Robert Boyle: Artillery to Infantry to Parachute

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Jeremy Hoemsen, Dec 21, 2017.

  1. i've been compiling information to go along with my grand dad's medals from WW2. after going through his records and a lot of reading and help from the amazing people on this site (and an ex-british commando friend), i still have a few questions.
    as an artillery sgt with the 467 independent battery, where in north africa did they go from gibraltar March 1944?
    then until October 1944, where did the 467 go in italy?
    when the 467 was disbanded (october), why would he have given up his rank to join the Lancashire Fusiliers?
    and more importantly for my purposes, how can i tell if he was with the 2nd Bn or the 11th Bn LC, since both were in Italy at the same time?
    and lastly, is there any way to track down what hospital he was at?
    for more info, please check out his records. i appreciate any feedback, even if it's just to tell me what books to look at :)

    Attached Files:

  2. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing your grandfathers service papers. Annoying that at some stage there has been some redacting of his early B103’s to hide the units he served in.

    For ease of response I have numbered the various queries you raised in your post.

    1. Have you discovered if there is a War diary for 467 LAA Battery while they were in Italy?Were they part of 22 AA Brigade (as per B103 entry) If so have you searched for that units War Diary?

    2. As per response above.

    3. From an entry on his B103 he doesn’t appear to have given up his rank voluntarily - there is reference to a decision of Commander 22 AA Brigade to reduce him to Gunner under Sec 183 Army Act. You need to have sight of a contemporary version of the Army Act to establish what Sec 183 says.

    4. Are you sure he served with either of those LF Battalions? I can see a reference to posting to 8th IRTD (Infantry Reinforcement Training Depot) Oct 1944 and then transfer to AAC Feb 1945?

    5. As the hospital number is not shown on the B103 you will struggle to identify the hospital he was admitted to unless you can find his unit War Diary as he may be listed in the Field Returns of men absent from the unit (I identified an uncles movements from such a document). There will be medical records on his MOD file but they aren’t usually released to relatives.

    Appreciate I may have raised more questions than I’ve answered!

    Good Luck.


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  3. thank you for taking the time to respond!
    yes, there is a War Diary for the 467 battery for that time but i don't want to order copies until i know if i need any more for the other units. i'm in canada so i can't just stroll over to look at them ;)
    i will have to look more into 22 AA :)
    and i believe you're correct - section 183 meant the decision may have come from above. but there were still artillery units needed so why wouldn't they keep him in his trade?
    if you see just above the 8th IRTD, it say 'transferred infantry Lancashire Fusiliers. i'm thinking it means he was transferred to the LF and stationed at 8th Bn for retraining and during that time did his parachute training. does that make sense? i'd love to know where the 8th IRTD was as that may answer which LF's he was with...
    and thank you for the idea of finding the hospital info through the War Diaries. that might help!!
    cheers :)
  4. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Hi Jeremy,

    I’ve continued searching and turned up this online book which at P21 gives you the background on why 9,000 LAA personnel in Italy 1944 were converted to Infantry.

    Victory in Italy

    He would be rebadged as LF and posted to an IRTD for retraining as Infantry - he would be in 8th Battalion of that IRTD not 8th LF (who were in Burma IIRC).

    He wouldn’t do Parachute training at his IRTD as that was to train him in the Infantry role but only undergo Parachute Training when he was posted to AAC.

    Several members here provide a War diary copying service at a fraction of the cost you would be charged if you ordered direct from UK National Archives.

    Anyone require War Diaries or other files from the National Archives?

    ARCRE - Frequently Asked Questions -

    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
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  5. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

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  6. this is why this site is so great - the amazing members who know or find this information!! thank you so much :) this really helps clear up his story.
    i'm going to clarify my notes and decide which war diaries to look at.
    thanks again Steve :) have a merry christmas!

  7. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    You’re welcome.

    Please come back and update us on your further discoveries.

    I’ve alerted forum member Ron Goldstein to this topic. He is a veteran who was serving LAA Italy 1944 and transferred to an armoured, rather than infantry, unit when it was disbanded. He may have some insights that assist you further.

    All the best.

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  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    One of the lessons that the British Army learned in the early years of WW2 was that armies needed adequate air defence. This included converting some 20 infantry battalions to form a Light AA Regiment for each infantry division. There were also substantial AA defences for ports, centres of population factories etc. As the balance of power moved towards the allies, the personnel in the air defences became the manpower reserve for the army. In mid 1944 establishments were changed to extract some 5,000 gunners from air defence establishments as infantry replacements. This did not include senior NCOs, technicians or officers, who were retained within the Gunners. Many of these soldiers fought in 1944-45 as infantrymen. IRRC rifle sections of the Grenadier Guards who captured the city centre of Nijmegen were a mix of ex RA and ex RAF Regiment soldiers.

