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124 th (Northumbrian) Field Regiment Royal Artillery (TA). By Keith Brigstock. The Garrison. The Garrison was formed in 1988 to represent the Royal Artillery in Garrison’s of the Victorian, Great War and WW2 period.
By Keith Brigstock
The Garrison was formed in 1988 to represent the Royal Artillery in Garrison’s of the Victorian, Great War and WW2 period
With most of the members were WW2 military Vehicles enthusiasts so it was not long before the WW2 element started to take precedent
The adoption of 124 Fd Regt RA was for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day event in Normandy in June 1994 as a 50thDivision Unit
The adoption of 489 Battery was to be more specific for the 60th Anniversary of D-Day event in Normandy in June 2004
Now since 2004 even more research found that the two troops in 489 Bty where in fact C and D troops and as the Junior Troop in the Regiment we had to be D Troop
Gunner Samuel Chantler
287 Bty where on fixed emplacements around the Bournemouth area
The Regiment was to receive its first 25 pdrs on 3 November 1940, and was up to full strength of 24 by the 20th December 1940. It was during this time that the Regiment experimented with 3 batteries of 8 guns for the first time with 'R' Battery being formed but it was short lived disbanding again after 2 months.
Now part of the 50th Division the Regiment set sail on the SS Orduna from the Clyde on the 6th May 1941, for service in the Middle East.
The convoy consisted of 8 vessels and was escorted by HMS Exeter, HMS Argos (Aircraft Carrier), one AA Cruiser and 7 destroyers.
The Regiment finally arrived at its destination, Tewfik on the 17 July 1941, disembarked and moved by train to Qassasin. On the 23rd June 1941 the Regiment fired its first shots in anger when a sentry fired three shots at some one who did not answer their challenge and putting a whole in the petrol tank of a gun tractor.
The regiment then moved to Port Said where it boarded an Australian Cruiser HMAS Hobart bound for Famagusta, Cyprus arriving on the 5th August 1941.
Now part of the Island defence force with 288 Bty based in Pane Lakkatania and 287 Bty in Limassol.
The regiment settled down to life in Cyprus but it was to be short lived as they were on their back to the Middle East in the January 1942, first to Baghdad, Iraq and then on to Syria.
In January 1942 The regiment moved again first to Baghdad, Iraq then Syria before arriving in the 69 Bde Box on the Gazala Line in Libya.
The Battle of Gazala was a disaster for the British and commonwealth Forces resulting in the loss of Tobruk.
During the battle 72nd Regiment was over run and lost in the 150 Bde Box.
124th had a relatively quite time to the north but 287 Bty was assigned to the 50th Division mobile reserve
The Divisional Reserve was sent to support the Knightsbridge box and it was here the Regiment suffered its heaviest losses of the war when two troops from 287 Bty were over Run and Captured.
Towards the End of the Battle 50th Division were ordered to withdraw.
The withdraw of 50th Division was unique as instead of pulling back they had to advance through the Italian positions and than sweep around during the night.
Its was a great success and almost all of 50th Dive made it back.
The 124th was one of the last to leave the line, 288 Bty escaped with its guns, the remains of 287 Bty was not so lucky.
The Regiment now down to 4 Troops of Field Guns was in June 1942 ordered to form a new battery with the remnants of 287 Bty and a troop from 288 Bty this new battery was called 489 Bty
The Regiment now had 288 Bty with E and F troop and 489 Bty with C and D Troop
Lt Smith and the guys of the surviving Troop for 287 Bty on part of C Troop 489 Bty.
During its time in the Gazala Line the Regiment was again three batteries when 257 A/Tk Bty joined them equipped with portee 2pdrs from 65 A/Tk Regt RA.
There time with 124th although short was dramatic with 2/Lt Oaks wining a military Cross for his bravery while defending an OP of the Regiment.
After being with the 124th Fd Regt for only two months 257 A/Tk Bty rejoined 65 A/Tk Regt RA on the 17th July 1942.
It had been with 124th through the regiments hardest times and through the retreat to El Alamain
The Prisoner of 124th Regiment have stories of their own the most tragic of these was the Sinking of the SS Scillin.
On the night of 13th November 1942 the Italian transport ship SS Scillin was on route to Sicily with about 815 Commonwealth prisoners-of-war and some 200 Italian soldiers.
It was heading straight into the Sicily Invasion area and a Line of protective Submarines.
