140th Regiment after Dunkirk, 1940-44

Graham Brook’s ‘The Grand Party’ describes his Battery’s chaotic escape to the Dunkirk beaches, heading north from its last artillery action in Messines, through the traffic laden roads to the beachhead via Poperinghe.

By 30th May 1940 almost half of the personnel of the 140th Field Regiment had been captured or killed. Only 14 officers and 287 men (out of a total of 700) got back to England to reform the Regiment.

Although many of the men of 366 Battery were successfully evacuated, very few of 367 Battery escaped capture and most of the survivors of Cassel spent the remainder of the war as POW’s.

After Dunkirk, the priority was the defence of the United Kingdom from invasion and so, despite their recent trauma, there was urgent pressure for the Regiment to reform. In mid-June 1940 the men were concentrated away from the invasion front line at Worksop in Nottinghamshire.  They moved to Salford on 28th June 1940 and then to Castor, Peterborough in October 1940 where they were re-equipped with their familiar 18-pounders.

The newly equipped 140th Regiment’s first wartime mission was to contribute to the military garrison in Iceland in June 1941. The regiment returned to the UK in January 1942 to be merged with the 178th Regiment Royal Artillery, which served in Tunisia and Burma.

The few surviving men of 367 Battery remained part of 140th Field Regiment and were joined by 504 and 518 Battery’s and re-equipped with 25-pounders.

In 1942, 367 Battery was equipped with the Bishop Self Propelled Gun, a 25-pounder gun mounted on an adapted Valentine tank, and with this vehicle 367 Battery went to Algeria in January 1943 as part of 2nd Army Group Royal Artillery (AGRA). With their tracked armour, 367 Battery was attached to 6th Armoured Division.

At the end of the North African campaign the Regiment was converted to a Medium Regiment with 4.5″ Guns, in the process losing 504 Battery to 75 Heavy Regiment. 140th Medium Regiment (367 & 518 Battery’s) then landed in Italy in January 1944 and took part in most of the big battles of the Italian Campaign.

In December 1944, five years after its formation in London as a Territorial unit, the Regiment was finally disbanded.