Employm.ent of Royal
Marine Artillery During
The R.M. Artillery were allocated as follows:
One regiment of 8 tps to 3 Cdn Div.
One regiment of 8 tps to 50 Div.
One independent bty of 4 tps to 3 Br Div.
In general, the role assigned was to provide:
1. Direct fire on the beaches during the run in.
2. Close support fire for the infantry while the SP artillery were being disembarked.
3. Indirect fire from the beaches as called for by FOOs.
4. Thickening up of artillery fire under command of field regiments to which Marine regiments
The following is the role actually performed in the operations as obtained from the sources indicated,
together with certain opinions deemed of value .
RM Artillery Regt. in support of 3 Cdn Inf Div.
CO RMA Regt. - Lt.-Col. JOHNSTON.
26 Centaur and 7 Sherman tanks were landed on D-day, one troop at H+I0 mins and the
remainder at H+120 mins.
4 Centaur and 1 Sherman tanks were landed during D+l day.
2 Centaurs returned to UK.
Direct Fire on the Beaches During the Run-in
No direct fire was employed during the run-in on orders of GOC 3 Cdn Inf Div, owing to
obscurity of targets and to lateness of arrival.
Close Support Fire for Infantry while SP Artillery were being Disembarked
Very useful close support was given and the guns were used extensively in eliminating snipers
and strong points.
Indirect fire from beaches
No indirect fire was provided from the beaches owing to:
a) the lateness of arrival.
b) casualties to FOOs.
c) one troop being beached in very deep water when SPs were arriving, requiring the rapid
clearance of the beach.
Initial Period Under Command
On the evening of D-day, three troops were placed under command 4 SS Bde, 47 RM Cdo, and
performed very valuable services for the Commandos in street fighting, destroying enemy
strong points at point blank range and leading commandos down uncleared streets using
Remaining troops moved forward under the command of RCA regiments, two troops per
regiment. Owing to the fluidity of the Canadian front and the fact that FOOs were preoccupied
with SP guns, the Marine artillery was not employed until D+3, when they
assumed their normal role in close support of the infantry.
On D+4 three troops in support of 46 RM Commando performed an independent operation
providing concentrations on ROSEL and ROTS for 7 minutes. Subsequently, three
troops were again used on ROTS when a heavy and very useful concentration was laid
BM RCA, 3 Cdn Div
Marine artillery performed according to plan but, owing to lateness of arrival of the bulk of
the guns, were unable to provide maximum effect. A very useful role was performed at
ST AUBIN -SUR-MER in clearing out the garrison.
RM Artillery Regt in support 50 Inf Div
CO RMA Regt. - Lt.-Col. BESSETT.
Of sixteen LCTA, three beached on time, one on 69 Bde sector and two on 231 Bde sector.
Between D and D+2 four LTA arrived which had been delayed by heavy weather. Four
LCTA returned to UK and the fate of five other LCTAs is as yet unknown. In addition
to the severe weather the convoy speed was apparently excessive from the departure.
Direct fire on Beaches during Run-in
No targets were engaged on run-in, on either brigade sector.
Close support fire for infantry while SP artillery were being disembarked
At H +6, three LCTAs were ashore carrying six Centaurs and one Sherman, but two mechanical
breakdowns occurred due to clutch and track failure. The Sherman was hit and burnt
out on the beach. Besa and 95 mm fire was directed against targets of opportunity but,
owing to the small number of the Centaurs available, the effect was small.
Indirect Fire from the Beaches
No indirect fire was provided from the beaches as no Sherman command tanks were available for
Initial period under command
At H + 7 three Centaurs under command 147 Fd Regt fired 33 rpg supporting the attack of 47 RM
Commando on the LONGUES battery, providing useful neutralising fire. They then proceeded to LA
ROSIERE in the evening but were forced to return to DUBOT owing to enemy action. On D+ 1 they
returned to LA ROSIERE and took up anti-tank positions, but did not see action in this capacity.
Approximately 10 rpg were fired against a gun on the cliff in the area of square 7887 providing adequate
neutralisation for the infantry.
Five Centaurs on the left flank went under command of 86 Fd Regt instead of 147 Fd Regt and were
able, with the subsequent arrival ofLCTAs, to form two complete troops by the evening of D+1. The first
shoot for these tanks, apart from using Besas against MGs and snipers in the area of 86 Fd RHQ on D day,
was on D+4 as part of the regimental fire plan on AUDRIEU.
Following this, they were employed to thicken up artillery in front of field regiments.
It was felt that, had 32 tanks been landed with the FOOs available, a vital role could have been
performed in assisting the infantry at LE HAMEL, which held out for the whole of D-day, and in coping
with the numerous infantry and MG nests as well as two 88 mm guns on the NIEUVAINE RIDGE , which
were available targets. Great assistance could have been provided 47 Rm Cdo in operations against
PORT-EN -BESSIN, had the necessary force been available. Very close artillery support was required and
this could have been most effectively supplied by the Marine artillery.
Marine Artillery Ind. Bty in support of 3 Br Inf Div
Tp Offr - Ind Bty.
