Artillery FOOs embedded with the Infantry on D-Day

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by IanTurnbull, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    I agree with the typo on the landing table & it should say +120. W.r.t. when they actually landed, I have an article by T A Richardson which states C Troop landed H+20 (landing table says H+60) and his own D Troop at H+40 (landing table says H+120). Tony Richardson's IWM interview does not state a time but suggests they started their approach just after H-Hour when their Run-In Shoot finished. There is also a light hearted exchange from the EY Journal (pic attached). The Regimental history says "the first flight of guns was in action by H+60" but does not state which Troop. Do you think its possible that both Troops were early, or is it just faltering memories? They would have finished their "Run-In Shoot" at H-Hour so was "D" Troop's LCT expected to bob around for 2 hours? Ian

    Attached Files:

  2. The account by Capt Munro as reported by TA Richardson does seem to imply that he was an FOB: [Bdr. Dudley Turnbull] "was my connection with the Royal Navy, as our guns were not expected until 3 hours after the landing."

    But this sounds odd because FOsB had entirely different procedures for calling fire support (from ships) than the FOOs (from Fd Regts). Again, if you look at the 231 Bde Landing Table (as well as in any other Landing Table) you will see that the FOsB are identified distinctly from the RA Regts.

    Capt Munro might indeed have called for naval fire support, i.e. acted as an FOB, without actually being an FOB himself. The "similar wireless" set which your father collected from "some poor fellow lying on the beach" might have belonged to a fallen Naval Telegraphist. The problem is that the wireless frequencies and contact codes were quite different and probably unknown to your father if he had not been trained as an FOB signalman. These might however have been retrieved together with the wireless set, or obtained via another, living Naval Telegraphist.

    Of note is that Capt Munro's recommendation for the MC does not mention any such call for naval fire, but only describes actions entirely within the normal duties of an FOO.

    Forum member idler gives a Capt Beddows RA as the FOB supporting 1 HAMPS – see D Day Hertfordshire Yeomanry, thus No.51 FOB from B Tp 1 COBU (under command 3 COBU).

  3. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    Most FOsB were RA officers and seem to have come from Medium artillery regiments due to land some time in the future. Artillery Forward Observation Officers were resourceful and willing to make big decisions such as calling an Uncle Target involving all divisional guns and maybe corps guns as well. Certainly a FOO could take the place of a FOB if he had the naval signallers and their set on the correct frequency, the call signs and the training. However naval sources seem clear that the supporting warships received no communications from the Hampshires, nor from the assigned spotting aircraft. Any naval gunfire support was from warships which opened fire on their own initiative.

    I like a good puzzle.


    Oops I posted before reading Michels most recent post.
  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    I have found it tricky to identify exactly which Gunner landed with which infantry unit on Gold beach. D Day was unusual in the degree of preparation and the special arrangements which individual units had made. The artillery arrangements for 30th Corps operations on Gold Beach were a little complicated.

    In the assault itself some FOOs would be needed to control the run in shoot itself, leaving even fewer to land with the assault battalions

    The fire support for the landings would be by three SP regiments, (86,147 and 90th) only one of these (90th) was integral to 50th. Two other regiments with towed artillery 74 and 124 would join the 50th Div later. Some of the OPs from 74 and 124 landed on D Day, under command temporarily of one of the others.

    Until 74 and 124 landed there were not enough artillery Direct Support elements (CO, BC and FOO) parties to go round. Three regiments, i.d. three brigades of worth of observation, liaison and communications and guns would have to support five brigades of infantry and armour. At different stages in the landings the Direct Support element (COs BCs and FOOs ) of 90th and 147 would change their affiliations to a different brigade.

    Maybe the assignment of two gunner signalers from different batteries was a way for the leading companies to have some communications with the gunners even if there wasn't an officer.

    According to my notes, the FOB with the Hampshires was FOB 51 Capt I A Beddows who spotted for HMS Grenville.

    FOB Officers were from a range of units. Jack Lee was from 14 Medium, but Capt Sharman COB 68 was from 150 Field, which he would rejoin in August.

    There was a degree of redundency in ship to shore communications for D Day itself as there were liaison officers and radios from the SP field regiments attached to some of the ships. So there were two ways to call for fire. 1. Contact the FOB whose naval telegrapher signalls the ship. 2. Contact the LO on ship on the field artillery regimental net.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
    Juha likes this.
  5. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    It's only a thought, but the No.19 set was actually two sets, A for long range and B for short range. If the two No.19 sets were each considered as being two receiver/transmitters in their own right, then two No.19 sets and a No.18 set might be thought of as five sets. Another alternative is that for the landings they had to crowbar in extra sets, above and beyond the two No.19s and one No.18 specified, in which case they would have needed to make room somewhere, which could have been done by removing the breech of a gun they had no intention of firing. I would presume it could be restored at a later date.

