War Diary: 1/5th Welch

Discussion in '53rd (Welsh) Division' started by Swiper, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    1/5th Welch War Diary

    1st – 30th June
    Commanding Officer: Lieutenant Colonel ERG Ripley
    Location: Herne Bay
    1st June – Stage 1 of waterproofing was commenced [Appendix 1]

    3rd June – Admin Instruction No2 was issued, which dealt with the move to Marshalling Area.

    6th June – Battalion was placed at six hours notice to move to the Marshalling Area. The Advance Party consisting of Battalion 2IC and 1 rep from each Company was placed at 2 hours notice to move. All ranks were confined within a radius of 5 miles from Battalion HQ.
    All transport was loaded.

    7th-12th June – Companies spent these five days in Admin and training, which included of Fighting and Recce Patrols.

    12th June – The Divisional Commander, Major-General RK Ross, DSO, MC addressed the Brigade Group. He stressed the need for avoiding unnecessary casualties and said that 53rd Division was the first Welsh formation to go into battle in this War.

    14th June – Imprest Acs were closed by Companies and all personnel were paid the equivalent of £1 sterling in French currency. Personnel were also allowed to change any sterling in their possession into French currency, and were also given the opportunity of crediting their A/C [accounts?] with any surplus sterling in their possession. Continental maps of battle area was issued. These were of the scales 1-250000 and 1-50000.

    16th June – Advance Party left billet area at 2300 hours and proceeded by road to Canning Town, London. Party consisted of Battalion 2IC and five ORs.

    Location: Canning Town
    17th – 20th June – Advance party spent these four days in the Marshalling Area.

    Location: East India Dock
    20th June – Advance Party embarked at 1600 hours.

    Location: France
    27th June – Advance party landed at Jug Beach 37601883 at 1900 hours. They passed through Assembly Areas at 37551865 and arrived at Concentration Area 37641745 at 2100 hours.

    Location: Herne Bay
    17th June – Marching Party entrained and proceeded to Marshalling Area at Lingfield – Haywards Heath.

    Location: Lingfield
    18th – 24th June – Marching party remained in marshalling area.

    Location: Newhaven
    24th June – C and D Companies, and half of HQ and half of Pioneer Platoon embarked at 1400 hours.
    A and D Companies and remainder of HQ Company and Pioneer Platoon embarked at 1700 hours.

    Location: France
    26th June – C and D Companies, half of HQ Company and half of Pioneer Platoon landed on Jig Beach 38831867 at 1330 hours. They then proceeded to Assembly Area and reached Concentration area 37581728 the same day.
    A and B Companies, half of HQ Company and half of Pioneer Platoon disembarked on K Beach at 1500 hours. Proceeded to 37641745.

    27th June – At 0400 hours, A and B Companies, half HQ Company and half Pioneer Platoon left to join remainder of Marching Party at Concentration area 37581728 at 1230 hours.

    18th June – Vehicle Party left for Marshalling Area at Purfleet, London at 0300 hours. It arrived 1200 hours.

    Location: Furfleet
    19th June – Vehicle party spent day completing Waterproofing.

    Location: East India Dock
    20th June – Vehicle party embarked on SS ‘Empire Portia’.

    28th June – Vehicle party landed and proceeded to Concentration Area Subles 7776.
    Battalion concentrated and unpacked vehicles.
    29th June – Battalion spent day reorganising and resting.

    30th June – Battalion was ordered to move to area Bronay 889714. The move was completed at 1500 hours. Companies took up positions as follows:- A Company at 895699, B Company at 889708, C Company at 898710, D Company at 892718 and Battalion HQ at 889714.

