WAR DIARY

 

2nd BATTALION IRISH GUARDS

1944

War Diaries were written up by each battalion in order to give a brief account of events and to keep a record of battalion strength etc. They are not a full narrative and often the appendices give more concise information that the few sentences entered for each day. Mentions of men from the Ranks are few but they do happen. However as a rule of thumb Officers’ casualties are more likely to feature than ORs.


Bear in mind please that if a Guardsman died on a certain date, as per CWGC entry, this does not automatically mean that he was killed on that date. It may also be likely that he died of wounds sustained in an earlier action.


Sources: TNA; The Times; Irish Times;

Photos: Imperial War Museum


http://www.britishpathe.com/video/british-troops-enter-belgium/query/british+troops+enter+belgium


January 1944



February 1944



March 1944



April 1944



May 1944



June 1944

1944 June1

Claremont School, Hove.

H.Q. Squadron paraded for drill. The greater part of waterproofing was now over. Only a few FIREFLIES that came in twos and threes remained to be done. As soon as they arrived, two shifts a day started work on them and finished the job within 72 hours. All ranks were ordered to carry First Field Dressings henceforth, in preparation for a hasty move.


1944 June2

Claremont School, Hove.

No. 2 Sqdn paraded for drill. The Commanding Officer congratulated Sgt LACKING J., on being awarded the Commander-in-Chief’s Certificate of Good Service


1944 June3

Claremont School, Hove.

The Commanding Officer inspected No. 2 Sqdn’s billets.

Officers returning from the range at BEACHY HEAD reported great troop movements in NEW HAVEN and convoys of Landing Craft could be seen standing off SHOREHAM. The aerial activity, which reached a new pitch of intensity, also indicated that “D” Day was near to hand. Bets were exchanged freely on the exact day and time; and many guesses proved correct.


1944 June4

Claremont School, Hove.

Church Parade for R.C.s and C. of E. The invasion preparation continued off-shore and overhead. We had as yet no idea of our own movements or role, except the Commanding Officer who was briefed at Division during the afternoon.


1944 June5

Claremont School, Hove.

All ranks were warned that they must fill AF B2626 if they wanted a vote at the next election - to have a say in the world they fought to save. The weather was bad - rainy and windy. We now know, of course, that “D” Day was postponed 24 hours on account of this. At the time we speculated on the chances either of it happening at all or on the sea-sickness of the assault troops. Still no orders nor signs of our start.


1944 June6

Claremont School, Hove.

“D” Day brought general relief and great interest in the news. Also naturally we began to wonder where we came in. 1200hrs The Intelligence Officer, Lt. E.N. Fitzgerald, was briefed at Brigade H.Q. and he maps photographs and information of our likely area of operations issued to him. A lock was put on the door of the Intelligence Office and only briefed personnel admitted. Needless to say, Squadron Leaders were much irritated at this exclusion. The date we were due in NORMANDY was also given and explained why we were not moved or even hurried on “D” Day. 1300hrs The Commanding Officer addressed all squadrons in their Mess rooms. He expressed his complete confidence in their skill and courage for the coming battles, and warned them of the need for correct behaviour and sympathy towards the FRENCH people when we landed on the far side. Squadrons set up maps of the area of operations in their billets and every map became a strategist and general in commanding for a few happy moments. The weather was bright but windy and much sympathy was felt for the assault troops in their barges.


1944 June7

Claremont School, Hove.

Bad weather again: and for the first time in weeks no airplanes passed overhead. Everyone was eager for news: and tried to sort out the various conflicting reports. But progress seemed good and hearts were high.


1944June8

Claremont School, Hove.

The Divisional Commander, Major General A. ADAIR, D.S.O., M.C. addressed all 5th G.A.B. in BRIGHTON. He gave us an outline of the battle so far, and told us how confident he and the other senior commanders were that this Division would prove itself the finest in any Army during the next weeks. He stressed the need for calm heads, straight shooting and constant alertness - qualities that had distinguished the Guards Division in the last War. Our morale had stood the strain of four years’ waiting and training: we had sustained the boredom of countless exercises: our chance was coming and he knew we would take it. Finally he wished all ranks good luck in the coming battles.


1944June8

Claremont School, Hove.

The last tanks were waterproofed: a few modifications only remained. So our minds could turn to rest and sport. The Cricket XI played 2nd Armd Recce WELSH GUARDS at cricket and won. No doubt a return match will be played on under another sky.


1944June9

Claremont School, Hove.

Another dark wet day, hindering the air support on the bridgehead. Many idle rumours went round, of our moving soon. As usual every one was false. The Observer party - Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR, and the Advance Party - Capt. J. R. DUPREE, left for Divisional H.Q., where they stayed until Sunday night. The area allotted to us for concentration in NORMANDY, is still held by 12 SS HITLER JUGEND Div, so a premature reconnaissance might prove uncomfortable.


1944June10

Claremont School, Hove.

The Commanding Officer inspected No. 3 Sqdn Billets. Nearly everyone went to a cinema to see the News reels from the Battle area: one of our forthcoming attractions. Great relief and pleasure was caused to some officers and men of large appetites by the reports that NORMANDY was abundantly supplied with food - even though we have orders not to buy any civilian foodstuffs.


1944June11

Claremont School, Hove.

R.C.s and C. of E. Church Parade. Squadron Leaders were briefed - in so much as the probable role of this Division is known, and the allotment of maps and photographs explained to them. The pamphlet on FRANCE issued S.H.A.E.F. was handed out to all ranks, who must study it before we go to the Battle area.

The whole British Order of Battle was given us by Brigade H.Q. No wonder sober satisfaction was expressed by the Commanders. The Commanding Officer heard a first hand account of the progress in NORMANDY from a senior Air Force officer just returned. The front line “gossip” was eagerly received by all.


1944June12

Claremont School, Hove.

It seemed likely that our move would be delayed some days, as infantry rather than armour was needed the far side. 1800hrs An order was issued from Brigade H.Q. that all ranks would be confined to billets w.e.f. 1200hrs 13th, so many took what they thought to be lat chance of an evening out.


1944June13

Claremont School, Hove.

The order confining all ranks to billets was cancelled. The reason being that our move has been postponed. 1140hrs The Colonel of the Regiment, Field Marshal The Earl of CAVAN, accompanied by the Regimental Lieutenant-Colonel, visited the Battalion. He addressed the Battalion from the steps of CLAREMONT SCHOOL and said how confident he was in our upholding the proved traditions of the Regiments, and wished good luck to every man taking part in the last campaign of the War. The Colonel of the Regiment then inspected a FIREFLY, and had lunch in the Officers’ Mess. 1330hrs The Colonel of the Regiment left to visit 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS.


1944June14

Claremont School, Hove.

A Sports meeting that should have been held yesterday, took place in more clement weather. Great vigour was shown by the competitors, cheered on by their older or wiser comrades who preferred the joys of on looking to those of exertion.


1944June15

Claremont School, Hove.

Squadron Drill Parades were held. The 1st Bn GRENADIER GUARDS and 32nd GUARDS BRIGADE moved from their billets to the Marshalling Area, so our turn must come soon. An unofficial warning was given that we would move on Sunday 17th: so all final preparation we made. 1800hrs Code Word “SUGAR” was received - meaning that an L.O. should collect the movement order from Div. HQ. at 14oo hrs 16th.


1944June16

Claremont School, Hove.

Orders were received to move at 0740hrs on 17th. The whole Brigade was moving in a convoy to the area of FAREHAM where Battalions would split up into separate camps. 1700hrs The Commanding Officer held an “O” Group. The Bn was to move. H.Q., 1, 2, 3 Sqns and be formed up by 2030hrs this night.


1944June17

Camp A.14, Fareham.

The Bn moved at 0740hrs and drove without serious mishaps to a R.C.R.P. some six miles North of FAREHAM. The Commanding Officer and Adjutant went on independently and met us there with the list of ships and crafts into which the Battalion was divided for shipment. We had 2 L.S.Ts and 9 L.C.Ts to carry every vehicle and man: and formed up straightaway by craft loads. The camp allotted to us was A.14 which proved very well run and staffed by helpful and efficient personnel. At the moment it was still half-full of the rear parties of 29th Armd Bde and 27th Armd Bde, so for the first two days we were rather crowded and some of the tanks were parked up to two miles from the Camp gates. Our first orders were to get ready to move in 6 hours: so frantic efforts to complete waterproofing, collect stores and fill in forms were made. Many crews did not get to bed till midnight.


1944June18

Camp A.14, Fareham.

All remaining work was finished and a few minor repairs to some of the tanks. The only casualty of the journey was the Bn “Bulldoxer”, on charge to No. 2 Sqdn. It had gone in a separate convoy. Travelled all over the countryside under Brigade arrangements, and finally in desperate fatigue shed its “dozer”. It reappeared this morning as a normal tank with a small excrescence in front. The sun shone and the weather was fair: but ominous reports came in that the unloading was some days behind - and that we might be delayed as much as a week.


1944 June19

Camp A.14, Fareham.

The other units moved out and we had the camp to ourselves henceforth, except a few stray loads from Div & Bde H.Q.s. Major J.W.R. Madden discovered large and rich strawberry beds nearby, and baskets of the fruit appeared at every meal. Some even made themselves sick with the joyful feeding.


1944 June20

Camp A.14, Fareham.

