HAA used as Artillery Florence 1944

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Uncle Target, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Active Member

    HAA as Artillery NB.jpg
    By 15th August 67 Field Regiment were advancing on Florence.
    Alongside them was C Troop London Passenger Transport Board Territorials HAA .

    They parted company on 22nd August when 67 moved forward to stay within range of their infantry,
    leaving the HAA Troop to share the position at Galluzzo with an American Battery of Long Toms.


    Early on 2nd September the Gordons out on a strong patrol to Prato with tanks and a FOO Party from 266 Battery encountered heavy opposition when out of range of 67 Regiments guns.

    The Heavy Anti Aircraft guns of C Troop London Passenger Transport and their neighbouring American Long Toms opened fire under direction of 266 Battery FOO's quietening the opposition and allowing the patrol to withdraw.

    It was the first time the Gordons had experienced Anti Aircraft air burst as artillery and were very impressed with the results.
     
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  2. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Active Member

    On 26th August 1 Div advanced.
    From 2IB one company of The Loyals was set against Fiesole.
    It was a day of constant Mike,Uncle and Victor targets, particularly on Castel Poggio where 66 IB were having a very hard time.
    The constant heavy fire over two days brought a serious response of enemy return fire felt by the gun end.
    C Troop of th Heavy Anti Aircraft had four casualties, one of them fatal and the hate continued over the whole area for half an hour.
     
  3. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    3.7 doing ground bombardment in Normandy from 35s. Film 99% certain to be Canadian raw footage and the original film lost.
     
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  4. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Active Member

    Target ID Mike = Regiment
    Uncle = Division
    Victor = Corps
    William = Army
    Yoke = Army Group

    A call from a FOO once rapidly confirmed by necessary higher echelons can result in devastating fire on the selected target.
    The British Army were leaders in this field and is the why they used officers for OP or Forward Observation rather than NCOs.
    Other countries i.e. USA tended to use NCO,s who then had to seek authorisation to escalate fire requests.
    Just like the RAF the Royal Artillery lost relatively large numbers of officers in the front line accompanying infantry.
     
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  5. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Active Member

    The reason for the p.s. on the 1st posting above was that his brother Graham was a lieuenant in HAA in the UK and desperately wanted to go abroad. A following letter revealed that he was tranferred to become an interpreter as he spoke fluent German their mother was multi lingual. He stayed in the uk so never got his wish to see foreign climes.
     
  6. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Active Member

    The London Passenger Transport Board Territorials were first class gunners.
    They stayed with the Regiment a long time.
    For their action with the 67th their Troop Commander was awarded the MC.
    It was always a frantic task for Major Kerr to find them positions owing to their flat trajectory and their very loud crack made a strange and very unpleasant accompaniment until the Regiment became used to their noise and resulting tremors and vibrations.
     
  7. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

  8. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Very interesting to see these guns in action, and especially in this thread on HAA in Italy, through having an interest in the Italian campaign, and spending a couple of years researching the activities of 76th HAA in Italy where they were converted to a field role in July 44. Following this they were allocated to support IV Corps of US 5th Army, initially being based on the Pisa plain within 4,500 yards of the enemy on the front line running east from Livorno (known in the campaign as Leghorn) along the River Arno. The Regiment remained in the plains in full view of the enemy, missions and movements frequently taking place under cover of darkness to avoid being observed, until late August, moving east into an area between San Miniato and Castelfiorentino. During this period three members of the Regiment were killed in action.

    The heavy rains of early September resulted in muddy conditions and the washing away of the Allies’ own road repairs to the retreating German’s demolitions, slowing the Regiment’s advance. By 4 September the Regiment had crossed the Arno, and was deployed between Cerreto Guidi and Stabbia, before moving northward along the Fuccechio valley through San Rocco in support of the 24th Guards Brigade and 6th South African Armoured Brigade to liberate Montecatini Terme.

    The German’s retreat from their Gothic line defences left Allied medium field artillery fire unable to reach enemy targets. The 3.7” gun, however, was able to overcome this deficiency due to its greater range, the Regiment making up for this by firing some 10,000 rounds of harassing fire and bombard shoots beyond the line for U.S. IV Corps and the 6th South African Armoured Brigade. As the advance continued the mountainous terrain added to the troops’ difficulties, setting up gun positions in precipitous and below zero conditions above 2,500 feet north of Montecatini, something with which 76th H.A.A. Regiment had little or no experience. When in early October it was found no longer possible to pursue the retreating German forces due to the speed of their retreat, the Regiment was called back to an area near Viareggio, being positioned in the pine woods around Lido di Camiore to support U.S. IV Corps Artillery, in conjunction with 71st H.A.A. Regt. It was when deployed here that on 26 December German forces mounted an abortive counter attack along the Serchio valley, advancing three miles south towards U.S. IV Corps’ Headquarters at Lucca whilst also threatening U.S. 5 Army’s supplies at Viarregio before the advance was repulsed.