    1st – 31st July
    Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Colonel ERG Ripley
    Location: Bronay
    1st July – 0015 – Battalion left to take up position in line passing through le Mesnil-Patry, Cheux, Coleville and Mondrainville.
    Location: Coleville
    - 0230 – As C Company marched down road from Coleville to Mondrainville, they suffered 30-40 casualties through heavy shelling.
    Location: Le Valtru
    - [0600?[1]] – The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel ERG Ripley was killed in action. The Battalion 2 IC, Major JS Morrison-Jones assumed command of the Battalion.
    Commanding Officer: Major JS Morrison-Jones
    0600 – Take over from a Battalion of Seaforths of 46 Brigade, 15 Division, was completed. Battalion HQ was established at 911637.
    0630 – Position was heavily mortared and snipers were active in Battalion area. Mortaring continued all day.
    2300 – An extensive minefield was laid across our immediate front to prevent infiltration of enemy armour.

    2nd July – 1300 – It was thought that the enemy had withdrawn on our immediate front, and 2 platoons of infantry and the Carrier Platoon were pushed forward along the road West from le Valtru. Their intended objective was the line South and North from Bas des Forges to Hautes des Forges. This was not completely realised, the enemy holding our advance up with light machine gun and mortar fire.
    - 1900 – Commanding Officer received orders to hand over Battalion position to 4 Welch and occupy positions in the area of Coleville by first light, 3rd July. This was completed, the anti-tank platoon being left with 4 Welch to assist them until 1100 hours 3rd July 44.

    Location: Coleville
    3rd July – 0430 – Battalion occupied position with Battalion HQ established at 39231651. The remainder of the day was spent reorganising and resting. The Battalion was now in Brigade reserve.
    The casualties incurred in the previous 2 days fighting amounted to approximately 150.

    4th July – Battalion spent a quiet day. At 1400 hours, Lieutenant-Colonel ERG Ripley was buried at Bronay. The burial was attended by Major BEW McCall and Captain FE Crane. A Company came under command 2 Mons to fill a gap between their left forward Company and right hand forward Company of 159 Brigade.

    5th July – A Company remained under command 2 Mons. Battalion received 32 replacements, 25 from RHU and 7 from 4 Welch Another 7 were loaned to us from 2 Mons on instructions of South Wales Infantry Brigade. A counter-mortar observation post was set up to try and discover the location of enemy mortars by flash spotting and bearings to sound.

    6th July – Battalion remained in area of Coleville with A Company still under command 2 Mons. The Battalion was given a counter-attack role onto 2 Mons and 4 Welch positions. A squadron of tanks was placed under command. The Battalion was not required to counter-attack.

    7th July – The Battalion area remained in Coleville. A system of rest for Battalion personnel was instituted. These LOB personnel.(50 each day) were sent back to A Echelon area at Louielles for 48 hours complete rest out of enemy gun range. The Battalion was not used in its counter-attack role.

    8th July – The Battalion remained in area of Coleville. The only activity was a certain amount of spasmodic shelling.

    9th July – There was little activity on Battalion front. The Battalion area was shelled spasmodically.

    10th July – The Battalion spent another quiet morning. CO received orders at 1300 hours from Brigadier that the Battalion was to take over positions in the line, 6 Royal Scots at are Tourmaville les Vilains. A recce party went out at 1400 hours and take over was completed by 0100 hours 11 July 44. The Battalion remainder under command 44 Brigade.

    11th July – There was very little activity on Battalion front. Spasmodic mortar and shelling caused 4 casualties. The Battalion sent out one recce patrol at 2300 hours and an ambush party of 1 Officer and 10 ORs laid up in an area 300 yards forward of our forward defended localities.

    12th July – Patrols returned at 0330 hours and reported no enemy activity on our front. Royal Artillery 53rd Division counter-mortar, Intelligence Staff issued a report on the progress made in location in enemy mortars (Appendix II). Lieutenant-Colonel JT Gibson, The Welch Regiment, assumed command of the Battalion, taking over from Major JS Morrison-Jones.
    5 Officers and 55 ORs were sent to A Echelon for a rest of 48 hours.

    Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Colonel JT Gibson Morrison-Jones
    13th July – Patrol returning at 0130 hours had made contact with the enemy in a gully 926618. They were fired upon by a machine gun at 10 yards range. AN agent was passed through our lines on the road Tourmaville – Esquay at 0015 hours. At 0403 hours the Battalion area was mortared by an enemy Nebelwerfer, firing from area Gavrus 9161. No casualties suffered.
    1300 – A force consisting of the battle cadre and 1 platoon of A Company, the whole commanded by Captain WJ Picton, was briefed with a view to going out at 2100 hours to the gully 926616 and Gvrus 9261 for the purpose of obtaining a prisoner.
    2140 – The force was engaged whilst in the area of the Gully by six enemy machine guns from 926614, 926617, 922618, 923616, 923618. They attempted to get forward under covering fire of our own light machine guns but were unable to do so.
    2200 – D Company forward platoon reported an enemy machine gun firing on fixed line from area 9462 across the front to the Gully.
    2210 – Mortar Platoon were told to stand by.
    2220 – Fighting force withdrew slightly in order to reorganise. Two casualties had been reported.
    2315 – One Regiment of Arty laid down a concentration of high explosive on the area of the Gully. Mortar platoon fired sixty rounds.
    2320 – Force was ordered to stand by and await orders. Commanding Officer asked Brigade for permission to withdraw force as the making of a completely new plan for attack on the enemy position was not considered feasible.
    2330 – The Brigadier left the decision as to whether the force was withdrawn or not to the Commanding Officer. The force was withdrawn at 2335 hours, having suffered 2 casualties.

    14th July – 0200 – A concentration of arty was laid on the Gully supported by fire from the Battalion Mortar Platoon.
    0430 – This was again fired at 0430 hours.
    0900 – Owing to the fact that the fighting patrol failed to capture a prisoner last night, the Division Commander asked for a report and marked aerial photograph showing details of located enemy machine guns. The Division Commander ordered that another attempt be made tonight.
    1400 – An O Group was held at Battalion HQ to plan for the night’s attack. Attending was Officer Commanding 133 Field Regiment RA, Officer Commanding 1st Manchester. A fire plan was decided upon including field arty, 4.2” mortar, 3” Mortars, Machine gun platoon.
    1445 – A standing patrol was sent forward by A Company to area 925621. Line communication was established from them to A Company HQ.
    1715 0 A Company standing patrol reported no movement in the Gully 926617 but that enemy mortars were active in the area 921619.
    2040 – Observation post reported that an enemy tank had been seen at 927606 but later opinion changed and tank was identified as a gun.
    2045 – 3 patrols of 6 Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borderers reported to Battalion HQ on the way out. They were held at Battalion HQ in view of the fact that the attack was going in by A Company and the shelling, mortar and machine gun fire would be coming down on their route out.
    2400 – Supporting arms opened up on fire plan, and the raiding force consisting of 3 platoons commenced the attack to obtain prisoner.

    15th July – 0020 – Leading platoons reached the Gully and prepared to progress further west.
    0104- The Code word ‘Alexander’ was received which meant that a prisoner had been taken.
    0105 – The force was ordered to withdraw. The prisoner was identified as belonging to 2 Battalion, 991 Grenadier Regiment. The casualties amounted to 2 ORs killed, 9 wounded. Lieutenants DR Morgan and AM Davis were wounded.
    1030 – The remainder of the day was spent quietly. 44 Brigade of 15 Scottish Division moved into the Battalion area for preparation of their attack on Esquay, Gavrus and Bangy tonight.
    2330 – Battalion area was very heavily shelled and mortared all night.
    Vehicle casualties suffered.

    16th July – 0800 – Mortaring and shelling of Battalion continued on a less severe scale all morning.
    1200 – An enemy counter attack was reported to be forming up East of Esquay, but by 1530 hours this counter attack had been repulsed.

