119th LAA RA - Formation AOS and TAC signs

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by dudford, Apr 25, 2019.

  1. dudford

    dudford Member

    First off, I hope I've posted this is in the correct place.

    I am looking for some guidance on a specific Light Anti Aircraft regiment.

    I've been looking through the IWM film archives after being referred to a specific film from the Maple Leaf Up forum. Within the film is the much under reported, under photographed/filmed CMP 15cwt 4 x 2 AA gun platform carrying a 20mm Polsten which is purported to be part of the 119th LAA.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I recognise the divisional insignia:
    [​IMG]

    I'm specifically looking to find someone with knowledge of the AOS, Battery Mark Number, the Battery Mark Colours, details of the troop identifier etc. I also should apologise as im quite the layman in this regard.

    I've so far found it quite difficult

    The ultimate aim is that if I am successful in finding all the correct information I will look to reproduce the Insignia, AOS etc on a CMP 4 x 2 A/A truck.
     
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  2. As the LAA Regt in 15 Div, 119 LAA Regt should have had the Serial 47 over the RA Flash (Red over Blue horizontal). The rest (battery marking etc.) shoud also be standard RA marking. See for example:
    LAA Vehicle names & Structure

    Do you know which bty(s) in 119 LAA Regt used the CMP 4x2 20mm Polsten AA truck (of which I admit I had never heard before)?

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
  3. A couple of photos of 40mm LAA SP guns showing markings (click on the image number to get to the IWM page where you can zoom the image).

    IWM B5676 shows the Battery sign (Blue square with Red quarter - top right quadrant = 1st Bty) over which the Troop letter 'A' and Gun number '2' is painted in white:
    B_005676 - L - 40mm Bofors SP AA gun A2 21AG (prob 393-120 LAA Bty), Le Hamel, 17 Jun 44 [Laing].jpg

    IWM B12983 shows the Formation Sign of the 49 (West riding) Division (Polar Bear) on the left, and the Arm of Service Flash (Red over Blue) with the Serial 47 on the right:
    B_012983 - L - Bofors SPG 89 LAA Regt, Elst, Holland, 15 Dec 44.jpg

    Finally, according to the IWM caption, BU2085 is supposed to show an SP gun of 15 Div, but the markings say otherwise: the AoS [14a] indicates a Corps LAA Regt. What looks like a white cross on the radiator is probably not the formation sign, which should be on the left mudguard (and should be a Corps sign). Above the "cross" is what should be the Bty sign:
    BU_02085 - L - 40mm Bofors SP AA gun 15 (Scottish) Div, Rhine nr Xanten, 24 Mar 45 [Lt Handford].jpg

    From which IWM film are the stills extracted?

    Michel
     
  4. dudford

    dudford Member

    There are two films:


    This one around 1:38: 30TH CORPS IN ACTION SOUTH OF CAUMONT [Allocated Title]


    This one around 1:18: THE BRITISH 2ND ARMY ATTACKS SOUTHWARD FROM CAUMONT [Allocated Title]


    It’s towards the end of the film. In the full description below the film it makes mention of 119th LAA but mistakenly identifies the Polsten as an Oerlikon (I think but I’m no expert).


    Thank you Michel for the help in identifying signage and features. I know there’s another image on Sword beach with 15th (IOM) LAA but these films above are the first I’ve ever seen of the somewhat rarer 4x2 CMP’s with the especially coach built rear platform.

    [​IMG]

    Should you or any other forum member have any other information of the 119th LAA I’d love to hear it. I hope to get the paintbrush out next weekend to allocate the correct markings to our 4x2 CMP AA truck.
     
  5. Dudley,

    Congratulations on your fantastic restoration of this rare vehicle! You have been too modest about it, so I am inserting the link to your MLU thread here:
    F15 4x2 A/A platform - MLU FORUM

    You have already identified where the Divisional sign was. Now let's try and find out the location and format of the Arm of Service flash with Unit number and Battery Sign with Troop letter & Vehicle number.