    In North West Europe the air threat from manned aircraft never went away and V1 cruise missiles were a new and dangerous threat. AA troops were also used to defend ports and river estuaries - Radar directed AA guns were a potent anti shipping weapon.

    In Italy whole AA Formations were converted to infantry in theatre. One brigade kept two HAA regiments as artillery converted two or three LAA Regiments as infantry and had at least a battery equipped with M10 tank destroyers. Not an assault formation, but a well balanced battlegroup capable of holding a sector.
  9. Thank you for all that info! I don’t remember any of this from history class ;) but as I research my grand dad, I’m learning a whole new respect for what our veterans went through.
    Cheers :)
  10. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    019   Page 22  Day leave in Bari.jpg 059   Page 66  October Opicina  Bren Gun Carrier.jpg Lettter in Evening Standard.jpg Jeremy

    Tullybrone gave me this poke: I’ve alerted forum member Ron Goldstein to this topic. He is a veteran who was serving LAA Italy 1944 and transferred to an armoured, rather than infantry, unit when it was disbanded. He may have some insights that assist you further so I'll see if I can add anything.

    At the end of 1944 my Regiment, the 49th LAA , was disbanded and all the personnel were posted to other units. No one had any choice as to where you would be sent, it was simply a case of where you were needed most

    At the time in question I was a Driver Operator using the 19 Wireless Set

    In my case i was to end up in an RACTD (Royal Armoured Corps Training Depot) where i was delighted to find the Sherman Tanks I trained on used the identical set .

    I add 3 pics that I believe tdemonstrate the process..

    Good luck with your research !


    Just remembered that I automatically changed rank from Gunner to Trooper :)
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
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  11. Thank you so much Ron.
    I was a trooper for a few years but over 20 years ago with Canadian armoured corps. Qualified armoured driver :)
    At first I thought my grand dad was demoted from sgt to gunner because of something he did. But thanks to your information and a lot of reading, I’m starting to understand how crazy it was with the disbanding and transfers, etc.
    I’m guessing that he was not happy with going from sgt in LAA to private (or fusilier) in infantry but do you have any information as to some soldiers deciding to join the parachute training for any reason? Or even where the 8th Bn irtd might have been?
  13. Wow Ron! I just saw your photo in Italy . What a place to be, at that time, as a kid. Or even as an adult really... It really brings a tear or 2...
    Thank you and hopefully enough people in this day have the same backbone if needed.
    A sincere cheers to you.
  14. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    2nd Ind Para Bde Group were in Greece from October 1944 to the end of January 1945 when they all sailed back to Italy on board the SS Worcestershire.

    Throughout this time they maintained a "Rear Details Depot" in Southern Italy . Most of the reinforcements for all of those killed and wounded in Greece originated from there.

    The following link is about the travels of 6 Para Battalion, but as they were part of the same Brigade, they wouldn't have been too far away from 5 Para.

    6th Bn RW AIrborne

    If you want the diaries, may I suggest you look at The Pegasus Archive War Diary Collection . This chap has already photographed practically every airborne war diary, including the 1945 diaries for HQ 2 Ind Para Bde and 5 Para Btn. As the docs I think you need come to about about 300 pages, £10 is very good value for money. Also they would be immediately available.

    Hope this helps

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  15. Wow! I can’t believe someone went to all that work. I’ll look into this.
    Thanks Gus!
    Merry Christmas :)
  16. Thanks again Gus!
    Just received excellent service and quality images of war diaries from Mark at Pegasus all for 15 GBP. Now to order the 467 LAA battery files from someone.
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  17. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Glad I could be of some help.

    If you spot, during your reading, any reference to their operations in Greece, in particular referring to medals awarded, the casualties sustained and their recovery, or their return to duty, could I have a copy of the page(s)?

  18. this is in italy immediately after greece :)

    Attached Files:

  19. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Great spot thanks.

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  20. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    I have been directed to this very informative thread having asked a question related to the original posters enquiry on another thread, now closed..
    The original query here also included the question - what and with whom was 467 LAA Bty doing after leaving 141 LAA Regt in Gibraltar on 4 March 1944 until arriving in Messina on 1st/2nd June 1944. I have the diary for the period from Jun until end Oct 44 when the battery was disbanded and, as we have seen, the officers and men went off to do great things elsewhere, many in other arms.
    Grateful for any pointers.

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