143rd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. War Diary August 1944
1 August 1944 GIBERVILLE.
Fixed an M Target in support of Canadians for two hours – rate slow. Harassing of enemy Forward Defence Lines and an aggressive policy being adopted. RHQ settling down.
2 August 1944
Engaged one Target with RED smoke for RAF at 15:30 hours large V Target Fire Plan – heavy harassing of enemy Forward Defence Lines on information that 12th SS Panzer Division posting out – not much activity against us.
3 August 1944
Nothing of importance. Adjutant going to Division as Staff Learner – Captain F A Parker to take over duties of Adjutant as from 6th August – Lt Whitehead to 190 Battery to take over a Troop.
4 August 1944
Intense aerial activity about 00:40 hours. 6 bombs dropped in RHQ area – two quite close. Shelling also of the area. Nothing of importance during day. Weather has now remained fair for five days. Normal activity.
5 August 1944
147 Brigade ? ? a raid to collect for identification Prisoners of War. Adjutant (Captain Woodman) going to 49 Division as Staff Learner to G Ops.
Captain Parker 190 Battery assumed appointment of Adjutant with effect from 6th August. Lieutenant Whitehead to 190 Battery to take over that Troop. Captain Woodman has been Adjutant for over two years and has been with the Regiment since the beginning of the War.
A quad of 190 Battery blown up on a mine in which no one injured.
6 August 1944
A great deal of firing, particularly counter-mortars. Operation Order No. 4 was prepared for Fire Plan during night. See below for Order No. 4 attached to the War Diary as Appendix A.
7 August 1944
An early hours Fire Plan engaged. Evening DF Fire came down heavily on our Forward Defence Lines. Report made on enemy counter-mortar firing, it was found light mortars fired on our Forward Defence Lines and heavy mortars on Battalion HQ area.
During fire plan one gun had thirteen mis-fires – faulty breech mechanism and another gun split its breech.
Operation Order No. 5 ?? and ? 1, 2 and 3. More counter-mortar bombards today and some counter-battery Operation Order No. 5 attached to War Diary as Appendix B.
8 August 1944
Main feature of today was bombing of area South of CAEN and factory area East of CAEN by Fortresses. One plane came down, four men seen to parachute to ground. Immediate message sent to RA re bombing of own troops. Stick of bombs on factory came within 200 yards of HQ. Report sent to 7 Royal Tank Regiment in counter-attack role. D Troop No. 1 gun had premature about 3 yards from muzzle, no casualties. Small fire plan in support of Canadians. Counter-mortar shooting again today.
9 August 1944
Observation Post reports 3 deserters came in during the night but no identification possible. First sign of enemy pulling out in front of 11th RSF at FREVONVILLE when patrol found enemy positions previously occupied now unoccupied. 11th RSF advance towards BELLENGREVILLE. Second-in-Command and recce parties recce new gun area. HF increases during night on enemy.
10 August 1944
Advance continued at first light.
4 Tanks reported, PANTHERS, engaged heavily by series of U Targets. Engaged 6 V Targets in support of 51st Highland Division. Sergeant R F Smith, NCO in command signals C Troop 388 Battery killed when shell hit his Jeep. Activity quietened down towards evening. New DFs laid on with Battalions and Brigade. Five HF Tasks during night, otherwise quiet.
11 August 1944 (entries for this date found on two separate pages of War Diary)
Recce. parties return to new area to finish survey. Battery Commander 507 Battery reports heavy mortaring and shelling on BELLENGREVILLE. Counter-battery called for and 8 bombards were fired. Moved to new area. Battle developing – engaged U Targets on mortars etc. Considerable shelling again in afternoon of VIMONT and BELLENGREVILLE. Captain Williams slightly injured at Observation Post, evacuated.
Quiet morning. Attack by 1st Lincolnshires on BENEAUVILLE postponed. Mines found in Battery area, vehicle of another unit blown up. Red smoke fired on BENEAUVILLE as marker for RAF but they were late and did not attack. Repeated in evening but visibility not good enough to attack. Some counter-mortar activity during day. Operation Order No. 6 prepared. See below for Appendix C attached to the War Diary.
