William Henry Wright | 7th Medium Regiment

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by AMWright, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    Hello all, and a happy new year to you!

    I am the 28 year old grandson of William Henry Wright and I have been researching his service with the 7th Medium Regiment R.A. and the 107th Medium Regiment R.A. throughout the Second World War.

    My grandfather passed away when I was only one and not much was known in my family about his time in the Royal Artillery. My interest in military history has started me on a rather obsessive quest to uncover as much about his service as I can. I have been able to obtain his (surprisingly detailed) service record and I recently made my first visit to the National Archives to begin going through the relevant war diaries. I would like to share my research with you here, and hopefully it will be of interest to others.

    My intention is to provide a bit of an online resource for anyone else who might be researching the 7th Medium and the 107th Medium in the future and to allow me to structure my grandfathers story. Hopefully others on this forum can help me find out more and fill in some of the gaps, allowing me to understand what life was like for my grandfather!

    I will start off by going through his time with 25/26 Battery 7th Medium Regiment, from the outbreak of war up until Christmas 1943. I managed to get hold of a copy of the regimental history so hopefully that will help me form a sort of narrative to my posts in this thread.

    I hope this is of interest to someone! Thank you for reading.

    Ashleigh Wright
     

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  2. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    This is the relevant page from his service record to the period I will start off with, beginning with his appointment as L/Bdr in December 1939, up until Christmas 1941.
     

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  3. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    The 7th Medium arrived in the Middle East from Bombay in 1939 and was employed on guard duties and the maintenance of security in Palestine and Egypt.

    At the outbreak of war with Germany it was stationed at Sidi Bishr Camp in the Alexandria area.

    8/8/39. "A draft of 230 N.C.Os and men arrived from ENGLAND"

    2/9/39. "25/26. Med.Bty. R.A. put under orders to be ready to move to war station by 15th. Sep. 39."

    4/9/39. "Ordered to mobilize. Regiment put at 2 hours notice"
     

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  4. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    In November 39 the Regiment moved into Mustapha Barracks in Alex. Training continued in conjunction with the 4th Indian Division.

    The regiment remained under Canvas for the duration of the winter until March 1940 when it moved to Cairo.

    25/26 Battery was equipped with 60 pr. guns towed by Scammels and 27/28 Battery with 6-in. Howitzers towed by AEC six-wheel lorries. Both had iron tyred wooden wheel (1917 vintage).
     

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  5. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    lots of practising of mobile operations and training during the following months

    8/02/40 "R.H.Q. Personnel fired annual revolver course modified."

    9/02/40 "27/28 Bty. fired annual revolver course modified."

    23/02/40 "27/28 Bty. firing annual musketry course at ABOUKIR."

    26/02/40 "25/26 Bty. firing annual musketry course at ABOUKIR."

    2/03/40 "27 bty. returned from training in the BOURG EL ARAB area."

    3/03/40 "25 bty. left for training in the BOURG EL ARAB area."

    12/04/40 "Regtl and bty H.Qs. left to take part in 4 ind div skeleton exercise in the area between CAIRO and SUEZ.
     

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  6. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    On the 20th March 1940 the regiment moved from Mustapha Camp to Almaza Camp.

    20/03/40 " Guns loaded at SIDI GABIR. Regt. marched out of MUSTAPHA Camp and entrained at 1930 hrs. for ABBASSIA. Remaining vehicles moved to ALMAZA by road."
     

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  7. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    April & May saw the regiment continue intense practising of mobile operations and drill orders in the surrounding desert. At the beginning of June, as the threat of war in Egypt was becoming a reality the regiment was tasked with the defence of nearby aerodromes against attack by airborne troops.
     

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  8. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    Regimental strength, May 40.
     

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  9. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    I will be continuing to update the thread as we go into the 7th Medium Regiments involvement in Operation Compass.

    Hope you are enjoying reading so far.
     
  10. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    In November 39 the Regiment moved into Mustapha Barracks in Alex. Training continued in conjunction with the 4th Indian Division.

    The regiment remained under Canvas for the duration of the winter until March 1940 when it moved to Cairo.

