185th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, War Diary August 1944

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1 August 1944 Demouville, South East of CAEN, 107675 Sheet 7 F/2.

Hostile batteries and mortars engaged during the night.

18:30 hours. Tactical HQ with 70th Infantry Brigade closed down – replaced by Liaison Officer.

Regiment continued Harassing Fire, Counter Battery and counter mortar fire throughout the day.

Mortar positions engaged with the help of corrections by Infantry Company Commander.

21:45 hours. Buildings 1425 6415 and wood 1455 6485 engaged to cover Infantry patrols’ advance.

Harassing Fire tasks engaged during night ½ August at intervals.

2 August 1944

01:50 hours. Regiment engaged “V” Target – enemy Battalion HQ at 176615.

10:10 hours. Action against enemy mortars and Hostile Batteries continued during morning and afternoon.

13:10 hours. “U” Target on map reference 144662 – enemy locality registered by Observation Post of 386 Battery and engaged by Divisional Artillery.

15:45 – 15:55 hours. Regiment fired on map references 1255 6115 and 1208 6016 in support of RAF bombing attacks on woods in that area.

20:35 hours. Enemy locality at 1450 6323 was engaged by Regiment; codeword HORSES as harassing fire against enemy maintenance transport moving to forward positions.

20:35 hours. Adjutant, having repaired an enemy 75mm anti-tank gun, found in Regimental area, endeavoured to destroy concrete water tower – suspect enemy Observation Post at map reference 175648 without success.

Regiment continued Harassing Fire and Counter Mortar tasks during the night and also “U” Targets were engaged with Battery concentrations over a period of four hours. Propaganda leaflets were fired on ARGENCES map square 1761 and other enemy held localities.

3 August 1944

Hostile mortars and batteries and known localities harassed during the day.

4 August 1944

01:30 hours. Bombing by enemy aircraft on Regimental position and in rear. Anti-personnel bombs only were dropped, no casualties to personnel but damage to 1 3-ton lorry, 1 15cwt and 2 motorcycles.

05:47 hours. Battery concentrations, 50 rounds per target over period of one hour, were put down by 191 Battery on map reference 158600 and 386 Battery on 150593, on enemy believed to be relieving 12 SS Panzer Division. With effect from 4 August one Troop in turn from each Battery occupied each day a forward sniping position at map reference 118670. This Troop is known as Z Troop and its role was to snipe and harass known and suspect enemy localities in front of our own Forward Defence Lines. All Observation Posts shot this Troop when opportunity arose.

10:47 hours. “M” Target registration map reference 0960 6122 carried out by Second-in-Command to test map grid and calibration. Results found both satisfactory. Regiment engaged hostile batteries during the afternoon.

18:00 hours. Air Observation Post ranged Regiment on to wood 153640.

5 August 1944

Regiment fired Harassing Fire tasks during the night. On the whole the night was reported quiet.

14:07 hours. Canadian Light Anti-Aircraft Troop moved into action in Regimental Wagon Line area.

15:15 hours. Further enemy active mortars engaged.

20:45 hours. Active enemy mortars and batteries engaged again by Regiment.

During the day a party from 274 Field Battery visiting LION SUR MER suffered 12 casualties when their vehicle exploded an undiscovered mine in the car park. One three ton and one 15 cwt lorry were put out of action.

Battery concentrations – Harassing Fire tasks – were fired during the night.

6 August 1944

03:45 hours. Regiment shot on fire plan in support of raid by 10th and 11th DLI. See Appendix A attached to the War Diary. This Appendix was not included in the file.

04:22 hours. Fire Plan OXO – get away plan for 10th DLI fired by Regiment.

04:40 hours. Regiment fired on ROLLO – get away plan for 11th DLI. Results of raid were all negative.

06:00 hours. Regiment engaged Hostile Batteries and Counter Mortar tasks during night and morning. One Troop stood by all evening to support 10th DLI attacking Machine-Gun Post. Machine-Gun Post taken and fire plan not required.

23:50 hours. Some enemy shelling of RHQ and 386 Battery areas.

23:00 hours. Regiment supported attack by 2 Canadian Corps towards FALAISE by concentrations.

8 August 1944

02:01 hours. TILLY LA CAMPAGNE reported in our hands and Canadian advance still continuing.