    17th July – Battalion spent a quiet day, but at 1400 hours were ordered to take up positions captured by the Glasgow Highlanders in the area between Baron Church and the road Croix de Filandriers – Le Bon Repos.

    18th July – 0005 – The Battalion moved up and occupied new positions.
    The Battalion spent a fairly quiet day in their new positions but movement was prohibited. The men were forced to remain in their trenches throughout the day owing to the fact that the positions were overlooked by he enemy.

    19th July – A fair amount of shell and mortar fire was experienced but the situation was otherwise quiet.

    20th July – The shelling and mortaring of our positions continued but there was little enemy activity on our front. Patrols managed to establish that the enemy was in the area of Esquay in one Company strength.

    21st July – The morning was spent fairly quietly.
    1500 – Shell and mortar fire laid by the enemy on Battalion positions was intensified and smoke was laid on our front.
    1600 – A Company, our right hand forward Company, reported that they were being attacked by a Company of infantry and four tanks.
    1800 – A platoon of B Company which was holding a left forward position south of the road Croix de Filandriers – Le Bon Repos was overrun by enemy infantry and four tanks.
    1930 – Two squadrons of tanks which were in support of the Battalion went out to the left flank to attempt to get the enemy in enfilade. They were unsuccessful.
    2000 – A Company reported enemy tanks 50 yards from their positions and that they were firing. During this time appropriate targets were being engaged by arty, medium machine guns, and mortars.
    2130 – A Company reported that enemy tanks were within 10 yards of their position and that enemy was in their immediate front. There was no further communication by any means from A Company.
    Location: Baron
    C Company reported that the enemy was attacking on their front with 4 tanks supporting infantry. They held the attack, two Mark IV tanks being destroyed, one by PIAT and the other by a 6 pounder anti-tank gun. C Company’s position became practically untenable now as they were out on their own without anti-tank guns and with the enemy within 50 yards of their positions.

    22nd June – 0600 – C Company were ordered to vacate their positions and withdraw to other positions in Battalion reserve. This was done under cover of some and arty fire and was successful.
    0900 – Casualties sustained in staving off attack were 25 but this did not include A Company who were lost altogether.

    23rd June – 0330 – Sergeant Norman took out a patrol of Battle Cadre to the positions which A Company had previously been with the object of discovering whether the enemy were in occupation. They heard sounds of digging and also voices speaking in a foreign language. Battalion Tactical HQ was moved to the area of C Company, the reserve Company.

    24th June – Enemy mortaring and shelling was intensified owing to the fact that a raid was carried out by 4 Welch on the crossroads at Le Bon Repos were A Company’s previous positions. Captain RT Davis was wounded in the leg and evacuated.

    25th June – 0900 – The Commanding Officer received orders to move on the night 25/26th July to the area of Gournay leaving D Company under command 4 Welch.
    Location: Gournay.
    2330 – Battalion Tactical HQ was established and the Battalion was prepared to carry out its counter-attack was as follows:- B and C Companies with in support two squadrons of Churchill tanks of 147 RAC were to be prepared to counter-attack the positions of 2 Mons – Point 112, Map Reference 958623 and also the position of 4 Welch – Baron.

    26th June – 0600 – Companies were dug in and spent a quiet day.
    2005 – Battalion Tactical HQ was shelled suffering two casualties and also 3 Loyd Carriers. The night was spent quietly. Reinforcements arrived at rear Brigade HQ consisting of Major Roche, Major Carey, Captain Watkins[2] and 129 ORs.

    27th June – There was no change in the situation today. Enemy shelling and mortaring was on a light scale in the immediate Battalion area. The Battalion was not required to carry out its counter-attack plan.

    28th June – A new A Company formed with Major Roche commanding and Major Carey 2 IC. There was no change in the situation on the Battalion front.

