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    War Diary: 102nd Anti Tank Regiment

    Month and year: May 1944

    The 102nd Anti Tank Regiment May 1944 war diary covers the unit's movements to marshalling areas and preparation for embarkation for DDay.

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/929

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    Page 1 of 9
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    HURSLEY11000C02 (Major D.J. Cowen) departs for BABRAHAM CAMBS, (9670) : to put 107 Bty and
    289 Bty into the picture regarding Regimental affairs and the present operational
    1100Cancellations to parts of the posting order received on 27 Apr 44 begin to arrive.
    We now get minus 3 Driver +Ops and Clerk. It P.W.L. Ward, E.M.E. leaves
    for BABRAHAM with new WO II for L.A.D.. A second L.A.D. WO. II arrives out of the blue.
    20930CO proceeds to LARKHILL to fix up details of shooting on 11 and 12 May 44. The
    position is complicated by the fact that we are undertain of the amount of ammunition
    we are to be given.
    1130Warning order received that 288 Bty will move from present location at PENNERLEY CAMP
    BEAULIEU (806238) to CADLANDS CAMP (8724). Adv Party to move on 10 May. Main body
    to be moved by 1200 hrs 12 May 44.
    1200RHQ receive orders from the Camp Staff to remove all the traffic signs showing
    the way in. This is done under protest. During the day vehicles and personnel
    of 234 A/Tk Bty, attached from 73 A/Tk Regt R. A. and 288 Bty return from exercise FABIUS.
    These vehicles have not been waterproofed. The BC's concerned remain on the exercise
    with waterproofed carriers. M.10's of 99 Bty move to LULWORTH for training.
    Information is received from HQ. ,RA. that 8 X M 10 are being delivered to the Regiment
    new and that therefore only 8 will be taken over from 73 A/Tk Regiment.
    3Exercise FABIUS is due to commence.
    0730CO leaves for HAYLING ISLAND to watch the disembarkation of troops engaged on FABIUS.
    On arrival he finds that the exercise was postponed for 24 hrs at 1100 hrs yesterday.
    1300LO returns from HQ. RA., 50 (N) Div with news that 8 new M 10s are due to be delivered
    at RHQ (LOWER HURSLEY CAMP 8245) on 4 May 44.
    40815CO leaves for FABIUS and this time finds it.
    1100Orders received for signal exercise "GRAB" which is taking place between 1400 hrs
    10 May 44 and 0900 hrs 11 May 44. A skeleton RHQ with BCs (or reps) from 99,
    107, 288, 289 Btys and the two attached Btys - 198 and 234, are to take part. Only
    wireless will be used.
    Page 2 of 9
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    HURSLEY4During the day the LO returns from HQ. ,RA., with the news that the 8 x M.10s will not
    now be delivered until 9, 10, or 11 May 44. They are being delivered to 107
    and 289 Btys at BABRAHAM CAMBS (9670). Arrangements are to be made to zero these
    guns in Eastern Command and at LARKHILL on 11/12 May as originally thought.
    5A quiet day.
    1000CO goes to HQ. ,RA. During the day BRETTENHAM MANOR, THETFORD (Ref sheet
    76 1" to 1 mile 384019) is given up. This has served as a base for the M 10 trg
    of 107 and 288 Btys since 29 Feb 44. During the night vehicles are despatched
    to BICESTER to collect waterproofing equipment and return empty.
    61000GO visits HQ. ,RA.
    1100288 Bty take over 4 x M 10 from 234/73 A/Tk Regt RA. These are all fairly new
    vehicles which have only done on an average of 300 miles running.
    799 A/Tk Bty shoot at LULWORTH RAC ranges. They claim excellent results.
    8During the morning 99 Bty take over 3 x M 10 from 73rd A/Tk Regt. The fourth is
    to be taken over tomorrow.
    1100Capt J.C. GAYE (acting BC 288 A/Tk Bty RA) visits RHQ to discuss loading tables
    with the CO.
