"A" Troop Report
Battle Report of "A" Troop on Operation "ROAST"On taking over the positions on the F.U.P. from the Italians, 3 positions had to be manned and guarded till first light. The remainder of the men into foxholes in the river bank.
1/2 Apr 45.
1/2 Apr 45.
At 0730 hrs 2nd Apr an O Group of Lieut Marsh, Lieut Seales and a covering section moved forward to start line to recce first ditch. It was found necessary to use the first lot of Fascenes to get over the dyke as the width and the supporting subsoil had been underestimated.
The O Group stayed and the troops were brought up to help lay fascenes under guidance of Sappers and Tank men. The Tanks kept getting bogged and having to be taken out and more fascenes brought up. Eventually at 1330 hrs the first tank crossed.
With Lieut Marsh's group of two sections and HQ moving round to The left flank via a dyke, and Lieut Seales section and Tp HQ following the second tank, the first having a small section behind it to be used for clearing foxholes. The Troop set off. The leading tank fired 2 or 3 shells into the house as it moved down. About five minutes later the enemy opened up causing 3 casualties in the tank group. The remainder took cover behind the tanks and down the right hand side of them. Our 2" Mortars then opened up to give smoke and H.E. on the left as cover for Lieut Marsh's section. This only gave partial cover, had the 38 sets been working proper and contact made range could have been altered. However the smoke served to screen the enemy fore from the tanks till our wounded could be brought in. Smoke was stopped after a while as it was thought that it would stop the tanks fire. The last wounded were brought in under cover of L.M.G. fire of Mne Williamson who stayed out in the open with obsoletely no cover at all for a full 18 minutes, while he was being sniped at and brought under fire from enemy M.G's.
During the operation observation was kept up from the corners and the back of the tank and enemy posts located. There were no enemy in the house all having put in the foxholes lining the bank of the river. A sniper who later turn out to be a German officer kept firing at the corners of the tank. Tracer taken from Bren Mags and put in rifles put the tanks onto enemy positions. Spasmodic Bren fire from Williamson kept the enemies head down for a pause of 2 minutes. Contacts were very bad with 38 and 18 sets. The noise of the tank engines made it very difficult for any orders to be heard or any messages received or given. Contact was mainly through Lieut Wilkies 38 set and his 18 set in rear HQ. a force to bring in reserve ammo S.B.A'S and to keep further contact with the tanks.
On receiving messages for stretchers to be brought up two Medical Orderlies who had missed the landing with 9 Cdo and volunteered to come with us, together with L/Cpl Payne with utter disregard for there own safety came up to the tanks with an improvised Red Cross on a white flag. The walking wounded and stretcher case were sent back to start line. There upon the same party came in answer to a call from Lieut Marsh's section on the left flank. At approx 1515 hrs enemy were observed waving a white flag and prisoners then came through their minefields towards the tanks. Some were fired on by their own troops. The sniper still kept firing at the tank. I went up to the first tank to Cpl Ward's group to get closer to the prisoners and wave them in. During my absense the sniper shot Mine GRIFFEN through the head. Our own troops were seen behind the prisoners and on the enemies positions and when the prisoners reach the second tank all firing ceased.
The tanks would not move until orders were received from Lieut Marsh to go forward. I brought Cpl Wards section to the second tank and the first one carried or through the minefield ahead.
On contacting Lieut Marsh I found him wounded and I was ordered to carry on to MARK with "A" Tp under my command. The leading tank officer, Lieut Wilkie myself, and the MOA's did a short reccy. I then held a O Group on lines of advance etc I told the troops what we were doing and asked for
(a) The sappers to be brought up
(b) To have the R.A.P. established at Casa del Olmo
(c) Detailed a S.N.C.O. and a Mrn to take back wounded, prisoners to the start line.
(d) Divided the tps into three fresh groups, under myself lieut Wilkie, and Cpl Dixon.
(e) Carry on to MARK.
The first tank got bogged soon after leaving Del Olmo, there was a pause while the second tank went back some 500 yds to a house and then back to us again by lower river bank. Waited for the other tank which was knocked out by a Tellermine. No enemy positions were contacted and we heard that 43 RM. Cdo in Matthew. I asked for orders from Sunray Contacted 43 RM.Cdo and received orders to return. Picked up as many weapons and Bren megs as possible on the way back. Sent the troop back by the river crossing near Partisan forward H.Q. I stayed behind with Lieut Wilkie and our M.0.A.'s to collect Mne Griffen personal effects and gather material for the "I" sec.
Signed :- Watson E. Seales