War Diary, 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, BEF - Sep 1939 to Jun 1940

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    TNA Catalogue Reference: WO 167/699

    On this day the Officers were allotted as follows:-
    Commanding Officer:- Lieutenant-Colonel L. BOOTLE-WILBRAHAM, M.C.
    Second-in-Command:- Major W.S. STEWART BROWN
    Adjutant:- Captain The Honourable A.P.S. CHICHESTER
    Intelligence Officer:- Captain R.C. ROBIN
    Quartermaster:- Lieutenant M. JONES
    Liaison:- M. de St. GENYS
    Medical Officer:- Captain C.P. BLACKER, M.C.
    Padre:- Captain PRICE
    Officer Commanding H.Q. Company:- Captain E.R. HILL
    Carrier Platoon Officer:- Captain C.N. FANE
    Motor Transport Officer:- Captain J.H. BOWMAN
    Assistant Motor Transport Officer:- 2/Lieutenant EARL of DEVON
    Signal Platoon Officer:- 2/Lieutenant C.A. BLACKWELL
    No. 1 Company Commander:- Captain C.W.S. BLACKETT
    No. 1 Company:- Lieutenant C.H. FEILDEN
    No. 1 Company:- Lieutenant the Hon. E.F.V. SPEED
    No. 1 Company:- Lieutenant D.J. WARDE-ALDAM
    No. 2 Company:- Major E.T. WYATT
    No. 2 Company:- Lieutenant R.T. COMBE
    No. 2 Company:- 2/Lieutenant B.G. BRITTON
    No. 3 Company:- Major A. McCORQUODALE
    No. 3 Company:- 2/Lieutenant Sir J.H. PIGOTT-BROWN
    No. 3 Company:- Lieutenant J.M. LANGLEY
    No. 3 Company:- 2/Lieutenant The Honourable M.V. BRODRICK
    No. 4 Company:- Captain R.A. PILKINGTON, M.P.
    No. 4 Company:- Lieutenant E.L. GIBBS
    No. 4 Company:- 2/Lieutenant R.C. WINDSOR-CLIVE

    1940 May 11
    HITLER’s invasion of the LOW COUNTRIES found the Battalion in the billets they had occupied for the last few months, with Battalion H.Q. in FME d’AIGREMONT and the rest of the Battalion, less No. 2 Company, in PONT A MARCQ.
    No. 2 Company was at CAPELLE.
    In accordance with Plan “D” the 1st GUARDS BRIGADE started their advance to the River DYLE on foot, and thus it was that the marching personnel of the Battalion, under Captain HILL, left PONT A MARCQ at 2030 hours, whilst the M.T. column under Major A. McCORQUODALE did not move until 0200 hours on 12th May 1940.
    The route for the Battalion was PONT A MARCQ - TEMPLEUVE - GENECH - SARTINE - RUMES - ESPIECHIN - FROIDMONT - North side of TOURNAI - VERT MARAIS.
    The frontier into BELGIUM being crossed at SARTINE in the pitch dark.

    1940 May 12
    After a march of 21 miles the marching personnel reached VERT MARAIS at about 0800 hours, having been preceded by the transport by about half an hour.
    It had been a tiring march.
    May 12th was a lovely day, and nothing could have been more peaceful than the countryside in which we now found ourselves.
    The inhabitants seemed delighted to see us.
    That evening the Battalion was picked up by Motor Transport to be put down in the South Western outskirts of BRUSSELS, and should have arrived there by 2200 hours, but owing to refugee traffic on the roads, the column was broken up and largely scattered.
    The first bus actually arrived at midnight; the last not until the following dawn.

    1940 May 13
    The Battalion was to cross BRUSSELS in one body, but actually had to do so in small parties, and, as the stencilled markings which were to have guided us had been obliterated from the roads by pedestrians and hidden on the walls of houses by the crowds, we had to find our own way.
    Despite this the Battalion reassembled at DUISBURG 12 miles East of BRUSSELS at 0900 hours, and remained there until 1800 hours.
    We were not in a FLEMISH speaking part of BELGIUM where neither FRENCH nor GERMAN were understood.
    At 1800 hours the Battalion moved again to its Assembly Area behind the DYLE Positions at LEFDAEL.
    This was only a short march of 3 miles.
    On arrival each Rifle Company sent out one Platoon to dig in on the position.
    The remainder remaining billeted in LEFDAEL.

