Royal Artillery (war service of my dads regiment)

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by middy, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. middy

    middy Junior Member

    Hello everyone,

    This is my first posting to what looks an excellent site.

    I trust i have entered the correct forum. Please let me know if i need to transfer elsewhere ( or should i post on more than one to start with ?)

    My dad served in the Royal Artillery from 1939 to 1945. I have obtained copies of his papers and now want to try and fully understand the history of what he was involved in and wish to start by following his Regiment and his Battery during the war.
    The main details i have are:
    Leonard Middleton
    Oct 1939 recruited Territorial Army unit 65th (N.S.) Medium Regiment RA
    222 Battery
    Service No. 945415
    Rank Gunner
    Feb 1940 BEF
    May 1940 Evacuated from France (I assume this was Dunkirk
    July 1940 Attached 61st Field Regiment RA
    July40-June 44 Home
    3rd June 1944 Embarked (NWE)
    14 June evacuated sos 21 Army Group to Uk

    He had been wounded (between 3rd and 16th June) and on arrival back in England spent time in the Sommerdale Emergency Hospital (i think in Chichester) and transferred to a military hospital in Larbert near Edinburgh.
    I don't know if the attachment to the 61st Field Regiment was temporary but the paperwork still listed him under 222/65th after July 1940.

    My starting point for this is to try and investigate where his Regiment was and what they did during the BEF and then D-DAY / NWE action. Ideally i would appreciate some guidance from forum members on how best to start and look for information.

    I hope someone can help.

    Many thanks
    Middy
     
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Hello Middy and welcome to the forum.

    Moved this out of the other forum as it is for transcribed War Diaries. Hope that's OK.

    Good luck, there are quite a few members with an interest in RA. No doubt they will be able to point you in the right direction.

    All the best,
    Diane
     
  3. MyOldDad

    MyOldDad Senior Member

    Hi Middy,
    Welcome to the forum.
    Regards,
    Tom.
     
  4. nicks

    nicks Very Senior Member

    Hi Middy and welcome.

    Regards,

    Nick
     
  5. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Middy,

    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    I am sure that you will soon receive some answers to your questions from our resident RA members.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hellooooo,

    What date in May was he evacuated?

    I believe the 65th Med Regiment were under III Corps in France, part of the Royal Artillery Corps HQ. There was also a 65th Field Regiment in III Corps too that was in 44 Divisions orbat (Order of Battle). 44 Div was a TA Division too.

    Regards
    Andy
     
  7. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Hmm... 61 Fd Regt were with 59 Division who didn't land in Normandy until the end of June 44. 65 Med Regt went to Normandy as part of 4 AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery) so it's possible that he did go back to them. The 'attached to' 61 Fd Regt suggests it was temporary, a permanent move would be 'posted'.

    First look suggests 4 AGRA were under I Corps. They were in the Caen area.

    Have attached references (the WO numbers) for the Regt's war diaries from 1939-44 in the National Archives. Would have helped if there was a bit of consistency in the names but think I got them all.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    Hi Middy + welcome
    As Idler has said, he was only attached to 61st(Nth Midland) Field Regt RA, would have gone back to 65th(Highland) Medium Regiment, RA (222 (Fraserborough) & 223 (Banffshire) Batteries) under:-
    4 AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery)
    UK 1943-4
    D-Day 1944 - 1 Corps
    NW Europe 1944 - 29 Armd Bde, 1& 8 Corps
    NW Europe 1945 - 1, 30 & 2 Cdn Corps
    Rhine Crossing 3/45 - 30 Corps

    HQ and Signals 4 AGRA
    150th(Sth Notts Hus Yeo) Field Regiment RA
    Medium Regiments RA. Nos 53, 65, 68 and 79 - Equip - 4.5,5.5 Guns
    51(Lowland) Heavy Regiment RA
    Artillery Company RASC

    I Corps remained in the United Kingdom until the landings in Normandy for Operation Overlord, where, along with XXX Corps, it was a spearhead corps of Second Army of 21st Army Group. After fighting for two months around Caen, the Corps was subordinated on 1 August 1944 to First Canadian Army for the remainder of the Normandy campaign.
    Rob.
     