It was showing no flag or marker that it was carrying prisoners of war. HMS Sahib, surfaced fired it deck gun and demanded it to stop.
When it did not stop she sunk her with a single Torpedo it sunk in less than 1 minute. 5 members of the Regiment died in this incident as well as a large number of 72nd (N) Fd Regt RA
The Regiment, now 2 batteries of 8 guns 288 and 489 Btys, was split up.
288 was attached to 74 Fd Regt and 489 was to 97 Fd Regt.
124th was reunited in time for the battle of El Alamainon the 26th October 1942.
441 Bty joined the Regiment from 58th (Sussex) Fd Regt RA on the 28th November 1942. This was how the regiment was to stay until 1945 a real mix of north and south.
This led to a little confusion 288 originally D, E & F Troops as the Junior Bty lost D to join 489 Bty.
441 Bty also had E and F but it was decided to keep all the Troop titles, even if there was a possibility of confusion.
The Regiment now rejoined 50th (N) Infantry Division for the pursuit of Rommel all the way to Tunisia
Along with the Division the 124th Stayed in Reserve until the 8th Army came against the Mareth Line in Tunisia. The Division was tasked with the frontal assault of the Line
Here we Capt Smith of C Troop, 489 Bty with his crew and Marmon HerringtonRecce Vehicle.
After the initial success of the attack on the Mareth Line in March 1943 the Counter attack by the Germans forced 50th Division Back to their start point.
The Regiment was to play no further major part in operations in North Africa after this. In stead it was to start extensive training for Operation Husky the invasion of Sicily.
The invasion took place on 10th July 1943, and 124th Fd Regt RA landed on the first day and were fully ashore by midday.
The Regiment fought with distinction and during the battle of Lentini 489 Bty with parts of 411 and the RHQ succeeded in Capturing an entire Italian Tank Battalion.
While 288 Bty were involved in the attack on the Primosole Bridge where Capt Price was set up in an OP over looking it.
The Regiment along with the rest of the Division were called back to the England on the fall of Sicily in October 1943 to prepare for the invasion of Northern Europe.
On arriving Back in England the first thing was a spot of leave
Here we see L/BdrJack Grundy, of 441 Battery on leave in the Wirral
Officers of 124th at a training camp in May 1944
The 2 towed Fd Regts 74 and 124 in 50 Division were replaced by 2 Sexton Regts 86 and 147 from Corps for the D-Day Assault
The OP parties from 489 Bty were attached to 86 and took part in the assault. 489 Bty was the first battery from the Regiment into Normandy departed from Tilbury Docks arriving in on the 18th June where they came under command 74 Fd Regt RA
OP D Troop 489 Bty
The Remainder of 124 Regt arrived on the 5th July 1944 and the whole regiment was then pulled back together south of Bayeux
The Regiment was heavily involved in supporting the Division in their engagements for Tilly-Sur-Seulles, Hottot-Les-Bagues and theLa Senaudiere areas.
Sgt Alfred Reynolds F Troop 441 Bty standing next a Bedford MW the Troop CP Vehicle with the Tack Marking of GF
The Regiment was involved in the attempt to close the Faliase gap after the Brake out form Normandy
After a period of rest and reorganisation, 50th Division were reassigned to support the Guards and 11th Armoured Division in their drive through Belgium, and on 8th September 1944 were back in action on the banks of the Albert Canal.
On the 17th September, as part of Operation Market Garden, the Regiments Batteries supported tanks of 30 Corps in the push to reach the 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem.
On 2nd October 1944 they had taken up defensive positions north of Nijmegan between the Waal and Meuse rivers.
124 Fd Regt RA were firing continuously from 0400hrs to 2300hrs and fired a total of 12,500 rounds during this action
The Regiment had fought throught the Middle East, North Africa, Sicily and Northern Europe from 1942 to 1945 and During that time had suffered 121 Killed in Action.
On 12th December 1944 after some six months of continuous front line service since the D-Day landings; to embark upon a programme of re-organisation and training
Prior to the crossing of the Rhine and the final stages of the war, the 124th Field Regiment RA, as part of 50th Division, returned to the England.
124 Fd Regt RA stayed on the orbat until 1947 when it was re-designated 324 Hv AD Regt RA
Not all members of the Regiment came home, all those that had not been with the Regiment Long were assigned to other units until the bitter end