commando veterans association commando dagger
[Recent Topics] Recent Topics   [Groups] Back to home page  [Register] Register /  [Login] Login 
148 COMMANDO Forward Observation Battery RA ( Naval Gunfire Support)  XML
Forum Index » Post War Army Commando Units
Author Message
Stu Hart
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/03/2009 00:22:45
Messages: 15
Location: Wigan
Offline

148 is a sub unit within 29, based in poole along side the SBS, they work as normal OP/Artillery Observers, but also conduct naval gunfire support, a vital contribution to any commando amphibious assault, as used in WW2, it is pretty much the same today. The bty supply two five man teams to the Brigade Recce Force, which is made up of ranks from 148 bty, 59 recce RE and BPT RM, these three sub units come together to form a single formation to operate as the eyes and ears of 3 commando brigade, a formidable force i think you'll agree, with the engineers specialist skills, the gunners providing the air power, artillery, NGS, rotary etc, and royal with the snipers and cameras, the other 148 teams operate as normal Fire Support Teams.All the men are PARA trained in 148 and many are trained to jump squares. They are trained and tested on a full range of signals equipment and must master both Army and Naval sigs language, and are tested on both on the NGA course. 148 use several methods of insertion including vehicle, boats and para, they are water jump trained and can jump with the boats.

( ALL INFO SUPPLIED HERE CAN BE FOUND ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB, THUS IS NOT SENSATIVE)

[b][i]Below is some info took from the internet, there are slight differences between some of the statements, and i have no doubt small things have changed again since i left in 2005!

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 10/03/2009 12:10:40


" Pain is just weakness leaving the body fellas"
" It pays to be a winner "
" i'll make you do press ups till your eyes bleed "
" we are the thinking mans soldier "
"Get the wets on "
" Hoofin "
" thredders "
I could go on and on
Stu Hart
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/03/2009 00:22:45
Messages: 15
Location: Wigan
Offline

[b]148 COMMANDO FORWARD OBSERVATION BATTERY ROYAL ARTILLERY
148 Battery ('Meiktila') is a unique unit of specially trained men from the British Army and Royal Navy, tasked with calling in artillery and air strikes in support of UKSF and 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines.

The men of 148 are Commando trained and parachute trained and are proficient in stealth insertion via submarine, parachute, boat and helicopter. 148 Battery Fire Support Teams can accompany UKSF teams into action, using their specialist skills in controlling artillery and air strikes. Their particular expertise is in calling in Naval Gunfire. Fire control computers and gyroscope guns on modern British destroyers allow for highly accurate shelling of targets.

Operations
During the 1982 Falklands conflict, 148 Battery teams linked up with SAS and SBS units for several successful missions which included the shelling of Argentine positions on West Falklands and in and around Port Stanley on East Falklands..

148 Battery deployed with 3 Commando Brigade as part of Operation Telic, the British component of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Skills
Skills of 148 Fire Support Teams include:

Covert insertion methods
Patrolling behind enemy Lines
Concealment - building camouflaged hides
Encrypted Communications

Forward Air Control (calling in air strikes)
Naval Gunfire Control - 148 teams often use pre-planned fire missions, observing and adjusting the gunfire as needed
Battle damage assessment
Organisation
148 Battery are organised into 8 6-man Fire Support Teams (FSTs). Each FST is typically commanded by a Royal Artilley Captain. If needed, FSTs can split into 2 teams of 3.

148 Battery share a base with the Special Boat Service, at Poole, Dorset.

Weapons
In the past, the men of 148 Battery used the M16A1/A2 as their main personal weapon but nowadays they are reported to have recently switched to the SA80a2. A 148 Bty team member may also carry a Minimi light machine gun.


" Pain is just weakness leaving the body fellas"
" It pays to be a winner "
" i'll make you do press ups till your eyes bleed "
" we are the thinking mans soldier "
"Get the wets on "
" Hoofin "
" thredders "
I could go on and on
Stu Hart
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/03/2009 00:22:45
Messages: 15
Location: Wigan
Offline

148 Commando Forward Observation Battery
Royal Artillery
Special thanks to Mr. Ryan Wulfsohn for providing this article.



Table of Contents

Unit Profile

History

Recruiting and Training

Organisation and Operations

Insignia




Unit Profile



Primary role: Naval Gunfire Forward Observation (NGFO)

Secondary roles: forward air control; artillery forward observation

Location: Poole, Dorset, UK



148(Meiktila) Commando Forward Observation Battery Royal Artillery is a Commando-trained unit of specialist Naval Gunfire Forward Observers. Although part of 29th Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, it conducts many operations separately from the rest of the regiment. Royal Artillery batteries are usually named after one of their battle honours; the Battle of Meiktila occurred in Burma in February/March 1945, with 148 Battery firing its 25-pounder guns in support of 255th Armoured Brigade.



