116 (Royal Welch Fusiliers) Light Anti Aircraft Regiment

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Swiper, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Below is the history of the 116th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, a short lived and fiercely proud unit who did a stirling job supporting 53rd Division. The below history is condensed from 'Red Dragon' the RWF history published in 1960, and long out of print. This will get edited once I write a condensed one after checking the facts and expanding some details thanks to the War Diaries.





    116th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (RWF)

    The 116th LAA Regiment has a fascinating history. The formation began as 12th (Home Defence) Battalion RWF and was formed on the 4th July 1940 as part of 215th Infantry Brigade. Only the founding CO and Quatermaster were the only regular soldiers in the Officer ranks and became the backbone of the unit. All of the men in the unit were between 27-28 years of age - and were all new recruits.


    Septemer 1940 saw the unit recieve its first set of heavier equipment, ranging from mortars to several carriers - this marked the start of 'proper' training in improvised firing ranges and defence positions. Training continued until December 1942 when a telegram was recieved announcing that the unit would be converted to Light Anti-Air Regiment - after this the men of the former 12th Bn decided to carry on their newfound traditions as 'Royal Welchmen' ranging from retaining the Fusiliers Flash on Officers, to the full Regimental badges. This fiery respect for their Battalions parenthood would remain throughout the 116th LAA's journey through Europe.


    For the next few years the Regiment was transformed from Fusiliers to Gunners or Pioneer Corps. The new Regiment now stood as a Regimental Headquaters and three Batteries. The Regiment trained in the use of 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns and requested to join the 53rd (Welsh) Division, this was granted and the Regiment assumed the title 'Royal Welch' in addition to its 116 number. Becoming the 116th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment (Royal Welch).



    116th LAA Regiment (RW) Orbat Normandy 1944
    Headquarters - Lieutenant-Colonel HDT Morris
    380 Battery - Major FH Hill
    381 Battery - Major ANB Sugden
    382 Battery - Major FHG Eggleton

    The 23rd June 1944 saw the first elements of the 116th land in Normandy, it became rapidly apparent that the Luftwaffe was no longer as large a threat as it had once been - and despite some colourful occasional shooting the Regiment assumed an unofficial role that of 'counter-mortar organisation' for the entire Division, this was continued throughout the campaign and acquired an excellent reputation.


    The collapse of the German Army in Falaise and subsequent explosive break out of the Allied Armies saw the Regiment's guns rarely in action - and the radio trucks were used to boost the Divisions overall radio capabilities. It reached the state where the guns were left in Antwerp and the trucks that haulled and supplied them assisted the RASC in supplying the entire Division.


    September 1944 saw the Regiment entirely regunned and they moved into Nijmegen, engaging enemy aircraft and ground targets - the latter assisted by American spotters in Piper Cubs. In October the Division was moved to attack s'Hertogenbosch, and D Troop of 381 Battery achieved an astonishing success in this coming engagement.


    Captain Lever's Great Action

    The 27th October saw Captain Lever of D Troop was ordered to assist 6th Battalion RWF, engaging enemy who refused to be dislodged. He bought up a self-propelled Bofors gun and proceeded to fire on the enemy. He then convinced some Germans to surrender who were dug in in a factory and to do so the Germans had to find a boat and cross a canal! Finally he went over himself, taking more prisoners and a machine gun.


    6 Bn RWF occupied the factory the next day and several more blocks of buidlings between the canal and docks, Lever crossed the canal with six detachment commanders and a Bofors for support and captured six German Marines who were swimming the canal. They then came under ferocious mortar and machine gun fire - and withdrew using the Bofors to cover their retreat. Shortly afterwards they followed this up, engaging a German company headquaters and caused several more enemy casualties. Lever did not stop here, however, and took yet more prisoners down the railway line.


    By the 29th, the 6 Bn RWF had cleared the main factory buildings but they were still heavily opposed, Captain Lever then volunteered to deal with these posts. An initial bombardment of 80 Bofors rounds covered Lever, TSM Affleck, Lance-Bombardier Kendall and Gunner Williams advance in a Jeep where they took nine prisoners, then on the return they noticed around 40 Germans falling back to buildings further behind. With Kendall escorting the prisoners back, Lever and Affleck began attacking the enemy with intense Bren gun fire whilst Williams kept passing them ammunition.



    The Bofors chimed in and stormed 50 rounds at the Germans new defensive position. Carriers moved out to sieze these buildings, but the enemy made a good withdrawl, putting the Carriers in a dangerous position. They ran into crisscrossing German machine gun fire and were pinned down. Lever identified the machine gun, used the Bofors to supress the position whilst the carriers withdrew. Later that day he noticed entrenched German positions and engaged them once more with the Bofors scoring 39 heavy hits on a bunker. Lever then went forward and searched the enemy positions, returnign with an assortment of weapons, whilst six more Germans surrendered with more weapons from nearby positions.


