Artillery FOOs embedded with the Infantry on D-Day

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

  1. Arty

    Arty Member

    Not to mention...

    VAN HASSELT, Lt Marc 308374 – F Tp, 511 Bty - onboard LCT(A) LTIN 2015

    nb. Lt Ridley (onboard LTIN 2013) & Lt Van Hasselt apparently had the same task on 06June. However 'their' appalling choice of transport (ie. the horribly unseaworthy LCT(A)'s) made it difficult for them to keep their appointments!
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  2. Arty

    Arty Member

    Or

    SHEPPARD, Lt Edward Noble 70012 - 511 Bty
     
  3. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    The 431 Battery commander was with the Hampshire CO, and they landed a short while later and both were wounded by the same Mortar/Shell. And Dick Gosling had a full FOO team with him. And the Brigade HQ landed later with its own FOO support. Hence my original question about his likely role alone with the infantry. Thus far i have speculated that there were not enough FOOs to go round, so their teams were split across the Assault COs. Then at least he could make contact with the rest of his FOO team when they landed & communicate location and decide most pressing need. He teamed up with Captain Munro, his 431 Troop D Commander eventually which lead to the discussions here about his role in calling in naval support as specified in various testimonies. But in the meantime perhaps he had a role within “A” Company supporting an Officer? Ian
     
  4. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    And Michel in #44 reproduced the following:
    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.
    So again it seems that the lone gunners were intended to provide immediate support at some level tot he Assault Companys
     
  5. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    The other interesting thing here (at least to me) is that Gunner Gentry, who was the other lone Gunner, was from 511 Battery and the 431 Loading table suggests he was also on serial 2036 with A Company of the Hampshires. I cant be sure of his Troop but it looks like "E" as "E's" Troop Commander Captain Taylor was allocated to the Hampshires, and "Fs" Captain Lyon to the Dorsets. So it looks like we have two gunners, on their own with the Hampshires at H+7, from different batteries, and their Troop captains due to land 20 mins later or so, with the Hampshires Reserve Cos allocated like this
    Batt 431: OP Assistant L/Bdr Turnbull, "D" Troop, with "A" Company. Troop Captain Munro with reserve "C" Company
    Batt 511. (?) Gunner Gentry "E" Troop, with "A" Company, Troop Captain Taylor with reserve "D" Company
    This leaves "B" company uncovered.
    I suggest that the typed addition of Gunner Gentry in the Remarks column on the 431 Battery Loading table need not mean that he too was allocated to the handwritten annotation of serial 2036 LCA, and that in fact he landed in an LCA with "B" company. This would provide the complete cover of each company.
    I don't suppose we know a breakdown of who was in what LCA in serials 2035-2044?

    Another interesting things is that, as Michel has pointed out, no other Field Regiment was configured in this way.

    It still begs the question which infantry officer would they be teamed with, until they teamed up with their Troop Captains.
    I apologise if this is becoming an obsession and proving of no general value to anybody else
    Ian
     
  6. Not just B Coy 1 Hamps was uncovered. A & B Coys 1 Dorset also were uncovered!

    From the 231 Bde Landing Table, two and only two men from an artillery unit (which we know were L/bdr Turnbull & Gnr Gentry) were alloted to a total of four Assault Coys (A & B Coys 1 Hamps and A & B Coys 1 Dorset, all four Coys landing at H+7 mins), apparently constituting one half-OP Party (OPA + one man).

    As per para 28 of The Artillery Story, we would have expected the other half-OP Party (FOO + Signaller) with B Coy 1 Hamps, plus two half-OP parties (possibly from 90 Fd Regt), one each with A & B Coys 1 Dorset, but... nothing of the kind exists in the LT.

    It might be that Gnr Gentry was to land with B Coy 1 Hamps (which I strongly doubt, otherwise this would have been specified in the Loading Table in the same way as 1 Coy 1 Hamps was specified for L/bdr Turnbull), but even so, this leaves the two assaulting Coys of 1 Dorset without a single gunner as OP Party!

