168/56 LAA

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by David Booth, Jan 14, 2022 at 11:29 AM.

  1. David Booth

    David Booth New Member

    Hello. I am researching my fathers service during WW2.
    He served with 168 battery 56 LAA. I have been able to ascertain that they were attached to 23rd Armoured Brigade at El Alamein, and am fairly sure they took part in the Salerno Landings, and were at Monte Cassino in May 1944.
    I am unsure about the unit’s involvement at Anzio. The 168 infantry brigade of 56 division were at Anzio, but the only reference to 168/56LAA is in a book on the history of Anti Aircraft Artillery by Brigadier NW Routledge. He states quite categorically that 168/56 LAA arrived on 5th February
    .Could anyone tell me how I could confirm this?
    I’m sorry for being a bit longwinded but no other book or online reference has been able to help.
    Thank you.
     
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  3. David Booth

    David Booth New Member

    Hi Clive
    Thank you for your prompt reply.
    I do have a copy of his service record, and indeed his pay book. Like a lot of veterans he spoke very little about his time in the army, other than mundane or light hearted anecdotes.
    I was confident I had got the major conflicts listed, even if not actual details of his involvement until I was able to track down a copy of the book I mentioned. This is where Anzio comes into it, completely out of the blue.
    I think I will have to make a trip to Kew one of my first holidays for 2 years to read the war diaries, so thank you for that link that gives me some reference numbers.
    David
     
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  4. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    David.

    If you could post up the Service Record, that would help.

    Regards

    Frank
     
  5. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    David.

    56 LAA Regt RA had three batteries - 166, 167 and 168 so you are in the right Regiment.

    56 LAA Regt RA directly supported X (British) Corps - they protected things like Corps HQ and Corps supply areas.

    X (BR) landed at Salerno on 9 Sep 43 and then slowly pushed north towards Rome. They crossed the River Volturno north of Naples in mid-Oct 43 and then crossed the River Garigliano on 17-18 Jan 44. Your father would have moved up as the Corps HQ and Corps supply areas moved up too.

    Anzio was going badly by 1 Feb 44 so it was decided to move large chunks of X (BR) Corps who were sitting in the hills just across the Garigliano on a line Minturno-Castelforte-Sujo - but not the Corps HQ itself, up to Anzio. Up went 56 Inf Div closely followed by 5 Inf Div - 46 Inf Div stayed behind.

    At the time, Anzio was very short of AA units so 56 LAA Regt RA was detached from X (BR) Corps and taken to Anzio and put under command VI (US) Corps to protect the huge supply areas that were developing in the beachhead.

    Regards

    Frank
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022 at 8:43 PM
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  6. David Booth

    David Booth New Member

    Frank
    Thank you so much for confirming those facts.
    Dad joined 168/56LAA on 1/2/41 and stayed with them until he was transferred for infantry training with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers on 25/2 /45, 56LAA having been disbanded.Ultimately he was with the Cheshire Regiment
    His official dates were Middle East Force 7/5/42-9/9/43
    North Africa/ Italy 10/9/43-17/2/46.
    What you have said adds very nicely to what I knew/suspected, and in the case of Anzio, had no idea about.
    At El Alamein 168/56LAA were temporarily attached to 23rd Armoured Brigade.
    So that places him at or around El Alamein, Salerno, Anzio and Monte Cassino, then transferred to infantry.
    I think he did his bit!
    David
     
  7. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022 at 6:55 PM
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  8. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    David.

    On transfer to the infantry, he would have gone to 2 Northumberland Fusiliers who were the Div Heavy Weapons Battalion for 4 Inf Div.

    The Div Heavy Weapons Battalion provided the Div with Vickers Medium Machine Gun and 4.2 inch mortar support.

    It was logical that he would then have gone to the Cheshire Regiment because they too were Div Heavy Weapons Battalions. The tricky bit is that there were three battalions of Cheshire Regiment in Italy at the time so it is difficult to know which Inf Div he was then in.

    Regards

    Frank
     
  9. David Booth

    David Booth New Member

    Hi Frank.
    Once again your information is very interesting . Thank you.
    For reasons of completeness I will post what his official records say.
    Royal Northumberland Fusiliers no 3 Corps Refit Unit 25/2/45
    Posted to 8th Battalion Infantry Reinforcement Training Depot 3/4/45
    Posted to 6th Battalion Infantry Reinforcement Training Depot 4/6/45
    Posted to No 2 Corps Refit Unit 17/6/45
    Transferred to the Cheshire Regiment 6 th Battalion 29/6/45
    Released to Army Reserve 22/3/46 ( by now he was at a machine gun training centre in Chester)
    Regards
    David
     
  10. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    David.

    6 CHESHIRE were the Div Heavy Weapons Battalion for 56 Inf Div.

    Regards

    Frank
     

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