Artillery FOOs embedded with the Infantry on D-Day

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by IanTurnbull, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. If Major Sidgwick was the 147 Fd Regt FOO on board the LCS(M) ex-GLENROY G61, then he was on board LCS(M)(3) 74 LTIN 2131, commanding an OP Party of four (including himself), with one Handcart.

    The other 147 Fd Regt LCS(M) was LCS(M)(3) 77 LTIN 2133, ex-EMPIRE SPEARHEAD G62, with another OP Party of four, also with one Handcart.

    Both Parties were scheduled to land at H+60 on JIG GREEN East side.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    It isn't available online. I bought a copy recently for around £50. BL might be OK, or pay for a photograph pass and use the IWM library. There are around 20 pages on D Dauy and Normandy
     
  3. Ian,

    It appears that the composition of the 147 Fd Regt party in LTIN 2130 on board HMS NITH was the same as the one you quoted for Exercise FABIUS.

    The Landing Table for LTIN 2130 includes three men from 147 Fd Regt plus another three from 147 Fd Regt Sig Sec, as well as an FOB Party of three. The CO Lt Col PHAYRE was one of the three from 147 Fd Regt, and the three from the Sig Sec were Douglas C. Morris (I do not know what his rank was) plus presumably Cpl Stan Lees and Sgt Bill Dick.

    They were to land together with OC 231 Inf Bde Brig STANIER's party and the other components of LTIN 2130 with LCM LTIN 2129 ex-GLENROY G61 (although listed in the Landing Table as ex-EMPIRE CROSSBOW G64) which already had on board one Carrier and one Jeep with seven men from 231 Inf Bde Sigs, plus two men each from HQ RE 50(N) Div, 147 Fd Regt RA and Det 61 Recce Regt:

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    I was in the Royal Signals, attached to 147 (Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment RA. At 04:30 hours on 6 June the loud hailers on HMS Nith called all hands to stand to. As it gradually became light the sight that met our eyes was almost beyond description. Ships, ships and more ships. The lighter it became the more ships came into view, all sailing in the same direction, south. Overhead we could hear aircraft above the cloud. There seemed to be a continuous stream of them.

    Suddenly there came the most appalling, devastating and mind bending crash of gunfire as several battleships quite close to us opened up with salvo after salvo of their main armaments. Broadsides of shells that weighed almost half a ton each went screaming off to land God only knew where, but we hoped would land squarely on the German coastal guns. What we did not know at the time was that the airborne boys were at that very moment dealing with the coastal guns.

    We boarded our LCM at 06:15 hours but from our lowly position we were unable to see what progress was being made by the R-boats carrying the assault infantry and Beach Signals party. According to the time schedule our regimental run-in shoot should be about to start; also the 'hedgehogs' (low trajectory rocket launchers), which were designed to cut a swathe up the beach to destroy any mines or obstacles in the path of the infantry. Sure enough, almost dead on time the 'swoosh' of the rockets and staccato cracks of the twenty-five pounders on the LCTs started up. Soon we could see the beach defences. Lots of steel RSJs and bits of pipe welded together to form lethal-to-boats obstacles. The nasty ones were a post with an 88mm shell strapped to the top and a detonator plate pointing seaward. All kinds of other diabolical nasties that Jerry had thought up were waiting for the unwary.

    From about one hundred yards out we could see the odd body lying about on the sand above waterline and a brewed up tank just short of the sand dunes. The brigadier yelled to us, 'Don't stop to help casualties, get clear of the beach.' The RASC cox was looking for a clear way in between the obstacles but then stalled his engine (Scripps modified Ford V-8), which steadfastly refused to restart. By this time the LCM had drifted broadside onto the tide and as I looked over the side I could see an 88mm post-mounted shell about to brush the side. I leant back as far as I could against the Bren carrier and the shell exploded almost under my feet. The decking upon which we stood was about a foot above the actual outer skin of the LCM, but the detonation made my feet smart through the felt-soled assault boots! The in-rush of water into the lower compartment made the starting of the engine an impossibility and the brigadier called to the cox to lower the ramp. We had drifted bow-on to the beach again and could see the shit flying ashore. As senior officer, the brigadier sat on the end of the ramp and lowered himself into the water. At his mid-chest his feet touched the bottom and he yelled, 'All right Phayre, get the party ashore.' The colonel went next and being a shortish, plump officer he was only just in his depth . Even in such a dire predicament we all giggled at the figure he cut with his steel helmet knocked over his eyes. We all followed off the LCM, which had by this time settled by the stern and was a total loss taking the Bren carrier and motorcycle with her.