A day as before, and many after. Rumoured moves and hopeful guesses. Little did we think that we were to stay another ten days! Time was passed eating, sleeping and going to the daily cinema. No work could be done on the tanks which were all sealed down: and apart from drill in the road and arms inspection the men had the day to themselves.


1944 June21

Camp A.14, Fareham.

The Brigade Commander in a letter to all Battalions explained the reasons for the delay in our sailing - the weather, the priority given to RAF and Infantry Divisions. He advised everyone to lay in a store of sleep: and his words were heeded gladly.


1944June22

Camp A.14, Fareham.

A really first class ENSA show was given in the Camp Cinema. Besides other good performers, Miss GERTRUDE LAWRENCE appeared in person. She got a warm reception from the Guardsmen and sang comic songs for quarter of an hour to the audience’s delight. Afterwards a party was given in the Officers’ Mess by the Camp Staff, which again was much enjoyed by us, The ENSA “artistes” performed further tricks and did impersonations, warmed by hospitality and applause.


1944June23

Camp A.14, Fareham.

The weather now got bad. We heard that the 32 Brigade and 1st Bn GRENADIER GUARDS were pitching at sea off the ISLE OF WIGHT - with what truth no one knew. The storm in the Channel, did, however, mean a further delay for us.


1944June24

Camp A.14, Fareham.

Another day of sleep and short walks between the showers.


1944June25

Camp A.14, Fareham.

Voluntary Church Services were held for R.C. and C. of E. personnel. Having at first been warned to be ready in 6 hours, we had already spent a week in A.14 - much to everyone’s disgust. We got tired even of sleeping and eating.


1944 June26

Camp A.14, Fareham.

A SLIDEX practice for all officers was held, and messages coded and decoded in quick time. Captain C.R. ROBERTSON lived up to his well-earned title of “RADIO RON”.


1944J une27

Camp A.14, Fareham.

An exchange in the Observer Party was arranged by Brigade. Major N.S.P. WHITEFOORD M.C., crosse d to NORMANDY and Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR was to return to the Bn the next day. Major J.W.R. MADDEN discovered some raspberry beds nearby: and now raspberries displaced strawberries as the favourite fruit.


1944 June28

Camp A.14, Fareham.

Rumo urs of our leaving soon became strong. The parties of Divisional and Brigade H.Qs left in the afternoon and our L.S.T. parties made ready to leave on Thursday. 2300hrs Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR returned from NORMANDY.


1944 June29

Camp A.14, Fareham.

Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR lectured to all Tank Commanders on the lessons of the fighting in NORMANDY. He had talked with all the Armoured troops so far engaged; and from their experiences we learned many useful hints. 1700hrs The two L.S.T parties were called on to the Embarkation point. Both left in some hurry, only to spend the night and the following morning by the roadside in GOSPORT.


1944 June30

Camp A.14, Fareham.

The L.S.T. parties which included Bn HQ. and most of the wheeled transport loaded on to L.S.Ts. They did not sail however till the next day. Though our stay in Camp A.14 was longer than we had wished, we have nothing but praise and gratitude for the help given us by the Camp Commandant, Major OGIER D.C.L.I. and his staff. They housed and fed us very well: took great pains to make up any deficiencies in kit or damaged parts and ran the administration and entertainments most efficiently.



July 1944

1944July1

Camp A.14, Fareham.

The LCT Parties were called to the Embarkation Point: and all left gladly for FRANCE. The parties embarked straight away and sailed 10:00hrs. The LST parties having waited on board almost 24hrs, sailed earlier in the day. The passage was fairly comfortable, though a heavy swell upset some bad sailors. Only slight use, luckily was made of Bags Vomit.


1944July2

Gold Beach, Normandy

The craft beached about two miles EAST of ARROMANCHES, waited for the tide to go out; and we had a landing either wholly dry or in 6 ins of water. So days of waterproofing had been spent in vain. But no-one complained of lost labour: rather the crews were glad their handiwork was not put to the test.


St. Martin-des-Entrees

The Bn concentrated again in our harbour area some 3 miles outside BAYEUX on the BAYEAUX-CAEN road. The map references of the area is 7FI 815777 just SE of the village of ST. MARTIN-DES-ENTREES, astride a small road: No. 1, 2, 3 Sqns on the EAST side, HQ Sqn on the WEST. Two farm houses are included in the limits, and a brisk trade goes on: butter, milk, cheese against chocolate, cigarettes or in some cases just charm. There is no lack of foodstuffs in the countryside: BAYEUX is packed with cheese and butter: though other goods are scarce.


1944July3

St. Martin-des-Entrees

Parties from Sqns went “swanning” around the battle ground. The 3rd Bn which is in the line, was visited first, and among their exhibits are the Command Post, yards beneath the ground, and a shell hole touching a slit trench, whose occupants were unaffected by the explosion. Many villages are in ruins especially near TILLY-SUR-SEULLES, and quite a number of “brewed up” SHERMANS and German PANTHERS line the roadsides. The holes in the tanks’ armour were anxiously inspected and much relief was felt on our hearing that casualties among crews were very light - considering! The stench from dead animals near the front is very disagreeable, and no-one seems to bother about burying the beasts. As far as one can foretell, we shall be here for a week at least. The 32 Brigade are coming out of the line for a week at least. The 32 Brigade are coming out of the line on Thursday 6th and rejoining the Division here. They surely must have some days rest before any further action.


1944July4

St. Martin-des-Entrees

More parties went “swanning”. As a small attack was put in this morning near the 3rd Bn’s sector, no visitors were allowed there, but there are plenty other places of interest besides. Capt Lord Claud HAMILTON nearly wandered into the German lines, but wisely asked the way of our F.D.Ls. All find the map reading very difficult, as the lanes and by-roads are not at all accurately marked. Also so much damage has been done to landmarks that many are unrecognisable, and the high hedges obstruct wide views. An uninjured PANTHER is on view at JERUSALEM X roads, SOUTH of BAYEUX, and eagerly inspected by sightseers. Capt. C.R. ROBERTSON and MQMS GERRARD went out, however, with more practical aims; and took away the PANTHER’S cleaning rod, tried to take the telescope but could not get it out, and spotted many SHERMANS whose final drives, sprockets and bogies they covet for the Store lorry. Another expedition is planned by the Technical department for to-morrow: and they are taking their tools. Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR bought 20 Camembert cheeses for the HQ Officers’ Mess, which are gladly eaten at each meal. A full morning of washing clothes and bodies was ordered for to-morrow. Taking this to heart Capt C.R. ROBERTSON swabbed himself with petrol before going to bed.


1944July5

St. Martin-des-Entrees

More “swanning”. A troop per Sqn was allowed to tour the area in a 3 ton lorry. Also “organised” sight seeing in BAYEUX is now permitted. Whither many went in the afternoon. Major Lord WILLOUGHBY d’ERESBY, Leicestershire Yeomanry, visited Bn. HQ. He commands the Field Bty usually working with the Bn, and is due to go into the line to-morrow for target practice.


1944July6

St. Martin-des-Entrees

Lt-Col T. LINDSAY, who commands an air field nearby visited Bn HQ. “Swanning” was prohibited for the next few days in the area NORTH of CAEN and 32 Brigade, as preparations were being made for a large attack there. Parties of Guardsmen and sailors from HMS RODNEY could still visit TILLY and its neighbourhood, however. We were able to get some loaves of white bread from HMS RODNEY, in return for the “conducted Tours” a very welcome change from dry biscuits.


1944July7

St. Martin-des-Entrees

The afternoon sleep was disturbed by a heavy AA barrage going up at 6 of our own Typhoons. The shooting was better than usual and one was brought down.

We could see quite clearly the bomber attack on the German positions NORTH of CAEN - the prelude to an attack by 3 Divisions at first light.


1944July8

St. Martin-des-Entrees

The barrage for the attack started: and could be heard easily by us. Unfortunately HMS RODNEY had to leave the coast, as her guns were no longer of any use to the battle, and we missed the chance of going aboard. The attack was reported to be going very well - much to everyone’s satisfaction.


1944July9

St. Martin-des-Entrees

Sqn Drill parades and PT took place each morning now, as weather permitted. Some football matches were half organized, and anyone could play on any side. Walking out to BAYEUX was not allowed up to 22:00hrs. But there are very few cafes or estaminets with anything to sell except cheese, and BAYEUX can hardly be compared with BRIGHTON for gaiety. The Guardsmen did manage, however, to buy cider, butter and milk from nearby farms, all of which relieves the monotony of the 14 man pack.


1944July10

St. Martin-des-Entrees

RCs went to High Mass in the Cathedral at BAYEUX, where after Mass they were able to see round the Cathedral and look at a copy of the famous tapestry. The attack on CAEN had reached the river ORDE successfully, so some of the Artillery was able to come out of the line. Major Lord WILLOUGHBY d’ERESBY came to dinner and described what he saw of the battle:- exactly like every “stunt” EAGLE OR “BLACKCOCK” with the same ‘bogs’ and Happy accidents. He himself had taken two prisoners who knocked on the back of his tank asking to give themselves up. The Commanding Officer had a TEWT for all Sqn Leaders on the co-operation of Infantry and Tanks in enclosed country. Sqn Leaders did the same TEWT with their Tank Commanders during the next two days.


