55th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, War Diary July 1944

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1 July 1944 FRANCE.

C Troop, 217 Battery, under command 1st Tyneside Scottish successfully repelled counter-attack on Rauray by 1 Battalion 4 SS Panzergrenadiers (DER FUEHRER). 6 tanks knocked out by this Troop.

2 July 1944

22 Other Ranks posted from 205 CRC.

3 July 1944

198 Battery ceased to be attached under command. 217 Battery withdrawn to rest – area Parc de Borslande. Brigade area taken over by 158 Brigade, 53 Division.

4 July 1944

Nothing to report.

5 July 1944

15:00 – 17:00 hours. Colonel Cole (War Office) visited Regiment to hear experiences of C Troop Commander and Sergeant Hall in their engagement Rauray 1st July. (For result of discussion see 21 A. Gp/15100/21/A/WTSFF dated 8th July 1944).

6 July 1944

Officers Commanding Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex Yeomany met at JUVIGNY without any previous arrangement. Observations on 18 Set for Troop to Battery working submitted to Royal Artillery, 49 Division (Letter appended to War Diary – see below).

7 July 1944

217 Battery under command 70 Brigade moved into area JUVIGNY. 70 Brigade relieved 151 Brigade 50 Division on extension of 49 Division boundary to WEST 217 Battery 837712 7F/1.

8 July 1944

Officer Commanding forwarded HQRA observations on Tractor FA as unsuitable towing vehicle for 17-pdr. (Copy of observations attached to War Diary – see below).

9 July 1944

HE 17 pdr 244 Fuse Mark IV was issued without caps – caps in short supply and none available for issue. No firing HE ordered to preclude danger of prematures.

10 July 1944

Caps still unavailable at any Ammunition Point in Beach-head. 219 Battery H Troop moved to area LE MANOIR 8765 upon 7th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment relieving Lincolnshires 7F/1. E Troop 218 Battery resting near BHQ 871692.

11 July 1944

Caps for 17 pdr HE obtained 151 FMC

21:00 hours. Small fire in Cookhouse quickly got under control.

12 July 1944

Quiet day.

13 July 1944

Rauray and Point 110 7F/1 inclusive to 49 Division Eastern boundary. M Troop 220 Battery and E Troop 219 Battery under command 7th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and 1st Lincolnshires respectively.

Responsible for new position from 20:15 hours. Four parcels of Penguin books arrived – men of RHQ and Batteries very pleased with selection.

14 July 1944

E Troop 218 Battery moved two guns from South West corner of Tessel Wood upon Hallams reorganising their layout owing to Boche mortaring position.

1st priority residues (1 Officer and 16 Other Ranks) arrived 09:00 hours reported an uneventful crossing and landing.

15 July 1944

1 vehicle 2nd priority residues arrived 08:45 hours.

16 July 1944

Remainder of 2nd priority residues arrived 01:30 hours.

First issue of beer and NAAFI goods distributed.

M Troop area shelled during night 16/17. One gunner killed and one wounded.

17 July 1944

E Troop 218 Battery called into reserve. Lt DUNN died after a driving accident in Jeep. Air activity in HQ area 23:15 – 23:45 hours.

18 July 1944

Quiet day.

19 July 1944

220 Battery withdrawn Carcagny to rest.

20 July 1944

Two 17 pdr Self-Propelled Valentines arrived RHQ for trial and inspection. Copy of C.O.s report attached as an Appendix to the War Diary (see below).

218 and 219 Batteries withdrawn to rest.

21 July 1944

Prepared to move to Carvreville – movement postponed owing to heavy rain all day.

22 July 1944

Quiet day.

23 July 1944

RHQ established 096718 with Battery HQs 117677; 094709; 110659; 103769 Sheet 7F/2.

24 July 1944

Bombing and machine-gun attack on RHQ 23:30 hours. No casualties and only superficial damage to vehicles.

25 July 1944

Day spent in maintenance and digging-in.

26 July 1944

217, 219 and 220 Batteries in position by 04:55 hours on 49 Division relief of 3rd British and 51st Highland Division.

27 July 1944

Two Self-Propelled Valentines taken on charge for battle trial.

28 July 1944

Nothing to report.

29 July 1944

Two Self-Propelled Valentines taken to 33rd Armoured Brigade Workshop for overhaul previous to Battle Trials. WO 1 RSM KNIGHT reported to HQ Royal Artillery for Camp duties.

30 July 1944

Quiet day.

Appendices and Returns filed with July 1944 War Diary

Appendix 1 – 18 Sets.

This letter to the head of Royal Artillery, 49 Division, from the Regimental Commander argues the case for substituting the No. 19 or No. 22 Radio Set instead of the No. 18 Set for communication from Troop HQs to Regimental HQ.

Appendix D – Report on the Rauray engagement.

This single page summarises the report of the C Troop Commander covering the fierce engagement at Rauray in support of 1st Tyneside Scottish. For completeness, the text of the report will be added to the War Diary of 1st Tyneside Scottish and the various accounts of the action, in which the Troop accounted for six German tanks.

Report on 17 pdr Self-Propelled Equipments.

This is a single-page report from the head of Royal Artillery, 49 Division, to his counterpart at 30 Corps expressing a view on the make-up of Anti-Tank Batteries in terms of towed or self-propelled guns. He argues that the Valentine should immediately be substituted for the towed 17 pdr. In addition he argues for the retention of the 6 pdr as Sabot ammunition was now available. He is clearly replying to a letter seeking such opinions.

Field Return – Officers – 1/7/1944 – pages 1 and 2.

This document shows 37 Officers in post against an establishment of 34, with 5 surplus (1 Captain, 4 Lieutenants) and two deficiencies (Majors). Page 1 shows Captain CATKING and Lt KIRBY having joined during the previous week, and Major TOMS and Lt HOWIE having left – both wounded – and both of whom, plus Major PAUL – were requested for return to the unit. Page 2 lists all the Officer in post at the time of the return, and those names will, again, be added to the personnel list for the unit.

Field Return – Other Ranks – 1/7/1944 – pages 1 and 2.

The summary shows an establishment of 684 men, of whom 581 were in post, with a further 79 probably held as first-line reinforcements, leaving a deficiency of 24 men, 13 of whom were Bombardier posts and 2 Sergeants.

Nine men were listed whose return to the unit was particularly requested.

Field Return – List of wounded – 1/7/1944.

The names, ranks and numbers set out on this typed list will be incorporated into the list of personnel who served in the unit.

Field Return – Light Aid Detachment – 1/7/1944 – page 1.

This Return shows 12 men in post against the establishment of 14, leaving a deficit of 2 gunners.

Field Return – Other Ranks – 8/7/1944 – page 1.

Again, as shown on the 1st of July Return, 591 men were in post, 79 as reinforcements and a deficiency of 24.

Field Return – Other Ranks – 15/7/1944 – page 1.

One week later there are 651 men against the establishment of 684, with reinforcements reduced to 18 and a deficiency of 15.

Field Return – Other Ranks – 22/7/1944 – page 3.

This is the list of 22 men whose return to the unit is particularly requested. Many of these also appear on earlier lists of wounded – most are back in the UK.

Field Return – Officers – 29/7/1944 – pages 1 and 2.

Again, the list of Officers on page 2 will be included in the personnel list.

Field Return – Other Ranks – 29/7/1944 – pages 1 and 3.

The total establishment remains at 684, with 649 men in post, no reinforcements, and a deficit of 35 men.

This is also the list of 20 men whose return to the unit is particularly requested. Many of these also appear on earlier lists of wounded – most are back in the UK.

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