    Finally we reached the edge of the water. The weight of our water-sodden clothing and gear was incredible and we were literally forced to our knee s for the first few stumbling yards. The beach was fairly well pitted by craters from what we afterwards assumed to be mortar bombs, but we didn't stop to look. I told my pals Cpl Stan Lees and Sgt Bill Dick to follow me and then made a dash for the dunes, from which reasonable shelter we watched the CO strolling up the beach too buggered to even trot! After several back tracks to avoid mined areas and being advised by infantry boys to keep our heads down at certain places, we finally joined up with the rest of the section. It was splend id to see the other members of the Signal Section all together again. What with being in separate camps before leaving England and travelling on different craft some of us hadn't met up for the best part of a month.

    It was impossible at our level to know how the attack was going or if we were likely to be driven back into the sea. We did glean some information from the requests for fire. Most of these were given un-coded to save time since the recipients of the shells were the enemy. We could pinpoint where the shells were falling and so tell roughly where the front troops were located. The enemy must have got over the initial surprise of the landing because he was starting to throw stuff back at us in the shape of shells, probably 88mm, and multiple barrelled mortar bombs. These were particularly frightening since they screamed as they approached, but as someone remarked, 'The noise won't hurt you'.
    Soon came the order to move forward. This was mainly to make room for more units to come off the beaches. By midday we found ourselves almost halfway between Arromanches and Bayeux.
    (...)
    Douglas ' Pete' C. Morris, Caerwys, Clwyd

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    Source:
    We Remember D-Day pp218-227

    Another account of the landing of LCM LTIN 2090 from the same source:

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    I was a Wireless Operator, K Section 50 (Northumbrian) Divisional Signals and Personal Signaller to Brigadier Sir Alexander Stanier, in 231 Infantry Brigade. We embarked on HMS Nith on 4 June and the following day were given a final briefing. We learned that H-Hour was to be at 07:00 hours on 6 June. Wireless sets were to open at H minus sixty and wireless silence was to be broken at H minus thirty unless emergency a rose.

    As dawn was breaking I could hear formations of heavy bombers passing overhead, slowly the visibility improving. At first I could only see ships near ours, then the outline of the coast and finally line upon line of ships of all sizes and shapes from cruisers and destroyers, sleek and lean, to the landing craft, squat and cumbersome. By this time the LCAs and smaller assault craft had been lowered from their parent ships. Landing craft were circling around an LSI not far from us, while further away flotillas of LCA carrying the infantry were in format ion.

    The coast was now receiving the attentions of the Royal Navy and squadrons of planes and was soon covered by a pall of smoke. The cruiser HMS Orion was one ship in our task force. She was firing her broad sides not many hundred yards from us. My brother was on this ship but little did he know that I was so near and yet so far from him.

    I got on board my LCM and unfastened my small pack and stowed it on the Jeep. As we approached the coast we came under light shelling, and on looking over the side of the craft my eyes met a sight that I shall never forget. The shore was about eighty yards away, the beach seemed crowded with tanks and a few carriers, but not one appeared to be moving although there were one or two burning. Between the shore and our craft were rows of formidable looking obstructions. There were long poles about seven inches thick embedded in the sand at an angle pointing out to sea with mines attached.

    I saw five or six men clinging to what looked like a telegraph pole; they were being tossed about unmercifully and the wash of various craft attempting to land added to their discomfort. I hoped that some naval craft had been set aside for picking up such men as these.