    1940 May 14
    This day work on the positions started in earnest at 0500 hours.
    1st GUARDS BRIGADE was in 1st DIVISION reserve with the GRENADIERS on the right, HAMPSHIRES centre and COLDSTREAM on the left.
    All four Companies of the Battalion were in one straight line with No. 2 Company on the right, No. 3 Company in the centre and No. 4 Company and No. 1 Company on the left.
    The Battalion frontage which was part of a DIVISIONAL Reserve Line extended 3,000 yards from the Southern corner of WEEBERG BOSHE, 790527 to inclusive the main LOUVAIN - TERVUEREN road.
    There was a large gap between our left and the right of the SUFFOLK’s who were the right-hand Battalion of the Reserve Brigade of the 3rd DIVISION.
    This day one GERMAN aeroplane bombed LEFDAEL and hit No. 3 Company’s cookhouse.
    C.Q.M.S. J. FENWICK and one cook were killed, and the cooker completely destroyed.
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    This was our first interference from GERMAN aircraft.
    During the day there was a false gas alarm due to the fact that lorries drove through LEFDAEL at some speed carrying some BELGIAN soldiers in gasmasks.
    Throughout the day the civilian population was streaming back through out lines, and mixed with it a large number of BELIGIAN soldiers.
    We began to collect food from empty BELGIAN houses and shops, and cattle, which had been abandoned by their owners, and badly wanted milking.
    Drill Serjeant ROBINSON was appointed head cowman and at times was dealing with 60 animals.

    See this thread http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/1940/36443-guardsmen-fenwick-seymour-2nd-bn-coldstream-guards-14-05-1940-a.html
    See this footage TROOPS IN BELGIUM - MAY 1940 - British Pathé

    1940 May 15
    The Battalion continued with the construction of its defences without interruption on our BRIGADE Front from the GERMANS.
    It was on this day that our 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS, in the North of LOUVAIN were heavily engaged, and in the evening the two BRIGADES in front of us were heavily shelled.
    2200 hours At 2200 hours we received orders to fetch up our “A” Echelon transport.

    1940 May 16
    We continued with our defences, but at 1800 hours Major STEWART BROWN, the Second-in-Command, went back with Company representatives to recce our sector of the CANAL LINE which was in the neighbourhood of ZUEN, 5 miles South-West of BURSSELS.
    1940 May Our “A” Echelon transport left LEFDAEL at 2200 hours followed by the marching personnel at 2300 hours.

    1940 May 17
    The march back was by the same route we had taken 4 days before, namely TERVUEREN - CHAMPS DES MANCEUVRES - BOIS DE LA CAMBRE and thence RUYS BROECK - ZUEN.
    The Battalion reached ZUEN at 0630 hours after march of 17 miles, and at once went into position on the banks of the CHARLEROI Canal with the carriers out in front to act as a screen until the bridges were ready to be blown.
    The front held by the Battalion was from inclusive Railway Bridge at LOTH 5546 to inclusive Bridge over the RIVER SENN. (There was a total of 7 bridges to cover).
    No. 1 Company was on the right, No. 3 Company in the centre, No. 2 Company on the left with No. 4 Company in reserve.By 1100 hours the BRITISH troops were over the Canal and the bridges were successfully blown.
    Little was seen of the enemy during the day.
    After dark orders for a further withdrawal were received from BRIGADE and we started to abandon the position at midnight.
    No. 1 Company acting as rearguard.

    1940 May 18 By 0900 hours the Battalion covered a further 20 miles to the line of the river DENDRE at NINOVE, by the route VOLSEM - ELINGHEN - LEERHEEK - OUDE PLAATS - SENDERWINDEKE - NINOVE.
    1940 May The Battalion was to hold a frontage of 2000 yards to the West of the Town extending from inclusive the level crossing at 366537 to exclusive the road bridge at NINOVE, with No. 2 Company on the right, No. 3 Company in the centre and No. 4 Company on the left and No. 1 Company in reserve with Battalion H.Q. at EYCHEN.
    The HAMPSHIRES were on the right and the GRENADIERS on the left.
    This day came orders for a daylight withdrawal to begin at 0900 hours next morning.

    1940 May 19
    After a peaceful night, the withdrawal began with No. 1 Company acting as rearguard, while a mobile rearguard to BRIGADE was supplied by all its Carrier Platoons commanded by Captain FANE.
    No. 1 Company were in contact with the enemy at LOCH at about 382544 before final withdrawal.
    The roads were slightly shelled as our march began; one shell killed a signaller.
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    All units of the 1st GUARDS BRIGADE had to march on the right of the road while the 2nd INFANTRY BRIGADE used the left and various transport used the centre; all moving in the same direction.
    Thus for mile after mile this road, like many others, presented to the enemy airforce an unbroken stream of marching men and transport.
    Luckily for the B.E.F. the GERMAN Airforce was occupied elsewhere.
    At 1400 hours in the neighbourhood of NEDERBRAKEL the BRIGADE embussed in 3-ton ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS lorries.
    The Battalion debussed at QUAREMONT and continued to march in odd parties as the bus column had been hopelessly disorganised en route.
    Ultimately the whole Battalion reached PECQ on the River ESCAUT by 1900 hours, after a march of 22 miles.
    Immediately each Company sent a Platoon to a position on the banks of the ESCAUT.
    No. 1 Company was on the right, No. 3 Company in the centre, No. 4 Company on the left with No. 2 Company in reserve, while the Battalion H.Q. was in an evacuated convent with large rooms and even larger glass windows.
    The Line to be held by the Battalion was altered on several occasions.
    It was finally fixed by Brigadier BECKWITH SMITH in the evening to run from the bend in the River ESCAUT at 906396 to the big tannery and the river in front of it at 898412.
    This front was 1,800 yards.
    The GRENADIERS were on our right, the 2nd HAMPSHIRES in BRIGADE Reserve and the 3rd DIVISION on our left.
    For a few hours the 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS and Captain FOX’s Company of it, was on our left but was later relieved.
    This evening Brigadier JACK WHITAKER visited the Battalion at the RELIGIOUS INSITUTION, PECQ.

