46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

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Tom from Cornwall
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46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 04 Sep 2017 19:55

Hi,

I'm beginning a research project looking at Operation 'Avalanche' in September 1943 and in particular the battles between X Corps (46 and 56 Divisions, the Rangers and British Army and RM Commandos) and their German opponents (16 Pz Div, HG Div, 15 Pz Gr Div).

Alongside the British and US Official Histories, I've managed to borrow a copy of Trevor Dupuy's Numbers, Predictions and War from the library and wondered if anyone knew if the research that lay behind the numbers this contains was available anywhere in greater detail, either in book form or on-line?

I've begun to pick up some of the 56 Div war diaries, for example, and wondered if Dupuy's work took into account losses suffered at sea or compensated for the limitations imposed by the Assault Scale of weapons, transport, equipment and manpower with which the British (and also 36 US Div) were operating in the first few days.

As I go along I'll post stuff up here and would welcome comments.

Regards

Tom

Richard Anderson
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Richard Anderson » 04 Sep 2017 20:09

Tom from Cornwall wrote:Hi,

I'm beginning a research project looking at Operation 'Avalanche' in September 1943 and in particular the battles between X Corps (46 and 56 Divisions, the Rangers and British Army and RM Commandos) and their German opponents (16 Pz Div, HG Div, 15 Pz Gr Div).

Alongside the British and US Official Histories, I've managed to borrow a copy of Trevor Dupuy's Numbers, Predictions and War from the library and wondered if anyone knew if the research that lay behind the numbers this contains was available anywhere in greater detail, either in book form or on-line?

I've begun to pick up some of the 56 Div war diaries, for example, and wondered if Dupuy's work took into account losses suffered at sea or compensated for the limitations imposed by the Assault Scale of weapons, transport, equipment and manpower with which the British (and also 36 US Div) were operating in the first few days.

As I go along I'll post stuff up here and would welcome comments.

Regards

Tom
Tom, I am afraid I am now a retirement and five jobs away from the files at TDI, but the casualty data was taken from the daily reports by the division and by X Corps. Personnel strengths initially IIRC were reported for the assault elements as loaded. I remember I reviewed and corrected various data for both sides on weapons and the results are in the TNDM Newsletter...Vol. 2, No. 4 (December 1998)? I know the files for those engagements were quite extensive and included info from Kew, NARA, and BAMA.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 05 Sep 2017 19:26

Rich,

Thanks. Yes, I found the TNDM Newsletter on line and it was Vol.2, No.4, Dec 98. That's what made me ask the question about the original database which you refer to in the Newsletter but only give tantalising glimpses of.

I started by looking at armour and artillery, and think that your correction underestimated X Corps assets in these two classes. You suggested that X Corps only had a single medium artillery regiment and armour regiment, but in fact, it seems that both 46 and 56 Divisions were reinforced by an armoured regiment and a medium artillery regiment, and there also seems to have been elements (a battery each?) of 142 Field Regiment RA attached to both with Bishop SP 25-pdr guns. Over the next few months I'll see if I can track down more detailed statistics and post them up here.

I've got the 56 Div AQ file and the evening strength returns in there tally up exactly with the relevant appendix in the Capture Rate Study you did in March 2006 and which I found on line somehow (that also lists the numbers of tanks you had found for each engagement but unfortunately not the number of artillery tubes).

I've seen some assault loading tables for Overlord posted up on the WW2 Talk Forum and they seem to have been changing right up until the last minute, and I guess Salerno was no better, probably worse given the short notice given to many units. So I doubt we'll ever be able to nail the figures down exactly, but the task will cheer me up as the winter evenings begin to close in.

Regards

Tom

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Richard Anderson » 06 Sep 2017 03:03

Tom from Cornwall wrote:I started by looking at armour and artillery, and think that your correction underestimated X Corps assets in these two classes. You suggested that X Corps only had a single medium artillery regiment and armour regiment, but in fact, it seems that both 46 and 56 Divisions were reinforced by an armoured regiment and a medium artillery regiment, and there also seems to have been elements (a battery each?) of 142 Field Regiment RA attached to both with Bishop SP 25-pdr guns. Over the next few months I'll see if I can track down more detailed statistics and post them up here.
I know I had all the RA X Corps and Eighth Army data for the Italian campaign from a couple of visits to Kew. I think if I had seen anything about Bishops still operational I would have noted it. I do recall that there were still Grant/Lee command and OP tanks wandering about, but Bishop? No. Priest? Yes.