    I received a message saying that the reserve battalion had landed and I knew that we were scheduled to land about the same time. This latest information was reported. On reaching the place I had found for myself behind the Jeep I was shaken by a violent explosion. My steel helmet evidently got tired of waiting to land and jumped overboard deciding to fend for itself. In a flash I realised we must have hit a mine. My thoughts of a dry landing faded into the background and I was more concerned about the depth of the water in front of us. Our craft had stopped and as the ramp was lowered 'written message for you' came over my set. Hastily taking my pad and pencil from my pocket I accepted the offer and proceeded to take the message. The message was surprisingly long. I read it through and acknowledged it. On looking up to see to whom I could hand it I was amazed to discover that I was apparently alone. The remainder of the party I observed, through the open end of the craft where the ramp had been, were strung out in a line making for the shore. The nearest person was quite some distance from the craft and the water was almost up to his chest. I could see that the handcarts were floating. I then intimated to all out-stations by code word that I was about to land. I folded the message I had just received, put it on top of my set and tied the waterproof bag round it.

    I heard a voice, which I immediately recognised as Cpl Davidson's, coming from the carrier. I climbed on the front and looked inside and saw Cpl Davidson and Cpl Gunning who were making an officer comfortable. I observed that the latter's hand was more or less smashed, and heard afterwards that this had been done when we hit the mine. The officer had been blown overboard, but had been hoisted back aboard almost immediately. Knowing Cpl Davidson would try to land the carrier, I volunteered to stay on the front and give him steering instructions, because he was unable to see from his driving seat. Before starting, I drew his attention to two mines on a pole slightly to the right of the craft and about eight feet away. To avoid these I told him to bear left when he felt himself on the ramp, or when I should tell him.

    Cpl Davidson started the engine and we began to move. I stood on the front, with my back to the carrier. As we were moving onto the ramp the carrier hit the side of the craft and I felt myself falling sideways. For a split second I did not know what had happened, and I felt myself being dragged along beside the carrier. We were now making for the shore. My fingers pained me intensely but I realised that if I attempted to move them I should, to say the least, lose my tow ashore. My right hand was free and I brought it across my chest and held the set above the water, at the same time kicking my legs.

    Cpl Davidson stopped when he got into shallow water and I stood up and disengaged my fingers. He looked at me and said that he thought I was dead, and wanted to know what had happened. He could hardly believe it when I told him. Neither of us to this day can say how close we must have been to the two mines. They must have been barely inches away.

    I called up my group and was relieved to be answered by the three battalions. I did not receive a reply from the Brigade Major's party or the Main Beach Signal Office despite repeated calling. The two sets in the handcarts were not working, as water had leaked in through the waterproof bags. The operators unloaded two spare sets from the carrier but before they had time to effect a complete change, the brigadier decided to move off the beach. The crater blocking the coast road was being filled in by Royal Engineers, beach parties and tank crews, who were waiting to drive their tanks off the beaches.

    Soon after the tanks started coming through, 47 Royal Marine Commando came along. They had been heavily shelled when coming in to land and had lost a considerable part of their equipment. They had picked up and armed themselves with British and German arms and ammunition. The colonel spoke to the brigadier and shortly afterwards the commandos moved off. Meanwhile the signal officer had arranged for the commandos to net a twenty-two set to my set to replace the one they had lost.

    While in this location I received a message saying that one of the battalions was encountering heavy opposition in Le Hamel from snipers. The snipers were being mopped up but it was taking longer than expected. Another message said that the Germans had expected an attack in this area, but not on that particular day. The brigadier decided to have a recce up to Le Hamel himself. Our little recce party consisted of the brigadier, the colonel and adjutant of the field regiment supporting our brigade and his wireless operator, Cpt Wheaton and myself.
    (...)

    Lewis 'Taffy' Richards, MBE, MM, Bedwas, Gwent
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    Source:
    We Remember D-Day pp314-321

    Then, from Brig STANIER himself (partial transcript):
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    As we got near the shore in our LCM, I said to the naval officer "go as fast as you can, beach me up on the beach because I want to be driving when I land."

    He said "Sir, I can't, I've got to turn around, the tidal change, I've got to go back for other people."

    At that moment, the boat stopped, because we'd put ourselves onto one of these posts. And the next moment, there was an explosion, and a hole was torn on the side of the boat, and the boat began to fill with water. Some people said it was a mortar shell, but I am sure it was a post.

    So I said, "we will land.” Well luckily it was only up to about my waist.