    The marking on one of the preceding Bofors SP guns is of the same format as for the Tractor of a towed gun battery, using 'T2D' for Troop letter & Vehicle number, instead of just 'D2' (see LAA Vehicle names & Structure). AA units painted them only on the Blue part of the Battery sign. Here, the only unmarked quarter is the bottom right, thus 2nd Bty (consistent with 'D' Tp), therefore this 40mm SP gun is the 2nd gun in D Tp, 2nd Bty:
    A70 107-9 - 480 - 1944-07-31 - Parkinson - 01.10 - 40mm SP - T2D - Notes.jpg

    When looking at the 20mm SP gun which is not obscured by troops, we see that the AoS & Bty/Tp/Veh signs are on the side opposite the Fmn sign, and of the same format as the one on the 40mm SP above. The unmarked quarter is also the bottom right one, therefore this gun also belongs to the 2nd Battery:
    A70 107-9 - 480 - 1944-07-31 - Parkinson - 01.10 - 20mm SP - AOS 47 + Bty mkgs - Notes.jpg

    Unfortunately neither the Tp letter ('D', 'E' or 'F') nor the Veh number are legible, so some other source (or a high definition version of this still) is required, to establish at least in which Troop(s) the 20mm Sp guns were.

    Although not necessary for the markings, it would also be interesting to know which LAA Battery was the second one in 119 LAA Regt.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
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  6. dudford

    dudford Member

    A superb insight, once again many thanks. I'm not sure if its possible but I've emailed the IWM to ask if they have a higher resolution of this section of the film to help answer this question of Tp and Veh number.

    Certainly puts me on the right track and I've started planning my stencils for the 15th (S) Inf Div Red Lion Insignia and I can also prep up the battery sign too.

    Should I hear back from the IWM I'll post on here and also the markings I put on the old truck.

    Dudley
     
  7. 119 LAA Regt was made up of 390, 391 & 392 Btys.

    The 20mm SP guns on the films therefore belong to 391st Light Anti Aircraft Battery, RA.

    Which Troop had which equipement might be somewhere in the Regimental War Diary:
    119 Regt. | The National Archives

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
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  8. dudford

    dudford Member

    I’ve planned to head to the National Archive this Thursday but would having hunted around on the interweb I stumbled over the 119th LAA war diary on the 15th S Div archive. Am I to assume this is exactly what I would find at the NA?

    https://www.15thscottishdivisionwardiaries.co.uk/copy-of-284-coy-1

    An interesting read especially so regarding the events beginning 7th August:

    Order received from 8 Corps that all 20mm Tps & one tp each Bty
    40mm were to be despatched to UK via 38 RHU & struck off
    strength


    Following this on the 9th August a delay occurs and on 11 August the following is recorded:

    Message from RA 15 (S) Div, timed 101730B, received about 1200 hrs ref departure of three 40mm & three 20mm tps, to the effect that the details of original order were in no way to be departed from. CO checked with HQRA who could only inform him that this latest order had been received from 8 Corps. CO ordered B D H tps (40mm) and X Y Z tps (20mm) to prepare to move forthwith, in accordance with original instructions, viz - to despatch tps to
    38 RHU on 10 Aug 44. At 1850 intimation from RA 15 (S) Div that tps should NOT have been dispatched. LO from each bty sent off to harbour tps at earliest moment, but tps NOT contacted till after reaching RHU, where eqpt had begun to be handed in. All LPG further action frozen.


    This is the last time 20mm tps appears in the war diary so I’m assuming they were recalled to the RHU (replacement holding unit?) and did not return?

    In the least what can be gleaned is that the Ford CMP can have X, Y or Z applied as the Tp letter.
     
  9. Great find! Lots of nicely transcribed War Diaries on that website.

    What you found is confirmed by the following:
    "Light Anti-aircraft Regiment - with fifty four towed 40-mm light anti-aircraft guns, divided into three Batteries, with three Troops of six guns per Battery. Additionally, each Battery was reinforced by one Troop of eight truck mounted 20-mm light anti-aircraft guns for the early part of Normandy campaign. These Troops were subsequently disbanded during July 1944, and were not implemented in Italy."
    Source:
    British Light Anti-Aircraft Guns – 20mm - .com.unity Forums

    For the detailed War Establishment of a Light AA Troop (20mm), see Trux's page here: Light anti aircraft artillery

    We can therefore assume that 119 LAA Regt was organised (until Aug 44) as follows:

    390 LAA Bty – A, B & C Tps (40mm), X Tp (20mm)
    391 LAA Bty – D, E & F Tps (40mm), Y Tp (20mm)
    392 LAA Bty – G, H & I Tps (40mm), Z Tp (20mm)

    The CMP 20mm on the film apparently belong to the second battery, and are thus from Y Tp. They must be numbered T1Y, T2Y, ..., T8Y.