    25/26 Battery was equipped with 60 pr. guns towed by Scammels and 27/28 Battery with 6-in. Howitzers towed by AEC six-wheel lorries. Both had iron tyred wooden wheel (1917 vintage).

    I wonder what the AEC six wheeled lorries were. How many R6Ts made it to the Middle east? I have only seen one pic, of a recovery version.

    Chris
     
  11. AMWright

    AMWright Member

  12. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    5 June 1940

    Instruction to 7th MED. REGT. R.A.

    Should ALMAZA aerodrome fall into the hands of the enemy, 27 Bty. Coy. will seize and hold the Water Tower hill on the SOUTH of the aerodrome. The method of carrying out the attack is given in Appendix.E.

    1. In the event of war with Italy it is possible that ITALIAN troops may be landed on ALMAZA and/or HELIOPOLIS aerodrome (the first way being by parachute) and they may be assisted by "5th column" activity and sabotage.

    2. in the event of the 7th Medium Regiment R.A. still being in ALMAZA CAMP if this happens, it will be formed into H.Q,, 2 troops R.A. and 2 Coys.Inf.

    3. Action during the present precautionary period:-

    (a) Guards and Piquets. will be mounted as at present, i.e. a single Guard on the main gate, a single Guard on the Magazine, and in addition at night double guard on the Gun Park, and a double Piquet on the Lines.

    All Guards will be armed with revolvers or rifles, 12 rounds S.A.A. per revolver and 50 rounds S.A.A. per rifle will be carried.

    (b) Bren Guns. Except during periods of STAND TO, those belonging to 25 Bty. and one belonging to H.Q. will be kept in the armoury.

    12 Magazines per gun will be charged (No tracer amm. is to be used); these magazines will only be fitted on the alarm being sounded; they will be kept with the Bren Guns.

    By night, detachments of three men per gun will be accommodated in tents, pitched near their battle positions. During STAND TO guns will be manned by at least two men.

    (c) In-Lying piquet. This will consist of three officers, one Warrant Officer and 69 other ranks organised as a Coy., consisting of Coy.H.Q and three Platoons. Each Platoon consisting of a Platoon H.Q. and three sections of seven men each.

    It will mount at 1745 hrs., and be dismissed at 0515 hrs. During STAND TO it will be at five minutes notice, and the remainder at thirty minutes notice. It will be found by the battery on duty. All personnel will be armed with revolvers or rifles, 12 rounds S.A.A being carried per revolver and 50 rounds S.A.A. PER RIFLE.

    (d) STAND TO will be from 0315 hrs to 0514 hrs and from 1800 hrs to 2000 hrs.
    (e) And air sentry will be on duty 0600 hrs to 1900 hrs. He will be found near the battery on duty. His post will be at the quarter guard tent.
    (f) All officers and men are at 6 hours notice.

    (g) The battery on duty will find a Liaison officer for duty at ALMAZA aerodrome from 1800 hrs to 0615 hrs daily.

    (h) The alarm will be a succession of short blasts on a whistle.

    4. Action on receipt of the code word "SECURE" :-

    (a) All Officers and Men will be confined to camp.
    (b) All men not already armed will draw a rifle and 50 rounds S.A.A.

    (c) Each Bty. will form a troop and Coy. in accordance with the establishment given. All men surplus to the requirements of the troop and Coy. per Bty. will be formed into independent Platoons of 1 Officer or W.O. and 22 men. The number of independent Platoons available will be reported to Regtl. H.Q. as soon as possible.
    (d) The battery on duty will continue to find Guards and Piquets (Only for "SECURE")
    (e) 7th Med Regt,Sig Sec/R.C.S. will send one 8 out W/T truck yo H.Q. Cairo Sub-Area, 1911 buildings, ABBASSIA, and maintain communication with it.
    (f) 27 Med Bty will detail and send out the patrol ordered in Appendix c.
    (g) 25 med Bty will detail 2 signallers with the necessary stores to proceed to the R.A.O.C. workshops GHAMRA in a 8 owt truck and open up communications with the citadel in accordance with appendix D (reconnaissance to be carried out forthwith.)
     