    But unfortunately, when my Jeep and the Carrier came over behind me, that released the boat, because the weight [end of reel 2]

    the Carrier plunged forward and crushed the Jeep. Luckily everybody was able to jump out in time, well, nobody was in it, they were pushing it, including Howard Marshall, the BBC commentator. I walked on ashore. When we got on shore, there were a large number of tanks on fire and luckily they formed a barricade so the Germans couldn't see me walking up the beach, so I was able to get in to the sand dunes where I stopped and we collected our small party. Everybody arrived and I said goodbye to M. Howard Marshall who then went back to the beach, getting back into one of the LCMs so he could go back to a destroyer which would take him back to England so that he could read out the nine o’clock news.
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    Source:
    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80007992

    Finally, here's Howard Marshall's account:
    Howard Marshall's account.jpg
    Source: D-Day: In the words of the BBC journalists

    It does look like the wireless equipment, although redundent, suffered quite a lot during the landings and was probably in short supply thereafter.

    Could you post these FABIUS Landing Table? They might reveal new info, especially if we compare them with the D Day ones.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  4. From the amended Loading Tables for 431 Bty kindly posted by Ian in his Post #13 above, we know that Capt Munro was with C Coy 1 HAMPS, therefore Capt Taylor must have been with D Coy.

    I attach the Recommendation for Award for Capt Taylor's MC, which confirms that, like Capt Munro, he was the FOO attached to one of the two reserve companies of 1 HAMPS.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
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  5. Looking again at the 431 Bty Loading Tables (see Ian's Post #13), we noticed that it shows at least three versions: the initial typed one, then a second version (amendments pencilled in grey) and finally a third (written in blue ink).

    I tried and summarized the three versions in the following table, disregarding changes in personnel. Crossed out parts have been omitted in the version replacing them. See interpretation after the table:

    431 Bty LT versions.jpg

    Serial 3. – The only change is that the LTIN "2036" has been specified among the block of ten LTINs (2035-2044) in the initial version. All 3 versions comply with the 231 Bde Landing Table.

    Serial 4. – v1 is a bit problematic because it allocates Maj Gosling's party of 6 men to LTINs 2060-2069 which are the reserve Coys of 1 Hamps, and not its Bn HQ as specified.

    v2 splits the 6 men in Maj Gosling's party into two parties in LTIN 2016 and 2066 respectively (but retains the problematic attachment to "Bn HQ 1 Hamps"). The "3" which follows each LTIN must mean the number of men per party.
    This gives a precious indication as to how the 6 men listed in the 231 Bde Landing Table were supposed to be distributed within the 2060-2069 LTIN block.
    A pattern emerges here, in which the 2nd LTIN in each Coy (5 LCA per Coy) is to load the OP party:
    2036 in the 2035-2039 block alloted to A Coy 1 Hamps (Assault Coy)
    2061 in the 2060-2064 block alloted to C Coy 1 Hamps (Reserve Coy)
    2066 in the 2065-2069 block alloted to D Coy 1 Hamps (Reserve Coy)

    As an aside, strangely enough, for the total of four Assault Coys from 1 Hamps (LTIN 2035-2044) and 1 Dorset (2045-2054), the 231 Bde Landing Table lists only the 2 men from 147 Fd Regt and no other from any RA Regt, which would mean that L/Bdr Turnbull and Gnr Gentry's was the only OP Party (actually a half-OP Party only) scheduled to land with the Assault Coys on JIG at H+7?

    v3 finally reconciles this Loading Table with the 231 Bde Landing Table by alloting LCM LTIN 2087 (carrying Bn HQ 1 Hamps) to Maj Gosling's party.

    Serial 5.(b) – v1 means that, in order to match the 6 men listed for LTIN 2087 in 231 Bde LT, another party of 3 men from another Bty should have been carried in this craft in addition to the 3 men from 431 Bty in this Loading Table.

    v2 is merely the replacement of the Ship Serial "G63/LSI(L)" with the LTIN "2087", so changes nothing.

    v3 complements the change in Serial 4 v3 by allocating Capt Munro's OP party of 3 to C Coy 1 Hamps in LTIN 2061, which means that the other OP party (3 men att D Coy in LTIN 2066, see Serial 4 v2 above) must come from another Bty. This we already know must be Capt Taylor's party from 511 Bty.

    I suppose that Capt Taylor was a Troop Commander in 511 Bty. Do we know which Troop?

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
  6. Arty

    Arty Member

    Michel,

    From what I've gleaned thus far, I believe 147 Fd Regt may have looked like this on 06June...