At H hour, eight Centaurs and two Shermans were landed on RED beach, but four of them were
drowned, and four Centaurs landed on WHITE beach half an hour late without difficulty. One LCTA
returned to the UK and one LCTA arrived at D+ 1 .
Direct Fire on Beaches during Run-in
All craft fired on the run-in. Visibility was very bad on WHITE beach, but the beach was sprayed
with Besas and a house occupied by snipers was set on fire.
Close support fire for infantry while SP artillery were being disembarked
On RED beach the infantry were hard pressed and suffering heavy casualties and Centaur fire was
considered of great value. On WHITE beach there was very little to do as there were no emplacements to
cope with. Some shelling was done against buildings occupied by enemy snipers.
Indirect fire from the Beaches
No indirect fire was provided from the beaches because of casualties to FOOs and Centaurs.
Initial period under command
BM RA, 3 Br Div.
Five Centaurs and two Shermans were placed under command 33 Fd Regt in a counter mortar role
but were withdrawn to 4 SS Bde before employment.
2 IIC 33 Fd Regt.
Marine artillery came under command at H +4 and went into action NE of HERMANVILLE. They
were moved into the regimental area at H + 12 and placed on regimental grid and frequency and fired two
or three shoots on D-day. The only role performed was in thickening fire on LEON SUR MER, where
they were extremely useful. They remained in reserve until D+3 when they were withdrawn. More use
could have been made of the Marine artillery by allocating some strong point or village as their responsibility
instead of leaving them in reserve.
The role of the Marine artillery was seriously affected by the Navy's failure to land the LCTAs at
the right time and place.
The bad weather caused disproportionate casualties, forcing a large number of craft to turn back to
the UK, causing others to founder and seriously interfering with the timing so that a large percentage
arrived late and were unable to fulfil their role as defined.
If there had been a high degree of resistance on the beaches, their use in the original role planned
would have been extremely valuable. As there was not the resistance on the beaches that had been
anticipated, they were used against targets of opportunity where 25 pdrs and SPs would have been adequate.
In subsequent operations they proved of great value in eliminating snipers and defended posts and
as close support artillery.
Deputy CRA, RMA
It is felt that the RMA should have landed their own FOOs at H hour as FOOs of SP regiments
were fully occupied with their own units and were consequently unable fully to utilise Marine artillery
resources. In addition, in later phases, tanks could have been allocated independently of SP regiments
and greater value obtained from available weapons. This policy has subsequently been followed in 6
Airborne Division where three troops are being made up using Marine artillery equipment and available
personnel and organised to provide two FOOs and the necessary battery staff. This will permit employment
in an independent role under the direction of the CRA.
The present troop composition of one Sherman to four Centaurs appears satisfactory. It is possible
that an M-10 chassis with 17-pdr mounted is warranted to obtain improved performance against armour
and fixed defences.
In view of the susceptibility of the Centaur in forward areas to anti-tank attack with the need for
close infantry support, it would be desirable to have increased range up to the limit of the 95 mm.
A carrier should be provided for each FOO, as at present he must go forward in a Sherman which
may not be desirable.
One 15-cwt per troop is required for ammunition, water, and food to avoid administrative difficulties
which are unavoidable when dependent on extraneous sources.
If employed in a limited role, provision for first line repairs should be made by the inclusion of a
small REME detachment in a 15-cwt for each four troops to diagnose troubles and arrange for their
treatment. Fourteen tanks have been abandoned owing to inadequate facilities for their repair and recovery.
Employment of Marine Artillery
During "NEPTUNE" Operations
In the preparation of this report the following considerations governed the method of treatment
and limited the amount of detail contained in it.
1 . The Royal Marine Artillery was returning t o the UK within two days from the time that
the study was initiated.
2 . Until the time of departure for the UK the RMA were engaged in operations in close
support of infantry formations and, owing to casualties sustained in the assault, it was
impossible to detach an officer from each Regiment to return to the assault area to
reconstruct the action which took place.
Even had this been feasible, it is doubtful if a complete picture could have been obtained
without questioning each officer who had participated, a process requiring a period of
time much exceeding that available.
3. It was understood that the information was required as quickly as possible by the BG8
(8D), 21 Army Group.
* * * * *
The beaches were visited with the intention of reconstructing as far as possible the effect which the
Marine Artillery had achieved. The analysis was extremely difficult and no exact conclusions could be
drawn for the following reasons:
1 . Fourteen days had elapsed since the assault and much of the evidence had been removed
or obliterated. Knocked out Centaur tanks, which would have disclosed targets on which
their effect could have been studied, had been removed.
2. Many of the fortifications were in the process of being occupied by our own troops as
bivouacs and in the course of this many changes had been made. Damaged enemy
weapons had been removed, shelters had been repaired and the scene had changed very
considerably. Extensive beach clearing operations had been performed, thus further
complicating the task of assessment.
3. The involved nature of the fire plan, in which many different weapons had been employed
and which in the target area had produced a similar effect, had created an area of
destruction on an extensive scale which made it impossible to differentiate exactly
between elements of the fire plan or to isolate the relatively small effect of the Marine
In view of the above considerations the report is dependent on the information available
from the participants and it is felt that it contains all the conclusions which are warranted