    The fighting became entrenched over the following months of early 1945, and despite an offensive by the 92nd U.S. Division across the Cinquale Canal on 8 February, supported by the batteries of 76th H.A.A. Regt, no advantage was gained, retreat being required. Throughout this time the Viareggio area was subject to frequent shelling not only by German field positions but also by German heavy calibre long range coastal guns mounted on the headland at Punta Bianca.

    Over the latter period of 1944 and into 1945 62nd A.A. Brigade’s strength was reduced to that of 76th H.A.A. and 26th L.A.A. Regiments, other former regiments constituting the Brigade having been disbanded. The Brigade in turn was itself disbanded in January 1945, the 76th and 26th then falling under direct U.S. Corps command. In its disbandment the 62nd Brigade received a special commendation from U.S. 5th Army for its role in A.A. defence, medium field and anti-tank roles, and in support of the infantry. On 20th February the Regiment was reinforced with Bechuanaland troops, formerly of 73rd H.A.A. Regiment, replacing one fifth of the existing contingent, these being destined for France.

    The final offensive began on 5 April 1945, the Regiment firing over 3,000 rounds on the first day as part of a division scale attack, this including air support from U.S.A.F. and R.A.F. Many rounds were expended clearing enemy mortar, machine gun, and sniper positions along the Cinquale canal and the hill features known as ‘Maine’ and ‘Alaska’ in support of 92nd Infantry Division, this role continuing over the following days together with counter battery shoots against the coastal guns at Punta Bianca. ‘A’ Troop of 236 Battery took up this task on 9 April, later being joined by the Regiment’s other batteries in silencing these in what the Regiment considered ‘a private war’. The advance was quick, progressing through Massa, Carrara, to Sarzana near the port of Spezia. This was not without cost, however, the O.C. of 236 Battery and the C.O. of the Regiment both being wounded in separate incidents, the former due to a mortar round, and the latter losing his foot by treading on a mine, each officer being replaced by their seconds in command. 349 Battery lost three Bechuanaland gunners, as well as others sustaining injuries, in two separate incidents of shelling by German guns. During the nineteen days of the attack over 20,000 rounds of ammunition were expended by the Regiment, concluding eight months of the batteries being continuously in the front line in the Viareggio area, before ending their war in San Benedetto Po on 24 April.
     
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  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Thought I ought to point out that even guns as light as the Bofor 40 mm were used as artillery when necessary, as demonstrated below:

    I found this entry in the Regimental Diary of the 49th LAA:for the 3rd Sept 1843

    The Regt was generally north and east of Messina and on 3 Sep supported the movement over the Straits of the Op BAYTOWN units, the invasion of Italy.

    I can still remember the ear shattering barrage that took place as every gun my regiment possessed fired over the Straits of Messina !

    Ron
     
  10. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    My Father with 5 RHA in Italy recorded this but did not give location

    On one occasion I remember the 49th. Div. Being held up by some

    Spandoe’s that had caused a tremendous amount of damage and loss.

    There was a Divisional stomp all heavy, medium, light and even ack ack

    guns were employed to saturate the given co-ordinates, and not many

    can survive this sort of shelling.

    Edit Not so sure I have read the division right could be 46th?
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
  11. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    redtop, 49th. Div? I'm not sure they served in the Italian campaign (I'm thinking its a typo error?) Do you mean 46 British Infantry Division? Hands up if the 49th Division served in the campaign.. No pun intended:cool:

    Regards,
    Stu
     
  12. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Hi Stuart
    You are right ,see my edit.
    5 RHA were with Mark Clarks 5 Army as were 46 Div.
     
  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    Are you sure about the country? 5 RHA were part of 7th Armoured Division, which served in Italy from September to November 1943. Not sure when they supported 46 Div. Volturno river? 5RHA did fire in support of 49th Division in North West Europe, in the Tilly-sur-Seulles area from mid June to mid July 1944..
     
  14. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    The reference is in his notes after crossing Volturno but does not tie it to any particular event, In fact he does not actually say 5 RHA were part of it.
    He was detached and sent down to Mount Camino for resupply duties just before leaving Italy I believe 46 Div. Were involved in that area.
    His notes difficult to read all I can make out is a 4 and possibly 6 or 9.
    He was at Tilly.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018

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