TracesOfWar needs your help! We miss photos of important sights in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. Submit your photos to input@tracesofwar.com and it will be published!
Instructions regarding War Diaries and Intelligence Summaries are contained in F.S. Regs., Vol. 1. and the Staff Manual respectively Title pages will be prepared in manuscript.

WAR DIARY
or
INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY
Army Form C.2118
Unit: 7 FD Regt RA
Month and Year: September 1944 (Erase heading not required). Commanding Officer: Lt.Col. N.P.H. Tapp
Place Date Hour Summary Reference
FOREST of HALOUSE near FLERS 1   We hear the news of a move forward. Unfortunately it is not into action but we feel it is at least a step in the right direction.
2   We prepare to move.
3   The Regt column passed through FLERS in the early evening on its way to the area East of the SEINE. Much evidence could be seen on the route of the damage suffered by the Germans during their debacle in the FALAISE pocket. The colum moved easily as the roads were not crowded as we expected.
4   The Regt at 0200 hrs crossed the SEINE by a floating Bailey Bridge at LES ANDELAYS under the moonlight shadow of Richard Coeur de Lion's Castle - it was a picturesque but freezing scene. The Regt went into bivouac at VILLERS EN VEXIN not far from LES ANDELAYS. Accommodation was very limited and a big percentage of the Regt had to set about making themselves comfortable in the orchards.
5   Training carried out under battery arrangements. This period was valuable; continued work and practice including calibration was carried out with the new 25 prs. All ranks did PT, route marches, map reading and marching drill - with consequent discomfort.
10   Regt Church Service was held in the morning. As the Regt was travelling on the 3 Sep, this day was observed as the National Day of Prayer. During the afternoon training continued. RHQ had a route march, of about six miles, had tea and returned by truck.
11   An officers' wireless scheme was organised for the morning. The exercise was carried out with surprisingly good results. At the time of the signal 'exercise ends, return to camp', all sets were through at full strength. After dark, the subalterns suffered a night compass march over an obstacle course of four miles, set by Capt Tooth of 17/43 Bty. It must be recorded that the idle subalterns of RHQ won 'hands down'.
12   The lucky ones today went on an organised trip to PARIS. The journey there and back was well organised, but the part in between seems shrouded in mystery. From the few stories told it was obvious that the Parisiens had been happy to see the troops. It is said also that the majority of the men had also been happy to see some of the Parisiens.
13   The Asst Adjt knows little about this day as he was spending twenty four hours on a civilian life refresher course in EVREUX but he was informed that it was much the same as any other day in this long monotonous period. A divisional wireless scheme had harassed two unfortunate officers during the morning.
14   Training again. Today news filters through and we expect an early move. We are ready for it. The OR's says 'lets get into action and have some rest'.
15   A minimum recce party left for a forward RV in BELGIUM. We are at last to move near to the front line the day we had waited for had come at last. Days of training and recreational trips were over, but we had succeeded in keeping ourselves fit, physically and mentally, and we had certainly enjoyed ourselves.
16   We prepare to move, the remainder of the tactical recce parties leave this evening for an area East of DIEST. A large percentage of the ORs visited ROUEN during the day. There is no record of their doings but they had evidently enjoyed themselves.
17   Our journey today took us to a staging area East of MONS. The column passed the THIEPAUL memorial which for some brought back memories of the visit paid by the Regt in the winter 1939/40. The civilians in BELGIUM were in great form. The Lt QM, a married man, stated that he had never been kissed so much in his life. We settle for the night without cover in most unpleasant rain.
18   The day took us from the staging area East of MONS into our action positions South of LILLE ST HUBERT. Roads were in a bad condition and the Regt column had to be directed through DIEST. This night we are engaged in a fire plan to help the 9 Bde across the ESCAUT Canal. This is the first time we have fired the 25-prs. It is good to be doing the job we were intended to do instead of training in the back areas.
19   The bridgehead is firmly established and 8 Bde passes through. We fire a few targets in support.
20   We do not fire much today. 8 and 9 Bdes both push out from the bridgehead but they do not require our support.
21   A short move forward brought the Regt immediately South of LILLE ST HUBERT. This was disappointing as we hoped to cross into the newly established bridgehead over the Canal.
22   8 and 9 Bdes push forward on the North side of L'ESCAUT Canal. We fire very little. This is an unpleasant area, the farms are very poor and the inhabitants very hungry; the mushrooms were the only things to be praised. Major R.A. Fanshawe joined the Regt and took command of 16 Bty.
23   The steady advance of 8 and 9 Bdes went forward without much opposition. The Regt remained at call.
24   Regt moved to ZOMERON, from which position it was able to fire in defence of the ASTEN bridgehead already established by 11 Armd Div. Our Tac HQ and OP parties had the familiar experience of being shelled heavily - they had not experienced this since mid August and consequently in very bad training.
25   Forward troops pushed out from ASTEN a short distance down the MEIJEL road. This strong patrol was supported by the Regt.
26   The enemy was reported to have withdrawn to the East of MEIJEL, leaving us nothing to fire but harassing fire. The Regt Tac HQ moved into the Town Hall of the village of ASTEN, a new building which provided hitherto unequalled luxury. The Dutch underground were very helpful in this area.
27   One tp of 9 Bty had the unique experience of going forward with infantry cover into the 'No Man's Land' between ASTEN and MEIJEL to engage targets out of range in their normal position. The excursion was carried out without incident. The infantry escort were carried back on the vehicles a proceeding which pleased everyone. The Adjt undoubtably had the most unpleasant experience when he observed the shoot from the Air OP.
28   Regt moves to area East of ASTEN. RHQ luxuriously accommodated in a modern school. There is no movement on our front. We harass MEIJEL and the area East of the Canal.
29   Little firing; we harass MEIJEL area. Underground movement patrols by bicyles to locate targets behind enemy lines.
30   7th US Armd Div take over 185 Bde front ; we have our guns in action but do not fire.

next month

Source: Jeroen Koppes, TracesOfWar.com, transcribing: Hans Houterman.

Disclaimer: This War Diary is based on its original, but typos might be corrected. Locations are calculated, so might not be in the correct place. For historical research, always check the originals.