    1940 May 20
    At 0130 hours the main bridge over the River ESCAUT was blown.
    This explosion broke most of the glass in the town and Battalion H.Q. was moved to a Chateau a few hundred yards away at about 1000 hours.
    At dawn the Battalion started to dig itself in.
    The town of PECQ was practically deserted and we were able to get a certain amount of food.
    Our position here, besides being overlooked by the opposite bank, was also dominated by MONT ST. AUBERT.
    The day passed quietly though some enemy activity could be plainly noticed on the other bank.
    Late this evening the Hon. E.F.V. BOSCAWEN received a wound form which he died during the night.
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    1940 May 21
    At 0100 hours Battalion H.Q. moved again to a large Chateau just East of ESTAIMBOURG.
    There was a river mist in the early morning.
    At about 0200 hours No. 3 Company was heavily mortared but though a very unpleasant experience, few casualties were sustained.
    Some movement observed near the bridge.
    At 0600 hours Mortar and Artillery fire started on the whole of the Battalion Front, and shortly afterwards it was reported that the enemy had crossed the river by No. 1 Company’s position.
    Major W.S. STEWART BROWN was, therefore, sent forward to restore the situation, taking with him the Carrier Platoon under Captain FANE, who was shortly afterwards killed by a shell when making a recce.
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    The situation on the COLDSTREAM Front was soon restored as it was found that only a few GERMANS had managed to get across despite the intensity of the GERMAN covering fire, but a gap had appeared between our right and the GRENADIER GUARDS’ Left and other GERMANS were losing no time in exploiting this.
    No. 2 Company formed a defensive flank towards the GRENADIER GUARDS, while Major STARKEY’s Company of GRENADIER GUARDS was ordered to counter attack on our Right.
    In this counter-attack all the Officers were killed, including Captain The Duke of Northumberland under whose command was Lance-Corporal NICHOLLS, to whom was awarded the first V.C. given to the Army in this War.
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    Until the successful conclusion of these counter attacks the line on our right was withdrawn from the Canal to the PECQ - PONT-A-CHIN Road.
    Now it was restored to the Canal bank and one Platoon of No. 2 Company under the command of 2/Lieutenant BRITTON took up a position to fill the gap between the GRENADIER GUARDS and ourselves.
    At about this time Battalion H.Q. received several salvoes of GERMAN medium Artillery which killed C.Q.M.S. BURNETT and several pioneers.
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    By about 1700 hours No. 1 Company reoccupied their posts on the Canal, some of which had been earlier evacuated.
    P.S.M. COURT, who had remained at his post regardless of what was happening on his flanks, was found killed.
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    Our casualties in this encounter were not so heavy as first appeared, numbering about 30 killed and wounded, which included Lieutenant Sir John PIGOTT-BROWN who was evacuated with a scalp wound.
    Lieutenant C.H. FIELDEN who was commanding No. 1 Company was also ordered back to rest at “B” Echelon with a very badly burned hand.
    Lieutenant E.L. GIBBS was transferred from No. 4 Company to command.
    This day Guardsman SWABEY of No. 4 Company shot 14 GERMANS with his own rifle from the windows of the tannery to the North of PECQ.

    1940 May 22
    This day passed peacefully, and orders were received for a further withdrawal.
    Towards evening the GERMAN pressure increased on No. 1 Company’s flank, and towards midnight No.s 1 and 2 Companies were ordered to withdraw from the river line to the line of the main PECQ - TOURNAI road.

