17th Field Regiment Royal Artillery - Sicily - August 1943

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Flamstead, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. Flamstead

    Flamstead Junior Member

    I am currently researching all those men named on my local Village War Memorial (Flamstead in Hertfordshire) ......

    Flamstead Parish Council - Document 2

    Amongst these is Gunner Glenister Leslie Morton who served with the 17th Field Regiment Royal Artillery and died on the 14th August 1943. He is buried in Catania War Cemetery, Sicily.

    Whilst I have been able to discover quite a bit about Gunner Morton the individual, I have not been able to find out how he might have died or what his unit were doing on that day in Sicily.

    It would be a great help to me if anyone on this site has any information on this unit and what they were doing in mid August 1943.
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    [FONT=&quot][/FONT]Hi Flamsted

    Don't know if it helps much, but 280 Bty of my mob (49th LAA Rgt. RA, 78 Div) gave support to the 17th Field Rgt. in Sicily as shown in red in the Rgtl Diaries below:

    AUG 1943

    On 3 Aug RHQ moved to 4 miles west of Centuripe. The gun tps were in their usual role of protecting gun areas

    On 8 Aug RHQ moved to west of Ademo. <3h ! 8 Aug the regt came under command 2 AA Bde and concentrated at Bronte.

    On 27 Aug the regt moved to the north coastal area and deployed as follows: 84 Bty to the gun area of 74 and 124 Fd Regts of 50 Div, A and B Tps 90 Bty to Milazzo port and C Tp to the airfield, A/280 Tp 132 and 138 Fd Regts, B.280 Tp 57 Fd regt and C/280 Tp 17 Fd regt of 78 Div. Road space necessitated the deployment of the regt over 4 nights and the last tp was not in action until 1 Sep. The strength was 41 officers and 807 ORs. The 21C was Ma N McCallum, the Adjt Capt RE Weeks the QM Lt AT Cudmore and the BCs - 84 Bty Maj AR Mouland (20 Sep 42), 90 Bty Maj ER Bent (6 Sep 42) and 280 Bty Maj WH Bell (24 May 43). The regt was generally north and east of Messina
  3. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Hi Flamstead,

    A photo of his headstone for starters. I've sent you a Private message as well.

    Photo from the website of 1° Institute “ M. BARTOLO “, Pachino, (Sicily)

    Rank: Gunner
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
    Unit Text: 17 Field Regt.
    Age: 22
    Date of Death: 14/08/1943
    Service No: 7957641
    Additional information: Son of Augustus and Edith Morton; husband of Mary Sidonia Morton, of Shafford, Hertfordshire.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: II. H. 31.

  4. Flamstead

    Flamstead Junior Member

    Ron & Ramacal,

    Many thanks for that information - it certainly all helps and I very much appreciate your input.

    It's very poigniant seeing the gravestone in Sicily as I have photos of this man as a schoolboy in Flamstead before the war but, sadly, nothing in between.
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    It would appear that the main action on the 14th August '43 by the 78th Div in Sicily was centred around the town of Randozzo as they turned around the NW corner of Mt ETNA to join up with the 51st Highland Div coming from the town of Linguaglossi (sp) as the 1st American div(the big RED one) went past them on their left flank towards Messina when both 78th and 51st joined up they also went towards Messina.

    To be buried at Catania - to the south was not unusual - the Canadians were all buried at Agira.
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    78 Div history Algiers to Austria by Cyril Ray has this on page 78.

    After Randazzo , on August 13 , the Division passed into reserve; the Americans entered Messina three days later, and the allied guns massed to bombard the mainland of Itlay and to prepare the way for the next campaign. While the infantrymen of the Division took their ease in the olive groves , or visited Taormina or Catania , it's artillery - 17, 132 , 138 and 57 Field Regiments covered by 49 LAA - moved up from August 24 onwards to the north coast of the island , west of Messina

    Think out loud now I wonder if he died of wounds at a hospital rather than KIA ???

