Artillery FOOs embedded with the Infantry on D-Day

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

  1. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    I seem to have a disc labelled:
    Research Paper.
    D Day.
    30 Corps.

    Planning, Appreciations and Operations.
    1950 142 pages.

    I have not delved into it recently.

  2. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Thank you everybody for working out how the unaccompanied RA NCO Signallers embedded with the Hampshires might have operated and eventually called in Naval gun support. The depth of knowledge and resources on this site is fantastic.

    For the record, the 147th Field Regiment officer on the Motor Launch (serial 2132) was Captain Foreman, the Troop Commander of Troop "C" 431 Battery. The launch was delayed coming over for some reason so the Regiment's Sextons took their range from the 90th (City Of London) Field Artillery Regiment coming in on their left during the "Run In shoot". 431 Battery's "D" Troop LCT obtained the range & bearing by Aldis Lamp to the 90th's Motor launch, and passed it on to the other Troops! This was one of the (many) reasons why the 147th Field's planned target, the defences at Le Hamel (WN37), were largely unscathed, but those opposite Les Roquettes (WN36) were well bombarded.
    The officer in the 147 liaison party on LCH 100 must have been Major Sidgewick, Battery Commander of 413 Battery, who observed the first "Run In Shoot" salvo falling short and adjusted their range. He is "The Regimental FOO" according to the official history and has written articles about his action that day

    The subsequent discussion on wireless sets I would like to come back to, to try and clarify what equipment these unaccompanied Signallers might have been carrying.

    Did anybody find the document Gary refers to "Battlefield Tour August 1947" "50th (Northumbrian) Division Normandy Assault - June 1944"??

    Thank you again Ian
  3. Other docs of interest:
    50 Div: The Artillery Story, 1943 - 1944

    On page 3:
    "11. B. Communications
    A Regimental wireless net was used connecting the CO, BCs, OP parties and GPOs, the Regimental FOO responsible for adjustment of fire during run in, and the RA officer aboard the control ML (see (d) below).

    12. The BCs and OPs used No 18 sets, until their OP vehicles arrived at a RV after landing. The GPOs used their normal No 19 sets with a remote control during the run in. This layout ensured that there was no break in communications during the landing operations, and as soon as the guns and OP were established on shore fire support could be given at once.

    13. GPOs controlled the fire of the guns during the run in by TANNOY sets. On landing the guns switched to R/T and fire orders were passed on the B set of No 19 set"

    Pages 6 & 7:
    "27. Initially BCs and OP parties were in the Landing Ship Infantry with the battalion they were supporting. The infantry transferred to Landing Craft Assault some eight miles off shore, for the actual landing and the affiliated gunners went with them, the

    BCs with battalion HQ and the OP portion with the companies to whom they were allotted.

    28. The OP parties were split between the companies. In the leading two companies the troop commander was with one and his OP Assistant with the other. The other troop commander and his OPA did the same in the reserve companies. This minimised the chance of all Gunners becoming casualties and ensured that every company had a Gunner on whom he could call for fire support.

    29. In addition there was also a Regimental FOO whose job it was to control and adjust the fire of the regiment during the run in.

    30. Forward Observer Bombardment (FOB)
    The FOsB were Gunner officers allotted on a scale of one for every assault battalion. They remained with Battalion HQ and worked under the BC affiliated to that battalion. They were in communication with the Royal Navy and could obtain fire support from the bombarding cruisers etc."

    Many other fascinating docs have been transcribed by forum member PhilM. See:
    WO 223 - War Office: Staff College Camberley 1947 Course Notes on D-Day Landings & Ensuing Campaigns

    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
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  4. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    A bit of a basic question, but just for clarification, can somebody describe what LCH100 was and how it came over. I presume it is a Landing Craft Headquarters carrying (amongst other things) the DSOAG for the initial assault group. What type of craft was it and how would the communications work on land from then on in? Apologies if the answer is elsewhere on the site. Thanks Ian
  5. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    A bit about LCH 100.