    1940 May 23
    Heavy ground mist early: visibility not more than 40 yards.
    At 0200 hours the withdrawal began in the order: No.s 4, 3, 2, and 1 Companies with the carriers, now commanded by Lieutenant The EARL of DEVON, holding a rearguard position.
    The route of withdrawal was Road Junction 881409 - HELVA 859418 - LEERS 8340 - LA BOUISSON 819412.
    This time the march was only a short one of 6 miles back to the “prepared” position made by the B.E.F. during the previous Winter.
    Our sector was between LEERS and ROUBAIX.
    The Battalion Sector was just North of that dug by the 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS and was not in a very advanced state of preparation.
    3 Pill Boxes existed and there was an incomplete Anti-Tank ditch, but that was all.
    There were no section posts dug and everything was overlooked by the houses in the village of LEERS.
    The Battalion Line extended from inclusive the bend in the Canal at 827417.
    We were the Left Hand Battalion of 1st DIVISION, with the 3rd DIVISION on our Left.
    No. 4 Company was on our Right, No. 3 Company in the centre, No. 2 Company on the Left and No. 1 Company in Reserve.
    Later the HAMPSHIRES took over No. 4 Company’s Front, who then went on the Left of our Line.
    Battalion H.Q. was at TRIEU DE CARTHEM on the ROUBAIX Road.
    By the evening the GERMANS were in contact with No. 2 Company.
    The civilian population had been evacuated from our Battalion Area and we were able to supplement our rations from their pet rabbits and garden produce.
    Once more Drill Serjeant ROBINSON rounded up the local cattle and soon had collected a heard of 40 head who were milked twice a day.

    1940 May 24
    By now the Battalion had dug itself in and ROYAL ENGINEERS Stores were again arriving.
    At dawn each Forward Company was ordered to send out a Platoon, about 600 yards to act as a temporary outpost.
    No. 4 Company’s had no adventures
    No. 3 Company’s was commanded by P.S.M. MALONEY who mistaking some GERMANS for a part of his own Patrol was captured, the rest of the Patrol getting back safely.
    No. 2 Company’s was commanded by P.S.M. SIMPSON, which, after advancing some 400 yards, got caught in GERMAN machine gun cross fire and suffered heavy casualties.
    Only 3 survivors got back
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    1940 May 25
    This day passed quietly.There was a little shelling on our Right Front.

    1940 May 26
    This was an uneventful day for us.

    1940 May 27
    Another peaceful day as far as the enemy was concerned, but at 1615 hours it was learned that we were to withdraw gaing.
    The withdrawal was to start this evening, and arrangements to that and were at once put in train.
    About 100 Route Cards were typed out in the Battalion and were distributed down to all Sections because of the long distance of the withdrawal.
    The personnel of the Carrier Platoon had to be recalled from their task of the moment which was to drive our herd of cattle through the centre of ROUBAIX where they had to be abandoned.
    The transport under 2/Lieutenant BLACKWELL resumed its withdrawal at 2200 hours and the position was finally abandoned by Companies at midnight.

    1940 May 28
    The Battalion was to withdraw to HONDSCHOOTE South East of DUNKERQUE.
    For the first stage to MARIEBOURG the Route was Road Junction 808416 - Road Junction 788398 - Crossroads 773408 - CROIX LAROCHE 7239 - Road Junction 723393 - Road Junction 703398 - Road Junction 707401 - Crossroads 702399 - Crossroads 683392 - Road Junction 675385 - VERLINGGHAM 6541 - PERENCHIES 6340 - HOUPLINES 5943 - LABIZET 5745 - PLOEGSTEERT 5747 - ROMAIN 5447 - NEUVE EGLISE 5349 - MARIEBOURG 251 - DRANOUTRE WOOD at 5053.
    The prospects of rest on reaching MARIEBOURG were so poor that the march was continued to a little wood on the reverse slope of the ridge South of LOCRE.
    We lay up in this wood till 1400 hours and enjoyed an excellent meal from one of the many ration dumps left by the ROYAL ARMY SERVICE ARMY.
    Meanwhile, an intense dive-bombing attack was carried out by the GERMANS on MARIEBOURG.
    At first light there had been a very heavy rainstorm for our discomfort: the first break in the weather since the GERMAN invasion of the LOW COUNTRIES.
    The roads were now choked by the FRENCH Army as opposed to BELGIAN refugees, but whereas it had been possible to direct the BELGIAN refugees off the road, it was not possible to do anything with the FRENCH troops.
    The one o’clock news this day told of the submission of the BELGIAN Army which provided the first explanation of our withdrawal
    During the Battalion’s 4 hours rest, the enemy’s shelling of surrounding villages show that he was not far away.
    At 1400 hours the Battalion continued its withdrawal toward DUNKERQUE via DRANOUTRE and LOCRE, where a very heavy thunderstorm broke, whose noise entirely drowned that of the GERMAN Artillery, and again soaked the men to the skin.
    The conditions now were very bad.
    Only a few small scale maps were available.
    The routes seemed to be choked not only by FRENCH vehicles but by hundreds of FRENCH horses.
    The Battalion R.V. was HONDSCHOOTE but it was hoped to check the Battalion past a point North West of POPERINGHE, and the town itself was to be avoided.
    In the conditions prevailing Company Commanders did what they could to get lifts for their men in vehicles as there was not room to march on the roads.
    The POPERINGHE by-pass could not be found and so again the Battalion passed through this town, so well-known in the last War and again badly battered by the GERMANS.
    That evening after POPERINGHE the roads became emptier.
    The Battalion was collected North West of POPERINGHE on the PROVEN ROAD at about 447644.
    1Then towards dusk we embussed in 3-ton lorries and moved off about 2100 hours for the final stage to HONDSCHOOTE.