    Maybe the gunners in Carriers landing from LCT(A) with the Centaurs at H Hour were to act as OP for the assaulting Coys?
    But I find this unlikely, as their main mission (initially at least) would have been to act as GPOs with the Centaurs, rather than OPs for the infantry.

    I dare not suppose that the assaulting infantry companies were expected to suffer such heavy losses that attaching OP Parties to them would have been a waste.

    This sending just two gunners upfront remains a complete mystery for me...

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  7. As suggested by Arty above, they would have been with the CO of the supported infantry Coy, apparently in the second LTIN of each Coy's five LCA (2036, 2061, 2066 for A, C & D Coys 1 Hamps respectively).

    Michel
     
  8. Arty

    Arty Member

    Chaps,

    Yes indeed it was a very unusual (and complicated) configuration for 147 that day...There's little wonder that the Dorsets didn't have an Arty rep in every company. The Arty reps were getting very thin on the ground! Though we are going to have to identify every officer of 90 Fd Regt and role on 06June as well! That is, for example, also going ashore at H+20 and attached to the Hamps was Capt Vine from 90 Fd Regt...

    Meanwhile, Michel, I think your right on the money with...."Maybe the gunners in Carriers landing from LCT(A) with the Centaurs at H Hour were to act as OP for the assaulting Coys?"

    The passage I have from Lt Marc Van Hasselt pretty much confirms that the two troop leaders that were onboard LCT(A) 2013 & 2015 were additional FOO parties for the operation. But note! Lt Van Hasselt apparently wrote this a very long time after the event. Thus I think we can forgive him for using the term "Fire Officer Bombardment" (or perhaps he was specifically tasked to just call in NGS via the DSOAG)...

    "My own transport for D Day, 6th June 1944, was a Bren carrier (a tracked vehicle) and we, a mixed bag of a few fellow passengers, including some Marine Commandos, embarked on a small landing craft. My impressive title was FOB (Fire Officer Bombardment) but, though I did have some training, I think I was about fourth reserve to replace those really doing the job who might become unavailable because of storm, shipwreck or enemy action! Anyway, this FOB failed to appear on duty off the Normandy Coast at 0700 hours as planned because his landing craft broke down in mid-channel. He finally arrived about lunchtime: a very suitable time. Lunch, I suspect, was an important occasion for pre-war Essex Yeomanry officers…."

    In retrospect I don't think that two guys being with the forward companies of the Hampshires is a mystery at all. This was a battalion that had experience in assault landings ie. with the knowledge that things do not go to plan, groups become seperated at critical periods etc. The arrangement for 06June gave them additional links from their companies to the guns. Importantly, we are not talking about two "gun bunnies" being given a radio each and being told to get on the first LCA. L/Bdr Gentry was clearly a trained member of a FOO team, I strongly suspect Gunner Gentry was also.

    And, Ian, yes it is becoming slightly obsessive! That is, wanting the name of the specific officer that L/Bdr Turbull was required to be with on 06June - especially as you already have the officers name ie. Maj Baines OC A Coy Hamps. L/Bdr Turnbull did not have another role but to stand next to Maj Baines with a radio that connected him to supporting fire. That's it. Short of time travelling I don't think you're going to get a better answer. Mind you that would be bloody dangerous!

    Regards
    Arty
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  9. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Van Hasselt (511 Battery) confirms his LCT(A) with the Royal Marines Centaurs etc arrived late (lunchtime as a opposed to H hour), but does anybody know whether the Lt Ridley's 431 Battery equivalent FOB/FOO team on 2013 arrived on time? Trux's Gold Beach thread is unable to be conclusive on this.
     
  10. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Hi Arty,
    I have not found any other information on FOB 52 yet.

    The attached any use ?

    86 Field Regt operated a similar system where Blue = Left and Red = Right.

    Regards

    Danny

    2  147  Field  Regt  90  Field  Regt   MERGE.jpg
     
    Sheldrake likes this.
  11. Arty

    Arty Member

    Ian,

    Regards the arrival times (or not) of the LCT(A)'s in the Gold area I go cross-eyed everytime I try to make sense of it!