    OC Phayre, 2ic Broke, Adj Gee

    413 BC Sidgwick. A Tp Warburton, B Tp Culley

    431 BC Gosling (RB). C Tp Foreman, D Tp Munro

    511 BC Gosling (CH). E Tp Taylor, F Tp Lyon


    Capt Beale (mentioned by Ian in #4) may have been BK of 431 Bty...
    Capt Cook (mentioned by Sheldrake in #53) was from 90 Fd Regt (attached to C Coy, Dorsets).

    Regards
    Arty
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
  7. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    I attach the loading tables for Fabius II. I am presuming there was little changed judging by the 431 D Day tables we have. The Fabius II tables are from the Regiments orders attached to their War Diary WO 171/995
    You can see from these that the Regiment also had 2 Troops of the "1st Royal Marines SPs" (Armoured Support?) under command, as did the 90th Field. Supposed to be landing with the RMs LCA(A)s were 2 x FOO parties, one from 431 and one from 511 Battery, but we know the latter didn't make it on D Day (Serial 2015). I cannot see what happened to the LCA(A) carrying the 431 FOOs (Serial 2013), but I suspect they were delayed too as my Father is credited with being the 1st to land from his Regiment at H+7. Both were due to land at H-Hour in a TLD Carrier ( I am presuming this is a Universal Carrier?) and I have been assuming they were to be the FOOs for the RMs, but this is a supposition on my part.
    There have been some really helpful posts looking at the 147 Command structure and I will add to this in the next day or so. Thanks again Michel for all your invaluable help Ian
     

    Attached Files:

  8. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Thanks for this. Captain Beale was indeed 431 Battery and took over command after Major Gosling was wounded on the beach. What does "BK" stand for? 2nd I/c? Ian
     
  9. I attach Bdr Turnbull's and Maj Sidgwick's Recommendation for Award.

    Note that the latter says that Maj Sidgwick "was embarked on a LCS(M) as reserve OP for the control of his regt during the run-in shoot in suport of the assault."

    I'm not sure whether this means he was initially planned to act as the "Regimental FOO" or a back-up FOO?

    Michel
     
  10. Arty

    Arty Member

    Ian,

    BK designates the Senior Captain of the Battery. In action he travels with the Battery Command Post, whilst the BC ie. Battery Commander is forward with the Infantry/Armour.

    Some further thoughts...By default, when Capt Beale took over command of the 431 Battery on 06June, he was eventually required to go forward with the Infantry and thus became a Forward Observer. You mentioned (back in post #1) an account by Capt Beale. Are you able to post it?

    The full list of 147's Battery Commanders and Troop Commanders on 06June, I believe looks like this..

    BC’s:

    GOSLING, Maj Cecil Henry 89363 - 511 Bty – Run in shoot FOO???, or, onboard LCH???

    GOSLING, Maj Richard Bennett “Dickie” 89364 – 431 Bty – with Bn HQ Hamps

    SIDGWICK, Temp Major Christopher John 903312 – 413 Bty – Run in shoot FOO

    [Nb. I still think I'm seeing double with the two Major Goslings. Cecil Gosling & Richard Gosling apparently signed up on the same day in 1939. They both served in the RA. They, both ended up in the same Regiment at the same time. Both were Battery Commanders and both landed on the same beach on the same day.... Where's the movie? And yet the film industry likes making up endless fictional crap....]

    Tp Cmdrs:

    CULLEY, Capt George William 64507 – B Tp, 413 Bty - with Devons

    FOREMAN, T/Capt RICHARD RANDALL BARRINGTON 138383 – C Tp, 431 Bty

    LYON, T/Capt Geoffrey Malcolm 126253 – F Tp, 511 Bty - with Dorsets

    MUNRO, T/Capt KENNETH 42124 – D Tp, 431 Bty – with C Coy Hamps

    TAYLOR, T/Capt Derek Beresford 121686 - E Tp, 511 Bty – with D Coy Hamps

    WARBURTON, T/Capt Alfred Arthur 143830 – A Tp, 413Bty - with Sherwood Rangers - went ashore in AOP Sherman from LCT, probably LTIN 2163.


