D-Day Landings: 393, 394 & 395 L.A.A. Bty R.A. & 120th LAA Rgt

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by youngvet, Nov 18, 2014.

  1. youngvet

    youngvet Junior Member

    Hi

    Hope it is ok to post what I am typing up from a document that was given to me by a relation the other day. It is a report of the D-Day landings up to several days after. The report is stamped "SECRET" and seems mostly to relate to L.A.A. who arrived via King Sector. The paper is very fragile but mostly clear. When I have transcribed the information, we are looking at donating the document to the relevant organisation that would make best use the information.

    One interesting fact appears to be the problems with the Crusaders that broke down and were unreliable but comment was made of the successful use of the DUKWs and the James Motor Cycle.

    My first bit I have transcribed is here. The rest will follow as soon as I complete each section. I hope it will be of use to someone.


    [SIZE=10.5pt]Report by the Commanding Officer.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=10.5pt]"D" Day[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=10.5pt]Regimental Commanders Group consisting of myself, Lt Col.J.B.Allan, the M.O. Capt.M.Robinson, the O.O, Lt.A.Crowther and a driver/Op., L/Bdr.Gorbould embarked on an L.C.T at Southampton on 3rd June 1944, sailed down Southampton Water and moored to a buoy.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=10.5pt]The 4th June was stormy and news was received the "D" day had been postponed till the 6th. The early morning of the 5th was good but an off-shore wind got up, and we were very doubtful if we would be allowed to sail. However no cancellation came through and we slipped about 1230 hrs, and sailed down the Western channel, around the Needles towards France. The crossing was without incident and the sea not nearly so rough as had been anticipated. On the morning of the 6th everyone was astir early and all preparations for landing made. The sea was comparatively calm and visibility fair. “H” hour was 0725 and we were due to land at H + 90 i.e 0855.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=10.5pt]From 0730 onwards the skipper of the craft kept on relaying the news of the battle to us:[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=10.5pt] “The first craft have touched down and the infantry are ashore”[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt] “The infantry are through the first minefield”. [/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=10.5pt]About 0745 the skipper received a message “to proceed to the beaches at full speed. At first this was taken to mean that we would go right in and beach about 0815 but as a matter of fact this was not intended and we beached to schedule.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt]I was on the bridge with the skipper as we approached the beaches and we found the tide to be almost full and the beached crammed with craft jostling with each other for a landing space. The sea was choppy and navigation difficult. Our skipper saw a good spot on our beach, King Red, and made for it but another small craft cut in. We backed and made for another spot but were again baulked until at the third attempt we made a perfect beaching in about eighteen inches of water.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt]By this time the beach itself was solid with tracked vehicles of all kinds and I say that it would be a waste of time to stay with the jeep so I went ashore afoot leaving Lt.Crowther and the D/Op with the vehicle. Capt Robinson also went ashore afoot and set out for the Beach Dressing Station. I went along the lateral road behind the beach towards La Reviere where our main AARC was to have been established at the main Beach exit. [/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt]I found that La Riviere had not been completely cleared and there was still a lot of sniping going on. I managed to get to the main road, down it to the sea wall and along it back to the beach where I found the AARC which had been established by Maj. Snodgrass about 400ft west of the sea wall.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=10.5pt]Only one Crusader and one Mark I 40mm Bofers of “E” Tp, had arrived and had been landed on a very small peaty part of the beach 300 ft. West of the sea walls. The Crusader came off the L.C.T. alright but owing to the traffic jam had to wait in the water for twenty minutes with its engine running. By this time it had bollied in the peat and the tide rose and flooded the engine. The gun on the Crusader was manned throughout but the Mark I gun which had sunk on one side could not be moved and consequently was out of action. This meant that for several hours the only army A.A. protection on “K” sector was one A.A. Crusader gun in about four feet of water. Later the Crusader and Mk I gun were towed to their position and were in action.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt]I spent most of the morning trying to get information about the other two Crusaders and Mk I guns of “E” Tp, but without success. At1300hrs. I went inland in the lightweight M/c to make a quick recce of Ver-sur-mer and Crepon. I decided that it was a very definite bottleneck and must be protected as soon as possible.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=10.5pt]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. Consequently the main AARC of Jig Sector had not been established where arranged but I found it quite easily on the beach somewhere about the west end of Jig Red beach. The situation on Jig Sector was better than on King Sector. Four 40mm Bofor guns of “H” Tp. Had landed, one of them a Mk I not yet in action and triple a 120mm landed and in action. I decided however that the RAF cover was excellent and movement on the beaches was so difficult I would not move any guns from Jig Sector to King Sector meantime.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=10.5pt]Further guns landed and deployed and the situation by dusk on “K” Sector was that four 40mm and 6 triple 20 mm were in action. This eased the situation considerably but no H.A.A. guns came ashore on “D” Day. At 1645 I went inland to recce Crepon and found it also to be a real bottleneck. During the night R.H.Q. and 394 B.H.Q. established themselves in a bomb crater beside a master gun at M.R. 919863.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt]No E/A had been seen by day but about 2330 hrs, a JU 88 flew right down the beach at about 200ft. It was just visible and was engaged but no hits scored. No hostile act was committed.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=10.5pt]During the night several E/A flew over the area. Some were seen and engaged while others were engaged by barrage using the master gun. No E/A were destroyed and few hostile acts committed. My main reaction to “D” Day and night was surprise at the lack of opposition from enemy ground troops and the almost entire absence of the Luftwaffe. The mass of shipping of shore and the jam of traffic on the beaches must have been a perfect target and yet the enemy made no real attempt to attack. I was also surprised at the small amount of casualties both by drowning and enemy action. I saw less than 50 dead between both sectors. [/SIZE]