    1900Major R.G. SWINBURNE (acting BC 289 Bty) and Major R.A. BARNETT (OC 107 Bty
    arrive at RHQ. They are taking part in exercise "GRAB" - Divisional Wireless Exercise.
    2000Capt H.C. BRYANT (acting BC 99 Bty) calls at RHQ. He is concerned with details of
    firing practice at LARKHILL on 10 and 11 May. There is a BC's Conference on
    this subject tomorrow.
    999 A/Tk Bty take over 1 x M 10 from 73 A/Tk Regt. We are now complete in 99
    and 288 Btys with M 10 equipments which have not done more than 300 miles.
    0930Major KENYON, IG (A/Tk) arrives, He is accompanying the unit to LARKHILL,
    1130Conference at RHQ on administration details for shoot at LARKHILL. This is attended
    by - CO - Lt. Col. A.K. MATTHEWS, R.A.
    CO2 - Major D.J. COWEN R.A.
    Adjt - Capt C.S. SPENCE, R.A.
    Page 3 of 9
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    HURSLEY9OC 99 Bty - Capt H.C. BRYANT (Vice Major G.W. DUNKERLEY, MC)
    OC 288 " - Capt. J.C. GAYE (Vice Major G.R. BALFOUR, MC)
    OC 198 " - Major D.A.S. PINN. ) attached from 73 A/TK Regiment, R.A.
    OC 234 " - Major ASQUITH )
    1400Conference on exercise GRAB at HQ 50 (N) Div, which is attended by I.O., OC 99 Bty,
    OC 107 Bty and OC 289 Bty. Conference at HQ 231 Bde on GRAB attended by OC 288 Bty.
    1099 Bty, 288 Bty, 198 and 234 Btys of 73 A/Tk Regt move to LARKHILL during the
    morning and afternoon. In order to avoid dealings with Movement Control Btys move
    by various routes in bunches of 5 vehicles. They proceed to bivouac area at FARGO
    1115CO 73 A/Tk (Lt-Col. PAREY, R.A.) calls to see CO.
    1300Personnel leave for exercise GRAB. These consist of :- (a) RHQ - CO2, Adjt, LO and
    3 W/T Sets. (b) Each Bty :- BC or rep and 2 W/T sets. The new Regtl layout is used
    Each Bty has one No 19 Set on Regtl 'net' and one No. 19 Set on the 'net' of its
    affiliated Bde. RHQ has 1 x 22 Set an CRA Link, 1 X 22 set on Forward Link,
    1 X 22 set as the 'B' Echelon set. CO's set is missing on the exercise, not having
    been issued.
    1700) Btys zero at LARKHILL. 99 and 288 Btys zero 4 x M 10 each. 198 Bty zero 12 X M 10.
    2200) 234 Bty zero 12 x M.10, i.e. M.10 fitted with 17 pdr gun instead of American 3".
    11Btys practice at LARKHILL all day.
    0800Exercise GRAB ends. Quite successful from a Regtl Signalling point of view
    except that as usual our frequency was one on which there were all sorts of interference.
    09008 x M.10 new from VRD arrive RHQ on transporter. They are for 107 and 289 Btys
    at BABRAHAM, CAMBS, and we had been informed that they would be delivered there. Much
    telephoning ensues before authority is obtained from War Office to the transporters
    to deliver there.
    1000QM attends a conference at HQ. ,RA. 50 (N) Division at BROCKENHURST.
    He returns at 1300 hrs with the following information :-
    Page 4 of 9
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    HURSLEY11(a) Prewaterrproofed vehicles are to be drawn commencing at 0800 hrs tomorrow from
    various VRD all over England. Vehicles rendered surplus will be handed in.
    (b) A parade is to be hold on 13 May for Gen. EISENHOWER, Supreme C in C at 1055 hrs
    at an unspecified place.
    (c) Various marshalling moves are about to commence.
    A busy afternoon ensues to get out orders for the handing in of vehicles.
    1630The location of all the places from which vehicles are to be drawn is changed.
    1900Orders received to commance waterproofing on 12 May 44. Orders received to complete
    A' Stage waterproofing and be ready for movement on 21 May 44.