    Now you've just got to choose which Troop and which Gun you want yours to be!

    Michel
     
  10. dudford

    dudford Member

    Well that certainly decides it all!! As with all replies so far on this thread i can’t thank you enough Michel. It certainly helps anyone looking to research the involvement of a specialist vehicle that appears to have very quickly been withdrawn. It also suggests as to why our F15 CMP has only 10,000 miles since new.

    Many thanks!
     
  11. dudford

    dudford Member

    That’s the front done, will also make some for the rear tool box/cab too

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    There were a couple of reasons why the 20mm troops were withdrawn.

    1. The Light AA was effectively the Army's reserve manpower pool. 20+ infantry battalions were converted to Light AA earlier in the war. In mid 1944 the air threat was reduced and Light AA units reduced in size and soldiers transferred to the infantry.

    2. The Oerlikon 20mm cannon was less than wholly unsatisfactory for army use as it did not have a self destructing round.
     
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  13. Superb markings on a magnificently restored truck Dudley!

    Looking forward to seeing those on the rear too!
     
  14. Robin Shaw

    Robin Shaw Member

    I have read all posts on this thread with utmost interest due to the fact that my Uncle Cyril served with 119 LAA Regt RA during the advance to the Rhine. He was a Bombardier with 391 Bty and happily survived the war. My Uncle Sid also served with 119 as a Gunner but was KIA somewhere near Caen.
    Did 119 Regt use the Bedford QLB at all as, if memory serves me correctly, Uncle Cyril told me about "chucking" boxes of ammo on the QLB's prior to moving to new fire positions.
     
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  15. dudford

    dudford Member

    The research I’m doing is a bit hit and miss trying to do it around work and at the moment only really limited to google searches. As such I’m not sure on what other vehicles they utilised but will incorporate a wider view when identifying vehicles. Happy for others to interject here and add any findings.
     
  16. dudford

    dudford Member

    I did find a little unit history in a Queens Own Gazette in pages 64-66 from March 1945.

    Pertinent to my own use, with respect to the 20mm Polsten guns mounted to CMP trucks there is a reference to standing them down. But it also continues with a little more unit history that may be of use to others (possibly you Robin Shaw )

    [​IMG]

    http://thequeensownbuffs.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/QO-Gazette-MarchJuneSept-Dec-1945_OCR.pdf

    Below I’ve pasted in some of the PDF, you’ll have excuse some of the formatting.

    THE LATE "10th" BATTALION (119 L.A.A. REGT. R.A.)

    Any attempt at compiling the history of a Regiment such as ours inevitably fall far short of a detailed, work, un less time and material are almost unlimited
    Here then, are simply the highlights in the Regiment's career, no more; the rest is left to your imagination, that a chance sentence or word here written can conjure up.

    STARTED AS INFANTRY.

    The Regiment has had a chequered career, starting life in this war as the 50th Holding Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment at Dover, it became, in 1940, the 10th Bat talion of the Royal West Kent's, under the command of Lt. Col. Pigou, and was recruited mainly from the South Eastern part of England. At that period of its training, the thieat of the German invasion of England loomed laage in all minds, and the Battalion was chiefly concerned in the prepaiation of manning of defence works along the South East coast.
    In September, 1941, the Battalion started on its wander ings, first to Leaven, Yorks, then Beverley, Spurn Point, and then being given the job of airfield defence at Driffield.
    On the departure of Lt.Col. Pigou, the Battalion was commanded by the second in command, Major Elliott, until the arrival of Lt.Col. Craven in December, 1941.

    CONVERTED TO L.A.A.