  6. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Thanks for this. This is another possible angle. Is there any way of finding out whether the 147 Field had liaison officers with the any ships? I cant see any indication from my resources. Thanks Ian
  7. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    I think a misunderstanding may have crept in. Each of the designated bombardment ships had a Bombardment Liaison Officer on board to handle calls from the Forward Observers Bombardment. He was a Royal Artillery officer. If a FOB could not contact the ship(s) assigned to him he could contact the Bombardment Control Ship which would either establish communications or assign another ship. The fact seems to be that no calls were made, or at least non received, from the Hampshires.

    Re the Sherman OP it is my understanding that space for extra wireless sets was found by removing some ammunition stowage. However there seem to be many variations and some confusion with nomenclature, eg OP tank, control tank, FOO tank and possibly others. Removing a breech block was not difficult. It was the normal way of disabling a gun. Presumably replacing it was fairly simple.

    Juha likes this.
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    The landings on Jig Beach were by 231 Brigade whose affiliated Field Regiment was 90th Regiment. CO 90 landed with the Brigade commander. Because of the pressure on FOOs 147, whose affiliated brigade was 8th Armoured, would provide a BC and FOO parties for 1 Hampshires. My understanding is that CO 90 field, Lt Col Hardie, assisted by Capt Smedley, took joined CO 1 Dorsets for the assault. Capt Morris was the controlling FOO for the run-in shoot in a motor launch leading the armada, with Majors Wells and Girling in LCSMs as LOs with the Royal Navy. Wells was the BC 465 battery which would normally have supported the Dorsets, but instead the CO has gone in his place. Major Girling was BC 357 whose battery normally supported the Hampshires -m and had BC 431 battery in his place.

    On Jig beach 90th Field provided the LOs to the Royal navy and gunner business was conducted via their regimental net.

    (BTW After the war Captain Oliver Smedley of 90th Field would become a Pirate radio boss, acquitted of murdering Screaming Lord Sutch's manager and also founded the Keep Britain Out movement - the ur Brexit movement. )
  9. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Thanks Mike but I am perplexed. I have 2 or 3 sources which say Captain Munro (FOO with the 147 Field) and his team called in fire support from the Navy, including his own account, and he was supporting the Hampshires attack on Le Hamel & Asnelles then Arromanches. I am not sure why he would claim this if it wasn't true given that its quite unusual when the expectation would be to use his own Regiment's SPs once they had been set up @ c. H+60. As you said earlier its a puzzle.
    What form did the naval records take that claimed there was no bombardment request from the Hampshires? Could the requests have been attributed to the 147 Field? And I thought I had enough of a puzzle with the logistical issues of a RA Field FOO having the technical means to communicate with the Navy! Thanks Ian
  10. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    I have just noticed that 147 Field had 6 men on Frigate 2130 (incl 3 signallers). This also carried 231 Infantry Brigade HQ and its signallers and an FOB party. Could this have been the route to call in Naval gun support from the 147 Field FOO Captain Munro using his own regimental net? Then perhaps the Naval records would not show it as coming from the Hampshires' own FOBs. Am I am clutching at straws here? Ian
  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    I don't have the detailed breakdown of the assignment of 147 Regiment's officers and men. However it is quite likely that, for the assault phase, 147 Field had LO Parties on ships as did 90th Field. No one knew what might happen on D day they were expecting casualties on the scale of the opening day of the Somme. Lots of redundancy:good.
  12. More on how the FOOs could call for naval gunfire support can be found in:

    ONEAST/G FIVE – Orders for Bombardment
    Part III – Support of the Army after the Assault
    (A) Through R.A. F.O.O's and D/S.O.A.G.'s

    1406 - ONEAST-G5 Part IIIA - Support through RA FOOs & DSOAGs.jpg
    1407 - ONEAST-G5 Part IIIA - Support through RA FOOs & DSOAGs.jpg

    LCH 100 carried LTIN 2090 which included one party of 3 men from 147 Fd Regt RA and one of 2 men from 1 HAMPS.

    The LCG(L) do not appear to have carried any Army personnel, so communication from 147 Fd Regt must have been direct with the naval signallers on board tuned in to the appropriate regimental net.

    LTIN 2130 was in River Class Frigate HMS NITH K215, Assault Group "G" 1 HQ Ship with Captain JW FARQUAR, RN (Captain Group G.1) on board.

