67th Field Regt RA TA in the BEF

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Uncle Target, Aug 20, 2023.

  1. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    In this thread I will attempt to follow the 67th Field Regt from Leefdaal on the River Dyle to Bray Dunes near Dunkirk
    Any relevant contributions, stories, histories or photos are welcome.
    Particularly from the associated Infantry Battalions in the British 1st Division

    3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards
    2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards
    2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment

    1st Battalion, Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire)
    2nd Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment
    6th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders (from 7 March 1940

    1st Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment
    2nd Battalion, Sherwood Foresters
    1st Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry

    French war planning 1920–1940 - Wikipedia

    I will begin with the journey described in the 267 Field Regt Centenary Journal.
    267 was the post war designation of the 67th Field Regt.

    Withdrawal to Dunkirk.jpg
    267 FR Centenary Journal page 27
    Withdrawal to Dunkirk 2.jpg
    267 FR Centenary Journal page 28

    Leefdaal 10th May * confirmed date
    Neerijse 14th May ??
    Auderghem 15th May
    Zobbroek 16th May (South West of Anderlecht/ Brussels)
    Vlezenbeek West of Zobbroek (Where Capt Styles was buried by the Parish Priest on 19th May) * confirmed date
    Probably Killed in Action defending the Charleroi Canal, possibly using Bell tower as OP. Date to be confirmed.
    The Charleroi Canal was part of the Senne Line. A defensive stop line to slow down the enemy to allow time for the evacuation at Dunkirk.
    Aspelere 18th May 1st Division Rendezvous (confirmed by 2nd Field Regt War Diary.
    (When Capt Styles was found to be missing).
    Voorde 19th May
    Tournai to
    Bailleul 20th May - 21st May
    Templeuve 21st -23th May - Brig Hudson VC Counter attack by 2 Infantry Brigade & Guards.
    (see 267 Centenary Journal above and Hobson Report below also War Diary, 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards, BEF - Sep 1939 to Jun 1940 ww2t)
    Breucq one troop from each Battery withdrew to set up rear line of defence as the enemy infantry had crossed the river engaging in hand to and fighting amongst the guns.
    Esquelmes The enemy were pushed back across the canal (River Scheldt) 267 Centenary Journal
    Esquelmes War Cemetery
    Commonwealth War Cemetery Esquelmes - Esquelmes (Pecq) - TracesOfWar.com
    24th May the regiment rested to catch up on sleep & were bombed during the night.
    moved to
    Lesart (suburb of Lille)
    Ploegsteert 26 May
    then over the next three days
    Continuously on the move via
    Neuvee Eglisse
    Poperinge (in flames)
    Les Moëres 30th May 265 Bty 18 pounders defending canal
    Bray Dunes 30th May 266 Bty 4.5 Howitzers last OP (see sketch Map)
    266 Bty BC Major Flay, wounded in the throat.
    One third of Reg returned with 2 i/c Major Dent 31st May
    All ammunition expended & equipment wrecked.
    Remainder of Regt less A Troop left on HMS Worcester 1st June
    (see Commander HMS Worcester Report)

    A troop left on HMS Esk 3rd June
    HMS Esk
    28th May Passage to Dover for evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk. (Operation DYNAMO)
    (Note: Rear Admiral Dover and Staff officers embarked to act as Senior Naval Officer (Afloat)
    off beaches.)
    30th Passage from Dover for 2nd embarkation.
    31st Carried out Third trip and returned to Dover to make second passage.
    1st June Carried out fifth trip and returned to Dover Sustained slight damage
    2nd Resumed DYNAMO duties after repair.,
    3rd Final embarkation trip and rescued over 1,000 French troops from ss SCOTIA which had been hit
    during air attacks and later sank
    (Note: For details of numbers of troops evacuated see BEF SHIPS by John de Winser
    and Naval Staff History (HMSO- 2002)

    BOOKS: Belt, Boots and Spurs BY JONATHAN RABAN
    Re Journey on HMS Esk

    Indication of route follow the place names from Leefdaal to De Panne.
    Use the list of place names provided then search them on the google link.
    Google Maps
    **** Edit:Found a problem with google maps.
    If you look at this route with a phone or tablet it can show two routes blue and grey.
    The grey is generated by the device due to its satnav capability and is an alternative route for modern day traffic.
    I don't get this grey image on my desktop but it shows up on my phone.

