76th HAA Regt RA, (236, 237, and 349 Batteries)

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by HAARA, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    I'd be interested to hear from anyone with connections to and/or knowledge of WW2 experiences of 76th HAA Regt RA. I have carried out some research, but would like to know more detail, and in particular obtain access to photographs, if such things exist!

    Regt was originally raised as the Gloucestershire Volunteers in 1859, and, in brief, transformed though several steps to become part of 46 AA Brigade defending Bristol. 349 battery was a cadre battery formed at Arborfield, and joined Regt when 238 'became independent'. Not sure what this means, and would like to now what happened to the Bty. The three remaining batteries moved around Bristol gunsites (I have details) before moving to Weymouth in Jan 42, where they undertook training at Blandford Camp for overseas service whilst also providing AA defence to Weymouth. From there they moved briefly to Portsmouth (anyone details on this?) and thence to Gravesend (anyone any knowledge of gun site occupied?). Moved to Dover in July 42, four guns of 349 occupying Farthingloe Battery on cliffs, but unsure of where others were based. Regt entrained for Glasgow 23 November as part of Operation Torch, landing in Algiers by 12 December as part of 1st Army. RHQ based at El Biar, batteries defending Algiers airfields, and possibly in support of AFHQ. I'd be interested in any detail knowledge of actions against aircraft, but broadly British/US AA shot down approx 1,000 aircraft between 22 Nov 42 and surrender of Axis forces in May 43.

    Regt ended North African campaign in Bizerte, having moved through Bougie, Souk Aras, Le Kef, Beja, Djebel Abiod, Sdejanine, Djebel Achkel as part of 52 Brigade, latterly in support of US. After withdrawal of Axis forces, Regt moved to Sousse and Sfax, being part of invading forces in Sicily, landing in Syracuse 17 July 43, and undertaking AA role at Cassibile and Pachino airfields, now as 8th Army. Known that they were heavily attacked by Focke Wulfs, but would be interested to know any detail. Regt also used in field role on Catania Plain, but unclear as whether general artillery support or anti tank.

    After Axis withdrawal across Messina straits, Regt followed, being based at Bari at the time of the infamous raid on 2 Dec (I have eyewitness account from 236 Battery). From here Regt moved to Cerignola (Foggia airfields), onto Rome (not sure of role here), to Piombino all in AA role. With diminution of troops in Italy for use on D-Day, Regt, now as sole HAA Regt in 62 Brigade alongside 26 LAA, was converted to field role in support of US 5 Army, moving to Colle Salvetti, and then spending July 44-April 45 in the Viarregio/Leghorn area. During this time the Regt fired 112,819 shells (according to Regt newspaper this representing a requirement for 1,100 3ton trucks to carry the ammunition, each round trip being circa 50 miles), role being in support of South African Armoured Brigade, and the US 92 Infantry Brigade, known as the 'Buffalo Soldiers'.

    After end of hostilities Regt was designated to POW camp guard duties at Cesenatico, HQ being based at Pesaro. Regt was subsequently wound down before being combined with 51 HAA Regt RA in Nov 45.

    I hope this is of interest, but also hope some members have information/photographs that will fill a few gaps!
     
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  2. andymaule

    andymaule New Member

    I have some photos of the 76th HHA (particularly 237 batt.), that may be of interest. I'm not sure if we have been in contact before but am happy to send photos and exchange notes.
    Very best wishes
    Andy Maule
     

    Attached Files:

  3. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Hi Andy,
    Thanks for the post, and yes we've been in e-mail contact before, but it's very good to hear from you again! Since my post above in Aug 2013 I have compiled a fairly detailed history of 76th's war from '39-'45 based around official war diaries and letters written by a member of 349 and then subsequently 236 battery.

    Great photos! I've seen 1 and 5 before, but would love to obtain copies of 3 and 4 if you can send these to me through the previous channel. Do you have further details on these, as I'd love to know more?! I'm guessing the 'landing' pic is the crossing of Straits of Messina, 24-25 September, as land is visible in the background, the landing in Sicily from Africa having been at Augusta harbour.

    The 'somewhere in Italy' clearly shows a 3.7 and what looks very like a radar unit on the second tractor unit.

    kind regards
     
  4. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    Hi Andy,

    Can you read the name on the Matador exiting the landing craft?

    cheers

    Kevin
     
  5. andymaule

    andymaule New Member

    Hi Kevin
    I have tried blowing up the image but it is too grainy to see much. I also have a closer photo of the same unit (my father's, who was in 237 battery of the 76th,) coming over an improvised bridge in North Africa in 1943. The sensor has crossed out some detail but I will post it anyway.
    Best wishes
    Andy
     
  6. andymaule

    andymaule New Member

    Here are a couple more of my father's photos. The note on the back of the photo showing t,he Matador going over the bridge reads ' My tractor and gun coming over an improvised bridge. North Africa 1943'. The other of the Jeep states ' A bridge demolished by Jerry at Pont du Fahs North Africa. Our column is just going through the deviation'. My father's writing is nearly as bad as mine but I believe this is the location !

    img001086.jpg img001087.jpg
     
  7. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Great pics Andy!
     
  8. Des Holmes

    Des Holmes New Member

    M6 Dad was in the 236 battalion of the 76 HAA. He said he went to Coventry on AA duty then they went to North Africa, then on to Italy mentioning Monte Casino. Will post the photo I have of him in Venice on R&R. Like a lot of ex-servicemen he wouldn’t talk about the war much.
     
  9. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    My dad was on the next convoy, sailing on the 12th December: Sergeant ACK-ACK: Operation Torch convoys
     
  10. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Would love to see the pic! I've attached two similar of Venice taken in August '45. I know some of the names of these guys, all from 76th HAA, but do not know which is which, beyond BSM John Kemp (236/76), centre front row. Others named are Jimmie Brown, Cole Hayward, and Charlie Butler, the RSM.

    76th did not see action at Monte Cassino, being based at that time at Cerignola (25 Dec 43-4 May 44) defending the various airfields in the vicinity, and then Benevento (6-25 May 44), but passed through Monte Cassino after its capture.

    If you are interested I published three books a couple of years ago of letters from John Kemp of 76th HAA (he started the war in 88th HAA, but transferred to 76th in November '40 after training up 349 battery that replaced 238 in 76th), together with background research from National Archives on the Regiment's movements and actions around Bristol, then Africa, Sicily, and Italy, as I described in my post of August 2013 above. John rose to the rank of RSM, but had to revert to BSM due to falling ill with jaundice whilst in Sicily before his rank was substantiated, relinquishing the rank to Charlie Butler. John took over the role of BSM for 236 Battery on returning to the Regiment. The books are available through various sources including Amazon, but you can buy direct from publisher: here's the volume about Britain Ever your own, Johnnie, Britain, 1938-42 by Nick Kemp (Paperback) - Lulu
    The other two books, one on Africa, and the third on Sicily and Italy, are listed on the same page. All are currently on discount too, and if you use the promo code of LULU10 before 20 June you may possibly get a further 10% off the order.

    Gondola-web.jpg pigeons-web.jpg
     
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  11. Des Holmes

    Des Holmes New Member

    Hi heres the photo I mentioned. My Dad - Arthur Holmes is the one on the right as you look at it.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Des Holmes

    Des Holmes New Member

    Sorry the copy's saved upside down will post it the right way up!
     

    Attached Files:

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