    2200All drawings of prewaterproofed vehicles postponed one day.
    120930288 Bty report that they have been told by 231 Inf Bde that the parade for
    Gen EISENHOWER is a Bde Gp affair. LO told to ask HQ RA.
    1130CO returns from LARKHILL and immediately sets to work on the final leading tables which have arrived.
    1430CO visits HQ., RA., to attend a breifing Conference and to bring up various points
    from the Loading Tables.
    1700CO attends a Conference at HQ 231 Inf Bde, and returns at 1930 hrs
    2300Message from HQ. RA - The Regt is to provide men for Gen ESSENHOWERS parade.
    We are to contact 231 Bde for details.
    2359Adjt gets 231 Bde on the telephone. They don't want a lot of people from the
    Regiment, and are quite content with representatives from 288, their affiliated Bty.
    Therefore we will send no one from the other Btys.
    130930A/CRA 50 (N) Div (Col HOWARD) telephones. He wishes to know how many guns there are left
    to zero after the last shoot at LARKHILL. There are 8 X M.10 at BABRAHAM for whom
    5 A.G.R.A. are meant to be fixing a range. 2 X M.10 belonging to 73 A/Tk Btys attached
    1055Detachment of 288 Bty inspected by General EISENHOWER.
    1100Movement Control tell RHQ that all personnel landing D + 2 to D + 6 are to move to
    another camp tomorrow. We tell them it cannot be done, largely because we have
    not yet got all our vehicles, i.e. prewaterproofed 3 tonners. They don't seem to mind much.
    Page 5 of 9
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    HURSLEY132000D.R. arrives from BABRAHAM, CAMBS, 107 and 289 Btys have been instructed by
    Movement Control to move the greater part of their Btys to various conoentration
    areas in Eastern Command - STOWMARKET and EPPING, Wake Arms. The move is to
    take place at 0600 hrs tomarrow. The split of the vehicles is not understood
    and they require enlightenment. These vehicles are to be loaded by 7 Armd Div.
    We have not got loading tables although many efforts have been made to
    obtain these. An LO is despatched to HQ. RA. to try and obtain the required information
    2030Adjt telephones BABRAHAM and tells them not to de anything until they hear from RHQ.
    During the day prewaterproofed vehicles are drawn from various VRD and surplus non-
    waterproofed vehicles are handed in to others. Things are becom-ing a little difficult
    as ADOS is making numerous demands upon us to draw stores and the 3 ton lorries
    just are/not there. Waterproofing is proceeding as well as possible in the face of
    these demands on vehicles. "C" Bty shoot their 6 pdrs at the RAC Range LULWORTH COVE.
    Inf A/Tk guns of 69 Inf Bde shoot. Capt. H.C. BRYANT (acting OC 99 Bty) attends.
    140130LO returns from HQ. ,RA., with the necessary information. This is despatched
    to BABRAHAM at 0630 hrs. The fighting part of the Btys move to STOWMARKET area
    and the echelons to EPPING area.
    1000OC 288 Bty (Major G.R. BALFOUR ,MC) visits RHQ and goes into details of loading with CO.
    1100Capt. R.L. MASTERS (99Bty) talks to CO about details of loading.
    140099 and 288 Btys shot small arms and Browning MGs at HORDLE HO range (MR U702125)
    During the day the remaining prewaterproofed vehicles are collected.
    69 Inf Bde /Tk guns again shoot.
    150930CO leaves camp.
    1100RHQ Imprest a/c is closed, and instructions given by the Field Cashier for the
    changing of money when the time comes.
    1800OC 99 Bty (Major G.W. DUNKERLEY, MC) visits RH2 and sees the CO.2.
    1900CO returns. During the day 107 and 289 Btys move most of their vehicles and
    personnel from BABRAHAM,
    161100The CO is summonsed to HQ. ,RA., where the CRA wishes to talk to him about sound powered telephones.
    We have been issued with these at the scale of one per gun. To date the earphones and telephone wire
    have arrived but there are no mouthpieces.
