2nd Lothian and Border Horse

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Alanst500, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. Alanst500

    Alanst500 Senior Member

  2. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Thanks for posting the diary. It looks great in the Gallery. I will have to look at file sizes for diaries covering for my Dads service and post someday.
  3. Alanst500

    Alanst500 Senior Member

    There's a heap of free software to resize them just Google resize.
  4. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Thanks for the resize tip. I'll go and look that up.
  5. Alan Hume

    Alan Hume Member

    I clicked on your link but nothing came up, just went back to the forums page
    sorry for the hassle
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  7. Alan Hume

    Alan Hume Member

    Many thanks, will give it a shot :)

    hmm, nice, got it but now I just need to learn how to navigate around it
    is that the whole year there? very impressive
  8. Alan Hume

    Alan Hume Member

    Just been spending some time going through this, wow, a lot to get through :)
    it's really interesting stuff, many thanks again for putting it up here
    amberdog45 likes this.
  9. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Would anyone, by chance, have the 2 Lothian & Border Horse WDs for the period May 44?


  10. Hereward

    Hereward Junior Member

    Hi Frank, I hope this helps. I may have more but this should be enough to digest for the moment!

    Kind regards,
    Hereward Dundas-Taylor
    Administrator Facebook Group
    Lothians and Border Horse Yeomanry

    2nd Lothians and Border Horse
    MAY 1944 CO: Maj. G.R. Simpson

    Alife, Italy

    1-10 May

    Training continued with inf bns of 4th (Br) Inf Div. See Appx I [se Related Documents 1944]). On 4 May a night firing exercise was carried out. Report attached as Appx J [see Related Documents 1944]).

    11 May
    Left for conc area. March Table attached Appx A [see Related Documents 1944]).

    12 May
    Arrived in conc area. It was a very difficult and trying run for the tanks because of the dust and the necessity for keeping to the tank track at the side of the road. Track not well lit and frequent crossing of road made things more difficult.

    No attack put in by 12 Inf Bde due to failure of 10 and 28 Inf Bdes to reach BROWN. Heavy opposition encountered.

    CO attended conference at 12 Inf Bde. Probable alternative plan to cross AMAZON and attempt to seize and hold RED at 0700hrs tomorrow, after 10 Inf Bde have pushed forward to BLUE and Bailey Bridge established. Plan very nebulous. POLCORPS are doing well, now behind Monastery Hill.

    Sqn ldrs informed of plan.

    Enemy tanks (number unknown) reported moving East at Pt65 (836190) at 1240hrs

    CO received orders from Comd 12 Inf Bde (Brig A G Heber-Percy DSO) (See Appx B [see Related Documents 1944]).

    RHQ moved to HQ 12 Inf Bde at Mt Trocchio (8917).

    13 May

    Sqns moved forward to prepare to cross R Rapido in early hours of the morning. A Sqn with 6BW to cross first, followed by C Sqn with 2RF. A Sqn to cross AMAZON Bridge at 0500hrs and go South down QUEEN STREET, then turn right and attack with C Sqn on their right (C Sqn would cross at 0600hrs).

    In reserve, B Sqn and 1RWK were to remain on East side of river until called forward.

    A Sqn across AMAZON by 0730hrs. Very misty, visibility practically nil. Everything went well until A Sqn reached line of R Pioppeto, which they could not cross. Scissors bridge with them knocked out.

    The plan was then changed and they were ordered to swing right, with C Sqn still on their right, and go for BLUE or DEE.

    The objective was reached at 1130hrs.

    B Sqn and 1RWK ordered to cross Rapido. They had some difficulty as they were fired on by MGs while crossing AMAZON Bridge, but reached forming up area.

    In the afternoon enemy tanks and SPs were encountered, causing some casualties among A and C Sqns. Heavy mortar and shellfire also experienced.

    Monastery Hill was smoked as effectively as possible but needed continual watching.

