by Peter Jordan
C Troop, 211 Battery, 53rd Airlanding Light Regiment R.A. (Worcestershire Yeomanry)
In June 1944 I was a Field Gunnery Technical Assistant acting as a Gun Position Officer’s Assistant in C Tropp, 211 Battery, 53rd Air Landing Light Regiment Royal Artillery (Worcestershire Yeomanry). This was the Field Artillery Regiment of the 6th Airborne Division.
My duty in the Troop Command Post was to plot targets given to the Troop. There was an added complication that target details were given in imperial measurements. We were firing American 75mm pack Howitzers (range 9 miles approx, rate of fire 3 rpm) so conversion tables had to be used to convert imperial to metric.
On the evening of 6 June, 211Battery took off from RAF Fairford in 27 gliders. In my glider there were 2 glider pilots, the Gun Position Officers (Lt. Blower), the Troop Sergeant Major (B.S.M. Baker – K. I. A. on the Rhine Crossing 1945), a driver, 2 signallers and myself. We carried a jeep, trailer and 2 motor cycles – for the T.S.M. and myself.
We landed in Normandy, unopposed, at 2100 hours, near the West bank of the Orne Canal, and after crossing the canal and the river did a night occupation of a gun position north of Ranville.
Peter Jordan, Palestine, 1946
The Battery fired in support of the divisional infantry until the afternoon of 7 June when we moved towards a new position south of Ranville. We were heavily mortared on the way, suffered casualties and returned to our original position. Almost immediately thereafter C Troop engages an enemy infantry attack over ‘Open Rights’.
From then on until 11 June the Battery fired in support of our divisional troops and of the 1st Special Service Brigade defending Hauger. At 0800 hours 10 June C Troop Gun Position was heavily shelled. Further casualties, including Lt. Blower and Lt. Barras killed. C and D Troops were moved to a new position still north of Ranville, but between the Canal and the River. During that day, and despite the move, the two troops fired 2000 rounds.
On the 12 June we fired in support of the infantry in the capture of Breville and lost our Troop Commander (Capt. Ward) who was directing fire from the Battery Observation Post.
The rest of the Regiment joined 211 Battery by sea on 15 June. After the capture of Breville things were much quieter. We continued fire support of the Division, the S. S. Brigade and 51st Highland Division and also fired in support of the armoured units taking part in the start of Operation Goodward on the morning of 18 July.
In addition, by the end of June the Regiment had established a number of counter-mortar listening posts along the divisional forward links and I was often on duty there, taking bearings on enemy mortars.
On 16 August came the advance out of the bridge head eastwards to the River Seine. ‘Fire and movement’ followed along the Normandy coast in support of 6th Airlanding Brigade to the Seine, which we reached on 26 August from a rest camp close to Honfleur, occupied the following day we returned to Bulford by sea, via the Mulberry Harbour, arriving 5th September.
Peter Jordan meeting Prince Charles in Normandy.
Copyright: Peter Jordan.