    That night the Germans reinforced their crumbling positions, and Lever planned another heavy assualt involving three Bofors, three Carriers and an infantry platoon from 6 Bn RWF. The attack went well and they took the first group of buidlings relatively easily. Their advance was only stopped when the Germans destroyed a small bridge, denying passage over the dyke to vehicles. Lever found a plank and crossed it himself followed by three infantrymen who fired whilst he took on enemy pits with his Bren. He took seven prisoners but was hit in the back by a burst of enemy fire, but one of the infantrymen started to carry him back.


    By now, one of the Bofors was out of action, and they sent the Jeep to get am additional Bofors, during this the prisoners crowded onto the small plank and broke it. Affleck desperately searched for another plank and found it, trying to put it into position the men on the other side found it impossible to get it back safely - as he dashed back for another plank he too was hit in the back and went down.


    Artillery was called in and deployed a smoke screen, during which they withdrew one of the guns, Affleck was loaded into the jeep and driven back to the Regimental Aid Post. ThThese men found a ladder, returned to the battle and crossed the demolished bridge bringing back Captain Lever, loading him onto the Jeep and under the cover of the final gun dashed him to hospital, the final gun then withdrew.


    Tragically after these heroic acts, Captian Lever and TSM Affleck died of their wounds shortly afterwards. Williams recieved the DCM and Cousins the MM. Captain Lever was recommended for the VC and Afflect was mentioned posthumously in despatches.



    After s'Hertogenbosch
    After s'Hertogenbosch the Regiment assumed its normal roles, occasionally shifting to more colourful duties - such as at Weert where they flushed out a German OP from onto of a windmill.


    In December 1944, a letter arrived from Eisenhower stating with the Luftwaffe in tatters there was little need for light anti-aircraft units. Those units who had previous infantry experience would be broken up and reshuffled. 220 men were returned to infantry, most of them now veteran soldiers, and most were retained within 53rd Welsh Division.


    The disbandment of 116th LAA RA (RWF) was felt sadly by those who served within it as a most unconventional and distinguished unit during its short but most definately distinguished life, continuing the traditions of its parent Regiment against all odds.
     
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Immediate.

    On 27th October 1944during the attack on the outskirts of Hertogenbosch a troop of LAA SP guns was placed in support of one of the leading battalions. Gunner Williams was the driver of the Troop Commanders Jeep. During this day the troop were given the task of supporting the carrier platoon and throughout Gunner Williams drove the Jeep about in the forward area of the leading infantry.

    On 28th October the troop was ordered to deploy in the Western half of Hertogenbosch and a recce party went forward into the area in which it was known that there were many enemy snipers and which was under constant and heavy enemy fire. Gunner Williams drove about in the area totally ignoring the this fire and showing utter disregard for his own safety. Several enemy prisoners were taken; these Gunner Williams took back to the Infantry Company HQ, through streets which were under fire, returning later to his Troop Commander. The troop had now deployed but were pinned to the ground, and one of the men became a casualty. Gunner Williams helped to load him onto the Jeepand drove him back to the RAP under covering frie from a Bren mounted in the back of the Jeep. Later in the day a further recce was made of the area, Gunner Williams accompanying his Troop Commander, throughout, who especially reported his complete coolness in the most dangerous circumstances.

    On 29th October the infantry located a Spandau post near the canal, and Gunner Williams drove his Jeep with the Troop Commander aboard, with great dash, followed by an SP gun into a forward position. Then with the SP covering the attack Gunner Williams drove the Jeep with three others inside along the canal bank and took nine prisoners. The canal bank was in full view of the enemy and was under heavy fire. The Troop Commander and three others then took up position and Gunner Williams kept them supplied with ammo making several journeys and running the gaunlet along the canal bank fearlessly and without hesitation. This he continued to do throughout the day, and when the party were pinned down by enemy fire he and another came up and gave them covering fire.

    On 30th October his Troop Commander and TSM were wounded, Gunner Williams took the latter back to the RAP and on the way back was hit in the hand, but successfully reached the scene of the fighting bringing with him a ladder with which to cross the canal to rescue his officer. In spite of his wounds he gave great assistance in carrying back his Troop Commander whilst being sniped and once again went back to the RAP over a route which was under enemy fire.

