137th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by kevinjones, Nov 15, 2016.

  1. kevinjones

    kevinjones Member

    Hi, I wonder if anyone has any information about this regiment, as my great uncle served with them before he taken prisoner as a Japanese POW, all I know that the regiment was formed in 1939, and intakes of Lancashire, Yorkshire and London were added, I also think that they supported the 11th Indian Division?

    I don't know much about regiments, battalions, etc, my great uncle was born in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, so would he have been in the Yorkshire regiment? I don't where he trained, which ship he was on that set sail, and which battles he was in prior to him being captured, if anyone can shed any information on this matter, it would greatly appreciated.

    Yours faithfully

    Kevin Jones
  2. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is a very brief summary of the Regiment's service:

    137th Field Regiment, R.A. (T.A.)

    HQ: Blackpool

    349th (9th West Lancashire) Bty: Preston

    350th (10th West Lancashire) Bty: Lancaster

    The regiment served as an army field regiment in the United Kingdom at the start of the war. It served as the School of Artillery field regiment in the autumn of 1940. It added 501st Battery formed at Larkhill on 17 March 1941. The regiment arrived in Singapore on 28 November 1941. It first stopped at Kajang, near Kuala Lumpur and arrived in the 11th Indian Divisional area on 12 December. It served with the division during the Malayan campaign. It was captured at Singapore on 15 February 1942. The title (2nd West Lancashire) was authorized two days later.
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Kevin

    Trawling The National Archives directory there are several files for them I have attached the search link:
    The National Archives | Search results:137th AND Field AND Regiment

    Check out members
    http://ww2talk.com/index.php?members/drew5233.6786/ Andy
    http://ww2talk.com/index.php?members/psywar-org.2876/ Lee

    Both are regulars at Kew and offer services of copying records at very good prices.


    edited to add:

    137 Field Regiment | Fylde Coaster - this article has a very good set of source's, & links at the bottom of the page

    There is also another thread on this forum for them - 137 Fd Regt RA (Blackpool Regt)
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
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  4. Enigma1003

    Enigma1003 Member

    If you post his name, I will see if I have any information within my files.

  5. kevinjones

    kevinjones Member

    Hi, his name is Henry Newton, he was a Gunner with the 137th Field Regiment, his Service number was 964720
  6. Enigma1003

    Enigma1003 Member

    I know little about his regiment, but have found this information about his captivity:

    Address shown as 78, Crompton Avenue, Doncaster.
    Taken prisoner Singapore 15.02.1942
    Sent to the Siam Railroad on 20.06.42, which was one of the first trainloads, and they were to build the transit camp for all who followed.
    Returned to Singapore (date unknown)
    Camp now River Valley at Singapore.
    On 02.02.1945 sent on the hellship Haruyasa Maru to Saigon, Vietnam.
    Liberated from Group 10 camp, Saigon on 12.09.1945.

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  7. meister

    meister New Member

    My grandfather's record matches exactly.
  8. Nigel Taylor

    Nigel Taylor New Member

  9. Nigel Taylor

    Nigel Taylor New Member

    Mike . Have you any records of the camp my late grandfather was sent to. Although as has been stated the intake of the 137th was mainly from the Blackpool area he was living in Wrexham in North Wales. His name was Gunner Stanley Taylor . His number was 1119615.
  10. The Stamford Regent

    The Stamford Regent Brian Smith

    Hello Everyone,

    My wife's father was in the 137th. He was Frank Blood, no. 950862.
    We have found 5 records [in "site name deleted"] - a couple of information cards and three casualty lists. One of the latter reports him missing, one as a POW and finally, in 1945, one shows him as "not POW".
    We know very little about his service except that he was in the 137th.

    I have two questions, and I'd be grateful for any help that anyone might be able to offer:
    1. If anyone has any information on Frank above and beyond these five items, I'd love to hear it.
    2. I know little about the 137th. I had always assumed that my father-in-law was a rifleman or similar, but references to the 137th keep referring to "(number) bty". I'm assuming that "bty" means "battery" but what exactly was a battery and how many of them were there? Was a battery a gun? A group of guns? What sort of guns? How many people were there in a battery - the same number as the guns, or several people per gun? You see how little I know. Everything, no matter how simple it may seem to you, would be so useful and I'd be very grateful.

    In an article about the 137th, it refers to a "bty" being in one place and another in another place. Does anyone know how they were deployed? The story of the 137th in the far East seems to be one of splitting up and then rejoining the others. Does anyone know exactly what happened and when? All pointers gratefully received.

    Many thanks to one and all. My wife and I have been meaning to investigate for years. Like so many people, I wish we had asked him questions when he was alive. He never volunteered any information and we were typical young people with careers and families to occupy us. And now it's too late.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2020
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  11. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Welcome Brian,

    I can help a little with this question:

    This diagram shows how a field regiment was structured. It comes from the incredible Nigel Evans' website, which goes into huge detail on British artillery in WW2. Link to the site: British Artillery Organisations 1939-45

    Field Regiment.gif
    Initially field regiments had two batteries, each with twelve guns. After experience in the Battle of France, during 1940/41 regiments were reorganised into three batteries, each with eight guns; this made them more flexible when supporting an infantry brigade which had three battalions of infantry.

