Discussion in 'The Brigade of Guards' started by dbf, Oct 6, 2011.
Orbat - 29 January 1944
May - to be added later
Appendix - Officers by Seniority
Appendix - Distribution of Officers
1st Battalion Welsh Guards
Week ending 29th January 1944 - War Diary, Officers Field Return
Lieutenant-Colonel G.St.V.J. VIGOR - Commanding Officer
Captain, Temporary Major J.D.M. ASHTON - Second-in-Command
Captain, Temporary Major M.E.C. SMART - Company Commander
Captain, Temporary Major C.H.R. HEBER-PERCY, M.C. - Company Commander
Captain, Temporary Major J.F. GRESHAM - Company Commander
Captain, Temporary Major G.G. FOWKE - Company Commander
Lieutenant, Temporary Captain J.D.A. SYRETT - Company Commander
Lieutenant, Temporary Captain J.M. MILLER - Adjutant
Captain S.G. HOLLAND - Company Commander
Lieutenant, Temporary Captain W.G. WORRALL, M.C. - Anti-Tank Platoon Officer
Lieutenant, Temporary Captain M.J. TURNBULL - Company Second-in-Command
Lieutenant, Temporary Captain W.D.D. EVANS - Company Second-in-Command
Lieutenant, Temporary Captain The Honourable D.R. RHYS - Mortar Platoon Officer
Lieutenant, Temporary Captain Sir E.G.E. BEDINGFELD, Bt. - Company Second-in-Command
Lieutenant, Temporary Captain J.M. SPENCER-SMITH - Transport Officer
Lieutenant R.G. BUCKMASTER - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant D.L.M. ROBERTSON - Intelligence Officer
Lieutenant E.M. LING - T.C.O.
Lieutenant Sir R.C.D. POWELL, Bt. - Company Second-in-Command
Lieutenant D. BRUCE - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant R.W. POMEROY - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant P.R.H. HASTINGS - Carrier Platoon Officer
Lieutenant S.D. HERAPATH - Signal Platoon Officer
Lieutenant V.G. WALLACE - Platoon Offficer
Lieutenant R.P. HEDLEY-DENT - A.P. Platoon Officer
Lieutenant P.C. LUXMOORE-BALL - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant D.N. BRINSON - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant P.D.F. BOWEN-DAVIES - Liaison Officer
Lieutenant J.F.R. BURCHELL - Carrier Platoon
Lieutenant T.C.H. RETALLACK - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant R.H. MOSSE - Anti-Tank Platoon Officer
Lieutenant J.R. MITCHELL - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant E. SCUDAMORE - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant D.A. ROGERS - Platoon Officer
Captain (QM) W.L. BRAY, D.C.M., M.M. - Quartermaster
Captain A.B. UNWIN, R.A.M.C. - Medical Officer
FIRST LINE REINFORCEMENTS
Captain H.E.J. LISTER - Company Second-in-Command
Lieutenant F.N.H. WIDDRINGTON - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant A.G. GRAHAM - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant J.P. KOPPEL - Assistant Transport Officer
Lieutenant D.M. LESTER - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant A.J. BLAND - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant A.J. REID - Platoon Officer
P.F. PAYNE, R.A.Ch.D. - Padre
Captain W.P. COURTAULD
Lieutenant H.W.T.E. PEEL
1944 January 4
Captain S.G. HOLLAND, Lieutenant A.G. GRAHAM and Lieutenant V.G. WALLACE take part in Exercise ‘NEW YEAR’ until 5th January.
1944 January 6
Battalion moved to RILLINGTON.
1944 January 9
Lieutenant D.A. ROGERS, Lieutenant A.J. BLAND and Lieutenant D.M. LESTER join Battalion from TRAINING BATTALIO.
1944 January 10
Major C.H.R. HEBER-PERCY, M.C. acts as Umpire for Support Groups on Exercise ‘CLANSMEN’ until 14th January
1944 January 17
Captain S.G. HOLLAND and Lieutenant A.G. GRAHAM take part in Exercise ‘TALLY-HO’ until 20th January.
Battalion takes part in Exercise ‘BRECK’ until 22nd January.
1944 January 26
T.E.W.T. on a Cloth Model set by Officer Commanding No. 3 Company.
1944 February 2
Commanding Officer and Second-in-Command meet Commander 8 CORPS at 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS.
1944 February 3
Battalion takes part in Exercise ‘SNOW’ until 5th February 1944.
1944 February 7
No. 2 Company provides one platoon to take part in 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS Battalion Advance Guard Exercise.
1944 February 12
The Regimental Lieutenant-Colonel visits Battalion until 13th February.
1944 February 13
Battalion takes part in Exercise ‘EAGLE’ until 24th February.
1944 March 2
ST. DAVID’s DAY Service in the Church of St. Martin on the HIll, SCARBOROUGH.
1944 March 3
Company Sergeant-Major LANE joins Battalion from TRAINING BATTALION on attachment for one week.
1944 March 6
G.O.C. LONDON District visits Battalion.
1944 March 9
2734334 Serjeant T. GILL died in the Military Hospital, ABERGELE.
Serjeant THOMAS FREDERICK GILL 2734334, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 24 on 09 March 1944
Son of Alfred and Annie Gill, of Loxhore.
Remembered with honour LOXHORE (ST. MICHAEL) CHURCHYARD
Grave/Memorial Reference: East of Church.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
1944 March 12
Major J.F. GRESHAM, Captain J.M. MILLER and Captain The Honourable D.R. RHYS visit School of Infantry.
1944 March 14
Vehicles take part in a Traffic Control Exercise for a Platoon of 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS.
1944 March 17
Signal Officer gives demonstration of ‘Direction Finding at Night or in Fog by W/T’
1944 March 18
Lieutenant P.R.H. HASTINGS plays for ENGLAND v SCOTLAND in Rugby Match at LEICESTER.
1944 March 20
Commanding Officer attends Conference on Exercise ‘EAGLE’ at Divisional H.Q.
Captain Sir E.G.F. BEDINGFELD, Bt. proceeds to WELBECK ABBEY for Exercise ‘TATLER’ on 21st March.
1944 March 21
Major G.G. FOWKE and Lieutenant S.D. HERAPATH proceed to WELBECK ABBEY for Exercise ‘TATLRE’ on 22nd March.
Water Trucks and Trailers inspected by 60 FIeld Hygiene Section.
1944 March 23
Personnel proceed to LONDON to take part in ‘Salute the Soldier’.
1944 March 26
Captain P.M. BECKWITH-SMITH joins Battalion on attachment.
1944 March 27
Lieutenant-Colonel G.W. BROWNING meets Commander 2nd ARMY at H.Q. GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION.
B’ Vehicles and Carriers inspected by Senior Inspector of B Vehicles.
1944 March 31
Lieutenant-Colonel G.St.V.J. VIGOR relinquishes command of the Battalion and Lieutenant-Colonel G.W. BROWNING assumes command.
1944 April 2
Personnel return from LONDON after taking part in ‘Salute the Soldier’ Week.
1944 April 12
Battalion took part in Brigade Exercise ‘EGG’.
1944 April 14
Two British War Correspondents visit the Battalion.
1944 April 17
Battalion Snipers Courses commence. (One week)
1944 April 18
Battalion H.Q. Exercise ‘HIDE’ takes place.
1944 April 21
Demonstration ‘Passing through Minefield’ takes place.
1944 April 24
Lieutenant-Colonel T.A. OAKSHOTT visits the Battalion.
Battalion produces Security Revue at the Arcadia Cinema, SCARBOROUGH.
1944 April 26
Regimental Lieutenant-Colonel visits Battalion.
Security Revue repeated for other units in the Division.
Anti-Tank Platoon proceeds to HARLECH for Anti-Tank Gun firing until 2nd May.
1944 April 27
Battalion Snipers and Flame Throwing Demonstrations take place.
1944 April 30
Battalion moves to new area.
1944 June ?
West of Cheux
The honour of firing the first shots in anger in the Battalion since 1940 belongs to the 3” Mortar Platoon: their commander Captain The Honourable D.R. RHYS was asked by a tank Officer to put down a concentration on a wood West of CHEUX through which the enemy were withdrawing and he promptly obliged with 60 mortar bombs: shortly afterward enemy were seen in another wood and were issued with another 60 bombs, whereupon our Platoon withdrew which was probably as well, as a concentration of German mortars fell a few minutes later exactly where they had been.
1944 June 1
Commanding Officer addresses H.Q., Support and No. 4 Companies in Officers’ Mess Garden.
1944 June 2
Commanding Officer addresses Prince of Wales, 2 and 3 Companies in Officers’ Mess Garden.
1944 June 5
Commanding Officer attends Exercise ‘DESPOT’, Divisional H.Q.
1944 June 6
Battalion gives Security Play at TRAINING BATTALION.
1944 June 7
G.O.C. addresses Battalion.
1944 June 13
Regimental Lieutenant-Colonel arrives after lunch.
1944 June 16
Vehicle Party of Battalion moved off for journey to Marshalling Area (Camp S1) some 3 miles from TILBURY.
1944 June 17
Vehicle Party was split into two, one party under command of Major C.H.R. HEBER-PERCY, M.C. and the other under command of Captain W.G.M. WORRALL, M.C.
1944 June 18
The former party subsequently embarked in S.S. ‘FORT FINLAY’ as did some other Units (14 in all) of 12 Corps Troops and the Commanding Officer was made Officer Commanding Troops of that ship.
1944 June 19
The other party embarked in an American L.S.T.
Routine on board S.S. ‘FORT FINLAY’ was Reveille 0630 hours, Breakfasts 0730 hours, Commanding Officer’s Inspection 1030 hours and in the late afternoon some entertainment was organised which included French classes and an excellent lecture on the American Army from an American Civilian Affairs Officer.
We stayed three days off SOUTHEND as the bad weather had impeded landing operations on the other side, and eventually sailed in a convoy; after a completely uneventful voyage we arrived off the beach-head the following afternoon and started unloading first thing the next morning into L.C.A.
The Commanding Officer and the Adjutant landed with the first craft and went up to the Assembly Area where they were greeted by Lieutenant MILDMAY of 2nd Armoured Recce Battalion WELSH GUARDS and after a few hours wait for de-waterproofing etc, went on to Battalion Concentration Area near BAYEUX when they were met by Marching Party who had arrived some two days before.
The Battalion was in a good area in fields around a farm house with a central Officers’ Mess.
Prince of Wales Company held a Drill Parade on the square in BAYEUX.
Party commanded by Captain W.G.M. WORRALL, M.C. remained in Marshalling Area until the evening of 19th June when it embarked in an American L.S.T., remaining in TILBURY DOCKS until the morning of 22nd June when the ship sailed.
Disembarking took place at approximately 1700 hours on an almost dry beach the following day.
The journey was quite uneventful apart from a few depth charges being dropped by escorting naval craft.
After all vehicles and personnel had been got ashore, the party in convoy proceeded to its Concentration Area slightly South West of BAYEUX.
Battalion leaves Concentration Area and proceeds to BRETTEVILLE L’ORGUEILLEUSE.
This sector had been previously held by the Canadian and Battalion H.Q. established itself in the orchard outside a chateau with a Mess in the Chateau itself.
Good slit trenches with covered-over tops so essential against German mortar fire, were already dug and the Battalion soon got into position.
The congestion on the roads was terrific but we were left in peace save for an unlucky bomb which killed Lance-Sergeant FLETCHER of the Anti-Tank Platoon and destroyed a No. 2 Company truck.
Lance Serjeant ARTHUR CYRIL FLETCHER 2733023, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 34 on 28 June 1944
Husband of Ada Dorothy Fletcher, of Walworth, London.
Remembered with honour BAYEUX WAR CEMETERY
Grave/Memorial Reference: XXVII. E. 14.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
There was no activity that night save a patrol of Prince of Wales Company sent out to contact the Canadians which in point of facti it failed to do, as they were completely under ground for the night.
1944 June 29
This day, after a very noisy night on account of the barrage from 25-pounders, Brigadier G.F. JOHNSON, Commanding 32 GUARDS BRIGADE, came to see the Commanding Officer after lunch and told him that the Brigade was to move up and take up positions in CHEUX - a sort of defensive locality by no means in the front line under command of 43 DIVISION.
The Battalion accordingly moved off about 1700 hours, the Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer having gone on before to recce the new positions.
After a rather unpleasant drive, very congested roads, horrible smell of dead men and a certain amount of shelling, the Battalion reached the new area only to find that an attack was expected and no hand over could take place from the Battalions of S.I. and WARWICKS concerned; to add to the confusion, men of an Infantry Division which had been badly knocked about were withdrawing piecemeal through our position.
The only thing to do was to dig in and wait for the situation to resolve itself and it was when digging in was almost completed that a series of mortar bombs burst almost immediately overhead wounding the Commanding Officer, Second-in-Command (Major SMART), Anti-Tank Platoon Commander (Captain WORRAL, M.C.) Signal Officer (Lieutenant HERAPATH) C.S.M. ADDIS and killing four Guardsmen besides many of the S.L.I.
Major J.E. FASS the took over command and Battalion H.Q. moved its position.
The enemy attack was apparently beaten off by the large number of Anti-Tank guns situated just behind the Battalion position.
Guardsman REGINALD HENRY DAVIES 2737718, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 20 on 29 June 1944
Son of Edward and Elsie Davies, of Newport, Monmouthshire.
Remembered with honour ST. MANVIEU WAR CEMETERY, CHEUX
Grave/Memorial Reference: III. F. 12.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
Guardsman EDGAR MAITLAND JOHNSON 2734177, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 26 on 29 June 1944
Son of Augustave and Gerda May Johnson, of Grange Town, Glamorgan; husband of Violet Lily Johnson, of Grange Town.
Remembered with honour ST. MANVIEU WAR CEMETERY, CHEUX
Grave/Memorial Reference: III. F. 7.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
Guardsman WILLIAM ARTHUR PRITCHARD 2736051, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 27 on 29 June 1944
Son of Walter and Florence Pritchard; husband of Ida Pritchard, of Swansea.
Remembered with honour ST. MANVIEU WAR CEMETERY, CHEUX
Grave/Memorial Reference: III. F. 11.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
Guardsman JOHN WILLIAMS 2736125, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 28 on 29 June 1944
Son of Herbert and Ellenor Williams, of Blaenavon, Monmouthshire.
Remembered with honour ST. MANVIEU WAR CEMETERY, CHEUX
Grave/Memorial Reference: III. F. 13.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
1944 June 30
There was incessant gunfire, but little activity.
The Medical Officer (Captain UNWIN) had had a night of non-stop work.
Apart from Battalion H.Q. the Battalion had been lucky.
Major General ADAIR the Divisional Commander came to see the Battalion during the day and gave even more pleasure than his visits normally do.
That night Battalion H.Q. had its second piece of ill fortune as a mortar shell again burst immediately over head killing Major FASS and his orderly and wounding Serjeant WILCOX the Intelligence Serjeant.
Major HEBER-PERCY, M.C. then took over the Battalion and settled all details of the re-arrangement of the Battalion with the Adjutant - List of Officers is appended. [N.B. Aside from Field returns, here have been no appendices included in the War Diary for any month so far.]
As soon as the Adjutant had returned to Battalion H.Q. 14 shells fell slap on the position, fortunately not injuring anyone.
Lieutenant Colonel JOHN ERNEST FASS 49851, Cdg. 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 33 on 30 June 1944
Son of Sir Ernest Fass, K.C.M.G., C.B., O.B.E., and of Lady Fass (nee Neame), of Inkpen, Berkshire; husband of Elizabeth Mary Fass, of Sonning, Berkshire.
Remembered with honour ST. MANVIEU WAR CEMETERY, CHEUX
Grave/Memorial Reference: III. F. 9.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
Guardsman FREDERICK GRIFFITHS 2737098, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 32 on 30 June 1944
Son of David and Elizabeth Griffiths, of Maesydre, Wrexham, Denbighshire.
Remembered with honour ST. MANVIEU WAR CEMETERY, CHEUXGrave/Memorial Reference: III. F. 10.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
Guardsman CYRIL RAYMOND WHITE 2734144, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 26 on 30 June 1944
Son of Richard and Beatrice White; husband of Dorothy White, of Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent.
Remembered with honour BAYEUX WAR CEMETERY
Grave/Memorial Reference: VIII. F. 14.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
[Please note: Despite what may be referred to in the text, so far other than Officer Field Returns there are no appendices, no sketch maps - and, I'll add, not many clues to location. On a few pages the diary keeper has helpfully noted under Place: "France", so look out for place names within the text. As these can often be misspelt, I have done my best to find the correct spelling. Place names and surnames are the only corrections I have made to the original diary. If I am unsure of something while transcribing I will add a ? at the start of the word]
1944 July 1
The next morning Battalion H.Q. moved again to an orchard rear of the Regimental Aid Post.
Major C.H.R. HEBER-PERCY, M.C. had divided Battalion H.Q. into two parts taking only a skeleton H.Q. of rear link, carrier and W/T as a forward Command Post and leaving the rest about 1/4 of a mile back under the Adjutant and R.S.M..
A day of rumours of attack and counter-attack, all of which came to nothing followed interspersed with intermittent shelling and heavy gun fire from our side but all went well till 4112 Lance-Serjeant ROBERTS (No. 4 Company) was killed by mortar fire in the evening.
Lance Serjeant THOMAS ROBERT EDGAR ROBERTS 2734112, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 30 on 01 July 1944
Son of David and Annie Jones Roberts; husband of Ena Gwendoline Roberts, of Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire.
Remembered with honour ST. MANVIEU WAR CEMETERY, CHEUX
Grave/Memorial Reference: III. F. 8.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
1944 July 2
Brigadier JOHNSON came to see the Battalion in the evening with news of a possible withdrawal to reform with our armour and Major LISTER came up from 1st Line to take over Support Company.
A quiet day with intermittent shelling and mortaring.
Commanding Officer visited Companies and in the afternoon went to Divisional H.Q. to hear an address by Commander-in-Chief.
The Padre (Reverend P.F. PAYNE) held a service for Battalion H.Q. in the evening which everyone flocked to.
1944 July 3
A very wet morning and afternoon.
Rations were brought up to Battalion H.Q. in a 3-tonner as it was through that the continuous journeys of Company Carriers to ‘A’ Echelon were a waste of track mileage.
In the afternoon a draft of 3 Officers joined from R.H.U.
Captain Sir R.G.D. POWELL, Bt. to Prince of Wales Company
Captain A.G. GRAHAM to Signal Officer, and
Lieutenant J.E. REID to No. 3 Company
26 Other Ranks joined with them, including
03 Lance-Serjeant JONES to Anti-Tank Platoon
Lance-Serjeant BRAWN to No. 4 Company
leaving the Battalion 15 under strength.
Lieutenant R.P. HEDLEY-DENT returned to A/Pioneer Platoon having done noble service as temporary Signalling Officer.
1944 July 4
Another quiet day.
To get a little exercise Companies did conducted tours by Sections of other Company’s areas and had a nice gossip.
The Commanding Officer was officially Acting Lieutenant-Colonel and held his first memoranda:-
The R.A.P. at 1800 hours.
The Canadians had attack CARPIQUET during the night after a terrific barraged and had taken the village but been held up at the Airfield.
We are likely to remain here until the Aerodrome is taken.
Second-in-Command (Major J.F. GRESHAM) went to ‘A’ Echelon as L.O.B.
1944 July 5
Divisional Commander (Major-General ALLAN ADAIR, D.S.O., M.C.) visited the Battalion again but had no definite news.
The Commanding Officer has decided to do away with his carrier and take over the Humber SCOUT CAR on grounds of increased mobility.
Company Commanders Conference in R.A.P. was held in the evening, when various administrative points and best ways of constructing slit trenches were discussed.
Lance-Serjeant TAMPLIN (Carrier Platoon) one of the Battalion’s crack Despatch Riders was unfortunately hit by a shell in the evening.
1944 July 6
A fine day with little activity.
A.A.Q.M.G. GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION (Lieutenant-Colonel SALE, R.H.G.) paid us a visit and announced the forthcoming issue of a Divisional paper.
Rumour now has it that we rejoin the armour on 8th July.
1944 July 7
Another quiet and fine day.
Prince of Wales Company held a ‘digging slit trench’ competition in the morning judged by the Commanding Officer and won by 6700 Lance-Serjeant JONES’s Section.
Company Commanders Conference in the evening to decide programme for the period when Battalion goes back out of this area (copy attached.
Charles RADCLIFFE, Commanding Officer’s brother-in-law, paid us a visit in the evening.
About 2200 hours a large force of our 4-engined bombers came over from bombing CAEN.
A good deal of Anti-Aircraft went up but none of them seemed to be hit.
Certain amount of shelling in the evening.
1944 July 8
The Mortar Platoon (less one Section) in Company with Mortar Platoons of 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS and 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS and 4.2” mortars of 1 Ind. M.G. Coy had a shoot in the morning on the Southern hanger of CARPIQUET Aerodrome.
60 rounds per mortar were fired and the target engaged for 5 minutes at a range of 2,200 yards rising to 2,500 yards.
The object of the sheet was to provided a diversion during the main attack on CAEN and neutralise any remaining enemy opposition on the Aerodrome.
At 1200 hours 32 GUARDS BRIGADE came under command of 15 (SCOTTISH) DIVISION as 43 DIVISION was moving forward.
1944 July 9
Nothing to report.
The Commanding Officer continued his nightly supper parties in the Command Post, the chief item of which was wood pigeon shot with a .22 by Guardsman MERRIMAN.
Padre PAYNE held services for small groups at a time.
Lieutenant P.C. LUXMOORE-BALL and C.S.M. WARD (No. 3 Company) had a lucky escape the night before when they were buried in their slit trenches from a shell burst and had to be dug out.
1944 July 10 An enemy shell which came over during our own barrage wounded Lieutenant P.R.H. HASTINGS and his driver Guardsman ADDISON and two others - mercifully not very seriousl but a sad blow to the Carrier Platoon.
Commanding Officer inspect all Company areas in the morning.
