National Archives catalogue reference WO 171/1016
Commander Royal Artillery
Division / Divisional
Forward Observation Officer
Forward Observation Unit
Headquarters Royal Artillery
Light Aid Detachment
Royal Tank Regiment
Month and year: August 1944
Commanding Officer: Capt. A.J.A. Hanhart, R.A.
13th August 1944
0700 - Seaborne Echelon left permanent location upon moving to T.2. Transit Camp near London Docks. During the course of the journey 1137231 Gnr. Fuller A. was injured and admitted to hospital and 954850 Bdr. Williams and 14262609 Gnr. Lambert failed to arrive in time to embark and instructions were left for them to return to permanent location when they arrived.
14th August 1944
0830 - Vehicles left for Docks.
1000 - Loading commenced.
1730 - Loading completed.
1800 - Personnel embarked.
2130 - The S.S. 'SAMOS' T297 left the Docks and moored in the Thames.
15th August 1944
1830 - Convoy of 20 ships set sail for NORMANDIE. Detachments of the following units were on the ship:- 1st Air Landing Light Regt., R.A., 1st F.O.U., R.A., 1st Airborne Recce. Sqn., 1st & 2nd A/Tk. Btys., R.A., 13 Air Landing L.A.D. and some Div. Troops. Capt. A.J.A. Hanhart, R.A. was O.C. Ship, Lt. G.E.L. Graham, R.A. was appointed ship's Adjutant and A.S.M. Rolls Ship's R.S.M. The voyage was uneventful though all ranks were prepared for an emergency during the passage through the Straits of Dover when there was the possibility of shelling from the enemy coast. The danger area was covered in 2 hours between 2300 hrs. and 0130 hrs. on the night 15/16 Aug, 44. The ship arrived off Courseulles on the evening of 16 Aug, 44.
17th August 1944
0930 - Disembarkation commenced. Method of disembarkation was by derricks from the ship's hold to landing-craft along-side, which when loaded went into JUNO beach. All vehicles were immediately marshalled in the transit area (with the exception of a few vehicles which were disembarked on 18 Aug, 44) and moved to La Mine (684758) the same night.
18th to 31st August 1944
Place: La Mine
During this period the Regiment remained in this area at La Mine with a limited amount of tentage and no cover available from buildings. The weather was bad for the time of the year but all remained in good heart. The Regiment was in the R.A. Group Area with the following units of which Capt. A.J.A. Hanhart, R.A., was in command. The R.A. Group was, for administration purposes, divided into an H.Q. and 4 troops as follows:-
H.Q. - The R.H.Q., 1st Air Landing Light Regt., R.A., & 5 L.A.D. - Lt. Q.M. Roberts
1 Troop - 1 A/L Light Bty., R.A., & 1 A/L A/Tk. Bty., R.A. - Lt. Davis, R.A.
2 Troop - 2 A/L Light Bty., R.A., & 2 A/L A/Tk. Bty., R.A. - Lt. Baker, R.A.
3 Troop - 3 A/L Light Bty., R.A., & 1 A/B Recce Sqn. - Lt Thompson, R.A.
F.O.O. Troop - 1 F.O.U. R.A. & H.Q.R.A. - Capt. Braithewaite, R.A.
The daily programme was parades in the morning between 0900 - 1230 hrs. consisting of P.T., M.T. lectures by the L.A.D. and lectures by the Educational Staff from Div. H.Q., and the actual maintenance on the vehicles themselves. The afternoons were taken by visits to Bayeux, bathing both in the sea and at CASTILLON (726718) at which place there was also a steep bank which made a suitable rifle and sten range. A series of inter-unit football matches was played - Recce. Sqn. and 2 Bty. were in the final but this could not be played as a move took place on the day of the fixture.
Month and year: September 1944
Commanding Officer: Capt. A.J.A. Hanhart, R.A.
1st September 1944
Place: La Mine
In the evening orders were given for a move forward (Operation Linnet) and the Group moved off at 0700 and arrived in a new area (PARNES ). There was to have been an early move next day but there were three postponements because the petrol had not arrived but eventually the Group moved to HAUTE EPINE (8726) arriving at about 1830 hrs.
5th September 1944
Place: Haute Epine
1600 - Informed possible move to BRUSSELS area at 0600 hrs. 6 Sep, 44.
6th September 1944
Place: Haute Epine
1300 - Move took place but only as far as BETHENCOURT, N.W. of AMIENS
7th September 1944
0600 - Continued on to BRUSSELS area after staging for the night at a farm approx 7 miles south of the City, carried on the next day to KORBEEKDAEL (8153).
9th September 1944
0600 - Placed at 6 hours notice to move.
0700 - Placed at 48 hours notice to move.
11th September 1944
1300 - Placed at 6 hours notice to move.
1830 - Now informed that move is improbable for 3 or 4 days - training under Group arrangements commenced.
13th September 1944
1830 - Visited by C.R.A., 1st Airborne Division, who stayed the night.
15th September 1944
0700 - Moved across ALBERT CANAL to HELCHTEREN ( ).
1100 - Arrived HELCHTEREN.
15th to 19th September 1944
Remained at HELCHTEREN with notice to move varying from 24 hours to 15 minutes.
20th September 1944
0700 - Moved off from HELCHTEREN along main Corps axis.
