Title

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History Of the 53rd medium Regt RA

Information  was provided by: Jason Clark about his late grandfather Edward George Shopland  whom was in the 53rd from BBC WW2 Peoples War history,

See link below 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/06/a8674806.shtml 

and

the information given is  accurate recording of events by ex members of the regiment which was compiled

by

Mr J Marnham in 1961 to celebrate the regiments 100th birthday.

 

Unit Chronology

 

20 Aug 1939 - 02 Oct 1939: Mobilisation

During the annual summer camp, secret information came through that the regiment were to be included in the first contingent to be sent overseas in the event that war broke out. On the unit’s return to its Offord Road H.Q. in Islington, the phones were manned night and day, waiting for the different code words which would indicate the different stages of mobilisation. If war was declared the Regiment was to relocate to Kempton Park race course. This was reconnoitred out in advance of a possible move. On the Sunday war broke out, the Regiment moved to Kempton, with the C.O.Lieutenant-Colonel White taking up residence in Lord Derby's Suite, the officers being placed in the grandstand, and the troops billeted in the tote area. Within a week of war being declared the Regiment received its first batch of reservists - comprising some 120 men. Eventually their numbers rose to 200 replacing the under 19s and those members of the Regiment who were not fit for active service. On 28 September the Regiment received its orders to move out and although a ceremonial march was planned this had to scrapped because of the late arrival of stores and equipment. These didn’t arrive until after the motor transport had already left for Southampton, meaning that the men were all laden down with extra parcels and bundles. Several of the men’s wives and sweethearts did make the journey to Kempton to see them off. Upon reaching Southampton, the Regiment embarked on the ‘S.S. Daffodil’ - a fast, black packet-boat, whose normal job was doing the Irish Mail run. At 00.15 on 2nd October the ship departed for France and Cherbourg. The make-up of the Regiment was quite different from the group who had left Offord Road some weeks earlier with only one third of the original members of the original T.A. group together ‘spring rush’ recruits and the recalled regular reservists.

02 Oct 1939 - 26 May 1940: Arrival in France - the Phoney War

Arriving in France at approx 06.00 hrs, the day was spent hanging around with a distinct lack of a cookhouse and latrines. The main body of the Regiment made an all-night train journey, arriving in Laval on the 3rd. Billets in Laval were very mixed, ranging from a local chateau owned by the Comte de la Monneraie, tiny cafes that housed the battery messes and the dozens of farm lofts which sheltered small groups of men. The Regiment was to form part of II Corps Medium Artillery, grouped with 59th Medium Regiment (T.A), 8/12 Bty. of 2nd Medium Regiment, 97th Field, 91st Field, 88th Field and 51st Heavy. On the 8th, the vehicles and the guns arrived. On the 10th the Regiment set out on a three-day march staging at Evreux and Poix and finally arriving in Annoeullin on the 13th. The general feeling was that active operations were to begin at any time.

Meanwhile there was plenty of activity to get on with. The first task was to survey and dig-in gun positions on the east edge of Lille, some 16 miles from Annoeullin. The positions were never used by the Regiment, but did see use by the 59th Medium on the retreat to Dunkirk. Sad news was announced on 14 November, when it was announced that C.O. Lieutenant-Colonel White was to be invalided home. He was replaced initially by Lieutenant-Colonel Laws, M.C. and then in December by Lieutenant-Colonel W.R. Brazier, M.C. - who was to command the Regiment up until February 1944. During this period the Regiment took part in several manoeuvres, including a 70-mile exercise with the 3rd Division, live firing camps on the French range at Sissonne, and three spring months of troop and battery drill orders in the ‘Spanish Farm’ country, to the north and west of Lille. On 10 May, news came through of the German advance, and by 11o'clock orders had been received, giving the unit a date of 13 May as a move date. The Regiment marched into Belgium, and on the 14th preparation and surveys were carried out on the new sector within the 3rd Division area behind Winxele, some 5,000 yards NW of Louvain. On the 15th, the Regiment fired its first shots in anger in support of the Guards Brigade positions on the Dyle. On the 16th, orders were received to start the withdrawal, arriving on the 17th in Dendre, after a day-long drive. After a day’s sleep, the withdrawal continued until the 20th, when the Regiment deployed in Escaut, and under the command of 3rd Division stayed in action until the night of the 21st/22nd. It withdrew over the next few nights, eventually arriving on the 26th at Marcq. During the night of the 26th, orders were received from C.R.A to go into action, fire as much ammunition as possible, and then put the guns out of action.

