War Diaries of M Battery, Royal Horse Artillery




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Subject: War Diary 'M' Battery, RHA
  Ref No S/1          
HQ, 3rd Regt. RHA  

Herewith War Diary for the month of January 1945.


1 Jan.    At 0001 hrs 2000 guns along the whole of the Allied front blasted in the New Year. The Bty took part in the V tgt, scaled 3 at suspected enemy HQ. At 0230 hrs there was slight enemy air activity, one bomb was dropped in the area of SITTARD 6968. The was an increase if the enemy air activity between 0930 and 1030 hrs, enemy fighters were flying about  the Bde front and were engaged by our fighters and our Lt A.A. Regt. One ME 109 was shot down by a Mustang and landed near the OP 696712. 15 Lt AA Regt claimed three down. During the afternoon the Bty engaged on one M and one V tgt. At 1900 hrs 1/5 Queens patrol of 1 offer ad 10 men went out on a raiding party to capture a prisoner for identification.

The Bty stood to in support and at 2045 hrs fired two tgts

Exp 145 rds

2 Jan.    Firts leave party left for UK (BSM Broad H.) There was only a little observed shooting on two U and two V tgts on enemy occupied houses. at 1800 hrs a patrol of 1/5 Queens went out to secure a prisoner, AT 2059 hrs the Bty fired 18 rds per gun to cover the patrol coming home. At 2315 hrs a standing patrol of 1/5 Queens was surrounded by 30 enemy infantry..
The Regt fired a DF at 728700, scale 11 at various intervals until the posn was restored

Exp 220 rds

3 Jan     Very quiet day, Bty engaged on two V tgts, one HB and one HM. At 1800 hrs a raiding patrol of 9 DLI went out to secure a prisoner and to inspect the trench systems. "D" & "M" stood to in support but stood down at 2230 hrs,
The patrol confirmed that the trench system was occupied but failed to contact the enemy.

Exp 30 rds

4 Jan.    Visibility zero consequently no observed shooting. In the morning the Bty was engaged on one V tgt (HB) and a Bty tgt on M/T movement. At last light engaged one V tgt and three Bty tgts on M/T movement. 
At 2359 hrs Java Tp were engaged on harrassing fire

Exp 165 rds

5 Jan.    Very quiet morning. at 1230 hrs took out the left section of Java To to a sniping posn 683607 for OP/A Course shootimg. At 1735 hrs "D" and "M" Btys harassed 750712 and 742711. At last light engaged a Bty tgt of HM at 756719 as retaliation tgt. prepared for the move to the new position. Salvage was returned and the areas cleaner up,
At 2150 hrs engaged on a V tgt 673798 scale 6.

Exp 260 rds

6 Jan.    At 0305 hrs Regt fired a DF on 300 enemy infantry forming up for an attack and a M tgt at 0325 and at 0330, and finally the attack was broken up. Very quiet during the hours of daylight. At 1900 hrs a raiding patrol of 9 DLI consisting of 2 offrs and 20 men, went out to raid houses at 702726 and 698728 to secure at least one POW. The Bty stood to in support. The patrol was shot up by mortars ad Spandaus 300 yds from their objectives and failed to secure a prisoner. The houses were also shot up by the enemy proving they were not inhabited by him and at 2230 hrs the patrol returned and the Bty stood down

Exp 240 rds

7 Jan.    Visibility from the OP was very poor and most of the day was spent engaging HBs, two at 1100 hrs, three at 1430, one at 1630, two at 1700 and one at 2040 with a further two at 2300.

Exp 175 rds

8 Jan.    Fairly quiet day. A 0800 hrs engaged three harrassing tgts and two V tgts in the afternoon.

Exp 90 rds

9 Jan.   At midnight once Coy of 9 DLI set out to attack ISENBRUCH 6971. The Bty took part in the fire plan for 75 mins engaging 70257295 and 704729. Unfortunately the patrol ran into an anti-personnel mine field soon after leaving the start line and suffered two killed and 14 wounded. Consequently the attack was called off. The gunners received a message of congratulations from 131 bde Cmdr on their good shooting. At first light the Bty was engaged on a V tgt (HB). There was little observed shooting during the day, but generally the observation was very bad, At last light the Bty engaged on a V tgt on suspected enemy HQ.