1944July11

St. Martin-des-Entrees

Lt. R.S. LANGTON undertook to run HQ Officers’ Mess: and the standard of the food rose at once. All cooking for the Bn was now done on Field Kitchens, mad by the Fitters, to save the petrol cookers for more Active Service. Results were good as before, though the process was slower. A football match has been arranged for the near future between the Bn and the citizens of BAYEUX. There is some difficulty in finding a suitable and bi-lingual referee, conversant with both the British and French codes of rules. 100 Guardsman went for a bath at the Mobile Bath Unit. The water was hot.


A demonstration of co-operation between Infantry and Tanks in close country was given for all Officers in the Division. It was an example of the sort of training that we had to do ourselves for the next few days.


1944July12

St. Martin-des-Entrees

Combined training was don with the 3rd Bn in a field next door.


1944July13

St. Martin-des-Entrees

The Bn Team got ready for the morrow’s match. Capt J.R. DUPREE unable to find another to referee - had to take on that difficult, bi-lingual task himself.


1944July14

St. Martin-des-Entrees

A day of celebration in BAYEUX and the district, though saddened by the streams of refugees from CAEN.


The Bn team met BAYEUX’s best on the “Stade Municipale”. A great crowd both of troops and French civilians came to cheer - “tout BAYEUX” in its Sunday best - al the Guardsmen free of duty from 3rd Bn and ourselves and many other odds and ends from 2nd Army. The Press and BBC also attended. The Divisional and Brigade Commanders were unable to attend owing to important operational conferences: but the mayor of BAYEUX and the Commanding Officer shook hands with the teams before the start. Then two little girls presented Sjt WILLIAMS (HQ) our captain, with a bouquet of flowers to his great embarrassment. After a good time in the sweltering heat we won 5 goals to 2 - and the Star turn on the field was the BAYEUX goalkeeper. After the match the two teams, referee and officials celebrated satisfactorily.


A conference was held by the Commanding Officer, in which he warned Sqn Leaders of a move to battle in the near future. Then more detailed planning was done at Bn HQ. Our original objective in the large operation, called “GOODWOOD”, was to capture the high ground EAST of ARGENCES. Under 8th Corps, the 11th Armd Div and 7th Armd Div were to break out SW and S of the bridgehead East of the R. ORNE, while the Guards Armd Div turned EAST to ARGENCES. 5 Gds Armd Bde would lead and the final objective would be stormed by 2 Armd IG. The Air photos were studied and likely crossing places chosen over a small but obstructive river. Further details were left till the morning. Only Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR, the Adjutant and IO were allowed to know the plan now.


1944July15

St. Martin-des-Entrees

Another conference for Sqn Leaders was held at which they were told the Corps plan and the Bn’s role and likely method of attack. A great number of maps were issued of the area and more photographs came from Brigade. All officers were “briefed”, but not the Guardsmen.


1944July16

St. Martin-des-Entrees

The Corps plan was slightly altered - our objective now was VILMONT to the WEST of ARGENCES and no longer the high ground, otherwise everything as before.


The Divisional Commander addressed all officers in the Division and told them the Corps plan. He wished everyone good luck and success in our first battle.


After a Conference at Brigade HQ the Commanding Officer gave out orders for the approach march and the battle provisionally. We were to leave our present harbour area in the evening 17th - drive 30 miles EAST, halt about daybreak to fill up with petrol, have breakfast and rest, cross the bridges about H + 120 mins and follow the 11th Armd to CAGNY where they led straight on and the Gds Armd Div turned left. Order of March within the Brigade was 2 Armd GREN GDS leading to CAGNY, with 1 Armd COLDM GDS right and 2 Armd IG left behind them: from CAGNY 1 Armd COLDM GDS to lead with 2 Armd IG in support. Order of march within the Bn was No. 3 Sqn, No. 2 S qn, HQ Sqn, No. 1 Sqn. Sqn Leaders studied the photographs and maps, made their own plans and got to know the ground.


1944July17

St. Martin-des-Entrees

A final conference for Sqn Leaders was held, the time of start given and the route, a tank track across country with the Code name “RAT”. During the day, the rest of our usual Bn Group joined us - No. 2 Coy of 1 Mot GREN GDS under Major R. BROMLEY; and 129 Fd Bty from 153 Fd Regt (LEICESTER YEOMANRY) under Major LORD WILLOUGHBY d’ERESBY; also a RE party and a representative of WESTMINSTER DRAGOONS (FLAILS), who joined us on the march.


Bn moved off in order No. 3 Sqn, No. 2 Sqn, Bn HQ, No. 1 Sqn, F2 Echelon under Capt LORD CLAUD HAMILTON. A Echelon had left earlier to come under Brigade control: B Echelon remained behind under Capt. E.G. TYLER who with Lt. K.R. BRIANT and Lt. D.K.F. HEATHCOTE were LOB. The night march was long and rather tiresome. The dust was very bad: the route in one place boggy without a warning whence 3 tanks and 3 lorries got stuck which delayed the remainder some 30 mis.


1944July18

S of ARGENAY

The Bn halted for four hours, topped up with petrol, cooked breakfast and washed. We had expected to move about 1030hrs, but 11th Armd Div passed over the bridges quicker than was expected and at 0815hrs we got the order to move at 0800hrs.


The Bn moved forward over Bridge YORK, down route PALE to the Start Line. Just as we moved some slight shelling came down without causing any damage or alarm.


The Bn crossed the SL, our own minefields, and debouched on LA BUTTE de HOGUE where fairly heavy shelling and mortaring greeted us. Just as well to get the baptism of fire over early. No casualties were suffered.


The Bn advanced S; we were in reserve in the Brigade, the 2 Armd Bn GREN GDS and 1 COLDM GDS leading, and passed through a sort of alley way 3 miles wide between tow lines of smoking villages, bombed ruins by the RAF at H hour.


We lost our first tank, Lt. L.B. LIDDLE’s, which was hit by an unlocated tank or gun from the SE. No-one was injured and the tank was recovered later.


Lt. WE. DODD’s troop then pushed on towards LA PRIEURE, but on reaching a hedge between the railway and it, Sjt FERGUSON’s tank was hit, “brewed up” and of the crew, Sjt FERGUSON, Gdsm WINROW, and Gdsm HUNT were killed, Gdsm BECKETT badly burnt and wounded, and L/Cpl O’HARA is missing, believed wounded. A few minutes later L/Sjt McNALLY’s FIREFLY was also hit, though no-one was hurt and the tank recovered later. Lt. W.E. DODD then spotted the source of trouble - 2 PANTHERS sitting in the edge of LA PRIEURE’s orchard. He tried shooting with 75 AP to no effect and asked for the loan of someone else’s FIREFLY, his own having been K.O’d. Capt P. STOBART also locate the PANTHERS but again could not get a “kill”. Both he and Lt. DODD gallantly offered to climb on the back of FIREFLIES and point out the target, Capt STOBART actually did mount SSM PARKES‘, aimed his gun and claims that a cloud of white smoke resulted from his first shots. No “kill” was found however, in the area later. Capt. J.R. DUPREE’s tank was hit on the rear of the turret by a mortar bomb. Luckily no-one was hurt though the tank was out of action temporarily. Meanwhile a deal of gunfire was being exchange between No. 3 Sqn and the PANTHERS. One shot took a scoop of Armour out of the front of Capt. M.J.P. O’COCK’s tank, who was very indignant that shots obviously aimed at Capt STOBART should hit him.


Orders were received from the Brigade Commander for the Bn to pass through the 2 Armd GREN GDS, take over CAGNY and push on to VIMONT. The order of march was No. 2 Sqn, No. 1 Sqn, Bn HQ, No. 3 Sqn. En route Lt. A.E. DORMAN destroyed a SP 7.5 in full retreat. No. 1 Sqn then crossed the stream running N from CAGNY and moved up the ridge the far side with the objective of X rds by FRENOUVILLE. Lt. J. GORMAN’s Troop on the left literally rant into 3 PANTHERS just over the crest. Lt. GORMAN rammed one - he was too close and the PANTHERS too surprised for either to shoot - jumped out and led his crew back to CAGNY. L/Sjt HARBINSON in the following tank was hit as he crossed the road CAGNY - EMIEVILLE and was badly wounded himself. Of his crew L/Cpl WATSON and Gdsm DAVIS were killed, and Gdsm WALSH and Gdsm MELVILLE wounded. Of Lt. GORMAN’s crew Gdsm AGNEW and Gdsm SCHOLES were slightly wounded. Back by the orchard Lt GORMAN found L/Sjt WORKMAN’s FIREFLY, L/Sjt WORKMAN had just been killed, though the tank was intact - so Lt GORMAN pulled out the body and returned re-mounted to the battle. Lt. A.E. DORMAN had by now reached the ridge and between them they shot up the 2 remaining PANTHERS which had withdrawn to the houses S of EMIEVILLE. No. 3 Sqn followed up and came into line on No. 2 Sqn’s left rear, where Lt COLL and Capt P. STOBART and others, killed two 8.8 Pak 43s with their half track owing machines. On the extreme left SSM PARKES and L/Sjt VENABLES engaged another PANTHER which in due course “brewed up”. On the right No. 1 Sqn penetrated to the outskirts of FRENOUVILLE, lost 1 tank, in which Gdsm FORBES and O’SULLIVAN were badly wounded: but Lt. M.A. CALLENDER revenged the loss by killing a 7.5 SP and the crew. No. 1 Sqn later lost FIREFLY to 8.8s in the wood left of the main road to VIMONT; when Sjt ANDREWS was slightly wounded. The fight continued till dark; No. 3 Sqn lost another tank, Sjt ROBINSON’s which was repaired however next day.