27 May 1940 - 31 May 1940: Phoney War - La Panne

The day of 27 May opened with orders to travel to Hoogstade. The regiment arrived at dawn, on the 28th. The Regiment was ordered then to make its way by foot to the beach head, but at 10.30 the troops were deflected by Brigadier Lawson, who was organising the defence of the perimeter. This was an unfamiliar role for the Regiment but the troops took up their positions - with 210 Btry covering the Yser Canal from Wulpen to Nieuport and 209 Btry covering from Nieuport to the coast. Here the Regiment took its first casualties of the war and lost some ‘fine young men’. The first German patrols arrived later that morning, and the Regiment remained in the line until relieved by the 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers at midnight on the night of the 29th /30th. At dawn of the 30th the Regiment reached the beach head at La Panne and began the wait for ships. The last men of the Regiment to leave France did so aboard ‘HMS Worcester’ that evening, arriving in Dover in the early hours of 31 May.

10 Jun 1940 - 01 Jan 1941: Defence of the Beaches

After a short period of regrouping, the Regiment moved to Wimborne in Dorset where it set about guarding vulnerable points such as the Naval cordite factory at Holton Heath. At the end of July the Regiment moved to thicken up the defences of the West Country - this was a major feat covering some 350 miles using 55 guns of 7 different varieties. According to Regimental records the deployment at this time was as follows: R.H.Q. Yelverton moving to the Manor House in Tavistock in the autumn. 209: H.Q. at Feock. With static guns at Woollacombe, Padstow, Hayle, Marazion, Porthleven, Gunwalloe, St. Austell, Par and Fowey - with mobile 4-inch Naval guns, and 6-inch Hows at Pill Farm, Feock, covering Carrick Road, with an O.P. in Falmouth Castle. 210: H.Q. in Dartington Hall near Totnes. With static guns at Burgh Island, Torcross, Slapton, Broadsands, Goodrington, Paignton, Torquay, Teignmouth, Dawlish, Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth and Seaton with two mobile 3-pounders in Totnes, and two 60-pounders on the Hills near Kingsbridge covering Dartmouth. The Regiment’s period defending the Beaches officially came to an end on 1 January 1941 when they handed over to the newly-formed 11th Defence Regiment. At this time the batteries were re-equipped with 6-inch Hows and the troops embarked on an intensive refresher course in field branch gunnery.

01 Jan 1941 - 01 Apr 1943: On the Move again - Preparation for Overlord

According to the History of the Regiment this was not a happy period for them with many new faces joining since Dunkirk and older more experienced members leaving to join newly-formed units. In the April of 1941 after a period stationed in Bude the Regiment moved to Barnstaple and Westward Ho and came under the umbrella of the 48th Division. This enabled the Regiment to get back to some serious soldiering and a series of drill orders and firing practices at Okehampton filled the summer. Thus, when the country-wide exercise ‘Bumper’ began the Regiment was able to take its place with 48th Division, and advanced from Devon and Cornwall to make contact with enemy in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire - regarding itself as once more fit to take to the field. In September the batteries were re-equipped with 4.5-inch Hows and in November moved with the 48th Division to Lincolnshire. In March 1942 it was on the move again, this time to Sleaford with 210 taking up home in the town and 209 in the surrounding villages. This remained their home until the autumn, when again they moved, this time to Woodhall Spa, where they exchanged the 4.5-inch Hows for the new 5.5-inch Medium gun. At this time some of the more experienced members of the unit were moved to join the 8th Buffs - to help them convert from an Infantry unit to a Medium artillery Regiment. (The Buffs later came into contact with members of the 53rd during the Normandy campaign, and by all accounts performed extremely well in their new role.) In March 1943 the Regiment regrouped again, in and around Sleaford and in April moved to Blairgowrie, Perthshire.

