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    War Diary: 102nd Anti Tank Regiment

    Month and year: December 1944

    The 102nd Anti Tank Regiment December 1944 war diary covers the unit's time in the area around Nijmegen and Panningen

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/929

    The "References to Appendices" column for this document was empty so has been omitted.

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    Page 1 of 11
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    11000 hrs. RHQ moved from OOSTERHOUT to the Barracks in NIJMEGEN to join 99 Bty
    preparatory to the move to DEURNE area.
    At 0930 hrs Lt F. MOORE L.O. at HQ RA 50 Div arrived at RHQ with the last
    instructions to the Regt from them. Everyone is feeling rather sad.
    The C.O. leaves at 0945 hrs to contact HQ 97 A Tk Regt RA and HQ RA of our
    new Division.
    2000 hrs. Column consisting of RHQ and 99 Bty leave NIJMEGEN for now area.
    Fine moonlight night. Arrive area LIEROP 5715 at 0115 hrs. Good journey down.
    Park vehicles round farm buildings and settle for the night. Men in barns.
    Area does not seem too bad and the hot tea waiting for us cheers everyone up.
    Good work by Major BARNETT, Lt QM HUTCHINSON and RHQ B Echelon.
    2Changeover with 97 A Tk Regt has been postponed for 24 hrs. So there is little
    to do except remain in our incredibly uncomfortable concentrration area, apart
    from recce of the areas occupied by 97 A Tk Regt.
    Filthy wet day. Everyone is naturally rather depressed including 97 A Tk Regt.
    It is always sad when necessities of war make it imperative for moves which have
    recently come about to take place.
    Major-General BARBER DSO Commanding 15 (S) Div paid an informal visit with
    his AQ - Lt-Col LETHBRIDGE.
    3RHQ moves from area LIEROP 571156 to DEURNE and is located at 650199. 97 A Tk
    Regt pulled out of Div area at 0900 hrs today.
    288 Bty move from area LIEROP to area
    Locations are as follows :-
    RHQ Main/B Ech/LAD ... 650199
    99 Bty ...
    107 Bty ...
    288 Bty ...
    289 Bty ...
    Page 2 of 11
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    3 contd.The Regt is at the moment concentrated in these areas. Troops are all under
    cover but areas are not comfortable. 44 (L) Bde is today clearing BLERICK
    and up to R. MAAS at VENLO. The Regt is not taking part in the battle as
    the area is waterlogged and not at all suitable for employment of tanks.
    Tank threat is nil.
    HQ 15 (S) Div is situated at PANNINGEN 7704.
    It is a very long time since the Regt was in a Division having a battle
    which it was not in, it is doubtful if it ever happened before. It is nearly
    as long since RHQ was as far from Div HQ (18 miles) during operations.
    Today has been spent settling in and trying to find out the workings of our
    new division. Much running about has been entailed for everyone and there
    is not a lot to show for it.
    Filthy wet day - with very odd bright intervals.
    4Today has been taken up in settling in and getting to know the form in our
    new Division - 15 (S) Div. Already we have noted many differences from
    50 (N) Div, which is only natural.
    It has not been decided yet what area the Regt is to occupy but the general
    form for the next few weeks seems to be that the Regt will remain in the
    rear of the Divisional area to rest and train.
    288 Bty set up an Officers and Sgts Mess for the first time since landing
    (almost six months to the day).
    5288 Bty find themselves concentrated and able for the first time since
    landing to lay on a Bty parade and to see all the men and vehicles in one
    place at one time. An orgy of maintenance and re-drilling is begun.
    Page 3 of 11
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    6C.O. visits range near BOURG LEOPOLD and sees Valentine SP Tp of 107 Bty
    shoot. OC 107 Bty and Capt F.R. ROBERTS accompany C.O.
    Maintenance in full swing.
    7Nothing fresh to report. Second-in-Comd still trying to find an area for
    the Regt where we will have a roof over our heads and be able to do some
    training. So far the search has been exhaustive and fruitless.
    C.O. spends day co-ordinating B.Cs answers to the SP questionnaire
    preparatory to discussing the matter with representatives from Army tomorrow.
    For questionnaire and answers see Appx "A".
