115 Field Regiment Royal Artillery

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by trader, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. trader

    trader Junior Member

    I am brand new so excuse any mistakes. I am tracing a family member in the above unit - Captain Charles Nathaniel Sprawson (Sn 179011). He was killed on 18 March 1945. I am keen to find out about the 115 and his part in this campaign. I would appreciate any pointers please. Thanks
     
  2. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Welcome to the forum.

    The 115 Fld Regt war diary is worth a try, especially as he was an officer.

    It's available from the National Archives using this reference:
    WO 172/7416, Field Regiments: 115 Regt. (1945 Jan.- Sept.)

    It's unlikely that there will be any great detail about his cause of death but there's a good chance of being something.

    Best wishes and happy New Year,


    Lee
     
  3. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    115 Field Regiment RA was one of the divisional artillery units of 19 Indian Division. It was made up of three batteries: 238 (Leicester), 240 (Notts RHA) & 480 and was equipped with 24 x 25 pdr + Quads.

    19th Indian Division's Order of Battle March 1 1945

    General Officer commanding: Major General Thomas Wynford Rees
    Commander, Royal Artillery: Brigadier John Alexander MacDonald
    Chief of Staff (GSO1): Lieutenant Colonel John Masters (author of various books on the campaign)

    62nd Indian Infantry Brigade (Brigadier James Ronald Morris)
    2nd Bn Welch Regiment
    3rd Bn 6th Rajputana Rifles
    4th Bn 9th Gurkha Rifles

    64th Indian Infantry Brigade (Brigadier John Godfrey Flewett)
    2nd Bn Worcestershire Regiment
    5th Bn 10th Baluch Regiment
    1st Bn 6th Gurkha Rifles

    98th Indian Infantry Brigade (Brigadier Charles Ian Jerrard)
    2nd Bn Royal Berkshire Regiment
    8th Bn 12th Frontier Force Regiment
    4th Bn 4th Gurkha Rifles

    Divisional Units

    7th Light Cavalry (attached) Stuart Tanks
    1st Bn Assam Regiment (attached)
    1st Bn 15th Punjab Regiment (Divisional reconnaissance regiment)
    MG Bn 11th Sikh Regiment (Divisional Machine gun unit)
    134 Medium Regiment RA
    4 Field Regiment IA
    5 Field Regiment IA
    115 Field Regiment RA
    29 Mountain Regiment IA
    33 Anti-tank Regiment RA (mixed anti-tank and light anti-aircraft batteries)
     
  4. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    My guess is that he would have been killed while in support of the final battles leading to the fall of Mandalay:

    During late January, Indian 19th Division had cleared the west bank of the Irrawaddy, and transferred its entire strength into its bridgeheads on the east bank. By the middle of February, the Japanese 15th Division opposed to them was very weak and thinly spread, and General Rees launched an attack southwards from his division's bridgeheads in mid-February. By 7 March, his leading units were within sight of Mandalay Hill, crowned by its many pagodas and temples.

    A Gurkha battalion (4/4th Gurkha Rifles), commanded by an officer who had served in Mandalay before the war, stormed Mandalay Hill on the night of 8 March. Several Japanese held out in tunnels and bunkers underneath the pagodas, and were slowly eliminated over the next few days, although most of the buildings survived substantially intact.

    Fighting its way further into the city, Rees's division was stopped by the thick walls of Fort Dufferin (as the ancient citadel was named by the British), surrounded by a moat. Medium artillery and bombs dropped from low altitude failed to make much impression on the walls, and an assault via a railway tunnel near the angle of the north and west walls was driven back. The 19th Division prepared to make another assault via the sewers on 21 March, but before it could be made the Japanese abandoned the fort, also via the sewers. King Thibaw Min's teak palace inside the fort had burned down during the siege, only one of many historic buildings destroyed.
     
  5. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    [​IMG]
    THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945.". ".© IWM (IND 4534)IWM Non Commercial Licence

    Object description

    The Campaign in Mandalay February - March 1945: British artillery bombards Fort Dufferin, the key to the Japanese defences at Mandalay.

    (oops - might be the wrong gun - is that a medium (5.5 inch) gun like the one below and the compensators are hidden by the smoke?) (answered my own question - that is "a 6-in howitzer of 134 Medium Regiment Royal Artillery firing point-blank to breach the walls at Fort Dufferin")

    [​IMG]
    THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945.". ".© IWM (SE 3261)IWM Non Commercial Licence
     
  6. trader

    trader Junior Member

    Thanks to all for these valuable inputs. His mother was Australian who was brought to UK after her Scottish mother died in Brisbane with her brother (9) who died of disease in 1917 while in the RAMC (single) to live with their mother's parents in Wiltshire. Charles had two sisters who died spinsters and Charles did not have time to have any children so family material hits a brick wall.
     
