Edited Extracts of the Regimental Diary of the 49th Light Ack Ack Rgt. R.A. (See the PS at the bottom of this page for details PRIOR to 11th May 1943) Edited Extracts from Regimental Diaries for the 49th LAA Rgt. held at PRO/National Archives, Kew (Period covered 11th May 1943 to 18th December 1944) ©Copyright RA Historical Trust 2004. Printed 26 MAY 04 Compiled by Major D Rollo. Note 1: This document was originally a photo-copy. Using OCR, Ron converted it to a Word Document and has edited it to find any type errors. 49th LAA Regt TA Lt.Col.G.V.Hunt North Africa, Algeria, Sicily,Italy 78th Inf Div., 2nd AA Brigade 1943 On 11 May the regt concentrated near Carthage less one tp 84 Bty in action at North La Goulette, one to 90 Bty on the Medjez - Tunis Road, 2 to 3 miles SW of Tunis and one tp 280 Bty in action south of Tunis protecting 17 Fd Regt gun area. On 12 May the whole regt was concentrated near Carthage Note: Ron was posted to 84 Bty/49th LAA on 22/05/43. He was then to remain with the Rgt. until its disbandment in December 1944 when he was transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps. On 30 May the Regt left Tunis and moved into Algeria to Las Croix and on the On 31 May moved to 7 miles west of Guelma. The regt was camped in olive groves north of Oued Seybouse. During this period there was a major change in vehicles in order to standardise within 78 Div. On 17 Jun 78 Div was visited by HM The King. 78 Div was then ordered back into Tunisia. On 21 Jun 84 Bty moved with 11 Bde Gp to Hammamet, 30 miles SE of Tunis, and On the 22nd 90 Bty moved with 36 Bde Gp to Hammamet On the 23rd RHQ moved to Hammamet. The two btys exercised with their bde gps. On 26 Jun 280 Bty arrived at Hammamet from Algeria with 38 Bde Gp. On 6 Jul the btys began to move with their bde gps to Sousse and RHQ moved there on 9 Jul. On 21 Jul a warning order was received for the regt to embark for Sicily. 84 Bty, with 11 Bde Gp, moved first and embarked in LSTs at Sousse on 23 Jul. On the 24th RHQ and 90 Bty moved to the transit area. 84 Bty disembarked north of Avola, Sicily and moved to the div cone area. That evening the guns were in action covering the Bde Gp. On the 26th RHQ embarked and 280 Bty moved to the transit area. On the 27th 280 Bty embarked at Sousse. On the 28th RHQ disembarked north of Avola and moved to the assembly area. Vehicles were de-waterproofed and then RHQ moved to 78 Div cone area north of Mineo. 280 Bty disembarked north of Avola on the 29th and moved to the cone area on the 30th. On 30/31st Me 109s were active and RHQ was machine-gunned 90 Bty arrived on l Aug. 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 and On 3 Sep supported the movement over the Straits of the Op BAYTOWN units, the invasion of Italy. On 6 Sep the regt reverted to under command 78 Div. On 8 Sep the regt, less 90 Bty, moved to a cone area at Fumari. 90 Bty remained in defence of Milazzo port and airfield. On 13 Sep 90 Bty joined the regt in the cone area. The regt was now under orders to move to Italy and On the 20th 84 Bty embarked on the Ferry service to Reggio. RHQ followed On the 22nd and between 23 and 25 Sep moved via Crotone and Taranto to Bari and was established in a house on the outskirts of Trani. On the 23rd 90 Bty embarked for Italy. 84 Bty arrived in the cone area with 11 Bde Gp on the 24th and on the 25th 280 Bty embarked for Italy. On the 27th RHQ moved to an olive grove SE of Barletta. On the 28th 90 Bty arrived in the cone area near Trani_and 280 Bty arrived on the 29th and concentrated 3 mile south of Barletta, On the 30th all three btys moved forward to protect the 78 Div route Barletta o S Ferdinand - S Severo - Sirracapriola. On 1 Oct RHQ moved to an olive grove west of San Severo and HQ 84 Bty moved to the San Severo area. On the 2nd RHQ moved to San Paolo. The next day 90 Bty guns moved towards Termoli on route protection and RHQ moved to north of Serracapriola and was joined there by HQ 280 Bty. 90 Bty had one man killed and one wounded by enemy aircraft machine-gunning. On the 4th RHQ moved again, to a farm south of Campomarino and was joined there by HQ 84 Bty. 84 Bty had one man killed by aircraft machine-gunning. HQ 94 Bty moved to near Termoli. On 6 Oct 327/99 LAA Bty came under command and deployed 18 guns on route defence Serracapriola - Termoli, but reverted to 5 Corps command on 13 Oct. Two tps 280 Bty deployed to protect the route