01 Apr 1943 - 18 Apr 1944: Scotland - 3rd Division

In April, as part of the 4th Army group R.A., the Regiment moved to its new home in Blairgowrie Perthshire. This was no ordinary move - Colonel Brazier, with the help of a higher authority, turned the move into a four-day exercise with calls at two firing camps and even an Air O.P. In late summer of 1943 news came through that the regiment was to be earmarked for the assault on France. This was to be as part of I Corps, under the command of 3rd Division. (The Regiment remained part of 4th AGRA, which was to be a Second Army formation wearing the Second Army flash but which was allotted for the time being to I Corps.) The story of the planning of ‘Overlord’ has been told in many books but as the Regiment contributed a good deal of thought to the specific problem of getting medium artillery ashore it is worth recording it in some detail. The problem that members of the Regiment set about solving included waterproofing, performance of vehicles over sand and drill for directing the unloading of vehicles and shepherding them ashore into action, as well as quick survey techniques. Waterproofing was straightforward and by the end of September every driver had helped to waterproof his own vehicle and had driven about 50 yards through four feet of water. Later all drivers and most of the No. 1s and W.O.’s went in batches to Inveraray, where they practised on proper beaches with real L.C.T. - this paid off handsomely, and on D-Day only two of the Regiment’s vehicles had to struggle to get ashore. Performance over sand was tested in two trials in the dunes at Broughty Ferry. The Survey problem was also explored but from the records it would seem that no clear method of surveying the guns was worked out - due to the lack of communications . By February 1944 a fuller picture was beginning to take shape with the arrival of draft instructions. Though these would change several times it was clear that the Regiment would begin to land at about H + 5 hours. The Regiment moved to Bolero Camp to be closer to 3rd Division and it is here that they lost their C.O. Colonel W.R. Brazier who had commanded the Regiment from December 1939, through the dark days of Dunkirk, right up to the point of the Invasion of France. He was replaced by Colonel Ted Fernyhough.

18 Apr 1944 - 05 Jun 1944: Preparation for Overlord

On Tuesday 18 April the Regiment left Carronbridge for Oxted in Surrey, staging at Catterick, Doncaster and Lutterworth, and arriving late on the evening of the 21st.Over the next four weeks the Regiment took part in several dress rehearsals in preparation for the invasion. On 16 May they left Oxted for Camp A15 near Wickham in the Meon Valley. For the next three days preparations were made for the landings. During this period the C.O. attended a briefing by General Rennie and an address by General Montgomery to all the C.O.'s in the army group. A group of 100 men also attended the Divisional Headquarters inspection in front of King George VI. On 30 May the Regiment split, with the recce parties moving to Camp A14, and the rest going to Camp A2 - all except for Captain Stevenson and Lance Bombader Ware, who were to land with the commandos as an O.P. party before H-hour. On 1 June, the recce parties embarked in two L.S.T’s - the gun groups followed on 4 June. On 5 June news came through that the invasion was on and real maps were issued. At around 7.30pm the L.S.T. weighed anchor, on the heels of the long procession of infantry and tank landing craft.

