5th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by graeme, Nov 14, 2015.

  1. graeme

    graeme Senior Member

    Morning,

    Theres quite a few men I'm researching who were killed in July and August 1944 in the

    5th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment.

    Can anyone assist, please, with the War Diary entries for the following days

    16 July 1944
    28 July 1944
    6 August 1944
    15 August 1944
    18 August 1944

    Most grateful if anyone can help. Any online diaries for the SSR at all ??

    Cheers and regards,

    Graeme
     
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. graeme

    graeme Senior Member

    Hi

    Cheers Owen, I have the vague info on what happened, was hoping to bolster it up with any WD entries anyone may have.

    Regards,

    Graeme
     
  4. AdrianA

    AdrianA Member

    Hi Graeme,

    My Grandfather, James Kitchener Heath served with the 5th South Staffs (A Coy) in Normandy in this period until he was transferred on 26th August to the 11th RSF.

    Do you have a copy of:

    ‘Your men in battle; the story of the South Staffordshire Regiment- 1939-45’
    Compiled from official and semi-official reports, and from accounts by officers, n.c.o.s. and men of the South Staffordshire Regiment, and edited by L.B. Duckworth. Published by the Wolverhampton Express & Star (1945).

    A lot of information from this source found it's way into my website:

    http://jameskitchenerheath5051929.blogspot.co.uk/

    Hope this helps a little.

    Adrian.
     
  5. graeme

    graeme Senior Member

    Hi Adrian,

    Many thanks for replying to the thread.

    Ive had a quick look at the site, looks promising, and will look again later when I have more time.

    Not seen the book which Abe Books want a mere £55 for !!

    many thanks again,

    Regards,

    Graeme
     
  6. AdrianA

    AdrianA Member

    Hi Graeme,

    If you send me a message with your address, I can send you the info, as provided to me by the Regimental Museum.

    Cheers,

    Adrian.
     
  7. noggin1969

    noggin1969 Well-Known Member

    Is there any info on :
    DALBY, ALBERT
    Rank: Lance Corporal

    Service No: 4913371

    Date of Death: 28/07/1944

    Age: 30

    Regiment/Service: South Staffordshire Regiment 5th Bn.

    Panel Reference: Panel 15, Column 2.

    Memorial: BAYEUX MEMORIAL

    Named on the Newark parish Roll of Honour. Son of Thomas and Florence Dalby nee Perkins of 49 Clumber Avenue , Newark. Born in Sheffield 1913. In the 1939 register his father Thomas Snr and his younger brother Thomas Jnr both worked at Ransome & Marles. His younger twin brothers Stanley and Raymond were at school. Albert does not show up on the register. I was wondering if he was already in the forces at the time.
     
  8. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Dalby_01.jpg

    Dalby_02.jpg
     
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  9. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is the chapter on France 1944 from the regimental history of the South Staffordshire Regiment:

    CHAPTER XXVI

    THE TERRITORIAL BATTALIONS. NOYERS AND FALAISE, 1944

    ALL units had left behind a battle reserve of trained officers and other ranks and these and reinforcements brought the battalions up to strength, so that after a very brief rest of only forty-eight hours the 59th Division was again ready for action. Again the British and Canadian forces were to contain as many Germans as possible while the Americans prepared to break out from the Cherbourg Peninsula. The task of the Division was the capture of Noyers, a village ten miles south-west of Caen and approximately in the centre of the enemy line opposing the British landing. Noyers, known to be strongly held, is in the "Bocage" country with small fields, high hedges and many sunken lanes, so that visibility is usually limited to the next hedge and no detailed reconnaissance was possible. To add to the difficulties the enemy had sown dense mine-fields in No-Mans-Land, a significant admission that his boasted intention of pushing the invaders back to the sea was no longer tenable.

    Strong forces of armoured troops including self-propelled A/Tank guns were placed under Divisional command before the battle and artillery support was considerably increased. On 15th July the troops assembled in their assault positions with the 177th Brigade on the left and the 197th on the right; the former had the 5th and I/6th South Staffords as forward units. At 5.30 a.m. on the 16th the attack com- menced in a thick morning mist and on the left the 5th had taken the

    orchards west of the village of Grainville-sur-Odon, crossed the rail- way and overrun the hamlet of Les Nouillons. On the right of the 177th Brigade the l/6th had captured the village of Brettevillette, 1J miles north of Noyers, by about 6.45 and two hours later the adjoining Queudeville, but both battalions had casualties from mines and the tanks also had severe losses, some from our own minefields, which had not been cleared by the troops formerly holding the sector, although they had promised to do so. By noon the 177th had achieved its objectives and captured both prisoners and valuable equipment as some consolation for its dead and wounded, which included many

    leaders.