1030 - Halted on roadside to allow 43 Div. and 8 Armd. Bde. to pass through.
21st September 1944
1800 - Informed Group would move immediately.
2000 - The Group moved off up the main axis towards NIJMEGEN. On passing through VALKENSWAARD an ack-ack Group which had overtaken our column while parked by the roadside, started to move again thus causing double banking. On reaching EINDHOVEN the R.A. Group was held up by the traffic control officer and the ack-ack group were passed through ahead thus cutting the 1st Airborne Division Echelon column. Movement was extremely slow and after many halts the column reached a point near cross-roads at 456352 approximately 2½ miles south-west VEGHEL (4837).
22nd September 1944
0830 - A traffic control officer informed the Group Commander that the Group was 'frozen' and that 69 Bde. of 50 Div. was having priority on the road. On passing down the road from ST. ODENRODE to the present point, considerable small arms fire had been heard on the north-west side of the road and there were guns in action near the road verges north of ST. ODENRODE. The available anti-tank guns were brought into action and defence posts established. At about 1100 hours the small arms fire increased in intensity and appeared to be approximately 500 yards to north-west of the road in some fairly thick woods. A general 'stand to' was ordered and a party went out to investigate. The 101st U.S. Airborne Division was providing flank protection to the main axis in this area but as their Division was covering some 25 miles, they were very thin on the ground. Furthermore, adjoining units stationary on the road had also sent patrols to the end of the woods and it was also reported that some infantry from 69 Bde. who were also passing, debussed to investigate north-west of our positions, though this was not confirmed. The party was instructed not to proceed into the wood itself as the force available was quite inadequate for wood clearance. This party was sniped on several occasions both with automatic weapons and single shots, without casualties being suffered. A post was left covering the exit from the wood.
1300 - The Group was ordered to stand down.
1500 - An armoured car from the Royal Dragoons stopped at the head of our column and it was understood that that unit, in conjunction with 44 R.T.R. were in support of the 101st U.S. Airborne Division. In view of the difficulty in getting information as to the position in the immediate vicinity of the Group, a 22 set was netted in to the armoured car's wireless net. It was also arranged that the armoured car would go into the wood together with a scout car which had arrived on the scene and a patrol found by Group H.Q. This was done and upon reaching a point some 500 yards from the road, Cpl. Howard of H.Q. saw, fired at and hit a German whom he saw some 80 yards away. Firing was also directed from stens into the area and 28 Germans came out from the Hedgerow and gave themselves up. It was thought that a 29th man was dead but a burial party who went back some ¼ of an hour later, found only traces of blood. At this time another German gave himself up voluntarily to personnel of the 2nd Light Battery. The weapons captured included 2 M.G. 38's.
22nd to 23rd September 1944
Night - On the information available it appeared from the prisoners that there were considerable numbers of Germans still in the woods in the area. Later the same evening about 350 were captured by the 101st Division immediately north-east of our position and were seen marching on the road to VEGHEL. Contrary to expectation, the night was without incident, though units nearer VEGHEL suffered casualties through enemy gunfire. The Group had remained frozen after the passage of 69 Bde. because the road was cut by an enemy armoured force approximately a mile north of VEGHEL and a number of vehicles of the preceding group were destroyed with casualties.
23rd September 1944
Morning - Throughout the morning VEGHEL was shelled intermittently and no information had been obtained as to when a move was likely though the Group Commander had an interesting time hearing the Adjutant of the 44 R.T.R. calling up an armoured column who were coming back down the main axis from NIJMEGEN, there apparently at that time being no other wireless communications between VEGHEL and the armoured force approaching from the north.
1530 - A Colonel of the 69 Bde. who appeared to have come from the north-east was stopped as he passed the head of the column and he stated that he was probably the first vehicle through the enemy road block which had now been disposed of by the armoured column from Guards Armoured Division. 10 minutes later a traffic control officer informed the Group Commander that the road was again open and that the Group would move immediately in rear of the remainder of 69 Bde. but this order was countermanded by the Lt-Col. responsible for traffic control and the Group moved off within 20 minutes. Only a few isolated vehicles had got through to GRAVE (6253) before the R.A. Column but there was no incident except slight enemy sniping. The road was found clear all the way and the Group arrived in its new area at 7459 just south-east of NIJMEGEN at 1830 hours.
26th September 1944
2345 - Evacuation of Airborne personnel north of the Rhine commenced and carried on all through the night. The majority of the personnel were housed in NIJMEGEN but some came to the Seaborne Echelon's location.
27th September 1944
0930 - Lt. Q.M. despatched to BRUSSELS airport to fly home to England and arrange for the Regiment's return to BOSTON.
28th September 1944
0640 - Seaborne Echelon moved to Barracks, LOUVAIN and were later joined by the evacuated airborne personnel. Captain A.J.A. Hanhart, R.A. once again took over the appointment of Adjutant of the Light Regiment, the R.A. Group dissolved and its sub-units returned to their parent units.
29th September 1944
1400 - The 1st Air Landing Light Regiment excluding the drivers of the 1st Seaborne transport, which is to return to the U.K. by sea, moved off to BRUSSELS airport where, after a short wait, parties of 25 were detailed in Dakota transport aircraft and flown to BARKSTON HEATH Aerodrome.