History

The Combined Operations Bombardment Units (COBUs) provided fire direction for ships in shore bombardment in World War 2. The first COBU was formed in 1940 and by the end of the war there were five in existence. In 1946 all were disbanded, except No.2 COBU which joined the School of Combined Operations (later the Amphibious Warfare Centre) at Fremington. 3 Independent Combined Operations Bombardment Troop (3 ICOBT) was raised to serve with the 40th Infantry Division in Hong Kong in 1949 and soon more Amphibious Observation Units, as they were now called, were in existence. These were combined to form 95th Amphibious Observation Regiment, with its headquarters at Fremington in Devon but batteries stationed at fleet bases throughout the world. 166 Battery, based at Malta, participated in the Suez invasion in November 1956(Operation Musketeer).

148 Battery has been in existence under various names since 1842. After 1945 it became a training unit but converted to the Amphibious Observation role in 1960. At around the same time it was decided that the Royal Marines, who no longer included gunners in their ranks, needed specialist fire support from an Army artillery regiment. Up until then 3 Commando Brigade had relied on whatever gunner regiment was available. 29th Field Regiment was serving in Kuwait in 1962 when it was chosen to take up this role. Its members were to be the first Army Commandos since 1946 and the first men to complete training received their green berets on 15 May 1962. The following year 95 Regiment was also re-roled as a Commando Light Regiment with the 105mm pack howitzer ( later the Light was dropped ). 148 Battery was to continue in the amphibious observation role for 95 as a Commando Forward Observation Battery, while 20 Battery did the same job for 29. Later a Territorial Army unit, 881 Battery, was formed. Members of 148 Battery saw service in the Malay Peninsula 1963-66, Borneo 1963-66, the Radfan in 1964 and in Aden at various times between 1960 and 1967.

In 1971 the battery returned to the UK from Singapore, along with the rest of 3 Commando Brigade, and took up its present location at Poole. With the general reduction of the Royal Navy and gun-armed ships in particular there seemed to be less need for such units. The various batteries had at certain times changed regiments so when 95 Commando Regiment was disbanded in 1975, 148 Battery survived as part of 29 Regiment. 20 and 881 Batteries were not so lucky and 148 became the sole remaining NGFO unit. It too was scheduled for disbandment when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in April 1982.

In the subsequent operations by British forces to re-take the islands teams from 148 Battery proved invaluable. Captain Chris Brown was in fact the first British serviceman to set foot on the islands again. This occurred on 1 May when the Lynx helicopter from which he was spotting for the British battle fleet was forced down on East Falkland by Argentine ground fire. Luckily the helicopter managed to take off again a few minutes later. Brown was attached to D Squadron of 22SAS for most of the campaign, including the Pebble Island raid on 14 May, in which fire from HMS Glamorgan pinned down the garrison while the SAS destroyed the aircraft which were the raid's target. Captain Hugh McManners, today better known as an author and television producer, was attached to the Special Boat Squadron Royal Marines. On the night of the main landings he accompanied 2 Special Boat Section on their attack on the Argentine soldiers on Fanning Head, overlooking San Carlos Water. The fire he brought in from the twin 4.5in guns of HMS Antrim killed, wounded or scattered these men, whose mortars and recoilless rifles could have done serious damage to the landing craft. Captain Kevin Arnold was present with 2 Para at the battle for Goose Green on 27/28 May. Unfortunately HMS Arrow's gun broke down soon after the action began and Arnold took over as Forward Air Controller. ( The battalion's RAF FAC had been injured earlier and the Anti-Tank Platoon Commander had been doing that job) Captain Willie McCracken was B Company of 3 Para's forward observation officer at Mount Longdon on 11/12 June. He received the Military Cross for his superb fire direction, bringing in artillery just 45m from the British troops without causing any friendly casualties, while he himself was in the thick of the fighting. These are just some of the actions in which NGFOs were involved- naval gunfire played its part in almost every action.