    Sqns harboured at last light in area 858178. One tp of A and C Sqns were at immediate call, and the remainder at emergency notice.

    Ordered to move back to position at first light.

    Killed in Action
    190455 W/Lt H W Robb C Sqn
    7867358 Tpr Drummond, H W C Sqn
    7894146 Tpr Lawrie, W C Sqn
    7955734 Tpr Mitchell, G W C Sqn
    7958243 Tpr Smith, A L C Sqn
    7955188 Tpr Shaw, D A A Sqn
    7949461 Tpr Tow, K A Sqn

    Wounded in Action
    7955645 Tpr Lowton, F C Sqn
    5494566 Sgt Buckle, F C Sqn
    14541284 Tpr Bennett, G C Sqn
    7894168 Cpl Paterson, G P C Sqn
    7894187 Cpl Tarrant, T C Sqn
    7926740 Tpr Fairbrother, A A Sqn
    6027249 Tpr Haysell, E A Sqn
    7955095 Tpr Cross, W HQ Sqn
    14395864 Tpr Meredith, H C Sqn
    14272430 Tpr Scott, R P C Sqn
    14538689 Tpr Beresford, A C Sqn
    2049906 Tpr Willis, R B Sqn

    14 May
    A and C Sqns started to move back to original positions, visibility varied from 5-200yds during the morning. Snipers, MGs and mortar fire made things very difficult. B Sqn started to advance on the left of A Sqn, but ran into a bog.

    OC A Sqn killed (Maj T E Robb).

    Enemy counter-attack developed throughout the day but was repelled on every occasion, but with some loss to A and C Sqns. Close fighting tactics used by the enemy, sticky bombs and PIATs used.

    Only 24 effective fighting tanks left in the Regiment. C Sqn, with four tanks left, were forced to give ground slightly, their Sqn Ldr, Maj W S Thorburn MC, being killed.

    Killed in Action
    41661 T/Maj W S Thorburn MC C Sqn
    129150 T/Maj T E Robb A Sqn
    262382 W/Lt C M Joyner [?] C Sqn
    7894145 Tpr Kidd, C W C Sqn
    7258322 Tpr Thomas, J A Sqn
    7209227 LCpl Waite, R G A Sqn

    Missing Believed Killed

    284388[?] W/Lt McLeod, M C Sqn

    Wounded in Action
    7924986 LCpl Maguire, O C Sqn
    14330640 Tpr Cox, C C Sqn
    7959636 Tpr Harber, J C Sqn
    7063394 Tpr Townsend, W C Sqn
    14241345 Tpr Smith, L C Sqn
    7933286 Cpl Fleming, D C Sqn
    14400982 Tpr Smith, G C Sqn
    328936 LCpl Patrick, W B Sqn
    7961419 Tpr Guy, N A Sqn
    7954359 Tpr Haddock, G HQ Sqn
    7942304 LCpl Kidd, K C Sqn
    7891952 Sgt Cockburn, A A Sqn
    7890270 Tpr McKigan, D A Sqn
    14277155 Tpr Wadley, N A Sqn
    7960641 Tpr Rutherford, R A Sqn
    14411064 Tpr Foster, S A Sqn
    7896730 Tpr Giblin, W A Sqn
    7958931 Tpr Haley, A A Sqn
    240675 W/Lt J Patterson MC A Sqn
    [Many of the entries in the above casualty list are smudged and very difficult to read - there may be errors]

    Attached at Appx G and H are A and C Sqns' accounts of the operations on 13/14 May [see end of May Diary].

    15 May
    Regt in reserve, directly under comd of GOC 4th (Br) Inf Div. Remained in area 858178 during the day. Rest and maintenance as far as conditions allowed.

    Killed in Action
    7905640 Cpl Lindberg, W

    16 May
    Reverted to comd of 26 Armd Bde. Remained in same area until 1600hrs, then moved forward to area [illegible] Vertechi (842173).