12 August 1944
Counter-mortar activity in early morning. 11th RSF patrol ran into trouble in night, only 1 man returned. More counter-mortar tasks during morning. 2 Prisoners of War reported enemy Company areas, engaged these as U Targets. Twelve U Targets engaged in afternoon and evening on mortars, guns and transport.
13 August 1944
Fired propaganda shells over VIMONT area. No unusual activity today. HQ and Brigade stonked with about 30 shells, later found to have British fuses 1915 Type D. 3 vehicles only casualties although one dug-out received a direct hit on its roof. D Troop No. 4 gun had a premature, no casualties.
14 August 1944
Canadians attacking towards FALAISE, we fired small fire plan in support. Fairly large HF programme during night. Engaged 2 DF Tasks in support of withdrawal of 11th RSF patrol. Horse-drawn transport seen in a Company area.
15 August 1944
During morning several U Targets and 3 V Targets on enemy convoys observed by Air Observation Post. 1st Lincs clearing VIMONT. No unusual activity. HF Tasks during night.
16 August 1944 FRENOUVILLE.
Observation Post went with Carrier Patrol to ARGELLES? – fired on and patrol withdrew to outskirts. Representative sent to 10th DLI as we are taking over commitments on 70th Brigade front after the move.
Lieutenant Colonel D W Hamilton Royal Artillery returned from England and resumes command of Regiment. Major Grose returns to 190 Battery as Battery Commander. Major Childs becomes H Troop Commander and Captain D F Roberts goes to 388 Battery as D Troop Commander. Operational Instruction No. 1 issued. See below for Appendix D attached to the War Diary.
Recce parties recce’d new area and Regiment moved by Batteries late in the evening.
17 August 1944 BENEAUVILLE LA CAMPAGNE.
Captain Mount reported to 185 Field Regiment as CRA’s representative. 147 and 146 Brigades advancing on high ground North East and East of ARGENCES. Orders received to recce new area near CROISSANVILLE. 388 Battery moved when recce completed- remaining two Batteries and RHQ moved after completion of Fire Plan with 185 Field Regiment. HF Tasks during the night.
18 August 1944 CROISSANVILLE.
Placed in support of Recce regiment, one representative and two Observation Posts sent to join them. Recce parties went off at midday. 190 Battery moved, followed by RHQ and 507 Battery when in action and finally by 388 Battery. Very little firing during day, engaged a few U Targets.
19 August 1944
Engaged several U Targets in early morning. Observation Posts rejoined Infantry Battalions. U Targets fired at midday and again during afternoon, mostly on mortar locations. Infantry push first pass Mezidon-Canon small fireplan put down. HF Tasks during night. C.O. called for fire on known mortar locations when first Battalion was being heavily mortared at St Crispin.
20 August 1944
Observation Post sent out to join the tanks in support of 11th RSF. Bridge over River VIE completed in morning. 147 Brigade advanced North to high ground. Smoke screen put down to help Infantry in initial stages. During afternoon advance going well with little opposition engaged ? ? rearguard positions. Suspected infantry guns engaged. In evening mortars again active and again were shelled. Recce parties forward and 388 Battery moved at 18:30 hours, other two and RHQ followed as soon as first in action. DF Tasks laid on and HF Tasks during night.
21 August 1944 Mezidon-Canon.
Fire Plan laid on for attack on high ground to North. Slight opposition – enemy appears to have withdrawn. 2 Polish deserters taken by Battery Commander 190 Battery. Warning Order to move in morning, as soon as situation permits. Infantry moving fast in morning taking a few Prisoners of War taken. Recce parties called for at midday and Regiment moved forward during afternoon. One enemy gun shelled rounds to area around Battery positions during night – no casualties.
22 August 1944 CAMBREMER.
507 Battery moved off in morning as advance got Battery behind 11th RSF. Infantry reached River Touques. In afternoon. Advance got Battery in action at 14:00 hours. Remainder of Regiment moved forward at 15:30 hours. Engaged on time mortars on arrival in location. HF Tasks during night. DF Tasks laid on.