    April 1944
    LCI(L) 100
    CO Lt A H Compson RNVR
    1st Lieutenant R E Ashton RNVR

    5th June 1944
    LCH 100 Force G, Assault Group G 1 Southampton

    Gold Beach Orders
    Gold Beach Jig Sector
    Group 5 LCT(A) and AVRE

    With DSOAG Jig Green aboard is to act as Senior Officer of the group and lead the Group as requisite to a position about 4000 yards off shore, subsequently acting as ordered by DSOAG Jig Green.

    Gold Beach
    “Throughout the assault period DSOAG Green in LCH 100 maintained a close touch with the shore, directed the close support very ably, and sent back frequent and invaluable situation reports”

    DSOAG Report : “at about 07.15 about 3000 yards from the beach” “in one instance a small calibre gun, probably 88mm, put a dozen rounds over LCH 100 which was stopped; all fell in one place”

    Edited photo showing LCH 100 at Southampton.
    LCH 100  A 23731  edit.jpg

    Original photo here, A 23731, ALLIED PREPARATIONS FOR D-DAY


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  6. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Thank you Danny. Do I take it that these vessels did not land directly, but men were ferried by other craft? Presumably the DSOAG setup on land eventually? Ian
  7. Oops, sorry, this is not the doc I thought I had intended. It's only the summary. The full (except for the Arty part) one is there:
    Gold and Juno Beaches - 50 (Northumbrian) Infantry Division Normandy Assault – June 1944, Battlefield Tour 1947

    Other GOLD-related docs on the same website:
    Gold and Juno Beaches - 50 Div Map - D-Day to D-Day + 9
    Gold and Juno Beaches - 56 Infantry Brigade Adm Order No. 1, dated 14 May 1944
    Gold and Juno Beaches - Operation 'Frog' 46 (RM) Commando Operation Order No. 2, dated 20 May 1944

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  8. Some more details on the various LCH in GOLD Area, including all the communication equipment fitted. The page relates mainly to LCH 317, but we may assume that LCH 100 was similarly fitted, and LCH 100 is also briefly mentioned:
    H.M.S. LCH-317

    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  9. Just remembered this source:
    Appendix “ C ” to Report by Naval Commander Force “ G ”
    Report on Bombardment
    Close Support
    ___9. R.A. F.O.O.s landed with the first flight of infantry were each attached to one of the four Deputy Senior Officers Assault Groups and were thus able to call for close support by destroyers and support craft.

    ___10. The control worked very well though it was disappointing that more assistance was not asked for as the defended localities at LA RIVIERE and LE HAMEL, flanking the beaches, caused considerable trouble, bombing and bombardment having failed to neutralise them.__The inaccuracy of the bombing of the localities was probably due to the low cloud which was prevalent at the time.__LE HAMEL was not taken until 1630 on D Day.

    ___11. One of the few calls received was from the 5th East Yorks, who were pinned down behind the wall at LA RIVIERE.__The area, including two pillboxes, was speedily neutralised by destroyers, L.C.G. and L.C.S.(L).

    ___12. The work done by the L.C.G. and L.C.S. was highly commendable.__They closed the beaches to within small arms range, and fired with accuracy and effect.

    13. All the pillboxes and A/T guns on the beaches were hit.__Most were sited to fire down the beaches and had very thick concrete walls to seaward.__The effect of shells on concrete was disappointing and, on one emplacement, several hits had only blown away a thickness of about 2 ft.
    Annexure 3
    Performance of Support Craft

    ___3. These craft proved to be invaluable for firing at concreted beach defences and for close support by call from their attached R.A. F.O.O.s.__Once this phase was over they were not used at all.__This was because there were no F.O.B.s available to attach to them, there being more cruisers and destroyers than F.O.B.s and frequencies to shoot them.