    Page 74 For 9 August mentions heavy German shelling of Div artillery & a Bdr Evans of 17 Fd Regt awarded immediate MM.
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Here's all the 17 Fd Regt dead for August 43.
    All are for the 9th except for Morton & Sleap on the 8th.

    001 BAX TE 806653 17 FIELD REGT 09/08/1943 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    III. K. 4.
    002 CARY FJL 73017 17 FIELD REGT 09/08/1943 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    III. H. 40.
    003 GEE J 816936 17 FIELD REGT 09/08/1943 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    III. H. 36.
    004 GIBSON EBS 71864 17 FIELD REGT 09/08/1943 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    II. J. 10.
    005 GODFREY A 780486 17 FIELD REGT 09/08/1943 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    II. J. 27.
    006 HANNON JM 1104804 17 FIELD REGT 09/08/1943 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    II. J. 36.
    007 ISAACS AG 5182566 17 FIELD REGT 09/08/1943 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    III. H. 42.
    008 JEWELL E 1061495 17 FIELD REGT 09/08/1943 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    II. J. 24.
    009 MCGOWAN DE1083586 17 FIELD REGT 09/08/1943 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    II. J. 44.
    010 MORTON GL 7957641 17 FIELD REGT 14/08/1943 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    II. H. 31.
    011 SLEAP JE 6104739 17 FIELD REGT 08/08/1943 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    II. J. 33.

    I've just found an Officer of 17 Fd that was awarded an MC for his actions on the 11th & 12th.
    2 of his men were wounded.
    Now I'm wondering could one of those men have died of wounds on the 14th??

    Name Anderson, Douglas John
    Rank: Lieutenant
    Service No: 163443
    Regiment: 17 Field Regiment Royal Artillery
    Theatre of Combat or Operation: Sicily
    Award: Military Cross
    Date of Announcement in London Gazette: 18 November 1943

    Attached Files:

  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    If you can get to the National Archives in Kew a look in the war diary may show what happened to him.
    Detecting your browser settings

    WO 169/9474
    17 Fd. Regt.
    Covering dates1943 July- Dec.
  9. Flamstead

    Flamstead Junior Member

    Tom & Owen,

    Many thanks for this extra information which is most helpful.

    I think, looking at the evidence, that you (Owen) are most likely correct and Gunner Morton may have died from his wounds on the 14th rather than been killed in action that day.
  10. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Here are the War Diary pages for the period leading up to the 9th August when the majority of the men were killed. There were some men seriously wounded as well, so Gunner Morton was probably one of these and died on the 14th August.





  11. Flamstead

    Flamstead Junior Member


    That's superb and a very great help.

    Very many thanks for that. I'm sure that we can now far better record the sacrifice of this man and remember him as an individual rather than a name on a War Memorial.
  12. Paul R. Cary

    Paul R. Cary Member

    Almost a decade ago, you posted this. A year after you did, I photographed these same pages at Kew. My great-uncle, Major F.J.L. Cary, was killed on 9 August, 1943 (Vol 9 / Sheet 3).

    "Uncle Jack" had served in the Army since 1936 and was one of its youngest majors.

    Maj FJL Cary.JPG Receiving a promotion, circa 1937. I do not know who the CO is.

    Maj FWL Cary Portrait.JPG Maj. F.W.L. Cary, R.A., Circa 1941, age 24.

    His brother, my grandfather, was Lieut. R.W.L. Cary, M.C., is listed on Vol. 9 / Sheet 5 as being admitted to hospital with jaundice, just 2 weeks after his older brother's death.

    Capt RWL Cary MC Tunisia.JPG
    My grandfather, R.W.L. Cary, M.C. in Tunisia, June 1943.

    Maj RWL Cary MC Letter.JPG

    Letter from King George VI.

    Maj RWL Cary Medals.jpg

    My grandfather's medals. The Military Cross is on the far left. 1939-1946 Star. The Africa Star. The Italy Star. I need help with the remaining two on the right.