23 August 1944 BRIGNARD.
Fire Plan in early morning for Infantry to capture bridgehead over river. Engaged enemy transport with U Targets. Enemy counter-attacked at 18:30 hours. DF Tasks fired and several M Targets. Counter-attack beaten off, Infantry very pleased with prompt and accurate fire support given. Bombards fired during evening and several U Targets on enemy withdrawing. Prisoners of War taken by advancing parties.
24 August 1944
Divisional advance across River Touques. 7 DWR leading Battalion with 190 Battery as Advance Guard Battery. Advance parties moved off with 190 Battery. RHQ and remaining Batteries moved off at midday. In action at new location late afternoon.
25 August 1944 Le PIN.
Divisional advance across River La Cabonne? 11th RSF leading 507 Battery in Advance Guard. Rest of regiment moved at midday. Advance parties took several Prisoners of War. Infantry held up and 507 Battery came into action East of Lieury. Recce bumped enemy screen on West bank of River Risle, fire support required. Regiment came into action West of Lieury and engaged enemy localities. Regiment moved up to area of 507 Battery position East of Lieury. In early evening. DF’s and HF Tasks laid on. Air Raid during night but nothing in Regimental area.
26 August 1944 LIEURY.
Advance continues. 507 Battery moved in morning to forward position. Infantry moving North towards River Risle at PONT AUDEMER. 190 and 388 Batteries and RHQ moved in afternoon to Campigny. 507 Battery moved up to new Regimental area as soon as other two Batteries were in action. Lieutenant Shelmerdine injured by booby trap attached to well. Enemy activity East of River Risle. HF Tasks engaged during evening.
27 August 1944 CAMPIGNY.
Infantry crosses River Risle during the night. 147 Brigade clearing high ground along East side of river. U Targets on enemy activity. 150 Field Regiment under command. 388 Battery moved forward short of river North of Campigny in afternoon and remainder of Regiment in evening.
28 August 1944
147 Brigade clearing perimeter up to St Sampson North East of Pont Audemer. No firing, Infantry not in need of Artillery support. In late afternoon Regiment moved complete across River Risle to BOURNEVILLE. Large HF programme.
29 August 1944 BOURNEVILLE.
In support of 146 and 56 Brigades clearing Forest of Brotonne. U Targets fired on mortars. HF in ? during Infantry advance. 1st Belgian Battery came under command.
30 August 1944
2 Observation Posts observing across the Seine for enemy activity, little seen. Late in day further Observation Post sent to Quillebeuf? on same job – to contact chief of Macquis in the area. Valuable information received throughout advance from Macquis.
Captain Frost crossed Seine at Views Post in evening as Forward Observation Officer with ? patrol – no enemy encountered. Little firing.
31 August 1944
388 and 507 Batteries resting, 190 Battery in action in case of counter-attack to gun line by enemy. Recce crossed Seine at Quillebeuf? Lieutenant Whitehouse with them as Forward Observation Officer with one Troop of 79 Medium Regiment in support as Regiment out of range. No firing during day.
Appendices attached to August 1944 War Diary – only those that have survived, from amongst those mentioned above, to be included in the original file at Kew.
Operation Order No. 4 – dated 6th August 1944.
The Order concerned a Divisional Plan to make a series of raids on the night of 6/7th August for the purpose of making identifications.
Objectives were set out for 11th RSF of 147 Brigade and for 10th and 11th DLI in 70th Infantry Brigade – both these latter locations were in orchards.
Fighting patrols were also being sent out by 7 DWR of 147 Brigade and by ¼ KOYLI, Hallams and Lincs of 146 Brigade. Additional artillery support was being laid on by the artillery of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division and 4 AGRA – two Medium and two Heavy Regiments. The Divisional artillery of 49 Division was to support the Divisional operations.
70th Infantry Brigade would receive intimate support from 185 Field Regiment. 143rd Regiment would provide Bombards as per the attached task table.
As, by the end of August 1944, 70th Infantry Brigade had been disbanded, the processing of the War Diary for this Regiment has been halted here.
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