Campo \ Marine - Termoli. On 16 Oct 115/26 LAA Bty came under command and BHQ was located west of Porto Cannone. On 20 Oct 115/26 LAA Bty reverted to command of RA 8 Indian Div. On 30 Oct B/90 Tp was deployed in defence of Termoli port and town and A.280 Tp was defending 5 Corps Petrol Dump. During the month guns of the regt engaged 23 separate raids, mostly by FW 190s of between 2 and 12 in number. Two aircraft were destroyed and there was one probable. On 3 Nov A and B Tps 84 Bty and A and B Tps 90 Bty supported the crossing of R Trigno by protecting the crossing points and by firing a fire plan which called for burst of between 12 and 18 rounds at intervals from 5 to 12 minutes until 1,812 rounds had been expended. On 5 Nov there was a raid in which a new type of approach was used, aircraft diving out of the sun with engines switched off. An officer and 3 ORs were killed and 5 injured. A tractor was destroyed. On 5 Nov RHQ moved to S Salvo Station. On 6 Nov RHQ moved to east of Vasto. Air attacks continued and, unfortunately, not only be the enemy for On 7 Nov there were two separate attacks carried out by Kittyhawk fighters. On 8 Nov RHQ moved to Castel Bordino. Orders came that day to collect 12 SP Bofors from 74 LAA Regt and on the 10th A/90 Tp went to Campomarino for training on the SPs. There were two attacks by "friendly" aircraft on 11 Nov in which a bomb was dropped. A later report states that attacks were made quite near the easily identifiable Punta della Penna which was well south of the "bombline". The report also states that the attacks were neither determined, being turned away by warning shots, nor accurate so that no great damage was done. On 12 Nov 26 Sights Correctional, Stiffkey Sticks, were issued. On 17 Nov the C) exchanged posts with CO 76 HAA Regt, for a short period, so that each could study the AA policy of the other regt. A/83 Tp went to Campomarino for SP Bofors training. A /90 left Campomarino and moved north of Vasto with SP guns. On 24 Nov six "friendly" bombers (Bostons) dropped bombs east of Casalbordino. Six FW 190s attacked the bridge over R Sangro at H 4302. Stiffkey sticks were used and the guns destroyed one of the aircraft and the RAF another. On 25 Nov A/90 moved to defend a bridge over R Sangro at H 4301. There were twenty air raids during the month, including those by "friendly" aircraft. On 2 Dec A/90, C/90, 3 guns B/90 and 3 guns B/280 were relieved by Cdn LAA and concentrated east of Sangro. On the 4th ( Dec) 90 Bty moved with 36 Bde to a rest area at Casacalenda On 10 Dec 280 Bty moved to the Isernia area on route protection and fd gun areas under 11 Bde.. On the 12th RHQ moved to Campobasso and was joined there by 90 Bty which was deployed in defence of the town. On 20 Dec 84 Bty moved from the rest area at Casacalenda to Capracotta and Vastogiradi with BHQ at Carrovilli. The bty came under command 56 Recce Regt of 78 Div. On 21 Dec A/84 Tp relieved A/280 Tp on route protection Isemia - Castelluceio. A/280 came under command of 90 Bty and moved to Campobasso for defence and training on SP Bofors. Lt Col Hunt and Lt Col T Smith of 76 HAA Regt, returned to their own units. On 25 Dec A/84 Tp moved from route protection at Isernia to medium gun protection at Vastogiradi. On 28 Dec B and C Tps 90 Bty moved to relieve B and C Tps 280 Bty in the Forli area on gun area protection. A/280 moved guns to adjust Campobasso defences pending the arrival of B and C Tps 280 Bty. The latter arrived at Campobasso on 29 Dec. On the 30th two guns of C/84 moved to Capracotta for ground defence and On the 31st these guns moved to Carrovilli. There were only 7 raids in Dec, all between the 1st and the 3rd. At the end of the year the strength was 41 officers and 807 ORs 1944 49 LAA Regt TA 1 Jan 6 Jan 12 Feb 22 Apr 8 Nay 78th Inf Div Florence Command Italy Embarked Egypt Embarked Italy 1 Jan 8 Nov 1 Jan 18 Jul 22 Jul 9 Sep 15 Sep 1 Jan 1 Jan 1 Jan Hunt McCallum Hunt Mouland Matthews 280 LAA Bty TA 84f LAA Bty TA 90 LAA Bty TA Lt Col GV Lt Col N Lt Col GV Maj AR Lt Col AL 1944 RHQ was at Campobasso with 280 Bty and A/90 Tp. 84 Bty was at Carrovilli less A Tp at Vastogiradi, BHQ and B and C Tps 90 Bty were at Forti. On 6 Jan Lt Col Hunt, who was attached to 76 HAA Regt, was admitted to hospital and Maj N McCallum who was commanding during his attachment was appointed Acting Lt Col. On 19 Jan RHQ moved to Boiano. There was no enemy air activity but on 22 Jan "friendly" fighters attacked a bridge and MT. Orders had now come for 78 Div to be relieved by 3 Carpathian (Polish) Div. On 30 Jan RHQ moved to Toretlo. On 1 Feb 84 Bty came under command 11 Inf Bde and moved from Carovilli to Carunchio in concentration. On 2 Feb 2 guns 90 Bty moved from Vandra to Duronia and the rest of the bty moved from Vandra to a staging area at Cantelupo on the 3/4th. The regt was now ordered to a cone area at Agnone and on 4 Feb 90 Bty moved from the staging area to Duronia and 280 Bty from Campobasso to Molise, near Torello. 