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2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery

Near Massa Lombarda

Near Massa Lombarda

For the field regiments it was a very busy day indeed. It started for the 5th Field with a quick barrage to cover a dawn attack by the Maoris, followed immediately by a ‘murder’ and then a stonk. Then a Tiger tank attracted several ‘murders’ before it departed. From the quick barrage onwards it was a brilliant demonstration of field artillery skilfully controlled to ease the burden of the infantry.

By mid-morning it was evident that the enemy needed a rather harder push than he was getting from the local pressure applied at various points along the front. Brigadier Queree therefore arranged a fire plan called kettle in which, for 68 minutes from 3 p.m., the 4th, 5th and 6th Field and the 1st RHA fired a 12-lift quick barrage covering an advance in the Massa Lombarda area to the right front. No sooner was this under way, however, than further orders came for an even heavier programme, carpet, which included a barrage by five field regiments (including the 142nd SP). Command posts and gun positions were the scenes of almost frenzied activity as staffs tried to keep pace with demands.

kettle caused or prompted explosions near Massa Lombarda and then Air OPs reported a general enemy withdrawal and much congestion of traffic, including horse-drawn artillery, near that nondescript village. A 10 r.p.g. corps concentration was brought down and then the 5th Field and medium and heavy guns fired on three targets indicated by the Air OPs. It was impossible to report that these shoots were carried out, because the wireless waves were hopelessly jammed by high-priority signals. Four Air OPs at once were calling for artillery fire and dive-bombing attacks, and one such message was recorded by 47 Battery as follows:

‘Tell dive bombers to bomb any road near Massa Lombarda—they couldn't miss—really good targets.’

For an hour before dark wonderful targets were offering and the 5th Field took full advantage of them, firing 10,576 rounds this day—far more than the other regiments.

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carpet was replaced by doormat, a much smaller programme by the 4th and 6th Field, fired from 2 a.m. on the 13th, and with its help the infantry entered Massa Lombarda at dawn. OP and reconnaissance parties had a warm welcome from civilians and came upon dozens of partisans ‘running around with guns of all sorts mopping up the odd Ted [Tedescho = German]’, as the 5th Field diary puts it.