Great Uncle Ron 138 Fd Regt RA 78th Div

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by uncleron5845, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. uncleron5845

    uncleron5845 Member

    HI

    My great Uncle ron recently died and because he didn't like talking about the war it is only recently that we have found out about his part in WW2. My younger son has been asked to contribute a piece for his school WW2 museum and I thought that it would be a wonderful opportunity to find out more about my uncle and discover a more personal side to ww2 than he would learn from just text books. My uncle was mentioned in dispatches and was award the MBE, I have traced the record in the london Gazette but it doesn't say why he was awarded the medal. Does anybody know how I can find this out ?

    Thank you all for sharing your memories, it is so important for all of us to learn from your experiences and also begin in some small way to appreciate all that you endured.

    Andrea :smile:


    Sorry I forgot to mention that he was with the 78th Division and served in North Africa and Italy.


    My uncle served with 138th (city of london ) Field Rgt RA and I would love to find out more about his experiences. I'd be really grateful if you could point me in the right direction to discover the reference numbers to look up the war diaries? I am also looking to find out more details of how he earnt his MBE.

    Many thanks

    Andrea
     
  2. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Hi Andrea,

    Give us your Uncle's name and by day end, one of us should be able to download a copy of the MBE from the National Archives for you.

    Cheers - Rob

    PS - Had an initial look and found two MBE's awarded to this Regt.

    WO1 Vincent Henry Blackmore, S/N 1060388 London Gazette 13 December 1945
    WO1 Henry Whiteside, S/N 7590757 London Gazette 13 December 1945.

    WO1 White was REME LAD attached to 138 Field Regt, so more likely the first name.

    I can't download the file reference, WO373/74 as it takes me to a unrelated file. Maybe someone else can see if it happens to them too.
     
  3. uncleron5845

    uncleron5845 Member

    Rob,

    Thank you so much for replying. My uncle was Ronald Edward Burgess and he was gazetted on 21/12/44 issue 36850 page 5845. He was a warrant officer second class. I have ordered the Ken Ford book on the regiment so hopefully I'll be able to follow his steps a little more confidently.

    Thanks again,

    Andrea
     
  4. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Andrea.

    As a member of 138 Fd Regt RA, your uncle will have supported the 78 BR Inf Div break into the Liri valley in the Fourth Battle of Monte Cassino once 4 BR Inf Div had brilliantly established their crossing at Amazon bridge on 12-13 May 44.

    Regards

    FdeP
     
  5. uncleron5845

    uncleron5845 Member

    That's amazing! Thank you. I am a complete novice at all of this so your help is very much appreciated.
    From what I have read I believe that once Sicily was taken the regiment travelled across to Reggio di Calabria and then travelled up from the south. Please correct me if I get anything wrong :wink: The regiment was then in reserve?? On March 28th the division replaced the New Zealand regiment and took up positions in the mountains. They were then relieved by the Polish troops on 24th April. Then 78th joined the xIII corps from reserves to break into the Liri valley. Is that correct ?
    Also from one source I read that they took part in Anzio is this correct???

    Andrea
     
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Moved these posts to your own thread & merged first 3 posts .
    :)


    No.
     
  7. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Andrea.

    78 BR Inf Div came into the line at Cassino in the dying days of the Third Battle towards the end of Mar 44 although only one of its three Infantry Brigades was initially committed. 4 Indian Division had had a terrible time on Castle Hill trying to get up the side of hill on which the Monastery is situated and had run out of steam so 36 Inf Bde was sent to reinforce them.

    A short while later, 11 Inf Bde were sent to occupy the 4 Ind Div positions up on Snakeshead Ridge behind the Monastery - truly horrible it was too. When the II (PO) Corps took over from them iIn Apr, 78 BR Inf Div was withdrawn in order to form part of the breakout force once the River Rapido had been bridged by 4 BR Inf Div. This was achieved and so 78 BR Inf Div were pushed into the Liri valley before themselves handing over to 1 (Cdn) Corps.