IIRC, the divisions each had a medium battery attached, not regiment, just as the US divisions had 155mm howitzer/gun batteries attached. The data sources I had for Salerno were quite extensive.
I've got the 56 Div AQ file and the evening strength returns in there tally up exactly with the relevant appendix in the Capture Rate Study you did in March 2006 and which I found on line somehow (that also lists the numbers of tanks you had found for each engagement but unfortunately not the number of artillery tubes).
Yep.
I've seen some assault loading tables for Overlord posted up on the WW2 Talk Forum and they seem to have been changing right up until the last minute, and I guess Salerno was no better, probably worse given the short notice given to many units. So I doubt we'll ever be able to nail the figures down exactly, but the task will cheer me up as the winter evenings begin to close in.
The NEPTUNE loading tables were frozen c. 20 May IIRC, partly due to experience in the Med. Assault scales limited the 'B' vehicle loading and cut back on the admin personnel, along with the LOB, but usually included the "first reinforcements"...and the US equivalent. :D

Cheers!
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 06 Sep 2017 17:29

Rich,
Bishop? No. Priest? Yes.
142 Fd Regt RA still definitely had Bishops, although to be fair they lost an entire troop when LCT 572 hit a mine (WO361/464):

Regards
Tom
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Richard Anderson
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Richard Anderson » 06 Sep 2017 17:41

Tom from Cornwall wrote:142 Fd Regt RA still definitely had Bishops, although to be fair they lost an entire troop when LCT 572 hit a mine (WO361/464):
Fascinating Tom, but I still don't recall it...mind you it was about 20 years ago now that I looked at those records. :D
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Orwell1984
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Orwell1984 » 06 Sep 2017 17:55

There's a series of images of Bishops being used in Italy by 142nd Field Regt RA, some dated September, October and one in December of 1943 on the IWM site. Assorted identified locations given as Cava and Grazzanise.

Link to images:
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/searc ... p+25+italy

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 06 Sep 2017 19:39

Hi both,

I had thought that the Bishops were only used in North Africa and Sicily so it was news to me as well. Thanks to the links to the photos. I'm pretty sure I saw a photo of one at Salerno with one of the recognisable hills from above Salerno town in the background - I'll try to dig it out.

I'm wondering if perhaps the Bishops were landed in place of some of the towed 25-pdrs on first day. Will have a check of one of the Fd Regts war diaries.

I've also had another look at the war diary for 69 Medium Regiment and they were definitely only supporting 56 Division during the early stages of Avalanche. The confusion may have been caused by the fact that on D Day only one medium battery (241) landed with its troops under command of the assault brigades, while the Regt HQ and the other battery (242 Med Bty) landed later that day with command of 241 Battery then reverting to 69 Med Regt but as the war diary says "Regt goes into action as vehicles come ashore in support of 56(L) Div. Two O.Ps sent out, 167 Bde and 169 Bde".

I think 5 Medium Regt was probably similarly allocated to 46 Division.

Regards

Tom

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Polynike
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Polynike » 20 Sep 2017 09:58

I have some Tank Regiment war diraries, which regiments (if any) took part in the landing and ill have a look for you?

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 20 Sep 2017 19:23

Hi and thanks for the offer, 46 Division were supported by 40 RTR and I would be very interested in seeing their war diary if you had it.

Regards
Tom

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Polynike » 21 Sep 2017 15:16

Hi Tom

Unfortunately I do not have the WD for 40RTR. These are the ones i do have:

1st Est Riding Yeomanry
4/7 Royal Dragoon Guards
13th/18th Hussars
22nd Dragoon Guards
46th RTR
50th RTR
Nottinghamshire Yeomanry
Staffordshire Yeomanry

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 22 Nov 2017 21:20

I checked the war diary of 5 Medium Regiment RA at Kew today [wo169/9583] and it confirmed that its two batteries (15/17 and 20/21 Med Bty) both landed with 46 Division on 9 Sep 43.

I also looked up 142 Fd Regt RA (the one with Bishops!) and its war diary [WO169/9522] confirmed that one bty (506) landed with 56 Div and two (383 and 384) with 46 Div.

Regards

Tom

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 18 Feb 2018 20:32

Hi,

The poor opinion expressed by some historians of the performance of 56 (London) Div, and Montgomery's criticism of it after the battle of Envidaville, had led me to assume that the 201 Guards Brigade was added to it for the Salerno operations as a stiffener. However, I was wrong. The Regtl History of the London Scottish (part of 56 Div's 168 Bde) explains that, in fact, 168 Bde was taken from the Division as it moved from Iraq up to the front line in Tunisia so that they could make 50 Division up to strength for the invasion of Sicily.

It's also interesting that at Salerno 56 Division was commanded by Maj-Gen Graham (who later was chosen to lead 50 Division ashore in Normandy) and then by Maj-Gen Templer (who went on to be a Field Marshal). If 56 Division's performance was so poor, it seems strange that these two outstanding officers careers would have suffered.

Strange?

Regards

Tom

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Aber » 18 Feb 2018 23:01

IIRC Enfidaville was 56th Division's first combat experience, and probably the first new division in 8th Army since El Alamein. Not surprising that their performance may have been relatively poor.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 19 Feb 2018 20:58

Hi Aber,

Yes, their first combat experience and immediately following an immensely long move from the KIRKUK region of IRAQ to Enfidaville which can't have helped. Neither, obviously would removing one of the division's brigades.

I'll see if I can dig out exactly what Montgomery said about the division after this battle.

Regards
Tom

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