Royal Artillery & 8th Army Photos - Help please with Grandads history

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by ColtBrown, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. ColtBrown

    ColtBrown Junior Member

    I’d be very grateful if anyone can help me with my Grandfather Henry Dance RA history as I’m no expert on this.

    I would really like to paint my Jeep in his units markings if possible. I’m trying to piece it together, below are service photos of him.

    5th AA Div School of Gunnery Course H1. I think this is Reading where he was from.

    Bedford QL I think. Whats the filled in 'P' on the door and S2B ?

    B IHQ 24 Whats this? What would the colours on the board be?

    8th Army shoulder badges, desert clothes, photo taken in Bologna?

    Desert clothes again.

    Grandad has 8th Army badges, others dont?

    Known Facts –

    • Served in the Royal Artillery from 39-45
    • Went to Anzio and was in Italy in 1944
    • Drove a truck towing a gun.
    • Born and lived in Reading, Berks.

    My assumptions (but could be way off) –

    • He stayed in the 5th Light Anti Aircraft Division and was aligned to the 24th Field Artillery Unit in Alexandria – Sub HQ
    • In the 5th LAA he drove the Bedford QL and towed a Bofors 40mm AA gun.
    • An Artillery division would have had several Jeeps?
    Has anyone got any ideas on this and what markings would be suitable for my Jeep, any info at all would be fascinating and gratefully received.

    Many Thanks

  2. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Click here for a good site on RA. No 5th LAA though? could have been 5th AGRA (army group royal artillery.)
    S2 - signals
    Good luck with your research and I'm sure there will be some more knowledgeable people along soon to add more info. Welcome to the forum by the way :)

    P.S. - THQ in pic 3 could be tactical headquarters?
  3. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    OOooops.. my mistake, 5th LAA div is here at Truro, Cornwall
  4. ColtBrown

    ColtBrown Junior Member

    Thanks Reme I already learnt something! I found this about 5th LAA -

    The Division was formed in September 1938 with HQ in Reading. It comprised Territorial Army (TA) units Royal Artillery and Anti-Aircraft battalions Royal Engineers drawn from the Home Counties, the South and West, plus some from the County of London.
    I'm still not sure if it was his unit though.
  5. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Have you sent off for his service records? that will tell you where//when he was during his service.
  6. ColtBrown

    ColtBrown Junior Member

    No. Sorry to be ignorant but how do I do that?
  7. bofors

    bofors Senior Member


    The photo of him would have been taken in Bologna, Italy as he has the ribbon for his Africa Star which was awarded in 1944. So he would have been in North Africa before going to Italy. My Father was with a different regiment but did a similar thing. I dont think they would have had too many jeeps?? Getting his service records would be the best way to find out what he did and where.


  8. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Click here for info on how to get service records, which route you go down would depend wether you Grandfather is still alive, in which case he should apply himself, or you could apply as next of kin.
  9. bofors

    bofors Senior Member


    Try here for the service records - Ministry of Defence | Contact us | Service Records Enquiries
    You will have to prove NOK or supply a death certificate, read about what to do in the link. Pick the general enquirers form if not NOK. I presume you have his service number also as that will help greatly.



    OOps beaten to it!!
  10. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member


    OOps beaten to it!!

    :D only by seconds though. BTW service records can take up to 9 months to receive at the moment, but well worth the wait.
  11. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

  12. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    24th Field Artillery Regiment - consisting of 22nd, 50th and 56th Batteries. In January 1943, the regiment moved to the Middle East and by July 1943 was under 8th Army Command for the invasion of Sicily as part of 6th AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery), XIII Corps.

    In September 1943, the regiment was part of 2nd AGRA, X Corps, equipped with 105mm M7 Priest Self Propelled Guns. As an AGRA unit it was attached to 7th Armoured Division as needed for various engagements.

    In June 1944, it was back under command of 1st Infantry Division, taking part in the Anzio landings. The regiment then remained in Italy until the end of the war.

    markings etc - 35090.html
  13. ColtBrown

    ColtBrown Junior Member

    This is great thankyou! I will apply for the army records, he is no longer with us but my Mum is NOK.

    Will also look into the 24th Field Artillery connection.

    Would a LAA unit be aligned to that group? Still not sure if he was an AA gunner but assuming he was due to the training photo.
  14. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    I am sure that I read somewhere that LAA units were broken up late in the war to provide reinforcements to other artillery units. The idea being that with air superiority there was less need for tactical AA units.

    He might have found himself moved from his AA unit to the 24th - hence the THQ / IHQ sign with "24" on it - you said he was aligned with the 24th Field Regiment, where did your info come from?

    It wouldn't hurt to scan anything you have and attach it to the thread to see if it sparks any further knowledge from the collective masses.....




    Hardly conclusive, but I found this as an example:

    In December 1944, a letter arrived from Eisenhower stating with the Luftwaffe in tatters there was little need for light anti-aircraft units. Those units who had previous infantry experience would be broken up and reshuffled. 220 men were returned to infantry, most of them now veteran soldiers, and most were retained within 53rd Welsh Division.

    The disbandment of 116th LAA RA (RWF) was felt sadly by those who served within it as a most unconventional and distinguished unit during its short but most definitely distinguished life, continuing the traditions of its parent Regiment against all odds.
  15. ColtBrown

    ColtBrown Junior Member

    Hi Dave,

    The alignment to the 24th Field Artillery was only an assumption based on the photo showing THQ 24.