CAGNY

The Bn harboured in close formation just over the stream. The 3rd Bn IG and 5th Bn COLDM GDS took over CAGNY, and our ? Coy which had been holding the main road just E of CAGNY, rejoined us. Their contribution to the battle was a good patrol to FRENOUVILLE and the destruction of a German Section in a house by the X rds.

F2 Echelon, which had been sitting at LE ?ESNIL FREMENTAL since 1600hrs suffering from some heavy mortar attacks, came into the harbour. It had some difficulty with the bad tracks and sniper but arrived safely, and delivered its petrol and ammunition. Gdsm SAXTON was slightly wounded by a sniper on the way.


1944July19

CAGNY

During the previous afternoon it had lost 2 trucks blown up, 1 man, L/Cpl LE BRUN (ROYAL CORPS OF SIGS) killed, and 2 men, Sigmn HAYES and another wounded.


F2 Echelon left for DENOUVILLE and the tanks moved up again to the ridge for a further advance.


The planned attack by ourselves and 3rd Bn IG on VIMONT was cancelled. A few shots were exchanged with the enemy; his infantry was shot up in the houses SOUTH of EMIEVILLE while we lost 1 FIREFLY - L/Sjt VENABLES - damaged. The rest of the day was passed more quietly though in close proximity to the enemy. 3rd Bn IG took over from us completely, and the only disturbance was some mortaring. This cost us some casualties, Sjt CLUROE, L/Cpl GOLDSPINK, Gdsm ROSS and L/Cpl BURLAND (No. 2 Sqn) wounded and Gdsm JAYS (No. 3) killed. The LEICESTERSHIRE YEOMANRY ? tanks with us also lost 3 men wounded. We now had time to count the booty. Our total was 2 PANTHERS definitely destroyed, 2 hit but left in enemy hands. 2 8.8s destroyed and 2 SP 7.5 destroyed. In addition the Recce captured 1 7.5 Pak at LA PRIEURE. We took 11 prisoners, including 1 FELD WEBEL. The enemy was identified as 125 Pz GREN REGT and 503 HVY TK BN - both under command of 21 PZ DIV. There was considerable wreckage at CAGNY but that we could not claim as the RAF, Gunners and 2 Armd GREN GDS had all contributed to it.


1st Armd COLDM GDS took over the position from us, and we withdrew to between LE PRIEURE and the CAGNY-DEMOUVILLE road for a good night’s rest.


1944July20

No. 2 Sqn was ordered forward EAST of LE PRIEURE to watch EMIEVILE. Everyone else had a quiet day.


The weather broke and torrential rain made the fields a mass of mud. Our discomfort, formerly due only to Mortars and mosquitoes, became much worse.


A salvo of MOANING MINNIES or 6 barrelled Mortars wounded Gdsm McCLUNE and Sjt EGAN (No. 1 Sqn) very slightly.


Capt. H.E.J. DORMER, DSO, was sent to contact the STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY, and found himself on the edge of the enemy instead, much to his indignation and surprise. A very unhappy and wet evening was spent by all.


1944July21

We moved to MONDEVILLE during more rain. There were many rumours of another move again, as we were in the heavy gun line: but we stayed for the night, dug in amid the oats and puddles.


1944July22

The Bn moved again to GIBERVILLE on the edge of a factory settlement, completely destroyed by the RAF raid on 18th. Heavy guns all around made sleep difficult, but the noise was heartening. As ‘A’ Echelon was moving, it came under shell fire. Gdsm GRIFFIN was badly wounded and died later, Gdsm HULL slightly hurt.


1944July23

Conferences were held at Brigade, giving the outline of a new attack in which we might take part. The 2nd CANADIAN CORPS was to attack S with the objectives of high ground LA BRUYERE - ST AIGNAN LA COMPAGNE, and then 7 Armd Div and ourselves would exploit - 7 Armd to BRETTEVILLE sur LAILE, GDS ARMD DIV to the large wood 1059 - 1160. The operation was planned for 25th morning. The Division was to come under command 2nd CANADIAN CORPS.


1944July24

More conferences were held and detailed plans made for the attack. 5 GDS ARMD BDE were to attack SE from TILLY LA CAMPAGNE, 1 COLDM GDS left to SECQUEVILLE and 2 ARMD IG right to the SOUTH end of Wood 1058. The Bn was to move No. 2 Sqn, No. 1 Sqn, No. 3 Sqn. Much study was given to Air photographs and the Gunners plan worked out. We were warned that the move was likely early 25th. During a slight Air raid in the night Sjt FARMER (Recce Tp) and his crew were buried in the trench, but no injury other than shock was suffered.


1944July25

We were ordered to move up to the Start line. We actually got one mile down the road SOUTH, when we were ordered to halt and sit at two hours notice. The rest of the day was passed on the roadside, as the CANADIAN CORPS had been held up by very strong opposition.

We were ordered to return to our former harbour area, which we did gladly. No need now to dig more trenches.

A conference was held at Brigade HQ in which the Brigadier said we might be used again to-morrow 26th - but that was not likely, and possibly we would be transferred to 8 or 30 Corps.

The Commanding Officer had a conference for Sqn Leaders, and passed on the Brigadier’s Orders.


GIBERVILLE

We passed another good quiet night, the best sleep we had had since leaving ST MARTIN.


1944July26

We were put from 2 hours notice to 4 hours notice. The Canadian attack had not been successful and there was now every likelihood of our remaining here for several days. An ugly rumour that we might have to relieve the 27th ARMD BDE in its C/A role at GRENTHEVILLE proved unfounded. Lt A.E. DORMAN, who had been suffering from a bruised foot since 18th battle, was evacuated medically - as far as ENGLAND it is said.


1944July26

Visitors went to 3rd Bn IG who have moved to a harbour a mile away, and exchanged reminiscences of “Dead Man’s Gulch” at CAGNY.


1944July27

Our first shelling in this area came down. Very unfortunately Lt. M.H. CHAINE-NICKSON was killed by a splinter in the chest. He was a competent and cheerful always, much liked by officers and Gdsm alike. He will be missed greatly.


The funeral of Lt. M.H. CHAINE-NICKSON took place. He was buried just by the roadside, and his troop collected bunches of flowers to lay as wreathes on his grave. The rest of the day passed quietly - except for the nightly Air-Raid, which “brewed up” 5 GRENADIER trucks nearby. The Division reverted to 8 CORPS.


1944July28

GIBERVILLE

Preliminary orders were issued by the Brigadier for a move to the CAUMONT sector of the front, where 8 CORPS would attack in the next few days. For the operation one Bn of Infantry, 5 COLDM GDS was to be lent to 5 GDS ARMD BDE from 32 GDS BDE, while 1st ARMD COLDM GUARDS came under command 32nd BRIGADE. 5 GDS ARMD BDE was split into two battle groups, 2 ARMD GREN GDS and 1 MOT GREN GDS as one: 2 ARMD IG and 5 COLDM GDS as the other. But as yet no move.


1944July29

Definite orders were given for moving next day at 0600hrs. The Division was to return almost to its previous location E of BAYEUX and there lie up for probably one day. After that we would attack on the left of 11 ARMD DIV with objectives ESTRY - VASSY - CONDE sur NOIREAU. We were told that enemy opposition would be slight or non-existent.


Harbour parties left under command Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR to prepare the new area.


1944July30

E of BAYEAUX

The Bn moved to E of BAYEUX where we settled down for a rest in a pleasant orchard - a welcome change from the desolation of gloom of GIBERVILLE.


But no sooner settled than roused again. Orders came to move closer to the front during the night and lie up a few miles N of CAUMONT - ready to advance again next day.


Harbour parties left to find new fields and orchards, and the Commanding Officer went forward to the Brigade Command Post to receive the latest information and orders. The news was good - the enemy were in full retreat badly shaken - and at the moment there was nothing to stop our advance. We would pass through the 15(S) Division and 6 GDS TANK BDE who had broken down the enemy resistance and “lead on” to the objective. Quite plain sailing - on the map.


The Bn started its night march and after a dusty, tiring drive arrived into harbour - looking forward to some hours of sleep and breakfast. No sooner had the crews dismounted, than orders came from a Staff Officer of 8 CORPS to move on further SOUTH - some 4 - 5 miles. So we had another drive through the night over a badly marked and badly made tank track. The Mot Coy, which was still under our command for movement, had a difficult time crossing the streams and gulches, while F2’s wheels had to make a circuit by road.


After the bustled night journey, we finally dismounted, got breakfast and slept. No move was likely till next morning or late this night.


Brigadier G. VERNEY, visited the Battalion. All ranks were very pleased that his Brigade had won a considerable success in its first action, and to see their former Commanding Officer again.