  9. middy

    middy Junior Member

    a quick note of thanks to everyone who has responded . I will take a more detailed look at the content and leads you have given me later and then get back to you all (no doubt with more questions!) .

    once again many thanks.
    middy
     
  10. middy

    middy Junior Member

    Thanks for your response Andy.

    He was evacuated from France on 29/5/1940

    Would i be right in saying that a Medium Regiment and a Field Regiment ,even though they both carry the "65th" number would be different units altogether and not have a direct relationship. Also could you advise if Medium and Field relate to the kind of weaponry used by the Regiment ?
     
  11. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    Middy
    Ansewer - yes and yes!
    Rob
     
  12. middy

    middy Junior Member

    Hello Middy and welcome to the forum.

    Moved this out of the other forum as it is for transcribed War Diaries. Hope that's OK.

    Good luck, there are quite a few members with an interest in RA. No doubt they will be able to point you in the right direction.

    All the best,
    Diane

    Thanks Diane,

    As i am looking into 2 key periods ie BEF/ Dunkirk and D-Day should i also do seperate posts into other forums eg 1940, NWE or just leave both topics under the one banner in this forum ?
     
  13. middy

    middy Junior Member

    Hmm... 61 Fd Regt were with 59 Division who didn't land in Normandy until the end of June 44. 65 Med Regt went to Normandy as part of 4 AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery) so it's possible that he did go back to them. The 'attached to' 61 Fd Regt suggests it was temporary, a permanent move would be 'posted'.

    First look suggests 4 AGRA were under I Corps. They were in the Caen area.

    Have attached references (the WO numbers) for the Regt's war diaries from 1939-44 in the National Archives. Would have helped if there was a bit of consistency in the names but think I got them all.

    Thanks Idler,

    I assume i need to visit Kew to get a look at the records ?

    Also looking on the 'Royal Artillery 1939-1945' website the Formation for 1 Corps under the 21st Army Group does not show any reference to the 65th Medium. I assume they should have been listed under one of the Juno or Sword Beaches ?
     
  14. middy

    middy Junior Member

    I may be tackling too many areas at once but Dad was in France from 4/2/40 until 29/5/40. Would it only be through War Diaries of the Regiment that i would be able to find where they were located and what they were doing in this period ?.
     
  15. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Middy,
    I've only found one reference to 65 Med Regt being in 4 AGRA: Bouchery The British Soldier Vol 2. I have a few others that show them under 21 Army Group with no finer detail. At that level there could be a lot of chopping and changing of units (e.g. battalions and regiments) between formations (e.g. divisions, brigades, AGRAs, corps) so that could muddy the waters.

    Unless someone has actually written a book or website about 65 Med, the war diaries should be by far the most accurate sources -the Regiment ought to know where it is and who it's serving under. Like your father got attached to 61 Fd for some purpose, 65 Med may have been attached to, say, a division for a specific operation.
     
  16. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    65th Med + 4AGRA
    Rob


