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The regiment was embodied along with the rest of the Territorial Army on 24 August 1939. On the outbreak of war. about 120 men including some from Gullane and Haddington gathered at the Drill Hall. now the Labour Club. but alas only a mere dozen of us are left and on 14 September all personnel entrained for Salisbury' Plain.
We occupied the tented camp at Fargo and on arrival, we were told we would be going overseas as a heavy regiment under command of I Corps. With this in mind our numbers were increased by a large intake ofcx soldiers, or 'D' reservists, some with ten years service. So we now became the 51st Heavy R. A. with 9.2" guns.
On 24 October, we left Larkhill to join the BEF and after Ianding at Dunkirk we were sent to Douvrain and Haisnes. small villages near La Basse. We stayed there during that dreadful winter until 20 March 1940 when we moved to Hauburdin. a suburb of Lille, where the entire regiment reconstructed their main battle positions which meant not much time was left for training exercises.
Early morning on 10 Mav the German attack was launched on Belgium and so the BEF moved up. After ten days we were ordered to Wormhout. some ten miles south of Dunkirk, then the order was changed and we were ordered to Rexpoede owing to a threat from German tanks and there was much confusion partly through evacuees leaving Cassci due to Luftwaffe dive bombers. Finally, on Saturday 24 May. Brigadier Stavely got orders we were to destroy our guns and armour and concentrate at Houten within Dunkirk perimeter. These orders were duly carried out and on the Sunday morning we marched to Rosendael. east of Dunkirk, and awaited further orders which were that we would make for the coast and be picked up by the Navy. This we started to do and reached about a mile from the sea only to be halted by the French garrison who had not received correct orders about the evacuation. We had to turn around for a while and so didn't reach the coast until just before dawn on Monday 27 May. We remained on shore till the Thursday when we embarked on H.M.S. Scimitar and then arrived at Dover where according to the cheers, one would have thought we had already won the war!
On arrival, all our small arms were taken from us and we arrived back again at Larkhill with no arms or equipment. After a short period of rest we first moved to The Dell at Southampton to guard German political prisoners and while there, some of us were detailed to assist in digging out an unexploded bomb on Lord Mountbatten's estate at Broadlands..
The regiment then split for a while to take up positions around the Devon coast, this time on 4" naval guns so that our battery was split between sites at Dawlish and Salcombe and continued till November 1940 when we were withdrawn from coast defence and concentrated at Paignton until March 1941. Then we were sent to take over 9.2" howitzers in Suffolk and were billeted at Hurts Hall. Saxmundham. This period lasted till October 1942 when the bigger guns were withdrawn and re-equipped with 7.2" guns on old 6" gun carriages and we left the Suffolk coast for Chadacre. near Bury St Edmunds and a new formation, known as an AGRA or Army Group R.A., which finally became a formation consisting of I Field Regiment, L. Medium Regiments and I Heavy Regiment.
From here we took part in Exercise Spartan, spread over a large party of EngIand and finishing at Woburn Park. Oxford. Ten days after returning to Chadacre we were re-equipped with vehicles and sent to Dundee. Thus the period from April to July 1943 was spent among the forests and hills of Perthshire so gaining much experience which was of great value later.
During August 1943 we then moved to Womersley, nr Doncaster and told we were now under command of I Corps and would be one of the two heavy' regiments selected for the initial assault over the French beaches.
In the beginning of May '44 we moved to the concentration camp at Bucks Green, near Horsham from where a small RHQ reconnaissance party Ianded in Normandy on DF3 to reconnoitre battery positions in advance. Our first wave. consisting of minimum personnel and equipment to man the guns for a fortnight, Ianded three days later and deployed in the Douvres area and covered the 3rd British, 3rd Canadian, 2nd & 3rd Canadians. 49, 51, and 6 Airborne Divisions.
On 15 August, as the German defence south of Caen broke, we moved forward to support the 7th Armoured and 51st HighIand Divisions towards the Seine up to 30 August when we reached Cavoebec. From now on until the end of October, we took part in all operations involved in clearing the Channel ports and the opening of the port of Antwerp. The first half of September, having then supported 49 & 51 Divisions in the reduction of Lc Havre. Next came the clearance of the Schelds peninsula of South BeveIand and Walcheren. After the fall of Walcheren we helped to clear part of the HolIandisch Dicp near Moedyjk. Throughout November the regiment supported the clearance of
the Venio pocket west of Mans and then in December we moved to the Roer area near Giclenkirchen with two of our batteries actually in German territory' for the first time.
Come February' we moved north again to support the assault on Reichswold and clear the Siegfried Line. Taking positions on the Maas at Gennep and crossing to Goch then finishing the operation at Sonsbeck on the banks of the Rhine and Wessel.
Operation 'Plunder' or really the crossing of the Rhine opened with a tremendous bombardment during the night of the 23/24 March. For this operation our 7.2s on the old carriages had been replaced by new types with Americal split trails which made work much easier for the gunners in the crossings at Rees. Emmerich and Amhem. At Rees we actually fired over 300 rounds in 36 hours.
Having completed these crossings we moved through eastern HolIand into Germany and supported the river crossings at Leer by the 3rd Canadian Divisions and just before V E Day we were bombarding Ernden.
During all these operations we fired some 67.000 rounds of ammunition. In spite of difficulties this regiment alone of all the heavies in the BLA fired charge 4 on the old carriage giving us an extra 3.000 yards in range.

Territorial Drill Hall. Kirk Street, now the Labour Club.

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