    Page 6 of 9
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    HURSLEY16During the day Captain A.W. TRIPPIER, MC establishes a Camp at TOOTHILL at which
    all personnel due to take part in the forthcoming operation on D + 4 will concentrate.
    170800Lt(QM) goes to the BUSTARD, LARKHILL to establish the camp at which the Regimental
    residues are to concentrate. He returns in the evening.
    1000RMO, Capt E.J. YOUNG-THOMPSON, R.A.M.C., attends a Briefing Conference with A.D.M.S.
    at HQ 50 (Northumbrian) Division.
    1600Major. G.R. BALFOUR, MC (OC 288 Bty) calls at RHQ to See CO.
    1900Major R.G. BROWNE-SWINBURNE (OC 289 Bty) and Major R.A. BARNETT (OC 107 Bty)
    join RHQ at HURSLEY CAMP. Their Btys have now dispersed to the various
    concentration areas in East Anglia. During the day the Camp at BABRAHAM HO is handed back
    to Q.C. CAMBRIDGE,
    180900R.A. Briefing Conference. This is attended by :-
    CO Lt-Col. A.K. MATTHEWS, R.A.
    C02 Major. D.J. COWEN, R.A.
    OC 99 Bty Major . G.W. DUNKERLEY, MC. R.A.
    OC 107 Bty Major. R.A. BARNETT, R.A.
    OC 288 Bty Major. G.R. BALFOUR, M.C. R.A.
    OC 289 Bty Major. R.G. BROWNE-SWINBURNE, R. A.
    OC 198/73A/Tk.Regt. Major. D.A.S. PINN.
    OC 234/73A/Tk.Regt. Major. ASQUITH, R.A.
    The Briefing Conference continues throughout the day with breaks for meals and comes to a close
    at 1800 hrs.
    1000Wireless Sets on the Regimental Link net onto Operational Frequency and are locked
    on that net. During the day D + 4 personnel move to TOOTHELL Camp and residues
    concentrate at LARKHILL.
    191000OC 99 A/TK Bty and OC 288 A/TK Bty attend Briofing Conferences at HQ 69 Inf Bde
    and HQ 231 Inf Bde respectively. Here the infantry picture of the assault
    is given but BCs report that it is not such a good one as the ones painted at HQ. RA, on 18 May.
    Page 7 of 9
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    HURSLEY191100CO departs on 72 hrs leave.
    1500Major G.R. BALFOUR, M.C. calls to discuss what has been said at the Inf Bde
    Conference during the morning.
    220021 Dvr Mechanics arrive a.s reinforcements. The se are urgently required and are
    a welcome addition indeed.
    200900Major R.G. BROWNE-SWINBURNE leaves HURSLEY CAMP to visit the scattered parties
    of his Battery
    1030Major. G.W. DUNKERLEY visits CO2.
    1100Major G.R. BALFOUR, MC visits C02.
    1500CO2 leaves to visit the residue party at LARKHILL. He returns with the information
    that they are quite comfortable and the RSM has things organised.
    1600Informed by HQ. RA., that battle tracks for M.10 guns (SP) are being collected at CARDIFF
    and will be delivered to us by transporter on 21 or 22 May.
    2000Tank tracks arrive - on 3 tonners. They have been wrongly consigned and 32 have to
    be retrieved from HQ 73 A/Tk Regt.
    210900Major R.A. BARNETT leaves HURSLEY CAMP to visit scattered parties of 107 A/Tk Bty
    1400Major PINN (OC 198/73 A/Tk Regt) visits RHQ and sees Operation Orders and maps.
    1800IO. ,RA., (Capt. N. HARRISON, R.A. ) calls with Operation Orders.
    221030Major ASQUITH (OC 234/73 A/TK Regt) visits RHQ and sees Operational Orders and maps.
    1400We are issued with 6 folding bicycles. These are likely to be useful.
    1900CO returns from leave.
    2100Adjt (Capt. C.S. SPENCE) and I.O. (Lt. J.D. MARRIOTT) are briefed by the C.O.
