185th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, War Diary July 1944
1 July 1944 PAVIE, near Audrieu.
Regiment in action. Regiment engaged enemy localities during the night.
06:40 hours. 1 Tyneside Scottish and 11th DLI were attacked by enemy Infantry and tanks. Attack repulsed by continued fire from Regiment. Their attacks continued throughout the day.
06:45 hours. Regiment engaged Defensive Fire SOS tasks.
06:55 hours. Divisional Artillery engaged Defensive Fire SOS tasks on the front.
07:25 – 09:10 hours. Regiment engaged enemy tanks which were dispersed.
09:20 hours. Further Defensive Fire SOS tasks engaged by Divisional Artillery 10:40 hours.
20:45 hours. Lieutenant P D Youlton wounded in Rauray by enemy mortar fire, suffering from facial injury.
2 July 1944
04:00 hours. Regiment fired on HF tasks.
04:20 – 05:45 hours. Regiment fired counter-mortar tasks.
13:00 hours. Regiment engaged enemy gun and mortar positions at intervals during the day.
20:25 hours. One Platoon 10th DLI reached railway at 896635 on the way to NOYERS. They were pinned down by enemy fire. Smoke screen from this Regiment enabled Platoon to return to our lines.
23:59 hours. Enemy attempts to recover tanks. Successfully engaged by Regiment.
3 July 1944
00:10 hours. Regiment engaged on Harassing Fire during the night.
10:35 hours. The Second-in-Command went to rendezvous 902961 to hand over all copies of target record forms to RA 53 Division.
17:00 hours. 38 reinforcements arrived from 105 Reinforcement Group.
20:50 hours. Battery Commander 386 Field Battery reported back from Observation Post position having completely handed over.
23:00 hours. Regiment fired HF tasks during the night.
4 July 1944
The Regimental Observation Post 4 at 8613 6922 with a primary role of SHELREP information was manned at first light.
13:25 hours. Bomb dropped by enemy aircraft – no casualties.
15:30 hours. C.O’s discussion with Battery Commanders on general points of administration.
22:05 hours. Harassing Fire task fired.
5 July 1944
08:30 hours. C.O. passed orders to all Batteries and RHQ to take the opportunity of the “quiet” period to arrange the complete dry-out of command posts, gun sites and bivouacs after recent rainfall and to check the state of repair and general condition of personal kit and equipment, also vehicles. OP 4 – Regimental Observation Post at 862693 manned from first light.
15:30 hours. Calibration by Air Burst ranging carried out with the co-operation of F Support Troop, 4 Survey Regiment, RA.
18:00 hours. Regiment engaged Counter-Battery task. At one time the proportion of troops to each HB (? Hostile Battery) was 50 – 1.
6 July 1944
04:30 – 04:45 hours. Hostile batteries engaged by Divisional Artillery.
07:00 hours. Regiment fired on known enemy positions.
12:30 hours. Arrangements were completed whereby 185 Field Regiment took over support of 147 Infantry Brigade from 143 Field Regiment.
17:20 hours. Regiment fired on known enemy localities.
22:25 hours. Regiment were engaged on a number of Harassing Fire tasks throughout the night 6/7/ July.
7 July 1944
09:15 hours. Information with regard to discrepancy in map heights received from 4 Survey Regiment.
09:30 hours. To Brigade moving into position North of JUVIGNY.
12:50 hours. Regiment engaged on Defensive Fire tasks.
18:15 hours. C.O. and Tactical HQ 185 Field Regiment established with Brigade HQ at 833707 East of LE PONT ROC.
8 July 1944
02:00 hours. Inter Brigade 70th Infantry Brigade and 151 Infantry Brigade handover completed.
12:15 hours. All quiet on the front.
12:15 – 20:50 hours. Regiment did not engage any targets during these times.
21:05 hours. Regiment shot on Harassing Fire task in area JUVIGNY.
9 July 1944
00:31 hours. Counter mortar task WALLY fired by Divisional Artillery.