    I dont think there is any other info available on him but I will double check.

    Is it a fair assumption that if someone did the AA course shown in the photo that they were destined to be an AA gunner??

    Also I have made an assumption that the Bedford QL in Royal Artillery service would primarily have been for Bofors use -

    bedford ql

  16. Jandodd

    Jandodd Member

    Hi I've been looking at the photos and I'm sure the 3rd picture 2nd row, white t shirt is my grandad , frank ward , served in 8th army desert rat , a gunner. My mum ( his daughter ) agrees with me , can u shed any light on this photo as I'm so exited to see it . I've contacted ministry of defence and they r going to sort out my grandads file . Would be great to hear back , thanks Janette
  17. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    First let me explain about AA Divisions. These were a collection of AA units assigned to a specific area for air defence. Individual units were termed Regiments and could be Heavy or Light AA Rgts or Search Light Rgts. The regiments were grouped in a number of AA Brigades within the Division. The AA Division was used in the UK as part of Air Defence Great Britain but AA Brigades were used in all theatres.

    5 AA Div covered Portsmouth and Southampton with the Divisional School at Truro. Assuming your Grandfather wasn't in a Search Light Rgt, then he would have been in one of the following units:
    57 HAA Rgt, 72 HAA Rgt, 80 HAA Rgt, 118 HAA Rgt, 23 LAA Rgt, 43 LAA Rgt, 58 LAA Rgt.

    The truck is Signals truck 2 of B Troop in the third battery of the regiment. The board in the next photo I would suggest is B Troop Head Quarters and possibly 24 Bty. It is not the regiment number as 24 LAA were in India and 24 HAA never existed.

    I would suggest that he started out in one of the units listed above and was then possibly posted to another unit when he went abroad. If he was LAA, none of the above LAA Rgts served in the Middle East although some of the HAA Rgts did. If the 24 refers to the Bty, there was a 24 Bty in 9 HAA Rgt but I have not yet located a 24 LAA Bty.
  18. ColtBrown

    ColtBrown Junior Member

    Hi Janette and Derek. Thanks so much for your posts, Janette that is very exciting! I will message you. Was your Grandad from Reading area by any chance?

    Derek your info is priceless! I now have my Grandfathers records and can post the following information, does it tie in with the photos? -

    >>The 5th LAA connection was a brief training exercise in January 1942. He also spent time at Fort Nelson, Havant, Gilkicker and Kinmel Park Camp. He was serving in 458 HAA in this early part of his service.

    >>Very briefly in 1942 he was with different training groups C Battery 8th Reserve AA Regiment (searchlights) then B Battery 11th Training Regiment, 310 HAA Battery and 216 Training Regiment.

    >>Most of 1942 - 44 says he served in 31 LAA Regiment 224 LAA Battery, this is written and stamped many times. So 224 Battery must have been in 31 LAA? He qualified as a Class III Driver Mechanic.

    >>In July 1943 he went to Sicily and I know he was with the Eigth army which it mentions (TOS?). He went to Italy and I think North Africa. Under the 8th Army would he still have been in 31 LAA? I think from the records he was because it says 31LAA in 1945 but not certain.

    >>The last wartime entries in 1945 mention posting to X2 and X4 whatever that is, I think it may be related to his injuries and time in hospitals?

    I have just finished a 4 year build on my Jeep and will mark it as close as practical to this LAA history. Presumably then the S2B on the truck is a bottom left Red square on a larger Blue square? Would this have been accompanied by another standard Red over Blue plain marking?

    Many Thanks

  19. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    458 HAA is 458 Battery part of 131 HAA Regiment. They were formed in Aug 41 and served with the Home Forces until disbanded in Aug 43.
    In 1940 11 AA Training Rgt was at Rhyll, N Wales and by 1942 had become 11 HAA Driver Training Rgt.
    216 was a Search Light Training Rgt at Abergele, Conwy.
    310 HAA Bty was part of 72 HAA Rgt. In 1942 they were in 35 AA Brigade, 5 AA Division at Portsmouth.

    224 Bty was the junior Bty in 31 LAA Rgt and this is borne out by the photo with the red quadrant in the lower left corner.
    31 LAA was originally in Scottish Command transferring to 8 Army in Sicily in Jul 43 before crossing into Italy. 31 LAA remained part of 8 Army.

    TOS is most probably Taken on Strength. When an individual or unit became officially part of a formation.

    Information on X Lists is pinned in the Service Records section on this site. As I understand it X(ii) is medical evacuation and X(iv) is fit and awaiting return to duty.

    I need to consult my references now to try and find some more detailed info for you and will post again when I have some more.
  20. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    Given 31 LAA's joining date to 8 Army we can presume that they were one of the units that sailed direct from the UK to the landing beaches on Sicily. The ships they were on were attacked by U Boats and Aircraft during the journey. By D+3 the Btys were protecting the Pachino airfield and 30 Corps beach area.

    For the landings on 10/11 July 224 Bty is listed as part of the Beach Groups.

    31st became part of 73 AA Bde and were moved by sea, landing at Augusta on the 19 July.

    On 7 Aug the Rgt is listed as covering the airfields around Lentini.

    By 1 Oct 61 & 224 Btys were at Catania with 101 Bty covering airfields.

    That is the last mention on Sicily, I will see what there is for Italy.

Share This Page