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Artillery FOOs embedded with the Infantry on D-Day

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

  1. Ian,

    My thoughts on yours:
    1. I'll leave the answer to Arty who has studied this point in depth, although without access to the War Diaries, which I do not possess either. There might be some useful details in appendices in the April to June War Diaries, so if you can copy them without too much trouble, that would be interesting.

    2. Something was obviously wrong with Lt Ridley's comns, as suggested by TA Richardson in his obituary...

    3. I do not know either whether the Centaurs could be contacted directly, without going through their GPO Sherman, but it would have been the reasonable thing to do, as demonstrated by HUSSAR's fate...

    I have not worked out yet what time the second wave of 147 Fd Regt guns (F, B & D Tps in LTIN 2177, 2178 & 2179 respectively) landed, but I am quite certain now that the first wave (E, A & C Tps in LTIN 2140, 2141 & 2142) touched down around 0815, ie H+50, so unless the second wave landed before the first, it could not have landed at H+40.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  2. Arty

    Arty Member

    Ian & Michel

    I'm currently busy on a complete tangent (involving transcribing, then translating French & German info). So I haven't yet had a chance to digest the last posts. So a quick response for now.

    Ian, In regards to the 93 & 120 LAA Regiments guns onboard LCT(A)'s, there is possibly more info to be found in their respective War Diaries. This could involve quite a bit of copying and reading mind you - that is all of May & June (including Op Orders, appendices et al).

    Michel, I see you're still after 'brainiac' status... I've only just had time to scan your latest RMASG thesis, however I concur, the planned landing pattern on Jig (west to east) was apparently F Troop, H Troop, G Troop, E Troop - not confusing at all :wacko:

    Though I had a quick look at the photo of Hussar - does the pic just show Hussar at a dump near the beach? The 1 RMASR war diary states that the first Sherman to land was hit twice and apparently had an interior fire ie. all the crew members sustained burns. If so, it seems unlikely to have been repaired then knocked out again later - especially given the lack of technical support with the RMASG.

    Regards
    Arty
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  3. Arty

    Arty Member

    Chaps,

    Forget all this pondering about the confused landing times mentioned by various veterans. The first wave of LCT’s carrying the SP’s of 147 Fd Regt were due to land at H+60. And that’s pretty much what happened - plus or minus a few minutes. Not at H+20, or H+40, or anything else.

    Had L/Bdr Turnbull glance upwards about 0825 he might have noticed something flashing across the sky, that is, one or two aircraft heading due east at 1000’. These were F-5B's (ie. the photo recon version of the P-38 Lightning), wearing USAAF markings and some lovely black and white stripes. Had L/Bdr Turnbull had bloody good eyesight he would have been able to read one of the aircraft’s serial numbers, which was 42-67382. In the cockpit was Lt Col Clarence A Shoop, then commander of the USAAF’s 7th Photo Reconnaissance Group (flying sortie US7/1730). The other aircraft was flown by Lt Col Norris E Hartwell (this was sortie US7/1730 probably flying sortie US7/1729).

    Whilst L/Bdr Turnbull was making history on Jig Green, Lt Col's Shoop & Hartwell were recording history from the air.

    These particular F-5B's passed through the Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno & Sword areas. They took more than 400 photographs as they went. From what can be seen in these photos of landing craft & vehicles on each of the beaches, we can be confident that the time the sortie passed through the Gold area was 0825hrs (+/- 10 minutes).

    In the photos of Jig beach it is entirely possible to account for all the AFV’s already landed ie. the DD’s, Crabs, AVRE’s, Centaurs et al. But NO Sextons.

    In the photos there are clearly NO LCT’s approaching, leaving, or on, Jig Green beach (aside from the wrecked LCT4 889 886 ie. LTIN 2025 which was shot up at H-Hour).

    However, in one photo of Jig Red beach there are three LCT4's. Note! The LCT’s due to land at H+60, were supposed arrive on Jig Green east, however they landed further east on Jig Red beach. The three LCT’s in the photo have all just dropped their ramps but no vehicles have disembarked - you can almost hear the guys on board swearing at the useless effing roly polys!

    An hour later (at 0925) the second wave of LCT’s carrying 147 Fd Regt were due on Jig Green west. They were also sent into Jig Red. Lt Richardson who was onboard LTIN 2179 commented that his LCT landed “a thousand yards to the left of where we should have been.”

