Help with G Battery Diaries

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by johhsillitto, Jun 28, 2013.

  1. johhsillitto

    johhsillitto Member

    I don't know if this is the right place to post this query so please let me know if anybody thinks it would be better elsewhere.

    I posted a query in another forum on here trying to decipher my father's WW2 service records, and one of respondents suggested I should post in the War Diaries area to find out more about his regiment, and particularly to ask Lee or Drew.

    My father, Frederick John Sillitto, was conscripted as a Gunner into 5th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, G Battery (Mercer's) on 15.3.1940 and demobbed 23.5.1946.

    I've attached a couple of scans of various relevant bits of the service record that I have.

    Does anybody have a copy of G Battery war diaries?

    service extracts_resize.jpg
    FJS service amendment slip.jpg
    View attachment X List details.xls

    Thanks in advance for any help.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi - I've listed below the diaries that may be of interest to you:

    WO 166/1459 ROYAL ARTILLERY: ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY: G Battery 5 Regiment 1939 Nov.- 1940 Feb., July- 1942 Feb.
    WO 167/465 G Battery Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) 1940 Apr.-June
    WO 169/4570 G. Battery (Mercer's Troop) 1942 Mar.- Dec.
    WO 171/1014 5 Regt. 'G' Battery 1944 Jan.- Nov.
    WO 171/5083 5 Regt. 'G' Battery (Mercers Tp.) 1945 Jan.- Dec.
    WO 171/9181 5 Regt. 'G' Battery 1946 Jan.- June

    WO 166/1457 ROYAL ARTILLERY: ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY: 5 Regiment. 1939 Nov.- 1940 Mar., July- 1941 Dec.
    WO 166/6961 ROYAL ARTILLERY: ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY: 5 Regiment 1942 Jan.- Apr.
    WO 167/464 5 Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) 1940 Apr.-June
    WO 169/9459 5 R.H.A. Regiment 1943 Jan.- Dec.
    WO 171/1012 5 Regiment 1944 Jan.- Apr., Dec.
    WO 171/5082 5 Regiment 1945 Jan., Feb., Aug.

    There are some other 5 RHA battery diaries available to.
  3. johhsillitto

    johhsillitto Member

    That's brilliant Drew - thanks ever so much.
  4. stamp

    stamp Member

  5. johnsillitto

    johnsillitto Member

    Stamp - I am very interested in the link you gave to the war diary of 'G' Battery 5 RHA in the Netherlands from 22nd September 1944.

    I don't remember my father ever mentioning that he had been in the Netherlands, and looking at this 'X' List Amendment Slip I posted earlier it looks like he was attached to the 21st Army Group from 2nd June 1944.

    Do you think this means that he would have been detached from 'G 'Battery 5 RHA at that time, and so not with them in the Netherlands?

    As you can probably gather I am new to all this and I am still finding the differences between Batteries, Groups, Regiments, Battalions, Troops, Corps, Armies, Army Groups, Units etc. all very confusing.

    If you or anybody else could throw any light in this direction I'd be very grateful.
  6. Bluebell Minor

    Bluebell Minor Junior Member


    May i offer a few comments regarding the movements of G Battery based on my ongoing research into the British Army presence in Schleswig Holstein in the immediate post war period

    My basic premise is that G Battery was one of the Gun Batteries of 5 Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, one of the Artillery Regiments in support of and under command 7 Armoured Division (the famous Desert Rats).

    In late April 1945 the Division crossed the river Elbe to the east of Hamburg as part of 12 Corps (53 Welsh Division headed for and occupied the City) 7 Armoured Division bypassed the city and headed north towards the Kiel Canal and the west coast of the Schleswig Holstein peninsular. On VE Day (8th May) Regimental Headquarters 5RHA was in the vicinity of the agricultural hamlet of Gokels north of Itzehoe (the Gun Batteries must have been nearby).

    In June 1945 there was a major reorganisation in Schleswig Holstein to take account of departing Divisions redeploying elsewhere in the new British Zone of Occupation and the 7 Armoured Division task to provide the first British presence in Berlin. 5 RHA were not involved in the move to Berlin but moved instead to Wedel, a small town on the north bank of the River Elbe to the west of Hamburg. RHQ was in the town proper the Gun Batteries in the surrounding villages.