    4 AGRA
    I

    T was in March 1943 that 4 AGRA was formed. Its headquarters were in Perth and the regiments which were to be its staple members throughout the invasion of Europe assembled round it in the valley of the Tay. 5ist Heavy Regiment arrived in April; 53rd Medium, 65th Medium and 79th Medium (Scottish Horse) in May; and 68th Medium (newly formed from garrison artillery per­sonnel) and 150th Field (Notts Hussars) joined it later in August. None of these regiments had seen any action since Dunkirk. For the previous two years most of them had been little more than training and drafting units. A period of intensive formation and unit training was therefore inaugurated by the first commander, Brigadier A. G. Matthew, and when he left in May to become CCRA VIII Corps, it was more than sustained by his successor, Brigadier H. A. Hambleton, who was to com­mand the formation throughout the coming operations. It was a strenuous time; but the prospect of what lay ahead stimulated the efforts of all who sweated through the fire and movement of exercise 'Gallop', the digging of 'Shovel', the supply problems of 'Sisyphus' and the corps manoeuvres of 'Eagle' and 'Blackcock'.
    These efforts were to reap their reward when 4 AGRA, under command of I Corps, assembled its regiments in action in the Normandy beach-head on the vital left flank of Second Army in the early days of June 1944. Three regiments—53rd Medium, 65th Medium and 7gth Medium—were ashore on D-day, supporting the assault divisions, and played an important part in repelling those early German counterattacks on which Rommel staked so much. HQ 4 AGRA arrived on June gth and the other regiments were ashore shortly after. During the succeeding weeks, with its guns deployed in a vast arc covering from Carpiquet aerodrome to the mouth of the Orne, 4 AGRA flung its whole weight into the slow slogging match which was to break the tightly packed elite of the German Army grouped around Caen. The Gunners sweated and toiled on a swift succession of counter-battery bombards, set-piece fire plans, harassing fire tasks, 'Y targets', Air OP shoots and concentrations at call, as the infantry fought their slow way forward through the orchards of Nor­mandy into the ruined factory of Colombelles and the splintered woods of Lebisey, down to the rubble of Caen.
    Not till the first week in August did the Group deploy in the open country beyond Caen, but after that events—and the formation—moved quickly. First it supported a Canadian thrust on Falaise and then, swinging north-east, it leap-frogged its regiments forward in support of the advance through Lisieux up to the crossings of the Seine. By this time 4 AGRA considered itself complete master of the arts of fire and movement; but now a new experience was in store for it. On September 3rd it deployed (of necessity almost in full view of the enemy) to take part in the siege of Le Havre— a classic siege of parleys, white flags, artillery duels and finally a token resistance.
    Le Havre fell on September i3th. For a time it looked as if 4 AGRA would lose its regiments to the other sieges of Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk. But by September 3Oth most of the formation was again assembled in action—this time supporting First Canadian Army assault across the Antwerp-Turnhout canal. Eight weeks followed in the watery wilderness of south Holland, supporting attacks from both sides of the Nijmegen corridor to clear the area up to the Maas from Venlo to the sea.
    It was with great relief that on December gth HQ_4 AGRA and three regiments extricated them­selves from the mud of North Brabant and retired to firmer ground near Brussels for maintenance, rest and refitting. The relief was short-lived. The Ardennes offensive burst upon us and Christmas
     
  17. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Cheers, Rob, I was drawing blanks.
     
  18. middy

    middy Junior Member

    Thanks Rob and Idler for the leads.

    Rob, is the record you give on 4AGRA from a book or a website that i could buy or view online?. Also on 2 occassions in the extract it gives dates but for some reason the number is not shown eg HQ 4 AGRA arrived on June gth
    . Would there be a reason for this ?
    As my dad was wounded in the first 2 weeks of the assault i now have an insight into the area where he may have been fighting and i can concentrate on this.

    Would either of you possibly have any similar leads on the invovement of the 65th Medium in the BEF and the Dunkirk evacuation.

    Thanks
    Middy
     
  19. ramacal

    ramacal 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    Hi Middy

    Some war diary references for you.

    WO167/548 - Feb to May 1940 - British Expeditionary Force
    WO171/1060 - Jan to Dec 1944 - North West Europe
    WO171/9161 - Jan 1946 - North West Europe (Probably Disbanded as were a lot of RA units at this time).

    Strangely I can't find a War Diary for 1945. Will look again.

    They were definitely attached to an AGRA.

    A visit to the NA to Kew is worth it.

    Regards - Rob
     
  20. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    Middy
    The date sould read 9th June!
    Unfortunately there are no specific books or websites on the 65th Med or 4AGRA, it realy is down to War-Diaries i'am afraid.
    Andy (Drew 5233) on here maybe able to help with their BEF part as this is his speciality.
    Rob

    Medium Artillery moving into Belgium
    10th May 1940
    [​IMG]
     

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