84 Bty moved from Carunchio to Agnone. At this point the concentration of the regt was held up by heavy snow and there was no movement possible until the 10th by which time the concentration at Agnone was cancelled and the new area was Larino - Campobasso. On 12 Feb Lt Col Hunt rejoined from hospital and resumed command. On 14 Feb 84 Bty moved from Agnone to Bagnoli. That day the 2IC, Maj McCallum, was posted to 51 LAA Regt in command. A new 2IC was not appointed. Late on the 14th came a warning that the move to the cone area was imminent and that btys would move under inf bdes. On the 15th 280 Bty left Torello to join 38 Bde column i and on the 16th 84 Bty left Bagnoli to join 11 Bde Column at Cantelupo/ Then orders came for the regt, less two btys, to join the div column at Cantelupo and 90 Bty joined the RHQ I column. RHQ and 90 Bty left Torello on the 17th, joined the div column and staged that night at Alife. On the 18th the regt moved to the cone areas around Alife. On 26 Feb B/90 Tp I moved under command 36 Bde to Mignano, C/84 Tp also moved to Mignano in support of 132 Fd Regt. By 1 Mar the regt, les NB/90 Tp, was concentrated in the general area Pignataro- i Villa Volturno. B/90 was concentrated at Mignano. Capt ARE Matthei joined and became Adjt and Capt RE Weeks was promoted to Maj to command 84 Bty vice Maj Mouland who was in hospital. On 2 Mar RHQ, 90 bty, less A Tp and 84 Bty, moved to Mignano. There had been heavy rain and many vehicles were bogged. On 3 Mar C/90 Tp moved to protect a diversion on the Speedy Express supply route. The CO ordered all SP guns to put chains on their wheels. On the night 8/9th 280 Bty completed deployed to Speedy Express to relieve US troops. On 15 Mar the NZ Corps operation to capture Cassino and break into the Liri Valley, which had been postponed daily since mid Feb, began at 1200 hrs. It was agreed that after a bridgehead had been established on the west bank of R Rapido a tp of 90 Bty would allot 3 guns for the defence of each bridge on the east bank, the remaining two tps to go through the bridgehead, one to protect 138 Fd Regt and the other to deploy 3 guns at each bridge on the west bank. On 21 Mar the regt was ordered to take over the task of providing a smoke screen at Speedy Express Highway and Highway 6 Bridges over R Rapido. 84 Bty took on this task. Between 1250 and 1310 hrs on 25 Mar 430 to 40 enemy aircraft in three main waves approached Cassino from the south, flying up Speedy Express and Route 6. They were engaged first by 18 guns of 84 Bty concentrated at Mignano. 90 and 280 Btys and all other local LAA engaged. Seven aircraft were destroyed in all and 84 and 280 btys claimed one each. On 24 Mar 280 Bty fired pointer rounds at two Me 109s and our own fighters took up the chase. On the night of 25/26 Mar 21 guns of 57 LAA Regt were relieved by 90 Bty, B Tp at Cervaro, A Tp, the next night, to north of Trocchio and C Tp, that same night, to San Michele. On 26 j Mar the CO was taken off duty by the MO and Maj Bent assumed temporary command. The CO went to hospital on the 27th. At about this time the regt took over 24 x 20 mm Oerlikon guns for deployment in 11 and 36 Bde areas in the mountains north of Cassino. On the 27th BC 84 Bty reported that the areas to be defended by the 20 mm guns were a 4.2 inch mortar area and a Jeephead. Daylight recce was believed to be impossible. On the night 28/29th six 20 mm were deployed in pairs and another six in pairs, on the night 29/30th. Maj Mouland returned from hospital and resumed command of 84 Bty On the 29th SOP guns became available for 280 Bty, the 12 existing guns having been employed, 6 to each of 84f and 90 Btys, an SP tp in each On 31 Mar 84 Bty was relieved of the smoke task. The bty had been congratulated by the CRA on producing a very effective screen. 