    His courage and complete devotion to duty throughout these four days of action were of the very highest order and there is no doubt that by his actions he contributed in no small measure to the success of the operation of his troop which enabled the leading troops to press on continuously. His gallant behaviour is still the talk of his fellow men.

    Gazetted 1.3.45
     
  3. Pagojoe

    Pagojoe Junior Member

    Hello readers of this link, I would like to know if the attached photo of Graffiti on a WW2 gun control pit on Flat Holm Island, Bristol Channel Wales.
    Could have been made by the 116 Pioneer Corps during the coastal armaments of WW2 on the island.

    Has a guide on the island any more info would be appreciated

    Kind regards Pagojoe
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Hammond Walter

    Hammond Walter Junior Member

    My fathers service record has just come through the post and it confirms that Walter Herbert Hammond 4187393 served in the 12th RWF and was transferred to the 116th L.A.A. Royal Artillery on the 1/01/42 at Scarborough. He was attached to the 233 L.A.A. Trg Regt for purposes of w.e.f. (DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT w.e.f. MEANT?).
    He was then posted to 382 Batt 30/01/42 Aberystwyth.
    28/03/42 posted to R.H.Q. w.e.f. at Field (WAS Field A PLACE OR DID IT MEAN JUST UNDER CANVAS AND NOT IN BARRACKS ?)
    28/04/42 admitted to Knapp Hill Military Hospital, complaint NYD ( KNAPP HILL ? AND ANY IDEA WHAT NYD MEANT?)
    He was granted agricultural leave 11/08/42 to 24/09/42 without pay and the authority was signed by the adjutant Capt K. Hirst.
    26/01/44 passed his Driver Mechanic 11D test at No4 (Canterbury) Tech. Trg. Group.
    He forfeited a days pay for being AWOL for 7 hours and 31 mins on the 24/25/04/44.

    1st May 1944 he was mustered as Driver/Mechanic Gp 'D' C? Roman numeral 2
    21 st June 1944 he embarked UK
    NO MORE ENTRY UNTIL HE WAS POSTED TO 108 LAA on the 20/12/44.

    SO I AM NONE THE WISER AS TO WHAT MY FATHER DID IN NORTH WEST EUROPE?
     
  5. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce

    Hello
    Could you please scan the record and post on here so members will be able to see exactly what is on the form and help? Thanks

    Lesley
     
  6. airborne medic

    airborne medic Very Senior Member

    My fathers service record has just come through the post and it confirms that Walter Herbert Hammond 4187393 served in the 12th RWF and was transferred to the 116th L.A.A. Royal Artillery on the 1/01/42 at Scarborough. He was attached to the 233 L.A.A. Trg Regt for purposes of w.e.f. (DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT w.e.f. MEANT?).
    He was then posted to 382 Batt 30/01/42 Aberystwyth.
    28/03/42 posted to R.H.Q. w.e.f. at Field (WAS Field A PLACE OR DID IT MEAN JUST UNDER CANVAS AND NOT IN BARRACKS ?)
    28/04/42 admitted to Knapp Hill Military Hospital, complaint NYD ( KNAPP HILL ? AND ANY IDEA WHAT NYD MEANT?)
    He was granted agricultural leave 11/08/42 to 24/09/42 without pay and the authority was signed by the adjutant Capt K. Hirst.
    26/01/44 passed his Driver Mechanic 11D test at No4 (Canterbury) Tech. Trg. Group.
    He forfeited a days pay for being AWOL for 7 hours and 31 mins on the 24/25/04/44.

    1st May 1944 he was mustered as Driver/Mechanic Gp 'D' C? Roman numeral 2
    21 st June 1944 he embarked UK
    NO MORE ENTRY UNTIL HE WAS POSTED TO 108 LAA on the 20/12/44.

    SO I AM NONE THE WISER AS TO WHAT MY FATHER DID IN NORTH WEST EUROPE?

    I am of the opinion that w.e.f. means with effect from....

    Also Knapp Hill is a place - near Bristol i think but I may be wrong and NYD stands for Not Yet Diagnosed
     
  7. Hammond Walter

    Hammond Walter Junior Member

    Thank you for your assistance, unfortunately although I have scanned part of the service record I cannot get it uploaded.

    Taff
     
  8. geoffreyeprice

    geoffreyeprice Junior Member

    Reading this has confused me. It says the 16th was raised with me now 27 and 28 years of age. My dad was with the 16th LAA and he was born in 1922 so he must of been the youngest in the unit. Enest W.A.L Price
    Army number 888259. Can anyone help. The more I try to find out the more I am getting confused.
     
  9. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    hello Geoffrey its the 116th LAA mentioned on here
    I replied to your pm


    regards
    Clive
     

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