    1940 May 29
    We debussed again at one o’clock on the morning of the 29th at REXPOEDE 3572 whence the Battalion marched via KILLEM reaching HONDSCHOOTE before daylight.
    At dawn the Battalion began to assemble under the Commanding Officer.
    It now became apparent that about six of our convoy of lorries had been sent on into DUNKIRK instead of to HONDSCHOOTE.
    This resulted in the Battalion being without at least 3 rifle Platoons, all the Signallers, mortars, Intelligence and the R.S.M.
    Subsequently it proved impossible to find any of these men in the confusion of DUNKIRK, though Major McCORQUODALE was sent back on two occasions to look for them.
    1We found that HONDSCHOOTE contained the H.Q. of the 48th DIVISION commanded by Major-General THORNE previously G.O.C., LONDON DISTRICT, and that so soon as we had taken up our position on the BERQUES - FURNES Canal the 48th and other DIVISIONS would withdraw through us.
    By 1330 hours the Battalion was in its position, 2200 yards long, facing SOUTH-SOUTH-EAST.
    The 126th BRIGADE of the 42nd DIVISION was on our Right, having recently come out from ENGLAND.
    The 3rd INFANTRY BRIGADE was on our Left; the HAMPSHIRES were in reserve and the GRENADIERS had been lent to another DIVISION.
    In our array No. 1 Company was on the right covering a small bridge 328780, then came No. 3 Company.
    No. 2 Company and No. 4 Company covering the main bridge 348728.
    Battalion H.Q. was on the road in rear of No. 4 Company near the Windmill at KROMMELHOECK.
    “A” and “B” Echelons personnel having destroyed their vehicles was formed into a Company under the command of Captain R.C. ROBIN their Intelligence Officer, which included Captain J. BOWMAN, the M.T.O. and 2/Lieutenant C.A. BLACKWELL, the Signal Officer, and about 120 Other Ranks.
    This Unit was employed directly under DIVISION to hold HOUTHEM Bridge about 392804 (?) away on our Left.
    There was appalling confusion on the roads due to the complete lack of control of FRENCH columns who were lined up three deep and the lack of organisation on the perimeter at DUNKERQUE.
    All day long exhausted BRITISH and FRENCH Troops poured across our bridges and back the remaining 10 miles to the sea, while enemy bombers passed overhead to deal with the situation on the beaches.

    1940 May 30
    This day passed quite peacefully except for intermittent shelling.
    The stream of BRITISH and FRENCH soldiers grew less.
    No vehicles were allowed to cross the line of the LA BASSEE Canal and the far bank appeared to be solid with abandoned motors, all either burning or burnt out.
    This morning the Commanding Officer told the men in the posts that we hoped to withdraw that night into ENGLAND.
    This did not, however, become possible for another three days.
    At 0900 hours “A” and “B” Echelon had been relieved at their bridge and had withdrawn to DIVISION H.Q. on the beach, but at 1700 hours instead of embarking for ENGLAND, they were sent back to join the Battalion, which was so very short of men owing to the incident mentioned above, and to the fact that the Battalion front was a mile long.
    This party was detailed off to Companies.
    Captain J.H. BOWMAN going to No. 3 Company and 2/Lieutenant C.A. BLACKWELL to No. 1 Company.
    The sluice gates were opened and the country flooded from the sea.
    Many of the roads were under water and it was difficult to find one’s way across the country as the dykes and canals were undistinguishable.

    1940 May 31
    This day saw the end of the allied withdrawal across the LA BASSEE Canal and the arrival of the GERMANS.
    We had been told that we should embark this night but were now called on to remain another 24 hours.
    Throughout the day there was a good deal of GERMAN shelling.
    One dud landed in the Battalion H.Q. Officers’ Mess, another dud in the R.A.P. but another (not dud) severely wounded Acting C.Q.M.S. EASTWOOD and Serjeant SOWEBY of the Carrier Platoon.
    Later in the day the Armourer Serjeant was killed, and C.S.M. HEWITT of H.Q. Company wounded also by enemy shell fire.
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    The Companies on the Canal Bank also suffered casualties, which included Serjeant NEWTON of the M.T. attached to No. 4 Company.
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    1The Carrier Platoon was sent off to support a Battalion of the 3rd INFANTRY BRIGADE.
    In the afternoon the Commanding Officer was ordered to take over command of the 1st GUARDS BRIGADE, and Major STEWART BROWN took over command of the Battalion.
    In the evening Battalion H.Q. was moved to a farm house half a mile further back.