    Further right the 197th had started off with an initial success and was then strongly counter-attacked and driven back and its first objectives were not occupied until the following day, 17th July. Even so the 177th was ordered to continue with the second phase of assaulting Haut des Forges by the 6th North Staffords, attached to the Brigade, and Noyers itself by the 2/6th. There was less opposition on the left and the 6th North took and held Haut des Forges, but the 2/6th was strongly resisted and although, after bitter fighting, it forced its way into the village, it could not hold on and was forced back just north of the station. A late attack on the night of the 16th by the 197th Brigade was not able to make progress and that ended the day's righting, during which the 177th Brigade took 369 prisoners.

    At dawn on the 17th the 2/6th and one company of the 5th advanced as far as Noyers station and were pinned down there until 1.30 p.m., when they were withdrawn to reorganise. During the after- noon the 5th attacked Noyers from the north-east and only got as far as the outskirts, nor had the l/6th any better fortune in its assault on Bordel, about a mile north of Noyers. After dark all troops drew back so that Noyers could be shelled and mortared. Two further attacks strongly supported by armour were made by the 177th Brigade on the 18th and although these were pressed with great vigour and courage, the well-entrenched Germans fought most stubbornly and would not yield the village. The 7th South Staffords, however, took Bordel and pushed forward almost to the edge of Noyers, from which the troops were again withdrawn for the nightly shelling.

    Early on the morning of the 19th it was discovered that the enemy had withdrawn from his advanced and hazardous positions in Vendes, two miles north north-east of Noyers, but dawn patrols from the 177th Brigade reported that Noyers was still held and plans were made for an attack by the 197th Brigade. Before this developed the Army Commander decided that the actual capture of the village was no longer necessary if the northern exits were vigorously patrolled. This rather surprising decision has more than a hint of a "sour grapes" policy. For the remainder of July the 59th Division had its three Brigades in the line, each with two battalions forward. Enemy mortars, at first deadly, were countered by special forward observation officers from the artillery with a call on, among others, 7.2 guns firing air bursts and these massive weapons effectually reduced the German fire. The attacks on Noyers had cost the Division 1,250 casualties, and it had taken about half that number of prisoners and also drawn much enemy armour to its front, but further hard fighting was inevitable if the Americans were to make their thrust.

    The next Divisional task, as part of the 12th Corps, was to attack the enemy at Villers Bocage, south-east of Noyers, and then exploit towards the Orne with the intention of forcing a crossing. Other Divisions were on the left and right of the 59th and 8 Corps was advancing on the right of the 12th. After sharp and successful fighting by 197th Brigade at Juvigny, south of Tilly, where a counter-attack was beaten off on 29th July, there were indications of a large German withdrawal on 12 Corps front and on 3rd August the 59th Division was ordered to push forward. Enemy resistance was weak as 197th fought its way across minefields to the outskirts of what the R.A.F. had left of Villers Bocage. The next day the 177th Brigade passed through the shambles of Noyers without fighting and that night its forward troops had advanced some five miles and found to their great relief enemy minefields were thinning out. Unfortunately that same night the Tank Brigade under Divisional command was changed in spite of General Lyne's vigorous protests; it is difficult to understand the reasons for this transfer at a time when infantry and tank crews had at last developed a close liaison and it was to have serious effects.

    On 5th August the Division made another substantial advance, with all ranks rejoicing in their freedom after the cramped bridgehead. With the Reconnaissance Regiment leading and with the forward infantry, 7th South Staffords left and 7th Royal Norfolks right, riding on tanks, good progress was made until they approached the Orne. At Goupil- lieres, three miles north of Thury-Harcourt, there was a brisk action with Germans firing from both sides of the river, in which the armour of the R.E. advance guard used their "flying dust-bins" to knock out an important strong-point. By dusk the enemy had withdrawn across the river, having destroyed the bridge at Le Bas, east of Goupilliers. The troops were very weary and as little was known of the enemy's strength and dispositions, particularly on the open right flank, it was decided to spend a night and day on very necessary reconnaissance and attempt the river crossing the next night, 6/7th August.

    Although the Orne was fordable in places, it was yet a formidable obstacle, generally about fifty feet wide with steep and overgrown banks often as high as six feet, and quite vertical on the western side on which the Division was. On the far bank it was easier, but close to the river was the large, thick forest of Grimbosq, ideal cover for the concentration of a counter-attack. The only really possible site for a bridge was at Le Bas as the Germans knew only too well. During the night of the 5th the 176th Brigade patrols made gallant and determined

    efforts to seek a crossing and found two possibilities and the Brigadier decided to use the northerly one opposite the village of Grimbosq, a mile north of Le Bas. Bridging equipment was ordered up to Le Bas. Before the crossing 177th Brigade moved south to secure the open right flank and take Thury-Harcourt, but its progress was checked by well-concealed positions on a ridge north of a loop in the river near the small town; these entrenchments were to hold up the advance on this flank for several days.

