th Armd Div where to move forthwith to join 1st Army. The Bty moved it 1900 hrs the route being KAIROWAN  - OUSSELTTA – LE KRIB - TEBOURSOUK. There ensued a nightmare March. The route followed some of the wildest tracks, and crawled up hills into valleys through which we never thought we will be able to drag our weary vehicles. After nearly 24 hours of continuous driving the Bty halted for a few hours during the night 28-29th only to push on again at first light. At 1300 hrs on the 29th the Battery halted on the main road between LE KRIB and TEBOURSOUK and set to work on maintenance in preparation for the coming battle.


The next four days were spent in recces and preparations and at 1200 hrs on May 5th the Battery moves forward with 4th CLY Regt Group and leaguered at dusk 6 miles short of MEDJEZ-El-BAB. At 0500 hrs the following morning the advance began on Tunis. At 0700 hrs the infantry start line had been reached & by 0900 hours the group began to move forward through the first image objectives which had been captured by the 4th Indian Div, the situation became somewhat confused but by midday it was clear that the enemy were pulling back towards Tunis since he had realised that a large part of his forces were in danger of being cut off. By 1400 hours the Bty was in action near ACHEUR & spent the reminder of the day firing a large number of shoots at enemy MT trying to get back to Tunis. The Bty moved forward early the next day and took up position near ST CYPRIEN. Soon after the Bty was in action movement was noticed in some hay stacks near the gun position. Further investigation disclosed 70 German infantry who would rapidly rounded up and taken prisoner.


At 1600 hours the Bty again move forward with 4th CLY Group and leaguered six miles West of Tunis, the town by this time having been reached by the 11th Hussars & street fighting was in progress. The Group was now given the role of advancing north west towards BIZERTA and at first light on May 8th moved forward to the TUNIS-DJEDIDA road and turned West.


SIDI TAMET was reached by 0200 hours & two hours later the Bty was is in action in a cover position north of the River MEJEUDNA near PROTVILLE. The remainder of the day was spent in shooting at enemy MT endeavouring to get back to BIZERTA. sporadic shooting continued throughout the night an it 0830 hours on May 9th the OPs reported that contact was made with the leading elements of the American Armour. So ended the Battery's part in the North African campaign shortly afterwards it moved to join the remainder of 5th RHA in an area 6 miles West of TUNIS.


On May 20th with the remainder or 7th Armd Div we began to move By road to Tripoli arriving at a legal area in the on the coast between HOMS and ZLITEN. On May 25th, two days later the Battery celebrated the 3rd anniversary of the battle of Hondeghem, messages were received from Col RAWDON HOARE, Maj TEACHER, Maj WELSH and Col. GREGSON.


The Battery remained in the same area during June July and August, the time was spent in individual training re-equipping and the Battery training. On June 20th the Battery with the remainder of 5 RHA was inspected by H.M. King George VI in the Tripoli area. During August the Battery carried out training with landing craft.


During these three pleasant months an extensive divisional sports program was organised in which the Bty achieved considerable success.



By the beginning of Sept '43 K Battery was fully equipped and ready for the invasion of Italy. All the officers and senior NCO’s of 7th Armd Div had been told the rough plan by the Divisional commander. The Battery is part of 5 RHA was to support 4 CLY in 22nd Armd Brigade. All ranks were told as much as security permitted and it was apparent they were eager to get down to their job once again.


When the invasion of Italy was announced on September 3rd by the 8th Army it became obvious that the Div had little time left in North Africa. When the Battery final preparations were completed, waterproofing was carried out as far as possible at this stage.


To provide amusement for the Division during the ensuing rather tiresome period of waiting the Battery ran a fun fair on 8th Sept in conjunction with C.C. Battery. It was an outstanding success in every way and during the course of the fair the news that Italy had capitulated was broadcast.


Early on Sept 16 the Battery moved to an assembly area on the outskirts of TRIPOLI. At first light on Sept 19th after all final preparations have been completed the various tactical parties moved onto the quayside to await the arrival of the LST. By 1600 hrs loading was completed and the voyage to Italy started.