Tremendous barrage by our own guns for most of the night.
1944 July 11
In the afternoon the order to move back suddenly arrived.
Battalion transport came up from ‘A’ Echelon reported to their respective Companies and moved off again under Company Second-in-Commands.
Rifle Company Marching Parties with the Commanding Officer marched back to a RendezVous with their T.C.L.s where they embussed for our new area at ST. MARTIN LES ENTREES, 3 miles East of BAYEUX: a surprisingly smooth move for once.
A’ Echelon under Major J.F. GRESHAM and the Quartermaster had gone on to the new area which consisted of two large fields: the Battalion fitted in nicely but was of course very close together.
The other two Battalions of the Brigade were in the next two fields, and our 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS together with the rest of the armour only a few fields away, so plenty of social visits were able to take place.
Everyone was delighted to be reunited with the DIVISION.
1944 July 12
Reveille was not till 0900 hours so everyone had a good and much needed sleep.
The rest of the day was spent with cleaning up and checking deficiencies.
1944 July 13
The Battalion got a much needed bath allotment, and a thorough overhaul of all vehicles and wireless was put in hand in the afternoon.
All Officers attended a demonstration by 2nd Armoured Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS and 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS of Infantry Tank co-operation.
1944 July 14
Prince of Wales Company and 1 Squadron 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS did an Infantry Tank Exercise in the afternoon under the direction of Second-in-Command (Major J.P, GRESHAM), after a Conference on the subject had been held in the morning.
Commanding Officer inspected Company lines in the morning.
The whole Battalion sleep in shallow trenches - both warm and safe and every form of elaborate bivouac has appeared - the R.S.M.’s being an easy winner.
1944 July 15
No.s 2 and 3 Companies did the Tank Infantry Exercise in the morning and the Commanding Officer held his first Drill Parade at 1000 hours.
Prince of Wales Company Mess is the centre of social activity in the evening, chiefly owing to the efforts of Captain Sir RICHARD POWELL, Captain C.A.B. McVITTIE dined with us and it is hoped that the tangled question of reinforcements has now been sorted out.
1944 July 16
A Memorial Service which the whole Battalion attended, taken by Padre PAYNE and Padre TOMLINSON was held in the morning.
Lieutenant-Colonel J.C. WINDSOR LEWIS, D.S.O., M.C., Major HODGKINSON of the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS and Major Lord ERRINGTON from Division and Major DUNDAS from Brigade came over for it.
The Divisional Commander addressed all Officers of the Division at mid-day on the shape of things to come.
The last of our Residue parties under Lieutenant D.M. BRINSON joined the Battalion today having had a pleasant enough journey and a draft of Lieutenant WIDDRINGTON and a few men arrived in the afternoon so the Battalion is now complete.
All Companies have sent some men to the ‘Stars in Battle Dress’ show today which is well reported on.
[N.B. Some of the dates in this part of the diary have been amended in pencil. Others have been left alone but don’t quite match up with dates on CWGC records. I have merely noted the amendments but not altered the dates in any way.]
1944 July 18 (in pencil - 17?)
A day of Conferences and move orders.
The Battalion with attached troops eventually moved off at 0030 hours and travelled throughout the night.
A very smooth journey considering the difficulties and the route well signposted by the police, though we seemed to go extremely fast for a lot of the time, a great deal in excess of the statutory 6 m.p.h.
1944 July 19 (in pencil - 18?)
Vehicles were head to tail along the whole road and at dawn we were treated to an astonishing display of air power - hundreds and hundreds of bombers streamed overhead to bomb targets concerned with Operation ‘GOODWOOD’ in which were were no involved.
After a pause for breakfast and an hour’s sleep we continued down the bridge ‘YORK’ over the River ORNE, where there was another park as the bridge was still only one way traffic.
This was the bridge where he 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION had had such heavy fighting in the early days.
For a few miles after the bridge was all peaceful the shelling began, and though the Battalion was lucky and came to no harm, it is extraordinary how helpless one feels in a soft column when things are falling.
We linked up here with 3 Squadron of 2nd Armoured Recce Battalion WELSH GUARDS under Major CONSETT who stayed with us for most of the rest of the day.
Change of plan now became the order of the day and the Commanding Officer’s carefully conceived Operation Order immediately became inoperative.
We first took up a sort of pivot position behind a railway and it was here that Prince of Wales Company, to Major MILLER’s great joy took our first Prisoners: one Czech and the other from DUISBURG and both only too ready to talk.
The Battalion moved on from there to its original debussing point above CAGNY, and Prince of Wales and No, 2 Companies straight away put in an attack on the little town which it was considered might still contain enemy elements: it did and both Companies made a nice bag of Prisoners most of them eager to give themselves up after the morning’s heavy bombing.
The remainder of the Battalion then moved forward to the pivot area on foot.
By this time it was about 2300 hours and the transport then came up amid a galaxy of tracer, parachute flares and all the rest of it.
However, nothing was hit and after a certain amount of difficulty all the transport reached their correct Companies, and the Battalion spent most of the rest of the night digging in interspersed with diving for cover whenever ‘moaning minnie’ made her all too frequent appearance.
Captain BRUCE was wounded when going round Prince of Wales Company’s guards.
1944 July 20 (in pencil - 19?)
The Battalion expected to stay for the day in the pivot area, but about lunchtime the Brigadier arrived to see the Commanding officer and announced an immediate Battalion attack on the little village of LE POIRIER just past CAGNY.
A hasty ‘O’ Group was summoned and at 1700 hours the Battalion advanced with No. 2 and 4 Companies up, and considerable artillery and tank support: this was unnecessary however as there was little opposition in the village and Companies took up their positions while Rear Battalion H.Q. moved forward to just outside CAGNY which town was in an almost unbelievable state after the attention of the R.A.F.
We received our fair share of shelling and mortaring during the night, but only had one fatal casualty.
Mosquitoes in abundance of a particular virulent type.
1944 July 19
Guardsman ALWYN GLASS 2736350, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 27 on 19 July 1944
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Glass; husband of Mildred Eileen Glass, of Melyn, Glamorgan.
Remembered with honour BANNEVILLE-LA-CAMPAGNE WAR CEMETERYGrave/Memorial Reference: V F 17. CWGC :: Casualty Details
1944 July 21 (in pencil - 20?)
Pouring with rain and all slit trenches got flooded out while the mud must have been almost on a FLANDERS scale, even jeeps were getting stuck.
R.S.M. BAKER got some ten gallons of rain water down his neck when his personal attendant inconsiderately removed the ground sheet from over the slit trench in which he was kneeling.
The rum ration was received with great pleasure by one and all as an addition to dinner and in the evening another quota was received.
After tea the Mortar Platoon had a concerted shoot with the 55 Field Regiment on an objective the other side of No. 2 Company area: results seemed very satisfactory as shortly afterwards No. 4 Company Observation Post saw stretcher bearers coming to and fro for a long time from the are which had been mortared and shelled.
1944 July 20
Guardsman JOHN DAVIES 2736074, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 28 on 20 July 1944
Son of Samuel and Elizabeth Davies, of Flint; husband of Beatrice Evelyn Davies, of Flint.
Remembered with honour RANVILLE WAR CEMETERY
Grave/Memorial Reference: IV. A. 13.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
Lance Corporal WILLIAM CHARLES ALUN EVANS 2738530, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 20 on 20 July 1944
Son of John A. and Bessie Evans, of Cilfynydd, Glamorgan.
Remembered with honour BANNEVILLE-LA-CAMPAGNE WAR CEMETERY
Grave/Memorial Reference: V. F. 14.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
Guardsman JOHN GORDON GRIFFITHS 2738512, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 19 on 20 July 1944
Son of Herbert and Rachel Griffiths, of Gorseinon, Glamorgan.
Remembered with honour BANNEVILLE-LA-CAMPAGNE WAR CEMETERY
Grave/Memorial Reference: V. F. 18.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
Guardsman EDWARD NIBLETT 2738293, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 21 on 20 July 1944
Son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Niblett, of Fromebridge, Gloucestershire.
Remembered with honour BANNEVILLE-LA-CAMPAGNE WAR CEMETERY
Grave/Memorial Reference: V. F. 19.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
1944 July 22
Slightly fine and after a very damp night in slit trenches.
Major SYRETT was killed by a shell early in the morning - a sad loss, and Captain EVANS took over No. 4 Company.
Major JOHN DAVID ALFRED SYRETT 67593, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 28 on 22 July 1944
Son of Herbert Sutton Syrett and Rosina Alice Syrett, of High Holborn, London. B.A. (Cantab.).
Remembered with honour BANNEVILLE-LA-CAMPAGNE WAR CEMETERY
Grave/Memorial Reference: V. F. 16.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
In the afternoon the Mortar Platoon had another concerted shoot with the artillery based on information brought back by Lieutenant WALLACE.
Rumours of a handover were again universal and for once proved to be founded on fact for a 1800 hours the Battalion started to hand over to 7th Battalion BLACK WATCH of the HIGHLAND DIVISION.
Companies went the whole way back by march route to an area just East of the ORNE, a few miles from CAEN.
'A’ Echelon under Second-in-Command had gone back first to layout the area which had to be cleared of dead Germans and so on before the Battalion could come in.
The Rifle Companies with the exception of No. 2 Company who handed over last and didn’t get in till 6 o’clock the next morning had a muddy but fairly easy march: the transport had a very moderate journey as the roads were terrible with even jeeps frequently getting stuck, added to which a complete solid traffic jam for miles frequently occurred as the 51st DIVISION were coming up as we were going down.
At the rear of our convoy was the Commanding Officer’s HUMBER, rather indecorously being towed by a German half-track (of which we now possess three).
Eventually after the customary delays and detours all the vehicles reached the new area by about 0230 hours having taken some six hours over not much over six miles.
Support Company, the Command Post and the R.A.P. had rather a nasty time coming out as the last to come out.
The Germans started unpleasantly close shelling: it was as well, but rather incomprehensible that they did not shell the Battalion column as it was moving off (which was in their full view).
The outskirts of CAEN are a horrifying sight - not a building which has not been practically destroyed.
1944 July 23
Reveille 0900 hours and breakfasts 1000 hours and a much needed wash and clean up for everyone.
In the afternoon Second-in-Command, Major MILLER and Adjutant went over to First Line to see Captain McVITTIE and tell him who was required by the Battalion, whis was now 3 officers and 47 Other Ranks down.
1944 July 24
Rumours of a move, much earlier than was either expected or wanted and the Commanding Officer attended Brigadier’s ‘O’O Group at 1400 hours.
GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION and 7th ARMOURED DIVISION were to move and attack with the Canadians, the Battalion’s objective being SEQUEVILLE LA CAMPAGNE but the whole plan was a bit vague as far as the Battalion was concerned as it depended so much on how the Canadians and the 7th ARMOURED DIVISION progressed.
H.Q. Company had a bad night as bombs including anti-personnel bombs were dropped in the area killing 2 and wounding 11, including Drill Serjeant HOCKNEY and Drill Serjeant DUNN.
The position as regards signallers is rapidly becoming acute as only the Signals Serjeant (06 Serjeant WILLIAMS) and one signaller are not permanently manning sets.
1944 July 25
Guardsman HERBERT HUMPHREYS 2736088, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 24 on 25 July 1944
Son of Joseph Wynne Humphreys and Lilian Humphreys, of Buckley, Flintshire.
Remembered with honour RANVILLE WAR CEMETERY
Grave/Memorial Reference: VIII. E. 18.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
Lance Corporal BERTRAM KITCHNER PLOW 2735076, 1st Bn., Welsh Guards who died age 28 on 25 July 1944
Son of Robert George and Gertrude Emma Plow, of Llandaff, Glamorgan.
Remembered with honour RANVILLE WAR CEMETERY
Grave/Memorial Reference: VIII. E. 17.
CWGC :: Casualty Details
1944 July 25
Battalion was ready to moved by 0700 hours - H.Q. Company only just getting there in time as the preceding night’s bombing had written off both ammunition 3-tonners and two signal 15-cwts and a good deal of hasty repairing was necessary.
By 0800 hours the Battalion was put on one hour’s notice which was shortly increased to two and it then became apparent that the Canadians had met heavy opposition and it was improbable that the Battalion would move.
The rest of the day was therefore spent in washing and maintenance with everyone digging in as evening approached after the experiences of the previous night.
1944 July 26
Rumours of a move again proved untrue.
The Brigade was apparently in a counter-attack role behind the 7th ARMOURED DIVISION who have also not moved on account of the weight of opposition met by the Canadians.
The Commanding Officer’s passion for exercise even swept ‘A’ Echelon into its mill, and the whole Battalion was to be seen setting off every morning on route marches.
The Commanding Officer took a bath in a stream in the afternoon and caught a small pike in his wash tub which was duly presented to a somewhat surprised section of our Provost Company who were nearby.
1944 July 27
Still no news of a move.
Day spent mainly in bathing and cleaning up.
The night occasionally made hideous by the guns down by the River ORNE just behind, but otherwise all was peaceful as far as the Battalion was concerned.
1944 July 28
Again nothing to report.
All Companies took two hours exercise in the morning and spent the afternoon digging in vehicles.
A tremendous Division Conference, with every sign of secrecy, such as vehicle markings and designations obliterated, took place in the afternoon, but proved to be stillborn as the proposed move was cancelled before instructions had even been issued.
Second-in-Command and L.O.B. party left this afternoon for the Adm area, where they will be permanently, it being rightly considered that ‘A’ Echelon is no particular haven of refuge.
A gunner Major from the heavies down by the river turned up this evening and asked, very reasonably, if we would kindly stop shooting at his guns when zeroing weapons.
Apparently his guns have been under constant fire from us, though fortunately no-one had been hit.
1944 July 29
The Battalion continues to be lucky: shells and bombs fall all around except in the Battalion area.
Colonel ATKINS and Major ?Bernard BRASSEY of the LEICESTERSHIRE YEOMANRY our very near neighbours came over for a drink in the evening.
1944 July 30
Battalion moved from its rather unpleasant location at 0530 hours having had a cup of tea first, and proceeded by devious, and once outside the Division Area, not over-well signposted routes back to the old area at ST. MARTIN LES ENTREES where everyone joyfully parked their vehicles by their old slit trenches and waited for breakfast.
After breakfast the Commanding Officer went over to First Line, visited Captain LING and had a word with the newly arrived draft from ENGLAND, among whom were several old 1st Battalion faces.
On return he was greeted with the news that the Battalion was not to stay the night but to move off at 0200 hours for CAPIGNY to be in CORPS reserve.
1944 July 31
The Battalion arrived in its new location at abut 0500 hours after another midnight flit which we are not getting quite accustomed to.
The new area was a pleasant orchard near a village quite untouched by war; a change indeed after CAEN and its surroundings.
It appears that General DEMPSEY had switched most of his armour overnight to the CAUMONT sector and we are part of the switch.
Brigade H.Q. was just across the way so the constant changes of plan to which they and consequently we were subjected, were less of a strain on tempers than usual.
Battalion moved again at 1830 hours, picking up 3 Squadron 1st Armoured Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS under Major Henry ALLSOP who were to support us, en route.
A lovely drive through unharmed country, only marred by the all-prevailing dust.
Battalion came to harbour just North of CAUMONT in another pleasant orchard, and everyone settled in for the night.
Battalion by then had under command beside the tanks, 1 Troop 21st Anti-Tank Regiment ROYAL ARTILLERY and 1 Platoon of M.M.G. of N.F.
1944 August 1
After a peaceful night, a harbour party under Lieutenant R.P. HEDLEY DENT went forward at 0500 hours to look at the Battalion’s new Concentration Area, and at 0700 hours the Battalion moved forward again, this time to an area South of CAUMONT, still being in 8 CORPS reserve.
A couple of hours were spent in that area and then the Battalion moved forward once more, accompanied by now by the usual quota of shelling of the road, during which Lieutenant GLUCK, who had only been with us 24 hours, was wounded.
The Battalion came to rest in an area just North of ST. MARTIN DES BESACES, and the Commanding Officer went forward to an ‘O’ Group, which was well shelled, both General ADAIR and Brigadier JOHNSON having narrow escapes.
He returned to announce - Battalion attack on the spur above ST. DENIS MAISONCELLES - an awkward feature: but all went well and the Battalion reached their objective without opposition save for a few men seen hastily retreating, by Prince of Wales Company.
Battalion H.Q. and transport less ‘A’ Echelon and T.C.L.s moved up in the evening, over tracks fairly free from the traffic blocks which had previously seemed interminable.
The Germans had moved out of ST DENIS MAISONCELLES only that morning leaving most of their belongings behind them, and the Police Serjeant (Sereant STEELE) spend a happy evening making a pair of goggles out of a German gas mask,
To lots of NEBELWERFERs came over in the evening, the first of which was directly on No. 3 Company in their orchard and killed Lieutenant P.C LUXMORE BALL and his Platoon Serjeant, 3000 Serjeant HILL - a sad blow to No. 3 Company and the Battalion as a whole.
After that the Battalion was left in peace for the night.
1944 August 2
The Division was by way of continuing the advance at first light with the armour leading and the Battalion was on the road again at 0930 hours, but as soon as it had pulled onto the Centre Line, news came in that the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS was held up in the woods above CATHEOLLES and no move was likely for the time being.
Prince of Wales were then ordered to put in a Company attack, assisted by one Troop of 3 Squadron 1st Armoured Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS to clear the Left flank, towards ?ST. PIERRES [possibly Saint-Pierre-Tarentaine], which was entirely successful though another unit had pronounced the place untenable.
They had an unpleasant amount of shelling and mortaring - one mortar burst, landing immediately on Company H.Q. with sad results.
During this attack Prince of Wales Company lost 8 killed and nine wounded.
There the Battalion remained by the road until evening, when orders were received for the rifle companies to advance on foot and take up positions on the high ground above CATHEOLLES.
This again was occupied without incident, save for constant shelling on the road, and the Command Post established itself in a quarry on the side of the hill with Battalion H.Q. and the vehicles in an orchard 3 miles back.
1944 August 3
The road down from Command Post was under enemy observation and had been well registered by them, so that movement of cookers and large vehicles were slightly speculative.
No. 3 Company cooker and the water cart missed a turning and motored rapidly into German lines, though two days later the two Guardsmen on the water cart, 2734857 BROWN and 2734505 PALMER returned, having run straight into enemy lines, been machine-gunned from all sides and being miraculously unharmed, had been hidden by the French.
Later the water cart itself, still running, was recovered.
That evening, the Battalion came under command of 44 (L) BRIGADE of 15 (S) DIVISION and was ordered to attack the big wood just East of COURTACON, with exploitation role to the village of LES FIEFFES, as the Right hand Battalion of a three Brigade attack.
The Battalion still had the assistance of 3 Squadron under Major ALLSOP and the 55 Field Regiment ROYAL ARTILLERY on call.
As night fell, Prince of Wales Company and the Command Post heard Germans digging in only 200 yards away.
1944 August 4
At 0600 hours a substantial artillery concentration was brought to bear on the German positions with what result was not known.
At 0630 hours the Battalion attack on a two Company front and all went well and without opposition, as did the exploitation to LES FIEFFES.
Some 20 Prisoners were taken the majority of whom were Poles and Russians, and only too pleased to be in our hands.
So far the Battalion had not had a casualty.
In the evening the Battalion was ordered to advance further, to MONTCHAMP, but at the beginning of the attack, the Commanding Officer was most unfortunately wounded by a sniper in civilian clothes, whilst looking out of his Scout car, and had a miraculous escape from death.
Only about two hours’ time had been allowed for preparation and information was practically non-existent, save that the town was believed to be held.
It later transpired that 9 S.S. Panzer Division was in reserve just South of the town with a counter-attack role on the town itself.
The Battalion attack went in at 1730 hours supported by 55 Field Regiment ROYAL ARTILLERY, 3 Squadron on of 1st Armoured Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS, but no 17-pounder Anti-Tank guns.
The attack was in two phases:
Phase 1 being to capture LE PONT ESNAULT which overlooks the road running East from MONTCHAMP, and
Phase 2 being the capture of MONTCHAMP itself.
Phase 1 went well and No.s 3 and 4 Companies reached their objectives without casualties.
Prince of Wales Company and No. 2 Company then attacked astride the road running North from MONTCHAMP with No. 3 Company to follow up behind them and No. 4 Company to remain at LE PONT ESNAULT.
All went well for a start, but shortly after Lieutenant-Colonel HEBER PERCY had been wounded by a sniper, and Major G.G. FOWKE had taken over, messages came through that enemy tanks and infantry had counter-attacked, putting Prince of Wales, No.s 2 and 3 Companies in an extremely awkward position, as they had not yeat had time to dig in.
The enemy had penetrated into the town from East and West, and owing to the nature of the country, it was impossible to get our tanks or Anti-Tank guns to the leading Companies.
By now Prince of Wales Company had been cut in tow by tanks - No. 2 Company were surrounded in an orchard and wireless communication with leading Companies had broken down,
No. 3 Company meanwhile were having trouble in a field, past the town, but were eventually most skilfully extracted by Lieutenant RETALLACK, who had himself had a series of miraculous and hairbreadth escapes, and brought back to LE PONT ESNAULT where they dug in.
Eventually about 30 men of Prince of Wales Company under Major MILLER and some 50 men of No. 2 Company got back and dug in North of the town.
Prince of Wales Company had been slightly discouraged by firing at several PANTHERs with PIATs, without any noticeable effect.
The forward Companies had no alternative but to withdraw slightly as they were without tanks and supporting arms, and surrounded by tanks.
No. 4 Company, which had heard enemy digging in 150 yards to the front, then were withdrawn by Major EVANS to conform to the Battalion position.
The enemy did not follow up this counter-attack and there the matter rested.
Casualties were Major TURNBULL and Lieutenant LESTER killed and Captain Sir RICHARD POWELL missing.
After fighting an outstanding gallant action, 33 Other Ranks killed and 78 wounded.
The most extra-ordinary incident of the fighting was when a Platoon of No. 3 Company met what purported to be a 3-tonner of our 2nd Battalion [WELSH GUARDS] coming down the road, with a German in front holding up his hands in surrender.