03:37 hours. 152 Brigade reported in ROBERT MESNIL. Canadians reported in ROQUANCOURT. Division engaged enemy mortars during the morning.

13:13 hours. 274 Battery report bomber aircraft crashed near road Demouville – CUVERVILLE. 2 of crew baled out.

13:45 hours. Lieutenant Quartermaster reported own aircraft bombing factories at COLOMBELLES, South of CAEN. Ammunition dump hit. Ammunition holdings to be reduced to AFG 1098 scale plus 100 rounds per gun by 9th August.

Harassing Fire and Counter Mortar tasks fired during evening.

9 August 1944

Regiment engaged Harassing Fire and Hostile Battery tasks during night.

08:50 hours. 191 Battery established a forward listening post at 13256415.

12:40 hours. Regiment providing Battery Commander and 2 Observation Posts for 49 Division Recce and 9th Royal Tank Regiment (RANVILLE) and same for 7th Royal Tank Regiment (084644).

18:20 hours. Regiment fired series of “M” Targets till 1935B.

10 August 1944

00:50 hours. Advance of Division South East towards VIMONT at first light 10th

Regiment on call Observation Posts tasks. Continuous sorties by Air Observation Posts.

06:00 hours. All Observation Posts report no change.

10:00 hours. Regiment fired very effective smoke screen at 155608 to help advance of right hand Brigade.

11:20 hours. 386 Observation Posts reported 3 mines at specified points on route.

12:30 hours. Regiment engaged 3 Harassing Fires during the morning.

19:30 hours. Minefield reported by 191 Battery Observation Post on right flank. Regiment fired on “V” and “U” Targets during the afternoon.

11 August 1944

06:00 hours. All Observation Posts report quiet night.

10:10 hours. Regiment fired series of “M” Targets by 274 Battery Observation Post.

12 August 1944

01:30 hours. Fired fire plan in support of Royal Scots Fusiliers who were attacking VIMONT. 200 rounds per target fired on to 3 Harassing Fire Targets.

04:00 – 06:00 hours. Five enemy mortars bombarded.

06:00 hours. All Observation Posts reported quiet night.

12:00 hours. Fire plan in support 10th DLI patrols fired. Patrols report nothing.

Regiment fired on series of Counter Mortar tasks during afternoon, observed by Air Observation Post.

274 Battery fired check calibration shoot observed by Air Observation Post.

Regiment engaged in “U” Targets and Harassing Fire tasks during afternoon.

13 August 1944

06:30 hours. Regiment engaged on Harassing Fire tasks from 22:35 12th to 06:30 13th.

06:15 hours. From 12:00 hours today Batteries again manning normal Observation Posts with Battalions, as representatives with tanks and recce being withdrawn.

12:10 hours. 6 Counter Mortar tasks fired by Divisional Artillery.

15:15 hours. Regiment fired “M” Targets to cover return of patrols. These were most successful resulting in capture of 2 Prisoners of War and destruction of post.

21:35 hours. Fired propaganda shells on to 7 areas including TROARN.

14 August 1944

Fired Harassing Fire (4) 240 rounds per target during night.

Regiment fired series of Counter Mortar bombards (6) AND Harassing Fire Targets.

16:15 hours. CRA ordered Regiment’s arc of fire to be extended to cover ROBEHOMME 1873. Regimental zero line changed to 100 degrees.

17:50 hours. 191 Battery area shelled – no casualties.

20:00 hours. 386 Battery report one Jeep out of action from shellfire.

15 August 1944

?? fired during the night. All Observation Posts report no change.

10:00 hours. Second-in-Command Major Hudson and one Signaller wounded by enemy mortar fire while recording Observation Posts and evacuated in afternoon. Major P G Paul assumed duties of Second-in-Command.

14:10 hours. Regiment fired on “M” Target observed by Air Observation Post.

Division advancing, 146 Brigade to BILLY and 147 Brigade to VIMONT.

19:30 hours. Advance party, C.O., Regimental Signals Officer, Signals Officer, Gun Position Officers moved off to recce new area.

20:00 hours. Route for move to concentration area – DemouvilleCagny – HOGUE – SECQUEVILLE.

