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Old 02-01-06, 14:18
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Hanno Spoelstra Hanno Spoelstra is offline
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Default Shermans as Field Artillery

Posted by J.McGillivray on the AFV News Discussion Board (Fri-Dec-30-05 at 10:39 hr); copied here for retention (as the AFV News forum is erasing older postings):
I found the following in the Regimental history “Load Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) A Record of Achievement” by Lt.-Col J.M. McAvity. This was one of the armoured battalions in the 5th Canadian Armoured Division in Italy.

“Four of the new 105 mm. Shermans were received on November 13th (1944) and training in the use of range tables and in the manipulation of the indirect fire equipment commenced at once. At the same time, ‘azimuth indicators’ were installed in all of our 75 mm. tanks, these being instruments graduated in mils which could be used to measure angles of traverse in the horizontal plane. A great deal of time was spent in studying indirect fire procedure. Although there was no immediate prospect of delivery, each armoured regiment was supposed to be getting sufficient 17 pounders to provide one per troop, and, in addition, six of the new 105's. There was much discussion as to the best way of fitting these into the establishment; the final decision was to have the troop sergeant man the 17 pounder and to put two 105's in each squadron headquarters —each to be commanded by a sergeant.

“Much sooner than expected, we got an opportunity to try our hand at the artillery role when, on 16th November our Brigade undertook to render assistance to "Porterforce", a British unit operating south of Ravenna. After a thorough inspection of gun barrels by our L.A.D., "B" Squadron moved forward to a position about 9,000 yards south of Ravenna and immediately got into action on targets provided by ground and air O.P.'s. "C" Squadron replaced "B" on the 21st and "A" Squadron took its turn on the 27th. Each squadron had at least two full days and nights of firing, all indirect and at ranges up to 12,000 yards, and, in this period, our officers and senior N.C.O.'s became familiar with the procedure and control, while the tank crews got valuable experience in handling their instruments. "C" Squadron claimed the destruction of one enemy S.P. gun, while "A" Squadron had one very busy day on the 28th when they engaged 39 targets—and earned from a British O.P. the compliment ‘damned good shooting’.

“On the night 29th/30th November, with both the C.O. and 2nd i/c back from hospital and with Major Smith commanding H.Q. Squadron, the Regiment moved into position along the road from which the squadrons had been doing their firing. The Regiment was to take part in the artillery fire plan that was to soften up the enemy resistance in the Ravenna sector prior to an attack by our division. Guns were laid with the assistance of a Survey Troop and registration was carried out with an air O.P. Captain Webb Thompson of the 8th Field Regiment acted as supervisor and instructor and visited the squadron ‘control’ rooms in the farm houses along our road. Firing commenced on December 1st and continued day and night until the 4th. All of it was Harassing Fire and it totalled an average of nearly 300 rounds per gun. Our crews became really skilled, and were more than enthusiastic. When mud prevented the aggressive use of our tanks, this surely was a better way to ‘put in time’ than the ‘counter-attack role’ which we had been given in the Ortona sector almost a year before—which had entailed nothing more than sitting around demolished farmhouses enduring cold rains and heavy shelling and mortaring.”
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