    Two months later, in February 1942, a step was taken
    which came as a, sad blow to the Infantrymen—the Battalion received orders to convert to L.A.A. The enemy bomber menace was growing and the expected invasion of the Continent pro duced a need which was fulfilled by many Infantry battalions throughout the country; though even that thought did not. to the members of the Battalion, mitigate the severity of the blow, and the 10th Battalion Royal West .Kent Regiment be came the 119th Light AntiAircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, withthreeBatteriesnumbered390,391and392.
    For this conversion, the Regiment went to Chester; 391 and 392 Batteries going to Saighton, and 390 to Conway.
    The initial training over, the Regiment was sent to a Practice Firing Camp in March and April, 1942. Again the Batteries were split up. 390 and 391 firing at Nethertown, and 392 at Cark. From here, East Anglia became the venue for a period, the Batteries occupying Felixstowe, Southwold and Lowestoft.
    and then a change of station. After a short time at Wad worth we moved into the Newcastle area, with the Batteries again split up. 390 and 392 were at Hartford Bridge, R.H.Q. was at Walton, whilst 391 was privileged to enjoy the hos pitality of the district around Little Harle Towers. Here, too, the Regiment really set about the business of mobilising for war. The "Q" staff worked day and night, with equipment rollinginatalltimesandfromalldirections.

    SIGN OF THE RED LION.

    We had by now been transferred from the 79tli Armoured
    Division to the Division which was later to earn the German HighCommand'sspecialattention—the15thScottishInfantry Division, and we count it a proud day when we were first privi leged to wear the Bonnet T.O.S.,and the sign of the Red Lien.
    This meant that part of our training had to be started again.WehadtoreadaptourselvestoworkwithanInfantry Division, and for this purpose the Regiment was concentrated in the Leeds area, at Bramham Camp, one of the few peiiods in cur history when the Regiment was together as such.
    If we thought that our previous training had been hard, it now became infinitely more so. The Commanding Officer was determined to build up the Regiment in preparation for the Second Front into the finest L.A.A.Regiment in the British Second Army, and where we had previously been "chastised with whips," we were now "chastised with scorpions."
    Our spells at A.D.G.B. had new become a quarterly affair, and first the Bournemouth area in the summer, and then the London district round Chingford over the Christmas of 1943 followed. Strangelyenough,sinceourfirst attemptinthe Folkestone area, we had never, in the course of these opera tional duties, seen a German plane, much less had the chance to shoot at one.
    The Regiment had, up to now, consisted o'f three Batteries of three Troops each, each Troop having six 40mm Bofors guns. ToitwasnowaddedthreemoreTroops,thistimewith20mm Polstens, thus making it the largest Regiment in the Division.

    ALL RECORDS BROKEN.

    One further trip to Clacton in April of 1944 showed the
    Regiment up to the peak of its training. The unorthodox methods employed had previously caused a good deal of con cern at the Practice Camp, but this last effort more than justi fied the unusual means, for in the short time at our disposal at Clacton, the Regiment easily defeated all previous shooting records the Camp had seen, and with several thousand rounds
    Following its stay on the East coast, the Regiment went
    to Chatham for a month's Mobile Training, and then moved
    north to Yorkshire, Wakefield and Barnsley following in quick succession until in October 1942, semipermanent quarters for to spare.
    the winter were found near Sheffield, R.H.Q. and 391 Battery beingaccommodatedatWhitleyHall,Cliapeltown,andthe two remaining Batteries at Stainborough Castle nearer Barnsley.

    ONLY ONE KIT.

    By January, 1943, the Regiment had become Home Forces,
    andasaconsequencewassentforthefirsttimetothePrac tice Filing Camp at Clacton. Here Lt.Col. Craven left us >o return to the R.W.K. Depot at Maidstone, and his place was taken by Lt.Col. J. F. Young, who had been Commandant at Stiffkey Firing Camp, and who was destined to lead the Regi mentthroughoutthewholeofitsfighting career
    Ourfiring at Clacton was disastrous, only one hit being obtained on the target during the whole of our stay.
    We were now attached to the 79th Armoured Division, and on cur return from Clacton training continued on a much more intensified scale, with the benefit of the Commanding Officer's experience of L.A.A. at Firing Camps behind the drive. Coupled with this also went exercises which would befit us for working with an Armoured Division.
    In February, 1943, the Regiment was given its first oppor tunity of appearing in an operational role in Air Defence of Great Britain, cr A.D.G.B. as it was commonly known. L.A.A. was an urgent necessity round vulnerable areas and the coast, and our first venture was in the area of Rye, Folkestone and Hythe. The German bombers were using this area as a front door to London, so there was plenty of shooting,
    Exercise Spartan was "in the air," and the Regiment con centrated in Folkestone, waiting to take part. That exercise gave us the first taste of what mobile warfare was likely to be, and although in many respects it was a test of endurance, it was voted by most of the Regiment to have been well worth while, and almost enjoyable, even when one Troop mistook its road and suddenly found itself with the leading truck in some one's back garden.