    Raining today.
    8C.O. endeavouring to make arrangements for at least two Btys and Cadre Class
    to be accommodated in the Dutch Refugee Camp between LIESEL and DEURNE.
    This is an excellent camp and if we can get it we will be able to settle down
    in comparative comfort to training.
    Accommodation is terribly short in the whole Div area and up to date the
    2 i/c, I.O. and even the C.O. himself have spent the best part of five days
    recceing the area and having meetings with the AQ and his staff in an
    endeavour to reach a solution.
    Lt-Col KING visits C.O. and the questionnaire on SP egpts is discussed.
    Brig L. BOLTON (CRA 15 (S) Div) also attends.
    288 Bty M.10 Tp depart for Re-organization Centre at BOURG LEOPOLD for
    change-over to Valentines.
    9It is now decided that the following moves will take place tomorrow.
    RHQ will move from present location in DEURNE to nearer HQ RA at PANNINGEN
    and 289 Bty will move from present location to RHQ's present location
    DEURNE. L.A.D. will move from DEURNE into what we call the wilderness in area 7508.
    Page 4 of 11
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    9. contd.A bit of a crisis has also arisen in 99 Bty's area. The 15 (S) Recce Regt
    have to pull into that area and so we shall have to move 99 Bty and also
    107 Bty. It is decided to move 99 Bty to the wilderness on 11 Dec and to try
    and find a place to put 107 Bty. C.O. visits AQ and is given the area of
    VOSBERG. It is decided to put 107 Bty in VOSBERG but meantime on a previous
    arrangement OsC 107 Bty and 289 Bty are out today looking at areas outside
    the Div area as also is Lieut MARRIOTT. After all these officers have done
    their recces they are to report to RHQ this evening at 1700 hrs.
    1700 hrs. B.C's Conference about moves. Both Majors TRIPPIER and STALLARD
    have found excellent places for their Btys outside the Div area and Lieut
    MARRIOTT has found billets and good accommodation for whole Regt in
    VALKENSWAARD However, we must not now go outside the Div area.
    It is finally fixed up 289 Bty move to DEURNE tomorrow. RHQ move to PANNINGEN
    and on 11th 99 Bty will move to wilderness and 107 Bty to VOSBERG.
    288 Bty remain in present location during all this.
    After these moves have taken place it is still not firm that we will remain
    in these areas.
    10RHQ move from DEURNE to PANNINGEN 781050.
    289 Bty move to DEURNE 650198.
    LAD move to wilderness area 7508.
    There is a lot of work to be done in both RHQ and LAD'S new areas as there
    are no lights and no heating. If there were lights there is no blackout!!
    Everyone now concentrates on getting stores of every description out of
    ADOS, AQ, RE etc.
    1199 Bty move to wilderness (751086). 107 Bty move to VOSBERG (7706).
    Both areas are pretty bloody and there is a lot of work to be done to make
    them "liveable in".
    Page 5 of 11
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    11. contd.C.O. is still working on the Dutch Camp idea and sees innumerable AQ people
    to find out whether or not we are to have the Camp. It is a case of one
    day "Yes", another day "No", next day "Part". Nothing is definite in this
    world we know, but.....................!
    12Major-General BARBER DSO, Cdg 15 (S) Div does an informal tour of the Btys
    accompanied by CRA (Brig L. BOLTON) and C.O.
    The General addresses the men in each Bty and welcomes the Regt to the Div
    adding that he expects us shortly to be wearing tam-o-shanters !
    Shape of things to come.
    New Div signs for our arms arrive - 7 1/4d per pr! These new signs become
    quite to expensive as this is the fourth Div the Regt has been with.
    Greece 1941 ... 2 Armd Div
    Western Desert 1941-42 7 Armd Div
    Western Desert/Tunisia/
    Sicily/Europe 1942-44 50 (N) Div
    Europe 1944 15 (S) Div
    288 Bty can add more being with 4 Indian Div for a time as well and also for
    a very short time with 1 Armd Div, to mention two.
    We received news today that Major R. TAYLOR DSO MC who commanded 288 Bty
    has been promoted Lt-Col and is assuming comd of 8 Corps A Tk Regt
    which is being re-formed.