The Bty moved north with the remainder of the Ridge along the following route PENTECHNANO – FIRANO - SALERNO – VIETRI – SUR - MARE to CABA DI TIRRENI where pulled to the side of the road for the night. The following day the move continued at a painfully slow speed comma the route being via SIERRA and once again the Bty spent the night on the side of the road near PAGANI. Vesuvius was seen for the first time on Sept 30th the March continued during the day the Bty occupied a position but one mile north of Pompei, no firing is done from the position because the enemy had moved out arrange.


On 1000 hrs on the 30th the Battery found itself on the move again and at last light we joined the CLY column again stop start let's fill the column halted and once again the Bty spent the night on the roadside. The following day the route was through ST. GIUSEPPE - OTTAVIN0 – ST. VESUVIUS and ST. ANASTASIA, eventually the Bty leaguered on the main NAPLES road.


At 1100 hours on 3rd Oct, the CLY contacted the enemy & Don Troop went into action North of CASORIA and fired the Btys first shot in anger in Europe. The OPs had great difficulty in locating any targets as the country was close & thickly wooded. By midday EF Troop were in action west of CASORIA, the troop positions being about two miles apart.


By “Shooting the sun” the CPO managed to get the two troops linked. During the day the Bty did a lot of shooting particularly into MELITO which was strongly held by the enemy. The lowest elevation fire that was 2700 & during the course of the afternoon extra precautions had to be were taken for local protection as the Ops reported the enemy in plane cloths were infiltrating towards the guns. At last light the Bty close leaguered at EF troop’s position, a double guards being manned in addition to the protection afforded by a platoon of 1 RB.


At 0600 hrs on Oct 4th the Bty moved in support of CLY through ARZANO to MELITO and by 1400 hours the Bty was at GIUGLIANO where it remained on wheels for some hours while routes were recced round obstacles. Eventually the Bty had to turn round in a very narrow Lane and by 2200 hrs were on the move again along the route AVERSA - TRENTOLA to a position just short of ALBANOVA and finally came to rest at 0315 hrs. By 1400 hrs the following day the Bty were in action two miles north of ALBANOVA. Some shelling by one enemy gun fell close to dawn troop but no casualties were suffered.


Between Oct 6 – 12th the Bty prepared for the assault on the River VOLTURNO during this period there was a considerable amount of heavy rain and the ground became extremely soft and slippery. During the night 13-14th the Bty Fired concentrations in support of the 131 Brigade feint attack across the river. Between 14th 16th a considerable number of rounds were fired by day and night in support of 46 and 56 Divs and 131 Brigade. By the 16th the Queens Brigade were well established over the river and the Battery had OPs across in support. Owing to the demolitions & delay in crossing the river the BC established an OP base and the Inf Battalion HQ's from where FOO went out on foot with forward infantry companies.


Early on the 17th Oct recce parties were ordered forward; this latter proved to be a false alarm and no move took place. On the 18th Bty come out of action and move to a leaguered area two miles west of CAPUA. Meanwhile recce parties went forward over the River to prepare a new position. At first light the following day the Bty followed moved via GRAZZANISE over the River VOLTURNO to a regiment position at CAPUA aerodrome. No firing was done from this position but some useful gadgets were found in the leaguer & the Bty increased his stock of paint.


During the afternoon of Oct 20th the Bty moved to a new Regtl position about halfway between CAPUA and GRAZZANISE. On the following day a lot of firing was done on two targets in and around GRAZZANISE and SPARANISE. During the night 22-23rd many concentrations were fired in support off an attack by 56 Div.


Early the next morning about a dozen rounds from a enemy gun fell 200 yds behind the Bty position. Later in the morning the Bty position was heavily shelled for five minutes. Bdr Boyd of EF troop was killed and two gunners slightly wounded. Just before last light the Bty moved to an alternative position about two miles away.


During the afternoon of the 24th the Battery moved to a new area just east of FRANCOLISE. This town was occupied by CLY on the following day.


On Oct 26th it was learned that 46 Div was to relieve 7th Armd Div who was to take up a holding position on the coast along the river VOLTURNO. Just before midday the Bty moved to a Brigade area via CAPUA – GRAZZANISE to its new position south of CANNCELLO. At last light on the 27th the Bty occupied a new position North of the river Volturno.