    MOBILISING.

    Hard on the heels ofSpartan came another trip to Clacton,
    It was fitting that Clacton should witness this, for the progress of the Regiment from the time it scored only one hit there, till its last record breaking shoot, had been achieved as a consequence of considerable hard work, and the prospect of
    some ruinfed careers, had failure and not success resulted in the confounding of the critics.
    Ih May, 1944, secret orders to move arrived—so secret that even those who were leading the columns en route only knew the destination a day at a tune. We knew one thing however, that we were on our way to the Concentration Area in readi nessfortheInvasion,thoughevennowourtrainingwasnot finished, and the Shoreham and Lancing districts still saw us doing gun drill, learning how to load guns and vehicles, wateip.ogling, ana ah the other essentials connected with the landing in Prance.
    Finally came the day we were waiting for, as in the clear evening we saw streams of gliders and bombers making their way across the Channel, and we knew that the Second Front was no longer just a project in someone's mind, but a hard fact, arid we wondered when our turn would come, and what sort of a reception we should get.

    THE LONG TREK STARTS.

    We were not long left in doubt. On Thursday, 15th June,
    1944, we left our pleasant billets on the South Ooast and set off on the journey which was eventually to finish in Germany itself, and the sendoff we received going through Lonuon was equal to the welcome we had on entering the liDerated coun tries later on. Our transport and guns were slung aboard the boats at Millwalland Tilbury on Friday, and in the evening we dropped down river to Southend, where we picked up the rest of the convoy.
    We sighted France, with its forest of blockships, on Sun day afternoon, and by the time evening arrived, had anchored off the coast some 2 or 3 miles distant.
    Our expectations of landing on the Monday morning were not fulfilled. The storm which nearly wrecked the success of the invasion rose during the night, and on the Monday morning the sky was dull grey, the sea was heaving, and disembarkation was Impossible. Five days we lay theie, toss ing and pitching, surrounded by boats cf all sorts and'sizes, from battleships te Duks, our ears blasted by the noise of the heavy guns from the cruisers and battleships, as they hurled round after round on to their unseen targets inland.
    .tfy Friday the sea had abated somewhat, and we even tually set fQot on the "coast of France. Again the Regiment had been split up, and it was not until the following day, Saturday, 24th June, that the last Trccp landed and con tacted its Battery at the harbour area.
    The place chosen for the pivot was Caumont, on the American sector, ana we moved across to take over from the Americans, wno treated us with ail the hospitality at tneir command. Again tne Division did well, anu we once more founa ourselves in a "Scottish Corridor" with the enemy on three siaes. Here, too, was nearly a catastrophe. One iuoop
    <w—i..»w.vu aan inudenmachine gun nest, and the officer leading the column was Dauiy Wounded, bexgt. Chanuier imniedxately toox command, and his prompt action ana spiendid euort withdrew tne Troop and was recognised Dy tne award of the Military Meual.
    The ground was ta&en and held; Sept Vents and the cross roadswhichwasregularly shelled by Jerry. St Martinaes iBesaces;BoisauHomme;Estry;places,of desolate ruin,shell holes and slit trenches, and tne smell of death; ail came passed, and as we neid on, ,the Americans Drome through and the chase to close the gap at Falaise had started.
    Our stay in this area round St. Martin des Besaces pro duced an unexpected order. Reinforcements weie bauly needed loi sue Infantry, whose losses generally had been heavy. At one fell sweep we lost our 22mm Troops, and one 40mm Troop from each Battery—a sad blow, for we had to say goodbye to many old friends.
     
  17. Robin Shaw

    Robin Shaw Member

    You've done a good job there dudford .Every credit to you. I just built a 1/35 scale bofors 40mm for a group build on behalf of the Army Rumour Service's Modelling Forum, of which I am a Moderator. I'm hoping to build a diorama with it, a QLB and a couple of Universal Carriers. The Bofors in 1/35 is probably one of the most patience demanding kits I've ever built and there were many occasions when it almost "ended up as bomb damage".
    Thanks again for the info.
     

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