    4. For future operations it is suggested that L.C.G.s are formed into groups corresponding to an Army Battery and that a Gunner officer from the assaulting division is allotted to each battery as F.O.O. with a G.P.O. in each L.C.G.
    Close Support Control
    33. Each D/S.O.A.G. was in communication with the assaulting companies and gunners on his Battalion front. This enabled the D/S.O.A.G. to be kept fully in the picture as regards the military situation ashore and for the assaulting infantry and gunners to call for support.__A gunner and infantry representative were embarked in each L.C.H. and these were invaluable for advising the D/S.O.A.G. on engagement of opportunity targets and in keeping the military situation plotted.

    ___34. Each D/S.O.A.G. had allotted to him two to five destroyers, L.C.G. and L.C.S.__These he controlled by R/T on the 610 set with VHF 686 as standby.

    ___35. D/S.O.A.G. JIG GREEN in support of the 1st Hants [sic: 1 Hamps], whose objective was the village of LE HAMEL flanking the beach, failed to get into contact with their F.O.O.__The infantry were also unable to call for support or to keep D/S.O.A.G. fully informed of the situation ashore as the Battalion Commander and Second in Command were early casualties and temporary control of the Battalion was lost. The infantry had therefore to reduce the village without support.__It was exasperating to know that they were meeting with stiff resistance and to have destroyers and support craft lying close offshore but unable to help them.

    I still find the above somewhat confusing: was the R.A. F.O.O. in direct contact with the L.C.G.(L) or not?
    The following paragraph does not help much to clarify this point, as it contradicts the very paragraph it refers to:

    Appendix “ B ” to Report by Naval Commander Force “ G ”
    Recommendations and Lessons Learnt
    B.–Other Lessons
    IV.–Bombardment and Gunnery Control
    Close Support
    ___7. It is considered that L.C.G.(L) could be more fully employed had they Royal Artillery F.O.O.s attached to them.__(App. “ C,” Annex. III, para. 3.)

    I suppose that the phrase "attached to" is not employed with the same meaning across the Report, not to mention the ONEAST orders...

    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
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  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  11. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Thanks again to everybody who have illuminated this thread. Just a couple of things that still niggle with me:
    1. Does anybody know of any other sources that might corroborate the above & confirm what (if any) naval gun support was provided to the 1 Hants? The 1 Hants also took Asnelles (then a separate village from Le Hamel) & Arromanches (& points inbetween) on D-Day and the "report on bombardment" above only mentions Le Hamel. There are multiple sources citing naval gun support (incl my father's obit) and I would like to resolve the inconsistency.
    2 The landing tables suggest an LCM from Empire Crossbow disembarked some men from the Brigade HQ on the Frigate LCH100 around H+60. Judging from the mass of equipment on board I would not have thought it was possible to setup the D/S.O.A.G on land esp. given the still extremely dangerous conditions on the beaches. In which case what might be the roles of the disembarked men?
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    This is what I have written about La Riviere.

    "5th East Yorks had a tougher fight for La Riviere, needing assistance of naval gunfire organised by Captain R J Kiln on the LCH, the FOB, Captain A W Platt and his telegraphist having been killed: It took 45 minutes to neutralise the strong point and mopping up continued until 10.30."(Kiln and History of Hertfordshire yeomanry)

    Re the Hampshires

    "Next to land were the assault infantry companies, but the wind and tide had carried them to the east: 1st Hampshires landing on ‘Jig’ Green East, astride WN36, and 1 Dorsets 1000 yards to the East on ‘Jig’ Red."

    "We moved off towards Asnelles-sur-Mer through standing corn and hay, which gave good cover, but caused a few separations more than once. We came across a platoon of Hampshires who were held up by machine-gun fire and got a fire order to a ship for them."Captaoin Cook quoted in the (RA Commemoration Book)

    So the Gunners claim there was a call for fire at Asnelles
  13. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Quick reply,

    Q1. There was no naval gunfire used on the final assault at Le Hamel as they had no wireless contact with the ships.

    There was naval gunfire support on the attack of the radar station above Arromanches. FOB Captain Beddows organised the bombardment. The FOO who was with Major Littlejons D Company all day arranged for bombardment by 147 Field Regt. FOO Captain Munro or Captain D. Taylor ?

