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

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1 – 4 June 1944 SHERINGHAM.

Regiment completed waterproofing of all vehicles. Vehicles packed and loaded, ready to move at 6 hours notice. C.O. passed message from C in C to all ranks.

BUZZ Exercise held on 3rd to practice leaving and handing over of Regimental area. See Appendix A attached to War Diary. This Appendix was not included in the file.

5 June 1944

19:30 hours. Regimental Advance Party moved to join 70th Infantry Brigade.

6 June 1944

D Day. Allied Armies landed in NORMANDY. C.O. briefed Battery Commanders. Operational maps collected.

17:15 hours. Regiment leaves SHERINGHAM for Marshalling Area.

7 June 1944 WOODFORD, London.

Regiment arrived at Marshalling Area. Vehicles waterproofed to include Stage B.1 supervised by REME personnel.

8 June 1944

All ranks of the Regiment briefed in the operational role of the Regiment. Vehicles only moved from Marshalling Area (WOODFORD, London) to docks and loaded onto appropriate ships. Two M.T. ships were required to accommodate the Regiment for the sea voyage.

9 June 1944

11:45 hours. First personnel parties moved from Marshalling Area to ship.

15:45 hours. Second and last personnel party moved to ship at embarkation point.

19:00 – 21:00 hours. Ships to sail to join convoy off Southend.

10 June 1944

Formation of convoy.

11 June 1944

Convoy sails.

12 June 1944 FRANCE.

Advance Party lands in Theatre of Operations.

13 – 15 June 1944

Ships anchored off bridgehead. Period of unloading ships and landing the Regiment.

14 – 15 June 1944

Vehicles landed and de-waterproofed and, as available, moved into action area North of Ducy-St-Marguerite.

16 June 1944

11:58 – 13:14 hours. Regiment in action and engaged on barrage in support of 146 Brigade attack on Cristot.

14:00 – 14:15 hours. Regiment supported attack by 147 Infantry Brigade with smoke screen and barrage on LE PARC DE BOISLANDE.

16:00 – 17:00 hours. Regiment fired concentrations on call from representative with 70th Infantry Brigade for attack on St Pierre. Attack successful.

18:00 hours. Further concentrations on call provided by Regiment to meet German left flank thrusts.

17 June 1944 FRANCE.

10:30 hours. Three men injured by machine gun fire from low-flying German aircraft, one of which was shot down by 89 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment F Troop, affiliated to the Regiment.

18 June 1944

08:30 hours. Regimental area moved to PAVIE, 500 yards South of Audrieu.

Enemy in strength attacked, under concentrations, the 6th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in the LE PARC DE BOISLANDE and forced them out of the wooded area. The Second-in-Command 185 Field Regiment and the Battery Commander 274 Battery (C.R.A’s representative), having met in gun area, went forward to recce the situation and local Observation Posts were manned. CRA’s representative remained with own troops and engaged enemy infantry and tanks aided by own troops observations. Enemy guns and mortars active all day. Regiment, with other Regiments, engaged Defensive Fire and “U” Targets which dispersed enemy attempts to reform and attack.

20:45 hours. 1 Company 10th DLI carried out a local attack South of Sainte Pierre and captured some Germans, including one Officer. Patrolling by the HALLAMS was arranged to cover the South boundary of Regimental area. Documents found in Regimental area established that 12 SS Panzer Division was on the front.

Gunner SIM killed on the gun position by enemy mortar fire.

19 June 1944 PAVIE.

Lieutenant M W Smith of 386 Field Battery wounded by shell fragments whilst on duty as Forward Observation Officer with the 10th DLI.

20:00 hours. Regiment bombarded – suspected mortar Observation Post in church tower in Fontenay-Le-Pesnel. Ammunition dumping up to 450 rounds per gun was continued. The bodies of six German soldiers were buried in the Regimental area. Regiment fired a 15 minute concentration on the right (50 Division) front in area of Hottot-Les-Bagues for counter attack by the DEVONS.

20 June 1944

The Second-in-Command established an Observation Post West of LE PARC DE BOISLANDE in preparation for an attack. From this Observation Post Fuse 222 airburst shoots were carried out with excellent effect. A series of HF Targets on likely enemy areas were fired by the Divisional Artillery. Wagon Lines moved from Ducy-St-Marguerite area to new area near le BAS D’AUDRIEU.

13:00 – 16:00 hours. Regiment engaged on barrage in support of 50 Division attack on Hottot-Les-Bagues.

21:00 hours. Enemy shelling of Audrieu village behind Regimental area carried out at intervals over a period of two hours. Further enemy secret documents were found in the Regimental area and passed back to higher formation.

21 June 1944 PAVIE.

05:30 – 06:15 hours. Regimental area subjected to mortar fire causing damage to RHQ Office Truck and causing six casualties. Records indicate these were wounded, not killed.