    I have yet to clarify the deployment of the 7 Armoured Division units who remained in Schleswig Holstein.but in late Spring/early Summer 1946 the Division was reunited and moved to the western parts of the new provinces of Lower Saxony and North Rhine Westphalia as part of the complicated restructuring of the wartime 21 Army Group into the three Division structure which was to be the basis of the British Army of the Rhine for many years

    5 RHA moved to Osnabruck as part of this restructuring.

    i poe this is helpful, full details (including tasks and deployment) will be found in the relevent War Diaries
  7. Thunderbox

    Thunderbox Member

    G (Mercer's Troop) Battery RHA are, of course, still "active" as part of 7 Para RHA in 16 Air Assualt Brigade based at Colchester.

    The do have a Battery museum/collection, so you might be able to get some more information direct from them.
  8. johnsillitto

    johnsillitto Member

    Bluebell Minor - That is all really very interesting. I am trying to piece together my father's service history and every piece of the jigsaw helps so much.

    As I said i am very new to all this military stuff so it is very good to have your analysis - it's quite a steep learning curve!

    He often said he was in the Desert Rats so that all ties in and I know he was in Germany at the end of the war - I remember seeing several German maps of German towns in his papers when I was young. Oh how I wish I had paid more attention to what he told me and kept his memorabilia. Sadly I don't know what happened to it all.

    According to his official records, from 2 Jun 44 he was attached to 21st Army Group as you mention, and then part of BAOR for about the last month before he came home.

    He was home by 14 Feb 46 so would have left before the complicated restructuring of 21 AG that you mentioned.

    As you say, the diaries will fill in more details so I am hoping to get to Kew in the not too distant future.

    Thunderbox - thanks for your suggestion too I shall look up the museum - is it the R A Museum at Woolwich in London or is there a specific 'G' Battery museum as well?
  9. Gerboa

    Gerboa Gerboa Desert Rat History

    Hi, I am the Historian for the Desert Rats Association, but I have a personal interest in 5th Regt RHA, as it was my late father's Regt, too.

    I have the War Diaries for G Bty for Jan to Nov 1944 (Dec is missing) and Jan to May 1945 and Gnr Sillitto is listed in the names of the Battery Personnel going to Normandy. He was a member of one of the 8 Sexton RAM SPGs the Battery took with it, but as the list is on alphabetical order, I cannot say which crew. He would have sailed from Felixstowe having been billeted at Orwell Park School with the other two batteries (K & CC), plus the three Tank Regts of 22nd Armd Bde.

    I attach the two files listing all the names and also have similar ones for CC Bty.

    He was most definitely a G Bty man for his entire service as others have indicated

    I hope this helps

    Attached Files:

  10. Gerboa

    Gerboa Gerboa Desert Rat History

    I can also confirm that 5 RHA did go to Berlin with the Division and they took part in the Victory Parade on 21st July 1945. Pictures of them can been seen on by website
  11. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Hi Gerboa
    I am fairly certain you will have seen by my previous posting's that my Father also served with Mercers troop G Battery,1440 to 46.
    Thanks for the above war diaries that I had been unable to find to date .
    It is the fist time I have found my Fathers name (Gnr. Burnikell) in relation to G the Orwell park nominal Roll.
    Also Lt Rawson who he mentioned in his Italy notes and Gnr Brewer in the West Ham Camp who he corresponded with after the War.

    He was not happy with his stay at Orwell Park!
  12. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Hi Muttleys
    I see by your Fathers Service record that he was wounded in Egypt and Echt.whilst serving with 5 RHA.
    My Father was also wounded in N. Africa but some time later at El Agelia (quite seriously) and also again at Echt he ended up in a Hospital in Lille France
    They may have been there at the same time.
  13. Gerboa

    Gerboa Gerboa Desert Rat History

    My late father was at El Agelia, with CC Bty and used to tell me that Lt Col R Hoare was almost in tears when he saw the number of casualties. He actually posted his Batman to CC to help reinforce it.

    I am gradually collecting as many of the 5 RHA and Battery diaries as I can as time permits.

    Redtop. What was the date of the wounding at Echt and I will see if the diaries mention anything?

    Being in BHQ my father was in West Ham Dog stadium and they and the 'Cherrypickers' there used to entertain themselves by taking a large roller and breaking down the fence, running out touching a lamp post and running back in again. One night the local Home Guard who were guarding them fire a shot, so Brens, Stens, etc, were dug out of vehicles and the Home Guard chased off. Regular troops were posted outside, which then meant a stop to the fun!
  14. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    This was posted on Royal Artillery Units in the Netherlands Web Page.
    The only date I have is my brothers Birthday !3th Oct so some time after that date

    Gunner Albert Burnikell G Battery (Mercers Troop) 5th RHA Excerpt from journals

    The push again, we got to Ghent (a great welcome)
    The snow in October, just tarpaulins for protection holding the line with
    One up the spout, news of my son's birth (Graham 13th 0ct)

    the memory of the three lst RR’s (Kings Royal Rifles), being burned by our own Cromwell tanks flamethrower.