    An aside. Capt Eric Edwards (who was the Regiments ULO ie. Unit Landing Officer on 6June) may have been BK of 511 Battery - taking over command of 413 Bty on 08 June when Maj Sidgwick was wounded.

    Regards
    Arty
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  11. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Michel. The Motor Launch of Captain Foreman (2132) failed to appear on time to direct the "Run In Shoot" so perhaps he was the Regiment's original FOO? They took their coordinates from the adjacent 90th Field in the end Ian
     
  12. Arty

    Arty Member

    And back to the whole vexed question of whether the RN played a useful part in taking Asnelles/Le Hamel…

    WN37 at Le Hamel was due to receive considerable punishment before the Hamps arrived. However, as we know the USAAF didn’t hit it at all, and the fire of the 147 Fd Regt was directed at some hapless Ost Truppen. The RCAF even had a crack – a flight of Typhoons managed to drop 12 1,000 lb bombs in the vicinity. WN37 was also the target of five destroyers (HMS Jarvis, HMS Urania & HMS Ulysses at H-60 to H-5, &, HMS Grenville & HMS Undine at H-10 to H-5), one LCG (H-35 to H-5), one LCS(L) (H-20 to H), two one LCF (H-5 to H). Further, two LCT(R)’s were to fire 2000 five inch rockets at it (at H-14 & H-7) – subsequent examination found no trace of rockets in the area. So at least prior to the troops stepping ashore the RN was involved. Indeed, the telephone log of 352. Infanterie Division reported at 0720hrs: “….Defence Work No 37 lies under a heavy artillery and rocket fire.” But all this fire did minimal damage to the defences and doesn’t appear to have dampened the enthusiasm of the defenders at all.

    So, what of the RN support after the initial bombardment? Here’s yet another statement from the Report by Naval Commander Force “G ” (page 8 para 35):

    “…JIG sector was under fire for a considerable time, and it was not until about 1600, after a concentrated close range bombardment by L.C.G., L.C.F. and destroyers, that 1st Hants were finally able to capture the village of LE HAMEL.”

    This was also quoted via WO 291/246 (p22 para 5.214): “About 1600 hours, after a concentrated close range bombardment by LCG, LCF and destroyers, 1 Hamps were finally able to capture Le Hamel…”

    The same information was also quoted in Operation Neptune: landings in Normandy, June, 1944. - Battle summary; no. 39.

    And here are a couple of more eyewitness statements written soon after the event…

    From the report by the CO 120 LAA Regt: “At 1440hrs I went along the beach towards Jig Sector to find out the position there. I found that Le Hamel was not yet cleared of the enemy and was still being shelled by the R.N….”

    And from Capt. G M Woods also from 120 LAA Regt: “We arrived at unloading point at 1830 hrs, 6 Jun and anchored. Navy was still shelling Le Hamel.

    All the above state fairly succinctly that there was a whole ship load of fire directed at Le Hamel after the initial assault. However, most of the info above appears to be utterly confused b’llcks.

    The reports of the concentrated close range bombardment by L.C.G., L.C.F. and destroyers” all apparently come from just one source. We know that a such a bombardment did occur in the King sector ie. against La Riviere (about 0950hrs). As pointed out by Sheldrake earlier, Capt Robert Kiln of 86 Fd Regt (onboard LCH 275) was involved in controlling this fire. Of note this supporting fire obliterated at least one section of 5 Bn East Yorks. Obviously, this ‘friendly fire’ has nothing to do with the FOO’s of 147 Fd Regt or the Hamps attempts to take Le Hamel. However, it illustrates the difficulty of attempt to use Naval gunfire in close proximity of friendly troops. In Asnelles/Le Hamel this was particularly problematical with officer casualties, communication failures and units being drawn into the action piecemeal (eg. C Coy Devons).

    As MS mentioned (in post #50) the Report by Naval Commander Force “G” has some (horrible) contradictions in it. However, within the report is the “Narrative of Bombardment Events” (pgs 26 to pg 41). The events of 06June are covered in six pages, listing engagements by destroyers & cruisers (but NOT LCF or LCG or LCS]. The narrative also covers some activities/engagements by FOB’s. Although the narrative clearly does not list every engagement, by every supporting vessel in Force G, it nevertheless provides a ‘picture’ of the RN support that was provided as the battle moved inland.