    Regards

    FdeP
     
  8. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Hi Andrea,

    Found the reference in the Narional Archives for your Great Uncle. It was just listed under Royal Artillery.

    The copy of the citation is not that great, but you can read the text.

    [​IMG]

    His service number was 895912 (not shown on the citation. Also Battery Sergent Major of 502 Battery of 138 Field Regt.

    Nothing on the MID, but most were not kept for posterity in the records. The MID does not come up in a London Gazette search either.

    Cheers - Rob
     
    4jonboy likes this.
  9. uncleron5845

    uncleron5845 Member

    Rob,

    Thank you very much for looking this information out for me. It is wonderfully to finally discover how he earnt the MBE and along the way learn more about his time in the forces. I have contacted my aunt ( Ron's daughter) and she was thrilled. I think that she would like to get a copy from the National archives. She doesn't have a computer but would like to know more about his part in the war.

    Now all I have to do is help my son pull it altogether for his class museum! I wonder if all those hours spent watching Blue Peter will help....

    Kind Regards,

    Andrea
     
  10. uncleron5845

    uncleron5845 Member

    Frank,

    Thank you for clarifying the 78th's movements. I am reading 'Battleaxe Division' now but get confused as the author talks about the movements of the Brigades so I can't follow the 138th. Do you know whether the artillery was assigned to a brigade. p177 does refer to 138th with 38th brigade during the River Sangro. I'm sorry for asking really basic questions but I really know nothing about the structure of the army so I'm finding it hard to place his actual regiment and what they did. Was did the artillery further back than the brigades? Did they get orders/co-ordinates where to fire? From the information on the MBE which Rob kindly discovered for me, I think he was more in the supply/logistics arm of things. Back to the book to see if it gets any clearer.

    Andrea
     
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hello and welcome. If you can get to the National Archives these are the regiments war diary refs

    WO 166/1550 138 Field Regiment. 1939 Sept.- 1941 Dec.

    WO 166/7033 138 Field Regiment. 1942 Jan.- Sept.

    WO 175/338 138 Regiment 1942 Oct.- 1943 Jun

    WO 169/9520 138 Field Regiment 1943 July- Dec.

    WO 169/16031 138 Field Regiment 1944 Aug.

    WO 170/970 138 Field Regt 1944 Jan. July, Sept.- Dec.

    WO 170/4755 138 Regiment 1945 Jan.- Nov.
     
  12. uncleron5845

    uncleron5845 Member

    Really useful thank you.
     
  13. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Andrea.

    Artillery Regiments were allocated to Infantry Brigades on seniority. Whilst 138 Fd Regt RA's guns were controlled at Divisional level - they could be fired anywhere across the Divisional front in support of what the military call 'the main effort", the Regiment would provide Artillery Parties to each of the three Infantry Battalions in 38 Inf Bde. The role of the Artillery Parties was to control the fire from the guns of 138 Regt RA or those of the other two Regts if the need required it. Within the Infantry Battalion, one of the three Artillery Battery Commanders from 138 Fd Regt RA worked with one of the three Infantry Battalion Commanders to design fire plans and then control them. Within each Rifle Company in the Infantry Battalion, the Artillery Forward Observation Officer did the same thing for the Company Commander.

    The Artillery Parties from 138 Regt RA always worked, as a rule, with the same Brigade: in this case 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade. This ensured that artillery and infantryman got to know each other well and therefore worked well together.

    bexley84 is a 38 Infantry Brigade guru on this site so he may be along to give you more info. You might want to read Throw our banner to the wind by John Horsfall. It is a brilliant account of 38 Inf Bde in Italy.

    I hope that helps.

    Regards

    Frank
     
  14. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Andrea.

    Being a thick, former infantry officer rather than a gunner, I am not familiar with the operations of a BSM. However, if it follows the infantry model, the Sergeant Major is responsible for, amongst other things, the delivery and allocation of ammunition. He was the BSM of his Battery with primary responsibility for ammunition.