    (Ian & Michel, PM’s coming up, soonish)

    Regards
    Arty

    Edit! After being chastised I have edited this post!
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  4. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Thanks once again Arty. Interesting that there are 3 LCTs visible with ramps down. I thought 413 Battery's “A” Troop LCT (Serial 2141) was hit as it was landing, and then drifted further eastwards while they struggled to lower the damaged Ramp. GPO Lt Gregson was wounded in this incident, repatriated and was never fit enough to rejoin the Regiment. Lt Mitchell took over whilst still aboard.

    Wrt to veteran accounts I take your point. I have 3 of the incident above and all say slightly different things:
    Lt Gregson's obituary:
    "...his LCT beached and he saw the first 2 guns safely disembark. But as he approached his own vehicle the ship was hit by 2 enemy shells, the second of which seriously injured him. He was the only casualty. Nevertheless he was able to see the remaining 2 guns disembark"
    Lt Mitchell's memoirs:
    "... I was in the half-track and Tony was due to lead us off in the Sherman in front of us. But as the ramp went down there was some difficulty with it and Tony went forward to find out what was wrong. At that moment we were hit by two shells; one hit the bows , killed a sailor and wounded Tony badly in the side. The other hit the bridge and luckily failed to explode. After a quick word with poor Tony (he survived his wounds) I took over command as GPO and led the troop ashore in the Sherman" Incidentally he also says "And so we emerged, dripping, onto the beach. It was in the exact spot that we were supposed to be in, which was a credit to the LCT commander"
    Jack Brown, BSM, from "Nothing less than victory"
    " we couldn't have been more than 500 yards off the beach, when we were hit. LT Gregson...had gone forward with the navy to supervise the ramp going down when there was a violent explosion and the LCT shuddered. A shell had hit the ramp and wounded him and at least three of the navy people; one may have been killed. Everybody then struggled to try and get the ramp down but it was jammed. We couldn't get it down, so we couldn't go in, so we hove to and started to drift with the tide, while they tried to fix the ramp.... anyway they managed to get the ramp partly down and the first SP went off and was hit the moment it got to the Beach. .....we were completely on our own and we had landed in the wrong place - there was an enormous seawall in front of us that had certainly not been mentioned at the briefing"

    I guess all this proves that in the heat of the battle, focussed on your job whilst trying to stay in one piece, observation of the details goes out of the window. That and the passage of time.

    Incidentally the SP that was hit in Jack Brown's account must be the one in the photo of a stranded Sexton with its crew watching the 2nd wave of infantry filing past (attached) IMG_7691.jpg IMG_7691.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  5. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Should have attributed the picture. © IWM (B 5262) iAN
     
  6. Arty

    Arty Member

    Ian,

    Yes indeed it's always a challenge trying to sort out recollections into facts and confusion. Entirely succint (but actually incorrect) statements such as: "It was in the exact spot that we were supposed to be in, which was a credit to the LCT commander" make the waters very muddy indeed.

    In the meantime Michel S has come up with a 'missing' frame (from the photo sortie I mentioned in post #143). The plan was that the 2nd Devons would land in two waves at H+45 and H+55, then the LCT's carrying the first wave of 147 Fd Regt would arrive at H+60. However the 'missing' photo frame appears to show that the LCT's landed before the second wave of Devons. My conclusion is that either the Devons were late, or apparently more likely, the LCT's actually arrived 5 to 10 minutes early.

    Regards
    Arty
     
  7. This photo shows the first wave of 147 & 90 Fd Regts while landing astride the boundary between JIG RED and KING GREEN Beaches, and was almost certainly shot between 0810 and 0820hrs. Note that several vehicles from these LCT are already up the beach, while others continue to disembark. I have not yet been able to determine with certainty which is which of the three LCT carrying the first three troops of 147 Fd Regt, but since the other three craft to the West landed in LTIN sequence, and these six LCT are roughly on the same line and nicely spaced, it may be assumed that the LCT(SP) are also in LTIN sequence:

    US7-1730 P_0090 - 038 (HR) - Notes 50pct.jpg

    The LCA seen beached on the bottom left corner are probably from the first wave of 2 DEVONS (LTIN 2100-2109, due to land H+45 on JIG GREEN West), while the incoming ones must belong to the second wave of 2 DEVONS (LTIN 2115-2125 due to land H+55 also on JGW), and the ten or so LCA seen retiring further offshore should be from the second wave of (probably) 1 DORSET due to have landed at H+20 on JIG GREEN East.

