143rd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. War Diary March 1943

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1 March 1943 WOODLANDS PARK.

00:01 hours. Regiment continued last minute training for GHQ Exercise Spartan.

2 March 1943

Nothing fresh to report.

3 March 1943

Army Commander deployed his forces in Southland along the line of River Kennett in an endeavour to prevent enemy crossing. 70th Infantry Brigade took up position along Northern bank and 147 Infantry Brigade with 147 in support ordered to move to area South East of Oxford to hides preparatory to deploying.

4 March 1943

01:00 hours. 143 Field Regiment marched by night to concentration areas and redeployed at Toots Baldon at 10:00 hours. Positions were dug and alternative positions prepared.

5 March 1943

06:00 hours. 190 Battery moved to Clifton Hampden to cover withdrawal of 70th Infantry Brigade.

14:00 hours. 190 Battery returned to original position. Regiment fired on DF tasks numbers 30, 37 and 4.

15:30 hours. Sit Rep. Enemy holding line of railway STEVENTON 9111 – DIDCOT 9610 – MORTON 0008 – WEST END 0206. Bridgehed ? established Illingwell Park 0507.

21:00 – 23:00 hours. Batteries moved to their alternative positions. Wagon lines brought forward to area Southend.

6 March 1943

09:15 hours. Recce Party proceeded to reconnoitre new area for withdrawal in BRILL area.

11:00 to 11:25 hours. Enemy reported crossing river at Cudham. All targets 1 & 2 fired on Cudham. 11:20 hours Skylark completes sortie over Cudham area.

11:25 hours. U Targets 3 & 4 engaged on Clifton Hampden.

12:05 hours. All Targets 5 & 6 engaged on Shillingford.

12:30 hours. Skylark left for sortie over Cudham, Clifton Hampden and Shillingford.

21:00 hours. Withdrew from Toots Baldon area.

23:30 hours. RHQ established.

7 March 1943

10:00 hours. 5th Canadian Armoured Brigade reported to have crossed Thames at Sandford.

11:00 hours. 147 Brigade providing Carrier force to cope. 143 prepared to give this force all support mand to move forward to put this into effect.

Recce parties proceeded to area square 3246.

8 March 1943 BRILL.

Location unchanged. Forward elements of enemy engaged as U Targets.

Confused fighting between 9 Armoured Division and enemy who were consolidating position at Thame. Positions prepared for withdrawal at QUAINTON and also LEIGHTON BUZZARD. Intention at 14:00 hours to occupy QUAINTON. Standfast order at 19:30 hours. Order cancelled at 21:40. Location for night unchanged.

9 March 1943

C.O. proceeded to Brigades arranged DF and HF tasks.

07:45 hours. Brigade moved to Muswell Hill Farm 095354. During morning enemy recce parties contacted our forward troops and at 12:00 hours 9 Armoured Brigade arrived in the area from Heworth. Own forward troops in difficulty. Considerable artillery activity on both sides during afternoon. Regiment moved by Batteries during day to area Luggers Hill 1137. 69 Regiment in action area Piddington 0836. 109 Field Regiment in action South of Piddington (? Farm). During afternoon tank attacks develop on 109’s gun positions. 1 Battery overrun. 19:00 hours orders for retirement come through. Regiment passes start point crossroads 486 ? ? 0934@20:00 hours. Traffic on road disorganised.

10 March 1943

05:00 hours  ?field Farm. RHQ established.

Reported that 147 Infantry Brigade captured with exception of Staff Captain and one other. Isolated units of 6 Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and 11th Royal Scots Fusiliers escaped. 6 DWR without transport.

11:00 hours. Enemy reported in Leighton Buzzard. Defence of Gun Positions immediately organised. Support Group of 11th Royal Scots Fusiliers and remaining 100 of 6 Duke of Wellington’s Regiment organised on South side of Gun Position. Considerable preparation during night for counter attack.

11 March 1943

05:55 hours. HF Task. Fired.

14:20 hours. Some Divisional targets were engaged.

Various concentrations fired on Bletchley. Officer Commanding 388 Battery captured whilst on patrol. DF tasks engaged during night. Otherwise little activity during night.

12 March 1943

09:00 hours. Spartan – cease fire sounded.

13 – 15 March 1943

Bivouaced at Potsgrove awaiting return to area.

15 March 1943

Marched and bivouaced at Ross-on-Wye.

16 March 1943

Returned to PONTYPRIDD. C.O. on leave.

17 March 1943

Nothing of importance.

18 March 1943

Nothing of importance.

19 March 1943

Adjutant attended Conference. Regiment ordered to mobilise together with remainder of Division – to complete by April 15th.

20 March 1943

Mobilisation scheme put into effect.

21 March 1943

Mobilisation. Nothing of importance.

22 March 1943

Mobilisation. Nothing of importance.

23 March 1943

388 Battery on leave. Adjutant on leave.

24 March 1943

Nothing of importance.

25 March 1943

Mobilisation scheme going surprisingly smoothly.

26 March 1943

Nothing of importance.

27 March 1943

C.O.’s inspection – vehicles and guns.

28 March 1943

Church Parade.

29 March 1943

Visit from ? in command ? ?

30 March 1943

Battery Commanders’ Conference.

31 March 1943

Nothing of importance.

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