Operation Substance and 8th Army.... I think!

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by David Swatton, Dec 14, 2020.

  1. David Swatton

    David Swatton Member

    Any info anyone can offer on this would be appreciated as I'm a bit stumped on where to start.

    My great uncle was John Ferreday, pictured. I have been told the following but the veracity of any of it might be dubious. He joined the army before WW2 (as a means of avoiding working down the pit, coming from a family of miners). The first picture is of a young John I'm guessing not long after joining up.

    But I'm not sure what regiment (that's the first question)... but is that a Royal Artillery cap badge?

    Next, I have a fragment of a log he wrote up in which he recalled in the summer of 1941 sailing to Gibraltar on the SS Louis Pasteur, a former cruise liner, then transferring to HMS Arethusa for the next leg of his journey to Malta. I think this was Operation Substance, to reinforce the garrison of Malta in July 1941.

    I believe he then transferred to 8th Army as I have an order he kept from Monty, distributed to the army at the end of the Sicily campaign. And the second picture is of him believed to be in Italy (on the right) with two colleagues, (I assume on leave based on how they are dressed).

    Any suggestions on what the regiment might have been would be great or any suggestions on how to investigate further.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Regards, David

    john ferreday.JPG john ferreday - italy.jpg
     
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  2. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Cap badge is RA and on the second they seem to wear the flaming grenade which is also RA - there is a 791180 John Ferredey who enlisted in the RA 11/3/29 - on the second photo the man on the left also seems to have the RA gun badge on his rank, he also wears an interesting cap which tended to be worn by Mountain troops so I'd wonder if he may have been with one of the Mountain Regiments/Batteries of the Royal Artillery in Italy
     
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  3. David Swatton

    David Swatton Member

    Excellent - thank you for that prompt confirmation. Can you recommend the best way I can try and narrow down which unit he served with so that I can find out more detail of his campaign history?

    Thanks, David
     
  4. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Getting his service record is the only really guaranteed way forward - the only other thing I could suggest is checking round the family in case there are any more photos, letters or other odds and ends tucked away in case there are any little half clues
     
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  5. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Turn the page

    If you hadnt mentioned Italy I would not place them there, perhaps in the far North but wonder if it is Austria in which case I think the 78th Div were in occupation there after cessation of hostilities.
    I spent a lot of time in Florence but it doesnt look like there, the cobblestones, trees and buildings somehow dont look Italian.
    Most RA wore the Oblique/Gun cap badge but a few wore the grenade I know the 67th Field Regt did but they went from the Gothic Line to Palestine so its not them.
    Only way to be sure is to get his Army Record, not sure how easy that is with Covid restrictions:
    Get a copy of military service records
     
  6. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    A long shot, Could the buildings in the photo be Trieste? It was an Austro-Hungarian city till the end of WW1. See: Trieste - Wikipedia

    Plus after VE-Day it was a point of contention with Yugoslavia, who wanted it back (having occupied it for sometime after May 1945) and there was a garrison there for many years.
     
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  7. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Turn the page

    Trieste was in my mind for one reason, an old work colleague was shot up by partisans there after cessation of hostilities.
    He was If my memory is correct in the 17/21st Lancers wearing a black Beret with a Skull and Crossbones Cap Badge and drove over the boarder by mistake.
    They didnt stop him to ask questions.
    Weren't the New Zealand Div in occupation there.
     
  8. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Yes, the NZ Division was there initially; the Allied force there after the Yugoslavs left was Anglo-US. See: Trieste - Wikipedia
     
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  9. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    85th Mountain Regiment, RA, Italy has images including at least several with the Mountain cap with similar grenade badge - the thread is about 85th Mountain Rgt RA, but 7th Mountain Rgt RA were also in Italy and were probably similarly dressed
     
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  10. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Turn the page

    My money is on the 85th as they were on the Gothic Line with the 10th Indian Division in 1945. Not sure about the 7th I havent looked them up yet. The 85th were an Essex TA Regt. They replaced the 67th Field part of the 1st Infantry Div at Monte Grande.
     
  11. David Swatton

    David Swatton Member

    Not sure if this helps or hinders any theories but with the photo I have a series of postcards he collected in Italy. Of those that I have traced they seem to be on Sicily (Lentini and Calabria), just across the Strait of Messina (Reggio Calabria), then up the Adriatic coast (Bari, Molfetta, Termoli, Vasto, Porto San Giorgio, Rimini, and Venice being the furthest north). Only a very few of the cards have dates on them and the latest is Vasto (8th Dec 1943). With your knowledge of unit movements I don't know if this helps identify the likely one.
     
  12. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Turn the page

    There is a thread listed on this site it headed 85th Mountain Regiment it shows photos of the men in action. I believe they come from a book called Impossible Victory about the battles to break into the Po Valley in Northern Italy.
    I have ordered the book and await its delivery. If it gives anything to assist in this I will com back to you.
    I cant see anything regarding his Army Service Records have you applied for them. If not go to the .Gov website and apply for his service records it is the only place you will get them.
    The 85th were a TA Regiment who initially recruited in Essex but like all Regiments they had men posted to them from all over the UK and sometimes colonial soldiers. We dont know at this stage if he was with them or standing next to someone who was in the 85th or even if the man swapped his hat to have his picture taken.
    He may have been to many of these places in action or on leave or sick in hospital, it is difficult to say at his stage. If he was in hospital it will show up on his service record. Service records basically list all the places his pay went, where his records were administered, any courses he might have done or where he was off sick, not where he fought.
    One thing is for sure all the places you list were as you say on the Adriatic side of Italy in 8th Army country.
    If I find anything else to assist you I will come back in the new year.
    Meanwhile you might get assistance from others elsewhere on this site.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2020
  13. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    A little background for this episode.

    The Pasteur (not the Louis Pasteur as she often appears in veteran accounts) was commissioned as a luxury liner but was taken-up for war service by the French before completion. She was seized in Halifax in July 1940 and served the Allied cause for the remainder of the war. Her movement card is available to download.

    Although not yet called SUBSTANCE, the Joint Planning Staff’s initial plan for the operation was set-out in their report J.P.(41) 470. The initial phase was convoy WS 9C and Somerville’s despatch for SUBSTANCE was published as part of a compendium of ‘Mediterranean Convoy Operations’ by the London Gazette in 1948.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2020
  14. David Swatton

    David Swatton Member


    Thanks for that. I wasn't aware of the links you supplied - very interesting reading.

    D.
     
  15. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
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  16. David Swatton

    David Swatton Member

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