    The original photo is too large to upload here, but may be downloaded from this page, together with another high resolution aerial view of the same area shot only moments earlier during the same sortie, as can be deducted from the absence of the vehicles (other than AVsRE and DDs) up the beach:
    OPERATION OVERLORD: D-Day > National Museum of the US Air Force™ > Display

    On this second remarkable photo (sortie US7/1730 frame 8075, to be rotated 180°), we can clearly see where these craft landed, i.e. 147 Fd Regt at the extreme eastern limit of JIG RED Beach, and 90 Field Regt just East of Wn.35 which was the western end of KING GREEN Beach.
    Note the Roly Poly on the ramp of the middle LCT of 90 Fd Regt. The core of this Roly Poly is possibly the dark object visible in the other photo a few yards ahead of the ramp of that same LCT.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
    Juha likes this.
  8. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Michel
    Remarkable photos indeed. A few basic queries if I may
    1. How can you tell the LTINs are in sequence on the craft to the West?
    2. Is it possible that 147th's "A" Troop's ramp was jammed after these pictures were taken? One of the testimonies says 2 SPs got off before the shell hit the LCT. 147th Field were destined for Jig Green East so as stated in that testimony "A" Troop were landed in the wrong place, but they were certainly not on their own, unless it took them a long time to disembark the remaining vehicles
    3. An LCT with DD tanks aboard appears in the picture you have posted, but not in the earlier picture from the link, which might indicate a rough time lapse, but what Regiment would the DDs have been from?
    Ian
     
  9. Ian,

    In response to your first question:

    On US7/1730 P_0090 we can learly see the large trailers (called "Trailer Frushauf" in the Landing Table, i.e. Trailer Fruehauf CPT8 Special, see this page) on these three craft – two loaded aft on each of the two LCT on the left, and just one, loaded about half way in the tank deck, in the third one:
    US7-1730 P_0090 - 038 - Trailers.jpg

    These loads match LTINs 2137-2139, the third one matching LTIN 2139 which includes only one such trailer loaded centrally. Therefore the LCT on the right is LTIN 2139, and the two on the left are LTIN 2137 and 2138. Now let's find out whether LTIN 2138 is on the left or in the middle.

    LTIN 2137 is LCT 678:
    678 (2137) D33 LCT(4) - Keystone 3290053.jpg
    Source (for example): D-Day at 75: What the Hell Happened to the Spirit That Saved Europe?

    which can be seen on B5246, to the left of LCT 858 (2138), at least 40 minutes after the aerial view was shot:

    858 (2138) LCT(4) D33 - B5246 - Notes.jpg
    858 (2138) LCT(4) D33 - B5246 part.jpg

    We can therefore conclude that these three craft LTIN 2137-2139 beached in LTIN sequence.

    Note that LCT 858 is unloading her last vehicle (the second bullodzer + trailer) as the next wave of LCT (LTIN 2160-2169 due to land at H+90) starts unloading theirs (see the series of photos B5243-B5246), and as 47 RM Commando lands. On the right of B5246 is LCA 431 from LSI(S) HMS Prinses Josephine Charlotte and on the extreme right "THE SILENT KNIGHT", i.e. LCA 290 from the same Prises J. Charlotte is partially visible (more of her in B5245). Tasked with the capture of Port-en-Bessin, 47 RM Commando were to be supported by one bty 147 Fd Regt RA during Phases III & IV of the assault, presumably 431 Bty since Lt JE Irwin was their FOO attached from C Tp, 431 Bty in LTIN 2142.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  10. The LCT(DD) (LCT Mk.3) is also visible on frame 8075. It is the first LCT West of the three LCT(4) of 90 Fd Regt.

    Those would be the DD tanks of the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry (Sherwood Rangers).

    Michel
     
  11. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    I attach an improved quality version of page 1 of the 147th Regiment's 431 Battery Loading table to accompany pages 2 & 3 in my post #136. This replaces the inferior copy way back near the beginning of this thread (with thanks to Michel). Ian
     

    Attached Files:

  12. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Michel
    Thank you for the impressive explanation on LTIN sequence.

    I attach 4 photographs which are annotated on the back as follows:
    1. "Getting ready for DDay" (2703)
    2. "A Troop 413 Battery DDay" (2705)
    3. "A Troop scrimmaged up" (2707)
    4 "A Troop ready to land DDay" (2709)
    I have copies, not originals, and the quality is not great.

