131st Field Regiment Royal Artillery

War Diary for December 1944

Commanding Officer: Lt-Col J.M. HAILEY R.A.
Place Date Hour Summary References to Appendices
OUDE BERKTER (Map ref Sq 8720) 1st The Regiment remained at this position for several days to support the attack on BLEYRICK and VENLO WEST. Sporadic enemy shelling of the wooded area around the Regimental position was experienced, but no veh cas and no damage of any consequences was reported, though some civilian buildings occupied by subunits were hit. The arty concentration in this area was as great as any previously experienced. Much needed intakes were received during this period.
2nd This day saw plans of operation "GUILDFORD" worked out. This final attack to clear the western bank of the MAAS commenced as far as we were concerned with an order to fire at at approx. 0645hrs. At 0745hrs began a barrage of 800yds lifts. As well as the actual fire plan considerable "M" and "U" targets were engaged. Prisoner reports the following day asserted that the barrage was very effective.
4th On the 4th a notable weather factor was a high wind, occasionally reaching a velocity of 60 mph, and giving a met corr of 1000yds. The day was inactive following the success of yesterdays attacks.
5th Recce parties were held at short notice to move. Little activity was experienced or engaged. Desultory shelling by guns sited across the MAAS was often heard, but no damage was reported.
MAASBREE 7th Gun groups, and Tac RHQ moved to a new position south of MAASBREE and went into a Defensive role. Line was held by two Brigades while the third went to rest near ASTEN. Gun position was wooded, but marshy, fairly widespread and tracks in fairly poor condition.
11th Until this day there had been very little activity of any sort save administrative. Today one of "C" troops guns was firing over open sights at BELFIELD CHURCH. In addition to the normal positions for the guns, a "Harrassing fire position" had been recced and was occupied in turn by each of the batteries, This was in addition to the normal "2 up and 1 reserve" relief system on which the battalion relieved each other and which system naturally effected the O.P.s. The map reference of this forward position was 822045. A number of German planes were seen over the area on occasion, varying from jet propelled fighters to medium bombers. Some bombing of the neighbourhood was noted in the days immediately preceding 16th December, and an O.P. line was out of action due to enemy planes on the 16th.
MAASBREE 21st Visibility on these days was often limited to 100yds due to mist and bad weather.
24th Recce parties were ordered to stand by in preparation for a possible move to a possn north east of HELDEN in view of the fact that 25 Field Regt had moved back in support of the Div Arty, and that reports were received of concentrations of mortars within range of this position. The recce was carried out, and the move was possible on Christmas Day, surveying having been completed in the new area by 1600hrs 24 Dec 44. This move was however, was not necessary, and the Regt remains in the same position as before.
25th Christmas Day was "Very Quiet". All sorts of disturbing rumours failed to materialise, and the Germans observed some at least of the spirit of Peace and Goodwill. The ammn expenditure for Xmas day was only 2 R.P.G. from the Regiment. On the 26th two missiles landed in the Regimental area about 1200hrs, one being a near miss on 320 Bty Comd Post at the forward position. These were examined and found to be bombs released at a great height. No important damage was reported.
Comparative and standard calibration of all guns was carried out during the month in an attempt to tighten up the standard of gunnery. There had been a drop in the efficiency of "M" and "U" tgts. Much of this was due to the spread of the Regt over a large area, and the constant detachment of one subunit in the H.F. Position. A great improvement was reported as a result of the calibration and a Firing exercise "EXERCISE BOLTON".
Commanding Officer: Lt-Col J.M. HAILEY R.A.
Second-in-Command: Major H.D. Stewart., T.D., R.A.