After the Falklands War 148 Battery's disbandment order was rescinded. Since then teams have been deployed as part of Operation Granby, the British commitment to the Gulf War, and Operation Haven, the deployment by 3 Commando Brigade and US units to secure Kurdish areas in Northern Iraq in 1991. They have also trained all over the world.



Recruiting and Training

All members of 148 Battery are recruited from the Royal Artillery. Officers are from the Depth Fire career stream and will have served as Gun Position Officers and later as Forward Observation Officers(FOOs) , usually with 29th Commando Regiment. Other ranks will have most likely started off as Radio Operator/Drivers in the Gunner Commando career stream and progressed to Command Post Assistant and then Observation Post Assistant in one of the firing batteries, both of which involve further training. Some may have served on gun crews and then changed trades.

Both officers and other ranks joining 29th Commando Regiment will report to that regiment's headquarters at Plymouth for three weeks of pre-Commando training. Those successful at this stage go on to the eight-week All Arms Commando Course run by the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines at Lympstone. Here they will be joined by other members of the Army and Navy (and a few from theAir Force) wishing to serve with 3 Commando Brigade. Besides the seemingly interminable route marches ( " yomping " in Marine parlance ) the Commando Course includes training in all aspects of amphibious landings, such as embarkation and debarkation from landing craft. There is also training in basic Commando weapons and tactics, including night fighting, combat survival and helicopter assaults. Cliff-climbing and abseiling are also learned and together with all other skills practiced in the Final Exercise in the penultimate week. The course culminates in Test Week, in which trainees must complete the 14.5km speed march, the Tarzan assault course, the 48km march and the 19km load carry. All of these are of course in certain times and most with full equipment. Those who pass receive their green berets and " daggers " and join the regiment. After gaining further experience they may apply for NGFO duty. Volunteers for 148 Battery who are not parachute-qualified (which means the majority) go to RAF Brize Norton near Oxford after receiving their green berets, for the four-week Basic Military Parachute Course. They then join the battery itself; a certain amount of training in the unit's equipment and procedures is required before becoming a member of an operational team. Other ranks are now given the trade of Naval Gunfire Assistant.


Organisation and Operations

148 Battery currently has seven 5-man NGFO teams. There is also a battery headquarters including administrative and training sections. Each team is commanded by a captain, with a sergeant or bombardier as his second in command. The remainder of the team will be lance bombardiers or gunners. A team can be split into two if this is required. The battery's location at Royal Marines Poole makes training with one of their main " clients ", the Special Boat Service, quite convenient. Other exercises are carried out in support of the UK/Netherlands Amphibious Force centered around 3 Commando Brigade and the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force(Land), the AMF(L), in Norway, Italy, Greece and Turkey. The teams are in fact qualified to " shoot " ships from all NATO countries. 3 Commando Brigade does at least one jungle or bush exercise a year, the most recent being in Brunei, Belize and Kenya, and members of 148 Battery would usually go with. Like all members of the brigade the NGFOs are expected to become Arctic Survival and Arctic Warfare qualified on one of the annual trips to Norway. Other exercises could find teams all over the globe, from the Falkland Islands to Australia.

How do these specialists operate? A team may be parachuted into enemy territory before an invasion and set up a covert observation post to direct naval gunfire and strikes by aircraft of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, as well as their own regiment's guns once they are ashore. Teams may accompany special forces raids as they did to such effect in the Falklands War. The single 4.5in gun mounted on most Royal Navy frigates and destroyers today may not sound impressive but it must be remembered that these are semi-automatic weapons with the advantage of better fire control systems than usually available to the field artillery, and give a huge amount of firepower to a fairly lightly armed special forces unit. Teams may go in with the first wave of a landing force, ready to call in fire on enemy positions as they are encountered. They may be attached to a force of regular troops for a set-piece battle, as at Goose Green. Here the NGFO team acted more as a rebroadcast station, the actual spotting being done by the various FOOs attached to the rifle companies, with the men from 148 Battery then relaying this information to the supporting frigate. A more usual method is for the officer and his 2IC to act as spotters, each with a signaller, while the fifth man acts as a spare radio operator. Open sources do not give much information about the communications equipment used by these teams, but it certainly includes both HF and VHF radios, such as the Clansman series, especially the PRC-320, and the Scimitar and Jaguar series of frequency-hopping radios, as well as the PRC-319 special forces patrol radio. Other equipment used includes the Spyglass, a Hand Held Thermal Imager(HHTI) which incorporates a laser rangefinder, the Night Observation Device, an image intensifier, and the Laser Target Designator. Weapons are presumably of the standard SA80 pattern, though the battery's close association with Special Forces means they probably use the M16 too.