    He died of a heart attack in 1978 at age 57. These medals are not in my possession.

    Robert W.L. Cary was awarded the MC for continuing to carry out his duties despite a heavy shrapnel wound to his lower leg. He continued to command his battery, which was below the brow of a hill, and he ran up and down the hill for hours, spotting and directing fire against an attacking German force.

    He served in the 78th Battleaxe Division throughout the 1st Army's campaign in Tunisia and into Sicily. He returned to the unit in Italy after convalescing from jaundice in late '43 and fought up the boot until 1945, then redeploying to Austria.

    If anyone has any further information, I would very much appreciate it.
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  13. Paul R. Cary

    Paul R. Cary Member

    Thank you for listing - as you will see above this is my great-uncle Jack (Frederick John Lewis Cary). Unfortunately the CWGC link is no longer valid.

    It now appears to be: Casualty Details | CWGC
  14. Wobbler

    Wobbler Well-Known Member

    Hi Paul.

    An amazing man, your Grandfather.

    The two medals you cannot identify are (left to right) the Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-1945. You will find them listed here if you scroll down to the WW2 Medals section.

    Medals: campaigns, descriptions and eligibility
    Paul R. Cary likes this.
  15. Paul R. Cary

    Paul R. Cary Member

    Hi Martin, thank you! I appreciate the link to the medals as well.

    I would like to identify the CO in the first photo, and was wondering if there are any regimental records beyond the War Diary. Something like a copy of the MC citation, or any explanation of how my great-uncle died. From the WD it looks like counter-battery fire.

    I was told many years ago that the 17th used to have a reunion and several pen pals, but I cannot find out anything about that. I was thinking maybe the Union Jack Club or something like that may know whether there is a group of survivors. My grandmother died at 97 just last year, we believe possibly of very early Covid. She would have gone on to 100 no problem.

    Thanks again.
  16. Paul R. Cary

    Paul R. Cary Member

    p.s. if anyone has more pages from the War Diary, please can you share? I only took photos of the pages surrounding the action in early August.
  17. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
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  18. Wobbler

    Wobbler Well-Known Member

    Paul, do you know if your Great Uncle and/or Grandfather were with the 17th in 1939/1940? I ask only as it is very possible that Andy (Drew5233) will have copies of the Regiment’s time with the BEF, if that is also of interest to you. The reference is WO 167/473.
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  19. Paul R. Cary

    Paul R. Cary Member

    Thank you, Richard, for locating and linking this. I have registered for the Nat'l Archives and will continue to search for materials on there.

    I was aware of the 17th's role in the 78th and the numerous references to the various Rifles, Inniskillens and Fusilier units.

    I also bought a copy of a book by John Philip Jones, "Battles of a Gunner Officer: Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy, and the Long Road to Germany" with the diary entries of Maj. Peter Pettit, the 2IC of the 17th Field Regt. for Tunisia and Sicily.


    I found it quite odd that he does not mention my great uncle's name in the passage where Jack is killed (south of Bronte) by a mortar attack, even though Jack was a Major. Any thoughts on why he might omit that?

    I can upload a screen shot of that passage if everyone is OK it doesn't violate copyright rules.

    That's a very good question, Martin. I have heard stories that Jack was in France and at Dunkirk, but I was unable to verify them before his sister died suddenly of a benign brain tumour (I supposed one should ask if there is such a thing).

    I am aiming to put together the beginnings of a biography on my grandfather, with some help from my father and my uncle. In addition to his MC and service, he wrote and published several books and was a leading voice on the future of African politics when he died suddenly.
  20. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Did you know that 17 Field Regiment is still in existence? It was renumbered 19 field regiment in 1947. The "28" battery in 28/143 (Tombs Troop) is the renumbered 13 battery.

    Peter Pettit is dead, but his son Charles is around. He, like his father is a member of the HAC.
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