    29th June – The Corps and Divisional Commanders, Lieutenant-General Ritche and Major-General RK Ross visited the Brigade. The Commanding Officer and 6 ORs met them at HQ 4 Welch in the area of Tourmaville.
    The ORs were men who had played a prominent part in the action fought on the 23rd when A Company was overrun. There was no change in the situation. On the Battalion front enemy shelling intensified owing to the fact that 2 Mons carried out a raid on Point 112 with one Company.

    30/31st July – The Battalion remained in the area of Gournay.

    Appendix II

    RA 53 Div Counter Mortar Int Report No3 – 10 1645 – Jul 44
    (Based on information received during 24 hours ending 092359B)

    1. Enemy Mortar Activity was noticeably less than normal, though the periods 1500-1600 hours and 1530 – 1800 hours were normal. 22 engagements by enemy mortars of targets in this Division area were recorded.
    Total MOREPS received for the period under review was 62 compared to 73 the previous day.
    The Sound Ranging troop (7 Svy Regiment RA) provided interesting and encouraging proof of the accuracy being obtained in location by the use of compass and stop watch. Locations provided by the Sound Ranging troop confirmed our previous locations of hostile mortars within 200 yards in most caseds.

    2. Bombards Carried out by this HQ apart from normal Regiment engagements were:-
    HM No
    133 Field Regiment
    133 Field Regiment
    81 Field Regiment
    83 Field Regiment
    81 Field Regiment
    81 Field Regiment
    83 Field Regiment
    81 Field Regiment
    133 Field Regiment
    81 83 144 Field Regiments
    81 Field Regiment
    83 Field Regiment
    83 Field Regiment

    3. HMs believed active during above period
    45, 36, 13, 10, 34, 51, 43, 53, 29, 31, 38, 55, 56, 9, 37, 14, 48 also 2 suspect positions not yet sufficiently accurately located to record as targets.
    This increase in the number of HMs believed active does not mean increased activity. It shows that our bearings and sound rage locations are increasing in accuracy and the system of counter mortar control is becoming more exact.

    4. 2 guns of 116 LAA Regiment engaged 3 hostile mortar positions as part of bombard with field regiments during above period.
    5. Sound Ranging troop reported that fire on hostile battery positions was very accurate. Comparator sound ranging methods will be introduced to obtain exact concentrations on hostile mortar positions.
    CMO RA 53 Div

    [1] Time is 0600 but has been XXXX out.

    [2] Ultimately Major Tasker Watkins, VC
  2. foxtrot815

    foxtrot815 Junior Member

    Hi Swiper,
    ...Any more of 1/5's War Diary to come...?
  3. IsaacVoelcker

    IsaacVoelcker Member

    I appreciate I'm joining this thread some years late, but does anyone happen to have a copy of the 1/5 Welch war diary and officer roll for April 1945? I'm trying to track down which company my grandfather was commanding (either A or C company) when they attacked Rethem on the 11th April 1945.

    Any leads or suggestions much appreciated.
  4. I’ve got Dec 44 but they’ve only filled out the CO,2ic, Adjt, QM and MO the others don’t have anything next to them.

    I managed to get a copy of this the other day. I can scan the pages for Rethem and send them to you if you would like.

    Attached Files:

  5. IsaacVoelcker

    IsaacVoelcker Member

    Hi Matthew, Thanks for your reply. Yes, please do scan and send.
  6. Are you on Facebook/messenger? I’m El Macho on there or do you have an email account. I don’t want to post them on here due to copyright issues.
  7. IsaacVoelcker

    IsaacVoelcker Member

    Ah yes, OK. I had a look on facebook and it seems there are a number of El Machos. Could you look me up via messenger? I suspect I'm the only Isaac Voelcker out there so you cant go wrong! Thanks very much.
  8. I’ve sent an initial message to you on messenger if it’s you send a message back and I’ll fwd the pages. I’ve also copied the Rethem narrative from the History of the 53rd Welsh Division in the Second World War which I’ll include. I’ve noticed there is also a thread on here about the Battle with some good info and pictures.

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