    Bogus maps are used so that although they know how, they either know when or where.
    23CO2 (Major D.J. COWEN) visits that portion of the Regiment which is at TOOTHILL (U8238).
    This comprises personnel and vehicles which do not land on foreign soil until D + 4.
    1500BC's Conference at RHQ. This is attended by the assault Bty Comds :-
    Major G.W. DUNKERLEY, M.C. 99 A/Tk Bty
    Major G.R. BALFOUR, M.C. 288 A/Tk Bty
    Major S. PINN 198/73 A/Tk Regt.
    Major. ASQUITH 234/73 A/Tk Regt.
    Page 8 of 9
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    HURSLEY231500The forthcoming operation is reviewed in the light of the Bde Operation Orders received.
    1600Adjt attends a Movement Control Conference. Little is learnt but sheets are
    given out containing times of moves of vehicles in various camps to form Craft
    Loads when marshalling begins at an unknown date.
    1700IO. ,RA., calls with more orders and amendments.
    241000Adjt attends 2 further Movement Control Conference at which he points out that all the
    CO's Party have been forgotten on the Movement Tables issued yesterday. As these were
    forgotten on Exercise FABIUS also it would appear he isn't required.
    1100CO visits HO. ,RA. 3rd Canadian Division and confers with the CO of their A/Tk Regt
    (Lt-Col PHIM). The 3rd Cdn Div are on our left flank during the assault. Major G.W.
    DUNKERLEY, MC accompanies the CO as 99 Bty will be neighbouring the Canadians.
    1900Major G.W. DUNKERLEY MC visits RHQ.
    2000HQ. ,RA., inform the Regiment that there will be a demonstration of SABOT amn
    at School of Artillery on 26 May, given by us to us.
    250900CO attends Divisional Commanders Conference. This takes most of the day.
    1200IO attends a Camp Conference and discovers that the Camp is to be sealed tonight.
    Things are beginning to move.
    1600CO returns from Div Comds Briefing Conference. The following orders are put into effect :-
    Capt A.W. TRIPPIER, MC to 288 Bty from 1st Reinforcements (Vice
    Captain D.A. KOMROWER sick in hospital)
    Lt. J.W. MOORE,MM 107 Bty to 289 Bty (in place of Capt G.C.ROBERTS
    (sick in hospital) )
    Lt. J.H. GRUNDY ) Posted to 103 Reinforcement Group as 1st Reinforcements.
    LT. B.R.R.JEWITT )
    Captains ROBERTS & KOMROWER are ordered to report to the Rear Party, Bustard Camp, LARKHILL,
    when they emerge from hospital.
    Page 9 of 9
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    HURSLEY25Order of Battle of Officers is now complete.Appendix "A"
    1300Major R.G. BROWNE-SWINBURNE goes to School of Artillery to make arrangements
    for the demonstration of SABOT amn tomorrow.
    260200Adjt is informed that the Camp is sealed.
    1000OC 99 Bty and OC 288 Bty attend Briefing Conferences at 69 and 231 Bde respectively.
    1100Major D.A.S. PINN visits the C.O. and collects Operation Orders and maps from him.
    Major ASQUITH is attending 231 Bde Briefing Conference.
    1500Demonstration of SABOT amm. Each 6 Pr gun detachment in the Regiment (32) fires
    a round Inf Bde A/Tk Pls from 50 (N) Div and reps from 7 Armd Div and 49 Inf Div
    also attend. Shots are fired into a Churchill tank and results are satisfactory.
    As there is an extremely high MV Nos.1 have to learn to decrease both the lead
    and range given.
    27) Final preparations are made for the assault landing. Camps are sealed on 27 May 44.
    28) D Day must now be very close.
    29D + 4 and last assault residues of RHQ move to their concentratuon areas.
    FIELD30) The Regiment wait, in sealed camps, for embarkation orders. It is split up
    31) in various camps around SOUTHAMPTON, LONDON and FELIXSTOWE and is being marshalled
    into craft loads.