    Curiously LCT(A) LTIN 2015 carrying Lt Van Hasselt possibly arrived two days later. That is, Lt Stiles-Bryan of 90 Field Company Royal Engineers was apparently on the same LCT - his unit's war diary records him arriving on 08June "Lt Stiles-Bryan & 2 ORs arr - their craft having been damaged by heavy seas". Lt Van Hasselt may have just been using a figure of speech by saying "lunchtime". As for LTIN 2013 carrying Lt Ridley I'm sure Michel S will provide some more info...

    Regards
    Arty
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  12. Arty

    Arty Member

    Danny,

    Thanks, I will have a look.

    Regards
    Arty


    Edit. Danny. This info has paid dividends almost immediately. I realise I have muddled the 147 BK's.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  13. Arty

    Arty Member

    Chaps!

    An error by me when correlating info. The correct BK list for 147 Fd Regt is as follows:

    BK’s

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

    EDWARDS, T/Capt Eric Cyril Boyd 179463 – 413 Bty - ULO 06Jun – ashore at H+20

    GEPP, T/Capt Thomas Christopher 89339 – 511 Bty – onboard LCH 100


    Arty
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  14. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    I have cut and paste all the info on the 147 Field Regiment Officers from this thread into a spreadsheet and I will attach it in case anybody finds this format useful. I hope I have done the transcription correctly, and if anybody spots any issues please let me know.

    All the text in Red is stuff I have added from my own knowledge, or where I believe there is a factual error. I have also added all the officers not so far mentioned across the whole Regiment in Red - these names are taken from the Roll of Officers as at 1st May 1944 in the Regimental history.

    I will keep updating this as I go, as I am researching new sources all the time to piece together my Father's WW2. Or if it would prove useful perhaps there is a way of keeping a central database here Wikipedia style?

    I have to stop this amateur brain surgery in a week or so, until around the end of August when I should be able to restart on my research. At that time I intend to get hold of many obituaries of the 147 Field soldiers and this might well provide further info to supplement the spreadsheet. Ian
     

    Attached Files:

    Sheldrake likes this.
  15. Alas I'm just as crossed-eyed as Arty when it comes to LCT(A) in GOLD Area. For a brief moment some time ago I thought I finally had all sixteen of them figured out, with Hull-LTINs matches and all, only to find contradicting (and irrefutable) evidence a few weeks later, which had the same effect on my beautiful theory as the heavy seas on the overloaded craft.
    The changing allocation of Centaur troops to LTINs, depending on the document consulted, does not help either.
    I'll however have another look to see what is reasonably firm in this bag of worms.

    Michel

    Edit: after checking, it turns out that the damning evidence that shattered my theory was sent my way by some chap nicknamed... Arty
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  16. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Michel
    Could it be that the Dorsets had "Gunner" FOO support from men attached to 90th Field from the Royal Corps of Signals e.g. Lt/Cpl Danny Bowstead who was awarded a MM for his actions.
     
  17. Not likely. If L/Cpl Bowstead was from the 90 Fd Regt Sig Sec (or any other unit), his unit would normally have been identified as such in the "Unit" column in the 231 Bde Landing Table. Additionally, his Recommendation for Award (attached) states that he "landed with Tac HQ 90 Fd Regt", so 90 Fd Regt would have been mentioned in the Landing Table. But the LT entry for LCA LTIN 2045-2054 (A & B Coys 1 Dorset) only has the following:

    1 HAMPS – 290 men
    295 Fd Coy RE – 25 men
    50(N) Inf Div Pro – 6 men

    I believe he was more probably part of the three-man detachment planned to land with D Coy 1 Dorset in LCA LTIN 2075-2079 at H+20, which include the first mention of 90 Fd Regt Sig Sec before the LCT(SP) waves, and which must also have included Tac HQ 90 Fd Regt. The LT says:

    1 DORSET – 126 men & 2 Handcarts
    295 Fd Coy RE – 14 men
    90 Fd Regt RA – 7 men
    90 Fd Regt Sig Sec – 3 men
    147 Fd Regt RA – 8 men

    Michel
     
  18. Arty

    Arty Member

    Hey don't blame me for the LCT(A) trauma Michel!

