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2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery

Survey Work

Survey Work

The surveyors, too, had a hard time in the SangroOrsogna operations. They found that methods which had worked well in the desert were no longer effective. It was never possible, for example, to survey in the three field regiments simultaneously with one deployment of the advanced survey section. The survey required for each regiment had been an independent job. The maps were not good. Only one sun azimuth had been used in obtaining a fix by the survey troop since it reached Italy. The sun was never out when it was wanted. Even the task of travelling from place to place as needed was fraught with difficulty.

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There were endless traffic blocks and many inaccessible places to which the surveyors had to go.

The flash-spotting troop had had to lay wire by hand over miles of rugged country to establish bases. Then it was found that the enemy seldom fired more than two or three rounds at one time from any particular battery and this naturally made it hard to obtain locations. On the Orsogna front one post was set up in the spire of the church in Castelfrentano and another on a ridge about 1200 yards away. Then a third was established halfway between Castelfrentano and the town of Lanciano and a fourth on the outskirts of the town. A fifth was about two miles along the road to Guardiagrele—a rather poor position. This base was slightly crested by the Orsogna ridge and the enemy gained excellent flash cover from valleys parallel to it. Here for the first time the troop tried out flash-spotting cameras.

The sound-ranging troop operated a base for 11 days from 19 November 1943 in the Atessa area with six microphones and obtained an average of 12 locations per day, with a maximum of 21 on 28 November. Maintenance of lines was difficult, particularly because of the movement of tanks in the area. Hostile batteries, too, were screened by hills to the north-west. The vehicles on issue were hopelessly inadequate and more jeeps and four-wheel-drive trucks were clearly needed. The base on the CastelfrentanoGuardiagrele ridge was opened on 4 December. It had five microphones and in 39 days secured 521 locations. The ridge was constantly shelled and maintenance was heavy. The enemy would bring up self-propelled guns to fire by night and on some occasions a series of locations would be found to line up along a road. When locations could be checked on the ground it was found that they were usually accurate for line and any errors were in range. This suggested that air photographs might be used to check ranges. Stereoscopic examination would indicate the most likely battery positions along the given line. When the snow came it broke the lines many times and moisture penetrated the insulation. A 25-pounder battery which established itself near troop headquarters ‘made things rather noisy’, according to a troop report.