< D. Edwards 80th Field Reg.R.A - Fragment 9 >

The 52nd Scottish Mountain Division

As far as I was involved it is only a very small and insignificant part of the whole. I was with H.Q.troop 318 Battery 80 Field Regiment R.A.(City of Glasgow T.A.) 52nd Scottish Lowland Mountain Division - What a mouthful! As far as the Field Artillery was concerned there were 3 Batteries in the Regiment 317, 318, & 458. There were 3 regiments in the division the others being 79th & 186.The 186th was formed at the end of 1942 on reorganisation to a Mountain Div.and was formed by moving experienced personnel from 79 & 80 and bringing in new young recruits from training camps to complete the complements. I was one of those recruits jioning trhem at Xmas 1942 aged 19. The role of the Field Artillery regiments with their 25 pdr. guns was to support the infantry in attack and defence giving them protection at all times, each regiment supporting one of the 3 brigades of infantry in the division but not necessarily the same brigade every time.

Soeach Infantry brigade had 3 battalions and each battalion was supported by aBattery of 25 Pdr, guns. A Battery consisted of 2 gun troopsof 4 guns eachand an H.Q. troop.The liaison between guns and infantry in attack and defence was with O.P.(observation parties) who were with battalion headquarters each troop having its own OP party.318 bty. had OPs for "C" troop & "D" troop where my colleagues operated and were always at the "sharp" endof things with Troop commanders Capt (Charlie) Reid "C" troop & Capt. Robertson "D" troop two fine officers. The Battery commander (Major Johnson) operated with H.Q. troop& I was his Driver/Operator (wireless operator) and I had ajeep with wireless installed. The Battery commander was our artillery liaison with the infantry Brigade commander thus you see the links between infantry and supporting field artillery.we in HQ troop also had a half track vehicle with linking wireless connections with Regimental HQ and higher command

I give you this picture so that you see how I fitted into the picture in my own small way.There were 7 of us in full complement comprising HQ OP and we were totally iself sufficient in action.

A brief history of 52 Div up to Walcheren

Division highly trained in mountain warfare from 1942 and superbly fit.Role to kid the Germans we were going toinvade Norway.Thus we contained some 30000 of their troops away from ultimate invasion areas.

In 1944 role changed to Airborne. All heavy equipment removed for Jeep transport.25 pdr guns retained for use for 360 degree traverse .Gunners became expert at dismantling guns and reassembling.rapid loading & unloading practice.

In September wewere due to fly toArnhem when the airborne troops had secured a landing site.I was waiting on the road to the airfield,the plane number chalked on my windscreen ready to be loaded on to a Dakota transport when the order came to stand down.one of our brigades was already in action at Nijmegen to try to meet upwith us. Sadly we know what happened at Arnhem.we were immediately sent down to Portsmouth to embark for France still with Airborne equipment. On arrival we went quickly to Belgium to meet up with the rest of the div.and to change our equipment to our normal fighting gear.Wethen made our way to Holland to Beveland and to Walcheren. How ironic it was that after all the mountain training we should be asked to do battle below sea level !

S.Beveland & Walcheren

By 31 Oct S, Beveland was cleared and the Germans held Walcheren. 318 battery OP went out with 5th H.L.I.(157 Bde) in the taking of Heerenhoek during operations with the Canadians.The chances of a successful assault across the Causeway, only 20 ft wide in places was slim and attempts by the Canadians and 52 came tonought.0ne desperate attempt was made to cross the water by boat and partly succeded at some high cost.It was here that our OP from C troop under Capt Reid was in action and with the infantry came uner heavy fire and had to withdrawwith casualties.It was here that two of my colleagues Benny Smith & "taffy" Owen were killed but Bill Ablitt my friend survived.He went out again with a reformed party under Capt Reid and this attack was successful.Refer to your E Mail 22 Nov.re col. Scott War Diary covering this period. Herefers to one dead but as I say there were twodead and one wounded( sgt. Quinn.)

On 5th Nov. the div artillery moved on to Walcheren and went into action S.E.of Arnemunden to cover 156 bde.attack towards Veere (which 80 field regt. supported) and 157 bde.towards Middlelburg.The assault on Middelburg was held up by enemy holding out in a factory on the outskirts of Middelburg Onthe next day (6th) Middelburgh capitulated.

An attack by 7th cams. on Veere was arranged fot 7th Nov and harassing fire was put down by 80th on the harbour and approaches during 6/7 Nov. On 8th Nov. the Germans surrendered. Our guns then moved up to Kleverskerke to get within range of north Walcheren but were not required.

To sum up as I see it the 52nd Div Field Artillerywas involved only in supporting its infantry and only used up to the outskirts of Middelburg and to the right for our assault onVeere. I do not believe that,apart from the support to the infantry to the outskirts of Middelburg, any fire was directed into the town

I cannot answer for the mediums or heavies but because of the fluidity of movement of our troops it would seem to me to be totally unnecessary for any such gunfire in view of the situation with regard to civilians.I cannot give any indications of gunfire from the force which attacked across the Scheldt

Finally with regard to fire plans you will appreciate that in the end events moved so quickly that there would be no time to draw up fire plans as decisions would be made according to the situation unfolding on the ground.You have an answer to the barrage on Middelburg-support to the outskirts only toallow the infantry to reach the town.