    It was that chap Lt Oliver Haslewood PERKS 277651 Troop Leader, 465 Bty, 90 Fd Regt (and another ‘part-time’ FOO on 06June - who was to support A Coy Dorsets). Instead of turning up for work on that Tuesday morning he spent a couple of days bobbing around in the middle of the English Channel on a luxurious LCT(A), no doubt getting a sun tan.

    You just can’t trust those “drop-shorts” ;)
     
  19. Arty

    Arty Member

    Chaps,

    With thanks to Danny (post #90) we have an even clearer picture of the arrangements of both 147 & 90 Fd Regts on D-Day.

    Both regiments provided additional FOO’s (ie. Troop Leaders) for the operation. Unfortunately, they were embarked on LCT(A)’s due at H-Hour. The LCT(A) was about as seaworthy as a house brick. Subsequently the plans turned to mud…

    Lt Ridley, D Tp Ldr, 431 Bty – onboard LCT(A) 2013 – probably arrived on 06June – although 73 Fd Coy RE who had an M14 halftrack onboard the same LCT reported an M14 not arriving until 1500 hrs (TBC!)

    Lt Van Hasselt, F Tp Ldr, 511 Bty (though according to the 147 Appendix, this should be the E Tp Ldr) – onboard LCT(A) 2015 – may have actually arrived 08June.

    Lt Candlish, 90 Fd Regt, was to support B Coy Dorsets – he was probably onboard LCT(A) LTIN 2019 which apparently arrived on 09June.

    Lt Perks, 90 Fd Regt, was to support A Coy Dorsets – he was probably onboard LCT(A) LTIN 2017 which broke down and was eventually towed back to England (Lt Perks eventually arrived onboard an LST at 0100hrs 19June!)

    This still leaves L/Bdr Turnbull & Gnr Gentry on the beach at H+7 – as can be seen from the close up of the info posted by Danny they were described as “Signallers with Infantry”. These signallers were not FOO’s persay, but provided a link to fire support. In this case the infantry commander was a defacto FOO ie. an infantry company commander will know how to read a map and call for fire. Though he's probably a tad busy fighting a battle...

    Close up - LBdr Turbull 64B Gnr Gentry 65B.jpg

    Regards
    Arty
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2019
  20. Below is one of the two possible ways 2 RM Armd Sp Bty might have been loaded on the LCT(A) – assuming the 231 Bde Ldg Table has been followed – with the actual times each landed (or not). Each Troop was split into two sections, Left Section led by the Troop Commander (Captain) with one Sherman & two Centaurs and Right Section led by the Troop Lieutenant with two Centaurs. The underlined parts are confirmed, the rest is speculation:

    LTIN 2013 – F Tp – Rt Sec – 6 Jun 0730 (LCT(A) 2233 or 2442)
    LTIN 2014 – F Tp – Lt Sec – 6 Jun 0930
    LTIN 2015 – H Tp – Rt Sec – 7 Jun evening
    LTIN 2016 – H Tp – Lt Sec – 6 Jun 0730 (LCT(A) 2233 or 2442)

    LTIN 2017 – G Tp – Rt Sec – returned to UK (LCT(A) 2005)
    LTIN 2018 – G Tp – Lt Sec – 6 Jun 0950
    LTIN 2019 – E Tp – Rt Sec – 9 Jun morning
    LTIN 2020 – E Tp – Lt Sec – sank en route (LCT(A) 2426)


    There is another possible way the RMASG Troops might have been distributed (obtained by exchanging F & G Tps in the list above), but this one has the advantage of matching the 431 Bty Loading Table, which specifies that LTIN 2013 "Lands with F Tp of Centaurs".

    Any info confirming (or not) this theory, and/or helping to find out the Hull Numbers, would be most welcome., knowing that the remaining craft should be LCT(A) 2238, 2262, 2266 & 2499.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2019

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