    So by 1941, a field regiment had three batteries. Each battery had two troops (e.g. 'A' Troop and 'B' Troop). Each troop had two sections ('Left Section' and 'Right Section'). Each section had two sub-sections (e.g. 'A' Sub and 'B' Sub). Each sub-section crewed a single field gun. A gun was typically operated by a six man crew, but there were an awful lot of other jobs to be done to keep those guns in action; Nigel's site explains in great detail the various other roles in the regiment. Not sure on the specifics of 137 Field Regiment, but the guns are likely to have been 25-pounders.

    When in action, the batteries (or even individual sections) could be deployed independently as needed; always much work to be done by the signallers to keep everyone in touch, often with miles of telephone cable. The battery commander and troop commanders would usually be forward with the HQ of the unit they were supporting, with forward observation teams up at the front to direct the fire of the guns.
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  12. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Here is a pretty good link about the history and operations of 137th Field Regiment: The ‘Blackpool Regiment’: A brief history of 137 (A) Fd Regt RA

    I sort of hate to say this, but according to the two best books on the campaign (Brian Farrell, The Defence and Fall of Singapore, and Alan Warren, Britain's Greatest Defeat) the 137th failed to distinguish itself at Slim River. (To be fair, hardly anybody else did either.) The battery posted in direct support of 12th Indian Bde (350 Bty) simply packed up, left the infantry behind and drove to the rear past the rest of the regiment at Cluny Estate (349 Bty, 501 Bty), failing to inform their comrades of what was going on. Apparently nobody in the regiment was even curious about this, which is how the guns at Cluny were caught by surprise by Jap tanks. The tanks shot up the area but they were not accompanied by any large body of infantry and soon passed on. It should then have been possible to get some at least of the guns into action again to prevent the Japanese from following up the success of their tanks but this was not done. The CO (Holme) was not present (he was killed elsewhere) and in his absence the battery commanders panicked, concluded that the battle was lost, spiked the guns, and led the men out as best they could. 350 Battery, meanwhile, went all the way back to Tanjong Malim, well in the rear, without stopping or rendering assistance to other units. Farrell is particularly harsh about the 137th's performance, which was "hardly in the best tradition of the Royal Artillery."
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
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  13. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

  14. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Frank Blood related documents:-
    Blood, Frank.jpg Blood, Frank (1).jpg GBM_POW-GALLIP_15-0273_GB-SRY_WO_392-WAR-OFFICE-DIRECTORATE-OF-PRISONERS-23-1943-1945_00227.jpg GBM_POW-GALLIP_101596879_00010.jpg GBM_POW-GALLIP_101596879_00086.jpg GBM_POW-GALLIP_101598648_00026.jpg GBM_POW-GALLIP_101600167_00077.jpg GBM_POW-GALLIP_101600950_00076.jpg GBM_WO417_040_0206.jpg GBM_WO417_097_0338.jpg


    Attached Files:

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  15. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Gnr. F. Blood was In Thailand in June 1942 on the second train sent from Changi. No idea of previous working party in Singapore.

    There is a WO356 card ( record of Q form: no more details, main camp file card was "noted" from file which is not available at Kew ) ( as most of them are unavailable ). The Q form actually cross-references to Chida but no affidavit mentioned.

    See here for the trial of Chida and others :

    Or the Singapore site:
    Chida Sotomatsu and others - Singapore War Crimes Trials

    Book by Col Owtram is very readable.

    1000 Days on the River Kwai

    How a small north Lancashire village has links to a Thai POW camp

    Owtram's daughters were in the news recently and on national TV:

    Meet the Codebreaking Sisters who helped bring Victory in Europe

    And the liberation questionnaire is here:

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  16. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Others have done a good job and Kyle has produced most of the easily available documentation so I hope I don't repeat what has already been said.
    137th Field Artillery consisting of 349, 350 and 501 Batteries arrived in Singapore on 28 Nov 41 and were immediately deployed into Malaya. They were equipped with 25 pdr guns although RA 1939-45 137 Fld Rgt also indicates 75mm Howitzers.
    Frank was initially a Gunner but at some stage was promoted to Lance Bombardier. There is nothing here to show which Battery he was in but it is likely that this could be obtained from the Nominal Roll (WO 361/2095).
    He was captured Singapore 15/2/42 (the dates on his Japanese Index Cards are in the format Yr/Month/Day using the Japanese Showa calendar where 17 is 1942, 18 is 1943 etc). He left Singapore OVL (= Overland) 20/6/42 under the command of Major W E Gill (137 Field Rgt) for the Thai/Burma Railway. June Mainland Parties
    He was still in Thailand when released 5 Sep 45.
    Other links of interest:
    Death Railway
    Bj-Bl Database

    Edited to add. You may care to contact the Thailand Burma Railway Centre to see what information they hold on Frank. They have data on those who worked on the Railway and are most helpful. TBRC Online: THE THAILAND-BURMA RAILWAY CENTRE
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2020
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