84 Bty was then ordered to deploy A and B Tp|A to cover 17 Fd Regt to allow B/90^3 return to its previous posn and B/84 to protect Route 6 San Pietro to Cervaro. These moves took place on 1 Apr. On 11 Apr Lt Col Hunt returned to duty and assumed command. On 12 Apr the following officers appointments were changed: Maj AR Mouland appointed 21C, Maj JA Bannatyne, recently joined from HQ 5 Corps, BC 84 Bty, Maj ER Bent resumed command of 90 Bty. The regt was given another smoke task. On 21 Apr Lt Col Hunt was posted home and the 2IC assumed command on 22 Apr. The CO was then nominated AADC 13 Corps area. Over the next few days the regt was relieved piecemeal On 23 Apr RHQ moved to the new area (not specified in the War Diary). 90 LAA Bty was deployed at light scales, only 6 men per gun. Tac HQ 2890 Bty and B Tp employed on the smoke screen and 25 men as stretcher-bearers, 84 Bty, elements of C Tp at rear RHQ (304918) and the rest of the regt in the same area. Training courses began and included minefield lifting and marking. 27 Apr Tac HQ moved forward and 84 Bty deployed in the Presenzano area under command 14 LAA Regt for ops. On 8 May Lt AL Matthews joined and assumed command. On 10 May the CO ordered that Maj Bent would return to 90 Bty, 280 Bty was to be placed under command 38 Bde and would move with that bde to a cone area at Presenzano. This move took place on 11 May. At 2300 hrs that night the fire plan opened and assault boats left the east bank of R Rapido. On th 13th 84 Bty, which had been under command 12 AA Bde, came under regt command and BHQ and B and C Tps deployed on Route 6 and A Tp on another section of the route. On 14 May orders came for 280 Bty to cross the river at 1530 hrs and defend the gun areas of 142 Fd Regt and 12 RHA. On the 16th A and B Tps 280 Bty crossed the river in the afternoon ana went Into action on the West Bank. There were many movements of gun tps during this period which are almost impossible to follow without detailed maps. The regt generally was supporting the operations to isolate Cassino. One unusual task was the protection of the Cassino Task Force which consisted of bulldozers. On the 18th Rear RHQ crossed R Rapido and A and B Tps 84 Bty crossed the start line at S Vittore for an unknown destination. On the (T5tf)RHQ moved with HQRA 78 Div to M Vertecchi 90 Btv_encountered some enemy shelling andjhere_were casualties^ Ju 88s were over the area dropping bombs. On the 23rd 1 Cdn Dw attack on Pontecorvo began. Late on the 23rd the Co was informed that when Aquino was taken rapid advances might be made and that LAA would be needed well forward in case the enemy used aircraft to hinder a swift follow up. Late on the 25th.A/240 was with 165 Fd Regt H. Bty was to defend gun areas of 132 and 17 Fd Regts and 66 Med Regt with A, B and C Tps respectively. 90 Bty was to move to defend Aquin^98amd 138 Fd Regts with B(A^nd C Tps, respectively. These moves ttyl. place on the 26th. On the 27th 84 Bty was ordered to use all three tps to defend Route 6 from Aquino to MelnTBridge. On the 28th all btys were informed that their tps would continue to move with affiliated fd regts. On the 29th RHQ moved with HQRA to Ceprano, about 15 miles SSE of Frosinone. 84 Bty deployed tps to defend the two bridges over R Liri at Ceprano. There was enemy air activity at this time but not sustained attacks. By 2 Jun Frosinone had been reached and A/280 Tp was in action there. 84 Bty was in action south of Frosinone. On 2 Jun severe restrictions on vehicle movement were imposed on 2 Jun from midnight until 2100 hrs on 3 Jun. Not even rations were to be drawn. The regt then remained in the current posns for some days and authority was received to man only 2 guns per tp. HQRA moved to Castro Massimo but RHQ remained where it was. Regt B Ech was ordered up from the Ceprano area. By 4 Jun the regt was almost concentrated and the only tps in action were A/280 at Frosinone and A and B/84 on Route 6 south of Frosinone. 