    D + 1 to D + 4

    The rest of the Regt. gradually turned up, some 24hrs, late, some 48 hrs, late and one party having returned to England managed to get over on another craft.
    In general there have been practically no attacks by E/A by daylight and then only at dawn and dusk. By night there have been spasmodic raids mostly by single aircraft. Lt.A.A. barrages appear to have had a definite deterrent effect, turning E/A away and driving them up.
    The outstanding trouble has been communications. The average life of a line on the beaches is 20 minutes and in the hinterland six hours or less. W/T is subject to interference and jamming especially on wavebands above 6000K/cs. This has made the operation of the L.A.A. barrage very difficult but the situation appears now to be well in hand.

    Many moves of guns have been necessary owing to late arrivals but the layout is now more or less stabilised.

    There is no doubt that the crusaders supplied were unsuitable for the task, for they were too old and broke down frequently. This in itself did not matter but it might have been most serious if they had made traffic blocks. The two failures of the operation in my opinion were the L.Os.T.(A) and the Rhino Ferries. The former owing to their unseaworthy condition failed to land the Centaurs and other vehicles which were almost vital to the success of the assaulting infantry. The latter nearly wrecked the whole operation.

    The outstanding success is of course the Dukws. I also would like to mention the James Motor Cycle without which I would have been lost for the first three days.

    Report by Medical Officer

    “D” Day

    A dry landing was made at about 0900 hrs, with little enemy interference, although O i/c craft was wounded in the chest by a mortar splinter about 15 mins after landing. There was no other know casualty among crew or troops on board. I contacted O i/c 9 B.D.S about 1000 hrs. and a B.D.S. was set up alongside of lateral road. Causalities dealt with numbered about 65, mostly shell and mortar wounds in head, upper and lower limbs. No A.A. personnel were treated. Evacuation by Dukws and |L.C.T. was established at 1800 hrs. At 2000 hrs, B.D.S. moved to present site. Medical supplies, shell dressings and stretcher’s adequate in numbers.

    D + 1

    Only a few casualties. Some accidents to beach troops from difficult sea including two drowned. Many cases of conjunct tivitis from sand and water. I suggest in similar conditions small tubes of Vaseline or Ung Hydrang Ox Flav or best of all Celluoid ointment be issued to N.C.Os, i/c and they be instructed how to use these.

    D + 2

    B.D.S. beginning to act as N.I Room for boils, cuts and minor illness – about 60 cases daily. I suggest Coys, have trained F.A. personnel with small supplies for those cases as personnel have to travel perhaps 2 miles and much time is wasted with minor casualties. Site for B.D.S. Marshy and unsuitable for slit trenches.

    D + 3 to D + 6

    Similar conditions.