    The “Narrative of Bombardment Events” refers to the bombardment of La Riviere…

    0950 URSA engaged enemy positions on sea-front east of LA RIVIERE for 30 minutes as ordered by DSOAG.

    However I do not believe that a “concentrated close range bombardment by L.C.G., L.C.F. and destroyers” occurred at Le Hamel. Back to the “Narrative of Bombardment Events”. Le Hamel barely gets a mention….

    0755 UNDINE engaged opportunity target, enemy troop movement behind hedge west of Le Hamel (865864)
    1040 CATTISTOCK engaged direct fire from spinney 2,000 yards south-east of LE HAMEL. FIRE neutralised.

    There were two warships, in particular, that were important player in these events. The first was the destroyer HMS Grenville. This is one of the two vessels ‘attached’ to the FOB with the Hamps (ie. FOB 51 Capt Ian Alexander BEDDOWS 172441). The other was the Dutch vessel HMNS Flores. The relevant lines from the narrative…

    0755 GRENVILLE & UNDINE completed arranged run-in fire plan.
    0815 FOB 51 reported successful landing

    HMNS Flores doesn’t get a mention after 0630 hrs. The next entry in the narrative which refers to Grenville and its FOB is…

    1650 GRENVILLE ordered to contact FOB and engage enemy in ARROMANCHES.

    From “ADM 199/1644 HMS GRENVILLE 14 June 1944 REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS FOR THE PERIOD 3RD JUNE, 1944 TO 14TH JUNE, 1944” there are some more clues as to what did and didn’t happen…

    “6TH JUNE
    3. Shore targets were engaged prior to the assault, in accordance with the Fire Plan contained in “ONEAST/G” Orders….The “Fog of War”, as usual, rapidly obscured the targets, and accurate fire was impossible, although the coast was at once closed to shorten the range.
    4. During the rest of the day until 2000, HMS GRENVILLE engaged enemy batteries and “strong-points” in the area CABANE – LONGUES – ARROMANCHES – LES BAINS...


    Thus, from HMS Grenville’s report, after the initial bombardment, it was firing at targets to the WEST of Le Hamel.

    Of the FOB attached to the Dorsets (No. 52) there is no mention of him in the “Narrative of Bombardment” at all (nor have I managed to identify him). Of the FOB attached to the Devons (No. 53) the only engagement mentioned in the narrative was almost a certainly inland target (at 1615 hrs, as the Devons approached Ryes).

    So, objectively, there doesn’t appear to have been much assistance from larger warships in dealing with Le Hamel.

    But what of the various LCF, LCG & LCS? We have two statements by the chaps from 120 LAA Regiment (aside from various accounts in the proceeding posts). The suggestion that an RN vessel (perhaps an LCG) was firing into the Le Hamel area (probably directed by an artillery FOO via the DSOAG) about 1440 hrs is entirely feasible. However, the second statement, suggesting there was RN fire on Le Hamel at 1830hrs, would appear to be very confused. This after all, was Capt Wood’s view from 10km out to sea, as the battle moved along the coast west of Le Hamel.

    My conclusion is that it was likely that FOO teams of 147 Fd Regt (and 90 Fd Regt) were indeed able to call in some fire from LCG’s (and just maybe, destroyers). However, due to the nature of the fighting in LeHamel/Asnelles, this fire from the RN did not conclusively turn the battle. In the end the Le Hamel was taken by infantry with the support of a rather ad hoc mix of AFV’s - five Shermans, at least one Sexton firing direct and just one AVRE.

    Regards
    Arty
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
    IanTurnbull, Sheldrake and Trux like this.
  13. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    (nor have I managed to identify him)


    Hi,
    The No 52 FOB officer was Captain Denholm.

    HMS Undine was attached and he could call on HMS Emerald. Priority Target was “Arromanches I Battery”.

    Regards

    Danny
     
  14. Arty

    Arty Member

    Thanks Danny.

    Do you have any info on Capt Denholm's activities on the day?