One Guardsman unwisely believed this gesture, got out of his trench, and was immediately killed by a burst of fire.
The PIAT then opened up on the 3-tonner and killed the remaining five occupants.
One of them, as he lay dying, was heard singing the ‘HORST WESSEL’ song, his voice growing gradually fainter and fainter, until life expired - an eerie sound indeed - of such stuff are our opponents.
1944 August 5
Major J.F. GRESHAM arrived from L.O.B. in the morning to take over the Battalion.
The enemy now identified at 9 S.S. had apparently withdrawn, and save for a few shells whenever passing vehicles raised dust on the road, all was quiet.
Companies got some well-deserved sleep and the usual dreary process of accounting for casualties and indenting for replacements, weapons and kit was put in motion.
The action had cost the Battalion some 130 casualties (including 36 killed).
1944 August 6
The area had now become really peaceful once more and parties were sent out to look for the missing, several of which had already turned up after tremendous adventures.
Major M.J. TURNBULL’s and Lieutenant D.M. LESTER’s bodies were found, as was Captain Sir R.G.D. POWELL’s steel helmet, unharmed, by a German R.A.P., so it is impossible not to be optimistic about him.
The Divisional Commander visited the Battalion in the afternoon and expressed himself as delighted with the Battalion’s performance.
He also brought compliments from the Corps Commander and the Army Commander.
Our Gunner O.P. brought a horrible talk back from his Regiment H.Q. that the Division was to advance that night with 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS leading, but this was quickly squashed by the arrival of Brigadier JOHNSON with the news that the Battalion had a clear 48 hours to get sorted out in.
1944 August 7
This was slightly modified the next morning by the news of a move, but it only proved to be a trip a few miles down the road to COURTEIL, to take over from the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS, and evening saw the Battalion comfortably established, with the exception of No. 4 Company who had a bit of shelling.
The Orderly Room was in a large Chateau, previously held by the Germans, either as a H.Q. or a Hospital - it was never established which.
1944 August 8
The Commanding Officer addressed all Companies in their own areas.
'A’ Echelon had a stray shell in the night which unluckily injured 90 Serjeant SMITH, the master cook.
The 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS were adjacent and pre luncheon and dinner visits were exchanged.
A small draft from our depleted First Line arrived in the evening.
1944 August 9
News of an evening move to take over from the 1st Battalion HEREFORDSHIRE REGIMENT of the Infantry Brigade of 11th ARMOURED DIVISION, in the area of LE BAS PERRIER, which looked a thoroughly unpleasant place, being just a finger of British-held country, jutting out into enemy territory.
The Battalion moved off at 2230 hours by march route and was safely in position by 0300 hours, much to everyone’s relief, as two miles of the road was normally heavily shelled by the enemy.
Not a shell was fired however, which was just as well.
The position was more or less dug by the Battalion we were taking over from, though we always find other people’s positions too shallow for Guardsmen.
Not doubt the converse is also true.
1944 August 10
Battalion found the position no pleasanter than had been expected.
it was entirely overlooked by the enemy, even though a series of false crests gave an impression to the country, and the unpleasant accuracy of the shelling pointed to enemy Observation Posts in the near neighbourhood.
No.s 2 and 3 Companies were the forward companies, and two Germans with a machine gun unwisely approached No. 3 Company, who killed one of them - identified as 9 S.S. Panzer Division.
A lengthy Brigade ‘O’ Group took place in the afternoon, which resolved itself into an Infantry-Tank attack for early the following morning.
The Battalion had under command a Squadron of 2nd Armoured Battalion IRISH GUARDS (Captain EDDIE TYLER), to work with Prince of Wales Company and two Squadrons of 3rd Battalion SCOTS GUARDS (Major The Honourable M.F.H. FITZALAN HOWARD), to work with No. 4 Company, and Major Charles FARRELL to work with No. 3 Company.
The rest of the day was spent in liaison between the Squadron Commanders and the Company Commanders concerned, as it was felt that at MONTCHAMP the infantry might have out-run the tanks - a mistake, which if made, was not going to be repeated.
1944 August 11
After a barrage, No.s 2 and 3 Companies advanced towards their objectives, some half mile distant, with their tanks.
No. 3 Company soon ran into heavy trouble in the shape of German tanks dug into houses.
Fierce fighting ensued, but for a while it was utterly impossible for No. 3 Company to get their objective.
However, they ultimately achieved it, and claim 4 PANTHERS, with an unknown but considerable number of enemy killed - the exact number being unknown as the Germans followed their usual practise of removing the dead during a short lull in the battle.
Meanwhile Prince of Wales Company, who were still a Platoon down in strength, were to attack HOUSSEMAGNE and No. 4 Company a ridge to the Left of the road.
Bad visibility, which made things awkward for the IRISH GUARDS’ SHERMANs and the SCOTS GUARDS’ CHURCHILLs held up the attack for a short time, and again Companies had the greatest difficulty in reaching their objectives.
Prince of Wales Company in particular, having a very unpleasant time in the close country round HOUSSEMAGNE, during which the IRISH GUARDS had six tanks knocked out, but gave them the most noble support.
Control was through tank Liaison Officers talking to their Squadrons and this method worked admirably, as the Commanding Officer always knew exactly what was happening.
Control was however not helped by the heavy shelling of Command Post, which took place at all too frequent intervals.
The Regimental Aid Post, when full of wounded, received a direct hit, severely wounding our gallant and imperturbable Medical Officer, Captain Arthur UNWIN, and most of his staff.
They had all to be evacuated and the R.A.P. was taken over by 02 Lance-Corporal ROBERTS, the No. 4 Company Stretcher Bearer, who remained among the wreckage, imperturbably evacuating casualties all day until Captain GIBB of the 128 Field Ambulance was sent up to help him in the evening.
There was a lull in the battle about mid-day and by about 4 o’clock all Companies were on their objectives.
The 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS had, meanwhile, got through to CHENEDOLLE without much difficulty and the HEREFORDSHIRES were prepared to take over from us, but the enemy strength on our Left flank was such, that it as impossible to advance and eventually the Brigade Commander gave orders for Prince of Wales and No. 4 Companies to be withdrawn from their hard won positions and take up positions to complete a Battalion pivot in area of LE BAS PERRIER.
They moved out after dark and were in position by 0200 hours.
No counter attack came in that night and a very strong two Battalion pivot position was now established, complete with a Battalion of CHURCHILLs and a new Squadron of 2nd Armoured Battalion IRISH GUARDS [noted incorrectly as 3 (Armd) I.G.], which had come up to replace the one which had been knocked about.
The day’s fighting had cost the Battalion: One Officer killed (Lieutenant REID) and three Officers wounded, none of which were severe, and 34 Other Ranks killed and 84 wounded; a heavy toll as the Battalion had started the action some 90 men down.
1944 August 12
The usual dreary process of burying the dead and re-organising generally set in motion.
Daylight showed an impressive amount of knocked out German tanks and abandoned equipment, and it was obvious to any passers-by that the Battalion had again given an outstandingly good account of itself.
Shelling was intermittent throughout the day, and in the evening Captain The Honourable David RHYS, the Mortar Platoon Commander was wounded, whilst driving down the road in a carrier.
1944 August 13
The weather still continues fine which is fortunate as rain would rapidly reduce the Battalion area to a stinking shambles.
However the mess is being gradually cleaned up.
The Divisional Commander visited the Battalion in the morning and was again more than complimentary.
It seems probable that the Battalion will remain in a holding position where it is, while General MONTGOMERY’s sack is drawn even closer from FALAISE to ARGENTAN.
The mystery of why the Battalion has twice been bombed by four American THUNDERBOLTS was solved this evening, when it was disclosed that they were German flown, having been captured at an early stage in the campaign.
A PANTHER tank, in full running order, was seen coming down the road this evening, the prize apparently of the 3rd Battalion SCOTS GUARDS.
Commanding Officer (Lieutenant-Colonel J.F. GRESHAM) went to L.O.B. for a short rest and Major G.G. FOWKE came up to command the Battalion.
Several patrols were sent out during the night, including a fighting patrol, on what was known to be a German Platoon position, under Lieutenant RETALLACK: they reached their objective and silenced a machine gun with grenades.
Lieutenant RETALLACK was wounded, but safely brought back to the R.A.P.
The general impression seems to be that the Germans are slowly pulling out, but leaving tough pockets of resistance behind to delay our troops.
Three Officers (2/Lieutenant J.M.H. ROBERS, 2/Lieutenant C.H. BARKER, 2/Lieutenant H.R.E. MITCHLEY) came this evening, leaving the Battalion eight Officers and 188 Other Ranks short - a deficiency which it is going to be difficult to fill as so many of the casualties have been experienced N.C.O.s.
1944 August 14
The front now seemed quiet again, and all Companies had nothing to report.
The Battalion area is certainly far from pleasant as its chief amenities consist of dead cows, dead Germans and burnt out tanks.
Thanks to the untiring labours of Padre PAYNE, all our deceased have by now had a proper and reverent burial, and a small and carefully tended burial ground has been formed just by Battalion H.Q.
In the afternoon, the Commanding Officer attended a Conference on Infantry/Tank co-operation at Divisional H.Q.
One tangible result of ti was a promise from the General that 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS and 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS would be allowed to work together when practicable.
1944 August 15
Numerous patrols went out the proceeding night, but all information they brought back was negative.
It really does look as through the Germans are now pulling out in fact, and not merely in the imagination of the ‘I’ Staff.
The Corps Commander (General O’CONNOR) visited Command Post with the Divisional Commander and Brigade Commander in the afternoon, and talked to Company Commanders.
He was most appreciative of the Division’s work and said “You can always rely on the GUARDS DIVISION”.
He had a short chat with Major MILLER whom he had not seen for some ten years.
No. 2 Company were meanwhile patrolling in strength right forward without meeting any resistance.
The only unfortunate incident being when one of our carriers ran onto a mine and Lance-Serjeant HOWELLS was killed.
The extent of mining and booby trapping in front of the Battalion is not known, but it is believed to be considerable.
1944 August 16
The Battalion advanced onto the main VIRE - VASSY road without meeting resistance and Prince of Wales company assisted by a troop of Sappers advanced right onto Point 227 by the village of RULLY.
The Commanding Officer attended a talk by General MONTGOMERY at Divisional H.Q. in the afternoon.
Captain BECKWITH-SMITH who will take over No. 3 Company, and 2/Lieutenant J.S. ROBERTS (A/Pioneer Platoon) and Lieutenant N. THOMAS (Second-in-Command Carrier Platoon) and a draft of 14 very young Other Ranks joined the Battalion in the evening.
This morning’s operation was known as Exercise ‘SWAN’ and the term “swanning” may require a little interpretation.
It means roughly to wander over an area known to be a battlefield, in an unspecified and probably unknown direction, for an unnecessary and probably illegal purpose, and is a term in very general use.
1944 August 17
In the morning Major J.D. HORNUNG, paying his last visit a Brigade Major, before going to Division as G.I., brought orders that the Battalion were to concentration in the area of Prince of Wales Company at Point 227 by 1700 hours that day.
Later on, the Commanding Officer was to be given the choice of staying in that area or moving the Battalion back to the dusty, dead cow area of Brigade H.Q.
The area round Point 227 and the village of RULLY was accordingly visited and found to be so admirable and entirely unfought over, that once the Battalion had moved in, complete with ‘’A’ Echelon and T.C.L.s, there was no question of moving back again.
The Orderly Room was established in a stable, in an orchard, with the Rifle Companies in surrounding fields and the Officers’ Mess in a barn by the Orderly Room.
The whole area being a pleasant change from the Battalion’s recent surroundings.
1944 August 18
A latish Reveille and the day spent in the now familiar process of sorting out deficiencies and holding promotion conferences.
Some 8 full Serjeants and 26 Lance-Serjeants had to be found and eventually were - no-one could quarrel these days with the speed of promotion.
8 CORPS is now in Army reserve and it is considered probable that the Division will have a week’s rest.
1944 August 19
In the morning the Battalion paraded for Drill under the Commanding Officer.
Captain KENT arrived from ENGLAND (via R.H.U.) and is temporarily posted to Support Company, and Captain V.G. WALLACE, who had left the Battalion after CAGNY, rejoined from Hospital and goes as Second-in-Command to No. 3 Company.
The Divisional Commander and the Brigade Commander visited the Battalion before lunch and the Divisional Commander walked round all Companies, talked to a number of men and expressed himself very well pleased with all he saw.
He brought with him a slight bombshell in the shape of news that a Company was to be disbanded and ‘X’ Company SCOTS GUARDS, who all along have been with 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS, was to join the Battaion.
It appears that the reinforcement position in the Regiment is so acute that there is no immediate chance of the Battalion’s 200 odd deficiency being made good, and this step has therefore had to be taken.
The Commanding Officer ordered that No. 2 Company, as the junior Company, must be the one to go.
The Company Commander, Sir Edmund BEDINGFELD was to go as Second-in-Command to Prince of Wales Company, which Company would be made up from the tallest men.
1944 August 20
Church Parade under Padre PAYNE in the morning, after which the Commanding Officer explained to the Battalion the re-organisation which was about to be put into effect.
The R.S.M. then measured No.s 3 and 4 Companies with a guillotine-like device of his own contriving, and some 10 men of No. 4 Company were adjudged as tall enough for the Prince of Wales Company and dispatched there.
This leaves each Rifle Company only some 15 men down.
The date of X Company’s arrival depends on how soon 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS get their draft.
A large party came to lunch including Brigadier SIr A.B. STANIER, Bt., Lieutenant-Colonel GAVIN YOUNG (now R.A.F. REGIMENT) and 3 of the Brigade Staff.
1944 August 21
A whole day’s discussions on Infantry/Tank co-operation with Second-in-Command (Major The Lord TRYON) and Squadron Commanders of 2nd Armoured Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS took up most of the day.
They are now grouped with the Battalion for any future operations.
A very wet day, after a better night and not much could be done.
Numerous courses now being run, managed to carry on however, though the young Corporals Drill Course had to be temporarily abandoned.
The first party to go to 8 CORPS Rest Camp returned today and said it was admirably run and a great success.
The Battalion had 1 Officer and 5 Other Rank vacancies a day, and they stay away for three days.
1944 August 22
Another peaceful day.
After lunch the Commanding Officer lectured the Battalion on the battle of LE BAS PERRIER aided by a map drawn by Lance-Serjeant MURRELL with his customary skill, on the wall of a house.
A large party went off in T.C.L.s to a ‘Stars in Battledress’ performance in the evening, the first time the Battalion has been able to go for some time, as recent allocations have invariably coincided with a move order.
In the evening the Commanding Officer dined at Divisional H.Q. to meet the Major General, who is on a visit to the Division.
The Serjeants’ Mess was reopened in the evening, with Serjeant TURNER (QM) as caterer and very short shrift was given to the Battalion’s beer ration.
1944 August 23
The Major General commanding the BRIGADE OF GUARDS (Lieutenant General Sir Charles LOYD), Lieutenant General F.A.M. BROWNING accompanied by Major General ADAIR, Brigadier JOHNSON and Lieutenant-Colonel NUGENT visited the Battalion in the morning and went round Prince of Wales and Support Companies, time unfortunately not allowing a more extensive tour.
They were more than appreciative of all they saw.
Pride of place should perhaps be given to Support Company’s cookhouse under C.Q.M.S. SAVILLE which looked like “FORTNUM’s effort to outshine MASON”.
Lieutenant General BROWNING renewed acquaintance with several senior ranks, including R.S.M. BAKER, whom he had known in 24th GUARDS BRIGADE days.
News of a move came soon afterwards to an area on the main road between FLERS and CONDE SUR NOIREAU and the Commanding Officer went off with Company recce parties after lunch to have a look at it.
It proved nearly as excellent as the present area, and had the additional advantage of being near Brigade and the other Battalions.
The Battalion moved off for the new area at 0830 hours.
Tracked vehicles travelling on a different route under Major LISTER and by lunch time the Battalion was well settled in, the Orderly Room again being located in a stable.
The long expected arrival of X Company SCOTS GUARDS took place in the afternoon.
An area had been found for them and they moved straight in and took over the old No. 2 Company kit and vehicles.
1944 August 25
Day spent in settling in and restarting the courses (Drill, Map reading, etc) which had been in progress in the last area.
The Brigadier and Colonel RODDY HIL, Colonel J.O.E. VANDELEUR and Colonel Jim WINDSOR LEWIS came to dinner in the evening.
After dinner, the Battalion choir, now sadly diminished in numbers, sang quite beautifully, in addition to which the Commanding Officer had the unusual experience of having a piper at his call, who was a real pleasure to listen to.
1944 August 26
Prince of Wales Company gave a demonstration in the morning of embussing and march discipline and the 30 yards range, miraculously constructed by Captain RING in a nearby valley was put into use in the afternoon.
[Typeface very faint, so the following 2 sentences may contain transcription errors ...]
5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS held a Milking Competition, interspersed with a few ? fights in the afternoon which the Divisional Commander and a large ?crowd attended.
The Battalion team won the Milking Competition, beating the M.G. Company and 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARD, and ... [becomes too faint to read]
1944 August 27
Church Parade in the morning - C. of E. under Padre TOMLINSON and United Board under Padre PAYNE.
In the afternoon the band of the LIFE GUARDS out from ENGLAND gave a series of much appreciated concerts for the Brigade.
The Intelligence Section and Captain ROBERTSON the Intelligence Officer, have spent three very busy days counting enemy kit in the FALAISE pocket, and they returned today with an AUSTRIAN Steyr - a sort of open ? wagon, with an air cooled engine, which is going to be shared by the Intelligence Section and the Drums.
Prince of Wales Company Serjeants had a most successful evening party, the principal drink being a “Conde Killer”, of which the ingredients were gin, whisky and local cider.
1944 August 28
Orders at last received for a move and Major MILLER set off to look at the new area at CHENNEBRUN past LAIGLE.
He had a long drive, some 80 miles, and did not get back until the evening.
Captain HENDERSON and a draft for the Battalion and X Company arrived in the afternoon.
The First Line people have now reversed their normal policy and sent us many more people than we want, making it necessary with great labour, to get a posting order to get rid of them.
That old Edwardian relic, the Morris Office Body received an overdue death sentence in the afternoon, when a 3-tonner suddenly materialised to take its place.
Harbour parties left for the new area in the evening as the Battalion was to leave at 0400 hours the next morning.
News had come from Major DUNDAS in the morning that Captain Sir Richard POWELL had escaped to PARIS and was now on his way to us, and in the evening he arrived, to the delight of everyone, unhurt save for a cut over one eye, and with a tale of great adventure which unfortunately is too long to recount here.
1944 August 29
A drive which started at 0400 hours and finished at 1530 hours, five hours behind schedule, very reminiscent of Exercise SPARTAN, but the Battalion lost no vehicles.
Pouring with rain for most of the time, and several transporters complete with tanks had finished up in the ditch.
All Companies had nice areas with a farm each and Battalion H.Q. was in the grounds of the Chateau at CHENNEBRUN, whose owner M. des BROSSES was more than hospitable, chiefly due to the charm exercised on him by Captain GRAHAM the Signals Officer.
Captain KENT and Lieutenant WIDDRINGTON and some thirty Other Ranks left for 34 R.H.U. which had moved up in the evening.
O’ Group was held by the light of 12 candles in the evening, and brought news of another early start, and a drive, still under peace conditions to VERNON and the SEINE.
1944 August 30
Battalion moved at first light on the start of a long drive to VERNON, just across the SEINE.
A soaking day until we reached the SEINE, which was really rather an exciting moment.
The Battalion harboured for the night in what turned out to be a very damp field, having covered some 70 miles and still being nowhere near the enemy.
11th ARMOURED DIVISION has led so far, followed by 8th ARMOURED BRIGADE and 5th GUARDS ARMOURED BRIDGE, the whole being under command of Lieutenant General HORROCKS and 30 CORPS.
From tomorrow both Armoured Divisions will have their own Centre Line.
1944 August 31
The advance continued at 0700 hours, with the orders “maximum speed” - “no halts” - the immediate result being, of course, that we took the best part of two hours to cross the Division Start Point.
The Battalion drove 80 miles that day, through towns and villages full of excited inhabitants, who cheered loud and long and covered vehicles and occupants alike, with flowers and patriotic slogans written in chalk.
The Transport Officer, Lieutenant J.P. KOPPEL, when he stopped to watch the convoy, was kissed enthusiastically on both cheeks by an elderly Frenchman of terrifying aspect.
The Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer went forward in the evening to a Brigade ‘O’ Group and returned with the Scout car looking as though it had been in a carnival of flowers.
The only big towns we passed through were GISORS and BEAUVAIS and eventually about 2100 hours, when we were about 15 miles from the SOMME, the order came for the Battalion to pull in off the road and harbour for the night.
The advance continued at first light, the armour again leading, and the same astonishing day’s journey took place.
Flowers and apples, drinks of all sorts from wine to fizzy lemonade and ersatz coffee were pressed on a vehicle whenever it halted.
An elderly Frenchman, with an even older bugle, stood by the road and blew “Cookhouse” at the double as the Battalion passed.
No. 4 Company went off the Centre Line for a couple of hours to search some villages, which the F.F.I. reported Germans to be in, but found nothing of interest, save som 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS graves of the last war.
The F.F.I. are ranging the country far and wide, and stopping the enemy from blowing bridges, marking mines and generally being of inestimable assistance to us.
They range from 15 to 70 and travel about packed in captured German and antique French vehicles.
Column and column of German prisoners, with only a couple of F.F.I. men with them, passed us during the day.
Many British cemeteries from the last war were passed during the day, all beautifully tended.
The SOMME was crossed without accident and the Battalion came to rest in the suburbs of ARRAS, the same town which the Battalion had been the last British troops to leave in 1940.
A late Reveille and a much needed sleep.
Companies were in areas round the suburbs of ARRAS and had all been given a tremendous reception.
A rifle belonging to No. 4 Company from 1940 was handed to R.S.M. BAKER by a local inhabitant and Major MILLER found much of the kit he had been forced to leave behind in 1940.