    And then to Echt a village just taken by our chaps..
    Snipers were still holding out in the village.
    We had been firing on very low charge
    at short range and a lot of cordite charges were around the side of our SP
    Each shell that was brought forward for loading,
    had several bags of propellant with it, charges 1, 2 and 3, these came in
    cloth bags coloured respectively red, white and blue, when firing charge
    1 the white and blue bags were not loaded but put to one side.
    The SP was firing constantly and I was doing the donkeywork
    carrying the shells and propellant up to the gun. In the heat of the
    battle the unwanted bags of propellant were thrown to one side and
    quite a heap had built up in the cabin.
    Just as I arrived back at the gun it had a blowback in the breech,
    this ignited the pile of propellant, which exploded killing all of the
    Crew apart from myself I don't remember much more.
    I awoke and had a mask over my head and shoulders with small slits for
    eyes and mouth, and my hands covered in bandages. I later found I was
    in a hospital in France, Lille. Later sent to Munster. I was downgraded
    waiting for a group discharge
  15. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    A bit more on West Ham Camp (Also elsewhere on site.)

    Letter from E Brewer to Albert Burnikell(Post war)

    You mentioned the “Concentration Camp “at Orwell Park,We were in a similar situation but first West Ham stadium ,then on a bomb site in Canning Town because we were sailing from London Docks .At least we were able to slip under the wire when the guard was not looking and get home .Plaistow Underground Station was close by.In the D Day Museum at Portsmouth they have put on display a letter from me to my Mother having a real tick about not being allowed to get home from the sealed camp
  16. Gerboa

    Gerboa Gerboa Desert Rat History


    You may like to know that I have recently posted the War Diaries for 'G' Battery (Mercer's Troop), Royal Horse Artillery on my site.

    The url is

    The only cover January 1944 to June 1945 (with December 1944 missing)

    I do like some of the comments made by the writer(s), with my favourite being "tiffin spoilt"
    Owen likes this.
  17. Gerboa

    Gerboa Gerboa Desert Rat History

    Just to let every know G Battery (Mercer's Troop) Diaries are on line for the rest of 1945 and also 1946.
  18. noggin1969

    noggin1969 Well-Known Member

    Just as a side bar to this , does anyone have info on a ;

    Rank: Captain

    Service No: 100385

    Date of Death: 14/12/1942

    Age: 24

    Regiment/Service: Royal Horse Artillery 'G' Bty., 5 Regt.

    Panel Reference: Column 2.


    Additional Information: Son of Arthur Clive Nicholson and of Katharine Selina Nicholson (nee Scott Erskine), of Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire. Scholar of Exeter College, Oxford.
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    From an Ancestry family tree
    Gavin Newzam Nicholson
    Birth: Mar 1918 - Derbyshire
    Death: 14 December 1942 (14 Dec 1942) - Libya (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya)

    UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945
    Name Gavin Nicholson
    Given Initials G N
    Rank Captain
    Death Date 14 Dec 1942
    Number 100385
    Birth Place Nottinghamshire
    Residence Nottinghamshire
    Branch at Enlistment Royal Artillery
    Theatre of War Middle East
    Regiment at Death Royal Artillery
    Branch at Death Royal Artillery

    Birth details
    Name Gavin N Nicholson
    Mother's Maiden Surname Scott-erskins
    Date of Registration 1918 - Jan-Feb-Mar[1918]
    Registration district Newark
    Inferred County Derbyshire
    Volume Number 7b
    Page number 780

    England, Andrews Newspaper Index Cards, 1790-1976
    Name Gavin Newzam Nicholson
    Father's Name Clive Nicholson
    Death Date Dec 1942
    Death Place Libya

  20. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    !4 Nov 1942.
    G Battery was heavily engaged a El Agelia sustaining around 10 casualty's.
    My father was one of the wounded .a driver was killed but I can find no mention of your Father. There is some documentation of this very intense action during which 3 Military Medals were recommended .I will post it here once I sort through my files .

Share This Page