59th Regt HAA War Diary questions

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by SteveDee, Oct 11, 2019.

  1. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    I'm sure there will be dozens of questions on terms and abbreviations as I work my way through, but here are just a few that I haven't already been able to work out;

    Cat 1, Cat 3
    This comes up quite a lot when the diary covers Allied response/defense to enemy action.
    "Result of engagement one Cat 1 to RAF and two Cat 3 to LAA."

    I.F.F. example: with regards to a friendly aircraft "it did not show IFF"

    AALO e.g. "...AALO reported that prior to this raid..."

    V/A This keeps appearing as a location, e.g. "5 aircraft were reported near the V/A"

    Stooging e.g. regarding enemy aircraft "Tactics: stooging over sea"

    Battery Troops: I know each Battery consisted of 2 Troops (e.g. "A" & "B" or "E" & "F") but there is one mention of "Right Troop & Left Troop".
    Example: "On 22 Jun 207 HAA Bty of 73 HAA Regt relieved 167 Bty at S5 and S7, BHQ and Right Troop of 167 then relieved 314 HAA Bty..."

    Thanks for any help with this.
  2. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Cat 1, Cat 2 etc I believe refers to the damage to the aircraft ie; Cat 1 = shot down, other Cats indicating the degree of damage. I'll have to look it up.
    I.F.F. is Identification Friend or Foe. An electronic response from an aircraft identifying it on radar as friendly.
    See: Identification friend or foe - Wikipedia
    AALO is, I think, Anti Aircraft Liaison Officer
    V/A. Don't know but as VP=Vulnerable Point it might be Vulnerable Area.
    'Stooging' can be taken as 'Cruising aimlessly'.

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  3. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Many thanks for clarification on all those points.

    I find the identification thing interesting because one of the first incidents for this HAA involved shooting at an RAF plane that didn't identify itself as such. Fortunately it was a miss, but I know others were not so lucky. Was this a widespread problem? And was it due to technical failure, ignorance or arrogance?

    Here is an interesting incident from Jan 1943;

    A.A.L.O. reported that prior to this raid a Blenheim Mk IV with Coastal Command camouflage came in from the N.E. and circled over Merchant Ships in the Bay. This a/c came down to 1000ft and carried out at least 10 mins recce. It flew to N.E. and during recce it did not show I.F.F. There is no information of any Blenheims operating in this theatre and the a/c's activities were most suspicious.

    I'd love to know the story behind this.
  4. hutt

    hutt Member

    37 AA Brigade diaries will add greater context to your reading of just the HAA regiment diary. The attached page from 8th June (if you are referring to 1940 and it looks like you are in your first post) shows that a lot of 'half' battery moves were taking place. I suspect as part of the fine tuning of defenses in the light of the imminent risk of invasion. Also an intelligence report for the 18/19th June that gives details of the wider action on that night.

    Attached Files:

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  5. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    IFF is a bit of a misnomer. It would identify an aircraft as friendly only if the aircraft had the equipment fitted, it was switched on and was working correctly. The converse is not true it could not identify an aircraft as enemy. The only answer you get from the equipment is that an aircraft is friendly or remains unidentified.

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  6. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    I like your extract from the Brigade Diaries. As I grew up in Benfleet, all those places mentioned are familiar to me. My reference (from the DRAMA Report for 59th) actually refers to 1941, and here is another from September of that year;

    167 Bty also detrained at Sittingbourne, BHQ taking over Pond Farm, Sittingbourne, Right Troop and part of Left Troop took over S2 Iwade (4 x 4.5 and GL Mark I) and part of Left Troop took over D5 at Dover. A GL Mark I was provided for S5.

    It was certainly the case that the 2 Troops in each battery were split into different sites, but this "left" and "right" terminology must have been obvious to those concerned.
  7. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    My guess would be that it stems from when the batteries are paraded for inspection, deployment etc. They wouldn't have had a free for all. It would have been 'A Troop to the right, B Troop to the left', or whatever.
    I have never myself come across this terminology. One I have seen in relation to LAA is 'a Section of A Troop'. I have yet to discover whether this was a set number of guns or whether it varied with circumstances.

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  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    Here are a couple of possible explanations for a Left and Right Troop.

    #1 The battery has mixed up the troops for some technical reason and Left and Right reflect half of C and Half of D troops. This isn't the formal Army way do do things. If Troop swaps two guns with another troop technically C Troop is still C Troop just with "atts and dets" i.e. two guns attached from D Troop and two guns detached.