    Have these been shared before? If not they may provide information that I would not pickup.

    The EY Journal has printed two of these, #s 2 & 4, confirming #2 is on the evening of June 5th, around 19:30, but states #4 is from FABIUS. Is there any way of confirming?

    Going back to the account of "A" Troops landing, and the LCTs ramp being hit after disembarking 2 Sextons, would the vehicle arrangement on board bear this out?

    The aerial photo in your post seems to show two vehicles off but they are dissimilar. That is assuming they are in LTIN sequence as you say.

    Ian
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
    Juha likes this.
  13. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    I have a couple of basic RA questions about deployment of the SP guns.
    1. As a Battery's 2 Troops landed roughly an hour apart, would the expectation be that they linked up asap or would they have setup their guns independently? In an account by Tony Richardson he states "...D Troop beached without any difficulty and tried to join up with them ("C" Troop)….". As they each had GPOs I suppose they operated independently.
    2. What is a CPO and what part would they play in the communication chain of command and coordinating the Battery's fire? In the case of 431 battery, their Commander who was with Hampshires HQ was wounded and replaced by the BK
    Thanks
    Ian
     
  14. Great photos Ian!

    Three of them are on the excellent Peter Mitchell website, in smaller but sharper version, but the fourth is not and is new to me.

    Your is 2703 Peter Mitchell's "old photos 14 - Version 3". It is very hard to tell precisely when this photo was taken, but I would venture that it was not immediately prior to D Day, because LCT 905 does not have the Mulock-type ramp extensions fitted, nor even their hinge lugs. I do not have a photo of 905 proving that she had them on D Day, but if she did not, she would have been a very notable exception:
    old photos 14 - Version 3.jpg

    Your 2705 is "old photos 15":
    old photos 15.jpg

    which shows A Tp on board LCT 708, and was I believe shot during the same voyage as the following two photos.

    Your 2707 is "old photos 15 - Version 3":
    old photos 15 - Version 3.jpg

    also showing A Tp on board 708, and shot before but on the same trip as your 2709, which is not on the Peter Mitchell website and which I display here again for comparison:
    Ian Turnbull's IMG_2709.JPG

    Again, there is very little to go by in order to date these last three photos. The weather and seas certainly look compatible with those prevailing on 6 Jun, and the craft apparently carrying her complete load points to a full scale exercise. One detail may mean that this is not D Day: the presence of the three-plus drums on the starboard side would have been a no-no for an opposed landing if they contained flammable material. They may however have contained water, or just air...

    Nevertheless, I think that the decisive item is what looks very much like the infamous Roly Poly just aft of the ramp (photo 2709). As far as I know it was not used during exercises, so this must be D Day after all.

    If you still have access to the prints, I suggest that you scan them using a scanner set at high resolution, rather than photograph them as you (?) did. The result, in terms of sharpness of detail, should be worth the trouble. See for example the gun number A2 which can be clearly read on "old photos 15" but not on your 2705.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
  15. Here is Tony Gregson's own account of the events:

    From 'The War of the Landing Craft" by Paul Lund and Harry Lundlam:
    "I made my way forward to the ramp to have a last look at my troop before we beached and to see the coconut mat away. All seemed well and all engines running. The cliff, our aiming point, stood out to our right just as it should. The craft lurched and we were aground, down slammed the great ramp and away went the mat party up to their armpits at first. I waved the Bren-carrier forward, then the doctor's Jeep. The carrier went away all right, the Jeep was almost lost to view and then as it climbed through the surf it reared up and overturned. The LCT commander shouted to us to get a move on as the craft was being slewed to starboard along the beach by the tide and he could not hold her. Our coconut mat was already stretched away to the left, the CPO's half-track was away followed by Nos 1 and 2 SP guns, then the two Sherman tanks followed and the procession up the watery beach was going well. Half our deck was now clear and I walked briskly past a large brushwood fender to my "GA" half-track – and then ... oblivion. I suppose I was stunned by a shellburst and on coming to found myself across the fender. I scrambled up and fell down and realised that blood was everywhere and my battledress was in shreds. My legs just would not function and I was seized by a rating. Then there was a tremendous "Clang!" and there, stuck in the bridge plating, was the backend of a second shell. I waved my beloved GA with its crew ashore and watched the two remaining guns follow. The No. 1 of the last gun saluted smartly as he drove past me and I waved an embarrassed goodbye as no matter how I tried I could not stand up. I was carried on a stretcher up the sloping quarters and laid in the wardroom. So this was the end of the invasion for me – what an anti-climax."