    Regt paints out its TTs and adopts the 15 (S) Div sign - Scottish Lion.
    13Field-Marshall Sir B.L. MONTGOMERY held a presentation today at ZOMMEREN.
    Sgt WHERRELL R.J. of 99 Bty received the M.M. for the BEMMEL party.
    C-in-C's Certificates arrived by post for the C.O. to present to Lieut
    GARNER, (289 Bty),S/Sgt BATES (RHQ) and L/Bdr GIFFORD (288 Bty).
    Page 6 of 11
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    13The C - in - C addressed officers of the DIV down to Second - in - Comd
    after the presentation.
    C.O. still endevouring to get an answer about the Dutch Camp. Arrangements
    are made to go ahead and put the Cadre Class into the accommodation in the
    camp which is spare at the moment.
    C.O. is invited to spend the night with Lt. General BARKER at 8 Corps HQ near
    14C.O. goes straight from 8 Corps HQ to BOURG LEOPOLD to spend day with 288 Btys
    M.10. Troop which is at the RA Reorganization Centre being reorganised into a
    troop of 3 SP 17 pdr Valentines.
    B.C. 107 Bty accompanied by Capt. E.R. ROBERTS visits Brigadier of 44 Bde.
    15Positions remain unchanged.
    C.O. Major G.R. BALFOUR MC and Capt. W.S. BRAMELD DSO visit 288 Bty SP troop
    at BOURG LEOPOLD and watch practice shoot with Valentines.
    B.C.'s conference at RHQ 1730 hrs on subject "Blighty" Leave.
    Officers ballot for leave.
    16Owing to general manpower shortage Regt has to post off as Inf reinforcements
    29 men. These men must be A.1 and under 30 and must not hold a campaign medal.
    They will probably be replaced by A.2 personnel over 30.
    Draw for "Blighty" Leave.
    17Good deal of Air Activity over DIV area. DEURNE bombed.
    289 Bty suffer a casualty and have a couple of vehicles damaged (A.P. bomb splinters)
    289 Bty recce an area in LIESEL as they may have to move-into that-area.
    Page 7 of 11
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    18It is now thought DIV will move from this area and concentrate 10/15 miles
    North of ANTWERP in V 1 & V 2 alley and fair ground.
    19Regtl Recce parties under Major R.A. BARNETT MC RA proceed to recce area
    North of ANTWERP.
    B. C. of 107 Bty and Capt ROBERTS do a recce in BLERICK area prior to shooting
    up two houses on other side of river suspected of being occupied by enemy HQ's.
    Fairly heavy shelling in BLERICK.
    289 Bty move to LEISEL 6714.
    20Regtl recce parties report on new area is very depressing.
    Buildings very badly damaged and not a pane of glass to be found anywhere.
    Heating arrangements nil.
    Major BARNETT MC RA was constrained to say a few pertinent words to a local
    Town Major who found that "troops coning out of the line did not mind what
    sort of area they occupied as any change was usually for the better".
    21Inf A/TK plns. of 46 Bde visit 288 Bty and arrangements made for their to use
    Miniature Range.
    All Btys now have a miniature range going.
    22Dull Foggy day. Slight drizzle.
    C.O. visits HQ RA at 1200 hrs to discuss local defence with Lt -Col YOUNG
    and BMRA.
    Officers i/c Bty Recce parties visit RHQ and report result of their Recce's
    North of ANTWERP to 2i/c.
    2 i/c makes a trace of area and writes a description of the billets which is
    forwarded to HQ RA.
    Page 8 of 11
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    22 (cont)Move to area North of ANTWERP now considered to be fairly definitely off.
    DIV taking over a bit more frontage. This is no doubt due to RUNSTEDTS
    unexpected and large counter offensive against the 1st American Army in the
    ARDENNES. It is rumoured that C-in-C 21 Army Group has now taken over
    Command of all operations in the threatened area and things are beginning
    to happen on a large scale.
    23C.O. leaves RHQ with Capt.C.S. SPENCE to see the Valentines of 99 Bty do their
    Major BARNETT goes to see CRA at 1000 hrs. DIV are worried about enemy patrols
    crossing the river and infiltrating. A mild flap'.
