462 battery 86th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery - D Day action narrative

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by revere60, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. revere60

    revere60 Member

    In case this is of interest, this taken from War Diary WO 171/981 Jan-Dec 1944, of the Herts Yeomanry 86th Field Regiment RA.
    It is a hand written narrative. The only one attached to the diary. I've been as faithful in transposition as I can be, and where I have had difficulty added notes in italics.

    Appendix A
    Description of the successful action by 462 Battery in the capture of 1 officer and 56 German ORs together with the destruction of 4 75mm and 1 88mm

    During the afternoon of D Day the Regiment occupied a position just south of Crépon at 898832. 462 battery were in rear just in front of the wood at 897834. As the battery occupied the position the gunners were sniped at from the area of the wood. Throughout the evening sniping continued with what appeared to be spasmodic mortar fire – this later turned out to be a small infantry gun.
    At approx. 1730 hrs, 3 carriers one of which was TLF 9, which were parked near the wood, were grenaded causing a slight face wound to a GPO(?) a Gnr Gorman – fire was returned and one German came out and surrendered to the driver of the carrier. However, movement in the area of the carriers was impossible so Lt Yarnell (unsure of first letter) in GF Sherman went in to give covering fire while the carriers withdrew – the Sherman received numerous machine gun hits which pierced the bedding of the GPO – two carriers were successfully withdrawn, the third carrier failed to start. GE Sherman under Lt. Carpenter then went in and succeeded in attaching a chain to the third carrier, and towed it out under heavy machine gun fire.
    Both Shermans fired about 1000 rounds of .300 into the hedges but no movement was observed. During the night the sniping stopped.

    At first light on D+1 about 14 Sherman flails and three Churchill flame throwers (Crocodiles) approached the wood with the intention of harbouring there. As the crews were camouflaging up the infantry gun opened up at them. Two people were killed and a further three injured – the Shermans then withdrew firing their 75mms, the troop commander Lt Holborn of the Westminster Dragoons accounting for the infantry gun and the layer – the remainder of the crew 3 in number surrendering to him.

    A plot was then hatched to eliminate the German position which was thought to contain a further 12 men, a pillbox and a machine gun.

    Two Shermans were to approach the position from the flanks firing their Brownings while the Churchill flame thrower, behind which was a party of sixteen men armed with grenades and sten guns moved in between the Shermans.

    Lt Carpenter and eight men from each troop volunteered for the job. The party started and the pillbox was approached from the front. At about fifty yards range the flame thrower opened up – set fire to the pillbox – the occupants of which immediately surrendered. The enemy were obviously in greater strength than was at first thought and machine guns and rifles opened up from all corners. The Shermans then entered the wood and with the help of the grenades and sten guns attacked the German position from the rear – the end was in sight – 4 75mms dug well in were discovered fortunately dug in too well to fire in all round defence. Also an 88mm. The garrison surrendered leaving several dead and wounded in the position. None of the twelve gunners received so much as a scratch.

    When questioned why the garrison did not attack the battery position during the night the German officer replied that he thought he was outnumbered and expected an attack himself from our direction.

    Many thanks are due to Lt Holborn and the Westminster Dragoons without whose help a very nasty thorn in the side of one of the main supply routes might never have been liquidated.

    (Signature hard to decipher
    D P maybe)

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