Recce parties under Captain GRAHAM left at 1030 hours and after the customary changes of plan, were told to put the Battalion in to the village of CUINCHY just through DOUAI.
The Battalion moved off after mid-day and had an uneventful drive through DOUAI to the new area, where Companies were well established in barns and outhouses, until the order to dig in came, and re-adjustments to positions had to be made accordingly.
Digging in was considered necessary on account of a very top secret and to the lay mind quite idiotic plan to drop airborne formations on LILLE and TOURNAI a few miles away, preceded by large scale bombing, and we were only a few miles away from the bomb line.
The Battalion was eventually led int CUICHY by a Roman Catholic Priest in full canonicals riding on a minute motor cycle as Captain GRAHAM had, according to his own account, a sudden panic that he would lose the way.
After lunch the rather exciting news arrived that the GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION was to advance to BRUSSELS in the morning, a distance of some 90 miles.
The 32nd GUARDS BRIGADE Group being led by 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS working together under command of Lieutenant-Colonel WINDSOR LEWIS, D.S.O., M.C.
Second-in-Command (Major G.G. FOWKE) and Major MILLER, as Prince of Wales Company was to lead, went over to 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS to tie up arrangements.
Brigade ‘O’O Group took place at 2000 hours and the Commanding Officer gave out his orders at 2100 hours.
After that, the night was made hideous by constant re-arrangements of times and Start Lines, culminating with an ex-ZOUAVE being produced in the middle of the night, who was to lead us to the meeting place with the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS.
The Battalion left at first light and after a short halt at 0630 hours to line up with the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS, the advance continued, the tanks in front doing anything up to 40 m.p.h. as an American Armoured Division had preceded us as far as TOURNAI but after that we were going over unliberated territory, and in every village the WELSH GUARDS Group got a terrific welcome.
The first check came at LEUTZ [?LEUZE], when some Infantry with a few Anti-Tank guns were well astride the road, and a staged attack which took a bit of time was put in by Prince of Wales Company and the leading tanks.
After this opposition had been successfully overcome, without any casualties to ourselves, though considerable casualties to the enemy, the advance continued, with checks only at ENGHIEN and HALLE.
The two Battalions entered the outskirts of BRUSSELS at approximately 2000 hours.
The whole way along the route, the column had been greeted by cheering crowds, throwing fruit and covering with flowers every passing vehicle.
It may incidentally be noted that it is not easy to operate a wireless set satisfactorily when unrip fruit continually hurtles through the window.
Once the two Battalions had entered BRUSSELS however, the welcome exceeded anything the Battalion has ever seen before or is ever likely to see again.
It was practically impossible to get through the streets, so great was the press of the crowd, and presents of every sort were showered on the troops.
Scores of bottles of brandy, wines of all descriptions were pressed through the windows and nearly every vehicle had a blonde in it, but under the circumstances it was extremely difficult to eject them, even if the wish had have been there.
Drill Serjeant BLACKMORE had two on the back of his motor cycle.
Progress through the street was of necessity so slow that darkness had fallen by the time the Battalion reached the Avenue de Waterloo, where it was decided to form close laager with the tanks for the night.
There was still a considerable amount of M.M.G fire at no great distance, and every kind of report and rumour of enemy tanks and enemy infantry were brought in by the excited soldiers of the BELGIUM ARMEE BLANCHE, while a hundred yards away the PALAIS DE JUSTICE was going up in a cloud of flames.
Save for recce elements of 2 HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY REGIMENT, and 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS of R Force the Battalion were the first British troops to enter BRUSSELS.
As soon as vehicles had been parked, and it was far from easy to find anyone in the confusion of the dark, crowds collected round all the vehicles and it is probably extremely fortunate that no counter attack of any sort developed, as in the darkness and confusion it would not have been a pleasant or any easy matter to deal with it.
The Battalion awoke to a BRUSSELS seething with excitement, and presents of every sort were still being showered on the troops, and it should perhaps be recorded that in spite of the numerous and enormous quantities of drink available, no-one appeared to be the worst for wear.
The Chief of Police and a Colonel in the ARMEE BLANCHEE, dressed in white overalls, which is their uniform, and wearing a D.S.O. and M.C. from the last war, came to see us with information of the enemy strong points, some seven in number, which were still believed to be holding out in the city.
No. 3 Company and X Company promptly sent out some patrols, accompanied by tanks, which met no opposition and No. 4 Company took over three bridges which they guarded during that night.
The ARMEE BLANCHE have an excellent organisation of some 11 Battalions in the City, but their great lack is arms.
A Hospital opposite the Battalion area which was entered by a small party of ours, who had been told that the Hospital contained German soldiers with arms, investigated and fond it to contain a wonderful hodge-podge of nationalities, with a German Commandant and some 50 German staff, Belgium nurses and Red Cross, and the balance made up by Colonel MARSHALL-SCOTT and his people of 128 FIeld Ambulance.
At 1300 hours, news came from our 2nd Battalion, under whose command we still were, that the Battalion was to move to an area just outside BRUSSELS called AUDERGHEM.
The Battalions’ new area turned out to be very unsuitable but eventually the Companies were grouped round a Hotel sited on a lake, the Proprietress of which was an aged LUXEMBOURGER who did not fail to make a pretty good thing out of the Army of Liberation.
Later on in the afternoon, the greater part of No. 3 Company was sent out to hold a road block in the FORET DE SOIGNES and no move was anticipated until the next day, but this illusion was rapidly shattered by the news that a group consisting of X and Prince of Wales Companies, and an armoured Squadron were to clear the road to LOUVAIN in the morning, as it had been reported covered by 88mm.
A BRUSSELS manufacturer and his family entertained Captain HOLLAND and Lieutenant KOPPEL, most royally for dinner at the Hotel; Captain HOLLAND’s voice becoming noisier and noisier throughout the evening, and not making the task of writing orders next door any easier.
The Column which was to clear the road to LOUVAIN was back by mid-day, having met no opposition.
A report then came through of seven enemy tanks who had ran out of petrol, being eager to surrender in the village of WAVRE.
This report was investigated so closely by Captain WALLACE that he even got into conversation with the German Officer on the tanks, and was invited to get onto the tank, an invitation which he wisely refused.
It then became apparent that they had no intention of surrendering, and a No. 4 Company group, under command of Major G.G. FOWKE, set about the task of clearing WAVRE.
This proved far from easy and resulted in some confused street fighting, in which 3 Guardsmen were killed and Captain HENDERSON and Lieutenant BLAND injured.
Eventually by dusk the village was cleared, handed over to an American Recce patrol and the column was ordered by Brigade to return.
During the afternoon Major MILLER had been informed of a wine dump in BRUSSELS which was rapidly investigated by himself, the Intelligence Officer, Lieutenant KOPPEL and the Quartermaster in an empty 3-tonner.
The upshot was that they returned with some 800 bottles of champagne of varying quality, a large stock of tinned mushrooms and tomato soup and various other odds and ends.
This was later issued to Companies to be held against Victory Day.
After having been told that a stay of two days was certain, the Battalion was ordered to move with the WELSH GUARDS Group leading at 0700 hours the next morning, to pass through LOUVAIN and seize the bridges over the ALBERT CANAL.
The two Battalions set off again at 0730 hours in the same order of march (Prince of Wales Company leading), as had been the case in the journey from BRUSSELS.
No opposition at all was met before getting to the bridges over the ALBERT CANAL, which were found to be partially blown, and an attempt to cross by what remained of the bridges was met by spandau fire and directly on it.
After a couple of sighting rounds from the 55 Field Regiment ROYAL ARTILLERY, the enemy hastily withdrew, and whilst the ROYAL ENGINEERS were repairing the original bridge, Prince of Wales Company constructed their own ingenious bridge of barges a little way further up the canal.
They took a number of Prisoners when clearing the town of BERINGEN which is across the canal, and these were turned into forced labour to help in the construction of the sapper bridge.
Numerous parties of Prisoners ranging from Mongolians to boys in the Arbeitsdienst aged about 17 were brought in during the day, and every few minutes a report of enemy activity of some sort or other came in from the ARMEE BLANCH.
As the bridge could not be got ready by the sappers before midnight it was assumed that the Battalion would harbour where it lay, but wrongly, for in the evening, orders were received to cross the bridge at midnight, or as soon as it was completed, and advance, leaving two companies on the Bridges over the ESCAUT (No.s 3 and 4 Companies), and continue to EINDHOVEN, just across the Dutch border.
The receipt of these orders coincided with a certain amount of mortar and spandau fire on Prince of Wales Company bridge.
The bridge building took longer than was expected and the Group did not move off until 0330 hours.
As soon as the leading elements reached the Bridge it became very obvious that the situation had changed considerably from the previous day, and that new enemy Battalions had moved into the town over night (it later transpired that one of the enemy Battalions had come all the way from the RHINE on bicycles.)
The Battalion column was well shelled going down to the bridge and some six vehicles were knocked out.
It then became impossible for anything after the three Companies’ Squadron Groups to get across the bridge, and the remainder of the Battalion had to park by the side of the road as best it could.
Eventually when shelling became heavier the Battalion column returned to the harbour area of the night before.
The situation in the town of BERINGEN resulted in some confused street fighting, but the casualties were wonderfully small and shortly after midday No.s 3 and 4 Companies were able to push on down the road to HECHTEL.
The IRISH GUARDS Group then crossed over the bridge into the town and put in an attack on the industrial area where the shelling had been coming from, with the result that the road was safe enough for the rest of the Battalion to motor through to a harbour area just short of HECHTEREN where the whole Battalion Group harboured for the night, while No. 4 Company and 3 Squadron had a Group on the crossroads in HECHTEREN itself.
No. 3 Company had a nasty time getting back to the harbour area as the leading tank of their Group was shot up thereby blocking the road, and both their leading T.C.L.s got bazooka’d, killing two men, one of whom was 4573 Guardsman BURTON, who had all along done invaluable service as a stretcher bearer, and wounding several others.
We have now attached to us a charming Belgian Officer (with 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS), a Dutchman who is most useful as a Flemish speaker, with the Intelligence Section, and a remarkable American known as “Hertford Honey” from the name on his motor cycle, who gravitates from Company to Company.
Orders were given out at 0830 hours for an attack on HECHTEL, zero hour at 1430 hours, to be carried out by Prince of Wales and X Companies, supported by a squadron of tanks, (for actual orders see Appendix ‘A’ attached) and it soon became obvious that there was heavy opposition in the village, however both Companies reached their objective again with light casualties, owing the the absence of enemy artillery, and No. 3 Company Group was soon up from the firm base of the two H.Q.s to help them.
Since 11 o’clock, No. 4 Company Group had been permanently standing to in HECHTEREN and they had a day of almost continuous attack supported by mortar fire, until their Company position was relieved by a Battalion Group of the IRISH GUARDS in the evening, and they came back to the H.Q. Area to take over the positions vacated by No. 3 Company having had a thoroughly unpleasant but very successful day.
Every sort of rumour of enemy positions and intentions poured in from civilian sources throughout the day, most of which, fortunately, turned out to be unfounded.
Everyone spent a very alert night as there was known to be plenty of enemy about, but no-one quite knew where.
By morning it had become obvious that the force in HECHTEL was not sufficient and after the Commanding Officer had returned to H.Q. for a conference, No. 4 Company Group sent up, the remainder of the firm base, following at 1100 hours, and harbouring in the woods, where Command Post had been the night befoe, while Command Post moved forward to be nearer HECHTEL itself.
The sad news came in the morning that Major LISTER had been killed, while leading No. 3 Company into their positions on the crossroads.
His personality and example had been an inspiration to the Battalion.
He will be irreplaceable because he was unique.
All who served with him will always remember in him a man who was truly great.
A day of sharp enemy counter attacks followed, for it was as essential to the enemy as it was to us to hold the village, a fact which was emphasised by Brigadier JOHNSON.
Companies became swallowed up in the straggling village and if help had been available, it would have been welcome.
However, few troops have yet got over our bridge at BERINGEN, and none where available.
The most severe counter attack came in at 1900 hours, when infantry, supported by tanks succeeded in temporarily driving No. 3 Company off the cross roads and over running the leading Platoons of Prince of Wales and X Companies.
Major MILLER, who was at ‘O’ Group at the time, immediately returned to his Company and, having done such re-organisation as was necessary, got both Prince of Wales and No. 3 Companies back to their original positions, and by 2100 hours all was well again.
Three Batteries of 25-pounders and a Battery of Mediums were known to be on call, which made the position easier.
Later that evening, the IRISH GUARDS Group came up on our Left and they and the GRENADIER GUARDS Group are to continue the attack the next morning.
During the afternoon, Captain WALLACE was unfortunately wounded through an accident with at 36 grenade, and Lieutenant MITCHLEY also wounded.
The day’s fighting cost the Battalion 1 Officer killed, 2 Officers wounded, 1 Other Rank killed and 17 Other Ranks wounded including C.S.M. WARD No. 3 Company; comparatively light in view of the heavy and continuous fighting.
During the day, Captain WATT, who has now joined us from 8 CORPS, brought news of half a dozen brand new German vehicles on the main road which the Germans had vacated.
They consisted of STEYRs and a 30-cwt FORD, and were joyfully collected by Lieutenant KOPPEL and the fitters.
The Battalion was now established with 3 companies and tanks to the West of HECHTEL cross roads and it has not been possible to occupy the whole village.
A peaceful night followed.
Another day of counter-attacks, but the Battalion managed to remain established to the West of the crossroads in HECHTEL.
Major MILLER has now taken over Support Company, at any rate for the duration of the battle.
It is becoming increasingly urgent to take HECHTEL, which is now on the direct Centre Line to the ESCAUT.
Captain HENDERSON rejoined the Mortar Platoon having come back from hospital after being wounded at WAVRE.
During the night resistance in the village increased and it became increasingly difficult to hold what we already had.
However, no counter attack developed on the scale of the 9th, and all efforts of penetration were successfully held.
Prince of Wales and No. 3 Companies were now together on one side of the cross roads, and X Company on the other side.
One of X Company’s snipers, Guardsman HARLEY, has already the best part of 15 Germans to his credit, and the Companies there have been engaged in continuous fighting.
In the evening Captain HENDERSON was killed by a sniper, when on recce.
O’ Group took place as dusk was falling, and orders were issued for the final attack on HECHTEL the next morning, which included No. 4 Company and artillery support.
Prince of Wales Company and X Company were withdrawn at first light so as to avoid the artillery barrage which went in on the cross roads in the town from 0815 hours to 0900 hours, and was supplied by 1 Field Regiment and 1 Medium Battery of the 11th ARMOURED DIVISION.
It was discovered just before the barrage was due to come down, that its Start Line was immediately on the position of Command Post and Battalion H.Q., an error which was hastily rectified over the wireless.
This final attack was entirely successful, and Companies got on to their objectives with very few casualties, and at long last the village of HECHTEL, which had been the scene of so much heavy fighting and caused the Battalion so many casualties, was in our hands.
Every cellar and building had to be searched both for snipers and for our own wounded, and several of our missing including 40 Serjeant WILLIAMS and Lance-Serjeant HEAD of No. 3 Company were discovered.
During this battle the Battalion took some 500 Prisoners and killed at least 70 more.
They belonged chiefly to the 1st Battalion HERMAN GOERING Regiment and the 10th (GRASMEL) Para Regiment and had fought with great determination.
The Battalion captured and destroyed the following equipment:-
1 - PANTHER, 1 - Mk 4, 5 - 7.5 S.P. guns, 2 - 7.62c.m. S.P. guns, 1 - half-track with short 7.5c.m. gun, 10 - miscellaneous vehicles, 6 - Anti-Tank guns, and a number of mortars and M.M.G.s
After HECHTEL had been finally consolidated, the Battalion moved on to an area near OVERPELT for the night, Battalion H.Q. being well situated on a farm, which had several peacocks belonging to it.
The Divisional Commander came to see us, unfortunately whilst the Commanding Officer was away at Brigade, and said how delighted he was with the Battalion’s performance at HECHTEL.
He said “that it is one thing to gain ground, but it is quite another to destroy a complete enemy Battalion.”
An unfortunate incident occurred on the way, when a German gun in a half-track being driven by No. 3 Company, went off, hitting a tree and ricochetting into a T.C.L. and wounding seven men.
The day opened inauspiciously with bombs on H.Q. and No. 4 Company areas, which wounded the Police Serjeant, Serjeant STEELE and killed Guardsman AMBROSE, No. 4 Company Commander’s driver, besides wounding a dozen others.
R.S.M. BAKER had his tent holed in innumerable places by shrapnel, but was completely unhurt.
The Battalion was by now the best part of 200 men down, and the Commanding Officer therefore decided to re-organised immediately into three Rifle Companies.
Commanders were as follows:-
Prince of Wales Company - Captain BEDDINGFELD
X Company - Major STEUART FOTHERINGHAM
No. 3 Company - Major EVANS
H.Q. Company - Captain WATT
Support Company - Major MILLER.
Even this drastic measure leaves Rifle Companies weak, and reinforcements are urgently required.
The Battalion moved again at 1245 hours to a defensive position on and around the all important Bridge of the ESCAUT, with Prince of Wales Company over the bridge, No. 3 Company on the Bridge, and X Company on the line of the CANAL.
All Company Commanders went to see the Corps Commander (Lieutenant General HORROCKS) during the afternoon.
Battalion H.Q. was established in a School, with the Orderly Room in the Headmaster’s study - suitably enough, and the Officers’ Mess in the Schoolroom.
The afternoon was again made hideous by every sort or rumour of Germans all over the place.
Again every sort of rumour of enemy activity, a lot of which unfortunately seems to be founded on fact.
No. 3 Company on the bridge were shelled heavily throughout the day, but fortunately only had four men wounded.
Company had hot baths in a big factory on the Canal, punctuated by airbursts overhead.
Promotion Conference in the afternoon at which the following appointments were made:-
Serjeant CALDICOTT (Support Company) to be C.Q.M.S. Prince of Wales Company
C.S.M.S. LEWIS (Prince of Wales Company) to be second C.S.M. Support Company, and
C.Q.M.S. SYMMONS to return temporarily to the position in the Medical Bunk which he occupied with such distinction in 1940.
A counter attack with 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS and 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS on the far side of the Canal developed in the afternoon, and X Company handed over to a Platoon of 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS, and moved over to the other side of the Bridge in the afternoon.
News arrived in the afternoon that the Battalion was to hand over to a Battalion of the DORSETS in the morning, and go back to a rest area for a short time in OVERPELT - which incidentally, according to the latest Intelligence reports is firmly held by the Germans.
No. 3 Company were heavily shelled and mortared in the evening, but no major counter-attack developed.
The relieving Battalion started coming in by 1000 hours and by lunchtime the Battalion was settled in again in its new location, just beyond OVERPELT, and Companies set about the business of re-organising and checking deficiencies, which it had been impossible to do in our other area.
Some of the drink captured in BRUSSELS came out in the evening, and was supplemented by various liqueurs which had mysteriously arrived at supply point a few days previously.
Major COOBE TENNANT joined the Battalion a few days ago from a Special Service Unit, and is temporarily attached to Support Company.
IN the evening, the new Police Serjeant, Serjeant RANDALL appeared with some 15 Prisoners, which the locals had found in a barn, who were apparently remnants of the HECHTEL garrison.
Prince of Wales Company have acquired a fine armoured half-track, which no-one, not even the driver, 92 DAVIES, has yet quite mastered the workings of.
The Commanding Officer attended the Corp Commander’s (General HORROCKS) Conference in BOURG LEOPOLD at 1100 hours, and details have now begun to come out for the next operation, known for some reason as Exercise ‘GARDEN’.
The Quartermaster, Captain BRAY returned in the afternoon having taken two days to get the NAAFI Supplies from beyond BRUSSELS, so congested with traffic were the roads.
A’ Echelon left for a Divisional RendezVous in the evening, and are not expected to be seen again until the end of the Operation.
A considerable force of bombers was seen to go over in the morning to prepare the way for the new advance, but after hanging about on the road from 1500 hours to 1800 hours, news arrived that there would be no moved that night as 5th GUARDS ARMOURED BRIGADE Group had met considerable resistance.
The Battalion accordingly returned to the area it had occupied the previous night and waited for the morning.
R.S.M. BAKER and R.S.M. ROBERTS of the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS had spent the previous day in BRUSSELS - nobody quite knows how - and had arrived back at 0430 hours in the morning.
The order had been “no move from present area before 0715 hours”, but at 0710 hours came the news “cross the Brigade Start Point at 0730 hours”.
This meant a bit of a scurry to link up with our tanks and get there in time, but all was well and the advance continued slowly to VALKENSWAARD.
At this place, the WELSH GUARDS Group branched off to the right and Prince of Wales Company, who were leading, had a minor battle at VOSTERVOORTSCH HOEF where they overran a Bazooka position.
Subsequent patrolling revealed that the enemy was following his usual tactics of pulling out of villages as our troops entered, and returning as soon as they had gone.
Close laager was accordingly formed for the night on a patch of heath land.
A certain amount of trepidation was caused by aircraft flying low overhead, but nothing untoward occurred, and the Group dug in and went to bed.
The Commanding Officer’s conveyance for this trip was a HONEY tank, lent to him by the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS.
Patrols sent out at first light showed that HELMOND was strongly held.
On the leading Battle Group (No. 3 Company and 1 Squadron) moved at first light, while orders were sought for the rest of the Group.
Orders then came that the whole Group was to go back onto the main Divisional Centre Line, which was rejoined accordingly at 0900 hours, the WELSH GROUP being, for once, well in the rear.
The Battalion motored on through EINDHOVEN still full of enthusiastic crowds, and through VEGHEL, a deserted town with only American soldiers of an airborne unit, peering round corners, as an attack was in fact in progress, but the Battalion motored through and finally reached GRAVE on the River MAAS, which the Battalion was ordered to hold for the night, the only protection for this important bridge having hitherto been a detachment of American paratroops.