04:30 and 05:30 hours. Divisional Artillery “stonked” suspect enemy forming-up areas.
21:45 hours. Enemy shells landed in Regimental area.
10 July 1944
09:05 hours. Regiment engaged enemy strongpoint in JUVIGNY sector.
15:02 – 15:30 hours. Regiment supported a patrol of the HALLAMS into VENDES with smoke screen. This was successful.
16:05 hours. Regiment fired counter mortar tasks on call from HQRA.
22:30 – 23:30 hours.
And 11 July 1944
04:30 – 05:30 hours.
During these times the Regiment fired Harassing Fire tasks along the road PONT AUX PICQUET 844656 South to 8405 6370 and the buildings at both LES PREUX and ETREGY.
07:00 hours. 231 Brigade of 50 Division attacked towards Hottot-Les-Bagues in four phases. Regiment supported the advance of this Brigade.
07:35 hours. Regiment engaged counter mortar and counter battery tasks in reply to enemy shelling.
12:00 hours. Regiment fixed counter mortar tasks, during midday.
15:30 hours. Code word LARRY indicating move forward to 70th Infantry Brigade confirmed H Hour 16:30 hours.
16:30 hours. Artillery support of advance.
22:31 hours. Operation successful.
12 July 1944
05:20 hours. Regiment engaged counter mortar tasks twice.
10:50 hours. Regiment engaged Chateau in JUVIGNY Woods – enemy HQ.
23:30 hours. Regiment fired counter mortar task.
13 July 1944
02:20 hours. C.O. attended a conference at 147 Brigade HQ. Harassing Fire and counter battery tasks fired at periods during the night.
10:12 hours. Hostile mortars engaged by Regiment.
16:30 hours. Enemy tanks in front of 10th DLI positions engaged by C Troop 386 Field Battery.
22:45 hours. Rain commenced falling and visibility for Observation Posts was reduced considerably.
23:00 hours. Defensive Fire tasks fired by Regiment.
14 July 1944
14:40 hours. Defensive Fire task fired by Regiment.
14:47 hours. Three enemy planes flew over the Regimental area. One of them was shot down and crashed 390 yards South of 191 Battery position.
15:00 – 17:39 hours. 274 Field Battery engaged on battery fire plan.
19:00 hours. Divisional quick “Chinese” barrage fired to test enemy reaction.
19:50 hours. Regiment fired a counter mortar bombard.
21:09 hours. Harassing Fire tasks engaged night 14/15 July.
15 July 1944 PAVIE near Audrieu.
03:27 hours. Regiment’s Quads which had been left in residue on D Day arrived.
11:00 hours. Task of “softening up” of JUVIGNY WOOD engaged by Regiment.
13:30 hours. Harassing Fire task engaged by Regiment on roads PONT DU PICQUET and houses at LES PREUX.
18:31 hours. Further Harassing Fire tasks fired by Regiment.
21:28 hours. Red smoke target indicator rounds fired by P Battery onto 894627 as a guide for RAF attacking this objective.
22:30 hours. Harassing Fire tasks engaged during the night.
17 July 1944
00:25 hours. Defensive Fire and Harassing Fire tasks engaged on Divisional front during the night. Several Polish deserters entered our lines and on information received from them various enemy locations were engaged by Regiment.
20:30 hours. 30 Corps Light Anti-Aircraft operating with one Troop of CENTAUR tanks were laid on counter mortar task MARS. This was surveyed in by the Regimental Survey Party and technical advice on drill and equipment was provided by Lt. B G Evans, Battery Sergeant Major Challiner and Staff Sergeant Grimston.
22:00 – 22:30 hours. Regiment fired propaganda leaflets.
22:15 hours. Bombs fell on Regimental area – no casualties.
22:30 hours. Harassing Fire and counter mortar tasks fired by Regiment.
18 July 1944
02:30 hours. Operation MANGO. Preliminary bombardment 02:30 hours. See Appendix B attached. (Appendix not included in the file).