Exp 800 rds

10. Jan   Very quiet morning. At midday the Bty was engaged on V tgt a 64573. At 1735 hrs the whole of the artillery in support of the Div (3/RHA, 5/RHA, 13, 51 & 107 Medium Regts of 9 AGRA, one H.AA Regt and one Heavy Regt) harrassed along the Div front for periods if five mins on SUSTEREN 678755, OUD ROOSTEREN 665773 and DIETEREN 6776. At 1940 hrs the Bty fired a DF but nothing further was heard of the enemy.

Exp 285 rds.

11 Jan.  Very quiet day, only one V tgt engaged during the hours of daylight. At 1740 hrs the previous nights harrassing fire along the Div front was repeated

Exp 185 rds

12 Jan.  The Bty was engaged two HB at 1000 and 1100 hrs. At 1500 hrs 9 DLI were relieved by a Bn of HLI of 52 Lowland Div. 9 DLI went into reserve at BUCHEN 6573, Tac HQ was established at 649733 and our OPs came in. "J" Bty Ops took over in the new area in preparation of an attack by one coy of 1/5 Queens on BAKENHOVEN 6676,

Exp 225 rds.

13 Jan.  At 0500 hrs the attack started with a quick barrage on BAKENHOVEN by "J" & "M" Btys. The attack when very well and by first light the Queens had reached their objectives with only three casualties. Throughout the morning the Bty engaged shooting on SUSTEREN 678755 to blast gun pits etc. At last light the enemy made a determined counter attack to isolate BAKENHOVEN, the axis of this attack being down the E bank of the JULIANA CANAL 650750. "M" Bty was the only Bty in the Regt able to engage as "D" and "J" Btys had moved forward to BUCHTEN 7573 and could not engage, being only 1600 yds away from the enemy. The Bty fired continuously from 1650 to 2100 hrs on BAKENHOVEN and many HBs. Capt Dolphin-Smith if "J" Bty was shooting the Bty and in between tgts was sorting out Boche with his tank guns. The position was restored by 2100 hrs, a Coy of infantry receiving tank and inf reinforcements. It had been quite a bloody battle with many casualties to both sides but the enemy got the raw end of the deal. Most of the shooting by the Bty has been between 200 and 300 yrds in front of our own troops.
The Bty Cmdr expressed his satisfaction to the gunners for their quick and accurate response.

Exp 1772 rds

15 Jan.  At 0930 hrs the Bty moved up to ILLIKHOVEN to support the Div attack N from BAKENHOVEN to ECHT 6980. The Bty posn was very forward, only 800 yds from the FDLs and was not to fire until the attack opened, "H" hour being at 2100 hrs. The operation was know as "BLACKCOCK" and was divided into phases 'Angel 1', 2 and 3, 'Bear' and 'Dolphin'. Phase 'Angel 1' was an attack by 9 DLI with one Coy 1/5 Queens under Cmd. The DLI were to push north east of BAKENHOVEN, crossing two small canales and capturing DEITEREN. At the sae time a Coy of Queens were to push to SE to capture concrete works at 678760. Phase 'Angel 2' 2 Devons with one Bty SP anti-tank Norf Yeo and one Sqn 1 RTR were to pass through 9 DLI and capture ECHT. Phase 'Angel 3' 1/5 Queens were to turn SE from the concrete works and capture SUSTEREN. The remaining phases 'Bear' and 'Dolphin' were attacks N XXXXXX from the 70 Northing Grid. 131 Bde were to clear West to North of the road SUSTEREN - ECHT. The operation was to be preceeded by counter Bty programme consisting of 8 Fd Regts, 3 Med Regts and 1 Heavy Regt. AT 1730 hrs Zero hrs was postponed and later given as 0700 hrs 16 Jan. 
At 2345 hrs the Bty fired DFs in support if 1.5 Queens who were being harrassed in the area BAKENHOVEN.