By now it was dark but Companies were all in position by midnight, Battalion H.Q. sharing a villa with some 15 hospitable and celebrating Dutchmen.
The interpreter Guardsman BREEDVELD again being invaluable.
The question of an advance or not tomorrow depends on whether the forward group have managed to capture NIJMEGEN for it is known that the vital bridge over the WAAL is still unblown.
A peaceful night broken by a little enemy activity in the morning, though more danger came from the drummers attempts to deal with it.
No. 3 Company are now holding the main bridge, X Company the subsidiary one and Prince of Wales Company in the town, while Battalion H.Q. and H.Q. Company moved to a female lunatic asylum just round the corner.
Some 60 Prisoners, mostly aged local defence men and bakers were brought in by the Free Dutch in the morning and despatched to Brigade.
Several agitated Dutchmen appeared in the afternoon with news of a huge food dump at OSS a few miles away.
It was entirely without Allied protection and investigate of this by a Carrier Patrol complete with the Division Supply Officer proved that their story was no less than true as the Supply Officer reported that there was enough meat alone in the dump to feed the whole of the 2nd ARMY for 2 months.
Two valuable new vehicles captured by the Dutch were exchanged for the STEYR and the German Ford 3-tonner.
They are a sort of German ACV on a CITROEN chassis and are being used by the Officers’ Mess and Office Body respectively.
In the evening came news that the Battalion was to hand over to 4th DORSETS of 43rd DIVISION and their Company Commanders arrived that evening to arrange for the handover.
The handover was completed by 1000 hours but the Battalion had some difficulty in getting on the move as the main road was solid with troops moving up, the big bridge over the MAAS being blocked for some time.
However, the Concentration Area at MALDEN was reached by 1130 hours and there the Battalion linked up again to form a Group with the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS.
The Group is now under command of 5th GUARDS ARMOURED BRIGADE (Brigadier N. GWATKIN, M.V.O.) and the order of march is IRISH GUARDS Group, BRIGADE H.Q., 153 (L.Y.) Field Regiment ROYAL ARTILLERY, WELSH GUARDS Group.
The IRISH GUARDS Group were held up in front which left the Battalion halted in the middle of NIJMEGEN and there was a certain amount of shelling of the roundabout before the big bridge over the WAAL which had been captured intact by the GRENADIER GUARDS Group the night before.
It was here that Guardsman BOXALL, the Commanding Officer’s Jeep driver, was unfortunately wounded.
The Battalion remained halted there until 1800 hours, and part of the time was enjoyably spent in looting a HITLER YOUTH H.Q. and a German N.A.A.F.I., with beneficial results to the Orderly Room and the Officers’ Mess.
Vehicles went very fast over the bridge but without mishap and harboured a few miles on the other side with the tanks, Prince of Wales, No. 3 and Support Companies in one area, and X and H.Q. Companies not far away.
In the evening Captain WORRALL and Captain BRUCE suddenly appeared to rejoined the Battalion and go back to their old jobs in Support Company and Prince of Wales Company.
Captain GIBB, our Medical Officer, has had to be evacuated with a high temperature and his place is temporarily filled by Captain DODDS of the 21st Anti-Tank.
During the night Prince of Wales Company sent out a patrol which successfully contacted the American airborne troops and orders then came that 43rd DIVISION would pass through 5th GUARDS ARMOURED BRIGADE to take ELST, which meant no early move at any rate for the WELSH GUARDS Group.
43rd DIVISION duly came through in the morning and Prince of Wales and X Companies went out to take over some American positions.
The plan is now that 43rd DIVISION are to take ELST and then push on the ARNHEM while GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION takes over ELST.
43rd DIVISION were travelling, rather surprisingly, in DUKWS and, as it was pouring with rain at the time, it was with difficulty that certain high ranking Officers were prevented from shouting out “lovely weather for ducks” as they passed.
Captain Sir R. POWELL, Bt. has now returned to us after a short period of leave in ENGLAND and goes back to his old job of Second-in-Command Prince of Wales Company.
In the evening Brigadier GWATKIN came to visit the Battalion and was very impressed with our portable Officers’ Mess.
Shortly after the Battalion had been told that we should be in this area for 48 hours, news came that the Battalion was at 30 minutes notice and the Commanding Officer was to attend a Brigade ‘O’ Group immediately.
The orders that he was given were that it had been decided to enlarge the bridgehead over the WAAL, and the Battalion would attack and push out towards BEMMEL a few miles to the right of the Battalion’s present area.
Prince of Wales Company and X Company were to do the attack with No. 3 Company in reserve.
Prince of Wales Company met extremely heavy spandau fire and sniping, and were very lucky not to have worse casualties than they did (8 wounded, including Captain Sir E. BEDINGFELD, Bt., the Company Commander).
The had no proper artillery support and, eventually, as night fell were pulled back a little bit off their objective to conform to the Battalion’s position.
X Company, meanwhile had reached their objective but not without suffering 11 casualties as they also met heavy opposition but were well supported by the Battalion 3” Mortar Platoon.
Night fell with Prince of Wales and X Companies in position, and No. 3 Company and Command Post established a short distance in rear.
The day’s operation was supported by 2 Squadron under Major DANIEL.
Command Post had a certain amount of difficulty in moving up as heavy shelling and mortaring started as soon as they were on the road.
However, all went well and no-one was hurt.
Brigadier GWATKIN came round in the evening and said he was delighted with the progress the Battalion had made during the day.
The night was surprisingly quiet which was not at all what had been anticipated.
Morning found X Company in contact with the enemy and Prince of Wales Company out of contact and a patrol was sent out under Lieutenant SHULDHAM to find out where they had got to.
A prisoner told Captain Sir. R. POWELL that the opposition in front of Prince of Wales Company consisted of 41 men with 6 spandaus and had had a week to prepare their positions.
In the morning it was learned that a Battalion of EAST YORKS from 50th DIVISION were to attack through the Battalion position on to BEMMEL in an effort to widen the bridgehead.
The Brigadier and Commanding Officer accordingly came to see the Commanding Officer just before lunch to find out all available information, and in the late afternoon their attack went in leaving our Companies to a peaceful night except for an occasional mortar shell.
The bridge at NIJMEGEN was shelled intermittently throughout the day and the Luftwaffe also scored a direct hit on it which, however, only made one small hole.
The Quartermaster has been absent for some days as whenever he attempts to return to ‘A’ Echelon from the back areas the Centre Line is invariably cut in front of him.
Considerable air activity and frequent dog fights over the bridge.
At mid-day a much needed draft of 4 Officers and 140 Other Ranks came up having had a thoroughly uncomfortable journey by train and truck.
The Officers were Captain KENT, awaiting posting to Brigade H.Q. as Liaison Officer, Lieutenant WIDDRINGTON to No. 3 Company and Lieutenant GRIMSTON and Lieutenant RADCLIFFE to X Company.
Amongst the draft were such old friends as Serjeant KEMPSON, B.E.M., who had been wounded at MONTCHAMP, Serjeant AINGE of the M.T., 06 Lance-Serjeant WILLIAMS No. 3 Company.
It has been decided, however, to have three really strong Rifle companies and not attempt to reform the fourth company.
The Companies passed a peaceful day, Major STUART FOTHERINGHAM having an excellent Observation Post from which he could watch Germans and wild duck at the same time, occasionally ‘stonking’ both, while Sir Richard POWELL had the undivided attentions of a small white goat which shared a room with him.
The Battalion is on German rations today which means a filthy breakfast but a good lunch with roast pork.
6947 Guardsman SMITH is turning out satisfactory as a cook under the close supervision of the Orderly Room Serjeant.
In the evening the Commanding Officer came back from main Battalion H.Q. and the Second-in-Command took over the Command Post.
Brigadier GWATKIN came to see the Battalion in the evening but had no news, though there are many rumours of a change of plan.
The Commanding Officer attended a Brigade ‘O’ Group at 1045 hours, where he received orders to take up positions in the village of AAM thereby slightly enlarging the bridgehead and also strengthening its perimeter.
The Battalion moved off at 1400 hours and the leading Companies preceded independently to their positions in AAM where the was a party of the 4th WILTS awaiting them, and they took up their positions without incident.
No. 3 Company then pushed through a further couple of miles and there the matter rested for the night with No. 3 Company forward and Prince of Wales, X and Support Company and Command Post near each other in AAM.
Battalion H.Q. first went into a jam factory by the railway, but as it was about the most obvious artillery target this side of the Eiffel Tower it was decided that discretion was the better part of valour and they retired to their customary orchard cum barn.
The Companies patrolled during the night to contact the neighbouring units.
Lieutenant KENT left the Battalion today for H.Q., 32nd GUARDS BRIGADE where he will be employed as a Liaison Officer.
No. 3 Company attempted a push forward in the morning but as they had only one ditch as a covered line of approach and came under substantial enemy fire as well as having 2 men killed by snipers.
They were ordered to discontinue their advance and to take up alternative positions.
X Company then took over No. 3 Company’s old positions.
No. 3 Company had some 30 mortar bombs on their Company H.Q. in the evening which miraculously only wounded one man though both the Company signallers, Lance-Corporal PENNINGTON and Guardsman RICHARDSON had a very close shave.
The mortars had a shoot in the afternoon from a safe distance from AAM so as not to attract unwelcome reprisals on to the supposed location of the enemy mortars which were causing the forward companies periodical annoyance.
In the evening it came on to rain and Companies had an issue of captured German rum which is remarkably inferior both in taste and potency to our own.
During the night a patrol of X Company under Lieutenant STEVENSON (who commands the WELSH GUARDS Platoon in X Company) established the fact that there were a considerable number of Germans in ?RIKENSWAARD [RIJKERSWOERD] and a Prince of Wales Company, patrol under Lieutenant ROGERS found some 20 Germans, who seemed to have lost direction, smoking under a hedge.
In the morning came news that our friends, 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS, were to take over from us and we were to go back to their rest area nearer NIJMEGEN.
Lieutenant-Colonel J.O.E. VANDELEUR accordingly came to the Command Post with his Company Commanders at 1115 hours and details of the hand over were arranged.
It had to be completed by 1830 hours with the exception of X Company who, owing to their exposed position will handover after dark.
The Quartermaster returned today after a lengthy absence as he had been cut off when drawing N.A.A.F.I. Stores, and whenever he attempted to come back the Centre Line was invariably cut in front of him.
The big bridge at NIJMEGEN, in spite of frequent shelling and bombing, still stands though it has been hit several times.
By dusk all Companies except X Company were in their new positions.
Battalion H.Q. found itself sharing a palatial mansion called HUIS OOSTERHOUT with 2nd Armoured IRISH GUARDS, and the Officers’ Mess was in real solid comfort for the first time since leaving ENGLAND.
It was thought that the house, which was visible for miles around, must be high on the list of the Luftwaffe’s priorities but nothing unfortunate occurred.
The Battalion have one Company at an hour’s notice and the other two at 2 and 4 hours’ notice to co-operated with 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS in any place they may be needed in the bridgehead.
The long awaited bath allotment was postponed through a large hole being made in the bridge by some resolute BOCHE coming up the river with explosive charges, and the mobile bath unit have inconsiderately established themselves on the far side of the bridge, otherwise Companies had a thoroughly peaceful day to get sorted out.
The was plenty of enemy air activity overhead.
In the evening the Serjeants’ Mess re-opened with a considerable selection of beer, wine, apricot brandy and Dutch gin.
The Brigade is now under command of 43rd DIVISION, and true to form a move order arrived in the evening saying that we were to take over in HESSEN, only a couple of miles away, from 6th Battalion GREEN HOWARDS in another reserve role.
The Battalion was in its new location shortly after mid-day, Companies moving independently, and the new area is as comfortable if not as luxurious as the last.
Another draft of 50 men under Lieutenant LAWMAN arrived in the afternoon and they will live with ‘A’ Echelon, as on the present three company system they are not required and it is not considered a good idea to form a shaky fourth company with our remaining reinforcements.
In the evening news came that another considerable draft had arrived including four Officers, one of whom was Lieutenant-Colonel HEBER-PERCY, M.C., who, no doubt, will be taking over the Battalion again within the next day or two.
1944 October 1
From the noise in the early hours it was obvious that the Germans had started their long-awaited counter-attack and by daylight it was known that 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS were having a nasty time in AAM where we had been a couple of days previously, and 7th Battalion GREEN HOWARDS an even worse one on our Right flank.
In the morning No. 3 Company were accordingly sent up to help the IRISH GUARDS and X Company took up a position between RESSEN and ELST.
The extent of the counter-attack is not yet known.
Lieutenant HOWARD and 30 SCOTS GUARDS together with 8 WELSH GUARDS who had been the BARNARD CASTLE demonstration platoon arrived in the morning but will remain with ‘A’ Echelon until the Battalion becomes static once more.
The IRISH GUARDS soon had the matter in hand and X Company and No. 3 Company stayed where they were for the day, periodically getting much more than their fair share of shelling.
Lieutenant-Colonel C.H.R. HEBER-PERCY, M.C. took over the Battalion from Lieutenant-Colonel J.F. GRESHAM after lunch.
The latter will continue as Second-in-Command.
In the evening the Commanding Officer went to visit No. 3 Company and found Lieutenant-Colonel J.O.E. VANDELEUR’s H.Q. just next door to them, almost on fire with several vehicles blazing round it.
No. 3 Company had been fortunate and not had a single casualty.
1944 October 2
In the morning X Company went up to assist the IRISH GUARDS who had been having a very unpleasant time early on with German flamethrowers, and Prince of Wales Company took over X Company’s old position.
It now seems that a considerable portion of German armour is between the two rivers and the plan is to give them a good Typhooning and, if necessary, blow up the bridge at ARNHEM and cut them off.
In the afternoon news came that 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS were coming to relieve 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS, and ourselves and 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS would then become the 32nd GUARDS BRIGADE Group once more.
A large number of troops including Brigadier STANIER’s Brigade came in the bridgehead in the afternoon and it seems that the greatest importance is now attached to the Sector.
C.S.M. GLASS (No. 3 Company) was unfortunately wounded by an air burst when he was going along in the Company carrier.
He will be a tremendous loss to No. 3 Company and his Company Commander can never speak too highly of him.
The Quartermaster departed again for BRUSSELS nominally to collect N.A.A.F.I. Stores and took Padre PAYNE with him for a well-earned rest.
1944 October 3
The Commanding Officer attended a Brigade ‘O’ Group at 1200 hours, where he received orders to move the Battalion up a couple of miles to fill the gap between 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS on the Right and 4th Battalion S.L.I. on the Left, Companies moving in their own time as No. 3 Company in particular, had to take up a position where their forward platoon would be overlooked.
However, Companies go in without a casualty and Command Post established itself a mile behind them.
In the evening several shells fell on Battalion H.Q. with the disastrous result of mortally wounding C.S.M. BEYNON of Support Company, one of the Battalion’s finest Warrant Officers, besides wounding some six others.
1944 October 4
The Rifle Companies spent a day which, if not peaceful, at any rate produced no casualties.
In the morning Battalion H.Q. was treated to the gratifying and unusual sight of Brigadier G.F. JOHNSON lying full length in the mud under his scout car whilst shells came down in the vicinity.
The re-formation of No. 4 Company has now begun in earnest under Lieutenant BRINSON assisted by C.S.M. ADDIS and C.Q.M.S. THOMAS.
It will be composed of the new entry from R.H.U. and the Platoon of WELSH GUARDSMEN at present forming part of X Company.
The Company Commander will be Major W.D.D. EVANS and the Second-in-Command Captain Sir E.G. BEDINGFIELD, Bt.
Lieutenant LAWMAN has gone to Support Company to fill Lieutenant BRINSON’s place there as Adm. Officer.
Companies passed and unexpectedly peaceful night with the exception of some enemy tanks which were heard moving about on Prince of Wales Company front.
1944 October 5
Harbour parties of 101st USA Airborne Division arrived at Command Post at 1000 hours and were taken round Companies by the Commanding Officer and afterwards given lunch by him.
The hand-over is to take place sometime on the 6th.
Battalion Harbour Parties went off under the Second-in-Command in the afternoon to have a look at the new area.
The Intelligence Section spent a happy day investigating good trucks in the station at ELST which the Commanding Officer had found to be full of every sort of commodity.
1944 October 6
Companies spent a fairly peaceful night until a ‘stonk’ on Prince of Wales Company area in the early morning had the disastrous effect of wounding Lance-Corporal DYKE who had been Prince of Wales Company clerk for many years, and during this campaign has shown himself to be a man of most remarkable courage.
H.Q. Company and the newly formed No. 4 Company moved back over the bridge after lunch and were no sooner established when news came that the Rifle companies might not be relieved at all that night owing to the Americans, who were to have relieved them, being committed elsewhere.
After an series of orders and counter-orders, however, it became definitely known that the Battalion would be relieved at midnight by British troops and this duly took place.
After being relieved, Companies had a considerable march to their T.C.L.s which were back in the neighbourhood of HUIS OOSTERHOUT and the last company, No. 3 Company did not reach the new area until 0400 hours, the Commanding Officer and the R.A.P. arriving last of all.
1944 October 7
A late Reveille and Companies had their first choice for a long time of a proper ‘dig-out’.
All Companies were in farms or their equivalent within a mile of Battalion H.Q., and with everyone sleeping under cover.
By the evening a change-over of Company Commanders had been made which resulted in Major COOMBE-TENNANT, M.C. taking over Prince of Wales Company, Major FOWKE No. 3 Company and Major EVANS No. 4 Company, which with the addition of the X Company WELSH GUARDS Platoon was well up to strength.
C.Q.M.S. ARNOLD was appointed C.S.M. of No. 3 Company.
1944 October 8
An uneventful day.
The Commanding Officer visited all Companies and found them reasonably comfortable.
Only 48 hours rest had been expected but there appears to have been a change in plan and this period looks like being considerably lengthened.
1944 September 9
Major STEUART FOTHERINGHAM, X Company’s gallant Commander left the Battalion in the morning as he had been suffering for some time from a duodenal ulcer.
The Company will be taken over by Captain E.J. HOPE who has been his Second-in-Command.
Another disastrous change is also about to take place.
Padre PAYNE who has been first with the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS and then with the 1st Battalion since the early days of 1940 is to leave us for a job at BOULOGNE which, however, does give him long overdue promotion.
Words cannot say how much he will be missed by every Officer and man in the Battalion.
He held a series of services during the day and after his service at Battalion H.Q. the Commanding Officer informed him that he had been recommended for the award of the Military Cross.
Captain McVITTIE, who we have been out of touch with since BAYEAUX days came to visit the Battalion bringing with him another old friend in the shape of Major CUNDY, who will remain with the Battalion for the next few days on a visit.
1944 October 10
The Battalion moved at mid-day to the village of MALDEN where 32nd GUARDS BRIGADE has a counter-attack role behind 43rd DIVISION and 82nd U.S. Division.
The move too place in the pouring rain and a certain amount of difficulty about accommodation was experienced at first as Corps while telling us to move out omitted the formality of telling the previous occupants to move out.
The Commanding Officer attended a Brigade ‘O’ Group in the afternoon where he received details of the counter-attack role of the WELSH GUARDS Group.
Short leave to BRUSSELS for Officers had been going on for the past few days where over and above the joys of wine and women are added the delights of Sunday horse-racing.
1944 October 11
The Commanding Officer attended the Divisional Commander’s Conference at 1030 hours and Company Commanders went out to recce their counter-attack roles with their opposite members of 2nd Armoured Recce WELSH GUARDS under Second-in-Command.
Courses, after many false starts, have at last begun in earnest.
They include a Drill course under the Drill Staff for young Lance-Corporals, Map Reading under the Intelligence Officer, Sniping under Lieutenant SHULDHAM, and a Barber’s Course under Lance-Serjeant HILL of the Anti-Tank Platoon, also a Stretcher Bearer’s Course under the Medical Officer.
Battalion H.Q. is in a modern school building and one room of it is given over at nights to the Serjeants’ Mess which has, at last, managed to secure an adequate supply of beer.
1944 October 12
The Commanding Officer, Captain Sir R.G.D. POWELL, Bt., Lieutenant J.F.H. BURCHELL, R.S.M. BAKER and 30 Other Ranks went to GRAVE Barracks in the morning for the visit of an important personage; the important personage being no less than H.M. The KING accompanied by Field-Marshall MONTGOMERY. HIS MAJESTY ON THE CONTINENT - British Pathe
His Majesty remembered R.S.M. BAKER from SANDRINGHAM days and complained of being photographed with him again as he said it always made him come out so small.
Company Commanders completed their recce of counter-attack roles in the morning.
In the afternoon the Second-in-Command, Major J.F. GRESHAM, began a series of inspections by inspecting No. 3 Company; it is sad to find so few familiar faces now on these occasions.
The Commanding Officer held a Conference in the evening at which every subject from the advance into GERMANY to the necessity of the Bootmaker’s Course was discussed.
1944 October 13
All Officers and a large number of Warrant Officers and Serjeants went to hear the Corps Commander, Lieutenant-General HORROCKS, address the Division in the cinema at GRAVE in the morning.
He was more than complimentary and everyone returned to lunch feeling extremely pleased with themselves.
In the afternoon the Commanding Officer was inspecting the vehicles of Support Company, all freshly painted and beautifully in line when the Divisional Commander arrived and was most impressed by what he saw.
In the evening Support Company Serjeants had a very successful party in the hospital, which is the Company billet.
1944 October 14
The Commanding Officer inspected X Company in the morning and H.Q. Company in the afternoon.
A remarkable amount of paint, mostly of a very shiny green, has somehow appeared in the Battalion and is adorning a large number of vehicles.
Captain Sir E.G. BEDINGFELD, Bt. and Captain P. BECKWITH-SMITH went over to the 55th Field Regiment in the morning to help shoot the guns, part of a co-operation scheme which had been arranged by the Commanding Officer and Lieutenant-Colonel BARRY-WILSON.
1944 October 15
In the morning the Brigade Commander came to see the Commanding Officer, and Padre TOMLINSON held a service for the Battalion at Battalion H.Q.