04:30 hours. Additional Harassing Fire tasks fired by Regiment.
08:50 hours. Artillery covered forward movement of Infantry with concentrations after Prisoners of War had reported enemy withdrawn.
19 July 1944
Harassing Fire tasks fired during night. The remainder of day was without incident.
20 July 1944
02:25 hours. Active mortars engaged.
14:05 hours. Regiment fired on enemy supply dump.
21:00 hours. 70th Infantry Brigade came under command of 59 Division. Regiment under command 59 Division in support of 70th Infantry Brigade.
23:25 hours. Regiment again under command 49 Division.
21 July 1944
08:00 – 12:00 hours. Battery Observation Posts were handed over to 110 Field Regiment of 59 Division.
19:43 hours. Handing over completed. 49 Division less Divisional Royal Artillery came out of the line. Maps of area returned to HQRA and maps of new area collected. Slight enemy air activity during the night.
22 July 1944
49 Infantry Division ordered to move to a concentration area ST HONORINE – CUVERVILLE 1069 – Demouville 1067 prior to taking over a defence sector from Brigades of 3 British Division and 51 Division under 1 Corps.
23 July 1944
09:00 hours. Regimental Advance Parties left for new area.
11:00 hours. Enemy shelling injured Lt H Cannell and four Other Ranks.
24 July 1944 Demouville.
09:00 hours. RHQ established at Demouville 107675 under 1 Corps Canadian Army.
09:45 hours. All guns in action on theatre grid.
11:30 hours. F Troop 89 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment report all guns in action.
12:30 hours. Regiment visited by Major General E H Barker C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., M.C. GoC 49 Division. Fire plan in support of 154 Brigade received at 12:30 hours. – zero hour for fire plan 14:00 hours. Bombs dropped on Regimental area night 23/24 resulting in casualty to one vehicle.
20:00 hours. Captain A G Airy and one Other Rank 274 Battery wounded by Anti-Aircraft shell fragments.
25 July 1944
01:10 hours. Enemy dropped flares from aircraft over Regimental area. A number of bombs were dropped North West of position.
13:50 hours. Mortar retaliation.
14:50 hours. Retaliatory fire put down scale 3 by Regiment on enemy localities South West of TROARN.
16:05 hours. Counter mortar tasks fired by the Regiment.
17:05 hours. HB bombarded scale six by Divisional Artillery.
22:30 – 23:00 hours. Regiment engaged “V” Targets at 23:00, 23:15 and 23:30 hours.
26 July 1944
07:27 hours. Counter mortar tasks fired by Regiment.
09:44 hours. Bombard on hostile battery engaged by Regiment.
10:24 hours. Enemy mortaring of Battalion positions. Divisional Artillery retaliated.
13:00 hours. Signal communications out by shelling.
14:20 hours. Enemy localities engaged by Regiment.
15:40 hours. Hostile battery engaged.
17:50 hours. Wagon Lines which had been in Regimental area were moved to wood 091697.
19:55 hours. Enemy shelling of gun areas caused one fatal casualty – Lance Bombardier Lyth of 274 Field Battery, and two drivers wounded.
23:00 – 24:00 hours. Counter mortar tasks and “V” Targets fired by Regiment.
27 July 1944
01:38 hours. Enemy aircraft flew over Regimental area and bombs were dropped. A jeep of 274 Field Battery was set on fire. Line communications were cut. There were no casualties.
09:20 hours. Regiment engaged on “U” Target. Enemy shelling of general area Demouville and CUVERVILLE continued throughout the morning.
14:30 – 15:30 hours. Counter mortar tasks fired by the Regiment observed by an Air Observation Post. During the night 27/28 July Regiment engaged Harassing Fire tasks, “M” Targets and “V” Targets. General area Demouville again bombed by enemy aircraft – no casualties.
28 July 1944
04:00 hours. Counter Battery task fired by the Regiment in reply to enemy shelling activity.
