17 Field Regiment RA

In action against the Argenta Gap defences.

The Regiment had a particularly busy time on 17th April and during the morning of 18 April.

The plan was for the Irish Brigade to pass through 11 Brigade bridgehead over the Fossa Marina and seal off Argenta from the north. It was a difficult move to get the Regiment across the newly made Reno Bridge by night but, by shortly after first light, all three batteries were in position 3,000 yards SE of Argenta. With the FDLs only 1,500 yards away, dust inevitably attracted attention and the Regiment received several stonks. Luckily, however, casualties, were light.

At about 1100 hours, the Skins started moving through the 2 LF and pushed forward, supported by a series of concentrations from the Divisional Artillery assisted by the guns of the 8th Indian Division. As soon as they got going, the OPs of 10 Battery did a lot of observed s hooting and kept it up right up to dusk.

On the right, 26 Battery laid on a fire plan ‘Murphy’ (named in honour of the Battalion Commander) to get the Faughs going. It consisted of 5 concentrations and had, in the end to be repeated again as unforeseen obstacles held up the armour. 26 Battery did a lot of observed shooting and the air got pretty warm at time to put it mildly.

By the late afternoon, both Battalions had made good progress but the Brigade Commander decided that the Faughs should push on again that night ad fireplan ‘Belfast’ was laid on. It consisted of a barrage with a two regimental lane – one Field Regiment superimposed 200x and one Medium Regiment superimposed 400x.

Some anxiety was felt about 56th Division on the right but, luckily, no trouble was experienced in contacting the Battalion Commander of the Battalion next door. Just as well too, because they were proposing to walk into ‘Belfast’. The danger was obviated by cutting a slice out of the bottom of the barrage and a somewhat anxious Regimental Commander breathed a sigh of relief.

The Barrage proved a great success and to use B Company Commander’s we strolled to our objective under cover of the barrage. B and C Companies had no difficulty in reaching their objectives and consolidating (it is said the B Company found that their minesweepers reacted to some buried champagne). Casualties were light (B Company one only) and D Company captured two tanks. The ground was well covered with craters from the barrage and the Hun was obviously pretty rattled judging by the amount of equipment hastily thrown aside.

Although battered, the Hun was game to put in a series of counter attacks at first light, 18 April. These were strongly discouraged by 3 ‘U’ Targets and came to nothing. From then on, he made desperate efforts to get his armour away but OPs had a good view and pinned him down. Up to noon, OPs did a lot of shooting at tanks, very ably assisted by the Mediums on a direct wireless line and one OP claimed three.

So ended that phase for the Irish Brigade – the back of the position was broken and the time was ripe for loosing the LIR in their ‘Kangaroos’. The Regiment had a pretty strenuous time simnce midnight 16 April but all were braced by the knowledge that we were then well under way for the Po.

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