Padre PAYNE will be sadly missed for his services for a long time by the Battalion.
In the afternoon the Commanding Officer and the faithful Guardsman BERRIMAN went out shooting with a party from the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS and got 4 1/2 brace of partridge and a hare.
The Intelligence Officer left for a short visit the Brigade Intelligence Office to the American front near AACHEN.
1944 October 16
The Commanding Officer inspected Prince of Wales Company in the morning and Support Company in the afternoon.
6 Other Ranks from 55th Field Regiment arrived for a two days’ stay, and the Battalion likewise sent them 6 men.
A small party of Other Ranks left for BRUSSELS in the morning and it is to be hoped that a much large allotment will be available.
The weather has now taken a definite turn for the worse and the Battalion is lucky to be entirely under cover.
The Medical Officer concluded his Company inspections today and found only four cases of sickness.
1944 October 17
Another wet day.
The Division is now running an Officers’ hotel and club known as the ‘Eye Club’ in BRUSSELS as apparently the Powers that Be have made every conceivable difficulty and objection to fighting troops visiting BRUSSELS.
A small number of vacancies per week have ben allotted to the Battalion but it appears at the moment that nothing is being done for the Other Ranks.
Each Company has a weekly Drill Parade on the small square outside Battalion H.Q. which was a children’s playground.
Its flagstones however, are already beginning to show signs of the damage which Guardsmen’s feet can cause.
1944 October 18
What has come to be almost a peacetime routine continues.
Reveille 0800 hours, breakfasts 0900 hours and Commanding Officer’s Memoranda 1400 hours.
The first lot of courses is now almost finished and new ones will be starting next week.
1944 October 19
The outstanding event of the day was a rugger match between the 1st and 2nd Battalions WELSH GUARDS.
It was held in the big stadium at NIJMEGEN and was attended by the Divisional Commander.
The result was a narrow win for the 1st Battalion by 11 points to 9 points.
Quite a lot of old players are still with the Battalion, amongst them being C.Q.M.S. CALDICOTT (Prince of Wales Company), 56 Lance-Serjeant DAVIES (H.Q. Company), 68 Guardsman TAYLOR (H.Q. Company) and 95 Guardsman MORGAN (H.Q. Company).
In the evening the Commanding Officer dined withe the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS, as did the Divisional Commander.
1944 October 20
The Second-in-Command returned from visiting Captain McVITTIE at 34 R.H.U. which has now moved up to BOURG LEOPOLD.
Several old friends have turned up again including Drill Serjeant HOCKNEY, who will probably remain there for a time as C.S.M., as bringing him back to the Battalion would, of course, mean breaking the junior C.S.M.
An enemy shell which came over during our own barrage wounded Lieutenant P.R.H. HASTINGS and his driver Guardsman ADDISON and two others - mercifully not very seriousl but a sad blow to the Carrier Platoon.
An excellent make-shift range is now in use along the canal bank just a few hundred yards from Battalion H.Q., and several Companies can fire there at once.
1994 October 21
The Brigadier visited the Battalion in the morning but had little news of future operations.
The Lance-Corporals’ Drill Course finished at mid-day and they were all duly passed out.
In the evening Battalion H.Q. had a party which had perhaps one unusual feature in that a fruit machine was in full operation in what is normally the Commanding Officer’s room.
1944 October 22
The morning service was taken by Padre TOMLINSON in a cafe in the village.
There is still no news of any successor to Padre PAYNE.
The Commanding Officer went out shooting in the afternoon with the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS, but partridges are now becoming very wild.
In the evening the Serjeants’ Mess had a most successful joint party with the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS, though as usual these days it is practically impossible to get enough beer.
1944 October 23
A Drill Course for Lance-Serjeants and a Map Reading Course for Lance-Corporals began in the morning, and amongst the reluctant members of the Drill Course is a Serjeant BULLEN, M.M. of the Military Police who has been sent on it by Captain RENSHAW.
The Commanding Officer went to a demonstration of amphibians by 79th ARMOURED DIVISION at GRAVE in the afternoon, and Lieutenant SHULDHAM went over to H.Q. 8th ARMOURED BRIGADE where he is to run a series of short courses for their ‘A’ Echelons.
A few days ago the Battalion was ordered to send a jeep to assist the ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS to draw N.A.A.F.I. supplies.
It now turns out that this jeep was in fact used to evacuate remnants of the 1st BRITISH AIRBORNE DIVISION from ARNHEM area though the first information of this which the Battalion had was when the jeep was reported badly damaged and abandoned about 2 miles this side of ARNHEM.
What has happened to the driver, Lance-Corporal LOCKE of the A/Pioneer Platoon is not yet known.
Officers of H.Q. Company aided by Major CUNDY have been engaged on making a complete census of the accommodation available in this district; a long and tedious task, the reason for which is not yet known.
1944 October 24
Lieutenant-Colonel The Earl of FEVERSHAM, commanding a Battalion of the 13/18 HUSSARS in the 8th ARMOURED BRIGADE visited the Battalion in the afternoon to beg the assistance of some Serjeants to assist Lieutenant SHULDHAM in his courses, and Serjeant KEMPSON, B.E.M., Prince of Wales Company, and Serjeant MARTIN, No. 4 Company will accordingly be sent off tomorrow.
1944 October 25
A normal day for training.
Companies are taking full advantage of the canal range and in spite of periodical complaints from the Dutch Burgermaster of the alarm and despondency caused by riccochets, firing of all sorts of weapons continues.
In the evening Support Company had a very successful dance with the Band of The LIFE GUARDS.
Major MILLER had a dinner party for it, to which, among many others, he asked Lieutenant-Colonel J.C. WINDSOR LEWIS, D.S.O., M.C. and Captain & Quartermaster J.C. BUCKLAND, M.B.E.
1944 October 26
The D.A.Q.M.G., Major HARVEY and Major DUNDAS visited the Battalion in the morning to enquire what troubles, if any, the Battalion was having on the ‘Q’ side but fortunately, not to inquire into the reason for an over-indent of nearly 200 rations per day, which regrettably came to light a short time ago.
In the evening H.Q. Company had an extremely successful dance in NIJMEGEN where there was really room for the drinkers to drink and the dancers to dance.
1944 October 27
The last of the demonstrations by the Pioneer Platoon on Mine Clearing and Booby Traps took place this morning.
Lieutenant ROBERTS and Serjeant HEDDITCH had between them produced a fine combination of instruction and entertainment.
In the evening No. 3 Company held another joint dance with 3 Squadron, its affiliated Squadron.
1944 October 28
The Commanding Officer left for 34 R.H.U. at BOURG LEOPOLD in the morning for a one day visit taking with him Major CUNDY, who returns to command his Training Company.
The Second-in-Command, Major J.F. GRESHAM, visited 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS at NIJMEGEN bridge to set in train the necessary arrangements for Tuesday when the Battalion is to take over from them.
Major MILER and R.S.M. BAKER went over to Divisional H.Q. in the morning to judge a Drill competition and came back impressed by the drill, and also feeling that they now know where all the new battledress in the Division goes to.
The Lance-Serjeants’ Drill Course finished at mid-day and Serjeant BULLEN, M.M. of the Provost Company returned to his unit where it is hoped that the knowledge he acquired here will be of assistance to him when he takes over R.S.M.
After lunch the Commanding Officer had an ‘O’ Group and explained Company tasks in the new Company area to Company Commanders.
The DUKW river patrol, which was the best part of it, has unfortunately been done away with as, apparently, the DUKWs are unable to cope with the strength of the currents in the winter.
1944 October 29
The Major General Commanding the BRIGADE OF GUARDS, Lieutenant-General Sir Charles H. LOYD, K.C.B., D.S.O., M.C., visited the Battalion in the morning accompanied by the Divisional Commander, the Brigade Commander and Lieutenant-Colonel T.A. NUGENT, M.V.O.
He inspected Battalion H.Q. Guard, found by Support Company, and then talked to detachments of each Company which were on parade to meet him.
As he took a much shorter time over this than had been anticipated, he was hastily taken to look at H.Q. Company transport gleaming in its new coat of green paint, while Captain ROBERTSON hastily departed for the Officers’ Mess to get ready drinks for the party.
The Commanding Officer arrived back from 34 R.H.U. almost at the same time as the arrival of the Major-General, not knowing that he was about to arrive as numerous programmes for his visit had already been arranged, all of which had to be cancelled on account of bad flying weather which had postponed his departure.
The Commanding Officer brought back with him from R.H.U., Captain Lord VAUGHAN who will be attached to No. 3 Company whilst the Battalion is still static.
In the evening the Commanding Officer went over to 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS where he spent a restless night with Lieutenant-Colonel J.O.E. VANDELEUR, who took great pleasure in showing him all the various devices he had arranged to circumvent any possible attack on the bridge.
1944 October 30
The Second-in-Command of the IRISH GUARDS, (Major D. FITZGERALD) went round Company areas with Major GRESHAM in the morning preparatory to the hand-over.
The Battalion was put at six hours’ notice in the morning on account of German counter-attack from VENLO, but nothing further materialised in this direction.
In the evening the Commanding Officer held a Conference and gave full instructions to all Company Commanders for guarding the NIJMEGEN bridge and its approaches.
Several unusual difficulties are to be met with, as for example last night when the Germans floated a complete haystack down the river and broke the boom.
In the evening X Company held a very successful joint dance with 2 Squadron, 2nd Armoured Recce Battalion WELSH GUARDS in the Winter Gardens, NIJMEGEN.
1944 October 31
All Companies moved out and got into their new areas by 1600 hours, from which time 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS became responsible for the defence of the NIJMEGEN road and rail bridges.
During the afternoon Lieutenant-General B.G. HORROCKS, C.B., D.S.O., M.C., Commanding 30 CORPS visited the Battalion and talked to Company Commanders.
He discovered after considerable investigation that the Quartermaster could claim one year more service than he could.
He also promised the Battalion a half-track to which it is certainly not entitled, and which was duly collected the next day.
The first thing to be done in the new area was to sort out a rather peculiar collection of troops under command.
These turned out to be as follows:=
8 (G.H.Q. Troops) ROYAL ENGINEERS Battalion who are responsible for the booms and had a Naval Officer, (Lieutenant-Commander DURRAND, R.N.) to assist them, a collection of heavy and light Anti-Aircraft batteries under command of Lieutenant-Colone MATHER, ROYAL ARTILLERY of the 113 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 113 Provost Company who are meant to check the identity of people approaching the bridges, and a Platoon of machine gunners of the Independent Machine Gun Company (N.F.)
The situation is further complicated by the difficulty of knowing who commands who and when.
The sappers owe allegiance to 11 A.G.R.E., the gunners to 100 Anti-Aircraft Brigade and the Provost Company to 30 CORPS.
Our own Companies are established as follows:-
No. 3 Company guarding the road bridge,
No. 4 Company guarding the rail bridge, which has had one span blown down for some time back.
The far side of the rail bridge is held by a post of Support Company and the operational and reserve Companies change over every three days.
After dark the Commanding Officer went round the numerous posts and tested out an extremely complicated system of communications.
The Battalion switchboard alone has 17 independent lines to it.
1944 November 1
In the morning further contact was made with the various troops under command and in support, and at 1400 hours a Conference was held to clear up any difficulties, the chief one of which appeared to be the lack of carbons for the searchlights.
There is so much fire power of varying amounts, for example, there are Anti-Aircraft gunners equipped with 3” mortars, that it was felt necessary to tie up as securely as possible a fire power plan against both river and land attack so that our own side, at any rate, should do the minimum damage to each other.
In the afternoon the Commanding Officer went round No. 3 Company posts and discussed the defence of everything to the railway bridge with Captain W.G.M. WORRALL, M.C.
There is enough shelling on the road bridge to make things quite unpleasant, though a large number of these shells are duds and so far have caused no casualties.
1944 November 2
The Commanding Officer held a Conference at 1000 hours which was attended by ROYAL ENGINEERS and ROYAL ARTILLERY and Police representatives, which will now become a daily feature.
It appears that the searchlights have only sufficient carbons for two more nights illumination after which time the bridge will be plunged into darkness again.
Divisional H.Q. were requested to obtain some as quickly as possible even if it meant flying them here from ENGLAND - a slightly unusual request from an Infantry Batalion.
The C.R.E., Lieutenant-Colonel ADAMIE and Lieutenant-Commander DURRAND, R.N., the naval representative, tied up the arrangements for manning tugs on the river in the event of fog and the communications necessary for this pastime.
By the end of the Conference it seemed that all the numerous details are really at last getting properly tied up.
The road bridge came in for quite heavy shelling during the day and sever people were very lucky not to be hurt including the Commanding Officer who had a shell pitch 20 yards in front of the ‘Queen Mary’.
In the morning an investiture was held by Lieutenant-General B.G. HORROCKS, C.B., D.S.O., M.C., the Corps Commander and the Battalion received its first award for the campaign.
The following were decorated:-
Major J.M. MILLER, M.C.
Captain E.J. HOPE, M.C.
Serjeant SEMARK, D.C.M.
The following awards were also received:-
Lieutenant I. THORPE, killed at HECHTEL, M.C.
Serjeant GOUGH, Support Company, wounded at HECHTEL, M.M.
1702 Lance-Sergeant ROBERTS, H.Q. Company, died of wounds, M.M.
Lance Serjeant MITCHELL, X Company, wounded, M.M.
All these awards were immediate awards and it may be noted in passing that they have taken some three months to materialise.
In the evening after dinner the Commanding Officer made his usual round of the posts.
1944 November 3
A good deal of stuff came down during the night but no one was hurt.
The Commanding Officer held his Conference at 1000 hours.
For the first time the Major commanding 810 Pioneer Smoke Company attended and quicker plans for getting smoke down on to the bridge when shelling is heavy were made.
After the Conference Captain GRAHAM, the Signal Officer and Lieutenant-Colonel ADAMIE took on the speculative and chilly operation of laying a line across the naval boom under cover of a smoke screen.
Major MILLER, M.C. gave two lectures interspersed by an excellent lunch to newly joined Officers of 21st Anti-Tank Regiment ROYAL ARTILLERY, whose Commanding Officer wished them to acquire some knowledge of Infantry work.
In the afternoon the dismal news arrived that the Battalion was to take over from 4th Battalion K.S.L.I. at VEULEN the next day.
They are in the 159th Brigade of 11th ARMOURED DIVISION, and having been in the line for a long time, are badly in need of a rest.
3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS will take back the responsibility for the bridge.
After tea the Commanding Officer held his ‘O’ Group and gave out orders for the move and take-over next day.
1944 November 4
Company recce parties left under the Commanding Officer at 0830 hours.
Their RendezVous was the H.Q. of 11th ARMOURED DIVISION, where they were met by Major-General ROBERTS and Brigadier CHURCHER, D.S.O., commanding 159 Infantry Brigade and taken to his Brigade H.Q.
The Battalion moved off at 1145 hours and after a halt on the way for haversack rations, was met by guides just by 159 Infantery Brigade H.Q. at 1500 hours.
Command Post was established by 1900 hours, but all Companies had to move in after dark owing to being in very closed contact with the enemy.
Company positions are fairly close together in the single street of VEULEN which, in addition to be extremely muddy, is a well shelled and mortared area.
Command Post is in the middle of the Company areas in a cellar, and Battalion H.Q. some way back in an area reputed to be much favoured by the enemy patrols for bazookering vehicles.
Companies spent an unexpectedly quiet night and no signs of the enemy were seen by their Standing Patrols.
1944 November 5
Brigadier CHURCHER visited Command Post in the morning after which the Commanding Officer held a Conference to consider details of the night’s patrolling.
No less than 7 patrols went out on that night including a recce patrol under Lieutenant GRIMSTON of X Company, which was to obtain information for a Fighting Patrol for the next night.
This patrol was fired on by Spandau but located some enemy positions.
No casualties were sustained.
Any artillery fire by us in this area immediately receives a vigorous reply but otherwise the enemy seem content with periodical mortar and artillery ‘stonks’ on our poistions and the road leading up to them.
1944 November 6
The Commanding Officer held another Conference at Command Post at 1000 hours when the results of last night’s patrols and plans for tonight’s were gone into with great detail.
The most ambitious of these patrols was undertaken by Lieutenant STEVENSON and 1613 Guardsman EVANS.
They were to go behind the enemy lines, lie up for the next day and return the following night.
In actual fact the trenches which Lieutenant STEVENSON had to pass through were found to be strongly held.
He ran into a German officer who failed to respond to his invitation to “Hande Hoch” and was promptly shot, a similar fate being dealt out by Guardsman EVANS to another officer who came to investigate.
On returning to his lines he ran into a minelaying party of whom 3 were killed, the remainder dropping their mines and departing rapidly.
On returning to the Standing Patrol, which was his firm base, he found it to be surrounded by the enemy but he extricated the patrol and got back to No. 3 Company after a remarkably eventful night.
The other patrol of note was an X Company Fighting Patrol under Lieutenant GRIMSTON.
They contacted the enemy and after an exchange of shots brought down a previously arranged 3” mortar task onto their positions.
Screams were heard but it was not possible to find out what casualties had been inflicted.
1944 November 7
The Commanding Officer held his usual Conference in the morning when details were settled of a raid by Prince of Wales Company on a house known to be occupied by the enemy.
A Section of the Pioneer Platon were to go with them and set booby traps in the house.
This operation was successfully carried out owing to the gallantry of Lance-Serjeant WEBB who not only rescued, under extremely heavy fire, Lieutenant BRUCE, the patrol leader, and two stretcher-bearers who had gone out to bring him in when he was wounded, but took over command of the patrol and led it to its objective, and eventually returned to his Company lines without further casualties.
Major COOMBE-TENNANT, M.C. who was also wounded in the hand during this engagement, but having been evacuated much agains his will, returned to his Company the following day.
In the evening a lucky shell landed on the building used by the rifle companies as a cookhouse and set fire to it.
A petrol tank exploded, ammunition on the trucks began to go off and in a few minutes’ time the whole place was blazing.
By extreme good fortune only two men were wounded, but some seven 15-cwts and their complete contents went up in flames as well as 1,312 rations.
As the ground was so soft it was extremely difficult to get vehicles away and rescue work was not aided by ammunition exploding in trucks.
However, all the Company cookers were saved.
1944 November 8
The Commanding Officer held his usual morning Conference at Command Post.
The night’s patrolling had produced no particular incident.
Companies are however, beginning to get tired as, apart from numerous patrols, there is a permanent 50% stand-to.
Brigadier CHURCHER seems more delighted each morning by the vigorous and aggressive action which the Battalion has shown.
Major DUNDAS, our D.A.Q.M.G., visited Command Post in the morning and, no doubt, was able to take back to Brigadier JOHNSON, a clear account of the horrors of VEULEN.
The road from VEULEN down to Battalion H.Q. is now almost impassable except for carriers, and even they frequently get stuck.
During some shelling in the morning Lance-Corporal JEFFREYS and Guardsman POWELL of the Carrier Platoon were unfortunately killed by jumping into a ditch to avoid a shell and thereby setting off an ‘R’ mine.
The ditches in this area abound with mines, but up to now the Battalion have been fortunate with them.
1944 November 9
Companies spent a relatively peaceful though extremely wet day.
A certain amount of enemy movement was observed by Observation Posts in front of their positions.
A good deal of anxiety was felt for No. 3 Company’s Observation Post, which had bee out of telephonic communication for most of the day, but on being relieved all was found to be well.
When taking breakfasts up in the morning, No. 3 Company carrier went over a freshly laid mine, but without serious damage either to itself or the occupants.
In the afternoon Brigadier JOHNSON visited Battalion H.Q. to give some news about future operations but, unfortunately, owing to ‘O’ Group at Division H.Q., he did not have sufficient time to go up to Command Post.
In the evening No. 4 Company sent out a Fighting Patrol to act as flank guards to a patrol of the HEREFORDS which was clearing enemy mines.
Lance-Serjeant MILLWARD of the Carrier Platoon is missing and known to have been wounded, and 84 Lance-Serjeant WILLIAMS, No. 4 Company, who tried to find him had a very close call when a Spandau bullet went through his cloth cap and parted his hair for him.
Lieutenant BRINSON went out later to look for Lance-Serjeant MILLWARD, but was unable to find him.
It is assumed that he has been taken away by the enemy.
1944 November 10
In the morning Major-General ROBERTS, commanding 11th ARMOURED DIVISION, accompanied Brigadier CHURCHER on his morning visit to Command Post and was extremely complimentary about the Battalion, after which the Commanding Officer held his Conference.
Tactics have now been changed and instead of the aggressive policy of the last few days, Companies are now going to keep quiet in the hope that the Germans will think the hand over has taken place and come to find out who the new occupants are.
Prince of Wales Company had their morning made amusing by watching R.S.M. BAKER fly across the main street in VEULEN pursued by mortar bombs when he went to visit their Company H.Q. to investigate a case.
Recce parties left for SITTARD under Major MILLER, M.C., and after the usual crop of changes of plan it now seems that the Battalion will be relieved on the nigh of the 11th by 3 MONS.
The Commanding Officer received an appreciative letter from General O’CONNOR, G.O.C. 8 CORPS, a copy of which forms an appendix to this diary.
All the vehicles and cooking kit lost on the 7th have now been replaced, which is one more testimonial to the adm. services of the GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION.
1944 November 11
Companies spent a reasonably comfortable night with the only incident being a patrol of No. 4 Company taken out by Lieutenant WIDDRINGTON.
The Commanding Officer and Company Commander of 3 MONS. started arriving at Command Post soon after 0930 hours and were taken by him round Company areas.
The road from VEULEN has now become practically impassable and tracked vehicles had considerable difficulty in getting out.
However, by 1400 hours all the soft vehicles of the Battalion and a good deal of Support Company’s vehicles had reached the barracks at DEURNE where the Battalion was to stay the night.
Companies could not hand over until after dark but the road to the embussing point had been marked in the morning by the Intelligence Section under Lance-Corporal HOARE, so that when the time came Companies got out and embussed without difficulty, although they had quite an unpleasant and muddy march to the embussing point.