    Regards
    Arty
     
  15. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    I can add a little to this. Both Goslings were injured, Dick on the landings and Cecil @ St Pierre on 10th June. Then Dick returned to his battery at Cahagnolles around the 17th July 1944. Not sure whether Cecil returned wounded to England but he became Regimental 2nd in command early April '45. I believe Cecil landed with the 2nd wave around H + 210 on LCI(L) serial 2902 with the 2 S Wales Borderers.
    I have never been certain of the 511 Battery formation. Do you have a definitive source for this? I had always thought that Captain Lyon was the BK and Captain Gepp the 2nd Troop Commander. I know Captain Gepp was a FoB for the Regiment on LCH100 before returning to his Battery. Does that infer anything? Thanks for your help with this Ian
     
  16. Arty

    Arty Member

    Ian,

    Regards 511 Battery, no definitive source - this is a work in progress (apart from the fact that I've just realised I made an obvious mistake in post #70. That is E Tp was obviously 511 Bty! I'm about to edit that...).

    Regards Capt Lyon, his MC citation refers to him landing with the "leading assault troops of the 1 Dorsets" on 06June. He almost certainly did not land at H+7, but at H+20, however the conclusion is that he was an FOO on the day. 'Confirmation' of his troop comes from the memoirs of Lt Van Hasselt: "Major Cecil Gosling, who commanded my own 511 Battery, was also wounded; F Troop’s Commander, “Blue” Lyon, took over the double role of his own job with F Troop and command of 511 Battery"

    As for Captain Gepp I hadn't even identified him - until I had a look at the Fabius landing tables you posted. I will see what I can dig up. Meanwhile you referred to Capt Gepp as a "FoB" on LCH 100. I assume you meant FOO, though I think it might just be the artillery advisor to the DSOAG on LCH 100 in this case. In the King sector two of three BK's of 86 Fd Regt were onboard LCH's including Capt Claude Hankins & Capt Robert Kiln. Capt Gepp onboard LCH 100 was almost certainly playing the same roll in the Jig sector.

    Regards
    Arty
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  17. Arty

    Arty Member

    Ian,

    Yep, BK 413 Bty...Gepp, T/Capt Thomas Christopher 89339

    He picked up an award from the Belgians for his efforts: Chevalier of the Order of Leopold II with palm and Croix de Guerre 1940 with palm.

    So now we apparently have all three BK's identified:

    BEALE, Capt Maxwell Goff 88764 – 431 Bty – ashore by LCT at H+90, probably LTIN 2155

    EDWARDS, T/Capt Eric Cyril Boyd 179463 – 511 Bty - ULO 06Jun – ashore at H+20

    GEPP, T/Capt Thomas Christopher 89339 – 413 Bty – onboard LCH 100

    See PM!

    Regards
    Arty
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  18. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Another of my infernal questions back to the original of how an unaccompanied gunner would operate in the first few hours of DDay. He landed with "A" company Hampshires. I am assuming that until he teamed up with other members of his FOO party landing later he would he have been accompanying the Company Commander, Major Dick Baines (who was killed in the sand dunes approaching Le Hamel). Or perhaps one of the platoon Commanders (all of whom were wounded). Any thoughts in the most likely scenario would be welcome. Thank you Ian
     
  19. Arty

    Arty Member

    The gunner's role up front (ie. FOO parties) is with the supported arms commander. In this case I tend to believe he would be co-located with the infantry company headquarters.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  20. Excellent all this! We're steadily approaching the complete officers' list for 147 Fd Regt on DDay.

    A few more names:

    GPOs
    GREGSON, Lt Anthony 105901, MBE – A Tp, LCT LTIN 2141
    MOTION, Lt R – B Tp, LCT LTIN 2178
    RICHARDSON, Lt Thomas Anthony 228462 – D Tp, LCT LTIN 2179

    The GPO for C Tp might have been one of the three Lieutenants listed in the Loading Table for LCT LTIN 2142:
    SOWDEN, Lt BA
    IRWIN, Lt JR
    GIRLING, Lt GFH

    Troop Leaders:
    MITCHELL, Lt Peter Stanley Sydney Sidney 271127 – A Tp, LCT LTIN 2141

    The next two officers were possibly the Troop Leaders for D & C Troops respectively:
    RIDLEY 2/Lt with Carrier TLD – LCT(A) 2013
    DREYFUSS, Lt EA – in ML LTIN 2132 then to transfer to LCT LTIN 2179 which had Carrier TLC on board

    or TL D Tp could have been:
    ROLLES, Lt NM

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019

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