    1940 May
    2nd Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS - May 1940, B.E.F.:-
    Lieutenant-Colonel L. BOOTLE-WILBRAHAM, M.C.
    Captain The Honourable A.P.S. CHICHESTER
    Lieutenant & Quartermaster M. JONES
    R.S.M. A. TOMBS
    Captain R.C. ROBIN
    Captain C.P. BLACKET, M.C., R.A.M.C.
    Reverend G.H. PRICE, R.A.Ch.D.
    D/Serjeant G. COPP
    D/Serjeant P. ROBINSON
    Captain E.R. HILL
    Captain J.H. BOWMAN
    2/Lieutenant EARL of DEVON
    Captain C.N. FANE
    2/Lieutenant C.A. BLACKWELL
    P.S.M. F. E. COURT
    P.S.M. F.R. PORTER
    Captain C.W.S. BLACKETT
    Lieutenant C.H. FIELDEN
    Lieutenant the Honourable E.F.V. BOSCAWEN
    2/Lieutenant R.D.E. SPEED
    P.S.M. K.L. HOOPER
    Major E.T. WYATT
    Lieutenant R.T. COMBE
    2/Lieutenant B.G. BRITTON
    2/Lieutenant C.A. BLACKWELL
    C.S.M. H. HEWITT
    Lieutenant J.M. LANGLEY
    2/Lieutenant Sir J.H. PIGOTT-BROWN
    2/Lieutenant The Honourable M.V. BRODRICK
    C.S.M. P. KNIGHT
    Captain R.A. PILKINGTON, M.P.
    Lieutenant E.L. GIBBS
    2/Lieutenant R.C. WINDSOR-CLIVE
    2/Lieutenant D.J. WARDE-ALDAM
    P.S.M. F.T. AYLEN
    P.S.M. G. DANCE
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    1940 June 1
    It soon became known that we were to withdraw to the beach and embark this evening.
    Our supporting Artillery also knew this and they were determined to use up every round of ammunition they could lay their hands on.
    The GERMANS now began in earnest to try and prevent our getting away.
    Ugly rumours kept drifting in of GERMAN infiltration round our flanks.
    The Carrier Platoon was therefore despatched to watch our Left Flank in the 3rd BRIGADE area by LES MOERES.
    By mid-day No. 4 Company were forced to withdraw slightly from the banks of the Canal.
    The whole countryside now being flooded, even if the enemy did cross he would be confined to the roads.
    At about 1400 hours it appeared that the Battalion on our Right had withdrawn in the face of opposition, and No. 1 and No. 3 Companies had to form a defensive flank on their Right.
    Lieutenant E.L. GIBBS Commanding No. 1 Company was killed about this time, as was 2nd Lieutenant C.A. BLACKWELL, the Signal Officer, who was attached to No. 1 Company.
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    At 1600 hours we were informed that the position could be abandoned at 2200 hours, and the difficult task of getting this news to the Forward Platoons began.
    At 1900 hours the Adjutant led Battalion H.Q. back to the sea.
    At 2100 hours we were told that Zero Hour could be put forward to 2100 hours, and about the same time the news arrived that Major McCORQUODALE, commanding No. 3 Company had been killed, and also 2/Lieutenant R.D.E. SPEED, the remaining Officer in No. 1 Company.
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    Lieutenant J.M. LANGLEY, the remaining Officer with No. 3 Company was also wounded, and only Captain BOWMAN the M.T.O. survived to bring out the remnants of No.s 1 and 3 Companies.
    No. 2 Company had up to now suffered less casualties but on the beach an unlucky GERMAN shell hit the head of this Company’s column.
    Several men belong to Company H.Q. were killed and Major E.T. WYATT and Lieutenant R.T. COMBE were mortally wounded.
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    No. 4 Company which was the last out of the Line still had all its Officers and thus the Battalion reached the sea covered by the Carriers who took up a position on the DUNKIRK Canal until 0200 hours, when, in accordance with his orders, Lieutenant The EARL of DEVON abandoned his vehicles and immobilised them.
    The Battalion reached the beach a mile or two East of DUNKIRK Mole about 0130 hours, and joined several of the many long queues already waiting to embark.
    About half were fortunate enough to get off before dawn when the ROYAL NAVY ceased operating until the evening.
    Those left on shore were taken back into the sand dunes and ordered to dig in.
    During this day there was plenty of food, and fortunately immunity from enemy shells and bombs, though all round were remains of earlier bombardments.
    Shortly after 2100 hours the party was told to march down to the Mole and was soon on board H.M Destroyer “SABRE”.
    In the days that followed the remnants of the Battalion re-assembled at WALTON, near WAKEFIELD.

