Gold Beach (JIG), Tides, Beach & H-Hour

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by IanTurnbull, Feb 1, 2021.

  1. Arty

    Arty Member


    No, I have no contrary evidence, though you do! Though I must point out I'm not having a go at you here. Unfortunately we have the words: "fired 3,800 on to French soil" without the author apparently qualifying that it wasn't the correct "French soil", which to me sounds a lot like the facts were being glossed over. Mind you, if want a real 'laugh' you should read some after action reports from the RAF. You'll often see the words "bombing was concentrated on the target" - given the often 'piss-poor' results I tend to believe they meant to say "bombing was concentrated, that is, on France". Us humans like to tell 'fibs', or, not the whole truth when convenient.

    Re the German gun crew, after I posted those comments, I realised my comment might have been ambiguous.


    ps. Check you PM
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2021
  2. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Thanks vey much for your various references to Bob Palmer's crew and their names.

    I have looked for the obituaries for the 7 soldiers named in the photograph. I found 6 but I cant find one for Alex Gerken. All the obituaries state they were in the crew; Harold Chappell's is not explicit however stating he was a tank driver but " had always kept in touch with Bob Palmer". It was written by a family member though who may not have realised the nature of a Sexton.

    So I dont know why there are 7 men in the picture either; there are two in the photo not mentioned in Bob Palmer's IWM interview but they are explicitly part of his crew according to their obituaries. Could one of them in the picture have been part of the support team and crew substitute?? Did they have other Troop personnel trained as SP crew to deal with attrition?

    Apparently 431 Battery co-opted the unused Run-In ammunition from the "F" Troop LCT so there may not have been the additional ammo. on board Sgt Palmer's SP at least.

    There was a recent podcast on the confusion on Jig beach ("We have ways of making you talk" of 22/12/20) and whilst it may not contain anything new for you I found it portrayed quite well the disorientation and historical uncertainty there. At the end of their follow-up pod (5th Jan) they reviewed the NCAP aerial photographic evidence over Le Hamel. An extended discussion by James Holland on 4 of these pictures from NCAP was then put up later in a recorded Zoom session. Anyway this last zoom session spent a lot of time discussing the lateral road, the Blockhouse and Sgt Palmer's Sexton. The conclusion was to confirm that Sgt Palmer must have disabled the 77mm gun between 10:00 - 10:30 because tanks were streaming into Asnelles along the lateral road between 10:30 - 11:00 to support the Hampshires and they would only have been able to do that if the casemate at WN37 had been knocked out. Simultaneously there is nobody in Le Hamel yet because the rest of the WN has not yet been neutralised, including the Sanatorium.
    Incidentally they also discuss why the FOO/FOBs had not arranged for the Navy to hit the Sanatorium but that is another story we discussed in depth last year; they end up shrugging their shoulders on that one.

    Were you aware of these Pods?


    PS I am sure you will know the photos they used. They are here on James Holland's Twitter
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2021
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    It was a tactical decision made mid channel, either by Div commander and or CRA 50 Div onboard HMS Bulolo the D HQ Ship for the 50 Div assault or the 231 Brigade staff on HMS Nith (231 bde HQ ship). These were in contact via the divisional command and CRAs nets.

    CO 147 was with 231 Brigade commander on HMS Nith, so he would have been the man on the spot.

  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Thanks I will have to listen. These podcasts are very good.

    James Holland is not great on artillery matters. There are big errors in his Normandy book.

    The artillery side of Peter Caddick Adams's Sand and Steel is very weak. He managed a whole chapter on weather forecasting but managed to ignore the development of the fire-plan. That may have been because he really needed documents that were locked away in storage after Firepower closed.
    Stephen Keoghane likes this.
  5. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Thanks for clarifying that
    Would it be possible to post the relevant part of that source document please?
    With a wireless silence up until 05:30 how would they communicate the new orders to the LCTs?
    I believe Captain Foreman's ML broke down quite late on, 10-12 miles out; reserve FOO for the Run-In was Chris Sidgwick
  6. Hello all,

    I would say that the decision was made on board ML 136 (the navigational leader and gunnery control ship for 90 Fd Regt, with Senior Officer Group 7 on board), and approved by both BULOLO and NITH.

    As is often the case, both naval officers on board ML136, i.e. SO Group 7 (Lieut Comdr P.M. Alexander, RNVR) and ML 136's CO (Lieut J.A. Miller RNVR) claim they made the decision.

    SO Gp 7:
    "the Senior Officer of the Group [i.e. the writer of the report] decided to request from S.S. "BULOLO" permission (...) This was approved immediately"
    CO ML136:
    "I considered it was best to (...) request permission from Captain G.G.1 (...) Permission was granted"
    Report by SO Gp 7 - 1.jpg
    Report by SO Gp 7 - 2.jpg
    Report by CO ML136.jpg

    The strange thing is that each state that they asked for permission, not from their immediate superior (Capt Group G1 & SO Group 7 resp.), but from the one above, i.e. BULOLO (Commodore C.E. Douglas-Pennant, CBE, DSC, Commanding Force "G") and NITH (Captain J.W. Farquhar, RN, Captain Group G. One) respectively

    I guess that since both naval officers on board ML136 had agreed on the decision, they thought safer (and faster) to secure permission directly from the higher echelon as well.

    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
  7. Arty

    Arty Member


    Thanks for posting this.

    No mention that the LCT's touched down more than a mile further east than planned. Slightly curious.

    Its 'nice' that they overcame the problem of the missing craft and the different radio frequencies. Though, it was imperative that fire was directed at both targets! Surely, the huge sanatorium buildings at Le Hamel were an obvious point to lay on.