    Q2. The D/SOAG did not land. Two officers, Major C Martin. 2 i/c of the Hampshires and an officer from 147 Field Regt landed.

    I don’t think the officer who landed was Major Sidgwick. He might have been on a LCS(M) directing the fire before he landed.

    The DSOAG was a naval officer, Lt. Comm. R Alexander RN.

    You might be interested in a book that was recently published, “D Day Spearhead Brigade Christopher Jary”. Besides the information on the battalions the artillery, armour and engineer units involved are also mentioned. Available here D-Day Spearhead Brigade - Christopher Jary - The Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum

    Will see if I can find anything else later today.


  14. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Can I make an observation (no pun intended).

    When looking at any historical account, from old soldiers reminiscence to official reports one should ask some questions such as:
    Who wrote it? Was he in a position to know the facts? Did he have a bias?
    Why was it written? Was it to give a straightforward account? Was it to argue a point? Was it for entertainment?

    The front line infantryman, the writer of the War Diary, the writer of the Official History and the writer of best selling histories will all have different viewpoints and agenda.

    In the end we evaluate the evidence, decide what to our limited knowledge is most likely and then argue about it. There are few hard facts in history.


    I apologise equally to those who think this is blindingly obvious and those who think it pretentious rubbish.
  15. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Trux - I think you are right, one needs to gather every available account put them all together and then come up with a best possible scenario, even this will probably not be exactly what happened because as you say even eye witness accounts of the same event will differ, so effectively there will never be one true answer just a 95% [at best] correct answer.

  16. Trux & TD,

    I fully agree with both of you. This is why photos and films represent invaluable evidence for cross-checking what the documents or witnesses say - provided they are correctly interpreted of course, which brings us back to the various types of potential bias in interpreting them evoked by Trux, the most frequent probably being to see what we would like to see, rather than what they actually show. I have lost count of the number of times this has happened to me...

    In the case of this present thread I am afraid that photos won't be of much help, unless someone has found a way to photograph communications!

  17. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Agree with all of this. When I started this thread all I knew was I was researching a lone NCO Gunner embedded with the 1st wave assault infantry who had supposedly organised fire support for the Hampshires from the ships offshore, I had no idea why he was alone, whether the testimonies I had were just fanciful (and if not how a RA FOO could call down naval guns) and I had never heard of an FOB, D/S.O.A.G. etc etc. Thanks to you guys on this site I have managed to gather a great deal of information & evidence and I am in a much better position now to evaluate these testimonies against known facts and honestly complete this section of my document with the "most likely" scenario. Of course I understand its unlikely to be completely accurate, but its going to be a whole lot more realistic than if I had just re-peddled what I had. Hopefully, in so doing, it has cast some light on how FOOs/FOBs worked on D-Day for others. Ian
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  18. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Thanks for your information here. If you do find anything else it would be most welcome.
    It was indeed Major Sidgwick who was the 147 Regiment's FOO and directed the fire after the 1st salvo in the "Run In Shoot" from the SPs. He came over on Glenroy & transferred to an LCS (M). Interestingly his own account has him relinquishing his LCS (M) and hailing an LCT to actually land him & his team shortly before 09:00.
    Its not clear to me which 147 Regiment officer from the LCH landed with Major Martin (who was killed straight away). All I have is the Regiment's Fabius landing tables which showed for 2130 "CO Adj & Ack" (which I presume is "Commanding Officer, Adjutant & Assistant), "5 Sig Sec" & "FoB Party".
    I have read the Christopher Jary book already after the Hampshires Regimental Museum put me on to it. It has a very detailed & personalised account of 231 Infantry Brigade's experience and has been most useful, especially in graphically bringing home the effectiveness of the Hampshires despite the lack of armoured support, failing communications networks. officer attrition and the largely unscathed & deadly defences at Le Hamel. It has also helped with understanding the eventual FOO support. Ian
  19. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Thank you very much for this and your invaluable help to date. Is the RA Commemoration Book available online anywhere as far as you know? I could go and see it at the BL otherwise. Thanks Ian

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