    Edited 21.08.23 Dates in error reviewed.
    Both the Anniversary Journal and the report by ACW Hobson give the counter attack by 2nd Brigade as
    "Three Days before the end". Making it the 27th May1940
    This was 21st - 23rd May 1940 2nd Field Regt War Diary and the War Diary 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards BEF-Sep 1939-June 1940 (ww2t).

    The 267 Centenary Journal gives the date for leaving on HMS Worcester as 2nd June.
    The Naval Commander of HMS Worcester's Report clearly gives the 1st of June 1940.
    HMS Esk records show that the Scotia was sunk on 3rd June Esk went to their assistance on its last trip to Dunkirk.

    Online Veteran accounts
    BBC - WW2 People's War - Dunkirk 1940
    Dunkirk by Major To Averill
    Remembering the Dunkirk Evacuations - Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology Service
    (Now needs Google sign in).
    BBC - WW2 People's War - A letter from home: 67th Field Regt R.A. in France 1940

    British Library
    Tom Averill & Ken Monk audio
    British Library
    Frank Price audio

    Dunhirk Le Panne map.jpg
    Map from the Averill Family Collection

    Dunkirk by ACWH.jpg
    ACW Hobson
    Averill Family Collection
    Note: I will come back to update this post after checking other documents to make any necessary corrections and maintain the narrative without interruption.
    It might take some time.

    CWGC List 67FR WW2.jpg
    CWGC List
    Any other subsequent posts are welcome as mentioned above

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 28, 2023
  2. Rowslow

    Rowslow Daughter of William Herbert Clifford

    Good job,
  3. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Perhaps Members living in Belgium/France could suggest a suitable map for this period.
    My main focus at the moment is the Action in which 2 IB under Brigadier Hudson VC fought
    and the actions of the Guards mentioned in the Centenary Journal above.
    More info needed see Commonwealth War Cemetery Esquelmes - Esquelmes (Pecq) - TracesOfWar.com and CWGC.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2023
    John West and Rowslow like this.
  4. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Last edited: Aug 24, 2023
    John West likes this.
  5. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    There is a distinct lack of online knowledge or information regarding the BEF withdrawal 10th May to early June.
    The 67th made two main pauses one to hold up the enemy advance at Zobbroek near the Charleroir Canal (Senne Line) and one at Esquelmes

    Surely some of the Infantry units kept war diaries which mentioned these.
    Not exactly my line of business being Privates not Gunners.

    Help needed

    I had a problem before researching the 1st Div withdrawal to Dunkirk.
    Might be the end of the road on this soon without a few hints.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2023
  6. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    The Gort Line mentioned in Traces of War on #1 seems to have been something of white elephant.
    Very costly and little used.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2023
  7. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Modifications to #1
    Movement dates reviewed
    Added details re HMS Worcester & HMS Esk.
    Evacuation dates reviewed & edited. 23/08/23
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2023
  8. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Adding online accounts of Dunkirk by men of the 67th Field Regt.

    Updated previous posts.
    Removed satisfied requests but left others awaiting possible help.

    Added CWG List 67 FR WW2
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2023
  9. Rowslow

    Rowslow Daughter of William Herbert Clifford

    What is CWGC list where did you get it, and what does. CWGC stand for?
  10. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Commonwealth War Graves Commission
    They used to be very approachable.
    About nine years ago I emailed them for a list of casualties in the 67th Field Regt in WW2 they sent me a list.
    What you see is part of an XL document with more info about age, date and place of burial etc.
    Too much to put on here or put in an average book.

    The Commonwealth War Graves Commission | CWGC

    You might try asking them for one for the 2nd Field Regiment Casualty List for WW2 but everything is on line now.
    I doubt they have the human resources to look them up by Regiment..

    Most War Dead searches now require name to begin the search.
    Find Cemeteries & Memorials | CWGC

    Find War Dead | CWGC

    I've not used it for some time.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2023
    Rowslow likes this.
  11. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    The CWGC list was my guide in my early research. I new that Lt Beadle was killed my a landmine and buried in Florence as I had a letter to his wife mentioning his colleagues and describing the Cemetery.
    I found that it was not the current War Cemetery.
    He and his three comrades were buried three times until the current War Cemetery was opened.

    His letters did not mention the other three killed with him,
    I suspected that as an officer he would have a driver but was stunned to find that there were four men in the Jeep.
    When I eventually found his final resting place I looked at the list of burials in the Cemetery to find four more from the 67th. Three on the same day as him.