06 Jun 1944 - 16 Jul 1944: Assault and Beachhead

By about 10am on D-Day the Regiment was within sight of the shore on what the records describe as a dull and wet day with low cloud and choppy seas. The Regiment’s movements had gone closely to plan and by 11.30am the troops were anchored in a dense crowd of shipping. This is where the plans went wrong because of the failure of the Rhino ferries, who would delay the Regiment’s landing until the morning of the 7th. One member of the Regiment did land that day other than Captain Stevenson's group. This was Major J.E. Marnham who by accident ended up on a Rhino that got cast off from the L.S.T. and ended up stuck on Queen White Beach, midway between Lion-sur-mer and Ouistreham. He eventually returned to the L.S.T. in the early evening. Early on the 7th, the Regiment began to reach the shore, with no casualties. The guns were immediately deployed between Hermanville and Colleville, and at 22.10 the guns fired ‘blind’, in support of the Norfolks of 185 Brigade, who had run into heavy opposition in Lebisy Wood. Reverting to the command of 4th A.G.R.A. the guns fired busily in support of 3rd Division, 6th Airborne across the Orne, and later the 51st Highland Division also across the Orne River. It was during these early days that the Regiment took its first casualties, with two guns being put out of action by night time bombing and with C troops’ O.P. at Lebisey being hit by a shell on D + 3. L/Bdr Ware was killed and Lieutenant Morrison and Driver Gibbs were wounded. A few days later Gunner Benn was killed when a bomb hit D troops position. On 20 June the guns moved 4,000 yards west to Plumtot and continued to give direct support to the forward Brigades of the 3rd Division. It was during this period that the Regiment won its first M.C. awarded to Major Skelsey. At this time 185 Brigade were tasked with breaking out from Bieville, and capturing Lebisy. The attack went in at dawn, preceded by wave upon wave of Lancaster bombers,the first time heavy bombers had been used en masse for the direct support of ground troops. The attack on 8 July was a complete success and the Regiment fired over 300 rounds in support of the operation.

17 Jul 1944 - 16 Aug 1944: Operation Goodwood to the Falaise Gap

On 17 July 1944 the Regiment found itself in Periers-sur-le-Dan in support of 3rd Division, who were taking part in operation Goodwood - the heavy armoured attack on Caen, designed to enlarge the beach- head southwestwards. On the 19th the Regiment was able to move forward to Escoville, described by the Regimental history as a mosquito-ridden, flat, dusty plain, which was within easy reach of the German Mortars at Bois de Bavant. It is from here that they fired hard in support of the final stages of Goodwood. The long Slogging Match that had been going on since D-Day on the British and Canadian fronts. At this point the Regiment fired in support of the Highland Division, who were pushing into Tilly-la-Campagne and Secqueville. On 9 August the guns moved to Hubertfoile situated in the middle of the Caen Plain again described as a fly-ridden dust trap. The guns remained in action here for a total of six days moving on the 15th in drill order style and ending up at Estrees-la-Campagne which offered a dramatic view of the Polish tanks moving southwards towards the ‘Falaise Gap’.

17 Aug 1944 - 29 Aug 1944: The Race To The Seine

On 17 August the race was on for the Seine. The Regiment started its move early on the 17th under the command of 7th Armoured Division whose objective was the high ground east of Lisieux. This was a particularly exciting time for the Regiment as it exposed the troops to a new type of warfare supporting the fast-moving armoured units. Although on the first day the guns were constantly moving forward to fire in support of the various armoured elements of 7th Armoured Division in reality they did not travel very far. It was another two days before they started to really get going - in fact on the 19th they liberated the village of Livarot on their way to the outskirts of Lisieux. The guns were held up by skilful rearguard action for another 48 hours before some fast moving on the 23rd and some lively shooting at the Seine crossing. The battle ran away from them on the morning of 29 August. Positioned near Routot the Regiment paused while the armour raced across north-eastern France towards Brussels

29 Aug 1944 - 26 Sep 1944: Le Havre

After pausing on 27 August, after the push to the Seine, the Regiment turned its back on the main battle, and headed towards Le Havre to support the 49th Division's attack on the coastal town. It is described as a text book set piece in the Regimental history, with meticulously prepared plans supported by every available weapon, including Lancasters from Bomber Command attacking by daylight, with eight batteries of medium guns firing to suppress the AA flak - each working with an Air O.P. watching small sectors of the defences with an overprinted 1/10,000 street map. On 13 September the guns moved back some 30 miles to Autretot, for a week’s rest, then on the 19th set off to rejoin the war -heading towards staging near Dieppe, then on to Deynze on the 22nd. Here the Regiment paused, to allow their tractors to be borrowed by the hard pressed R.A.S.C., to help ferry ammunition across Belgium.