Exp 1772 rds

16 Jan.  At 025 hrs Counter Bty programme commenced and at 0730 hrs phase 'Angel 1' came into operation. Major BARRINGTON has one OP of "D" Bty under cmd (Capt CORKE) operating with a Coy of 1/6 Queens. The OPs were walking with the inf platoons using 38 sets and the B.C walking with Tac Bn HQ. (See details as written by Major Barrington - attached). There was a heavy fog and at the start visibility was only 100 yds, but the phase 'Angel 1' was completed by 1200 hrs and a CL 40 bridge was already under construction at Canal 661762. The bridge was continuously shelled throughout the whole operation and no vehicles passed over until late next day. "J" Bty fired a smoke screen the while day screening the bridge building from the North. Enemy oppositions was slight, 9 DLI captured 25 POWs. Enemy Arty was very active, particularly on the bridge crossing and work proceeded by searchlight. The Bty were continuously engaged day and night in support of the whole operation. It proved a very heavy day for the Gnrs.
Arty Regts of the 11th Armd Div also supported later in the day.

Exp 2540 rds

17 Jan.  The attack continued well and by the afternoon SUSTEREN had been cleared. The Bty was extensively engaged in support of 1/5 Queens and 2 Devons pushing N towards ECHT and East from SUSTEREN. 
Throughout the night the Bty was continuously firing on HBs as enemy arty as very active on DIETEREN and SUSTEREN

Exp 2200 rds

18 Jan.  The Bde formation was still advancing and in the morning captured ECHT and SCHILBERG 7179. Most of the shooting was predicted M tgts in support if the Devons, At last light the DLIs took over ECHT and there was continuous shelling of ECHT by heavy railway guns from Siegfried defences. Bde received a message of congratulation from General DEMPSEY, cmdg 2 Army, on the fine performance under exceptionally trying conditions.
A much quieter day, chiefly engaged against HBs

Exp 1772 rds

19 Jan.  At 0900 hrs the Bty Capt went out on a recce to new area GEBROEK 6979 and at 1300 hrs full recce parties left. The Bty moved up at last light, Madras To in action 69377892, Java To at 69587874.
Enemy arty was very active and ECHT was continuously shelled

Exp 365 rds

20 Jan.  At 1200 hrs No 3 Commando Bde who has crossed the MEUSE and JULIAN CANAL linked up with the DLIs in the areas ZWAANTGESHOT 6982 HALTE STEVENSWEER 6982 and KRUCHTEN 7084. Capt Oulton engaged a morse lamp which was active in MAASBRACHT 7185, and late in the evening it was declared clear of the enemy. In the evening one Coy of DLI set out to capture ST;JOOST 7181 and two Coys each with one Sqn 8 Hussars to get MONTFORT 7482, one column by the N Router and one column by the South. The Coy attacking St Joost met very heavy opposition and suffered heavy casualties, and the two columns made only limited progress

Exp 185 rds

21 Jan.  In the early hours of the morning the enemy arty was very active and the Regl gun area was shelled. "D" Bty had 3 wounded and two shells fell on Java posn but nobody was hurt. The BCs dingo and tank in ECHT were also hit but nobody hurt. The Bty was engaged during the whole of the morning hours of darkness on counter Bty. Capt Aspinall moved forward with the Commandos to ZWAANTGESHOP and Capt Oulton went forward with a Coy of DLI along the road ECHT - St JOOST. Enemy arty was continuously active during the day and the Bty was further engaged on HBs

Exp 657 rds

22 Jan.  The Bty was in support of 3 Commando Bde who were to take LINNE and south to AADENBERG and MONTFORT. Tac was established at SLEK 7077 and Capt Oulton went out with "D" Sqn 11 Hussars pushing out to KLOOSTER LIBOSCH 7277. Between 0400 and 0700 hrs the Bty harrasses - 4- rds per gun. Capt Aspinall went up to MAASBRACHT with Commando units who then went on to LINNE. The Bty fired a small fire plan to enable the Commandos to reach the line of the woods and railway 7384. 
LINNE was covered by a screen of a/Tk guns and Infantry