    General Remarks

    Ung Celluoid for eyes useful. Canteen facilities on beach would have greatly helped, as many Offrs and O.Rs. could have carried on much better if this had been organised. Tubreine Morphine emphatically superior to any other method. Medical Documentation on “D” day practically impossible. Somewhat simpler system would be better e.g. one form only in duplicate for evacuation either to F.D.S or to C.E.P.

    Report by Maj.J.R.Morgan – L.S.T. 2818

    We left the Solent about 1630 hrs. – uneventful quiet night. Gun flashes were seen to Westwards about 12 miles. Sea was choppy but Rhino ferry was riding well.

    “D” Day

    In correct position in L.S.T. convoy. I saw four mines blown by mine sweepers about 500 yds. from port bow. L.S.T. at rear of next convoy appeared to be hit by mines, and the ship stopped with small boats standing by. We proceeded on our way.
    Sea choppy – Rhino ferry tow rope parted about 1200 hrs. Rhino crew and small boat set off to take Rhino in tow about 1230 with orders to re-join off beaches. At 1400 hrs, we arrived off Jig Beach. Shell bursts were visible on high ground rising from beaches and mines were being blown along King and Jig beaches. Rhino failed to arrive and Captain of L.S.T. stated that no landing would be effected as sea was too rough and no small craft were available for landing vehs and personnel. During the night “Action Stations – Air Raid” was sounded – plenty of gun fire but no bombs.

    D + 1

    Captain agreed to sail the ship to position nearer King Beach. The Rhino had now arrived but no tug was available and port engine was mainly out of action. I obtained permission from Captain for all personnel less drivers and their mates to land with small arms in case assistance was required on beaches. I boarded Rhino in rough sea at 1000 hrs. We left ship an ?????????with L.S.T. nearby, but no great damage was done. Eventually we made beach about 1115 hrs – waist deep wade was necessary. I contacted A.A.R.C. (Sgt. Meads) on King Beach and at beach exit met R.S.M. Rutherford with R.H.Q. marching party. We proceeded towards W.V.T.A. and reported to A.A.R.C. Later I met C.C. and Maj. Snodgrass in the village where I obtained a picture of general situation and proceeded to recce R.H.Q. in Ver-sur-mer.

    Report by Capt. G M Woods – L.S.T. 3504

    We embarked of Felixstowe on 1 June and sailed at 0800, On 5 Jun.
    We passed through Straits of Dover about 2100hrs, without incident or air activity. One L.S.T. in convoy struck a mine during the night 5/6 Jun and was reported to have been trying to make Newhaven port.

    Sea was quite rough throughout the night and next morning.
    Course was maintained approximately 4 miles off coast until off Isle of Wight when it changed to S.W.
    No incidents occurred in crossing.

    We arrived at unloading point at 1830 hrs, 6 Jun and anchored. Navy was still shelling Le Hamel. There was considerable speculation as to whether we would discharge that evening as sea was choppy and Rhino ferries appeared useless.

    During the night there was slight enemy air activity which was met be considerable 20mm fire from ships. Fighter-bombers flew along beach at low level and dropped a few bombs. Attempt was made in middle of night to discharge into L.C.T. from ramp but eventually given up.

    Marching Party off-loaded into L.C.T. at 1000 hrs. Captain of craft was anxious to run the beach and dry out and eventually did so at about 1500 hrs.
    We disembarked on to sand at approx. 1730 hrs.

    Reported to A.A.R.C. on beach and thence direct to R.H.Q. as W.V.T.A. was not being used.


    Report by Rev.A.Reynolds C.F.

    We boarded the L.S.T. on Thursday June 1st, with R.H.Q. In spite of cramped space the men were very cheery.

    Sunday Jun 4.

    I took morning prayers and Holy Communion on our own ship, then went to the next ship for similar service. Both were well attended by quite a mixture of troops and 25 more then had signified, stayed for the sacrament.

    We sailed on Monday Jun 5, and anchored of the French coast at 7 p.m.

    Tuesday during the night I assisted the M.O. with wounded who were brought aboard in very rough sea.

    I landed with R.H.Q. Marching Party after a rough passage down nets on to a L.C.T. and from that to a “Rhino” and through the water. Reported at noon to the F.D.S. which was very busy with the first batches of wounded. At 1400 hrs. recced for a burial plot and was busy until 2200 hrs. collecting, identifying and burying dead, our own and enemy.