    Regards

    Frank
     
  15. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Frank, Andrea,

    Only a "guru" in terms of seeking to treasure my father Edmund's memories and cross reference them with the various divisional /brigade/ battalion histories. My father served with 38 (Irish) Brigade in Tunisia and Italy, and Austria from Nov 1942 to Mar 1946.

    As you know, the Irish Brigade joined with 78th Division in March 1943 coming across then from 6th Armoured Division, and thence were up to their neck with their devoted artillery supporters and others at (amongst other places)

    Tunisia - Djebel Mahdi, Tanngoucha, Heidous, Le Kefs,
    Sicily - Centuripe, Salso/Simeto, Maletto,
    Mainland Italy - Termoli, San Salvo (Trigno river) , River Sangro, Montenero, Castel di Sangro, San Angelo, Mt Castellone, Sinagoga (Liri Valley), Piumarola, San Giovanni (near Ripi), Sanfatucchio (Trasimeno), Monte Spaduro, Senio riverbanks, and a Kangaroo adventure through the Argenta Gap.

    Beg, steal or borrow John Horsfall's book (s) - he wrote three, one when he was with 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers in France during 1940, one when with 1 Faughs again in Tunisia during 1942/43, and the third when with 2 London Irish Rifles in Italy during 1944. If you would want an anatomy of the actions and thoughts of front line infantry troops, these provide the fullest details.

    There's not always explicit reference to the RA support, but it will give you an idea of what they were all up against. Clearly, the respective detailed war diaries of 138th Field Regiment will provide the nuts and bolts of their specific movements, but they, no doubt, are quite "technical", and perhaps wouldn't always give the detail of what their specific battlefield objectives were (he guesses)

    The Irish Brigade link below might provide some other granularity for your research on your Great Uncle.

    best
     
  16. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    I'd recommend you order the citation via the NA website. The paper version should be better than the microfilmed version.

    Here is a link to the citation on their website:-

    http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=D7380323
     
  17. uncleron5845

    uncleron5845 Member

    Frank , Rob and Bexley84
    I can not thank you all enough for making sense of all the technical terms and information regarding the operational details. I will certainly try and get copies of John horsfall's book and heed your advice re the MBE.
    I discovered that uncle Ron was on the Battleaxe committee in 2000 so may be the publication might hold some info. Another avenue to explore!
    Thanks again
    Andrea
     
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Andrea
    what you will find when you finally get the war diaries - is that the information you already have from the experts on the forum - is first class and just needs the odd fill-in here and there such as when the Sicily thingi finished the 78th Div

    artillery - mainly went over from Messina to Reggio - but the bulk of the Division landed further up near Bari - and captured the great airfields at Foggia / Lucera and on over the many rivers towards Ortona which the Canadians took over

    by Christmas '43 - the 78th then went to Cassino for the 3rd battle...then into the Liri Valley for the 4th Battle......over to Trasimeno and Egypt - returning to take part in the Gothic Line Battles - the final battles at Argenta and on to Austria

    so they had an interesting time all the way from Algiers.....as most of us did - culminating in the wonderful Vienna Tattoo where we earned enough to send 2400 children into the countryside for good food - fresh air and TLC

    Cheers
     
  19. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Andrea.

    I have a copy of John Horsfall's book if you would like to borrow it.

    Regards

    FdeP
     
  20. uncleron5845

    uncleron5845 Member

    Thank you Tom,

    Sorry for the late reply, my children have been off on school holidays and have kept me quite busy!
    Your information really helped clarify my uncle's movements as I couldn't work out how he had landed at Reggio then ended up on the eastern flank of Italy. The landing at Bari makes much more sense. My youngest son is planning to make a presentatin of his Great , great uncles part in the campaign. He wants to include a map/route that the division took through Italy so all this will really help.

    I haven't heard of the Vienna Tatoo, this sounds pretty amazing. I have yet to get to the chapter on Austria!

    regards
    Andrea
     

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