16 August 1944 SECQUEVILLE 1059.

01:55 hours. Details Harassing Fire tasks arrive.

06:00 hours. Advance party moved to new area – SECQUEVILLE 1059 (temporary position).

06:30 hours. 274 Battery moved from Demouville and in action SECQUEVILLE 08:45 hours.

08:30 hours. Remainder of Regiment moved and in action at 10:30 hours. Regiment supporting 49 Recce Regiment with representatives with Recce and 9th Royal Tank Regiment.

BILLY 1536.

12:30 hours. After Recce had shown enemy no longer in occupation of high ground dominating Regimental axis, Regiment moved forward to area 1556.

13:00 hours. Zero lines recorded. 70th Infantry Brigade directed on Mezidon-Canon. Regiment in support with normal Observation Posts with 1 Tyneside Scottish and 10th DLI.

20:00 hours. Representatives from 143 Field Regiment and 65 Medium Regiment reported to C.O. at Tactical HQ.

21:30 hours. Fire Plan OXO and BOVRIL received from 11th DLI to support attack on to high ground 2357. Fire Plan never fired.

22:15 hours. On Theatre grid. During night communications bad. Much interference.

17 August 1944

01:20 hours. Major Lucas slightly wounded in Mezidon-Canon and evacuated.

06:00 hours. Second-in-Command reported to C.O. for orders for deployment of Regiment to CESNY-AUX-VEGNES 2057 – 2058.

“U” and “M” Targets fired during the morning.

11:30 hours. Advance party moved forward.

12:30 hours. Batteries moved to new area. RHQ established 204575.

15:00 hours. Captain Thompson reported one Observation Post Assistant and 3 Driver/Operators casualties as result of heavy mortaring in Mezidon-Canon.

17:25 hours. C.O. informed HQRA of fire plan (3 phases and Defensive Fire Targets) arranged with 185 and 143 Field and 65 Medium Regiments to cover attack of 11th DLI.

19:10 hours. All fire plans cancelled – no opposition met.

22:15 hours. Regiment changed to Divisional grid (Lambert Zone).

23:00 hours. Defensive Fire Targets arranged for Battery Commanders for tonight.

Permission given by CRA for our representatives with Divisional Recce to be withdrawn.

18 August 1944 CESNY-AUX-VIGNES.

06:00 hours. Night quiet.

09:30 hours. Recce parties moved forward to rendezvous.

10:00 hour. Mezidon-Canon. Regiment to move forward to new area Square 2557. RHQ 252569. Wagon Lines to be in present gun area. Batteries move in turn, all in action by 12:50 hours. One 191 Battery Quad and Limber burnt out en route – cause unknown.

15:45 hours. On Regimental grid. ZL 40 degrees. Some “U” Targets fired.

16:10 hours. Series of “V” Targets and “U” Targets fired onto suspected enemy mortar areas.

18:40 hours. Battery Captain 386 requested all artillery of Regiment for attack by 10th DLI, fire plan arranged. Objective ring contour 3158.

20:20 hours. Fire Plan in support 10th DLI fired. Attack successful and about 20 Prisoners of War Taken. Some Regimental targets fired during the evening.

19 August 1944 Mezidon-Canon.

00:30 hours. Battery Commander 386 Battery reports counter attack and casualties amongst Infantry.

Touch lost with C Troop Observation Post until 05:00 hours when 957492 Bombardier Norgate H brought in Captain S G H F Wolseley badly injured having dragged him 1600 yards to own lines. Artillery support reported excellent.

08:20 hours. Regiment fired on series of “U” Targets.

10:25 hours. No further advances likely today and HQRA allotted areas for Harassing Fire.

Regiment fired various “U” and “M” Targets during morning.

15:10 hours. First of series of “U” Targets against enemy mortar positions and localities. 70th Infantry Brigade handed over to 147 Infantry Brigade. Observation Posts withdrawn during the afternoon.

Counter Mortar task fired during the night to cover bridge construction at 321364 by Royal Engineers.

20 August 1944

01:15 – 02:32 hours. Engaged six likely targets on road running North East from 400832 – for length of 1,000 yards. Numerous Counter Mortar tasks were fired by the Regiment during the night. See Addendum attached to the War Diary. This document did not survive to be included in the file.