05:10 hours. Enemy artillery and mortars were increasingly active and were engaged heavily by the Regiment. Lt B G Evans was posted to 69 Field Regiment.
19:00 hours. Bombardier Marshall D, 274 Field Battery was killed and one Other Rank wounded by enemy shell fragments.
23:10 hours. Fighter-bomber attack in the general area Demouville and CUVERVILLE. Bombs dropped but no casualties. A Troop 274 Field Battery was moved to alternative position during the night.
29 July 1944
Field Return of Officer attached to War Diary. See below for details.
Harassing Fire tasks fired during the night.
11:20 hours. Counter battery programme observed by Air Observation Post was completed. Enemy shelling during the day was on an increased scale and Harassing Fire was mainly directed against communications, gun positions and forward troops. Over 100 rounds expended on Counter Battery.
14:00 hours. 274 Field Battery fired red smoke target indicators on a Tower at 1694 6493 suspect enemy Observation Post to direct RAF Typhoon rocket bombers in to attack.
14:58 hours. Sergeant Shore of 386 Field Battery was killed and his gun put out of action as a result of enemy shelling.
16:15 hours. Our Observation Posts reported smoke rising from target areas in enemy areas after Divisional Artillery had engaged hostile batteries.
17:00 hours. H.B’s (?hostile batteries) engaged.
19:00 hours. Regiment fired counter mortar tasks.
20:15 hours. At dusk enemy shelling was greatly reduced but his positions were continuously engaged by Divisional Artillery. Hostile batteries were engaged at 21:15 hours and a programme of Harassing Fire tasks was arranged for the hours of darkness 29/30 July.
22:30 hours. A slight enemy air raid was put in and no incidents were reported. The enemy activity during the night was practically nil.
30 July 1944
05:35 hours. Enemy aircraft again appeared overhead but no bombs were dropped.
10:00 hours. The Air Observation Post registered the Divisional Artillery onto 5 of the enemy’s mortar positions.
12:17 hours. Further counter battery. Enemy counter battery and mortar fire decreased.
15:45 hours. Regiment fired counter mortar tasks. Four more batteries were engaged between 18:00 and 18:45 hours.
21:45 hours. Movement of enemy infantry at 146648 was spotted by a Company Commander of 10th DLI who directed the fire of the Regiment onto the target through Major W H Jaine, 386 Field Battery. Continued harassing fire on suspected areas. Owing to the close nature of the country in this sector, artillery Observation Posts were tremendously restricted for observation.
31 July 1944
01:30 hours. After a very quiet period the enemy shelled the gun areas around Demouville. Regimental line communications were cut but no casualties were reported. Regiment retaliated.
Throughout 31 July the Divisional Artillery continued to engage hostile artillery and mortar positions. Enemy shelled the Demouville area on one occasion, but on the whole the scale of his shelling was greatly reduced.
12:30 hours. Captain D J Brabin relieved C.O. at 185 Tactical HQ.
22:50 hours. 191 Battery Observation Post with 10th Battalion DLI reported the capture of 3 Polish deserters. Much valuable information obtained from these deserters included a statement to the effect that much enemy artillery had been knocked out. Mortars had also been destroyed and also that artillery appeared to be withdrawing.
Appendices attached to the July 1944 War Diary.
Field Return of Officers dated 29th July 1944.
Page one of the Return shows 35 Officers in post against the War Establishment of 37. This included 1 Lieutenant held surplus to establishment and 2 Gun Position Officers deficient against the required number. During the preceding week 2/Lt R Rees had joined the Regiment from 31 Reinforcement Holding Unit on 28th July. Temporary Captain Airy and Lieutenant Cannell had both left the unit due to having been wounded on 23rd July.
The Regiment listed five Officers; Thompson, M W Smith, Youlton, Cannell and Airy whose return to the Unit was particularly requested.
The second page listed all the Officers in post – these names were checked against the personnel list and any new names added.
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