    1940 June 3 - 21 INCLUSIVE, BLANK

    1940 June 22
    North Somercotes
    1130 hours Battaltion H.Q. established at NORTH SOWERCOTES, near LOUTH, at 1130 hours.
    No. 1 Company and No. 3 Company are forward, and are getting into positions on the beach, on a front of about 9 miles.
    No. 3 Company (Major Sir T.E.P. FALKINER, Bt.) are on the Right, with Company H.Q. at TALYFLEET, and No. 1 Company (Major W.S. STEWART BROWN) are on the Left, with Company H.Q. at MARSH CHAPEL.
    No. 2 Company is detached from the Battalion, under the GRIMSBY defences, at GRIMSBY.
    No. 2 Company is now under command of Captain P.H. FLOWER.
    No. 4 Company (Captain R.A. PILKINGTON) are also detached from the Battalion at BARTON-UPON-?
    Major the Lord BINGHAM, M.C., is in temporary command of the Battalion, while the Commanding Officer is away on Leave.
    Several Officers have still to rejoin the Battalion from WALTON, YORKSHIRE, where the Battalion went after landing in ENGLAND from FRANCE.

    1940 June 23
    North Somercotes
    Sunday. A quiet day.
    Companies in the front line digging in.
    The Battalion has now re-formed, and its strength is 30 Officers and 780 Other Ranks.
    The Officers of the Battalion are as follows:-
    Battalion H.Q. and H.Q. Company:-
    Commanding Officer:- Lieutenant-Colonel L. BOOTLE-WILBRAHAM, D.S.O, M.C.
    Second-in-Command:- Major the Lord BINGHAM, M.C.
    Officer Commanding H.Q. Company:- Captain E.R. HILL
    Adjutant:- Captain The Honourable A.P.S. CHICHESTER
    Intelligence Officer:- Captain R.C. ROBIN
    Motor Transport Officer:- Lieutenant J.D. CHETWODE
    Carrier Platoon Officer:- 2/Lieutenant The EARL of DEVON
    Signal Platoon Officer:- 2/Lieutenant G.E. SINCLAIR STEVENSON
    Assistant Motor Transport Officer:- 2/Lieutenant G.B. MACKEAN
    Liaison Officer between 1st GUARDS BRIGADE & 1st DIVISION:- Captain J.H. BOWMAN
    Motor Contact Officer:- Lieutenant A.M.C. WIGAN
    Quartermaster:- Lieutenant M. TOWERS
    Medical Officer:- Lieutenant Captain C.P. BLACKER, ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
    Padre:- Captain G.H. PRICE, C.F.
    Padre:- Captain P. WANLEY, C.F.
    No. 1 Company:-
    Captain C.H. FEILDEN
    2/Lieutenant L. DAWNAY
    2/Lieutenant The Honourable R.T. PALMER
    2/Lieutenant A.D.A. BALFOUR
    No. 2 Company:-
    Captain P.H. FLOWER
    Lieutenant P.R.de S. CHURCHWARD
    2/Lieutenant B.G. BRITTON
    2/Lieutenant C.R.H. HILL-WOOD
    2/Lieutenant S.E. GULL
    No. 3 Company:-
    Major Sir T.E.P. FALKINER, Bt.
    2/Lieutenant M.P.G. HOWARD
    2/Lieutenant R.M. CHAPLIN
    2/Lieutenant F.W.P. CORBOULD
    No. 4 Company:-
    Captain R.A. PILKINGTON, M.P.
    2/Lieutenant R.C. WINDSOR-CLIVE
    Lieutenant The Lord LEVESON
    2/Lieutenant D.J. WARDE-ALDAM
    2/Lieutenant J.V.S. HOWARD-STEPNEY
    The Commanding Officer returned from Leave this evening.

    1940 June 24
    North Somercotes
    The Commanding Officer visited Companies today.
    Work was continued withe the defences.
    No. 2 Company have been moved from GRIMSBY to M??INGHAM DOCKS.

    1940 June 25
    North Somercotes
    The Commanding Officer visited No. 2 Company today.
    All Officers and Other Ranks have now rejoined the Battalion, the last of those still at WALTON arriving here today.

    1940 June 26
    North Somercotes
    The Commanding Officer visited No. 4 Company, at BARTON-ON-HUMBER, today.
    This Company are to rejoin the Battalion shortly.

    1940 June 27
    North Somercotes
    Nothing to report.
    Work on defences continued.
    Pill Boxes are being sited on the beach.
    Road-blocks are being sited all over the area.

    1940 June 28
    North Somercotes
    The following detachment of troops are now under command of the Commanding Officer, who is Officer Commanding CENTRE SUB-SECTOR, 1st GUARDS BRIGADE:-
    COLDSTREAM GUARDS Platoon, BRIGADE Anti-Tank Company
    One Troop, 2nd Field Regiment, ROYAL ARTILLERY
    One Battery, 80th Medium Regiment, ROYAL ARTILLERY (Scottish H?)
    One Troop, “Q” Battery, 21st Anti-Tank Regiment, ROYAL ARTILLERY
    B Company, 6th CHESHIRES, (?G.S.)
    44 Company, A.M.P.C.
    One Troop 154th Field Regiment, ROYAL ARTILLERY (LEICESTER YEOMANRY)
    P2/D5 Battery, ROYAL ARTILLERY
    2 Sections, 238th Field Company, ROYAL ENGINEERS
    The LOUTH DIVISION L.D.V.S. are also working in conjunction with the Battalion, in manning Observation Posts, etc.

