Understanding HQ 2nd AGRA RCA

Discussion in 'Canadian' started by Buck-Compton, May 9, 2022.

  1. Buck-Compton

    Buck-Compton Junior Member

    Hello All,

    My quest in to the organisation of the Canadian armed forces continued. With Help of dryan67 I was able to understand the structure of Army, Crops, Division and Brigade levels. Now I'm looking into the HQ 2nd AGRA RCA. I've found their weekly field returns. And I was able using ww2talk forums and other sources to figure somethings out but I would like to ask you guys for some help and confirmation.


    in column 9 there is a statement of function within the HQ.

    - So Comd is obviously the commander but is there a difference between comd and C-in-C?
    - BM is Brigade Major
    - SC is staff captain
    - IORA is that an intelligence officer royal artillery? What does this officer focus at? Target acquisition and prioritisation like we do now with high value/payoff target lists?
    - EME is electrical mechanical engineer? I'm assuming this staff officer reports on availability and thechnical issues of the guns etc?
    - SL is unknown to me.. I also looked for SLRA but that didn't help either
    - GSO 3 is a General Staff officer Level 3
    - CCS is unknown to me. Based on the name of their function I'm assuming this is either a liaison or the name of the regiments commander?

    Can you help me out confirming or denying my assumptions and help me find the answers to my questions. Your help would be much appreciated.

    Cheers Remi
  2. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    CCS is Canadian Chaplain Service.
  3. Buck-Compton

    Buck-Compton Junior Member

    dryan67 why would an AGRA be involved in the dispersion of chaplains?
  4. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Chaplains were assigned to higher level formations and used as needed with the sub-formations. An assignment of three chaplains to an AGRA would be appropriate.
  5. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The Canadian Chaplain Service

    The Corps was established on June 1st, 1921 (General Order 1/1/22) with the designation Canadian Chaplain Service. It was redesignated The Canadian Army Chaplain Corps on March 22, 1948. It became the Royal Canadian Army Chaplain Corps on June 3rd 1948. It was disbanded on April 1st, 1964 on integration into the Canadian Forces.

    The Canadian Chaplain Corps did not organize units, but maintained a pool of chaplains within each Military District and overseas to see to the religious needs of formed units
  6. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Regarding, S.L. If I had to hazard a guess, it would be Signals Liaison (Officer). Communication with a signals network would be critical for an Army Group RA. This is only a guess. I have gone through two RCA volumes, the Royal Canadian Signals history, and two handbooks of the British Army and I have not found a reference to SC. I have noted that the 2nd Canadian Army Group RA had an S.L. officer back in 1943.
  7. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    From the WE (II/117/4 of Nov 1944)

    Commander (Brigadier)
    Brigade Major
    Staff Captain
    Intelligence officer (Captain)
    RCEME (Captain)
    Staff Learner
    Chaplains (4)

  8. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    And increment for when the HQ was commanding an AGRA;

    GSO III (Captain)
    Chaplains (2)
  9. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Thanks for the clarification. Any idea what the role of a Staff Learner was?
  10. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    They seem to be particular to Canadian Army WEs, I presume it was sort of an apprenticeship for young staff officers to gain on the job training.
  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    If this was just "intelligence officer" I would identify it as an "army intelligence"/information-related position.
  12. Buck-Compton

    Buck-Compton Junior Member

    Hello All,

    First of all thanks again for your answers. I think my experience as an officer in a NATO organised army might be a bit tunneling in my views of the ww2 organisation of the Canadian and Commonwealth armed forces.

    dryan67 thank you for the explanation of the CCS I wasn't aware of the manner in which the Canadians assigned the chaplains across their forces.

    Gary Kennedy I have seen the citation WE (II/117/4 of Nov 1944) on several websites. Is this a document which can be found online? What does it entail? The Staff Learner is that someone who we nowadays would call a Trainee or an Intern? I assume a staff learner wouldn't be formally part of the staff as an officer who bears any responsibility or accountability?

    Chris C What would be the general aim for this function within the staff of an HQ AGRA?


    Chris C and dryan67 like this.
  13. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    I don't know, and since I don't know, I'm going to stop talking now.
  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    An AGRA is a brigade HQ with a similar organisation to the HQ RA of a Division.

    The BM is the chief of staff and would be responsible for the organisation of staff work. He is the senior staff officer, but would delegate the logistic and administrative staff work to the staff captain.

    There are Operations and Logistic desks.

    The Ops desk is also the command net for the AGRA wireless net and the centre for telephone communications. It is the cell that responds to calls for fire and commands in real-time the fire of the Regiments under its command. While the pace of operations in an AGRA HQ is unlikely to be as busy as the HQRA, the workload is 24 hours. Whatever their title staff officers would have to act as watchkeepers. It is possible that the GSO3 and Staff Learner are another pair of hands.

    Much of the work of an HQRA of a division is generated by the actions of the supported arms(Infantry and armour) to which its regiments provide Direct Support. The AGRA is not specifically associated with a Supported arm formation - infantry or armour. It will, however, be engaged in preparing the artillery support for the "Colossal Cracks" delivered by the Corps.

    The Intelligence function manages details of hostile batteries and potential targets for harassing fire. I would expect the IO to be in charge of this, supported by Artillery Clerks. Have a look at the target lists in some of the fireplans in Gunners in Normandy. The targets are identified by the Counter Bombardment Officer at Corps HQ, drawing on information from: Flash Spotting, Sound Ranging, RAF TAC(R) and Air OPs. The AGRA is likely to be responsible for disseminating target lists within the AGRA.

    The Staff Captain is in charge of Logistics and administration (G1/G4). Much of this work is up the chain of command There are a lot of reports and returns up the Q and admin channels. Ammunition supply is a major activity. The EME is responsible for maintenance recovery and repair staff work concerning the thousand or so vehicles in the AGRA.
    Last edited: May 11, 2022
    dryan67 likes this.
  15. Buck-Compton

    Buck-Compton Junior Member

    Sheldrake Thank you for your explanation, very interesting altogether. It is actually quite a small staff compared to the amount and size of units an AGRA is commanding. Is the AGRA a part of de Army or Corps HQ or is it a HQ on its own?

    Cheers Remi
  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    An AGRA is effectively the "Brigade HQ" for the field, medium and heavy artillery units under Corps command. The AGRA was responsible for command, control, logistics and administration. It would have an RASC Company assigned in support. There was an AGRA for each Corps and one for each army, though AGRA could be concentrated to support an attach mounted by a specific Corps. An AGRA HQ had a very similar establishment to an HQRA of a Division. (HQRA of 59th Division was retained after the division was disbanded and became 59 AGRA.

    An AGRA did not have the full functions of an Infantry Brigade. It was an operational rather than planning HQ. It was not responsible for units in contact with the enemy, (though its Regiments could deploy FOOs and LOs to the supported arm) An AGRA did not acquire its own targets. The Corps artillery plan was developed by the Corps RA staff, CCRA and the depth fire plan by the Corps Counter Bombardment Staff. I suspect the AGRA may have been asked to provide some additional officers to assist planning for some of the bigger fire plans.

    In the advance and mobile operations some AGRA artillery units were placed under command of divisions. The AGRA provided a "Home" for units that might otherwise be passed around from formation to formation without receiving proper logistic or administrative support.

    If you want to know more about how artillery operated within an army corps you need to find a copy of Army Training Memoranda October 1943, summarised in err "Gunners in Normandy."
    Last edited: May 14, 2022
    Chris C likes this.

Share This Page