53 Air Landing Regiment positions 15 June 1944

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Sheldrake, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    I have been trying to work out 211 Batteries gun position after D Day. No grid is given but there is a mention that they were North of Ranville ina positoon that only a mountain howitzer could occupy. There is an aerial photo of the Pegasus Bridge area here. http://marketgarden1944-2014.pre-jump.nl/deep-zoom/pegasus%20II/embed.html It was taken early morning of 15th June, the day that 210 and 212 batteries deployed in Grid squares 1075 and 1175 (N edge of Ranvile) I wonder if some of the objects in the phot are 211's guns. i have put circled the ones I think might be guns in the uploaded image. I am not a PI and am probably wrong. Does anyone know where the guns were??
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Hi,
    Attached is a map with the gun positions marked. Information taken from a trace dated 16/6/44.

    Regards

    Danny

    Benouville  16  june 1944.jpg
     
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  3. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

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  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    That map is consistent with the war diary note for deployment in those grid squares. But the aerial photo from 15 June shows slit trenches rather than guns, which leaves me thinking that 211 may have relocated on the 15th? looking at the aerial photos I can't see a gun battery where it says 211 on the map. I also note that there isa "?" next to the position. Where did the map come from? Was this a possible planned position? If so how does this fit with the war diary comment which says that the unit deployed there the day before the date of the map?
     
  5. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Hi,
    Trace of the Battery positions on the 16/4/44. The trace is in the unit War Diary.

    The map is dated April 1944. I added the text to it. Unfortunately I left the question mark on it from my first edit.

    Regards

    Danny

    Benouville  Trace  gun  positions.jpg

    Benouville  field  ed  gr  tx.jpg

    15th June 1944 - Place: Normandy[SIZE=13.5pt][/SIZE]
    [SIZE=13.5pt]0600 - RHQ, 210 Bty and 212 Bty joined 211 Bty in action area 1075-1175 (On East bank of RIVER ORNE near BENOUVILLE).[/SIZE][SIZE=13.5pt][/SIZE]
     
  6. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Hi,
    Could these be some of the gun pits and the smaller, darker, holes the crew trenches ?

    Regards

    Danny

    Benouville  Gun  Poositions.jpg Benouville  Gun  Poositions  b.jpg
     
  7. CJB

    CJB Member

    Looking at the maps of the gun positions (210/211/21 batteries), and having recently returned from Normandy tracing father's movements on D-Day+, I realised that if I am correct I probably passed within a few yards of the possible gun positions without knowing it at the time. I got lost after leaving the ferry and crossed the canal/river shortly after disembarking and ended up on the small side road running alongside the river.
    I am still trying to find out how and when my father landed in Normandy. All his records show he landed on 09th June 1944 and I know the regiment (53rd Worcesters) landed by sea off Luc-Sur-Mer on 13th June. He was WOII BSM Frank Bentley 210 Battery. I believe he would have been attached to the Battery HQ which could have landed with the RHQ prior to the main regiment. I have copies of the war diaries and his army records.

    Charlie (CJB)
     
  8. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Charlie,

    I noticed you put up a very good photo of the 210th Battery RA on ParaData. I hope you don't mind if I post your Father's photo here. Perhaps he went in with the seaborne party of the 6th Airborne Division HQ which I can't find much information on. A post war Staff College report has them coming in on the D+2 which is close to the date your Father arrived at the beaches.

    WOII BSM Frank Bentley.JPG BTC125_6thAirborneDivTroops.jpg

    Regards ...
     
  9. CJB

    CJB Member

    Hello senior member (Cee?)

    I don't mind posting my father's photo. I assume it is OK. It is a snapshot taken from a panoramic photo of the battery (date unknown) which I purchased from the ParaData site. I actually originally had two slightly different ones but lost them some time ago due to moving house etc.
    My father's records do not show his promotions after Sergeant (late 1940) and I always understood it was a field promotion. His pay book has 06th June crossed out and 09th inserted and his army and medical records both show 09th June.
    I have information from a web site of a typical field artillery regimental formation during WW2 which shows each troop had a Troop Sergeant Major with the Battery Sergeant Major under Battery HQ. I am now almost certain he was promoted prior to D-Day. I have photos of him as a Sergeant with my brother when my brother was approximately one year old and as a BSM again with my brother maximum 3 years old. My brother was born September 1941. I also understood my father drove a motorcycle and would have gone ahead in advance of the battery to lay out the gun positions.
    If I am correct, this suggests that he did land on D-Day+2 with the 6th Airborne Division HQ.

    Regards,

    Charlie (CJB)
     
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    Why do you think your father landed with the sea party of HQ 6th Airborne Division?

    I would have thought the Battery Sergeant Major would have been too central to the smooth functioning of the battery to be deployed as a Liaison officer in Div HQ. The Battery Sergeant Major had a well defined role in action in command of the battery wagon lines, i.e. the ammunition and limber vehicles. He was responsible for battery ammunition resupply with the Battery Captain. The establishment of a light air landing battery is here. http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/23805-airborne-artillery/
    There is an explanation of how field artillery operated here. http://nigelef.tripod.com/maindoc.htm#Logistics and Ammunition Supply

    The Battery Sergeant Major was the Battery Commander's right hand man on all administration and discipline matters. The BSM would be the person who had to deal with any disciplinary matters, absence, drunkenness or other assorted idle behaviour. These were all important issues in the days before embarkation.

