Op Varsity - RA equipment and positions?

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by alberk, Oct 29, 2020.

  1. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hello,
    I understand that the 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment Royal Artillery also carried two 25 pounders into battle on March 24th 1945. If this is correct, could the picture below show these two pieces? Near Hamminkeln_107458[1].jpg This picture (from the National Army Museum) could have been taken on March 26th. The caption says it is near Hamminkeln - which is no great surprise. Tanks of the 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) have moved up across the landing zones. What I am trying to find out is the location of that farm - so it might help to know where the Worcestershire Yeomanry had positioned their 25 pounders on the 26th, that is, before the breakout from the airborne bridgehead. Does anyone have access to their war diary for March 1945?
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  2. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    … I just found the the Worcestershire Yeomanry war diary in the Pegasus Archive... still, if you have any observations or background knowledge - all hints are welcome!
     
  3. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    The troops of
    53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment RA were called C, D, E and F - can anyone tell me which troop was equipped with the 25 pounders?

    For March 24th the war Diary says:
    "1600 hrs: 211 had 8 guns in action (3 from 210). 212 had 8 guns and 1 25 pdr (3 from 210)."

    I am not familiar with the numbering and labelling of RA sub-Units - how does 210, 211 and 212 relate to C,D, E and F troop?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    If they followed the Royal Regiment standard, every regiment's pattern they were A B = 210 bty CD = 212 bty and EF = 212 Bty.

    That does not always follow as sometimes a regiment formed by merger is unable to force the new battery to relinquish its old troop letters.Two possible reasons for some regimental idiosyncrasy. (1) Until late 1943 they had been an anti tank Regiment which had three troops per battery. (2) They were Yeomanry and could reach into 200 years of tradition and do their own thing. BTW one of their BCs, Ronnie Cartland killed at Dunkirk has been named as one of the Glamour Boys the gay MPS who opposed HItler in the 1930s.
    The gay MPs persecuted for opposing appeasement of Nazi Germany

    r
     
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  5. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    This was very helpful - thank you very much, Sheldrake!
     
  6. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Morning Alberk - 210, 211 and 212 were the batteries. I think that C, D, E, and F Tps were the various battery OPs. If you look at Appx. F in the war diary (in the fantastically useful Pegasus Archive) it records activity by the troop OPs 1- 22 April and lists A, B, C, E and F Tp OPs. Hope I'm right. But be warned, I was in the infantry not artillery!
     
  7. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Just seen Sheldrake's reply and my warning was timely! Looks as if I was indeed talking b*******s!
     
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  8. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Should have remembered that the air landing light regiment did not have its own OP parties as they were provided by No.2 Forward Observation Unit RA. Doh!
     
  9. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Thanks for pointing me to the appendices, JDKR.

    What I read there about the two 25 pounders is this (in summary):
    305 Horsa II / glider did not crash / BSM Bentley, Sjt Nichols, Gnr Hare, Gnr Lawson, Gnr Molloy, Gnr Gray / landed grid ref 18654835 / with one 25 pr gun / Equipment written off / landed outside LZ (3000 x NW Bunty) / Glider set on fire on landing. All crew wounded.

    364 Horsa II / glider did not crash / L/Bdr Pettifer, L/Bdr Hale, Gnr Perry, Gnr Rogers, Gnr Hyatt, Gnr Daniels / landed grid ref 17355145 / Nose unloading successful / one 25 pr gun, landed on area

    I suppose this could either mean: that only one 25 pounder was available to the Worcestershires - and that the guns in the photograph are not theirs but rather the pieces of another RA Regiment? In Wikipedia it says: "181 Field Regt was rafted over in the afternoon, the first field artillery to cross the Rhine, and went into action with 44 Bde as German resistance stiffened." ("afternoon" referring to the afternoon of March 24th)

    Or it means: the glider was set on fire but the gun was not destroyed - and "Equipment written off" would then refer to the glider, not the gun (a more remote possibility…)

    It is just so striking that two 25 pounders are in that picture which is part of a series taken on the LZ!
     
  10. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    I quite agree and it would be good if the photo was indeed of the two 53 Airldg Regt 25pdrs. However, the two grid references for Horsas 305 and 364 are some 4km apart and I doubt that given the turmoil of 23/24 March the two guns could have been reunited by the afternoon of 24 March. While I may well be wrong - not the first time - I would put more money on these two guns belonging to 181 Fd Regt.
     
  11. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Actually, the photo was not taken on March 24th. It was taken on March 26th by an officer of the 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry. His armoured column moved across the LZ on the 26th - by then the Worcestershires had moved their guns from the positions taken on the 24th (which were northwest of Hamminkeln) to another position - they deployed to the southeast of Hamminkeln.
     
  12. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    If the grid refernces given are correct, Horsa 305 landed very far to the north on the edge of DZ/LZ "B" - this is the one that unloaded safely and reported no problems. They must have moved their gun quickly to the south. Horsa 364 landed on LZ P - but caught fire. However, it was close to the position where the Worcestershier Yeomanry first deployed their guns.
     
  13. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    The war diary states that only one 25 pounder of the Worcestershire Yeomanry was in action. For 24 March it says:
    "1600 - 211 had 8 guns in action (3 from 210). 212 had 8 guns and 1 25 pdr (3 from 210)."
    And for the 25th:
    "0930 to 1130 - 88mm intermittent shelling on E Troop position. No casualties but E Troop moved at 1200 hrs to 185485. Troop positions were:- C 183494 D 183491 E 187488 F 187486. The 25 pdr fired red smoke most of the morning for typhoons in Ringenberg area."

    Too bad. But now I know that these two 25 pounders in the photo are not the ones of the Worcestershire Yeomanry, but very likely 181 Field Regiment RA of 15th Scottish Div.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  14. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Oh well, sometimes negative information is as informative as positive! :whistle:
     
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  15. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Hi. that building looks like the one that was opposite Hamminkeln train station (my educated guess at least!) the guns are ready to be towed to the direction of travel when they got moving would be to the right (east) if this picture was taken just south west of the train station.
    You are correct (I think) with them being from that Artillery unit as they were the only unit across the river on that date, as confirmed by their war diary.
    https://www.15thscottishdivisionwardiaries.co.uk/181-fd-regt
     
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  16. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hi Alex1975uk, thanks for the suggestion - I'm not sure about this yet. But we'll find out eventually. I already consulted the war diary of 181 Field Regiment on the website - but there is only the filled in form for the daily report of the war diary. The appendices are not shown, so I do not have grid references for the positions of their batteries for March 26th. It would be of great help if anyone had the full war diary of 181 Field Regiment RA for March 1945.
     
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  17. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Also, is that the wing of a Horsa peering through the trees top left
     
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  18. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Wow, sharp eye!
     
  19. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Station Hamminkeln.jpg
    Alex1975uk - you could be right. The (ruined) building on the left resembles the one in the other picture. Also, I can make out a Sherman tank to the left of that building...
     
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  20. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Happy with that! That’s why I’m available for Battlefield tours!!!!!
     
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