06:00 hours. All Observation Posts reported situation quiet. Regiment supplied representatives with 49 Recce Regiment (2) 9th Royal Tank Regiment and a CRA’s representative.

11:30 hours. Forward Observation Officer with 9th Royal Tank Regiment in support of 146 Brigade who advanced North East through MONTEILLE.

19:35 hours. Regiment fired series of “U” Targets on Counter Mortar areas.

Infantry arrived successfully at objective after one tank had been knocked out by 88mm. Captain W S Brown (Forward Observation Officer) slightly injured and evacuated with slight wounds.

23:00 hours. Defensive Fire SOS and Defensive Fire Targets arranged by Captain Hawkins for A Squadron 49 Recce Regiment. The Regiment fired on one Harassing Fire target during the night.

70th Infantry Brigade relieved by 56 Infantry Brigade, which became the Brigade supported by 185 Field Regiment.

21 August 1944

The Division continued advance today, axis North East. The regiment provided representatives with C Squadron and B Squadron Recce Regiment.

07:15 hours. Regiment fired fire plan in support of 143 Field Regiment.

C.O. and Second-in-Command forward to recce new Regimental area North East of CRENECOUEUR-EN-AUGE 3060.

14:00 hours. Regiment moved forward to new area in square 3162. RHQ established by 16:00 hours and furst “M” Target fired 14:00 hours.

18:00 hours. Division still advancing and C.O. and Second-in-Command forward to area 4291 for further recce. Here they ran into remnants of retreating enemy and fired MIKE Target on them whilst in hiding.

19:30 hours. Regiment on Regimental grid.

22:30 hours. Regiment on Divisional grid. No Defensive Fire targets arranged with Recon as local commanders did not require them.

22 August 1944

Very quiet night.

Division resumed the advance with 185 in support of Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment.

08:30 hours. It was reported that Lieutenant A W M Smith wounded and missing after his 15cwt had blown up on mine when returning from Observation Post. Driver had been captured but escaped. On investigation it was found that a wounded Officer, probably Lieutenant Smith, had been taken in by local French people near the wrecked vehicle and subsequently evacuated.

09:00 hours. Main intention of Division was to obtain bridgehead access River TOUQUES, North of LISIEUX. Recce elements reached river towards midday but there appeared to be opposition to any crossing.

11:30 hours. Advance parties moved out for new area, square 4694.

14:15 hours. Remainder of Regiment moved out and after a slow journey arrived in new area at 17:00 hours. All Batteries in action by 17:35 hours.

16:00 hours. Second-in-Command doing recce of new area captured 2 Prisoners of War, whom he sent back to Divisional Cage. The Regiment fired a “M” Target soon after its arrival and three “U” Targets between 20:00 and 20:30 hours.

21:35 hours. Regiment changed to Divisional Grid.

23 August 1944

Operational Order No. 3. 56 Brigade today advancing to line of River TOUQUES with 185 in support. Representatives from 65th Medium Regiment and 69th Field Regiment with C.O. Regiment fired “U” Targets on to gun and troop concentrations during afternoon.

18:00 hours. Series of bombards fired.

20:45 hours. 191 Battery moved forward to 5196 in preparation for support of 2nd Essex.

24 August 1944

08:00 hours. 386 Battery moved up to 191 Battery.

10:00 hours. Brigade advance continued. 2nd Essex with 191 Battery in support leading. River TOUQUES crossed. RHQ established 558975 and Regiment moved to area square 5597.

16:00 hours. Another move by Regiment to increase range as advance proceeding well. RHQ 625981, Guns 6297, EAST OF CORMEILLES.

20:15 hours. Regiment fired a series of “M” Targets. Fire Plan arranged for Essex attack fired by 69 Field Regiment.

21:15 hours. Defensive Fire tasks were arranged in support of 2nd Gloucesters and 2nd Essex for the night. The Regiment fired Harassing Fire between 05:00 and 07:00 hours. Brigade advance now held up by blown bridge across the Calonne at Cormeilles.

25 August 1944

Brigade advance continuing across the Calonne. Brigade ready 10:00 hours. 386 Battery moved forward to area 6599 – North East of Cormeilles.