    That was when I began to study the 67th Field Regiment and found that the fourth was killed in the mountains in September, at the beginning of the fighting for the Gothic Line.

    It has been an interesting adventure and still continues because the war was inclusive, it took in everyone.
    I moved from my interest in a man to his friends then a troop , a Regiment, then a Division which was part of an army.
    Three Armies in fact, the First Army the 8th Army and the 5th (American).

    I grew up in an England with burnt out cities like Birmingham where we went shopping on a Midland Red bus.
    and Bristol where my fathers family were bombed out of three houses.

    The larger factories were all wartime armament factories. We all had air raid shelters behind our houses and in the town centres for people to dive for cover.

    Food was still rationed and people wore worn repaired clothing.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2023
  12. Rowslow

    Rowslow Daughter of William Herbert Clifford

    I was born during an air raid! We have floods here today I’m not affected but my daughter is! This is the park across from me 6 inches of rain overnight!

    Attached Files:

  13. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Didn't realise Stoke on rent was bombed
    I went to this museum in 2009 to see the Staffordshire Hoard. - THAT's History

    Where's the wildfires they keep on about.
    Thought Canada was the new Serengeti

    Not exactly WW2 - back to the emails!

    We'll get our legs slapped by the mods.

    Re Museum link.
    Wasn't the red Gas Mask container for the Micky Mouse mask for children?
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2023
  14. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    The Worcester Archives Audio Tapes are revealing unexpected facts.
    Frank Price Sergeant / No1 on a Field Gun in "A" Troop 265 Bty mentions that they were armed with
    upgraded 18/25 pounder guns.
    No doubt to meet the same specification as the Regular 2nd and 19th Field Regiments in 1st Infantry Division.
    266 Bty were armed with 4.5 inch Howitzers.
    Rowslow likes this.
  15. Rowslow

    Rowslow Daughter of William Herbert Clifford

    What year did they get upgraded to 18/25 pounder guns?
  16. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    They left Worcester in September 1939 with 18 pounders with wooden wheels and lorries made in 1913 all old WW1 equipment which broke down on the way and was scrapped .

    On 14th September the regiment left Worcester and Malvern in ‘Midland Red’ buses bound for Wiltshire. Regimental Headquarters and 266 Battery went to Ramsbury and 265 Battery to Aldbourne. The guns followed, towed by 1913 Commer lorries. This trip finished off these ancient vehicles and on arrival they all had to be scrapped and were replaced by Morris Quads (field artillery tractors). In addition to the Commers the regiment had a motley collection of commandeered civilian vehicles, which were also quickly replaced by new military transport collected from Newbury Racecourse. At this stage each battery consisted of three Troops, A, B and C in 265 Battery and D, E and F in 266 Battery, (A,B and C Troops were equipped with antiquated 18 pounder guns, some of which had been converted to 25 pounders, whilst D,E and F troops each possessed four 4.5" howitzers which fired a 35lb shell. These howitzers were also very ancient; two were dated 1898 while a third had entered service in 1912).
    (Roger Day Ramsbury at War).

    During the evening of the 29th October 14 Quad Gun Tractors arrived. The Regiment was now mobile.
    The Officers left Ramsbury for West Down to spectate on the firing range.
    The following day 265 and 266 Batteries left for the Practice Camp at West Down.
    Taking over guns from the 99th Field Regt RA.
    Firing took place for thee days followed by a debrief by the 48th Division Commander Royal Artillery.
    (From my notes)

    Derek Barton (ra1939-45) has always held the opinion that the guns photographed in Aldbourne Wilts were 18/25 pounders.
    To date there has only been mention of 18 pounders in books or documents of the 67th
    but the revelations of Frank Price in the audio tape has proved Derek Barton to be correct.

    Aldbourne Quad  gun Tractors and gun.jpg

    When the 67th joined the 1st Infantry Division in January 1940 they would have been inspected and all equipment made to conform to Regular Army standards, so that ammunition and mechanical spares were uniform for ease of supply. This is probably why there were exchanges of mechanics and skilled specialists between the 67th and the 2nd Field Regiment. Bernard Noctor went to the 2nd from the 67th and your father 2nd to the 67th.
    67th were quite possibly selected for integration into a Regular/TA combination due to their abilities and enthusiasm while training in Wiltshire.
    1st Division also absorbed the 6th Gordon Highlanders into 2nd Infantry Brigade.
    This was to be Govt policy but I don't think it happened in all cases as some Divisions were all TA or Regular.
    67th were always proud to be in the 1st Infantry Division and throughout the war held their Commander
    General Harold Alexander in high esteem, long after he had left for his new appointments.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2023
    Derek Barton and Rowslow like this.
  17. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    This is a reconstruction of the route taken by 2nd and 67th Field Regiments using names from both routes that google can recognise.
    For some reason google couldn't locate an important stop Aspelare where the Division rendezvoused.
    It lies just west of Ninove.on the road to Ronse. You need to zoom in to see it.