Exp 430 rds

23 Jan.  At midday our Ops were relieved by Ops of 4 RHA and the 9 DLIs came into reserve at SCHILBERG. 
The Bty engaged M, V and U tgts in support of the Commandos

Exp 310 rds

24 Jan.  Very active day in support of the Devons to capture MONTFORT. Recce parties left for DIERGARDE 7678 and digging partied followed in the afternoon. 9 DLI moved into new area DIERGARDE, Ta was established at 759771. After darkness enemy arty was very actived and the Bty was engaged on a number of HBs. There was an unfortunate accident in Java Tp when the breech of F sub blew open wounding Bdr Upton and Gnr McGeachy, the latter later losing an arm.

Exp 484 rds

25 Jan.  At 1000 hrs the Bty moved to DIERGARDE, Madras To in action at 76437866, Java To at 75947788. The Bty was active against HBS, The DLIs moved to ANNENDAAL 8080 and were held up by mines.
Heavy enemy arty shelled the DLIs after dark.

Exp 410 rds

26 Jan.  At first light 9 DLI with one Sqn 1 RTR under cmd attacked POSTERHOUT 8181 and by 1000 hrs had cleared the village, "B" Sqn of 11 Hussars attempted to push south to KARCHEN 8379 but came under heavy shell fire. The Btys stonked VLODROP Church 8432 and HARKENBOSCH church 8385. 
Enemy arty increased after last light

Exp 287 rds

27 Jan.  In the morning the CRA visited the Bty to say what an excellent show the Regt had put up, Sniping section of Java Tp went forward to 776789 and engaged VLODROP Church and other destructive sheets.

Exp 425 rds

28 Jan.  At 0002 a strong fighting patrol of the DLI XXX set out to raid VLODROP. They met heavy opposition from enemy sections on both sides of the road.
During the day the Bty was engaged on M & V tgts - chiefly HBs

Exp 245 rds

29 Jan.  At 0500 hrs the Bty were engaged in a fire plan supporting 1/5 Queens to capture VLODROP. By 0800 hrs the Queens had recced PAARLO 811841 but could not make and further progress. There was further fire plan in the afternoon to enable the QUEENS to push north from PAARLO to the  River ROER and the Bty fire a smoke screen for an hour.

Exp 190 rds

30 Jan.  In the early hours of the morning strong enemy attack of 50 men came in against 1/5 Queens at PAARLO. They crossed the ROER by rubber boats and they were told to recapture PAARLO and hold it as as strong base on the West side of the ROER. The Bty engaged on many DFs and finally the enemy as driven back. He suffered many casualties, including the officer commanding who was wounded and 8 POWS.
During the day the Bty was engaged on M and V tgts, chiefly HBs

Exp 340 rds

Major P.M. Barrington, RHA relinquished command of the Bty expressing his appreciation to all ranks of the work done in a Special Order  :-
"On giving up command of "M" Battery I want to express to all officers, NCOs and men my gratitude and appreciation for what you have all done in the last seven months. Great thins have been done in Europe since the days of BRIQUESARD, and you have all done your share and more than your share. Such a fine team of officers and me has done much to win this war, and doubtless do more, until this war is finally won.
Good luck to all of you"
Major W.L.P Fisher, MC. RHA re-assumed command of the Battery, having need away since he was wounded in June 44.
31 Jan.  A very quiet day. The Bty engaged on M and V tgts, mainly HBs.

Exp 150 rds

Major P.M. Barrington Battery Commander
Capt L.P. Hicks Battery Captain.
Capt H.C.N.M Oulton Java Tp Cmdr
Capt C.L.M Aspinall Madras  "
Lieut J. Ledsham C.P.O
        G.N. Dale A/C.P.O
        G.I. Brown Fwd C.P.O
        S.A. Middleton Java G.P.O
        G.H. Holme Madras G.P.O
        R.J. Frost T.L. Madras
10 Feb 45


February to December 1945



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