1944July31

An Order Group was summoned to Brigade. After orders had been given for one operation they were immediately cancelled by the Corps Commander, and the Brigade was told to be ready to advance at 1700hrs this afternoon. Hasty liaison was made with 5 COLDM GDS, the other Bn in our Battle Group, and we managed to get formed up ready to move by 1630hrs. 5 GDS ARMD BDE were leading on the Div C.L. and of the two battle groups, ours was in front. The order of march within the Group was No. 4 Coy 5 COLDM GDS. No.2 Sqn under its command, two infantry Coys then the two Bn HQs, No. 3 and No. 1 Sqns and the reserve Coy of COLDM GDS. The whole Group was under Command of Lt.-Col. M ADEANE Commanding 5 COLDM GDS.


The advance began SOUTHWARDS. Our objective for the night was pt 238 (6848) which would serve as a firm base for a further attack next day. The enemy were reported as 752 Grenadiers Regt. who had suffered already heavy casualties, with 21 Pz Div, our old antagonist at CAGNY, possible intervening from the EAST. Progress 6750 where we bumped the tail of 11 Armd Div and some chaos was caused by the Infantry debussing in the road and the traffic of 15(S) Div moving NORTH.


Orders were issued for the attack on pt 238 with H hour at 2145hrs. Of this Bn only No. 2 Sqn was engaged in support of the Infantry.


The infantry attack went in - luckily there was little or no enemy opposition, as the attack was laid on hurriedly, the ground not reconnoitred and the going difficult. As it was, the Company directed to pt 238 lost its way, and reported the height occupied when actually it was still some 800 yds short of it. The main thrust was up to main road SOUTH of ST MARTIN, and No. 2 Sqn deployed to the EAST in support. Again little opposition was met and pt 192 (671489) occupied. The forward Corps were heldo up by LMG fire over the crest, so it was decided to halt and consolidate for the night.


The Bn went into harbour just S of pt 192 where No. 2 Sqn rejoined. Unfortunately during the advance Capt. H.E.J. DORMER DSO on the extreme right of the Sqn ran into a A tk gun or enemy Tank while trying to find a way round a orchard. His tank was set on fire and the crew were seen to get out - but did not return with the rest of the Sqn. We hoped they would come back during the night, but no-one appeared, and next day Capt. H.E.J. DORMER’s body was found some 300 yds from his tank. He had been shot while trying to make his way back on foot. His death was much felt by the whole Bn, who liked and admired him greatly. Of his crew some may be prisoners. Arrangements were made for the advance next day. No. 1 Sqn was to support the leading Coys on to the objective St DENIS MAISONCELLES (6777) while No. 2 stayed defensively at pt 238. No. 3 and the reserve Coys were ready to exploit from ST DENIS. Such was the plan: quite other the event.


During the night patrols from 5 COLDM GDS reported movement of enemy tanks and Inf in the area ST DENIS and along the main road. Not much heed was paid to their words. A quiet night was passed within 300 yds of the enemy harbour - although both we and they were unaware of this proximity until next morning.



August 1944

1944August1

PT. 192, 671489

The Bn broke harbour and got into position for attack at fist light.


No. 1 Sqn and a Coy of 5 COLDM GDS formed up in an orchard just to the EAST of the main road between it and a sunken lane with their first objective some farm buildings 500 yds to the SOUTH. The only opposition expected was from LMGs and infantry. Two platoons of 5 COLDM GDS advanced supported by No. 1 Tp, No. 1 Sqn. The infantry got up to a hedge half way to the farm but as the tanks moved up to them, two were knocked out from the other side of the sunken lane, Lt. M,K. MACONCHY’s and Sjt HEALY’s. Of Lt. M.K. MACONCHY’s tank he himself, L/Sjt RICHES and Gdsm DAVIDSON were killed, and the driver and co-driver escaped. Sjt HEALY had managed to reach the far hedge before being hit; only his driver was killed, the rest of the crew got back. The infantry then withdrew to the orchard, as the opposition was much stronger than expected. The next half hour was spent in reconnaissance from hedge to hedge: another Coy of 5 COLDM GDS was ordered up and as second attack prepared.


Lt COLE’s tp from No. 3 Sqn came up on the WEST of the road to protect No. 1 Sqn’s flank. Numerous reports came back now of dug-in “TIGERS”, “swanning” PANTHERS and enemy movement. The Commanding Officer 5 COLDM GDS and Major N.A.R. O’NEILL decided that a second attack would succeed if the far (E) side of the sunken lane was cleared and a tp and Sqn HQ supported the infantry and leading Tks from the orchard.


The far side of the sunken lane was reported clear by a PIAT patrol, the main road mined and covered by SSM PARKE’s FIREFLY; and the attack ordered to start. Just as it went in the Commanding Officer 5 COLDM GDS and the leading Coy Comd were both wounded, which event caused some confusion, though their loss was not really felt till later. Both leading platoons with Lt. CARVILL’s tp in close support reached the far hedge under covering fire from the orchard, without much trouble. At the hedge, however, the enemy reacted. Two tks including Lt. CARVILL’s were knocked out, the infantry came under heavy MG fire and were forced to retreat back to the orchard, with considerable loss. Of the supporting tks Capt. E.G. TYLER’s was hit and Sjt MAHONY’s knocked out. Sjt CARDUS’s tk which was knocked out at the hedge did “kill” a Mk IV however, before being destroyed itself - so the battle was not wholly one-sided. Lt J. O’H POLLOCK saw enemy moving about in the farm and gave them ten rounds HE, the effect of which we could see later. No. 2 Sqn, meanwhile had been facing E and moving towards pt 238, but owing to the nature of the country could not see the [or?] help No. 1 Sqn and the infantry. No. 3 stayed back in reserve. One of the main difficulties we had to overcome now and later was the close country, thick hedges and sunken lanes which prevented deployment and limited vision to 100 yds or less, with the result that 2 or 3 well hidden guns or tks could shoot up a whole tp before being spotted.


A badly wounded prisoner was brought in to our RAP from 752 Grenadier Regt who said that most of his comrades were killed or wounded. More interesting was his statement that some 50 Mk Vs and Ivs of 21 Pz Div were in support of the enemy infantry in the area.


The Bde Comd came up to the Command Post and ordered an attack by a Coy with a tp round the left flank to ST DENIS MAISONCELLES. 5 Regts of Artillery would support. There were signs that the enemy was withdrawing and we must take every chance of harassing him. No. 2 Sqn reported 40 - 50 tks moving across their front towards VAUMARTIN 6849, which were probably of 21 Pz withdrawing as we saw nothing of them hereafter. Kings Coy 1 Mot GREN GD was sent up under comd to take over from No. 4 Coy 5 COLDM GDS which was going to do the attack.


The attack started and progressed satisfactorily behind the barrage. The objective was gained on schedule, as the enemy had already withdrawn, and ST DENIS MAISONCELLES was finally occupied. [To] the front of No. 1 Sqn the enemy had gone also - so we could inspect the battlefield. Against seven of our tks lost, we found 1 Mk IV knocked out and about 40 enemy dead. The identification of the enemy tk showed it to be from II Bn 3 Pz Regt of 2 Pz Div. The Divisional staff told us next day that the is Bn was possibly left behind in support of 752 Grenadier Regt; a deduction welcome through late.


The 32 Bde Gp then passed through us and consolidated the far side (SOUTH) of ST DENIS. No. 2 Sqn had followed No. 4 Coy, 5 COLDM GDS to the village and stayed there the night. The rest of the day was spent resting, refilling and sorting out the Sqns. The Brigadier congratulated the Bn on its efforts in mot difficult circumstances and on gaining its objective.


A “Honey” patrol was sent S of ST DENIS to reconnoitre the bridge at LE TOURNREUR 6845. Unfortunately it ran into a “PANTHER” and the leading tk was knocked out. A Motor Coy, 1 GREN DGS with Lt. McCORKELL’s tp in support was then ordered to clear the road down to the bridge which they were to seize if possible, intact. The opposition proved too tiff for them and at nightfall LE TOURNEUR remained in enemy hands. Meanwhile the rest of the Bn went into harbour, brewed up suppers and slept.


An extraordinary order was received from Bde HQ. We were told to seize the bridge at LE TOURNEUR calling for help if needed from 3 BN IG.


1944August2

In the event 3 Bn IG had to send out two coys at 0200 hrs to do the task but we were made responsible for its success, even though no tks were involved and the Bn had no part in the operation.


The bridge was reported in our hands and intact. The enemy had retreated in too great haste either to mine any of the roads or blow the bridges. Had he been able to, our advance must have been held up for hours, if not days.


Orders were issued to be ready to move 0715hrs on the same CL with the same objective. The 2 WG and GRENADIER BATTLE GP, however, were to lead ahead of us.

We actually did move, No. 3 Sqn in support of the leading infantry. Some chaos was caused by the infantry debussing at 7044 where the GRENADIER GP was heavily engaged with 21 Pz Div and the road was under Mortar fire.


The column was straightened out by Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR, the infantry taken up on the backs of the tks and the advance to ST CHARLES de PERCY 6941 resumed. The acting Commanding Officer of 5 COLDM GDS, Major LEWARD, was now wounded by a mortar bomb, causing further delay. Major Lord HARTINGTON took over temporary command of his Bn.


The leading tp, Lt. A.G. COLES, came under fire from two 88mm guns in COURTEIL 7040 reported earlier by 2 WG. A plan was made to by-pass the village with a Coy and No. 3 Sqn, while No. 2 Sqn helped another Coy to clear the enemy out. Owing to the difficulty of communicating with the infantry, the is attack took some time to lay on.

