1st Battalion East Lancashire Regiment War Diary
1st – 30th June 1944
2nd June – Battalion commenced Waterproofing A Vehicles for wading.
4th June – Commenced waterproofing B Vehicles for wading.
6th June – Battalion at 6 hours notice to move.
7th June – Lieutenant R Windle and Lieutenant JE Harding proceeded to 47 RHU.
Messages received from Supreme Command, and Commander-in-Chief 21 Army Group. [Attached as Appendices A and B respectively]
8th June – Battalion Sniper team formed in accordance with W.E. changes.
15th June – Advance Party under Captain AT Bain for move overseas departs.
Vehicles loaded ready to moved.
16th June – Tracked vehicles entrain at Sittingbourne Station at night for move overseas.
17th June – Wheeled Vehicle Party moved off at 0530 hours to Marshalling Area (Camp T.2), Marching Party (Main Body) of Battalion entrained at Sittingbourne Station leaving 1200 hours, arriving at Camp J.10 in Marshalling Area.
Lieutenant W Wyatt and 14 ORs remain as Battalion Residuces, Battalion Strength at time of move 36 Officers and 804 Other Ranks.
18th June – Company training carried out in Marshalling Area.
19th June – Company training carried out in Marshalling Area.
20th June – Company training carried out in Marshalling area. Strength decrease 1 OR. Vehicle Party (Wheels and Tracks) embarked SS Ocean Vigil at East India Docks.
21st June – All moves from Camp J.10 postponed owing to gale in channel.
22nd June – All moves from Camp J.10 again postponed.
23rd June – Marching party received orders to move following day.
Strength decrease: 2 ORs, absent.
24th June – First Marching Party (A and B Companies) leaves Marshalling Area at 0800 hours arriving at Newhaven and embarking on LSI SS “Longford”.
Second Marching Party (C and D Companies) leaves Marshalling Area at 1300 hours arriving at Newhaven and embarking on LSI SS “Ben My Chree”
Vehicle Party left Thames anchorage.
25th June – Moved from Newhaven anchorage at 0300 hours, anchoring off Juno beach (Normandy). Marching Parties transferred to LCIs (small) and first men were landed on beaches at 1535 hours. Parties marched through Transit Area to Assembly area South of Banbille. D Company moved off to Beny-sur-Mery at 1900 hours on cycles. Battalion embussed in troop carrying vehicles at 2345 hours moving through Tierceville and Revieres to Battalion Concentration Area square 9980. Brigade under direct command of 1st Corps for operations. Vehicle party anchored off Normandy coast.
26th June – Commanding Officer recces defensive position South and East of Anguerny (0177) with available Company Commands. C Company Right , B Centre, A left and D in reserve. 17 pounder anti-tank Battery under command. Reverse slope position adopted.
27th June – Battalion digs reconnoitred defensive position – Firm Base role. Strength decrease: 1 OR – Private L Evans was wounded in the leg as a result of a booby trap explosion in concentration area. Vehicles unloaded from SS Ocean Vigil and join Battalion in concentration area 2330 hours. 3 Carden Loyds ‘drowned’ and kept in Drowned Vehicle Park on beach.
28th June – Battalion put at 2 hours notice to move to new concentration area.
29th June – German map of concentration area, found and included as Appendix C. Strength decrease: 2 ORs evacuated sick. Battalion complete in personnel and vehicles.
30th June – Battatlion relieved from defensive role by 4th Battatlion South Staffords. Strength decrease: 1 OR evacuated sick. Lieutenant H Carter recced new concentration area at Coulombs 8875. Brigade rejoins 53rd Welsh Division, the whole coming under command 8th Corps. Extract from Lancashire Daily Post received and copy attacked as Appendix D.
The following message from the Supreme Commander will be read to troops by an officer after embarkation, if prior to 0001 hrs. D+1, and only when no postponement of the operation is likely; alternatively, when briefing prior to embarkation after 0001 hrs. D+1.
“You are soon to be engaged in a great undertaking – the invasion of Europe. Our purpose is to bring about, in company with our Allies, and our comrades on other fronts, the total defeat of Germany. Only by such a complete victory can we free ourselves and our homelands from the fear and threat of Nazi tyranny.
“A further element of our mission is the liberation of those people of Western Europe now suffering under German oppression.
“Before embarking on this operation, I have a personal message for you as to your own individual responsibility, in relation to the inhabitants of our Allied countries.
“As a representative of your country, you will be welcomed with deep gratitude by the liberated peoples, who for years have longed for this deliverance. It is of the utmost importance that this feeling of friendliness and goodwill be in no way impaired by careless or indifferent behaviour on your part. By a courteous and considerate demeanour, you can on the other hand do much to strengthen the feeling.
“The inhabitants of Nazi-occupied Europe have suffered great privations, and you will find that many of them lack even the barest necessities. You, on the other hand, have been, and will continue to be, provided adequate food, clothing and other necessities. You must not deplete the already meagre local stocks of food and other supplies by indiscriminate buying, thereby fostering the ‘Black Market,’ which can only increase the hardship of the inhabitants.
“The rights of individuals, as to their persons and property, must be scrupulously respected, as though in your own country. You must remember, always, that these people are our friends and Allies.
“I urge each of you to bear constantly in mind that by your actions not only will you as an individual, bit your country as well, will be judged. By establishing a relationship with the liberated peoples, based on mutual understanding and respect, we shall enlist their wholehearted assistance in the defeat of our common enemy. Thus shall we lay the foundations for a lasting peace, without which our great effort will have been in vain.”
PERSONAL MESSAGE FORM THE C-in-C
To be read out to all Troops
- The time has come to deal the enemy a terrific blow in Western Europe.
- On the eve of this great adventure I send my best wishes to every soldier in the Allied team.
Let us pray that “The Lord Mighty in Battle” will go forth with our armies, and that His special providence will aid us in the struggle.
- I want every soldier to know that I have complete confidence in the successful outcome of the operations that we are now about to begin.
- And, as we enter the battle, let us recall the words of a famous soldier spoken many years ago:–
“He either fears his fate too much,
Or deserts are small,
Who dare not put it to the touch,
To win or lose it all.”
- Good luck to each one of you. And good hunting on the mainland of Europe.
BL Montgomery, General C-in-C 21 Army Group
East Lancs in Kohima Duel
The East Lancashire Regiment have been engaged in heavy fighting against Japanese between Kohima and Imphal.
In most difficult country, against grim natural obstacles and in the face of grave difficulties of supply from the air during monsoon weather, they are among the troops who have advance from the Dimapur side of Kohima, sweeping the Japanese before them from the ridges sometimes five thousand feet high, sometimes dropping three thousand feet, in order to outflank the enemy and in the end defeat them in many bitterly contested actions.
A Splended Record
The East Lancashire Regiment who fought splendidly in France and Belgium, where one of their two battalions bought down nine enemy aeroplanes, while inflicting heavy casualties on the Germans. The other battalion formed part of the covering defences of the beaches of Dunkirk, and here Major Ervine-Andrews gained the distinction of becoming the first Army VC of the war.
Distinction was also gained by the East Lancashire Regiment in the Madagascar campaign.