Action at point PETERS CHURCH 15.30 (local) 16/11/43
It had been decided, after suitable reconassaince, to conduct an
offensive operation in the area of PETERS CHURCH. North East corner square
1584. The intention was to cause confusion to local LofC and destruction to
enemy stores (codename BEER). The necessary elements of the force were drawn
from mainly local units although specialist support was brought in from other
Operations were commenced at 0800 by BRIDE section, who went on the
ration party . At 0945 GROOM section collected the WI HALL key (built 1936)and
picked up 2 i/c GROOM section, and headed for WI HALL.
At WI HALL preparations were made for receiving large numbers of
alcoholically injured walking wounded (about 75, but cope with 100), problem
number one, too few cloths requisitioned for hall, this is confirmed when RASC
PARTY arrive on time at 11.00. problem resolved by use of own tablecloths from
Battery Q supply.
Problem number 2 raises it's head, when the GROOM section returns to the
hall and finds there is a gas leak, meaning a no heat situation. REME gas
section had been alerted.
While this was occurring the BHQ was heavily in action, having committed
all available forces under command to food preparation. The Brides eldest
brother had gone missing with a young lady, and was not at the POINT
BRIDESMOTHER RV as planned, the BRIDESMOTHER section were thus substantially
delayed, in addition havoc was caused by delaying tactics from enemy positions
in the area of STEPGRANDPARENTS. This section eventually arrived at BHQ some
2.5 hours late.
In addition to this the transport section had a problem with both
vehicle starting and logistics, this resulted in a severe delay being caused to
the EASTHAM section,(see separate signals log for wireless communication at
11.05 hours) their ETD and ETA being put back some 2 hours. This had
particularly disastrous implications as this section was also providing audio
communication at WI HALL through the services of ELLIOTT R.Sigs Troop operating
BY now at BHQ there was a severe shortage of personnel to provide the
necessary Ration preparation without which the entire operation could have been
At WI HALL the GROOM section had settled all necessary arrangements for
coping with casualty influx and REME had called at the RV to repair the gas
CMP Field provost detachment had by now arrived 3 strong and proceeded
to take over at WI HALL from GROOM section until the arrival of ELLIOT section,
they then proceeded via point ALLENHOUSE, where the GROOM group were by now
located, to point PUB for essential supplies, however at about 14.30 hours the
CMP det. were ordered to attend at WI HALL in order to assist in food
preparation, this operation now being seriously in danger of failure.
At 14.20 the GROOM group left the position ALLENHOUSE and headed for
main start-line at and around point PETERS CHURCH (square 157841). Arriving on
time all necessary support teams in the form of 1 usher (the other being ELDER
BROTHER who was now distracted by food preparation at WI HALL)were present.
According to local reports at 14.30 the BRIDE section commenced
operational preparations, but were still awaiting the readiness report from
BRIDESMOTHER, thus when the operation was due to commence at 15.00 hours all
relevant personnel were in place at point PETERS CHURCH except for sections,
ELDERBROTHER, BRIDESMOTHER, BRIDE. Due to this delay operations did not
commence until 15.25 +/- 2 minutes. As sections ELDERBROTHER and BRIDESMOTHER
were not ready for battle. BRIDE section was forced to wait until they had
arrived at point PETERS CHURCH before they could depart for the same startline
This delay began to create a lowering of morale in GROOM section, not
helped by the already present tension of imminent action. At this point 2 i/c
GROOM section, driver Prior A., was awarded a mention in despatches for his
cool handling of the situation, his encouragement and diversions created
sufficient breathing space for the section to control the situation and await
further development. An additional concern was the light, as the entire
operation was now 25 minutes behind schedule, there was a severe danger that
the already overcast weather conditions would result in a complete lack of any
opportunity for photographic reconassaince at the end of the first phase of the
Operations finally commenced as recorded above at approx. 15.25, some 25
minutes late. The entire operation was recorded for training purposes by a film
and photo section from the AFPU operating under separate wireless codes of
GROOMBROTHER and NEIGHBOUR.
The operation was launched by a short sharp opening barrage from the
heavy support unit located at ORGAN, at this point GROOM section advanced but
were immediately checked and held at previously prepared positions in advance
BRIDE section then advance on the left Flank making contact with GROOM
section at approximately 15.27. This section was also halted with GROOM and
support section ELDERBROTHER2 in advance of ALTER alongside GROOM.
From this point all necessary tactical operations were carried out as
planned and the withdrawal also went according to previously laid orders.
Following Photo recording by NEIGHBOUR and GROOMBROTHER the entire
battlegroup prepared to depart to the regroup RV at WI HALL, the MT section
conveyed i/c GROOM and i/c BRIDE to WI HALL for debrief while remaining
personnel were embussed and conveyed to WI HALL.
Corporal HUNT J, i/c CMP field Prov. Det. was awaiting with his RP and
other personnel and conducted the necessary function of guiding in the BRIDE
and GROOM i/c's, at this point both i/c's plus i/c BRIDESMOTHER elected to
check in their personnel and congratulate them on the successful outcome of the
operation, however BRIDESMOTHER i/c had been missed from transport (inquiry in
progress as this should not have occurred) and this caused a slight amount of
confusion amongst personnel, order was again quickly restored by GROOM 2 i/c
Driver PRIOR A. who then arranged for all personnel and for the Battalion
runner to move to their allotted position, the battalion runner taking
recovered items required for later unwrapping and intelligence examination to
the allotted holding point.
A welcome arrival was NAAFI van driven by a civilian crew in the form of
one TURPIN R, TURPIN M. and TURPIN C, who dispensed welcome refreshment.
The evening Debrief was then conducted with the battlegroup (while
rations were consumed) by GROOM i/c, i/c ELDERBROTHER2 and 2 i/c GROOM.
It was felt appropriate that all personnel should be allowed an evening
of celebration and the ELLIOT R.Sigs troop used their audio equipment to
provide wireless recordings of popular contemporary music.
At approximately 23.45 hours WI HALL was cleared of all personnel who
then either returned to parent unit locations or were moved into rear echelon
for well earned R&R.;
Whilst having a late start the operation was in essence a complete
success, causing material damage to the enemy supplies of (CODENAME) BEER, and
severe disruption to LofC in the area of PETERS CHURCH.
Lessons for future operations of this nature must include the
improvement of adequate briefing of all personnel and enforcement of
communication requirements between all relevant units.