    This route shouldn't be far off. You can zoom in to look up more places. This is the limit for the number of stops on the route planner
    Google Maps
    **** Edit:Found a problem with google maps.
    If you look at this route with a phone or tablet it can show two routes blue and grey.
    The grey is generated by the device due to its satnav capability and is an alternative route for modern day traffic.
    I don't get this grey image on my desktop but it shows up on my phone.

    Its not as far as I thought and if I were 20 years younger, might give it a go.

    2nd Field and 67th Field along with 19th Field Regiment were the supporting

    1st Infantry Brigade
    3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards
    2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards
    2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment

    2nd Infantry Brigade
    1st Battalion, Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire)
    2nd Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment
    6th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders

    3rd Infantry Brigade
    1st Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment
    2nd Battalion, Sherwood Foresters
    1st Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2023
    Rowslow likes this.
  18. Rowslow

    Rowslow Daughter of William Herbert Clifford

    Excellent job on the map!
  19. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    Last edited: Aug 26, 2023
    Rowslow likes this.
  20. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    The Battle for the Crossing of the Scheldt (Escaut) Esquelmes 21-23 May 1940
    This is a compilation of the entries in the 267 FR Centenary Journal, the 2nd Field Regt War Diary
    and the War Diary 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards BEF-Sep 1939-June 1940 (ww2t).

    The 67th left Voorde moving to Tournai.
    At 2 pm on the 19th May the Regiment came into action again.
    During the night the Batteries again came under heavy fire and RHQ was Bombed.
    Troop positions were completely overlooked by Mont St Aubert.
    All movement was clearly observed by the enemy.
    2nd Field Regt were at Estaimbourg 42 Battery was bombed in a wood
    2/Lt Ashe and 5 O/R's wounded 3 O/R's killed.

    The next day was quiet except for some enemy airburst ranging overhead.
    In the evening 67th RHQ moved to Templeuve but the guns remained in action and on the
    morning of the 21st came under enemy infantry fire.
    The Germans had crossed the canal (river Scheldt) at Esquelmes pushing back the Coldstream Guards (part of 24 Guards Infantry Brigade) on the left.

    2nd Infantry Brigade had to move their line back to conform but at 1 o'clock
    the North Staffs (led by Brigadier Hudson VC) supported by the Regiment, counter attacked.
    Although in the thick of the infantry battle at times, the Regiment stood firm.
    The Grenadier Guards followed up the attack and by 6pm the enemy were driven back across the canal (River Scheldt).
    For the remainder of the evening the front was quiet and during the night
    RHQ and one troop from each Battery were ordered to withdraw to Le Breucq.
    The remainder of the Regiment stayed in position to act as rear guard for 1st Division,
    in the end as infantry.
    At 2 am, less B Troop (who remained in action for a further half an hour), they were withdrawn to follow the rest of the Regiment to new positions at Lesart outside Lille.
    The 24th was spent catching up on sleep (there had been none for three or four days) and getting sorted out. Rations were down to half and ammunition was scarce.
    The positions were bombed overnight but the Regiment continued in support of 2 Infantry Brigade who wer actively patrolling.
    The Regiment remained in action until the afternoon ofthe 26th May when it was withdrawn to Ploegsteert.
    2nd Field Regt
    21/22ndthe Regt withdrew to Roubaix until 26th May when they began their withdrawal to Ploegstreet.

    Guards Brigade Diary

    1940 May 20
    A quiet day.
    Battalion H.Q. to BAILLEUL (4 km North West of Esquelmes)

    The Battalion dug in during the night,
    No. 1 Company Right
    No. 2 Company Centre
    No. 4 Company Left, and
    No. 3 Company reserve,
    immediately East of BAILLEUL.