    Major BARNETT sees Os C 99, 288,& 289 Btys and gives them areas to recce in case
    of enemy infiltration. Btys are to keep a Duty Troop with necessary tpt at
    short notice to move out in an Inf role. SP Troops are to be held available
    for special jobs and crews of SP's not to be used for the Inf role of the Duty
    CRA visited and addressed the senior NCOs Cadre Class accompanied by Major
    R.A. BARNETT MC RA. A good show was put on and CRA expressed his pleasure.
    The following Officers arrived to be attached to the Regt.
    Major. TURNBULL MC )
    Capt. LANE ) both late 97 A/Tk Reg't RA.
    The idea behind the attachment is to keep them from rotting in RHU's.
    They will also be useful when leave starts. We are now considerably over-
    strength in Officers as follows:-
    99 Bty 2 Subalterns
    107 Bty 1 "
    288 Bty 1 Captain
    289 Bty 1 Subaltern
    and we understand still another Capt is on his way. Major.K. TURNBULL.MC
    goes to 107 Bty and takes over Major. A. T.F. STALLARD posted to 190 Fld Regt.
    Page 9 of 11
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    24Cadre Class breaks up. Btys preparing for Xmas celebration.
    1500 hrs. CRA thinks the enemy may definitely try something on over the
    festive season and it is decided by DIV that we had better have at least
    the equivalent of 2 full strength Plns. per Bty standing by at short notice
    to move.
    1700 hrs. BC's conference and C.O. lays on the plot with Bty Cmdr's.
    C.O. inspects 289 Bty.
    289 Bty play LEISEL at soccer and win 9 - O.
    25C.O. visits Christmas dinners of 289 & 288 Btys.
    Major RA BARNETT MC visits Christmas dinners of RHQ 99,& 107 Btys.
    Rations are excellent.
    26Training carries on as usual.
    No change in location.
    27Second senior NCO's Cadre Class assembles in Maria School ASTEN, Other
    Training goes on as usual.
    Foggy frosty weather continues.
    28Division are still worried about the thinness of the Infantry on the ground.
    DIV front covers some 30,000 yards from 899148 (GRUBBENVORE) to 777942
    (BUGGENUM). Positions are to be recced in the 3 Bde fronts for the Regtl.
    or individual Bty (platoons) to take up and hold in event of a flap.
    BC's are to do recces and contact the Bde Cmdrs. Major. BARNETT is to tie
    up the day after BC's have done their recces.
    Page 10 of 11
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    29BC's conference 0930. Defensive positions for Regtl or Bty Plns have been recced
    in 46 Bde Area (288 Bty) and 227 Bde area (289 Bty).
    BC's point out areas which are in squares 7496 & 7397 for 46 Bde and squares
    8001 and 8405 for 227 Bde.
    Brig. of 44 Bde does not allot areas as he does not know definitely where threat
    will come from nor definitely that we will be available and in what strength if
    a threat does come.
    30C.O. visits A/Tk Range in LOMMEL near BOURG LEOPOLD and arranges for Regts
    the shoot on 4, 5, 6, and 7th of Jan.
    289 Btys M.10 Troop ( the last in the Regt for reorganization) is at the RA
    reorganization centre.
    Lt.MARRIOTT finds billets to be occupied by the Btys during the forthcoming
    practice camp.
    Second-in-Cormand recces Regtl defensive localities with B.C. 288 Bty in the
    morning and B.C. 289 Bty in the afternoon.
    31C.C.R.A. is going to visit Regt tomorrow at 1415 hrs to present C -in -C's
    Regtl parade of 42 OR's per Bty and 12 from RHQ is laid on to take place on
    the Football ground at PANNINGEN at 780047.
    Shells continue to land in the general PANNINGEN area at the usual daily rate
    of about 12.
    Page 11 of 11
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    31 (contin)We are gradually finding are feet in our new surroundings but it is going to
    take us a while to get used to the new administrative ideas.
    The amount of paper seems to be terrific and peace time accounting the rule
    rather than the exception.
    This hits us particularly hard after Regts long period away from England.
    The six months in England prior to the invasion were rather too busy to
    learn up all multifarious orders, instructions, systems on administration
    and we just could not compete, so we really are hardly equipped to compete