During the afternoon of Oct 28th Capt DE Tacey accompanied an infantry patrol to try and establish a forward OP. Neither Capt Tacey nor any of the patrol had returned by last light. He was re posted as missing. Throughout the 29th and 30th the Bty did a considerable amount of firing in support of 1 RB. Late in the afternoon the 30th the Bty moved forward to a position near the canal South of MONDRAGONE. During the 31st Bty shot a number of Regtl targets in support of the attack on the MASSICO feature.


Late in the afternoon news was received that the BC had been killed and Lt Fielding wounded whilst riding in the same jeep. Major St John was buried that night at CASTEL VOLTURNO. He has commanded the Bty for exactly a year through Alamein and the whole N African campaign.


On Nov 1st the Battery fired numerous concentrations in support of 1/5 Queens, who are attempting the final phase of the capturing of the MASSICO feature. Capt D. K. Wells took over command of the Bty. The following day the Battery moved into a Regtl position on the outskirts of MONDRAGONE. At 1400 hours on Nov 3rd Battery was informed that it was not operational comma and the following day we learned that with the rest of 7th Armd Div, it was shortly to be returning to the UK, in order to take part in the forthcoming North West European campaign.


The next six weeks were spent in handing over our equipment to a Canadian Battery and a visiting NAPLES, VESUVIUS and the isle of CAPRI. On Dec 20th the Battery sailed from Naples in the ORMONDE, arriving in the river Clyde in Jan 4th.



The below is transcribed from a notebook from Major D K Wells. RHA.


(Lt Col GP Gregson MC posted to comd 5 RHA)




Action at Wadi el RAML


Capt Burrough badly wounded


Action at SEDADA


Lt Simmonds & Lt Tunstead wounded in air attack

19/1 20/1

Action at TARAHUNA


(Tripoli occupied by 11 Hussars)


Left sp Sherwood Yeomanry


Action at ZAVIA


Sp 5 Queens    Capt Benke FOO


Action at ZAVIA ZAURA  E/F in sp 6 Queens


    “                      “



8/2/43 – 9/2

Action EL ASSA (Tunisian border)


    “    Tunisian border


    “     Ben Gardane


8 Armd Bde for refit. Now sp 22 Armd Bde. Detail sp CLY (County of London Yeomanry)



- 25/2

   “ Lt Addison FOO



3/3 – 7/3

Battle of Medenine (German attack)


D Tp Action REMTSIA sp 11 Hussars

16/3 – 19/3

Battle of Medenin (British attack 20 Gds Bde)

25/3 27/3

Action DJEBEL SAIKRA in sp 1 Bn Rifle Bde



6/4 – 7/4

Battle of AKARIT     Capt Wells OP

-  8/4

(Roumana bridgehead in sp 4 CLY


Action at AGAREB    Capt Tacy OP

18/4 – 26/4



In Sp 131 Inf Bde


With 7 Armd to join 1st Army




Action at ACHEUR Sp 4 CLY


(Battle of Tunis) 6/5 – 7/5 – 8/5


Action at St Cyprien (11 Hussars in Tunis)


Action at PROTVILLE    0830 British Victory

20/5 to 25/5

Move to HOMS



June July Aug 1943

Homs    Trg


Inspected by H M King George VI




Embarked for invasion of Italy


7 Armd Div Maj Gen Erskine under Allied 5 Army


22 Armd Bde (D Sp 4 CLY)

20/9 – 22/9

Voyage to SALERNO


Bty complete no cas


Salerno Campaign Advance to Volturno








Battle of R Volturno in sp 131 Bde feint attack

14 – 16/10

     “          “    “      Tacey & Benke Ops with 1/5 Bn Queens



22/10 – 23/10


24/10 – 25/10 – 26/10

    “    FRANCOLISE Sp 1 RB

28/10 - 30/10

    “    MONDRAGONE Sp 1 RB


Capt Tacey missing (POW)


Lt J.S. Fielding Tp Comdr D


Lt J.G. Liverman as GPO D

31/10 – 1/11

    A       MASSICO Hill     sp 1/5 Queens


Maj St John killed   Lt Fielding wounded


Victory combined CPO & BK  No D Tp OP


Capt D.K. Wells assumes command


Capt W B Dunlop to comd D Tp ex Mercers


Capt Slim to  BK ex RHQ (return after 2 years)


MM for Sgt Townsend for N African Campaign


Handed in vehs & egt to 17th RCA




Embarked Naples for UK    4/1/44 Arrived Glasgow.



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