14:30 hours. C.O. met Brigade Commander 70th Infantry Brigade and arranged Defensive Fire tasks for operation IMPLACABLE on left flank. Dropping of ammunition in Wagon Lines continued. Limited firing during day and night and equipment maintained.

22 June 1944

04:00 hours. Regiment fired on HF tasks. Dumping of ammunition continued.

11:40 hours. U Target on hostile Battery undertaken.

17:35 hours. Small attack put in on MONTILLY WOOD by 10th DLI. Observation Post with forward Company manned. [ 19:40 hours. Enemy counter attack in MONTILLY WOOD area. Tanks repulsed by British M 10 Self-Propelled guns. Tanks also engaged by C Troop 386 Field Battery observed by Manor Jaine.

22:05 hours. British aircraft bombed wood at Tessel BRETTVILLE. Counter Anti-Aircraft fire by enemy caused 3 casualties to personnel of 386 Field Battery Command Post. One of these was possibly Gunner Brown, who was killed.

23:30 hours. Second-in-Command visits HQRA for orders in connection with exercise IMPLACABLE.

23 June 1944

Second-in-Command returned from HQRA with details of tasks for IMPLACABLE. Most of the day spent in preparation of tasks for exercise. Targets engaged on call.

12:55 hours. Elements of 43 Divisional Artillery recce their own gun lines in area of 185 Regiment Wagon Lines.

14:30 hours. Nearby farm sanctioned for use as bathing quarters and preparation of baths and boilers was carried out.

15:30 – 16:30 hours. Regimental targets, one Battery firing airburst engaged in LE PONT DE JUVIGNY area.

19:00 hours. 274 Battery fired red smoke target indicator to enable RAF to bomb Tessel wood feature.

20:20 hours. Battalion extensive patrolling over the whole front assisted at various times on call by previously arranged fire on known or suspect enemy mortar and gun positions.

24 June 1944

11:10 hours. Standing patrol of 11th DLI withdrawn from South of LE PARC DE BOISLANDE to allow 5 AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery) to engage.

11:20 hours. Tanks engaged, patrol went forward again.

11:55 hours. Corps Commandant Royal Artillery visited Regimental Observation Post.

16:30 hours. General Officer Commanding and Commandant Royal Artillery visited Regimental area. Discussion of Defensive Fire tasks for final phase of IMPLACABLE.

23:59 hours to 05:30 hours 25 June 1944

Extensive patrolling throughout the night.

25 June 1944

00:01 hours. Affiliated Light Anti-Aircraft F Troop shot down one enemy plane.

04:30 hours. Zero hour for Operation IMPLACABLE.

09:08 hours. Regiment provides smoke screen to cover advance.

09:30 hours. LINCOLNS and HALLAMS reached objective area Tessel Wood.

09:55 hours. Captain Thompson replaced lost Observation Post of 69 Field Regiment.

10:20 hours. Smoke screen repeated on call from 1 / 4 KOYLI.

12:30 hours. 274 Battery fired red smoke target indicator for RAF bombing attack on LE HAUT DE BOSQ.

12:55 hours. 1 / 4 KOYLI captured Northern edge of Tessel Wood.

13:30 – 13:44 hours. Regiment engaged on counter mortar “U” Targets and one “V” Target.

15:25 hours. Enemy strongpoint at Fontenay-Le-Pesnel engaged as “V” Target.

16:42 – 16:59 hours. Regiment engaged on “U” Targets on enemy mortar and gun positions.

18:00 hours. Regiment fired airburst on “U” Target – enemy gun position.

18:58 hours. Regiment engaged “U” Target enemy area South of JUVIGNY.

19:10 – 19:18 hours. 274 Field Battery fired red smoke target indicators for RAF bombing of Rauray.

19:20 hours. Enemy tanks South of JUVIGNY engaged by fire from Regiment.

21:00 hours. Regiment shot on FORTRESS Defensive Fire task.

23:06 hours. Regiment fired on TUDOR Defensive Fire task.

23:28 hours. Two Troop Commanders of 274 Field Battery report to 1 Battalion Tyneside Scottish for Observation Post duties.

23:45 hours. Regiment fired on TUDOR Defensive Fire task.

26 June 1944

00:40 hours. Further Defensive Fire tasks RAMILLES and TANDY ordered by HQRA. These were in the Tessel BRETTVILLE area.

04:20 hours. Tessel BRETTVILLE and wood to West engaged as “U” Target.

05:19 hours. Regiment engaged “U” Target on area South of Fontenay-Le-Pesnel.

07:30 hours. 1 Tyneside Scottish with 12 King’s Royal Rifles begin advance towards Rauray. Tank battle ensued. Regiment took part in supporting barrage. Captain Thompson, B Troop Commander, wounded by enemy sniping.