The Brigadier came forward, and ordered us to by-pass COURTEIL completely and establish ourselves on the high ground at ESTRY 7437 by nightfall. The Commanding Officer now handed over command to Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR and went back to rest in ‘A’ Echelon.


After new orders were given and the infantry once more mounted on “tank back” Nos. 3 and 2 Sqns advanced. Our C.L. went well to the WEST of COURTEIL, by pt 176 (6939), SIEURNOUX.(7038), LA MARVINDIERE 7238 famous hereafter, and pt 187 (7338). Of the enemy and likely opposition we knew nothing, except that MONTCHAMP 7240 and the high ground pt 279 (7242) were held by 21 Pz Div. No mention was made of 9 SS Pz Div or its possible arrival. We drove for two hours across the most difficult country we had yet encountered. The only sign of enemy was a few snipers - but with the dust, the ditches and the speed of our advance, the Bn got separated into two groups - No. 3 and No. 2 Sqns with their infantry Coys reached LA MAVINDIERE by 2200hrs, while Bn HQ, No. 1 Sqn, ‘Y’ Bty 21 A Tk (SP) and the reserved Coys were still held up at a bottleneck at SIEURNOUX.


Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR, therefore, ordered the two groups to harbour independently as it was too late to join up. A gallant recce party from Bn HQ led by Major Lord WILLOUGHBY d’ERESBY (LEICESTERSHIRE YEOMANRY) was tried but did not succeed in contacting the two Sqns, though it drove in and around what we discovered next day to be the enemy lines.


1944August3

F2 Echelon, under Major Sir JOHN REYNOLDS Bt, joined Bn HQ. No refuelling, however, could be done till next morning, owing to the nature of the harbour. A few hours sleep was had by both groups, after a meal, No.s 2, 3 Sqns helped out their Coys with rations as the infantry trucks could not get up to them.


Bn HQ Gp broke harbour and rejoined the Sqn at LA MARVINDIERE. Refuelling and breakfasting began at once.


Orders were issued for the further advance to VASSY, by-passing ESTRY if necessary. The Brigadier came to see the Bn, and ordered us to press on as fast as possible, leaving a minimum force to contain the enemy pockets. ESTRY might be still held by the enemy.


The Bn advance S towards LE BUSQ 7337 which we fondly imagined to be free of enemy. The Commanding Officer returned and resumed command of the Bn.


No. 3 Sqn with an infantry Coy, which by now was very tired, crossed the little stream at 732378, and worked its way up the far slope through high hedges and orchards. As they came to the crest by a sunken lane, enemy tks opened fire at close range and knocked out a tk in Lt. D.B. LIDDLE’s tp. Reconnaissance on foot by Capt. P. STOBART and careful observation discovered 7 or 8 TIGERS and PANTHERS just on the reverse slope, escorted by about 1 Coy of infantry. Our own infantry dug in by the sunken land, and the rest of the day was spent playing hide and seek in an out of orchards and hedges. The advantage, of course, lay with the Germans as, no matter what I said in Parliament, their guns penetrate our armour, and the 75mm doe not penetrate theirs. Capt. P. STOBART is one of the few men whose tk has been hit on the turret at 100yds range by an 88mm without serious damage. The shot hit the gun mantlet, scooped out a large lump of armour and then glanced off, unseating the Turret and Capt. STOBART. Undaunted, however, he dismounted and finding a COLDSTREAM PIAT man prepared to get his own back. The PIAT man, unfortunately had mislaid his No. 2 with the bombs, and it was sometime before No. 2 could be unearthed. With Major N.S.P. WHITEFOORD M.C., Capt. P. STOBART then took 3 shots at the TIGER at 100yds range. Though the bombs hit the front plate, the tk was not hurt and immediately fired back with HE scattering the PIAT Party. Still burning for revenge Capt STOBART returned later to the hedge, saw the same or a similar TIGER in the orchard with its commander standing half our of the Turret, and grabbed a rifle from a nearby COLDSTREAMER. His first shot missed the commander, almost certainly an officer, but at the second he slumped forward on the Turret. Capt STOBART then withdrew, his scores paid off. We ourselves had no identification of the enemy until later, when we learned it was 9 SS Pz Div which had arrived at ESTRY the same night as we came to LA MARVINDIERE. No. 2 Sqn meanwhile had been supporting No. 3 from their left, rear, firing a lot of HE at half tracks and infantry coming westwards on the Main road from ESTRY. Capt. J.R. DUPREE had the pleasure of seeing one amn carrier go up in flames.


Trustingly and as it proved unwisely, we took the word of Higher Formation that the C.L. was clear back to ST CHARLES DE PERCY. Enemy were known to be in MONTCHAMP and at pt 187 behind us, but from pt 176 to SIERNOUX was confidently said to be protected by ‘Y’ Bty A Tk, which was true, and free from enemy which was untrue.


F2 Echelon, under Major Sir JOHN REYNOLDS Bt accordingly, left LA MARVINDIERE for a quiet drive back to replenish at “A” Echelon, with an escort of 1 Tp under Lt. J.C.F. KEATINGE for luck. Nothing happened until just S of Pt 176 when a German machine gun post opened up from an orchard E of the road. Two trucks “brewed up” at once and the column was stuck in the same narrow sunken road as it had spent the last night. With the help of a platoon of 3 IG under Lt. T. KING-HARMAN which was holding Pt 176 our own tp and the SP A Tk guns, Major Sir JOHN REYNOLDS Bt managed to get the remainder of the trucks reversed out, turned round and driven back to LA MARVINDIERE. The whole operation was difficult and dangerous as the enemy could see and shoot our trucks while we could only guess at his positions.

We harboured in leaguer just S of LA MARVINDIERE, with No. 3 Sqn, 2 WG. The night was quiet and undisturbed save for a few shells and mortars. The 5 COLDSTREAM GDS sent out some recce patrols but found out little we did not know already. The majority of their Bn was by now very tired and the Coys had suffered heavy casualties.


1944August4

The Bn broke harbour and moved out to nearby the same positions as they had occupied the day before: No. 3 forward towards the main road by LE BUSQ, No. 2 behind them and facing E and E, No. 1 along the road from LA MARVINDIERE towards pt 187 facing E and N in what was thought to be reserve. The enemy was infiltrating pat our left flank to MONTCHAMP where heavy fighting was going on against 32 Bde, so while No. 3 Sqn’s front was quiet, some Panzer Grenadiers and A Tk guns began worrying No. 2 Sqn. Major J.W.R. MADDEN’s tk wa hit twice through the gear box but luckily no-one was hurt and Lt. J.V.D. TAYLOR’s spent most of the morning shooting little men who persisted in stalking his tk with sticky bombs and Bazookas. Finally he had to dismount his co-driver with a Browning to make them keep their proper distance. Lt. D.B. LIDDLE on the left of No. 3 Sqn also had a satisfactory shoot. He found 6 Pz Grenadiers digging in some 100 yds away behind a hedge, so lining up his tp, let them have 5 rounds HE rapid from each tk. No more digging was done.


A F2 Echelon had been unable to replenish yesterday, supplies for tonight would have to come up in ‘A’ Echelon’s vehs. The C.L. of 11 Armd Div was lent to us as being safer than our won and after a reconnaissance had reported it clear. ‘A’ Echelon started on its way. The journey was peaceful as far as pt 218, but as the column turned S down and towards CAVIGNAUX 7137 it was fixed on by tks in the area pt 181 (239) and the leading scout car and lorry knocked out. The remainder could do nothing but return to pt 218 and wait until the area was cleaned properly. Meanwhile the enemy started withdrawing from MONTCHAMP towards LE BUSQ, unfortunately for them they did not know we were in the way.


Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE on the extreme E of No. 1 Sqn reported movement on the road N of him. Soon after an enemy scout on foot came into view and was promptly shot. Capt. E.G. TYLER who had taken over command of the Sqn from Major N.A.R. O’NEILL for the day, pushed two tps, Sjt BRENNAN’s and Lt. J.C.F. KEATINGE’s of Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE’s to face E and the gap between No. 1 Sqn and No. 2 Sqn was closed by No. 3 Sqn Armd Recce WG. The other tp of No. 1 Sqn, Lt. M.A. CALLENDER’s was deployed by the houses of LA MARVINDIERE watching N & W.


Enemy tks were heard moving to N & E and suddenly both Sjt BRENNAN’ and Lt. KEATINGE’s tks were knocked out by a PANTHER some 500 yds to NE of them. Lt. KEATINGE being mortally wounded and Sjt BRENNAN killed. Sqn HQ moved up to strengthen the threatened flank and an exchanged of fire ensued, without damage to either side. Lt. M.A. CALLENDER’s tp then came under fire from N an again Sqn HQ moved to the dangerous area. One of our tks was knocked out, and through hits were claimed on an enemy TIGER, later examination found no “dead” bulk. A tp of No. 2 Sqn now faced round NORTH and joined in the battle at long range. Sjt MURRAY’s FIREFLY scored hit at long range on a TIGER, but was itself hit 6 times. The crew did not bale out until the 4th hole was made in the hull. Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE then reported Infantry moving S to the EAST of his position. No. 3 Sqn 2 WG gave them some minutes MG fire and no more movement was seen in that area. Enemy “Spandau Squads” began to infiltrate into the orchards E and N of us. One Squad had the misfortune to choose as its “nest” a house previously mined by REs and Capt E.G. TYLER in the words of the Signal Log “Enemy goes into house - house goes up”.