The rear link half-track became hopelessly ditched on the way out but was eventually extricated by the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS Honey tank, which still lives with the Battalion.
The Commanding Officer and Lance-Serjeant MURRELL of the Intelligence Section came out last of all with the exception of Captain WORRALL, M.C., who was slightly delayed by an enemy attack on what had been No. 3 Company’s positions.
On arrival at DEURNE all Companies found themselves under cover and a hot meal awaiting them, and there was a universal feeling of joy at having left a perfectly horrible place.
The period at VEULEN has cost the Battalion practically 40 men, including people evacuated through illness.
1944 November 12
The Battalion crossed the start point in DEURNE at 1100 hours, the Commanding Officer going on ahead to visit 34 R.H.U. at BOURG LEOPOLD en route.
The Battalion was due to join the Division Column at VALKENSWAARD at 1400 hours, but for once the Division Column had run greatly ahead of time and the Battalion went on as sson as the main road was clear.
The Column presents a slightly peculiar aspect as a variety of ‘gin palaces’ and unpainted 15-cwts have arrived to take the place of those destroyed in the fire at ?USSELSTEIJN [IJESSELSTEIJN].
The last stages of the journey were very slow owing to there being a one-way bridge over the canal before we reached SITTARD, and for a time it seemed that the Battalion would never get in that night but, eventually, Companies started getting in just before midnight having met their guides at the main cross roads in SITTARD.
Companies went into temporary billets for the night and were to take over from 744 Light Tank Battalion of the U.S.A. Army tomorrow evening.
1944 November 13
SITTARD, only two miles from the German lines has so far, for some reason, been left in peace and is still lived in by its ordinary civilian population.
Battalion H.Q. Officers’ Mess is situated in the ORANJE Hotel which has the unaccustomed luxuries of electric light and hot water, not to mention a small billiard table and an automatice grammophone.
Battalion H.Q. is housed in one of the large and modern schools which seem to be a prominent feature of all Dutch communities.
The Commanding Officer held an ‘O’ Group at 1030 hours, at which orders were given out for the take over in the evening.
The Americans appear to have adopted the policy of ‘live and let live’ and, at the moment we are allowed to continue this policy so the front should remain reasonably quiet.
Companies took over in the evening without incident, all bar X Company being over the German frontier in the villages of TUEDDERN and MILLEN, and all have reasonable H.Q.s, No. 4 Company being very well of in someone’s stately home.
The chief difficulty that evening were communications which, for the time, were practically non-existent as the American lines which we had taken over had been cut in several directions by a combination of saboteurs and tanks moving up.
1944 November 14
Companies passed a peaceful night; the chief danger on the front appears to lie in booby traps strewn and abandoned by the Americans all over the place.
Unfortunately, in most cases there is no record of where they had been put and the Division ROYAL ENGINEERS will be kept busy in sorting out the muddle.
The DIvisional Commander visited Prince of Wales Company in the morning and welcomed the Battalion back to the fold after their enforced sojourn with 159th INFANTRY BRIGADE.
The Germans in these villages are either elderly peasants or young children who on the face of it, at any rate, care a great deal more for their small holdings than any matters political.
However, they are all shortly to be wheeled away to another area by Civil Affairs.
That night when going round his posts, Captain Sir R.G.D. POWELL, Bt., M.C. had a very narrow escape when he set off one of the American booby traps which, unfortunately, wounded his orderly, Guardsman NELMES.
1944 November 15
20% of Companies are allowed to walk out in SITTARD by day and the Second-in-Command has arranged a free daily performance at the local cinema.
The Divisional Commander again visited Companies in the morning where he met the Commanding Officer and Lieutenant-Colonel J.C. WINDSOR LEWIS, D.S.O., M.C. also doing their rounds accompanied by R.S.M. BAKER.
After lunch the Commanding Officer held a Promotion Conference at which 2 Serjeants and 6 Lance-Serjeants were made up.
It now appears that there is some 138 reinforcements at 34 R.H.U. which is a cheering thought.
The Quartermaster returned from BRUSSELS empty handed, having bee sent to fetch some champagne which the Battalion unwisely contracted to buy and is quite unable to pay for.
Intermittent shelling during the night which caused the H.Q. Officers’ Mess to beat a hasty retreat from their last splendid hotel on the cross roads to a more solid building near Battalion H.Q.
1944 November 16
A very wet day.
Most of the billets have stoves in them so that the Companies operating by night managed to get a reasonable sleep in the day.
Troops under command and in support in this area are a Squadron of 2nd Armoured Recce Battalion WELSH GUARDS (which changes over every so often), a Troop of S.P.s, our usual M.M.G. Platoon and some Sappers of 615 Squadron, 374 Battery commanded now Major Hugh DUNDAS who lives normally at Battalion H.Q.
In the evening the Commanding Officer went round No.s 3 and 4 Companies billets, possibly the first billet inspection to be held in GERMANY though no record is claimed.
In the evening an enemy patrol cut the wires of our booby traps and set on fire a haystack which No. 3 Company had been using as an Observation Post.
So far no patrolling has been done by the Battalion as no aggressive tactics are allowed by our higher formation for the present.
3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS has now taken over on the Let of the Battalion.
1944 November 17
Another quiet day interspersed by a few shells.
The Commanding Officer went round Prince of Wales Company and Support Company billets in the evening.
Major MILLER now appears to be starting a Support Company home farm and already has a nucleus of goats, a pig and some poultry.
In the evening 2/Lieutenant D.A. LEACH and 2/Lieutenant N.W. WAITE arrived from R.H.U. and are posted to No. 4 and Prince of Wales Companies respectively.
With them came some 10 ex-wounded personnel including C.S.M. WARD and 86 Serjeant WILLIAMS of Prince of Wales Company.
1944 November 18
The Commanding Officer held a Company Commanders’ Conference to discuss various adm. points.
This Conference was slightly held up by the entrance of ADS, Lieutenant-Colonel VILLIERS, followed shortly afterwards by CRASC, Colonel WOODS, both of whom had come to pay the Battalion a visit.
Considerable dissatisfaction has been experienced for some time with the F.S. ration as it is not considered that a proper breakfast can be got out of this ration, especially for men who have been up all night.
Colonel WOODS entered into a lengthy apologia for the RASC and it is felt that the fault, if fault there is, lies much higher.
1944 November 19
Slight patrolling activity began last night.
Lieutenant BARKER took out a No. 3 Company patrol together with some pioneers under Lieutenant ROBERTS, Pioneer Platoon commander, but the greatest care has to be taken on account of the innumerable American booby-traps with which the Battalions on our flanks have already had severe accidents.
Progress for the night was therefore limited to 200 yards, and no untoward incident occurred.
Spasmodic shelling of the town continues and a direct hit was scored on the Battalion H.Q. Officers’ Mess which, however, did little damage except break a lot of glass.
In the evening C.S.M. ADDIS of No. 4 Company was most unfortunately killed by one of our posts when laying trip flares in front of the Company area.
He is a very great loss to the Battalion.
His place will be taken by C.S.M. WARD.
1944 November 20
No increased activity to report.
An increased allotment of leave for Other Ranks has now come through as a scheme has been started by 2nd ARMY.
The majority of Officers are now getting away once a month to the “Eye” Club, which is a BRUSSELS hotel the Division has taken over and is most admirably run.
In the evening Lieutenant ROGERS, Prince of Wales Company, took out a patrol which penetrated further than any previous patrol, and stirred up a proper hornet’s nest and resulted in the Germans firing off everything they had got including their D.F. task.
1944 November 21
The Second-in-Command, Major J.F. GRESHAM, left for ENGLAND today and his place has been taken by Major G.G. FOWKE whose Company, No. 3, is to be taken over by Captain P.M. BECKWITH-SMITH with Captain the Viscount VAUGHAN as his Second-in-Command.
The Commanding Officer left BRUSSELS on his first 48 hours leave having handed over the Battalion to Major FOWKE for the next two days.
In the evening Lieutenant the Honourable VERNON, X Company took out a recce patrol starting from a firm base provided by No. 3 Company and established the fact that a wood thought to be held by the enemy was indeed held, as he had grenades thrown at him.
1944 November 22
No news has been received as yet of any future operations but the opening of the Division Club and cinema seems to forecast a further spell of semi inactivity.
Support Company home farm is rapidly increasing in size and Major MILLER may be seen at almost any hour of the day chasing erring chickens through the streets of TUEDDERN and forcing them to return to their comrades.
1944 November 23
In the morning the Second-in-Command, Major G.G. FOWKE, went round the Company positions with Lieutenant-Colonel J.C. WINDSOR LEWIS, D.S.O., M.C., and after lunch the Commanding Officer returned from BRUSSELS.
There was a considerable increase in shelling during the day, Prince of Wales Company in particular getting a heavy “stonk” from an S.P. gun which was heard rumbling away afterwards, and during the day Lance-Serjeant BUTLER in charge of Prince of Wales Company rover carrier was wounded.
Lieutenant MOSSE left the Battalion today for a 3” Mortar Course at BARNARD CASTLE.
This leaves the Battalion with only two of the original subaltern officers, Lieutenant D. ROGERS and Lieutenant J.P. KOPPEL.
In the evening Lieutenant WIDDRINGTON took out a patrol from No. 4 Company which brought back some information of enemy dispositions.
1944 November 24
The Commanding Officer had a moderate start to the day when a shell hit the house opposite his just as he was sitting up in bed having his early morning cup of tea.
The windows of his bedroom were shattered and shell splinters flew all over his bedroom, but fortunately, he and Guardsman BERRIMAN were untouched.
In the afternoon the new Padre, Reverend E.H. HUNTER, C.F., joined the Battalion from 91 Anti-Tank Regiment ROYAL ARTILLERY.
In the evening Lieutenant WAITE, Prince of Wales Company, took out his first patrol and returned successfully.
The continual rain is causing slit trenches to fall in and the supply of gum boots is by no means near the demand.
Some 13 cases of trench foot have already appeared in the Battalion and are bring kept in a sick bay at Battalion H.Q.
This is not surprising as the rifle Companies have had a great deal more than their fair share of mud and rain during the past fortnigh.
1944 November 25
Battalion H.Q. was greeted by the usual early morning ‘stonk’ and on the order of the Brigade Commander it moved after lunch to an enormous school in the X Company area, where they are again almost indecently comfortable.
Even the hot water supply is functioning.
That night Lieutenant HOWARD took out an X Company Fighting Patrol and Lieutenant LEACHE took out a No. 4 Company Recce Patrol.
The night went by and great anxiety was beginning to be felt on their behalf although no signs of firing could be heard.
Eventually, just as it was getting daylight both patrols returned.
The fighting patrol got slightly off its objective and Lieutenant LEACH was slightly wounded when he inadvertently set off a mine.
The Commanding Officer was very relieved to see them back, as the number of booby traps and mines strewn about this front makes every patrol a nerve racking business.
Captain the Viscount VAUGHAN joined the Battalion today and is posted to his old Company, No. 3 as Second-in-Command.
1944 November 26
Padre HUNTER held his first services in the Battalion and managed to get round all Companies.
61 Lance-Corporal EVANS and Guardsman MURPHY, the Signal Officer’s servant, took part in a 32nd GUARDS BRIGADE Concert Party in the afternoon and both were reported as being in fine voice.
In the evening a party of pioneers under 3417 Lance-Serjeant LEWIS made a gap in the minefield opposite No. 4 Company, as a base for future patrols.
No. 4 Company have as their Observation Post an old redbrick tower of almost incredible strength which would undoubtedly take any number of direct shell hits.
1944 November 27
Shelling of the whole area is still spasmodic and Support Company for one have deemed it wise to move their H.Q.
In the church next door to Battalion H.Q. there is, however, a gunner Observation Post of 7 Medium Regiment ROYAL ARTILLERY, and their Officer paid a visit this morning to say that he could fire up to 40 rounds a day on the Battalion front which should prove a pleasant help in time of trouble.
In the afternoon Lieutenant-General B.G. HORROCKS, C.B., D.S.O., M.C. paid his second visit to the Battalion and was shown the medical half-track beautifully fitted out which he obtained for the Battalion in the face of all War Establishments after his last visit.
He did not, however, give any indication of future operations.
In the evening Lieutenant STEVENSON and 1613 Guardsman EVANS, No. 3 Company went on another of their famous patrols and located several enemy positions although bright moonlight made their task more than unusually difficult and dangerous.
1944 November 28
Drill Serjeant STEVENS went over in the morning to take our Gunner friends, 374 Battery of the 55th Field Regiment ROYAL ARTILLERY, for Drill, a performance he will repeat for the next few days.
Apart from the usual periodical ‘stonks’ all was quiet on the Company front.
In the afternoon the C.S.O., 30 CORPS, visited the Battalion to discuss wireless sets as a result of the Corps Commander’s visit the day before and it is assumed that the Battalion will now get some 46 Sets as well as the 4 American Walkie-Talkies produced by Brigade in the morning for the Mortar Platoon to experiment with.
1944 November 29
The number of enemy guns on the Division front has recently shown a considerable increase with unpleasant results to all concerned.
However, no casualties were suffered until two shells went through the roof of X Company billet in the evening killing one man and wounding another.
Several Officers attended a lecture by the J.A.G. 30 CORPS at H.Q. 19 Light Field Ambulance in the afternoon.
He managed to through a good deal of light on some of the darker points of military law.
All Companies have now had a complete change of blankets, the one ones having been handed in to the 303 Mobile Bath and Laundry Unit, who have certainly given the Battalion noble service.
1944 November 30
As a result in the increase in shelling ‘A’ Echelon and bits of H.Q. Company moved back to an area near GELEEN.
It seemed that Battalion was going to be relieved when a representative of 7th ARMOURED DIVISION arrived to begin the take-over but after most of the details had been arranged, the whole thing was cancelled, possibly on account of the difficulty of getting the Division across the MEUSE as the river is now in flood and only one bridge is in action.
Order of Seniority
1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS,
13th November 1944 - Holland
31081 Temporary Lieutenant Colonel C.H.R. HEBER-PERCY, M.C.
44875 Temporary Major J.F. GRESHAM
65371 Temporary Major A.H.S. COOMBE-TENNANT, M.C.
66081 Temporary Major G.G. FOWKE
85599 Temporary Major J.M. MILLER, M.C.
103635 Acting Major W.D.D. EVANS
73092 Temporary Captain R.J.A. WATT
93592 Temporary Captain W.G.M. WORRALL, M.C.
95232 Temporary Captain P.M. BECKWITH-SMITH
65696 Temporary Captain Sir E.G.F. BEDINGFELD, Bt.
138650 Temporary Captain J.M. SPENCER-SMITH
143485 Temporary Captain D.L.M. ROBERTSON
138648 Temporary Captain A.G. GRAHAM
149148 Acting Captain Sir R.G.D. POWELL, Bt., M.C.
95572 Lieutenant F.N.H. WIDDRINGTON
186947 War Substantive Lieutenant A.F.Q. SHULDHAM
200119 War Substantive Lieutenant J.P. KOPPEL
219078 War Substantive Lieutenant D.J.T. LAWMAN
228334 War Substantive Lieutenant D.N. BRINSON
262126 War Substantive Lieutenant R.H. MOSSE.
269232 War Substantive Lieutenant J.R. MITCHELL
278554 War Substantive Lieutenant D.A. ROGERS
302278 War Substantive Lieutenant D.J.C. STEVENSON
307934 War Substantive Lieutenant N.L.P. THOMAS
312982 War Substantive Lieutenant C.H. BARKER
314062 War Substantive Lieutenant J.S. ROBERTS
324881 2/Lieutenant D.A. LEACH.
324958 2/Lieutenant N.W. WAITE
327485 2/Lieutenant J.M.H. ROBERTS
92423 War Substantive Captain (QM) W.L. BRAY, D.C.M., M.M.
123114 War Substantive Captain A.S. DODS, ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
X COMPANY - SCOTS GUARDS
121344 Temporary Captain E.J. HOPE, M.C.
156069 Temporary Captain A.N.B. RITCHIE
247099 War Substantive Lieutenant the Honourable J.L. VERNON
295122 War Substantive Lieutenant R.J.S. HOWARD
314021 War Substantive Lieutenant R.W.S. GRIMSTON
Distribution of Officers
1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS, 23rd November 1944 - Holland
Lieutenant-Colonel C.H.R. HEBER-PERCY, M.C. - Commanding Officer
Major G.G. FOWKE - Second-in-Command
Captain J.M. SPENCER-SMITH - Adjutant
Captain D.L.M. ROBERTSON - Intelligence Officer
Captain A.S. DODS, ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS - Medical Officer
Major R.J.A. WATT - Company Commander
Captain A.G. GRAHAM - Signals Officer
Lieutenant J.P. KOPPEL - Transport Officer
Lieutenant J.R. MITCHELL - Rear Link
Captain W.L. BRAY, D.C.M., M.M. - Quartermaster
Major J.M. MILLER, M.C. - Company Commander
Captain W.G.M. WORRALL, M.C. - Commander Anti-Tank Platoon
Lieutenant D.J.T. LAWMAN - Anti-Tank Platoon Officer
Lieutenant R.H. MOSSE - Commander Anti-Tank Platoon
Lieutenant N.L.P. THOMAS - Commander Carrier Platoon
Lieutenant J.S. ROBERTS - Commander Pioneer Platoon
PRINCE OF WALES COMPANY
Major A.H.S. COOMBE-TENNANT, M.C. - Company Commander
Captain Sir R.G.D. POWELL, Bt., M.C. - Company Second-in-Command
Lieutenant A.F.Q. SHULDHAM - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant D.A. ROGERS - Platoon Officer
2/Lieutenant N.W. WAITE - Platoon Officer
X COMPANY - SCOTS GUARDS
Captain E.J. HOPE, M.C. - Company Commander
Captain A.N.B. RITCHIE - Company Second-in-Command
Lieutenant the Honourable J.L. VERNON - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant R.J.S. HOWARD - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant R.W.S. GRIMSTON - Platoon Officer
No. 3 COMPANY
Captain P.M. BECKWITH-SMITH - Company Commander
Captain the Viscount VAUGHAN - Company Second-in-Command
Lieutenant D.J.C. STEVENSON - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant C.H. BARKER - Platoon Officer
2/Lieutenant J.M.H. ROBERTS - Platoon Officer
No. 4 COMPANY
Major W.D.D. EVANS - Company Commander
Captain Sir E.G.F. BEDINGFELD, Bt. - Company Second-in-Command
Lieutenant F.N.H. WIDDRINGTON - Platoon Officer
Lieutenant D.N. BRINSON - Platoon Officer
2/Lieutenant D.A. LEACH - Platoon Officer
1944 December 1
The Commander-in-Chief 21st ARMY GROUP held an investiture at Division H.Q. this morning and the following honours and awards were received by the Battalion:-
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER
Major J.F. GRESHAM
Major J.M. MILLER, M.C.
Major H.E.J. LISTER
Lieutenant D.N. BRINSON
Reverend P.F. PAYNE
DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDAL
C.S.M. U. DAVIES
Serjeant A. PHILLIPS
C.S.M. C. McCLELLAND, X Company, SCOTS GUARDS attached 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS
Serjeant M. DANNFALD, X Company, SCOTS GUARDS attached 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS
Serjeant M. DUNDERDALE, X Company, SCOTS GUARDS attached 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS
Lance-Corporal R. FLOYD, X Company, SCOTS GUARDS attached 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS
Guardsman E. GIBSON, X Company, SCOTS GUARDS attached 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS
Guardsman A. HARLEY, X Company, SCOTS GUARDS attached 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS
The Commanding Officer also went to this investiture and spoke to the Commander-in-Chief afterwards.
Padre PAYNE came back to lunch after receiving his M.C.
After lunch he went round Companies and received a rapturous welcome wherever he went.
He was given two chickens in one place which had to be hastily stowed away in his car as a Civil Affairs Officer made a sudden and inopportune appearance.
There has been no patrolling for the previous two nights but in the evening A.Pioneer Platoon blew a hole on the No. 3 Company front which it is hoped the enemy will enquire into on future nights and they will find it full of Guardsmen anxious to get a Prisoner.
Guardsman JOWETT, A.Pioneer Platoon left for 33 R.H.U. en route for ENGLAND where he is going to attend a course in Regimental sanitary duties.
1944 December 2
Captain W.G.M. WORRALL, M.C. and Lieutenant J.P. KOPPEL attended a demonstration of various types of carriers pulling 6-pounders.
A Promotion Conference was held after Commanding Officer’s memoranda and five unpaid Lance-Serjeants were made up.
A draft of some 40 men joined the Battalion from R.H.U.
Amongst them was Serjeant HAGLAND who was wounded at VEULEN, and he returned to Prince of Wales Company.
This put the Battalion three men over strength.
Lieutenant R.D. ROMANIS who was held on attachment was posted today to Support Company and Captain P.T. PETLEY has arrived from R.H.U. on attachment and had gone to No. 4 Company.
In the evening the D.A.Q.M.G. 32nd GUARDS BRIGADE (Major DUNDAS) and Captain P.A.V. COOPER dined with the Commanding Officer.
That evening Lieutenant ROBERTS who was manning No. 3 Company trap was very unlucky not to secure a prisoner as enemy approached to within 100 yards of him just too far to open fire on a dark night.
1944 December 3
The Commanding Officer attended a Conference on future operations at Brigade H.Q. at 1100 hours.
Security on future operations has now been tightened up considerably as it is felt that past successes have had a lamentable effect on the security of the Army as a whole.
Brigadier GREENACRE, M.V.O. who now commands 6th GUARDS TANK BRIGADE and Brigadier HUGHES who used to be A.D.M.S. of the Division and is now D.D.M.S., 8 CORPS, paid a call on the Battalion in the morning.
In the evening 2 Guardsman of No. 3 Company who were peacefully cooking chips in the Platoon billet had a very nasty shock when they turned round and found their billet shared by 3 Germans.
The Germans proceeded to march them both off but as they were going downstairs Guardsman LLOYD managed to trip and strike one German with his fist, the only weapon he had, and Guardsman BROOKES did much the same to another with the result that they both got away, though Guardsman BROOKES was unfortunately wounded when the Germans opened fire, but he got away from them.