09:45 hours. 1 Tyneside Scottish attack held up by enemy tanks.

11:20 hours. Battle with tanks continued. Regiment engaged “M” Target in the battle area.

14:45 hours. Regiment engaged in “V” Target.

16:20 hours. Six enemy tanks in LA GRANDE FERME area engaged as “M” Target.

18:27 hours. 1 Tyneside Scottish withdrawn to original positions whilst attack by other Battalions id prepared in different sector. Regiment to recce positions South of LE PARC DE BOISLANDE for occupation only on orders from Commandant Royal Artillery.

20:17 hours. Liaison Officer Lt Kirby joins Brigade for orders.

21:54 hours. SOS task for Regiment arranged.

23:00 hours. Following Observation Posts were detailed. Major Paul as CRA’s representative, and one Observation Post from 191 Field Battery both with 11th DLI. Captain Coverdale as CRA’s representative and Battery Observation Post Lt P D Youlton with 1 Tyneside Scottish. 386 Battery maintained one Observation Post as C.O’s representative and one Battery Observation Post with 10th DLI.

23:15 hours. Air Observation Post allotted to the Regiment. Two Medium Observation Posts from 121 Regiment placed at disposal of C.O. 185 Field Regiment.

27 June 1944

04:20 – 05:40 hours. Stonk in area of Rauray provided by Divisional Artillery.

06:10 hours. One German Prisoner of War taken in Regimental area by affiliated Light Anti-Aircraft F Troop, 89 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

09:50 hours. STONK engaged area Rauray.

10:50 hours. Barrage provided to support attack on Rauray by 11th DLI.

11:50 hours. “U” Target in the area South of Rauray engaged by Divisional Artillery. Battle situation confused. No concrete news was available. There was considerable enemy mortaring, shelling and persistent sniping. Fighting in the village reported.

12:30 hours. Captain Brabin’s Observation Post carrier was knocked out by enemy mortar fire without injury to personnel. Relief arranged and despatched.

14:15 hours. Own troops were reported to have captured objective and were consolidating. Enemy tank and armoured car engaged by Regiment.

15:00 hours. Capture of Rauray was announced.

15:55 hours. Enemy infantry and tanks engaged.

17:00 – 23:00 hours. Period of consolidation continued and the C.O. arranged Defensive Fire and SOS tasks and the manning of Observation Posts with Battalions. Fire Plan arranged for 1 Tyneside Scottish attack on BRETTEVILLETTE.

28 June 1944

05:43 hours. Code words for 1 Tyneside Scottish fire plan – JIM and JONES, JIM 11:40 and JONES 11:45.

12:20 hours. Five tanks observed on right flank of attacking troops, protected by quick smoke screen by the Regiment.

12:40 – 14:35 hours. Satisfactory progress reported and objective nearly reached. Regiment engaged observed targets in support of the attack. Phase JIM successful.

14:50 hours. Enemy counter attack in force in BRETTEVILLETTE. 1 Tyneside Scottish withdrawn and firmly established with 2 Companies along start line for morning’s attack. West flank covered by movement forward of one Company of the LINCOLNS.

20:35 hours. Defensive positions well and firmly established, and C.O. arranged Defensive Fire tasks and the use of 121 Medium Regiment.

21:10 hours. Tanks moved up to further protecxt the left flank. During the night and extensive Defensive Fire programme was carried out.

29 June 1944

Throughout the morning the Regiment engaged further Defensive Fire tasks on call from Battalions.

13:45 hours. It was announced that the 11th DLI were to attack today, not before 19:00 hours. During the afternoon various enemy targets were engaged and enemy attempts at infiltration were frustrated by artillery fire on BRETTEVILLETTE area.

20:30 hours. Attack by 11th DLI was cancelled.

23:30 hours. Troops from 15 Division on left flank contacted. Position of 6th King’s Own Scottish Borderers was advanced to the South of the HAUT DE BOSQ to relieve detachments of the 8th Royal Scots and the 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers.

30 June 1944

01:25 hours. Regiment engaged an “M” Target in area of BRETTEVILLETTE. HF tasks were engaged at intervals during the night.

05:00 hours. Divisional Artillery took on 6 Panther tanks in BRETTEVILLETTE area and dispersed them.

12:10 Hours. Deficiencies to vehicles caused by enemy action were made up by recovery of enemy vehicles found abandoned in the Regimental area. Throughout the day continuous harassing fire was brought to bear on enemy positions and any observed movement.

14:00 hours. Second-in-Command paid a liaison visit to the left flank 15 Division from which he returned with information of the location of the various units and formations.

19:00 hours. RAF bomber force carried out a bombing raid on VILLERS BOCAGE. Two of the aircraft were observed to have been hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire. Various Defensive Fire and HF tasks were arranged for the night, also a programme for retaliation against enemy mortars which proved very effective.

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