    In a well run battery the BC and the BSM work as a team to cultivate the moral component of fighting power, the team spirit and collective discipline. As the official alpha male of the 140 other ranks in the battery, he was the man that put the snap into the responsiveness of the soldiery. He would be expected to impose his will on the battery through the battery sergeants mess. His presence should put the fear of god into the idle and slovenly. BSMs are the army's practical psychologists who find out what levers to press to motivate the soldiery. He might also be a filter to ensure that the BC is never formally aware of any less official methods by which things are made to happen. He was to the Battery what the RSM was to the Regiment.

    Major the Hon C R Russell would have expected your father to have his finger on the battery's pulse and ready to use his persuasive powers to ensure that everything happened as it should. The Battery commander and Troop Commanders landed by air to provide the liaison and OP parties for 6 Air Landing Brigade. In their absence I would have imagined that your father would have been an important figure in the Battery move and embarkation.

    The regimental war diary says the unit embarked on 9th June at Tilbury and sailed on the 10th June. I wonder if the passage through the Straits of Dover counted as entry to a war theatre? . While there might be a certain cachet attached to landing on D Day, I think you can be even more proud that your father was the Battery Sergeant Major of 210, a fine gun battery.

    Was your father in the battery in France in 1940? It played a significant part on the withdrawal to Dunkirk and some of its soldiers were victims of the Wourmhout Massacre.
     
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  11. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Sheldrake,

    Charlie has the anomaly of a June 9th date that turns up a few times in his Father's records.

    "His pay book has 06th June crossed out and 09th inserted and his army and medical records both show 09th June."

    The 210th Battery completed loading and set to sea on the June 10th. It was fully unloaded in Normandy on June 14th. The 212th Battery and the marching party were in separate unnamed ships on a similar schedule. From the WD:

    "10th June 1944

    1000 - Loading of RHQ and 210 Battery vehicles completed. The "Empire Capulet" sailed at mid-day; this ship had never transported troops before and was not well equipped to do so. The men were in high spirits and shouted jokes at dockside workers. Anchored at a "ship assembly area" off SOUTHEND-ON-SEA in the evening."


    I don't think Major Russell was with the the 53rd at this time? He does show up as Second-in-Command on the Rhine Crossing Orbat. Your thinking on the Battery Sergeant Major staying with the troops makes sense, but I'm hardly familiar with the duties of RA Warrant officers.

    Regards ...
     
  12. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Charlie,

    Most service records show an embark and disembark date. Does your Father's make that kind of distinction?

    Cee
     
  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    My notes list Russell as BC 210 until 2/45 when he became the Regimental 2IC. His account of landing by glider D Day is quoted at length in the Regimental history: (Guttery D R Regt History 53 Fd Regt (QO Worcestershire Hussars) Mark & Moody Stourbridge Worcestershire)
     
  14. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Sheldrake,

    You are quite right. I'm not sure how I missed that as Major Russell is indeed listed in the Normandy Orbat as Commander of 210th Airlanding Light Battery. I'm wondering as well if Charlie's June 9th date might not be stretched to be the embark date. Thanks for the correction.

    Regards ...

    Edit: embark
     
  15. CJB

    CJB Member

    Cee & Sheldrake,

    What a great site this is. I am picking up more info a day than for many months past so thanks. My father enlisted in 1928 in the RRA serving for 3 years 2 in Egypt. He was on reserve for 9 years and was called back to colours on 01st Sept 1939 (3 months to go!) with the 53rd Worcestershire Yeomanry Anti-Tank Regiment 210 battery. He went out with the BEF on 05th Jan 1940 and returned via Dunkirk on 08th June 1940. He was actually evacuated from Bray-Dune/La Panne. He was in Wormhoudt. He said they had to make a decision to go left or right at a road junction and went right and missed the massacre. I know he went through Wylder and I believe i have stood at the spot (road junction) just outside Wormhout at my recent visit to Normandy and Dunkirk.
    After D-Day he went out for the Ardennes Breakthrough (23rd Dec 1944) and again for Operation Varsity (24th March 1945) the only time in a glider.
    It seems he was in 210 battery up until Operation Varsity where the battery was split between 211 and 212. He was in glider chalk sign 305 with a 25pdr and was wounded and taken POW
    He was chairman of the Manchester Branch Dunkirk Veterans and was a member of the Worcestershire Yeomanry Association for may years. Unfortunately I still have some queries to be answered.
    I have some interesting docs which I will post shortly.

    Regards
    Charlie (CJB)
     
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  16. CJB

    CJB Member

    Cee & Sheldrake,

    As previous, see attached info re-Dunkirk:-
    Copy newspaper cuttings from Manchester Evening News Date? I assume on one View attachment Newspaper Cuttings.pdf View attachment Tom Nicolls Letter.pdf View attachment Artillery Field Setup WW2.pdf View attachment Safe Return Note & Tax Note 1940.pdf of the anniversaries.
    Copy letter from a Tom Nichols to my brother.
    Copy Outline Organisation WW2 Anti-Tank Regiment which I have been using for reference re-position of BSM's
    Copy note from my father to my mother confirming safe return from Dunkirk and note to Inland revenue. Note date. My dad's records all show 08th June?

    Regards,

    Charlie (CJB)
     
  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    BSMs had a different role in Anti tank Regiments
     
  18. CJB

    CJB Member

     
  19. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    Funnily enough I have just come back from a trip to Wormhout and Dunkirk as a guest of the local tourist board.
     
  20. CJB

    CJB Member

    Sheldrake from CJB,
    I have completed a draft of the book I said I was writing about my father. The PDF copy is about 16mb as I have included a lot of. photos. I am in the process of trying to reduce the file size. The main reason it has taken so long is during my research. I keep finding information which then has to be followed up, and I have changed the format a few times.
    Thanks for the info re-BSM's function. A number of things I have found out now make sense.
     

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