    On the aerial photos, the centre LCT in the three carrying the first wave of 147 Fd Regt seems to match Gregson's account, so I would venture that she was indeed his craft, i.e. LCT 708 (2141):
    US7-1730 8075 - part - Notes.jpg

    Moments later, and not long before LCT 708 was hit:
    US7-1730 P_0090 - part -Notes.jpg

    Note that what I noted as "Jeep?" may be another Carrier. If a jeep, and if Ian's Photo 7309 was shot on D Day, then that jeep must have been in addition to the load as per the Landing Table, because the Signals Jeep is visible between the two Sherman tanks. Similarly, the "Carrier?" at HWM may be a carrier (or another small vehicle) from another craft.

    Pete Mitchell's account broadly matches Tony Gregson's, with a few minor variations.

    Eric Krull (Tempy Sub-Lt Frederick Eric KRULL RNZNVR, seniority 8.4.44), No.1 of LCT 708, also gave his account of the events, which partially coincides with Gregson's and Mitchell's, but is quite confused about the chronological sequence of events and his own craft's part in them. This is a frequent occurrence during interviews of veterans, who tend to go back and forth in time, and add elements which do not come from their own experience in such a way that it becomes difficult to realise that they are actually talking about other people or craft. Add to this a sometimes questionable editing by newspeople with limited knowledge of the subject, and the result may become... a hell of a mess! ;)

    The 2004 interview is at the IWM but is not online. The original tapes are at the Alexander Turnbull library (National Library of New Zealand) and can only be consulted in person and with permission.

    LCT 708's skipper Dick Offer (Tempy Sub-Lt Richard Frederick OFFER, RNVR, seniority 2.10.43) also gave his own account, published in the Surrey Comet, but I could not find it online. The only thing I found is a short mention of it:
    "Sub-Lieutenant Offer later gave a vivid account of what he had experienced to the Surrey Comet. Mines were dodged successfully, he said, but the craft came under heavy fire and two shells hit his vessel. Yet, despite a 'whacking hole' in its side, the craft managed to return successfully to England."

    Maybe someone living near wherever the Surrey Comet archives are located could go there to try and find this article...

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  16. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    I will see where the Surrey Comet Archives are held. I should be close by.
    I have started to look through the Obits of the 147th Officers so we can fill in the remaining roles on the OOB. The first I have looked at that contains something useful is that of Lt Girling (see extract attached). Confirms he was CPO for 431 Battery on D-Day.
    Ian
     

    Attached Files:

  17. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    The obit is by Dick Gosling. Lt Girling was on C Troops LCT and the obit is another example of where the landing time of the 1st wave LCTs is brought forward in EY articles, this time to H+30 mins. Ian
     
  18. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    Article by the then Captain Warburton, "A" Troop Commander 413 Battery in the 2000 edition of the Essex Yeomanry journal. He landed with the SRY non-DD tanks about H+90 and his Sherman was put out of action shortly after landing IMG_7879extract.jpg . Contains another confirmation of the disabled main gun in this Regiment's Shermans.
     
  19. Arty

    Arty Member

    Ian,

    I'm assuming the account by Capt Warburton goes on to mention him apparently directing Sgt Robert Palmer to engage the gun that knocked out his Sherman? If you haven't done so already have a listen to IMW interview 20602. This is Sgt Palmer recounting how he wasn't that impressed at being yelled out, but nevertheless did a good job knocking out, not one, but two guns...

    Palmer, Robert Edwin (Oral history)

    Regards
    Arty
     
  20. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Active Member

    I have listened to this, over a year ago now, so perhaps I ought to replay. I find it irritating that some books and accounts of the Hampshires assault on Le Hamel don't mention Sgt Palmer's action on disabling the gun, but most do mention the AVRE administering the coup de grace later in the day. The memorial panels on the front of the bunker do commemorate Sgt Palmer and the EY, in fact there is a street close by named after them. Given that it took two bombardments, some time apart, to finally get the occupants to surrender I presume they were able to continue resisting in some way even after Sgt Palmer's shell penetrated the opening. Ian
     

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