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  13. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    SHEET TWO.

    (h) 27 Med. Bty. will find the liaison officer at ALMAZA aerodrome, he will be on duty permanently. 27 Med. Bty. will arrange to be in permanent W/T communication with him.

    (i) Tracer ammunition will be issued for Bren Guns, all magazines will be loaded, the mixture will be 1 round of tracer to 5 rounds of normal .303 S.A.A.

    5. Action to be taken on the code words "SECURE PLUS PARA TPS" will be the same as Para 4 with the following additions:-

    (a) Batteries will disperse into the areas already detailed to B.C.s. Bren Guns will move with their Batteries.

    (b) Batteries will be responsible for their local defence.

    (c) Slit trenches will be dug by the side of every vehicle.

    (d) Trenches will be dug and manned by 25.Med.Bty.coy. N.W. of the road between the camp and the French School. They will also man the trenches in the camp which face the aerodrome. two platoons only will be used. If 25 Bty.Coy. is required for other work these Platoons will be replaced by independent Platoons on orders from Regtl.H.Q.

    (e) 25 Med.Bty.Coy. is earmarked for reinforcing the troops in the Citadel.
    27 Bty.Coy. is earmarked for reinforcing the defence of ALMAZA aerodrome.

    (f) A Guard of 1 N.C.O. and 6 men will be mounted at the camp entrance by 25 Bty, and at Regtl.H.Q. by 27 Bty.

    (g) Regimental headquarters will stay in its present position.

    (h) 7 Med.Regt.Sig.Sec is responsible for communication with batteries.

    6. Action on receipt of the code word "FLIT" will be the same as for the code word "SECURE PLUS PARA TPS" with the following exceptions:-

    (a) Trenches mentioned in 5 (d) will not be manned.
    (b) No action will be taken on 4 (e), (f) and (g).
     

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  14. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    APPENDIX. C.

    PATROL AT HELIOPOLIS.

    7th Med.Rgt.R.A. will provide a patrol for duty in HELIOPOLIS, from 1800 hrs to 0515 hrs.

    This patrol will consist of 2 N.C.Os and 6 men in 2 14-owt Trucks.

    It will be based on the English School, HELIOPOLIS, where there is a telephone at the P.A.D. Command Post.

    it's task will be to patrol the following road circuits in HELIOPOLIS at about 10 m.p.h. to give moral, and if necessary, active support to the 400 British Service Families in HELIOPOLIS, many of whose men are away.

    (i) ENGLISH SCHOOL - SH.SAN STEFANO - SH. EL ZAGAZIG - SH. EL SIBAQ - SH. IBRAHIM - SH. ABDEL MUNRIN - SH. SAID - SH. MOHAMED ALI - SH. ASTUT - SH. ISMALYIA - SH.TANTA - SH. EL TAYARAN - ENGLISH SCHOOL.

    (ii) ENGLISH SCHOOL - SH.MINA EL GAUWI - SH. ASWAN - SH. SAID - SH.TANTA - SH. ISMALYIA - ENGLISH SCHOOL.

    It will return every half-hour to the Command Post to keep touch with the 7th Med.Regt.R.A.
     

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  15. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    APPENDIX E.

    1. The company detailed to seize and hold the water tower hill overlooking ALMAZA aerodrome will forum up behind the houses on the S.E. side of SHARIA BONEPARTE, the starting line will be immediately EAST of these houses.

    2. The advance will be on a twomplatoon front with one platoon in reserve, the Company Bren Guns will move with the reserve platoon.

    3. Covering fire will be given by the platoon in the FRENCH SCHOOL and by a platoon, which will be detailed from the independent platoons, in the houses on SHARI BONEPARTE and SHARI EL SAFA.

    4. Covering fire will also be arranged with the B.A.Machine Gun section situated NORTH of the road leading to the civil airport entrance of the aerodrome.

    5. The reserve platoon will carry entrenching tools.
     

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  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    This is great stiuuff, but did you know that one of the GPOs from 7 Medium Regiment in Normandy is still very much alive? My son interviewed him last year.
     