    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
    Juha, timuk, Trux and 1 other person like this.
  13. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Thank you again. In your previous post you said "...with Majors Wells and Girling in LCSMs as LOs with the Royal Navy. Wells was the BC 465 battery which would normally have supported the Dorsets, but instead the CO has gone in his place. Major Girling was BC 357 whose battery normally supported the Hampshires -m and had BC 431 battery in his place. "

    When I saw this I thought you meant these LOs were stationed on ships throughout D-Day and were the link to the Field Regiments' FOOs with the infantry. According to the 231 Brigade loading tables the 90th and 147th had the only LCS(Ms) and each had 4 men on 2 x LCS(M)s, and they were carried over with the LSI(L) troop ships of Devons & Dorsets. They were responsible for observing the firing from the Run-In Shoots and were eventually scheduled to land at H+60 and were therefore not stationed on ships. You already know this I am sure and its just my misunderstanding of your original post.
    I thought the name "Girling" rang a bell. Coincidentally 431 is the Battery I am interested in from 147 Field and there was a Lt G F H Girling in 431 (& a Gunner Girling too!)!
  14. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Michel. This looks extremely useful thank you. Could you help me with some acronyms before I study in detail
    Thank you very much. Ian
  15. D/S.O.A.G = Deputy Senior Officer Assault Group
    L.C.G. = Landing Craft, Gun
    FCB - I don't think there's a "FCB" mentioned. It must be FOB.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
    Juha likes this.
  16. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    The next mystery,

    When does Michel sleep? Is he in fact Artificial Intelligence?

    There will soon be sufficient material for a decent book on FOBs.

    timuk likes this.
  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    This throws much light on the this thread.

    Calls for fire from the FOO could have been passed via the regimental net to the 147 liaison party on LCH 100. I know the identities of the LO parties for the other sectors of Gold Beach. King Red = Captain Kiln (as in Place Robert Kiln Ver Sur Mer) on LCH 275 ; King Green BK 342 Capt Hankins LCH187 and Jig Red (BK 358?) Capt Bland in LCH 317. So the LO is likely to be a senior captain (BK) from one of 147's batteries, possibly the battery whose FOOs are with the Hampshires.

    This may also explain the extra signalers with the assault companies. These would have artillery wireless set to the 147 Regimental net. This would give the company commanders of A and B Company an extra route to naval gunfire. Para 2) says the infantry can call for fire via the battalion net or Brigade net both manned by the D/S.O.A.G . However, these communications only work if the infantry company signalers a re through on battalion net. (If they are not through to battalion, how will anyone at battalion know what to ask for on brigade net) no one will call for them on the Brigade net. The gunners have duplicate channels and a better reputation for making the vale and crystal era radios work.

    The radios are probably the Gunner version of the No 46 set Wireless Set No. 46 - Wikipedia They weighed 24 lb
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
  18. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Don’t know if 147 Field Regiment used the same equipment but the radios used by all of the FOO from 86 Field Regiment who landed with the assault and reserve companies were No 68 sets.

    The sets mounted in vehicles and LCS(M) were a mix of 19, 22 and 68 Sets.

    86 Field Regiment provide 16 OP Parties in total for the landings.


  19. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    A very long time ago I found a PDF file titled "Battlefield Tour August 1947" "50th (Northumbrian) Division Normandy Assault - June 1944". I've a vague memory that it was on an MOD website and have had a search today, but not been able to find it again. It should have included an Artillery section but this is not in the version I downloaded. Be nice if any of the folks here have a complete copy, or can find one online.

    There is a short section on Signals, which include the following remarks;

    General -

    "In order to insure against failure, 150% spare wireless sets were landed in the earliest stage. This was achieved by including the maximum number of jeeps in the first flight, all fitted with 19/22 sets and also each jeep carried on its bonnet an airborne handcart fitted with 19/22/107 sets. After being landed in this manner, the handcarts were towed in the normal way".

    Equipment -

    "No.46 set - These small crystal controlled sets were used extensively at battalion level and rendered first class service. The tanks which supported the infantry also had these sets but in the case of one of the battalions of 69 Inf Bde the crystals were issued wrongly and the CO found himself talking to the tanks of another battalion of the brigade and was unable to speak to his own supporting tanks.

    "No.22 set - These sets were used at all levels in the division either as handcart stations or as three-man pack loads and also in jeeps. Result were good and, where crystal-control was employed, these sets were very reliable and large groups were satisfactorily worked.

    "No.68 set - Owing to crystal shortages, not all the 68 R sets produced best results, but reports (especially from FOB and RA sources) indicate that satisfactory service was obtained. The set was invariably man-packed like the No.18 set, and the ranges worked from ship to shore were greatly in excess of those obtained with a No.18 set.

    "No.19 set - Despite the rough treatment often received and the hazards of the landing, these sets gave exceptionally good service. The standard vehicle set, they were also used in handcarts in both the high and low power form. Unfortunately it was not possible to modify them for crystal control, and the latter had to be dispensed with if and when No.19 sets opened up on a group."

    My understanding is that the No.46 set was viewed, for a time at least, as the replacement for the No.18 set in the Inf Bn. The mention of No.68 sets being worked by the FOBs in particular and RA in general relates to Danny's comments above as well.

  20. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    My mistake - 68 sets it is

Share This Page