Besides 148 Battery, 29th Commando Regiment RA has a headquarters battery and two firing batteries at the Royal Citadel, Plymouth. A third firing battery is based at Arbroath in Scotland with 45 Commando and the fourth battery forms the TA element of the regiment. Each firing battery has six 105mm Light Guns and up to three Forward Observation Officers (who are sometimes NCOs, but more usually captains or lieutenants ). An FOO and his party would be attached to each rifle company in the Commando or battalion that the battery was supporting with the Battery Commander(BC) accompanying the tactical headquarters. Men from 148 Battery have acted as FOOs before when there have not been enough to go around, as Captain McCracken did at Mount Longdon.



Insignia

148 Battery wears the Commando green beret with the capbadge of the Royal Artillery. Army Commandos may only wear the green beret when actually assigned to a Commando unit, otherwise wearing the normal colour of their corps ( in most cases dark blue ). Thus another distinction has been added in the form of the Commando qualification badge. This was originally the formation sign of the Special Service (later Commando) Group in World War 2 and later of 3 Commando Brigade until 1964, but is now issued to those who have passed the All Arms Commando Course. It is a red upward pointing Commando dagger on a navy-blue downward pointing triangle or " fan " and is worn on the upper left sleeve, the opposite side to the parachute wings, in all orders of dress. On combat kit members of 148 Battery wear the World War 2 Combined Operations badge on both sleeves. Also red on very dark blue, this depicts the RAF eagle overflying a naval(stockless) anchor with a submachine gun superimposed, all on a square background. The Tommy Gun always faces forward, so there are actually two different flashes.



Reader Input:

I can confirm that the personal weapon of choice is the M16

It is not just necessary that the personnel of 148 Bty are para-trained but they must have passed P Company as well as the commando course whereas all other commando trained personnel may attend the jumps course at Brize Norton without attending P Company. However, due to the recruitment problems that the parent regiment ( 29 Cdo Regt RA ) are currently suffering this requirement may have been waived.

Although 3 Cdo Bde dropped the wearing of the dagger patch in 1964 except for all Army personnel it would appear that this has now been reintroduced (study photograhic evidence of Royal Marines in Sierra Leone). This would be similar to all members of 5 Airborne Brigade wearing the Pegasus patch as well as the maroon beret and para wings.

Lastly, if 148 Bty wear the Comdined Op's patch (which, incidentally, was circular prior to the Falklands War when it was changed to a square) with their combat gear then it cannot be with the commando dagger as there is no room on the sleeve!



Reader Input #2

Actually the above unit includes Royal Navy signallers, one in each team. They must undergo the same training as the rest of the team.

" Pain is just weakness leaving the body fellas"
" It pays to be a winner "
" i'll make you do press ups till your eyes bleed "
" we are the thinking mans soldier "
"Get the wets on "
" Hoofin "
" thredders "
I could go on and on
James Wake
Forum Member

Joined: 22/09/2012 03:50:24
Messages: 6
Location: Townsville Australia
Offline

Very interesting read Stu.
Having read the details that you lay out, I would say that my father was a member of this unit during WW2.
My dad was a naval signal man, who related to me that his job was to land, with 4 others, prior to amphibious landings, then to position themselves to radio the fleet and direct bombardment. They stayed behind enemy lines for several days, continuing to call in strikes on gun positions, fuel dumps, etc.
He describes a team which included an army captain and sargeant. He did this in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.
Furthermore, he was involved in SBS landings on Crete, where they were tasked with attacking airfields, although he does say that they walked from one end of the island to the other only to find the airfield empty when they got there.
Are you aware of any historical records that may be of use to me in my quest to piece together my dad's military life?
[Email]
Pete
CVA Website Archivist
[Avatar]

Joined: 23/09/2008 00:08:02
Messages: 4551
Offline

For information of others the above message from James is also discussed here : http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoForum/posts/list/3592.page

also this additional message relates to COBU : http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoForum/posts/list/808.page#3319

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 27/09/2012 09:47:16


Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Commando.
God and the Soldier, all men adore, In time of danger and not before.
When the danger is passed and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.


**** nb. I no longer monitor the pm facility ****
[Email]
 
Forum Index » Post War Army Commando Units
Go to:   
©Commando Veterans Archive 2006 - 2016. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all content on this site is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Powered by JForum 2.1.8 © JForum Team
commando dagger