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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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Old 02-01-06, 20:10
Phil Waterman Phil Waterman is offline
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Default Photo of Canadian Shermans firing indirect

Below is a picture from one of Bill Gregg's books which shows Canadian Shermans in this indirect firing mode. As you can see from the condition of the cover of my copy this is an often referred to book.
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Old 03-01-06, 00:16
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John McGillivray John McGillivray is offline
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Here is some more information from the Strathcona’s history that may be of interest (p43-44).

(Jan. 1944) “Under the establishment policy laid down by Eighth Army, armoured regiments in Italy operated with 52 Shermans, 2 recovery tanks, and 11 Stuart or "Honey" tanks. This meant that the fifth troop in each of the fighting squadrons had to be eliminated; after some argument, it was decided that the 3-tank troop would be retained (some British units worked with 4 tanks to the troop) and so the fighting echelon of the Regiment contained 3 squadrons each with 4 tanks on its headquarters and 4 troops, Regimental Headquarters with 4 tanks (the command tank "Strathcona" having two wireless sets and a dummy wooden gun), and the Reconnaissance Troop of 11 Stuarts with turrets removed.”

(p199) “The 10th of March (1945 in Belgium) was an important day, too, because of the arrival of a huge batch of mail from home, the first one since the departure from Italy; because of the arrival of new 17 pounder tanks; and because of the arrival of a new war establishment, the one used by the armoured divisions in 21st Army Group. In Italy, each squadron had consisted of four troops, each of three tanks, now it was to have four troops, each of four: two 75 mm. and two 17 pounders. The squadron headquarters was to remain unchanged with two "control" tanks mounting 75 mm. guns and two 105 mm. Regimental H.Q. was to be unchanged, with four tanks, one with dummy gun. The Recce Troop would retain the same number of tanks but it was decided that they would be General Stuarts with turrets, instead of the "cut-down", turretless jobs they had had previously. Further, we were to keep some of the turretless tanks, seven of them, for carrying ammunition. Our total, including the perennial "RAM" and "ROD", the two recovery tanks which were always on the job, was now to be 84 tanks, compared to 65 in Italy.”

(p210) “The "L.O.B." policy was to be enforced to a greater extent than ever before: there was to be one full troop of tanks per squadron left out of battle. The object was to provide protection for the "A1" and "A" Echelons as they followed along: Lieutenant Ted Grand's troop was assigned to "A" Echelon, Lieutenants Gaunt and O'Connor to "A1". As usual, "A" Echelon was to move on orders from Brigade, while "A1" was to be directly under our own C.O. This forward supply element, which we dubbed the "hard A1", had been stripped of all unessential vehicles and was now composed of only 30: 6 ammunition-carrying tanks each carrying a standard mixed load, the 4 squadron fitters' armoured 15 cwt. "White" scout cars, the squadron commanders' scout cars, the Intelligence Officer, the Technical Adjutant and M.Q.M.S., the M.O. with his fleet of armoured "Whites" and carriers, and 6, 3-ton lorries filled with petrol and oil. This "flying column", with its two troops of Shermans interspersed between other vehicles, was commanded by Captain Brathwaite. The two dozen other vehicles which had been taken out of "A1" (commanded by Captain Cadham) became a part of "A" Echelon for this operation.”
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