    1940 June 29
    North Somercotes A hot day.
    1940 June
    Work on defences continued.

    1940 June 30
    North Somercotes
    Lieutenant P.R.de S. CHURCHWARD posted to the GUARDS DEPOT.
    1940 June 2/Lieutenant R.E. PHILIPS posted to the Battalion and to No. 2 Company.
    1940 June Although today Sunday, work was continued as on a work day.
    1940 June No. 4 Company left BARTON-ON-HUMBER, and came into reserve at NORTH SOMERCOTES.
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Incomplete: months previous to May 1940 yet to be transcribed.
  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details
    Name Langley, James Maydon
    Rank: Lieutenant
    Service No: 68294
    Regiment: Coldstream Guards
    Theatre of Combat or Operation: Escape and Evasion and Special Operations
    Award: Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
    Date of Announcement in London Gazette: 02 May 1941
    Date 1940-1941
    Catalogue reference WO 373/60

    ACCOUNT OF ESCAPE OF Lt. J.M. LANGLEY, M.C., 2nd Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS, 1st Division

    Captured 4th June 1940
    Escaped 5th October 1940
    Left Gibraltar 7th March 1941
    Arrived U.K. 21st March 1941
    Length of Army Service: 4 years, 9 months
    Peacetime Profession: Merchant Banker

    1940, 1 June, WOUNDED
    I last saw my unit at DUNKIRK on the 1st June 1940. After being wounded I was taken to 11 C.C.S. ROSENDAEL, under the command of Major NEWMAN, R.A.M.C., where I remained for 6 days. There were 400 British wounded, including 8 wounded from the 2nd Battalion COLDSTREAM. 3 Medical Officers and 20 Orderlies there. The Germans came in on the 4th June.

    On the 8th June the whole C.C.S. moved to the hospital at ZUYDCOOTE. My arm was amputated at this time. I was at ZUYDCOOTE for two months and about the 27th July moved to LILLE, to a French Convent in the RUE ROUBAIX. This convent was used as the French Naval Hospital. On the 1st August all wounded there were moved to the 17/21 BRITISH GENERAL HOSPITAL, Commanding Officer Colonel ROBERTSON, D.S.O. There were about 600 wounded there in all.

    5 October, ESCAPE
    On the 5th October, when we were to be moved to ENGHIEN in BELGIUM, I escaped to a house in LILLE. The next day I was taken out to the Padre's house in ASCQ. After 10 days I moved back into LILLE, hid for 2 days and then took the train to PARIS. In LILLE I was joined by a French boy and two O.R.s of the 51 DIVISION, R.A.M.C. (one of the O.R.s was called WILSON). We were in PARIS, hiding in various hotels, for 14 days and made an abortive attempt to cross the line at ROMARANTIN. We were taken out of PARIS to BOURGES, on the 31st October, by 2 French guides and crossed the line of demarcation south of BOURGES, on the night of the 31st October, and reported to the American Consul in LYONS.

    We spent 3 weeks in VICHY, in touch with the American Embassy, and then went by train to MARSEILLES, where, on about the 1st December, I applied for repatriation, under exchange of wounded scheme. I went before the Medical Board on the 4th January and my papers come through on about the 21st February. I left MARSEILLES on the 21st February and travelled by train via BARCELONA to GIBRALTAR. I was met at PORT BOU by WHITFIELD, the consul at BARCELONA.
    WO 373/60- ir342-pg9

    Attached Files:

  5. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.


    Did Guardsman Swabey receive any type of gallentry award for his actions on May 21?
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    In short - no.

    There isn't any record of an award on TNA system but those records do not contain all awards as many MiDs were lost. However, neither does his name feature on the RoH in their History Appendices; one of the reasons in fact why I hightlighted the sentence in the Diary. I would have thought he merited a Mention. Just such a note is usually indicative of one.
  7. Little Friend

    Little Friend Senior Member


    I took these yesterday (Sunday) at Station road, Quainton, Bucks.
    dbf likes this.
  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks for the photos of the memorial plaque, a fine addition.
    Phaethon transcribed the rest of the war diary for 2nd Coldstream, and Dec 1942 can be found on this other thread

    2CG, at Longstop HIll, the Regtl History records that after the Bn were ordered to retire ... "In 1 and 3 Coys. only one Officer was left; three C.S.M.s were dead or wounded, and of the twelve platoon sergeants only one remained. Altogether the battalion had lost ten officers and some 200 men dead or wounded. The Americans, who had fought with stubborn courage to the very end, had lost 300 men."

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