    1940 May 21
    All quiet at Stand Down.
    At 0730 hours a violent Artillery, Mortar and Machine Gun barrage fell on the whole of the 1st GUARDS BRIGADE front.
    A determined attack was launched at the point of junction of the Battalion and the 2nd Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS.
    A crossing was forced and Machine Guns, Mortars and Snipers got across the river, infiltrating on the left, and forced our men back as far as the PONT A CHIN road. (N 50).
    The open country held by our forward Companies was completely under enemy observation, and every movement made by our troops was dogged by accurate Machine Gun and Mortar Fire.
    No.s 1 and 2 Companies stood firm, and Captain P.T CLIFTON with the reserve Platoon of No. 1 Company and some men of No. 2 Company under Captain P.J.C. RADFORD-NOROP organised an immediate counter attack and regained the line of the river bank.
    Meanwhile Major W.R.J. ALSTON-ROBERTS-WEST Commanding No. 4 Company gathered the remainder of his Company and made a great but unsuccessful effort to regain the lost trenches.
    In these attacks Machine Guns and Mortars accounted for Major A.R. WEST and 2/Lieutenant A.N. BOYD (killed), Captain P.T. CLIFTON, Captain P.J.C. RADFORD-NORCOP and Lieutenant The MASTER of FORBES (wounded) and many men.
    Seeing that the situation was serious the Commanding Officer went forward in a Carrier and made a recce on the spot as there was no post from which he could see what was happening.
    As a result one Section of Carriers was sent to cover the Right, and No. 3 Company was ordered to counter attack and regain No. 4 Company’s position.
    Supported by one Section of Carriers under Lieutenant H. REYNELL-PACK and the Mortar Platoon this attack went in with great dash at 1130 hours, but the men were mown down by hidden Machine Guns mentioned above, although it got within a few yards of the river bank and the old positions it was impossible to hold them.
    Lieutenant H. REYNELL-PACK in his own Carrier went right across the open country having spotted where the Machine Gun fire was coming from, and silenced the guns on the left, but still the fire was too heavy, so Captain L.S. STARKEY with the remainder of No.s 3 and 4 Companies took up a line covering the main road.
    In this counter attack Captain R.E. ABEL-SMITH, Lieutenant H. REYNELL-PACK and Lieutenant The DUKE of NORTHUMBERLAND were killed.
    Owing to the danger of the break through, two companies 2nd Battalion HAMPSHIRES were put under Command Major A.H.S. ADAIR, M..C, one taking up a position in support on the line of the road and one in reserve East of BAILLEUL.
    Towards dark enemy Artillery and Machine Gun fire died down, and patrols sent forward found our banks clear of enemy, and the line was re-established.
    The remainder of the Battalion being organised into one Company under Captain R.N. BRINCKMAN who came up from ‘B’ Echelon during the night, and more and more men were collected from weapon pits of the forward area, therefore at Stand Down in the morning the Battalion was organised into two Companies, one under Captain L.S. STARKEY and the other under Captain R.N. BRINCKMAN.

    1940 May 22
    A quiet day.
    Every effort was made to collect wounded still lying out, invariably followed by Mortar and Machine Gun fire.
    2100 hours
    Again a heavy Artillery, Mortar and Machine Gun barrage came down on the Brigade front on our right.
    The situation at times appeared critical as reports received stated that the enemy were again across the canal at our point of junction with the 2nd Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS, but although enemy elements crossed the canal and penetrated possibly as far as the main road, the line held and the withdrawal that had been ordered for the night 22/23rd was carried out successfully, 1st GUARDS BRIGADE holding the line of the canal until 0300 hours the 23rd May.
    The casualties during this attack were fairly slight.

    1940 May 23
    The Battalion was lifted behind the defence line prepared by 2 CORPS since their arrival in FRANCE.
    The Battalion went into Billeting Areas, being in Brigade reserve, rested, cleaned up and dug in.
    The Battalion by now had collected a number of men who had got mixed up with Units on either side during the fighting of the 21/22nd May and it was found that the losses in that fighting amounted to 186, and the Battalion was again organised into 4 companies each of 2 platoons.
    Captain C.W. NORMAN-BARNETT joined the Battalion from leave.

    1940 May 24
    Quiet day.

    Memorials to the fallen in this action.
    The majority of casualties were interred in Esquelmes CWGC
    2nd Field Regt. three casualties lie in Estaimbourg Churchyard and one in Balleul.
    There are also burials associated with this action in the following Cemeteries:
    Westoutre 2 Burials 2nd Field Regt.
    Lille Southern 2 Burials 2nd Field Regt. 1 burial 67th Field Regt and 1 burial 19th Field Regt.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2023

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