Reply To: 19th Field Regt RA

Chris HarrisChris Harris

Hello Michael, I am rarely on this site these days due to personal circumstances but if you look at The Eyes and Ears thread you can get in touch if you wish.

Two of my neighbours  were with 19th post war and as part of the 1st Infantry Div the 19th went everywhere that the 67th and the 2nd went.

19th is the only Artillery Regt in the Division from which no books were written and I believe their War Diary is rather sparse. A friend Has a copy I believe.

There is a guy on here who  if he comes on will no doubt help you with the Eyes and Ears book as his grandad was in the 67th but it barely mentions the 19th.

The Division was moving north from Florence on the 19/09/44 following the Arrow Route towards the Gothic Line. They were subject to sporadic shelling.

This is now the SR302 Florence to Faenza road and was marked by different coloured arrows designating routes for the divisions to follow.

On the 19th Sept  the 19th FR  were somewhere south of Ronta where the leading Artillery unit the 67th stopped using a hotel as their HQ.  The infantry were up in the mountains, along with them were the Artillery FOO’s (Foreward Observtion Officers) with their signallers etc. In this area they were using Mules to carry their supplies.

Notes from Major Shepherd a FOO with 266 Battery 67FR gives us an idea of what they faced.

“Life is very exhausting both mentally and physically. The terrain and the weather are about as difficult as they could be till one feels the only fight is against them rather than the Germans!                                                                                                                                                 The actual technicalities of mountain warfare and the physical effort I am now used to.   The wet and wind are hellish. Imagine sleeping out with at the most one wet blanket at 3000 feet on an exposed hill still in pouring rain. Yet one does it – and one’s work and cooks one’s food and revels in every moment of sunlight and survives and soon forgets misery.                                                                                                                                                         It has its compensations ironically. I have never seen such views in my life. For example, the sun is setting and so just catching the peaks and hills and there a long slope – the remainder of the hills lying like corpses in their dark shrouds – and away beyond the plain of Lombardy, its cities lit in turn as they become caught in the patches of sunlight. That magically materialises them from the indistinguishable mist of evening. And behind again, a hundred miles away, the majestic barrier of the Dolomites. At dawn too it is unbelievable to watch the view come to life as the sun creeps up……….. One of the worst aspects of these mountains is the great difficulty involved in evacuating wounded, often a lone man and mule carrying over precipitous paths ankle deep in mud for perhaps 5 or 6 miles. Add to that darkness and rain – and it’s a grim outlook!”

The 19th supported the 3rd Infantry Brigade which included the Loyals, Duke of Wellingtons Regt and the Sherwood Foresters. There are plenty of people on here with knowledge of them.

If not there are other easy to contact sources which people on here will no doubt point you to.

If he joined on 25/01 /1944 he must have been a replacement as the 19th fought in Tunisia before going to Italy but landed at Anzio  on the  22nd Jan 1944 when 2 Infantry Brigade landed on the beaches and their supporting Artillery the 67th Field Regt went in behind them carrying their guns in amphibious DUKWS . The Americans went in to take Nettuno which was a port offering easier access to ships.                                                                                I think the 3rd IB landed on the 23rd via the port of Nettuno but would stand corrected           if I am wrong.

The Division left the Gothic Line for Palestine on 12th Jan 1945 to allow the infantry Regiments to rebuild and train new recruits virtually from scratch, such were their losses at Anzio and in the mountains of the Gothic Line.