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2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery

The Third Attack

The Third Attack

The next major move was on the 15th, when 5 Brigade attacked westwards and then south-westwards from the Sfasciata ridge to outflank Orsogna. The artillery programme, starting at 1 a.m., included a creeping barrage by the 4th and 5th Field and another one by a battery only of the 156th Field from 1.54 a.m. The 6th Field and 111th Field fired timed concentrations throughout and the remaining two batteries of the 156th Field and two 5.5-inch batteries of 6 AGRA fired CB tasks. For the 4th and 5th Field this meant an expenditure of 224 rounds per gun, apart from the many DF tasks also fired. In 46 Battery alone 11 DF and other tasks were fired—a sign of trouble. Stonks landed among counter-attacking paratroops several times and did much to save the New Zealand infantry from disaster. By morning the counter-attacks were spent and the Division held a considerable stretch of the ridge north-east of Orsogna and blocked the OrsognaArielli road. But 5 Brigade had suffered considerable loss and could do no more. The enemy line, though badly bent, remained unbroken.

On the 16th the 4th Field moved forward, this time to an area south-east of Orsogna and within three miles of it. The same day 41 Light Ack-Ack Battery was thrilled when the gun page 537 B6 shot down an aircraft (an FW190) with predictor control—the first time the regiment had done this. In the next week the chief point of interest was the firing of smoke of various colours to mark targets for bombing, almost all of them in Orsogna. It looked impressive and certainly impressed the Germans; but bombing alone could not win the battle.

The next major operation was by a neighbouring division to the north-east, which attacked Arielli in the afternoon of 23 December with support from all three New Zealand field regiments and many other units as well. The New Zealand gunners engaged hostile batteries, then they fired concentrations on heights beyond the objectives of the attack, and after dark they joined in a massive DF task.