27 Sep 1944 - 10 Nov 1944: The Scheldt / 1st Polish Armoured Division

On the 27th of September the Regiment was called forward by A.G.R.A to rejoin the battle which by know was just beyond Antwerp. Moving at night in poor weather conditions to Scheroenberg they deployed in support of the 2nd Canadian Division. On the 29th the regiment moved to come under the command of the 1st Polish Armoured Division, meeting up with the Poles just outside Oostmalle passing through 49th Division lines in order to take the small village of Merxplas, heading eventually for Tilburg. The guns deployed just on the outskirts of Rouwleegd and fired in support of the Poles until the 18th when they joined in a joint operation around Wustwesel with both the 49th and 4th Canadian Divisions rejoining the poles on the 28th and staying with them until the 9th of November.For the record here are the gun positions during this period: 1st October Hoekeinde north of Merxplas, 4th Schaluinen south of Baarle-Nassau, 19th Vorschan Kwaak near St. Job in T'Goor north-east of Antwerp, 21st Kruisstraat, 25th Handelaar south of Esschen and level with the neck of the Beveland Isthumus, 28th Gilza, 30th Kerkeind and on the 31st Gageldonk north of Breda. This final postion was in fact the thirty second position since D-Day and from it the regiment supported the final clearing of Moerdijk. This period would seem to have been a good time for the regiment, the war diary states that they had a "good war " with the Poles. This period was not with out sadness with the death of B.S.M Coaker who had joined the regiment in 1939 as an unpaid lance-bombardier in charge of the first reservists. He was killed by a stray shell on the 30th September whilst deploying captured guns whose crews had been put to flight by counter-battery fire from the regiment earlier that day.

11 Nov 1944 - 20 Dec 1944: La Hulpe

On the 11th November the Regiment moved to Oploo north of Overloon higher up the Maas, rejoining 3rd Division who were clearing the left bank of the river after two very tough battles for Overloon and Venraij. This period was comparatively uneventful for the regiment with specilist shoots in surport of patrols and small engagements. One of these was the "Castle" of Geesteren which was obstinately defended by young cadets. In the course of this action the Regiment gained its third M.C. adwarded to John Marnham On the 7th December the Regiment moved to La Hulpe south-east of Brussels not far from Waterloo where time was taken to clean all the guns and vechiles.

20 Dec 1944 - 12 Jan 1945: The Ardennes

Rumours spread round the regiment of a big German push, but it was generally felt that it would not affect them and on the 20th December they moved to fresh billets in Assche just north of Brussels. Things changed for the Regiment at around 23.30pm that night orders were received to move at 08.15am the next morning. A frantic nights activity ensued with the rounding up of all the men from the different billets in the village and the unbogging of all the transports and guns. By 11.30am the next day the guns were in position just north of Genappe not far from Waterloo. At this point Colonel Fernyhough gave his brief to the officers of the Regiment. They were as follows; the Germans were located 10km west of Stavelot the Americans holding the line between Marche-Rochefort-Ciergnon. 30 Corps were to man the River Meuse from Givet to Namur but at this time 29th Armoured Brigade would be holding this line on their own. The Regiment was to support them. 209 would be with the 23rd Hussars at Givet and 210 with the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment at Dinant 209 guns area was to be Gochenee, 210 areas was to be Falen with R.H.Q. in Anthee. Battery commanders were to contact their respective armour, keep in touch with R.H.Q. as much as possible, but where to act under the command of the armour. By 19.30 pm both Batteries were in position and in contact with the Rifle Brigades who were holding the line until 29th Armoured moved forward to take up their positions. The guns remained in these locations throughout the 22nd and on the 23rd 210 moved to Ferme de Wespan west of the Meuse in support of the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment who had six squadrons patrolling east of the river at Achene. 210 were joined by 52nd Heavy Regiment who deployed south of Onhaye. The guns remained silent but according to the regimental diaries “ it was day full of rumours and reports as the Tank commanders moved their pieces like chess players in an ever changing situation”. Christmas Eve started badly for the Regiment with the Germans reported to be in Celles. The regiment suffered more casualties when Captain Davey was sent to join B squadron at Boisseilles. Unfortunately on route they drove into an German half track which had infiltrated during the night. Sadly Driver C.K. Burkitt was killed and both Captain Davey and Driver Buckman wounded and taken prisoner. One member of the group did manage to escape Driver Carter who managed to make his way back to the Battery command. During the rest of the day it is reported that the Germans continued to push forward and guns from 210 knocked out five Panther tanks and several half-tracks during the afternoon.