Some shelling of the road and No. 1 Sqn’s area started. The Fitters ½ track was hit, L/Cpl MORRELL killed and some trucks set on fire. A Mk IV then came down the road from N, spotted Lt. MAGUIRE’s tk in the hedge and knocked it out, killing Lt. MAGUIRE before it itself was hit by our guns. This Mk IV was found “brewed up” next day and identified as belonging to 9 S Pz Regt. Fairly heavy mortaring then added to our discomfort: and some casualties were caused to 5 COLDM GDS and ourselves. An unlucky salvo landed just outside the RAP wounding many including the Adjutant, Capt A.C. CRICHTON, and Lt. D.F. GOODBODY. The highest praise is due to the MO Capt. H.A. RIPMAN and his staff who continued to treat casualties quite undismayed by the enemy.


The evacuation of casualties had by now become a serious problem. 50 wounded, some of them in urgent need of further treatment, had accumulated in the RAP which was under continued fire. 6 lorries, therefore, were unloaded marked with Red and White crosses and the wounded lifted on board. Previous warning had been given to CCP of 29 Armd Bde to expect the convoy and they had ambulances and beds ready. The convoy then drove slowly down the road under command of Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR who was helped by Lt. J. FERGUSSON-CUNNINGHAME, a LO from 5 GDS ARMD BDE. The enemy did not fire, but for a few bullets at the last lorry. The road from CANIGNAUX to LA MARVINDIERE was not guarded by Lt. M.A. CALLENDER’s Troop and 1 Troop SP A Tk Guns lent by 29 Armd Bde and seemed fairly free from enemy interference, except for an odd shell. The Commanding Officer, therefore, decided to bring in ‘A’ Echelon before nightfall, and the lorries were ordered to “Run the Gauntlet” one by one; which order they carried out cheerfully at top speed. No lorry was lost though some very accurate shelling came down on he corners of the road. During this shelling, Major LORD WILLOUGHBY d’ERESBY who was unfortunately run over by one of our tanks while sheltering in the ditch. His feet were badly crushed and he had to be evacuated next morning. We miss his company greatly as he had trained with us for two years and been in all our battles.


The day ended quietly enough as we went into close league. The fighting had been long, difficult and costly. The enemy clearly had bumped us by accident but with his better guns and advantage in ground could do us more damage than we could do to him. His infantry, however, had had a very uncomfortable afternoon, though subsequent search did not reveal more than 10 of his dead. The only tank knocked out was the Mk IV already mentioned. The Bn lost 4 tanks KO and several casualties including 2 officers Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE and Lt. J.C.F. KEATINGE killed.


1944August5

A much quieter day.

Two enemy half tracks drove in the gate and were promptly “put in the bag”. One of the crew taken prisoner complained that they had orders to return to ESTRY and had met us unexpectedly on the way. He came from 19 SS Pz G.R. of 9 SS Pz Div. which had been our enemy the past 2 days, and according to him had suffered very heavy casualties.

1 Mot GREN GDS did a sweep from pt 176 Southwards. As we told them before they started the enemy had gone and they swept empty fields.

The Divisional Commander visited the Bn and congratulated all ranks on their efforts and exertions of the past three days. He said he was quite confident we would hold the ground we had won. The remainder of the day was passed in washing, eating and sleeping. Some shot were exchanged with the enemy, but no damage suffered by us.

Patrols reported that the enemy was withdrawing from MONTCHAMP towards ESTRY. A few men still held LE BUSQ.


1944August6

The 5th Bn COLDM GDS supported by No. 3 Sqn advanced to LE BUSQ meeting little opposition except some mortars and MGs. As soon as they begun digging in however, heavy and accurate shelling and mortaring began, which caused them some casualties. A burnt out PANTHER was found in LE BUSQ, abandoned by the Germans after considerable efforts to recover it. It must have been hit by No. 3 Sqn in their first battle 3 days before when numerous claims of hits and “brewing ups” of enemy tanks were made. So at least we had a second victim to offset our losses.


Major N.S.P. WHITEFOORD, M.C. was unluckily hit by a sniper just above the knee and had to be evacuated. Capt. M.J.P. O’COCK took over command of No. 3 Sqn.

Lt. F.J.P. McCORKELL’s and 3 of his crew were killed when a mortar bomb landed on top of his tank - the one unlucky chance in a thousand.

The Bn harboured in the same area as before. No. 2 Sqn relieved No. 3 Sqn and stayed out in the Coy positions of 5 COLDM GDS.


1944August7

The Sqns moved out to their day positions and lay up camouflaged.

Heavy mortaring on 5 COLDM GDS area wounded Major J.W.R. MADDEN and Capt. J.R. DUPREE with the same salvo. Major J.W.R. MADDEN lost a leg later as a result. Capt. E.G. TYLER then took over No. 2 Sqn and was promoted to Major, and Capt. J.V.D. TAYLOR became 2IC. Urgent demands were made by the Commanding Officer for more officers. Brigade HQ promised that reinforcements were being flown with all speed, as the difficult position of our and other Battalions was fully recognised.


1944August8

Except for the usual shelling, a quiet day

Lt. D.B. LIDDLE (No. 3 Sqn) was killed by an odd shell, the second officer lost through sheer bad luck.


The 15 (S) Div on our left attacked ESTRY, but unsuccessfully. No. 2 Sqn spotted some infantry working round their left flank and had a good Squadron shoot. No more movement was seen in that area.


Capt. P. STOBART was slightly wounded by the enemy “Stonk” and had to be evacuated. Lt. W.E. DODD became 2IC of No. 3 Sqn


1944August9

The Brigade Commander gave out orders for us to move and relieve 11 Armd Div on our right. This Bn was to come under command of 32 GDS BDE instead of 1 Armd COLDM GDS, and concentrated at LA BARBIERE (6838).


Lt.-Col. C.K. FINLAY relinquished command of the Bn, and Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR assumed command and was promoted to Lt.-Col.

The Bn moved to LA BARBIERE less No. 3 Sqn which remained under command of 5 COLDM GDS who were to take over LE BAS PERRIER 7234 from 11 Armd Div.

No. 2 Sqn which had been looking forward to a rest and a chance to reorganise received orders to move out at dusk to support 1st Bn WELSH GUARDS also in the area LE BAS PERRIER.


1944August10

A quiet day - and some were able to take baths.


Orders were issued for an attack on CHENEDOLLE next morning. They only affected the two Sqns under command of the Inf Bns. Bn HQ had nothing left to control except the Sqn resting.


A propaganda van, dignified by the presence of the Divisional G III (I) Capt. G.H. DOUGHTY, drove up to No. 2 Sqn to address the Germans and their foreign troops. The dust it raised brought down a heavy “stonk” from the enemy - so the propagandists departed quickly to find a more receptive audience.


1944August11

The 32 GDS BDE GP attacked CHENEDOLLE supported by a heavy barrage and 3rd Bn SCOTS GDS in CHUCHILLS. No. 2 Sqn under command 1st WELSH GUARDS had a most successful action and the co-operation with the infantry platoons worked excellently. Through lack of sufficient infantry, though, they did lose 6 tanks on the final objective - a long spur 7335, but they scored hits on 2 PANTHERS and 1 Assault Gun. Capt. J.V.D. TAYLOR had another day of close contact with the enemy, who again persisted in stalking his tank with devilish bombs. Lt. P.D. AGNEW was rather badly burnt when his tank went on fire in this action and he stayed in it to help out his crew. No. 3 Sqn under command 5 COLDM GDS took over the CHENEDOLLE position. SSM PARKES’ FIREFLY was hit at long range by a PANTHER without casualties, but Lt. W.E. DODD was wounded by the inevitable shelling before dusk. During the night No. 1 Sqn relieved No. 2 Sqn which came back to LA BARBIERE for a well-deserved day’s rest. The GDS ARM DIV “froze” in its positions. Our offensive task was finished and we were to sit still while attacks went in on our right and left.


1944August12

In all probability we would remain in present positions for 4 - 5 days. To help hold the line, two Squadrons of 2 HCR were dismounted and ordered to take over the positions of 3rd Bn IG on our right and come under command 32 GDS BDE. In support they were to have No. 2 Sqn - So now Bn HQ was left with only the Echelons under command. The Commanding Officer visited the forward Squadrons and reconnoitred areas for digging in the tanks defensively. The enemy continued shelling the roads and our positions but no casualties were caused.


1944August13

One Troop per Squadron was dug in by Bulldozers in the infantry F.D.Ls. The Squadrons’ areas were - No. 1 Sqn with 1st Bn WELSH GUARDS, N of LE BAS PERRIER (724345) facing N & E, No. 3 Sqn with 5th COLDM GDS by pt 242 (7233) facing SOUTH, the CHENEDOLLE position having been evacuated. No. 2 Sqn with 2 HCR by Pt 224 (7133) amid the wreckage of the 23 HUSSARS and MONMOUTHSHIRES who had held the position while we were at LA MARVINDIERE. The Squadrons were all tired and needed rest - which they could not really have “in the line” though enemy activity was confined to the inevitable shelling.