    Shortly before dark on the evening of the 6th, the 7th South Staffords forded the river at the northerly crossing and soon after, the 6th North were also over at Le Bas. Both met little opposition, the enemy being taken by surprise, but when the 7th Royal Norfolks passed through to take their place at the apex of the bridgehead, one company went astray in the dark and came against an alert enemy full of fight. Help was impossible under the conditions and after a gallant

    struggle the survivors were overrun. Royal Engineers bridged the river for infantry at 7.20 a.m. on the 7th August with few casualties, for on this occasion the usual accurate German fire was faulty and most of the shells and mortar bombs fell upstream. Two hours later the bridge was open to tracked vehicles and by late afternoon wheeled traffic could cross; all this under heavy fire.

    Meanwhile the counter-attacks had started. The first on the bridge soon after it was opened was repulsed by the 6th North Staffords, aided by the invaluable Royal Engineers. Later it was the turn of the Royal Norfolks, who fought desperately and finally drove the enemy off as darkness fell, and then the 6th North, while attempting to expand the bridgehead, were forced back almost to the bridge itself, but by bitter and long drawn out hand-to-hand fighting hurled the enemy back. At midnight the 7th South were attacked in force and again the Germans were beaten off. Reinforcements of l/7th Royal Warwicks from 197th Brigade crossed the river during the night and were able to expand the minute bridgehead to about three hundred acres. All the enemy attacks were supported by tanks and those in daylight by mortars and artillery as well.

    The morning of the 8th saw more hard fighting by the Norfolks, and a vicious attack on the left rear of the 7th South Staffords, which had some success at first when Bullock and several of his officers were killed. In the subsequent confusion three companies withdrew across the river, but were quickly reorganised and led back in time to repel an enemy assault with tank support. After this no more enemy tanks, which had been badly mauled, appeared and the infantry no longer pressed their attacks so fiercely, so that the Warwicks had little difficulty in beating off the last at dusk. Much of the credit for the holding of the bridgehead must go to the artillery, whose fire covered the exits from the Grimbosq Forest with great effect, the guns being skilfully and boldly used. Even so it was the resolute infantry which finally beat off the numerous enemy attacks, inflicting severe losses on the picked German troops and winning a decisive victory. But the defenders had also had heavy casualties and the forward units were worn out; that night the 176th Brigade was relieved and the Royal Warwicks went back to the 197th.

    In the meantime the 177th had continued its pressure against the enemy positions in the hills north of Thury-Harcourt, but artillery support was very restricted owing to the demands of the Orne bridge- head and little progress was made until 9th August, when the 53rd Division with two attached Brigades moved down the east bank of the river. Under command of the 53rd Division, 177th Brigade fought its way down to the Orne, which it was unable to cross. At midnight on the 10/11th Thury-Harcourt was still held by the Germans. In the hills, however, there was lessening resistance and when on the 13th, the 5th South Staffords had reached the river two miles below the town, and their comrades on the other side were even further down, it was obvious the Germans must evacuate it. They left behind many mines and booby traps and much wanton destruction, which did not prevent the sappers starting a bridge as soon as they could reach the river. This enemy retreat was part of a big withdrawal caused by the partial closure of the "Falaise Gap" and the unrelenting pressure from the greatly en- larged bridgeheads.

    On the afternoon of the 15th the Divisional Recce. Regiment, closely followed by the l/6th, had reached a point about ten miles west of Falaise, when it was sharply attacked by our own aircraft with loss of men and vehicles; a similar tragedy befell the 6th North Staffords in the same general area. On 17th August the 2/6th South Staffords were withdrawn from the 177th Brigade and the next day the distressing news was received that it was one of three units in the Division to be broken up. Meanwhile the 177th with the 7th Royal Norfolks replacing the 2/6th had advanced down the Orne, fighting well organ- ised German rearguards but making good progress, so much so that by the 20th the 5th and l/6th had passed Mesnil, south-west of Falaise and were moving east to cut off this important town when orders came for the disbandment of the 59th Division.

    The reason for this sad news was only too familiar in the British Army in wartime, an acute shortage of trained reserves, and the selection of the Division was solely because it was the junior in France, as Field-Marshal Montgomery personally told the senior officers. Be- fore going back to the disbandment area on the Orne, as its last duty 177th Brigade had a day's mopping up, the bag including two German field hospitals complete with staffs and patients, among the latter a few British prisoners. Warm appreciation of the Division's service came from the Army and Corps commanders and the unhappy question of transfers was done as tactfully as possible, thanks largely to General Lyne. He ensured that whenever possible complete sub-units were transferred to kindred formations and he explained to all ranks why the break-up had to be done.

    During its brief war experience the Division had fought with grim determination and great valour and the Territorial Battalions of the South Staffordshire Regiment had borne their full share, as all ranks were to do in their new units, as General Lyne and their future C.O.s testified later. Much of the fighting of the 177th Brigade and the 7th South StafEords has been only briefly mentioned, and fuller details are given in the History of the 59th Division and Your Men in Battle published by the Express & Star of Wolverhampton in aid of the Arnhem Fund. The latter contains experiences and descriptions by eye- witnesses and the writer wishes to pay tribute to these two most useful records.

    In addition to the two Battle Honours already mentioned the Regiment also received:

    "NOYERS" "FALAISE"
     
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