20 Dec 1944 - 12 Jan 1945: Ardennes Offensive part two

Christmas Day started on a more positive note with a counter attack by the 29th Brigade after 53rd Division had moved up from reserve to cover their advance. The counter attack went as planned and within an hour of the start 210s guns were on the move in support of the attack. The only problem for the guns that day was making sure that they only shot at the Germans and not the advancing US 2nd Armoured Division who were attacking from Ciney in the south west. 209, who had an uneventful period, were moved up to Givet early on Christmas Day and by 09.25am were in action east of the Meuse as the 23rd Hussars advanced towards Beauraing. Mopping up continued through out Boxing Day with Air O.P. shoots on pockets of enemy troops marooned in some woods south of Verrie. Good news did reach the Regiment that day; both Captain Davey and Driver Buckman had been rescued and eventually were sent back to England to recover from their injuries. The batteries remained around the Vodelee area until the 2nd January 1945 when orders were received to move to support the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry who were advancing towards Grupont and Bure. The 3rd January again proved a lively day for the regiment beginning on 210 front with a foot recce with the C.O. of 13th Paratroop Battalion followed by a full-dress attack on Bure. The night was spent sharing the village with the Germans. The next day also proved to be eventful with a single gun engagement with a Tiger tank. Two more counter attacks were dealt with during the rest of the day and by the evening the Infantry had cleared the village. Final mopping up took place the next day the 5th. 209 were also having an eventful time supporting 7 Paratroop Battalion into Wavreille on the 3rd January. During this action Captain Cross-Brown earned a M.C. for O.P. work with the leading infantry units sending back constant fire orders using the infantry’s own radio set. The Regiment took three days rest whilst the infantry regrouped. On the 9th January the advance continued with 209 Battery supporting the Royal Ulster Rifles and 210 Battery helping the 12th Devon’s back through Brue into Grupont. The advance continued until the 12th when the battle moved out of the range of the guns. The Regiment moved to new billets with 210 situated in Belavaux and 209 in Ave-et-Auffe. The Regiment stayed in these billets until the 18th January when a move north was ordered through Tilburg towards Loon-op-Zand. This was not a busy period for the Regiment firing only 8 rounds per day and living in poor conditions trying to stay dry and warm.

05 Feb 1945 - 12 Mar 1945: Closing up to the Rhine

The Regiment took up new positions over the 5th and 6th February for what was to become a major Artillery operation. This operation used not just the guns of 4 A.G.R.A but also 2,5 and 9 A.G.R.A. 53rd Medium Regiment was to fire as part of a 184 gun section utilising every type of Artillery peace in each of the A.G.R.A.'s. The bombardment began at 05.00 am on the 8th and the guns fired their final rounds on the 10th February as the battle moved out of the range of 4 A.G.R.A. Each gun had fired 229 rounds in this engagement. On the 11th the Regiment moved south to support the 51st Division who were having a difficult time in the Reichswald Forest. The regiment moved to positions in St Agatha where they fired vigoursly in support of 51st Division remaining in action until the 18th when they pulled back to rest until the 20th following which the Regiment, moved to enter Germany near Bedburg south east of Cleve. During this period the Regiment fired in support of the 3rd Canadian Division who were advancing slowly on the Hochwald line. On the 28th February the guns moved to Keppeln and fired on Kervenheim and Sonsbeck in support of 3rd Division and 11th Armoured. These engagements are described in the Regimental diary as a hard fought slogging match and continued until the 7th March when the guns moved up to Sonsbeck and stayed in positions here for four days bombarding the German bridge head at Wesel. On the 12th of March the Regiment moved out of the line to recalibrate the guns and rest and to await their next move. It was at this time that the Regiment lost its C.O. Colonel Fernyough, after being awarded a D.S.O.. He was promoted to full Colonel and transferred to command 123 O.C.T.U.. This was the third time since the out break of war that the Regiment had lost its C.O. A new C.O. was appointed to replace Colonel Fernyhough whose connection with the Regiment continued during peacetime when he became Honorary Colonel in 1959. His final task as C.O. was to give the Regiment its orders for the crossing of the Rhine.