    I take back part of what I said in post #9. The 147 Fd Regt were apparently over-ruled by the senior service to fire at 90 Fd Regt's target. However this still doesn't clarify the correction of fire conducted by Maj Sidgwick.

    Last edited: Feb 10, 2021
  8. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    If you look at Chris Sidgwick's own account in Post #12 the fire fell short, so he got them to raise it a bit. So it seems it was just elevation not direction
  9. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Technically Michel's sources were Request for a decision from the HQ ships carrying the Brigade and Divisional HQ.

    It is inconceivable that the naval officer in command of these groups would have made a major decision to switch fire from Le Hamel to Les Roquettes without consulting the Army Officers on their ships responsible for operations ashore. (GOC and CRA 50 Div, and Comd 231 Bde and CO 147 Fd. I am sure that all would have been aware of the significance of the switch.

    Not just a nit pick, but the essence of command and control.

    It may be worth keeping the run in shoot in perspective. The Gunners have been jolly proud of the technical ingenuity and training that provided artillery fire from the sea. Its an iconic moment and a sight that must have heartened those who had to make the assault. However, in hindsight it was much less effective than we claimed - and here I mean we Gunners.
  10. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    I confess to not understanding the constraints here, but did they have any choice but to switch to the 90th Field's targeting ML? Could they have got a fix on Le Hamel without their own FOO in the ML with all the equipment? What were their options apart from dont fire at all?
    Even with what they knew at the time there would be no tactical advantage to switching away from Le Hamel, so it must have been forced on them?
  11. Arty

    Arty Member

    I'm thinking that once the first range was recieved from ML 136 and their clocks started, 147 Fd Regts 20 Sextons could have opened fire - initially on WN36. Maj Sidgwick could have then adjusted the fire onto WN37. However it was clearly fait accompli for 147 once the decision was taken by higher authority at 0600 hrs. And at that point in time, the USAAF were still inbound and LCT(R)'s were yet to drench the target ie. WN37. Bit of a shame that everybody missed....

  12. Arty

    Arty Member

    As we have rich tradition of disagreeing, I'm forced to add...

    There was so much back slapping by senior gunners about the jolly exciting run-in shoot that even today it drowns out voices saying, excuse me chaps it really wasn't that much 'cop'.

    Although, the guns and rockets (much like a fireworks display) did indeed provide a form of psychological cure for the horrendous sea sickness endured by the infantry on the run in.

  13. Sheldrake,

    I agree with you that the naval officers must have conferred with their military counterparts on this decision. They must have been convinced by the reasons put forward by the officers on board ML 136 that there was no way to effectively direct the run in shoot for 147 Fd Regt on its alloted targets.

    There was apparently no contingency plan to enable directing the run in shoot via other means than the regt's own ML, for example from one of the two LCS(M) carrying the regimental FOO and standby regtl FOO, who were to observe the fall of shot from close offshore. The reports by the naval officers on board ML 136 explicitely discard this option as they could not contact 147 Fd Regt's LCS(M) because of different frequencies.

    Perhaps NITH could have directed 147's runin shoot since she probably had the adequate radar and communication equipment, but she was not at the right location and the people on board were not trained for such a task I guess, plus they had other tasks to attend to.

    Last edited: Feb 10, 2021
  14. Arty

    Arty Member

    However, at some point Maj Sidgwick onboard 147 Fd Regt's LCS(M) was clearly informed, directly or indirectly, of the change of target. And Maj Sidgwick was apparently in touch with the the regiment onboard the five LCT's that had arrived in time. Maj Sidgwick was the run in shoot FOO and he was present.
    Again, Maj Sidgwick's MC citation states: "Finding that the control craft had broken down Major SIDGWICK immediately closed the beaches in order to observe and corrrect the fire of his regt more closely..."

  15. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Thanks Michel for clarifying all this.
    If I have understood this correctly drenching WN36 was a fait accompli given the impossibility of the 90th Field's ML managing two targets, and being unable to reach Major Sidgwick in the reserve ML.
    I have made a few points on Major Sidgwicks MC citation on the PM; his own account only has him correcting the fact it fell short (of what turned out to be WN36)
    I note that it was LCT879 that received the target information by loud hailer. I presume this was "D" Troop? TAR: "the opening range and line......was obtained by D Troop's LCT by Aldis lamp from the ML with 90th Field"
    But Lt Grigson GPO on "A" Troop also says " upload_2021-2-11_1-57-31.png
  16. Arty

    Arty Member

    Now there's a good idea from Lt Gregson. Lay on the target, then fire at it. Not overly complex. It's a pity he was also over-ruled.
  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    The outcome of the course of action GPO A Troop wanted to take would have been to pound an area 3,400 yards inland from the beach at Le Hamel which is even further inland than the MPI for the heavy bombers set 1,000 inland. i.e. of zero use to the Hampshires.

    The choice seems to have been to fire in the direction of Le Hamel but hitting nothing or neutralising a target that some infantry were going to assault WN 36
  18. Arty

    Arty Member

    Really Sheldrake??? Do you really think, Lt Gregson or Maj Sidgwick, would have not adjusted the regiment's fire had the first salvos landed inland???
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2021
  19. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Sorry for butting in chaps, but wouldn't the targets be difficult to hit anyway with all the pitching and yawing (or whatever it's called) that the boats would have been experiencing anyway, meaning that it was really a suppression type of fire rather than pin point target type.
  20. Arty

    Arty Member

    Hello SDP,

    Feel free to pile in here, by all means.:D

    No, not ideal having a pitching, rolling and moving gun platform! Though the navy seem to like that sort of thing. Anyway this was an attempt to hit a target area. In this case the correct target area is the issue. At any rate "pin point" is quite a misnomer insofar as artillery fire is concerned.


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