No more was seen of the Germans that night.
1944 December 4
A shell landed immediately alongside Prince of Wales Company, in the morning blowing in all the windows and completely wrecking that day’s dinner.
The Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion DEVONS, who are, eventually, relieving us went round the Battalion area with the Second-in-Command before lunch.
His Battalion has been transferred recently from 50th INFANTRY DIVISION to 7th ARMOURED DIVISION.
A Platoon of X Company was moved today to a position between Prince of Wales and No. 3 Companies as it was felt that the gap between the Companies there was dangerously large.
Colonel E.R. HILL, D.S.O. of 5the Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS dined with the Commanding Officer in the evening.
No. 3 Company trap was manned that night by Lieutenant SHULDHAM of Prince of Wales Company but in the morning there was nothing to report.
1944 December 5
The Brigadier paid a visit in the morning and again stressed how very anxious he and the Divisional Commander were to obtain an identification on our front and the Commanding Officer therefore arranged for 3 patrols to go out that nigh.
One under Lieutenant ROGERS, Prince of Wales Company, found nothing, another under Lieutenant WIDDRINGTON, No. 4 Company, were delayed for a long time as the Germans began to shell their objective, but the third under Lieutenant GRIMSTON, X Company, would most certainly have achieved its objective but for bad luck; a party of Germans came within 10 yards of them.
Illumination was all that was needed as it was a pitch black night: first the parachute flares and then the Very light pistol completely failed to go off and by the time a parachute flare had been lit the Germans had managed to retire out of it.
1944 December 6
Captain W.G.M. WORRALL, M.C. attended a demonstration of mines and how to deal with the SCHUMINE at 2nd Army H.Q.
After lunch Company Commanders of the 2nd DEVONS arrived to go round Company areas.
They had no been expected until 0900 hours the next morning and guides to take them to Companies and an officer at the other end to receive them had to be hastily got together.
Lieutenant-Colonel Pat HUBBARD, D.S.O., C.B.E., M.C., of the 1st ROYAL TANK REGIMENT paid the Battalion a call in the afternoon as apparently much to his disgust his regiment are to take over the TUDDERN sector of the line dismounted from their tanks.
In the evening some half dozen patrols and ambushes were sent out in an endeavour to get the much needed identification on this front but again all were unlucky though Lieutenant WAITE, Prince of Wales Company had a brisk encounter with some Germans.
1944 December 7
In the morning the Commanding Officer attended the Division Commander’s Conference at Divisional H.Q. at 1030 hours on future operations.
After lunch the 2nd Battalion DEVONS started to come in and by 1600 hours the handover was complete, the whole thing for once having been an entirely simple transaction uninterfered with by any unwelcome attentions from the enemy.
The 2nd Battalion DEVONS have only just joined 7th ARMOURED DIVISION from 50th DIVISION, and had in the Battalion no less than 29 representatives of various regiments which seems to show that there is still something in being a comparatively uninterfered with Guardsman.
The new area at GELEEN is already full of troops and Companies are as a result either very crowded or spread down several streets, with 2 or 3 men in each house.
However, everybody seemed to get dug in even quicker than usual.
1944 December 8
Reveille at 0900 hours and breakfasts at 1000 hours were duly sounded by the drummer the next morning and for the first time for some weeks Companies had a decent night’s sleep.
Two demonstrations were held in the morning, one a demonstration of the Dog Platoon, ROYAL ENGINEERS, which consists of a collection of mongrels which are by way of being able to detect mines, and the other a demonstration of flamethrowers at BOURG LEOPOLD attended by Carrier Platoon under Lieutenant THOMAS.
In the afternoon the Commanding Officer attended the Brigade Commander’s ‘O’ Group and afterwards had a long discussion with Lieutenant-Colonel J.C. WINDSOR LEWIS, D.S.O., M.C. on the next operation.
1944 December 9
Most Companies had Drill Parades in the morning and a party of 100 Other Ranks left for BRUSSELS nominally to watch a rugger match between GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION and the ROYAL AIR FORCE in which the Battalion was represented by C.Q.M.S. CALDICOTT, Prince of Wales Company, and 56 Lance-Serjeant DAVIES, H.Q. Company.
A 100 of the 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS also went and it seems to be an all Welsh racket which might be worked again.
In the evening the Quartermaster returned from one of his frequent rambles to BRUSSELS bringing with him a large stock of champagne for the Battalion and Brigade H.Q.
1944 December 10
Battalion ‘O’ Group was held at 1000 hours and the Commanding Officer gave out his orders for the next operation which is far from being simple.
However, owing to the state of the ground it has already been postponed 48 hours and there seems no reason not to expect a further postponement.
In the afternoon a slight bombshell arrived which was the news that the Battalion was to take over from 1st Motor Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS in GANGELT tomorrow.
Nothing passes the time quicker than taking over part of the Line and preparing for a major Operation simultaneously.
1944 December 11
The Second-in-Command, Major G.G. FOWKE, gave out orders for the take over at 0900 hours and Company recce parties went off immediately after to look at the GRENADIER Company areas, and by 1030 hours their recce parties under Major Henry ILLINGWORTH had begun to arrive at Battalion H.Q.
H.Q. Company and Support Company moved off after lunch, Support Company and Command Post being in STAHE and H.Q. Company in SCHINVELD with ‘A’ Echelon nearby.
Rifle Companies could not move in until after dark as a large number of their positions are completely overlooked by the enemy.
Prince of Wales Company were on the Battalion Left flank in the village of KREUZRATH and No.s 4 and X Companies were in BIRGDEN with No. 3 Company slightly in reserve.
The enemy are apt to come into all these villages at night and it is a case of a Battalion trying to hold a Brigade front and there is every opportunity for enemy infiltration on both flanks and in the gap between Prince of Wales and No. 4 Company.
A Battalion of DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY is on the Battalion’s Left flank while the Right flank is held by a 30 CORPS Services Battalion of 2 ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS Companies and 2 ROYAL ELECTRICAL AND MECHANICAL ENGINEERS Companies so the whole front is a somewhat Harry Tate affair. Harry Tate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
However, all Companies took over though Prince of Wales Company cooker was lost for some time and two of X Company’s vehicles turned up in No. 3 Company area whereas, in point of fact, Jeeps are only allowed up by day and other vehicles under escort by night.
The Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS had dinner at Command Post and, after all his Battalion were out, departed.
A surprisingly quiet night, peace only being broken by a V1 passing close overhead.
1944 December 12
The Brigade Commander of 5th GUARDS ARMOURED BRIGADE, Brigadier N.W. GWATKIN, D.S.O., M.V.O., under whose command the Battalion now is, visited Command Post in the morning and entirely agreed that the men were very thin on the ground though nothing could be done about it.
After he had left the Commanding Officer went round all Company positions and made various plans for strengthening and improving them.
Lieutenant-Colonel WARDELL came to lunch bringing with him most interesting accounts of his new secret weapon which has already been successfully tried out in the Canadian Army and after lunch the Divisional Commander visited the Command Post.
The projected ambush by No. 3 Company has been cancelled so that for tonight, at any rate, the Battalion is engaged in no patrol activity.
1944 December 13
It was definitely announced today that the next operation for which so much preparation had been made including an enormous artillery programme, was cancelled presumably on account of the state of going.
The duration of our stay in this area is still unknown.
Companies, anyhow, are well off for food as our predecessors, the GRENADIERS, left a very reasonable amount of livestock behind them, and 09 Guardsman JONES, the official butcher, and 16 Guardsman THOMAS, the unofficial butcher, proceed almost daily to Prince of Wales Company in a 3-tonner to slay various animals and take them back to ‘A’ Echelon to be cut up.
Lieutenant-Colonel Ray LEWTHWAITE, M.C., SCOTS GUARDS, who has been with 21st ARMY GROUP H.Q. arrived today and will spend a few days in the line with X Company.
In the evening Lieutenant STEVENSON and a party from No. 3 Company went out on an ambush but nothing came their way.
1944 December 14
A large counter-battery programme was fired today and quite a number of people thought that someone had forgotten to tell the Gunners that Operation ‘SHEARS’ was off.
Surprisingly enough there was no enemy retaliation but, no doubt, it may arrive any minute now.
Companies had a thoroughly peaceful night with just a very occasional ‘stonk’, but there are good cellars in all Company areas and no one has been hurt so far.
1944 December 15
Captain E.M. LING arrived today and will take over the Mortar Platoon.
Recce parties went to look at the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS area at RAAT but after everyone had taken considerable trouble over their areas news came in the evening that there was no moved for the present.
Four large draught horses deserted from the Germans and came into No. 3 Company lines and elaborate arrangements were made for their collection by the Dutch.
However, 4.30 p.m. came but no Dutchmen to collect the horses and it is probable that they were turned back at the frontier which they are not allowed to cross after 4 o’clock.
Prince of Wales Company who have been mildly troubled with mortars have now a very satisfactory method of reply.
On receipt of the codeword ‘Cameo’ our gunner Major Bob CLARK of the 153rd (L.Y.) Field Regiment brings down the combined efforts of two medium regiments on the offending mortar.
Apart from a repeat performance of ‘Cameo’ in the early hours, Companies had a peaceful night.
1944 December 16
The Squadron in support of the Battalion here is now 2 Squadron of 2nd Armoured Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS.
At 1500 hours recce parties of 4th Battalion K.O.S.B. of 155th BRIGADE of 52nd LOWLAND DIVISION began to arrive.
Their only transport still consists of their mountain War Establishment of innumerable jeeps and very little of anything else, to that at about 1500 hours a flock of jeeps descended upon Command Post.
The Company Commanders of 4th Battalion K.O.S.B. were sent up to their opposite numbers to spend the night and get to know a bit about this area.
Support Company have now acquired a cow which they call “Tuddern”, and it is shortly to be branded with ’63’.
Of the whole Battalion the Carrier Platoon has probably got the worst place, as any movement by them by day is immediately observed by the enemy, and causes snipers fire if nothing worse.
However, they have been lucky as they have got good cellars and have not had any casualties.
1944 December 17
The Battalion had orders to hand over that night and move across the MAAS to a place called VELDHOVEN just beyond BREE.
Brigadier GWATKIN, D.S.O., M.V.O. paid us his usual breakfast time visit and gave the Commanding Officer permission to filter vehicles across the bridge at BERG throughout the day, much to the annoyance of CORPS staff whose tidy march tables were spoiled by periodical 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS infiltration throughout the day.
Frantic messages came throughout the morning from BRIGADE to stop any more movement of vehicles, but this by then was fortunately impracticable if not impossible, as was not done.
The actual orders for the move were not received from 32nd GUARDS BRIGADE till 1605 hours that afternoon, while 5th GUARDS ARMOURED BRIGADE movement order arrived next day in the new area.
The actual handover went very smoothly except for some slight difficulty with the Anti-Tank guns ad the Carden Loyds of 4th Battalion K.O.S.B. which the had just received off another unit, frequently broke down.
By 2200 hours, all Rifle Companies, and the Anti-Tank Platoon and Carrier Platoon which were really to have moved out by day, were set on the start point in SITTARD when some enemy air activity plus the normal shelling to be expected in that quarter, contrived to make life unpleasant.
However, the only damage was 2 Carden Loyds and a 6-pounder knocked out, and by 2300 hours the Battalion was under way, timings having been put forward an hour, through GELEEN and across the BERG Bridge through BREE to VELDHOVEN, arriving about 0400 hours.
1944 December 18
Everyone got up late having had very little sleep and in fact Companies had been in the Line, with only three days break since 19th September, but it looks as though there is some chance of a peaceful Christmas.
In the morning there was a Conference at Divisional H.Q. on the subject of leave to U.K. which it now seems will start on 1st January.
The present area is not a good one as Companies are very spread out and have odd men billeted in cottages all over the place.
1944 December 19
After considerable backwards and forwards as to whether the Battalion was to be given U.K. leave allotment in view of our probable return to ENGLAND, an allotment was received today for 5 Officers and 107 Other Ranks, which will enable about 1 in 3 of those who actually came abroad with the Battalion to go on leave in January.
The Commanding Officer went round X and Support Companies’ billets in the morning and found one Platoon of X Company in a slightly unusual billet as they were living in a barge on the canal.
Their area has the added joy of having a cafe in it which is the proud possessor of an enormous mechanical piano with the added attraction of an accordion on top of it which is played by an invisible hand.
In the afternoon Captain WORRALL organised a shooting party under an elderly Flemish self-styled keeper, though in point of fact he was probably the local poacher.
A large quantity of duck and snipe and a few hares were seen though the day’s bag only totalled one hen pheasant shot by Lieutenant J.S. ROBERTS.
Strange guns and stranger cartridges may possibly account for some if not all of the inaccuracy shown.
The German counter-attack towards MALMEDY and NAMUR has now brought on a considerable flap and nobody quite seems to know when or where the Battalion will move.
In the evening Major FOWKE and Major WATT returned with glowing reports of the new area near LOUVAIN [LEUVEN] which they had recce’d that day, and where the Battalion will spend Christmas.
1944 December 20
A night of order and counter order as the flap about the German counter-attack increased.
Eventually the Battalion moved off at 1030 hours for the promised land near LOUVAIN [LEUVEN] going down the now familiar route via HECHTEL and BERINGEN.
No one yet seems to know whether the Battalion will be operational or not in the new area.
The new area turned out to be just as good as it had been painted except for the large number of flying bombs which are continually going over, as it is on their Centre Line to ANTWERP.
Nobody was pleased, therefore, when Major DUNDAS arrived with the news of a probable move the next day which eventually was confirmed at 0200 hours the following morning.
The following have received Commander-in-Chief’s certificates for good service:-
Lieutenant J.P. KOPPEL
C.S.M. W. GLASS (No. 4 Company)
64 Serjeant WILLIAMS (H.Q. Company)
Lance-Corporal HOLVEY (H.Q. Company)
92 Guardsman DAVIES (Prince of Wales Company)
1944 December 21
Recce parties left at an early hour for the new area which is concentrated round AUTGAERDE near TIRLEMONT [TIENEN] and the main body of the Battalion followed at 1030 hours arriving in time for a late lunch.
The most noteworthy features of Battalion H.Q. are the strong and unpleasant smell and the determined little lady who owns the house - she has already struck R.S.M. BAKER once for a suspected attempt on her chickens.
Again today there is a total absence of news, though 2 Squadrons of 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARS are down by the MEUSE supporting 2 HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY REGIMENT.
In the evening the Commanding Officer attended a Brigade ‘O’ Group which resulted in the Battalion being put back to 6 hours’ notice.
1944 December 22
As it appears probable that the Battalion will be in this are for a week, various changes were made in Company positions so that people could be a bit more comfortable for Christmas.
Battalion H.Q. and H.Q. Company moved into the little town of HOUGAERDE where the Orderly Room found itself established in the clerks part of a bank, while the clerks were underground in the bank’s safe.
The arrangement not proving ideal a move was hastily made to the more conventional school.
The Divisional Commander paid a call in the morning and brought the news that the Battalion would probably be out here till April as the Major-General in LONDON had now given permission for the Battalion to stay out till then and only the authority of 21st ARMY GROUP is now needed to make it an established fact.
Apart from the inconvenience of being so scattered Companies are now very well off though there is a crying need for baths as the Mobile Bath Unit has not yet arrived.
As parachutists and saboteurs have dropped well behind the lines, Companies in turn began to man road blocks.
These road blocks were never put in the same place for more than 2 or 3 hours with the object of preventing would-be saboteurs from finding out their location.
1944 December 23
In the morning the Commanding Officer went round all Companies and 2 Squadron 2nd Battalion WELSH GUARDS, a Troop of 615 Field Squadron ROYAL ENGINEERS and a Troop of 21st Anti-Tank Regiment ROYAL ARTILLERY who are under command.
In the afternoon the order was suddenly received to send a Company down to guard the NAMUR Railway Bridge and to be under command of 2nd Battalion F & F YEOMANRY.
This somewhat irksome task, especially as it is over Christmas Day, was given to Prince of Wales Company who got under way as quickly as possible, taking with them one Section of the Mortar Platoon.
1944 December 24
A day mainly concerned with preparations for Christmas Day.
All Companies have now arranged some celebrations of one sort or other, and H.Q. Company and anyone else who cares to take part, have arranged a N.C.O.s Draw on the lines of the normal Serjeants’ Mess Draw.
Lance-Corporal EDGELEY has made an admirable brick which was hung with all due ceremony by the Commanding Officer at 7.30 that evening.
A newspaper correspondent, Mr. Basil MORGAN of the “Western Mail”, arrived in the evening to spend there days with the Battalion.
The N.C.O.s Draw had got well under way and Lieutenant-Colonel J.C. WINDSOR LEWIS, D.S.O., M.C. and his Adjutant, Captain PITT-RIVERS, were having dinner with the Commanding Officer when the blow fell.
The telephone rang and the well-known order came through, ‘Move at first light tomorrow morning.’
The Commanding Officer held a preliminary ‘O’ Group at 2300 hours, was then summoned to Brigade ‘O’ Group at midnight, given a change of plan and had to have another ‘O’ Group at 0130 hours.
The upshot of it all was that the WELSH GUARDS and COLDSTREAM GUARDS Groups are to move at first light, the WELSH GUARDS Group to go over the MEUSE and the COLDSTREAM to take over the defence of NAMUR.
1944 December 25
The Battalion passed the start point with some difficulty at 0630 hours arriving outside NAMUR shortly after 0800 hours.
The Commanding Officer and Lieutenant-Colonel WINDSOR LEWIS, D.S.O., M.C., the made their recces and held an ‘O’ Group later in the morning at the far side of the MEUSE after which Company Squadron Groups began to move in.
No. 4 and X Company Squadron Groups are at ANDOY and are the most forward elements of the Battalion, X Company Group being in the last War fort which is extremely damp.
Prince of Wales Company are defending Command Post in ERPENT and No. 3 Company are guarding two railway bridges in CHAMBES [?JAMBES], a suburb of NAMUR.
The Quartermaster and ‘A’ Echelon have wisely remained in the billets at HOUGAERDE which the Battalion has just left, and there is every chance of returning there to celebrate a proper Christmas.
In point of fact, the enemy are far from adjacent as MARCHE, the nearest point they have reached is some 25 miles away, and is securely held by the Americans.
The weather has miraculously changed and Allied air activity has been on an enormous scale.
1944 December 26
A fine day which gave the air force another chance which was taken full advantage of by them.
The Division Commander came up to Command Post in the morning and prophesied an early return to billets at HOUGAERDE.
The Division Commander also said that he had been asked by 21st ARMY GROUP to submit the name of the regiment who were first in BRUSSELS as the Burgomaster wishes to make some presentation in the form of a flag, and he not unnaturally submitted the WELSH GUARDS in spite of the spurious rival claims of many similar establishments.
No. 3 Company had a lively evening as the Luftwaffe dropped several bombs and a large number of incendiaries all round them, fortunately harming now one except one civilian.
1944 December 27
In the morning the arrival of their Commanding Officer confirmed the news that the Group was to hand over to a Battalion of 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION in the afternoon.
The Battalion accordingly moved back to its old billets at HOUGAERDE in Company Groups and everyone was back by 1700 hours, after a peaceful but uneventful stay on the far side of the MEUSE: not perhaps entirely uneventful as a shooting party composed of Captain HOPE, Captain W.G.M. WORRALL, M.C. and Lieutenant J.S. ROBERTS, scored some 10 pheasants and a hare or two, around X and No. 4 Company areas.
1944 December 28
Reveille 0900 hours and breakfasts 1000 hours.
It has been decided to hold Christmas tomorrow the 29th, and Company cooks are making every preparation possible for the occasion.
The Battalion is still at six hours notice, and are by way of being left in peace, at any rate, until the 31st.
1944 December 29
Every Company had its own church service in the morning taken either by our own padre, Reverend HUNTER, or by our Church of England padre, Reverend TOMLINSON of 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS.
The Commanding Officer then had involuntarily to spend the most alcoholic half hour of his life.
He started off with Christmas dinners at Prince of Wales Company which, unfortunately, were being held in 4 separate billets.
He then continued to Support Company, No. 4 Company and X Company, all of which in turn gave him a rapturous reception and far too much to drink.
However, he safely reached the haven of the Officers’ Mess to find that the Second-in-Command had had a similar alcoholic experience with H.Q. Company and No. 3 Company whose dinners he had visited.
A story about R.S.M. BAKER’s subsequent visit to H.Q. Company dinners could be inserted here but is perhaps best omitted.
In the evening Support Company held their N.C.O.s draw which was followed by a N.C.O.s dance.
1944 December 30
In the morning the Commanding Officer attended a Training Conference at Brigade H.Q. as “move now” seems temporarily to be in abeyance, and the Division is by way of having two weeks training.
The weather has turned extremely cold and all roads have been covered for some days with a layer of ice which does not make movement any easier.
1944 December 31
The Commanding Officer held a Company Commanders’ Training Conference in the morning at which a Drill Course for Lance-Corporals, and a Carrier Driving and Driver Mechanics Course were arranged.
The CORPS Mobile Cinema is temporarily with the Battalion and gave a performance to there Companies in the afternoon.
In the evening X Company held their traditional Hogmanay celebrations which, as usual, made work for them on the next day entirely out of the question.
NB No such thing as 5 WG; 2WG was Armoured Recce Bn, so this is likely 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. (There was 5CG also infantry Bn, but the cap badge looks more like a leek to me)
Also the date doesn't quite tally with events in War Diary ref "front line"; so it's a matter of taking your pick as far as that's concerned.
Any comments or suggestions about the above are welcome.
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From 5CG War Diary:
Map of CHEUX, Sheet No. 37/16 S.E., showing positions of :-
5th Bn Coldstream Guards
3rd Bn Irish Guards
1st Bn Welsh Guards
Would there be anyway, to research this minor battle at the VORSTERVOORTSCH HOEF more? This farm lays within the boundries of my village but pretty far from the road that the Welch Guards took.
Separate names with a comma.