1 Fd Regt RA at Cassino - March 44

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Charley Fortnum, Sep 5, 2016.

  1. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles


    I've been working on a transcription of the March 1944 Diary for 1 Field Regiment R.A and I'll upload it here for comments/criticism - I hope some of you may find it either useful, interesting or perhaps even both.

    It has been extracted from the WO170/920 file and - in my opinion - is very useful indeed. The matter is complicated, however, by the fact that the diary is handwritten and the diarist (unknown - seemingly not the Intelligence Officer - initials himself HRF) has penned a document of wildly varying legibility and has a 'creative' style of spelling. That said, I shall end the criticism there as he's done an admirable job of recording everything going on around him, the great and the small -- excluding the voluminous appendices this month runs to some seventy-five pages. The detail in part stems from the fact that a) the unit's communications seem superb, and b) they had observers with several of the units in and around the Castle, Monastery Hill and Hangman's Hill. Readers with an interest in 5th Ind Inf Bde's exploits during the third battle will find lots on offer here, but there's also a reasonable amount of the bombardment and the New Zealanders' subsequent fighting to clear the town.

    1 Fd Regt arrived in the Cassino area on Feb 11th and departed - as this diary records - on March 27th. The unit comprised 11 Bty, 52 Bty & 80 Bty with the former two Btys' gun areas being located at 9001193 & 900200 respectively - the location of 80 Bty's guns has been omitted as far as I can see. RHQ was positioned in a house at 900197, which is pretty much precisely on 'Shit Corner', where Route Six turns and runs straight through CASSINO ('the Mad Mile') in full sight of the Monastery - a bit of a sticky wicket, but Frank de Planta assures me that the lie of the land places the location in dead ground.

    The best map I have found online to accompany the text is here:
    [very large and contemporary]

    Note on transcription:
    Words of which I am less than 90% certain appear in red; in the event that a word is partially legible I have used asterisks to mark the unknown letters and the number of asterisks indicates the probable number of letters missing. I have entirely retained the madcap inconsistencies in capitalisation, punctuation, spelling and spacing that feature in the original in an attempt to recreate the original as loyally as possible.

    There are many appendices to this month - mostly fire plans cited in the diary.
    If anybody really needs to see them, please message me and I'll arrange it.

    Adam Bruce-Watt for the excellent mock-up of the War Diary form - I modified it a little, but most of the work was his.

    Files Attached:
    1 x Diary .pdf
    2 x Award Citation for Major Oswald RA who is cited constantly in the diary (thanks Andy).

    I am not an artillery man and the meaning of many technical terms foxed me. Apologies for errors stemming from this ignorance. For me, guns go bang and then stuff falls apart at the other end - hopefully enemy stuff.

    Oswald DSO.jpg Oswald DSO 2.jpg

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    4jonboy, Owen and Drew5233 like this.
  2. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Charley, the only information that i can add is regarding the map that you have mentioned. There is another map.. GSGS 4249
    CASSINO Scale 1:50.000 Sheet 160. 11 (Coloured). Its not on the link that you provided. If only. The map with a Salerno one was up for bids on E-bay the other day. Not my bag for getting into a bidding. ( Some one trying to gain coin in my eyes).. Not cricket!
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Well done that man.
    Good of you to share that , it's what the forum is all about.
  4. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I saw that, I think, and although I'm content to spend compatively large sums on books, photographs and documents, maps rarely seem to have survived in good enough quality to justify the high prices.

    There is a reproduction on sale here:

    BHC 100103 GSGS 4229 1:50000 Cassino

    But I've never used the company and it cuts in a very awkward place, right across the masif. One instinctively feels that digital copies ought to be very cheap, but if the scan is very sharp then the price is fair and the childen won't be able to attack it with crayons...
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
  5. adbw

    adbw Member

    Extraordinary stuff and well presented - there can't be too many transcribed war diaries, in my view ...
    Mark Surridge likes this.
  6. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    One small addition that may prove helpful for non-artillery minded folk:

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
    Mark Surridge likes this.

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