52 LAA Regt relieved these tps on 6 Jun. On the 7th (June) HQRA reported that 38 Bde, with 280 Bty under command, were moving that day to a cone area north of Rome but this moved was postponed. A tp was to be placed under command of each div fd regt and was to move with those regts. These moves took place on 8 Jun Tp 280 with 17 Fd regt, Tp 84 with 132 Fd Regt and Tp 80 with 138 Fd Regt. The remainder of the regt in the order RHQ, 84,280 and REME moved late on the 8th but while en route the CO was ordered to turn off to a staging area to clear the route. The CO decided that the regt would return to their old locations and await new timings. At midday on the 9th the head of the column was at the start point waiting for Main HQ 8th Army to pass. The convoy eventually got under way and' passed through Rome at 1630 hrs. At 180 hrs, after a 77 mile journey, the regt arrived at the staging area and was there ordered to move, the next day, to Civita Casteliana about 25 miles north of Rome. In fact this journey became impossible owing to road congestion an, additionally, 280 Bty was ordered to send a party to make smoke at a diversion. The regt did not move again until 13 Jun and staged that night at Viterbo, 20 miles "NW of Civitavecchia which was on the coast. From there the regt was ordered to Orvieto, 20 miles further north and reached Valsalva and Andrea. In the evening came a message saying that the regt may be shortly withdrawn from the div for reorganisation. On 3 Nov the CO saw the CRA and was told that the regt was to leave 78_Div and move to Tavernelle, near Lake Trasimeno, for reorganisation on undisclosed lines. The possible changes could include disbandment. All personnel on miscellaneous duties were to be replaced by 26 Armd Bde and a LAA Bty was to take over any AA tasks. However requests for men and vehicles continued to come in. On the 4th there was another request for more stretcher bearers. This was becoming very difficult as the target date for the move of the regt was 7 Nov, this having been notified in a message from 13 Corps on the 4th. REME Workshops was informed that it would not be accompanying the regt. The CO then decided that Lt McGrath, in charge of the Stretcher Bearers, would have to make arrangements for moving his men to Tavemelle under separate arrangements. HQRA 78 Div then arranged for three 3 tonners to be sent to Lt McGrath to move his command to the new area. On 6 Nov the relief of the regt, in its multifarious tasks, started, apparently with less difficulty than had been expected. On 7 Nov the regt left 78 Inf Div after serving with it for 2 years and 5 months of which two years, to the very day, had been spent on foreign soil in Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy and Egypt. During this period 9.546 rounds had been fired in action, resulting in the confirmed destruction of 43 enemy aircraft and one tank. The regt came under command 5th Army. The move began at 0600 hrs by btys and RHQ by single vehicles owing to road problems. At 1125 hrs the RHQ Office Truck, the last vehicle, left the Div. At 2100 hrs the office truck arrived at Tavernelle. The regt was accommodated in buildings in circumstances of greater comfort than had been known since the regt left AA Command in April 1942. The regt was under Florence Command for local Admin. The CO had called in at Florence to attempt to secure leave facilities for the regt. No such help was forthcoming.. The Regt Workshops arrived at Tavemelle, the previous instructions having been cancelled. On 10 Nov the MGRA, AAI, Maj Gen A Homby inspected the regt and in his address afterwards announced with regret that the regt was to be disbanded and the personnel used as reinforcements as required in arms for which they were suited. On 19 Nov an officers selection board visited the regt and interviewed most of the officers. An OR selection also arrived and began work. On 22 Nov the SOP guns were handed in to 13 Vehicle Park, Foligno and the towed guns were handed in to the main gun park at Tome. The regt was ordered to move to Afragola and on 4 Dec the regt left Tavernelle and moved to Rome and moved from Rome on 5 Dec to Afragola. There are no further records for the regt but the Diary of 90 LAA Bty shows that the regt did arrive at Afragola on 5 Dec and posting out of personnel began on 6 Oct with those selected for RE or R Sigs. On the 7th those ORs selected for other RA units or the RASC Garrison Bn and RjEME were despatched. On 8 Dec all MT was despatched to Foligno and Prato. The personnel rear party moved to Cericola on 8 Dec and the regt was effectively disbanded on 18 Dec. ©Copyright RA Historical Trust 2004. Printed 26 MAY 04 Compiled by Major D Rollo ps For anyone needing data concerning the Rgt prior to 11th May 1943, I have this info as 4 un-edited A4 sheets of closely printed text that I am willing to scan if necessary and post the images here.