    Owing to urgent need of Pioneers for other purposes the Padres in this area have had, up to date, to be entirely responsible for collecting and disposing of the dead and we had little time for other work except to run round to the F.D.S. when a new lot of wounded was brought in. The situation was easier today.

    I cannot emphasise too strongly the need for all men to wear their identity Discs. In some cases bodies were so badly shattered that all other means of identification such as Pay Book and personal letters were destroyed and there was no disc on the body it has meant that a number have had to be registered as unknown. This has not been done until a thorough search has made and it has meant some gruesome work. It also means much un-necessary anxiety for relatives who are notified that a husband or son is “Missing”.
     
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Which Unit/Regiment is being described? Clearly Gold Beach on D-Day.
     
  3. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    120th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (or 120 LAA Regt RA in case anyone searches on that).

    The order of battle in Battlezone Normandy: Gold Beach identifies most of the COs including Lt Col Allan, so there's no doubt about it.

    Thanks for taking the time and trouble to transcribe it, youngvet. I'm looking forward to the other instalments. As the Imperial War Museum seems to be creating a rod for its own back at the moment, maybe the Royal Artillery Museum would be more appreciative of the original?
     
  4. youngvet

    youngvet Junior Member

    Hi

    Most of it relates to 393 and 394 and 395 L.A.A. Bty R.A. and various troops. Also 120th LT.A.A Regiment R.A. are mentioned.

    Thanks

    Colin
     
  5. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Youngvet

    You say the paper is very fragile. Is it possibly a carbon copy and the original top copy is hidden away with their War Diary at Kew? Either way, this is a fascinating bit of reading material so thanks for posting especially as my Dad landed on the same beach (actually Jig Green) a short time later.
     
  6. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

  7. youngvet

    youngvet Junior Member

    Hi

    added a few more lines above.

    Thanks

    Colin
     
  8. youngvet

    youngvet Junior Member

    Report added.

    Report by Maj.J.R.Morgan – L.S.T. 2818
     
  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Colin,

    I am reading your posts with great interest. I have been looking at thousands of pages of documents relating to Gold Beach. Only last week I received 300 pages of the War Diary and appendices for 76 AA Brigade of which 102 LAA Regiment was a part. I have not had time yet to read much but it does give the dispositions of the LAA batteries and the methods of control etc. I also have the Landing Tables for Gold and the Diaries and appendices for 104 Beach Sub Area which was responsible for operating Gold. Your posts obviously fit very well with this and give a more focused view of the work of a LAA regiment.

    I hope to post my take on the landings on Gold and the subsequent operation of the area, including AA defence early in the new year. In the meantime keep up the good work and if you have specific questions I may be able to help.

    Mike
     
  10. youngvet

    youngvet Junior Member

    Many thanks for your comments.

    Colin

     
  11. youngvet

    youngvet Junior Member

    Added Report by Capt. G M Woods – L.S.T. 3504
     
  12. youngvet

    youngvet Junior Member

    Added Report by Rev.A.Reynolds C.F.
     
  13. ramacal

    ramacal 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    Here is the document youngvet refers to in his first post and it is indeed typed on very flimsy paper. It can be found in the June 1944 war diary of 120 LAA Regiment at the National Archives at Kew, so is not lost and can be seen in the Public Domain. There are over 20 similar pages of after action reports from various members of this Regiment. All very interesting reading.

    If anyone is interested, I can upload more tomorrow.

    [​IMG]
     
    Ceb likes this.
  14. youngvet

    youngvet Junior Member

    Hi

    that's good. Saves me having to type it all out now if its freely available.

    Thanks

    Colin

     
  15. Ceb

    Ceb New Member

    Hello all

    My Granddad is the Lt.A. Crowther (Anthony, but preferred to be called Tony) mentioned in the reports.

    I am really interested in getting as much information about 120 LAA Regiment as I can, so even though the last post was in 2014, please do post anything that’s relevant.

    I have recently discovered a book called To War Without Arms The Journal of Reverend Alexander Reynolds Edited by Dr Simon Drew (ISBN 9781781220146). I highly recommend it.

    Thank you.

    Ceb
     
    ramacal and SDP like this.
  16. Ceb

    Ceb New Member


    Please are you able to upload as much of this diary as possible. I am really interested in reading as much of it as possible.
     

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