  7. topofthestack

    topofthestack Member

    Greetings Trader,

    My father was in the Battery in which Capt. Sprawson was 2 i/c and I have some details which may interest you. If you are still interested in this, please post and we can discuss ways of giving you this information.

    Regards.

    topofthestack
     
  8. topofthestack

    topofthestack Member

    Dear DaveB,

    The first part of you post is wrong. 115 was formally a TA regiment based in Leicester and was made up of 238 and 239 Batteries. 238 was later replaced by 240 and then 480 was added later. (Source War Diaries and other information in IWM and Firepower Museum).

    Regards. topofthestack
     
  9. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    115th Field Regiment, R.A. (T.A.)

    HQ, 238th Bty: Leicester
    240th (Nottinghamshire Royal Horse Artillery) Bty: Nottingham


    The regiment arrived in France in November 1939 and served as an army field regiment in France in May 1940 under I Corps. It was located at Bapaume on 10 May 1940 at the start of the campaign. It was in action on the Escaut on 22 May with 10th Field Regiment and also at Merville on 26 May. It withdrew from Dunkirk by the end of May and reformed at Okehampton. It served under Eastern Command in the autumn of 1940.

    480th Battery was added at Loddon on 17 February 1941 and 238th Battery was exchanged for 239th Battery of 60th Field Regiment on 11 August of that year. The title (North Midland) was added to the regiment on 17 February 1942.

    It left for Indian in March 1942 and arrived in India from the United Kingdom on 19 May 1942 and moved to Bangalore, where it joined 19th Indian Infantry Division. It transferred to 20th Indian Infantry Division on 14 June 1942 on moving to Ceylon and remained with it until July 1943, when the division returned to India. The regiment remained in Ceylon until 27 November 1943, when it returned to India. It was under command of 160th LOC Area in Bangalore until 15 December 1943.

    The regiment then joined 19th Indian Infantry Division and remained with it until the end of the war. It moved to Mashrul on 4 March 1944 and to Manipur Road on 24 October 1944. It was located at Thatbeikkyin on 31 January 1945, at Shwehle Area on 28 February 1945, at Nyaungnibon on 31 March 1945, in the Paluchaung on 30 June 1945, and at Kywebwe on 31 August 1945.
     
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  10. topofthestack

    topofthestack Member

    Thank you Dryan67,

    I have photo'd all the War Diaries from 1939 and have in my possession a Battery Diary for 240 Bty that covers a lot of the Burma Campaign. The regiment was based in the Toungoo area in 3 positions during the late spring/summer of 1945 and detachments were sent to both Oktin and Kywebwe (240 Bty). Batteries were involved in the fighting along the Mawchi Road throughout the monsoon season of 1945. All units moved to Toungoo in September 1945 and then drove to Pegu where they deposited their stores and equipment before moving to Rangoon and finally embarking for their trip back to the UK in late September.

    After the regiment had returned from Ceylon to India, they were based in Bangalore as you state and then drove up to the Bombay area where they underwent amphibious landing training. As you state, they moved eastwards in October 1944.

    My wife and I have recently returned from 10 days in Burma and retraced many of the steps the regiment took from crossing the Irrawaddy. We spent 3 days in Toungoo, visiting villages and places where they fought the Japanese. especially along the Mawchi Road. It was an exciting and emotional trip which we thoroughly enjoyed.

    Please let me know if you want any more information.

    Regards.

    TG
     
  11. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    That must have been a great experience TG.
     
  12. topofthestack

    topofthestack Member

    Greetings dryan67,

    I'm now looking into the early history of 115 and noted your earlier entry on its formation. I know that it came out of 60 Field Regiment but any other help on these sources/references and where they are held would be gratefully received.

    Regards.

    TG
     
  13. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The March 1st, 1939 Army List has the 60th (North Midland) Field Regiment, RA located in the 49th Divisional Area as follows:

    60th (North Midland) Field Regiment, R.A. (T.A.)
    HQ, 240th (Nottinghamshire Royal Horse Artillery) Bty: Nottingham
    237th (Lincoln) Bty: Lincoln
    239th Bty: Grimsby
    238th Bty: Leicester

    When the Territorial Army was doubled in April 1939, the regiment was split in two, with the 237th and 239th Batteries assigned to the original 60th Field Regiment, RA and the 238th and 240th Batteries assigned to the 115th Field Regiment, RA.