19 Mar 1945 - 30 Mar 1945: The Rhine Crossing

The Regiment with its new C.O. Lieut. -Colonel R.C. Notman moved to fresh gun positions near Udem close to the Rhine on the 19th March. The Regiment began firing on the 23rd as part of the planned counter battery operation, continueing on the 24th with a bombardment of Rees and various fire plans in support of the airborne assault. I can remmber my Grandfather recalling how he looked up at the sky and watched the gliders and tugs pass over his head. One glider actually landed next the R.H.Q. on the wrong side of the Rhine. This period in the Regiments war actions would seem to have been one of their most intense. It would seem from the records that they fired constantly day and night in support of not just the airborne assault but also the 43rd Divisions assault on Isselburg and 30 Corps link with the Ninth U.S.Army across the Lippe to Dorsten. On the 30th March the cease fire order was received and so ended the Regiments involvement with the crossing of the Rhine. Looking at the Regimental history this period seems to have remained in the minds of members of the regiment as a test of not just endurance but accuracy of both the gun teams and the command posts.It was felt that this action would go down in the history books as an impressive illustration of centralised artillery control on a scale which may never be seen on the battlefield again.

31 Mar 1945 - 05 May 1945: The Final

The Regiment moved forward to Till on the 31st March firing H.F. (according to the records confined to only 50 rounds per gun) during the night at woods beyond Emmerich. The guns were rested on the 1st of April and rejoined the action on the 2nd supporting the Guards Armoured Division and the Canadians. The Regiment stayed in Till for another two weeks resting and carring out various jobs including helping to clear up the battlefield. It also allowed some members of the Regiment to take a well-earned leave in Brussels. On the 15th April the Regiment crossed the Rhine at Emmerich and deployed near Duiven east of the river Ijssel and north of Nijmegen in support of 49th Divisions attack on Arnhem. This engagement was over by the 17th and the Regiment moved to Meppen just inside Germany staying here until the 28th when the Regiment redeployed to Ihrhove between Leer and Papenburg to support 3rd Canadian Division's attack on Leer. On the 2nd May the guns came out of action again as the battle moved out of their range. Moving on the 3rd May to Detern under the command of the 1st Polish Armoured Division they moved for the last time on the 4th to Halsbeck where the Regiment recorded Zero line for the last time at 17.30pm. At 20.30pm news had reached the Regiment that the Germans had surrendered and that hostilities were to finish at 08.00 on the 5th May. The Poles who felt that they could not trust the Germans requested that counter battery fire was to be continued up until the last minute and according to the records the last shell fired by the Regiment was fired at 07.59 and 35sec with an recorded flight time of 24secs. The Regiment fired its first rounds in Normandy on D+1 at 21.00 hrs and fired its last 25secs before the end of hostilities. Maybe the 53rd Medium Regiment fired the first and last medium shells of the campaign. I know that some old members felt that they did and I have no doudt that other Regiments histories will disagree but it is nice to think that it might have be possible. The day after the Armistice the Regiment moved to Klein Fullen west of Meppen and rejoined 4 A.G.R.A. On VE Day the 8th May the Regiment held a memorial service on the village green. On the 11th May they moved to Borculo for two weeks rest and a farewell inspection by the B.R.A. of 1st Canadian Army, Brigadier Plough. On the 23rd the Regiment moved to Bad Zwischenahn near Oldenburg. Sadly it was in this final phase that Driver Baker was killed whilst helping to clear unused German AA ammunition.

26 Jun 1945 - February 1946: The End Bochum and home

On the 25th June the Regiment moved to Bochum in the Ruhr to form part of 3 A.G.R.A. having retained their guns after the rest of 4 A.G.R.A. lost theirs. During their time in Bochum the Regiments role was to administer displaced persons camps and policeing. It was from here that demob begun starting in July finally ending in February 1946.

 

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