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2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery

The 192-Gun Creeping Barrage

The 192-Gun Creeping Barrage

Freyberg himself waited expectantly as the time for the opening of the barrage approached. He envisaged an even more spectacular scene than that with which the October offensive started and in the event he was faintly disappointed. It did not look quite so impressive, perhaps because the firing was on a much narrower front and there was not the same effect of a horizon full of gun flashes from end to end. The ones who appreciated it most when the 192 barrage guns opened fire and 168 other guns began their concentrations were the infantry. Never before had British infantry been given such support in the desert war. The barrage played on the opening line for 20 minutes to give them time to get forward, then it moved onwards with crushing effect until it paused at 2.20 a.m. on the first objective. After half an hour it roared onwards again, battering down opposition, until it halted almost as suddenly as it began on reaching the final objective at 3.40 a.m.

With the Highlanders on the left all went well, though Freyberg himself intervened when tanks seemed to be threatening at 4.30 a.m. and called for DF tasks which were repeated a quarter of an hour later. On the right 151 Brigade did not do so well. There were several misunderstandings about mine-lifting and the guiding lights petered out. The infantry, moreover, bunched up badly in the advance and there was much hesitation, which made the task of the supporting arms difficult. The portées of 34 Battery had to drive through much small-arms fire and some heavy shelling and Lieutenant de Schryver3 was page 406 killed. One or two portées stopped for the crews to fill up sandbags and pile them on the sides, but the protection this gave them was moral rather than actual. As the anti-tankers advanced, mortar bursts began to thicken up the shellfire.

3 2 Lt J. M. de Schryver; born Auckland, 2 Dec 1911; branch manager; killed in action 2 Nov 1942.