    There is a history of the 60th Field Regiment that covers the pre-war period for a bit. It is:

    Bartlett, Jack & Benson, John. All the King’s Enemies: The Remarkable Deeds of the ‘Lincolnshire Gunners. (60th Field Regiment). Boston, Lincolnshire: Richard Kay, 2000.

    Unfortunately after the doubling in April 1939, it concentrates on the 60th Field Regiment.

    You can find a copy here:

    All the King's Enemies: The Remarkable Deeds of the Lincolnshire Gunners by Bartlett, Jack; Benson, John: Richard Kay Publications, Boston, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom 9781902882437 Trade Paperback - Antique & Collector's Books
     
  14. topofthestack

    topofthestack Member

    Thanks dryan67,

    3rd March 1941 War Diary reports, 'Draft of 75 men arrive from 90th Defence Bty. to make up our third battery'.
    On the 17th it reports, 'Interchange of personnel to complete reorganisation on three battery basis'.
    On the 7th April there is the first mention of 480 Bty.

    Will continue my search through the WDs to find out when 238 Bty was renamed as 239.

    Regards.

    TG
     
  15. topofthestack

    topofthestack Member

    The change of designation of batteries in this regiment occurred in August 1941 (Source: War Diary).

    On 11 August the WD notes that 'War Office letter 20/Arty/5384 (AG6(a)) dated 11th Aug 41 recd which changes designation of 238 Bty to "239", however on 12th and 15th August, '238' is still being used. On 16th August there is the still mention of '239' but on 19th the WD again mentions '238'. Perhaps the writer hadn't got used to the change himself?

    The next reference to '239' is on the 17th September, so perhaps he'd got used to the new numbering by then?

    Regards.

    TG
     
  16. topofthestack

    topofthestack Member

    Can anyone confirm where 'Port 286' was in France? My guess is Le Havre.
     
  17. topofthestack

    topofthestack Member

    Greetings,

    After a few months of researching, I have now established greater detail of the early formation of 115 Field Regiment (North Midlands) and it would seem that several parts of previous posts on the this topic were not correct.

    The regiment was formed as part of 60th Field Regiment and was the originally number '239th Field Battery' and was the only artillery battery based in Leicester. It was also known as 2/60th Battery. When 60th was ordered to expand to war establishment, and double in size, it became 1/239th and then 2/239th batteries of 2/60th North Midland Field Regiment.

    Whilst this contradicts the Army List of 1 March, 1939, I can understand why this is so as the Army List information would have been gathered over several months before publication, (and computerisation); events were changing quickly during this period. I have yet to confirm exactly when '239' was established.

    On 16th June, it was announced in ‘Leicester Artillerymen’s Regimental Title Changed’ (Leicester Daily Mercury - LDM) that;

    ‘Leicester’s Territorial artillerymen now belong to the 115th North Midlands Field Regiment RA., and the two batteries comprising this regiment go by the numbers 239 and 240.

    Early this year the 239th battery, which was the only artillery unit in Leicester, was expanded, and then came the order to increase its strength to war establishment and double it. The two batteries thus created became known as the 1/239th and 2/239th, and they comprised the 2/60th North Midland Regiment.

    The regimental and battery titles have now been altered again, and Lieut.-Colonel M. R. Simpson formerly commanding the old 239th Battery, command the regiment, with Capt. A Philip, another former battery commander, as his second-in-command. The two batteries are now under the command of Lieutenant W. G. Fox and Lieutenant S. F. Herbert. Mr Herbert was vice-captain of the Leicester and Leicestershire Rugby sides last season.

    From the above it is clear that the title 'North Midlands' had been used from June 1939, and not February 1942, however, it would seem that the change to the numbering in June 1940 was not carried through as the War Diary continues to use '238' and '240' until August 1941 when it was changed to '239' and '240'. Later editions of the LDM do not make any note of the change of use of 239 to 238, however the WD on 2nd September 1939 makes a reference to 238 and then, later 240.

    After outbreak of war, the regiment stayed in Leicester for a short while before moving to Bordon, Hampshire where they stayed until orders were issued and they started a move to France on 2nd March, 1940. By 9th March, all personnel were in France. (Source War Diaries WO 167/505 Mar - Jun 1940).

    480 Battery was added to the regiment in February/March 1941 when the regiment was based around Loddon, Norfolk. The War Diary on the 17th February makes note of preparations for a 'new HQ for 480 Bty' and also mentions that discussions took place on the reorganisation of troops and batteries into a 3 battery regiment. On 3rd March, it recalls that 75 men from 90(2?) Defence Battery arrived as a draft to make up the 3rd Battery. (Source. War Diary Feb/Mar 1941)

    I hope that this has cleared up 115s early history.