1944August14

The long promised reinforcements of officers arrived by air, Major D.R.S. FITZGERALD; Capt. A.E. DORMAN, returned from hospital; Lt. H.C.H. FITZHERBERT; Lt. H.H. McDERMOTT; Lt. T.E. HALLINAN; Lt. W.C.T. McFETERIDGE; Lt. S.A. FARIS; Lt. J.E. DALY came direct to the Bn and Lt. D.E.J. RADCLIFFE and Lt. A.L. SAMUELSON went to the Fwd Delivery Sqn. Major D.R.S. FITZGERALD took over No. 3 Sqn. Otherwise a quiet day - with some shells as usual.


1944August15

The Corps Commander visited the Bns in the line, and thanked them for their great work. He could always rely, he said, on the GUARDS DIVISION to carry out its task. 8 CORPS was likely to go into Army reserve as the advance on both sides of us continued, so we could look forward to several days rest. Great interest was shown by all ranks in the progress of the Canadian and Americans on either side of the Gap; but unlike the newspaper correspondents we knew that the bulk of the enemy armour at least could escape.


1944August16

The Commanding Officer held a Conference for all Squadron Leaders on future events and training.

The Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of State for War, Sir JAMES GRIGG MP, visited No. 2 Squadron’s Area and the Commander-in-Chief told the Guardsmen how pleased he was with 8 CORPS’ achievements and that though the Germans might escape through the FALAISE - ARGENTAN Gap, he hoped to destroy them W of the River SEINE. After that we would roll up the Buzz Bomb bases and see the cliffs of DOVER from the coast by CALAIS.

The Bn reverted to command of 5 GDS ARMD BDE; and the Squadrons returned to Bn HQ, which was now established in some pleasant orchard E of LE QUEILLET (6837). We were told that we could rest and reorganise for the next four days. After that anything might happen.


1944August17

-


1944August18

The Commander-in-Chief presented the medals awarded to Officer and Other Ranks of the Division at Div HQ. Of this Bn Lt. J.R. GORMAN received the M.C. and L/Cpl BARON (No. 2 Sqn) the M.M. for their bravery at CAGNY. The Commander-in-Chief then addressed the representatives of all Div that attended the ceremony, and congratulated them on the success of the battle which had made the spectacular advance of the US 3rd ARMY possible. He would have great pleasure in telling HM the KING how well the GDS ARMD DIV had done. Our next action would probably be hear the “Buzz Bomb” bases, and for it he wished us good luck and all success.


1944August19

Officers were allowed to go on a day’s swanning a few at a time. Most went to MONT ST MICHEL or ST PAIR near GRANVILLE where the food was excellent and the views lovely. Otherwise a day of rest after some maintenance on tanks and trucks.


1944August20

The first cases occurred of what became a small epidemic – called vulgarly “Squitters”. The MO had a guaranteed cure, which worked unfailingly after 4 - 6 hours - but some considerable inconvenience was suffered by victims none the less. The cause was variously thought to be the flies or bad bread. The doctors could not decide.


1944August21

Final arrangements were made to bury the dead of our last action in a Brigade cemetery near LE QUELLET, and as many Guardsmen as could, came to their friends’ funeral.

1944August22

A quiet day again. A scratch game of cricket was played in the afternoon.

The Commanding Officer dined at Divisional HQ to meet the Major-General Commanding BRIGADE OF GUARDS.


1944August23

The Major-General Commanding BRIGADE OF GUARDS, accompanied by the Divisional and Brigade Commanders visited the Bn. He inspected Squadrons at their normal work, which these afternoons was cricket, and questioned the Guardsmen about their welfare.

The Commanding Officer and Adjutant drove to MONT ST MICHEL for 24 hours rest. Orders came from Brigade HQ for harbour parties to RV at 1400hrs to-morrow at CERISI - BELLE - ETOILE 8226, our next harbour area.


Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON M.C., arrived at Bn HQ from ENGLAND to become 2nd-in-Command. He is well-known to everyone in the Bn, having commanded No. 2 Sqn for 18 months at TISBURY, and we were very glad to see him back again.


1944August24

A Conference was held at Brigade HQ on the move to-morrow. The move was just like any other we have ever done: the tanks went by a special track, the wheels by road.

Major N.A.R. O’NEILL who was Bn Harbourer, had a very unfortunate accident on is way to the RV. His Scout Car went over a steep bank, threw him off and then landed almost on top of him, luckily only hitting his foot. His foot was badly crushed and two bones broken; and it will be some two months before he can be back with the Bn. We will feel his loss greatly, as he was the only original Squadron Leader left. Capt. J.L.L. SAVILL assumed command of No. 1 Sqn temporarily. The Bn moved, wheels and tracks separately to CERISI BELLE ETOILE our new harbour. The move was slow but uneventful, and the Guardsmen soon settled down in the fields and orchards.


1944August25

-


1944August26

Arrangements were made for “shooting in” the replacement tanks, especially FIREFLIES, near MONT de CERISI. Otherwise a day of rest and Swanning though rumours of another move to battle were stirring.


1944August27

Major D.A. PEEL came from the Fwd Delivery Sqn to take over command of No. 1 Sqn, all of whom were very glad to see him back.

All new tanks and crews spent the day firing.


Orders were issued for a move next day to LAIGLE (9 F 7842) some 70 miles EAST, by Transporters for the tanks and road for the wheels. The Division was to sleep there before crossing the River SEINE at VERNON 4474 (9F) and advancing as part of 30 CORPS on AMIENS and ANTWERP. Provisional orders were that the side of the river GDS ARMD DIV should lead on the right with 11 Armd Div on the left and 8 Armd Bde, 43 Div and 50 Div follow up. The Sqns prepared to move at 0815hrs the next day.


1944August28

The tanks moved out to the CERISI BELLE ETOILE - FLERS road where they loaded on transporters. The column did not move, however, until 1400hrs.


A demonstration of a RHINO at work was given by Sjt CARDUS’s tank (No. 1 Sqn) to the Corps Commander and officers of the Division. Banks were pierced at high speed to the delight of the spectators, and even the sunken road which was supposed to show what a RHINO could not do, was crossed with some ease. In fact it was a demonstration that went very well, and proved the value of the attachments.


The Harbour parties left for LAIGLE under Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON.


The Commanding Officer went independently to the new area.


The wheels under Major SIR JOHN REYNOLDS Bt, joined the Divisional Convoy.


A conference at Brigade revealed future plans. The transporters would proceed another 40 miles to near VERNON at 1200hrs next day where they would unload the tanks. The wheels followed at 0600hrs 30 AUG 44. Whether the unloading area was E or W of the River SEINE no-one said.


1944August29

The tank transporters arrived some three hours late after a tiring journey. 4 of our tanks still lay ditched on the road but we hoped to see them again soon. One of the COLDSTREAM’s had actually turned over trapping the crew inside.


The Wheels arrived, rather exhausted but with the prospect of a long rest until early next morning.


We were told that enemy opposition between the River SEINE and River SOMME would be very light - no guns or mortars and only 1 TIGER had been seen so far. But previous experience has taught us how to interpret the optimism of Higher Formations. All ranks washed and breakfasted and the Tank Crews took some hours sleep before continuing their march.


The tanks continued their journey to PACY where they unloaded from the transporters, and crossed the pontoon bridges erected near VERNON.


A harbour area in STOUTEN LAC CHAPELLE had been reconnoitred and by 0200hrs the whole of ‘F’ Echelon was in position and asleep.


1944August30

F2 Echelon joined us after another all-night drive, and the tanks refuelled.


The Brigadier gave orders for the advance on AMIENS. We were in Brigade reserve behind the 2nd GRENADIERS.


We moved off in pelting rain and drove through enthusiastic crowds to just NE of GISORS where we harboured. This was the first day we experienced the joys of a triumphal march - the local population lining the streets, cheering and throwing fruit and flowers and sometimes bottles at us as we passed. But much better was to come. The worries of the Technical Adjutant, Capt. R. ROBERTSON over bogies, also began and were steadily to grow severer.


1944August31

In order to take full advantage of the German rout, we continued our thrust across FRANCE - again in bad weather. By 1000hrs we reached BEAUVAIS after a difficult drive on a tortuous route, and received a suitable reception. The local FFI had collected quite a number of prisoners from the woods and started to pester us with cries of “Beaucoup Boches” and point in all directions at once. We thanked them politely and paid no heed. For the German Commanders in this area had already lost all control of their troops and some even of themselves. Their troops were streaming along the roads sometimes ahead sometimes behind us, trying to get back anyhow to the Fatherland. Any farm carts, bicycles or even perambulators they could find they stole, to relieve the weariness of their feet. Nearly all their MT had been left the far side of R. SEINE.


We continued through BRETEUIL, MORTEUIL, SOURDON, VILLERS, BRETONNEUX to FOUILLOY where we crossed R. SOMME. 11 Armd Div on our left meanwhile captured AMIENS. We harboured the night on the high ground N of the river, and took some wretched prisoners from 49 Division. All had the same story and the same orders, “Get back to GERMANY”. 11 Armd Div captured the German Army Commander SW of AMIENS. He was unaware of our advance and looking for some Divisions with which to hold the line of R. SOMME. He had on him a map with the Divisional sectors nicely drawn and a fine set of orders for a battle that never took place. The crowds again gave us a good welcome and pelted the tanks with unripe fruit.



September 1944



October 1944



November 1944



December 1944




Sources: TNA