  17. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    Hey Sheldrake, thanks for your reply. Glad you're finding this of interest so far. I will be updating with more soon!

    The thought had occurred to me that members of 7th Medium might be alive and well, I would love to make contact with any but no idea how to go about doing that! Unfortunately my grandfather went back to the UK in 43 and rejoined the war with 107 Medium in NWE. Do you know if he served with 7th Med before Normandy? Is the interview available anywhere?

    Thanks again,

    Ash
     
  18. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    AMWright Check you PMs
     
  19. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    On the night of the 10th of June 1941, the regiment heard via a BBC broadcast that Italy had declared war on Britain and France.

    The regiment at this time was positioned on a difficult stretch of desert between Almaza and Heliopolis. Guns were laid covering the roads in case of civil unrest. As soon as it was clear that there was to be no trouble from the locals the regiment moved to a more comfortable position in the area and normal life resumed. All ranks were on readiness for instant action.

    15 Jun 1940 - "25/26 Med. Bty less "B" Troop proceeded to MAATEN BAGUSH"

    on the 15th of June orders were received for one troop of 60 prs. to move into the western desert immediately, much to the disappointment of those who were left behind.

    The situation on the Egyptian frontier at this time was that the Italians were believed to have 250,000 men at their disposal in Libya. The British Army would meet them with the newly formed 7th Armoured Division, the 4th Indian Division and a number of independent Infantry Battalions and Regiments of Artillery. A total of 40,000 men.

    On June 20th one section was ordered to return to Cairo and the other to proceed to the front where it would come under the command of 7th Armoured Division. Major R. J. B. Snook accompanied this section to Sidi Barrani where it took up gun positions two miles to the East of Halfaya Pass. This move was completed with no interference from Italian aircraft. Targets were engaged at the fort at Capuzzo including numerous vehicles which moved between the fort and Bardia.

    Not a single Italian shell landed near the guns at their position in Sollum. Many escaped the blistering summer heat by bathing and on one occasion a group was interrupted by enemy fighters who proceeded to strafe the bathers as they ran for cover. The Troop B.S.M. became the first actual war casualty of the regiment suffering a slight flesh wound during the attack. He was not inconvenienced by the wound and enjoyed the publicity.

    During this period it was noted that daily, around noon, a large group of Italians assembled around a hut at fort Capuzzo. Eighteen 25 prs. and two 60 prs. fired a barrage at the diners, the opening rounds crashed onto the target simultaneously. The Italians did not repeat this practice.

    On the 23rd of August, the remainder of the regiment who were still at Almaza moved out into the desert to come under the command of the Western Desert Force. By September the 5th the regiment (less the forward section) were at Sidi Haneish. The day after arrival 4 men were wounded during a bombing raid.

    6 Sept 1940 - "4 men of "E" Tp wounded by a bomb at MATRUH."

    On September 13th, the Italians, under the command of Marshall Graziani committed five and a half divisions to invade Egypt from their positions at Sollum. The section at the front suffered problems with two guns during the attack which inhibited their effectiveness. R.A.F Bombers put in an unexpected appearance and did a great deal of damage but British forces were eventually forced to withdraw to the East of Sidi Barrani.

    17 Sept 1940 - "25/26 Med. Bty. R.A. Sec. withdrew from adv. posn. to SIDI HANEISH area."
     

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  20. AMWright

    AMWright Member

    The following months saw the Regiment digging gunpits and O.Ps. over a wide area of desert in anticipation of any further advance eastwards from the Italians who were now comfortably positioned around Sidi Barrani.

    27 Battery was dug in at Mersa Matruh where they suffered continuous air raids and a few casualties were sustained.

    22 Sept 1940 - "One gnr. killed by a bomb at MATRUH."

    31 Oct 1940 - "Three hostile squadrons, two of five, and one of four planes, dropped bombs in the vicinity, although apparently aiming at GERAWLA Sta. Our aircraft attacked - Probable result 9 Italian planes and 3 British down."
     

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