    Regards

    TG
    (UK)
     
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  18. topofthestack

    topofthestack Member

    115 Field Regiment (North Midlands) RA

    I'm finding a lot of misinformation in books and the internet about the service of this regiment in the BEF during WW2 which I'd like to correct. Unfortunately, they don't appear in some information regarding the BEF 'Order of Battle' or aren't credited with being with other formations, and in certain actions.

    115 moved to France in March 1940 and were assigned on 1st May to 1 Corps, 2nd. Division in an Anti-Tank role, and then allocated to 48th Division. On the 15th May they moved across the Belgium border to a position SW of Brussels and then on the 16th, were ordered to start moving back south westwards. On 19th May they were allocated to support 143 Infantry Brigade which was covering the Escaut River between Calonne and Antoing and were in action on 20 - 22nd whilst based around St. Maur. At one point during this action, the CO of the 1 Royal Scots messaged the regiment with, 'Thank God for You' and congratulated the regiment on its shooting.

    On 23rd May, 240 Bty was reassigned to 1 Corps in an Anti-Tank Role in the Armentieres sector. RHQ and 238 Bty were positioned around Mt. Kemel on 24th.

    On the 28th May, 115 was ordered to move back to Dunkirk and on 29th May they embarked from the Mole on various ships back to the UK.

    240 Battery remained in France around Armentieres although one battery got 'lost' and ended up supporting infantry to stop the Germans crossing the canal at Merville, France on 28th May. 240 Bty was ordered back to Uxem and on 29th all non-essential personnel were ordered to Bray Dunes for embarkation back to the UK. Some guns and personnel were ordered to support the infantry of 2nd and 3rd Infantry Brigades and when they had withdrawn through its lines, they were ordered to destroy the remaining guns and head to the beaches. On 1st June, the last remaining members of 240 Bty left for the UK.

    During their service with the BEF, 3 members were awarded Military Crosses, 2 were awarded Military Medals on one was awarded a DCM.

    All the above is sourced from TNA WO 167/505 and other archived documents.
     
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  19. Andrew Humphries

    Andrew Humphries New Member

    I read this thread with great interest. My father Peter Humphries was an Armament Quartermaster Sergeant (WO II) in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in the Light Aid Detachment of 115 Field Regiment (North Midlands) RA. He joined the regiment in December 1939, embarked for France on 6th March 1940 and was evacuated on 28th May 1940. Unfortunately he never mentioned this period of service - he retired as a Major in the REME in 1964 and died a few years ago.

    Your interesting comments above provide a really useful resume of the activities of the 115th during the BEF campaign. Can you give me a hint where I might find more detail and in particular about the support given by the LAD? Would WO 167/505 be worth a look or should I try the RAOC equivalent?
     
  20. topofthestack

    topofthestack Member

    Greetings Andrew and welcome to the '115' Club!

    What you wrote is very interesting and for the first time I've found out what L.A.D. means; thanks! The evacuation from Dunkirk is an interesting period and if you have any more personal details or family recollections I'd be delighted to receive them (see below).

    You don't mention when he left 115 but they had a period in early 1941 when the LAD section was removed and they were based around Great Yarmouth and Norwich. It was, surprisingly, restored a couple of months later.

    WO 167/505 file gives the War Diaries, which give a regimental overview of what was happening during those days and it does have some fortnightly/ monthly regimental personnel returns. The diaries mentions the number of troops in the regiment with LAD number of Officers and ORs given. Within those personnel returns there might be something that will interest you but they were not really what I was looking for. I photographed all the available WD pages whilst I was at TNA. February 1940 is missing but they were based at Bordon, Hants until March.

    I have put together the history of the battery/regiment in Leicester from 1919 until, at present, June 1940. It's nearly ready and I hope to submit it to the Leicestershire Record Office sometime in the New Year. Presently, I'm working on July 1940 to May 1942 period and 'written up' the period to September 1941. I'm hoping to 'publish' their history in about three parts and so if you ask the website for my personal email address and we make contact, I can let you know when Leicester R. O. have it on file, or we can discuss this privately. I'm hoping to have it written up to 'Academic' standards but it's not commercially viable for publication, and also for copyright reasons, so I intend to submit it to the IWM, RA Museum and some other specialist bodies in stages. This project is going to take me a couple of years but, hopefully, it will correct some of the mistakes I've found on the internet and in regimental history publications about this regiment. If you have any further queries about sources or the regiment's movements, then please let me know.

    Regards.

    TG
     

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