12:00 hours. Advance held up at Epaignes where recce encountered enemy. Regiment fired “M” Targets and Harassing Fire tasks on to roads North and North East from Epaignes.

13:00 hours. Small fireplan arranged to support 2nd Gloucesters.

15:00 hours. Rest of Regiment moved to 6599, RHQ established 653988.

15:25 hours. 2nd Gloucesters fire plan fired again.

18:00 hours. Regiment fired three successful shoots for Recce. Little advance North of Epaignes being made.

20:00 hours. “M” Targets fired during the evening.

26 August 1944

00:01 – 00:20 hours and 03:00 – 05:00 hours. Regiment fired 120 rounds per target on 2 Harassing Fire tasks.

Fire plan arranged (Operation Order No. 4) with 69 Field Regiment grouped under command 185 Field Regiment. See Appendix B attached to War Diary. This Appendix was not included in the file.

09:00 hours. Advance continuing with little opposition towards PONT AUDEMER. Regiment at 15 minutes notice.

11:00 hours. Regiment began move, stepping up Batteries to area 7297. Infantry up to RIVER LISLE at PONT AUDEMER but held up by blown bridge. Regiment deployed Observation Posts along ridge of Lisle. RHQ 723073 – South West of PONT AUDEMER.

16:00 hours. Regimental Observation Posts carried out registration of prominent points across river and Harassing Fire fire onto suitable area behind Pont Audemer.

Regiment fired “M” Targets for Observation Posts or Air Observation Post during the evening.

23:30 hours. Attack by South Wales Borderers and Essex across the River Lisle. Regiment fired on Defensive Fire task as covering fire. 2nd South Wales Borderers 2 Companies over but 2nd Essex not successful.

27 August 1944

05:00 hours. 2nd South Wales Borderers on objective.

07:40 hours. “U” Targets fired on reports of French partisans.

08:00 hours. 2nd Essex failed in second attempt to cross the river.

2 Observation Posts established across river with 18 and 38 sets. Regiment providing Observation Posts with 9th Royal Rank Regiment.

11:00 hours. Air Observation Post fired Regiment on “M” Targets across the River Lisle.

Bridge completed and advance continued across the Lisle. Recon well ahead and area available to fire onto very limited.

Little firing during the day.

28 August 1944 BOURNEVILLE 8710.

56 Brigade moved to concentration area ready for task of clearing FORET DE BRETONNE, 185 Regiment in support.

12:00 hours. Regiment moved to area East of BOURNEVILLE 8710/8711, RHQ at 878110 and was in action at 15:00 hours on Regimental grid.

ROYAL NETHERLANDS Troop now under command 185 Field Regiment and attached to 191 Battery as third Troop.

16:00 hours. Party from 386 Battery investigated presence of enemy in area, returning at 19:00 hours with locations of enemy strong points.

21:00 hours. One 15cwt moving to join 2nd South Wales Borderers who were to mop up enemy strong point destroyed on a mine. No casualties.

21:45 hours. On Divisional grid.

Harassing Fire tasks during the night.

29 August 1944

07:00 hours. Regiment supported 2nd Essex and 2nd Gloucesters in their advance to the Foret. Stiff resistance to commence with. Advance by 2nd Gloucesters later.

19:00 hours. 274 Battery moved forward to forward location to support 2nd South Wales Borderers who had advanced through West of forest and were then on the SEINE.

20:45 hours. 2nd Gloucesters advancing into forest after effective fire support from Regiment.

30 August 1944 MAILLERAYE 940208.

08:00 hours. Regiment advanced through forest to area MAILLERAYE 9420, and in action 11:00 hours. Observation Posts established to overlook NORTH bank of the SEINE.

17:00 hours. Firing on North bank of the SEINE restricted owing to own troops on patrol. Observation Posts report no sign of enemy activity.

20:00 hours. Second-in-Command and Adjutant on recon found considerable number of documents and much equipment in abandoned HQ 7 Heavy Mortar Regiment.

31 August 1944

Regiment maintained only one Observation Post during the day which was spent on maintenance and cleaning. There was no firing.

09:30 hours. C.O’s conference with Battery Commanders.

15:30 hours.

C.O. attended G.O.C’s conference at main Divisional HQ.

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