    #2 Ever since WW2 troops within artillery regiments were lettered in order of seniority. A - F. However, British Army heritage is also full of nonsenses called "tradition". Imagine a situation where batteries are reassigned between Regiments and there are two batteries that have historically been A & B and the junior refuses to accept the demotion and still calls its troops A &B. I commanded one of two C Troops in 40 Field Regiment in 1981. We had a lower number than the other battery, but the 1947 numbering contained some errors that resulted in some ripples in the seniority. Sure 137 battery were indeed senior to 129, but we were damned if we were going to change the troop letters... By the 1980s no one deployed by troops, but in WW2 they did. Left and Right Troops might be a tactful way to avoid a trivial tussle with 165 battery.
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  9. hutt

    hutt Member

    Attached is a small extract from a 26th AA Brigade diary confirming that VA is likely to be Vulnerable Area. VP, as confirmed by Tim, is much more frequently seen in diaries and typically has number codes for specific locations.
    AALO could well be Anti Aircraft Liaison Officer but I'm not sure I've seen it in a diary. G.L.O is certainly Gun Liaison Officer.
    Another one you might see is S.C.O Searchlight Control Officer

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
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  10. hutt

    hutt Member

    I've attached a page from 6th AA Division diary which although for much earlier in late September 39 shows that Air Cooperation flights were being flown and in this 'training instruction, it shows they were to use a Blenheim. Now the existence of this page would suggest that Division, Brigade, AA Regiments and Batteries would, be notified but could it be that in your example form 1943, the exercise hadn't been properly communicated right the way down.
    What you probably need are the 2nd AA Group Diaries for 43, but they are on my long term list to copy I'm afraid

    Attached Files:

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  11. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Many thanks Sheldrake for your thoughts on this. Its only my curiosity (the desire to understand) that's making an issue out of this, but it looks like there is no clear definition, so I am happy with your suggestions.

    However, every step of the way I find more stuff that I don't know or understand...
    ...what an earth does that mean? I'd assumed that all Batteries, and Troops within Batteries, were the same, i.e. similar equipment, similar makeup of sergeants, bombardiers & gunners, & so on.

    So could you explain this seniority thing?
  12. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Many thanks hutt. It turns out that the 59th were using VA to represent "Vital Area", but its pretty much the same thing.

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  13. hutt

    hutt Member

    Interesting post. The meaning of abbreviations did vary as this clearly shows and reinforces the advice that they always have to be read in context!
    Do you know the AA Brigade that 59th HAA were under in North Africa?
  14. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Yes, the 66th AA Brigade.
  15. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    While I find some of the information in the War Diaries really interesting, it can also be very frustrating to not have the full picture. It can be a bit like looking into a large room through just a small slit in the door...you don't get the full picture.

    See what you make of this security report from February 1943;


    So I understand that these 2 guys were collecting AB64s...but why? What were they doing with them? Were they sold on the black market, passed to Axis spies, or what?

    And I wonder what punishment they would have received for their endeavours?
  16. hutt

    hutt Member

    An interesting little incident and it would be fascinating to find out more. The only possible source that I can think of would the Millitary Police dairies perhaps?
    Regarding expanding your knowledge, do you have the 66th AA brigade diaries. Those of the 22nd AA Brigade, also in North Africa as part of Torch, give a good overall picture that is lacking in the diaries of lower formations. In the case of my Fathers LAA RASC unit, the AA brigade diary fills in some missing periods with details of when they actually landed and where.
  17. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Many thanks for your help & comments.

    No I don't have the Brigade diaries. At the moment I only have the Regimental Diaries for the period Dec 1942 - Jun 1943.

    But I also have the RA DRAMA Report. While this Report summerises much of the diary content, it is more readable and appears to contain information not present in the Regt diaries. So maybe the Brigade diaries were used as well to compile these reports.

    At the moment, the problem is finding the time to do all the reading and research required to get answers. People on this forum have a tremendous pool of knowledge (and know-how) concerning all things WW2, so I enjoy making enquiries and get feedback here.

    Thanks again for your input.
  18. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    You are quite correct to point out that troops batteries companies regiments etc are identical and tactically interchangeable.
    However, seniority is a fundamental organisational principle underlying the British (and most other) armies - and society in an aristocratic monarchy. It predates modern armies and isn't even restricted to the human race. Chickens all know their place in the pecking order. And that is what it is. How did they line up medieval knights on the battlefield without squabbles over who served where? In seniority order from the right!
    Where did the term "Order of Battle" come from? Historically it was list of units in seniority order, with the senior on the right of the line. (IRRC The Jacobite deployment at Culloden was marred by a squabble between two clans who both claimed the privilege.) So who cared about this in the 1940s (or stlll cares.)

    Well for a start it makes it easy to know where your unit is suppose to stand on parade, or its order in a unit column of march, and simplifies radio procedure. If I am battery 3 on the regimental net, every signaller and officer in the battery knows that we acknowledge orders after batteries 1 and 2, and must not jump in. None of us care that battery 1 is the senior battery. We all know they are "first and worst" and we are quicker in action and beat them on the rugby pitch...

    Does that help?
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
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  19. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Yes it certainly does. It answers my question perfectly, many thanks Sheldrake.

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