    Slight enemy infiltration near harbour area, but not serious.

    Orders received for next day. B Sqn, less one tp, to support 1 Surreys, one tp B Sqn to support 2LF.

    Remainder of Regt to create a diversionary role on left front of 78th Div, under whose comd 26 Armd Bde is now.

    Bombing attack by enemy, about 30 bombers took part in the raid and dropped several loads in the area of Regtl A1 Ech. No vehs damaged badly, one man killed.

    Killed in Action
    7933225 Tpr Mulholland, B HQ Sqn

    17 May
    B Sqn, less one tp, moved to area 832185 to support 1 Surreys. They had a quiet and uneventful day as no enemy counter-attack developed.

    1 Tp B Sqn was put in support of 2LF at Pt 74 (827185) on left of B Sqn; it was shelled and shot at with AP but suffered no casualties.

    Regt, less B Sqn (26 tanks strong), ordered to advance from line GRAFTON (rd 8216 - 8418). Object to create a diversionary role on the left of 78th Div. Advance through very enclosed country continued slowly and the Regt eventually reached Pt 90 (809186), where heavy mortar fire and the presence of one MkVI and one or two MkIVs, and several SPs, held up the advance. GOC 78th Div had ordered advance to continue with centre line Pt 90 (8018), Pt (803195), Pt 98 (797215).

    Moved back to harbour at [illegible] Vertechi (842173).

    Killed in Action
    261977 W/Lt R M Robertson A Sqn
    7907026 Cpl Machett, J A Sqn
    7956007 Tpr Davies, K A Sqn

    Wounded in Action
    247297 W/Lt Griffiths, G R HQ Sqn
    307798 W/Lt Fulton, J W A Sqn
    7884640 Sgt Smith, J A Sqn
    7907017 Tpr Crack, S A Sqn
    14580004 Tpr Green, S A Sqn
    14411098 Tpr Hawkins, J A Sqn
    14348435 Tpr Kirkham, W A Sqn
    7959457 Tpr Watkins, J HQ. Sqn

    18 May
    B and C Sqns moved forward to area NE of Piumarola to act as a reserve against any possible counter-attack.

    B Sqn 1DY moved off in support but reverted to comd 1DY later in the day.

    No counter-attack developed and the sqns returned to harbour at1800hrs and 1900hrs (C and B respectively).

    Orders received that the Regt would be prepared to move at first light 19 May to area SW of Aquino.

    No casualties suffered during the day.

    19 May
    Regt moved to area [illegible] SW of Aquino, ready to break through any gap that might be made in the Adolf Hitler line. No gap was made, however, and the Regt remained all day in the same area, under mortar fire which damaged two tanks.

    CO received orders that the Regt would move at first light 20 May to area Piumarola for at least 48hrs rest and maintenance.

    20 May
    Regt moved to area South of Piumarola (8017) for rest and maintenance (48hrs) and reforming of 6th (Br) Armd Div.

    Bde Comd gave a short talk to all ranks.

    21 May
    Rest, occasional shelling, two crew comds wounded.

    Draft of three officers and 22 ORs arrived.

    Wounded in Action
    817809 Cpl Malcolm, W A Sqn
    7889125 Cpl McDonald, J A Sqn
    10630912 Pte Purcell, S HQ (LAD att).

    22-25 May
    Rest and maintenance in same area.

    26 May
    Lt Col W R Nicholson evacuated sick (jaundice). Maj G R Simpson assumed command of the Regiment.

    Moved to conc area near Aquino.

    Orders received to take rifle coys of 3WG on tanks across River Melfa via Oanis Bridge.

    CO proceeded on recce.

    O Gp (sqn ldrs and coy comds WG) proceeded on recce.

    Regt placed under comd 1 Gds Bde.

    Orders from Comd 1 Gds Bde to move, with WG, up each side of Mt Orio.

    At night the WG to hold Pt 260 (6532)[?] to river at 641525, standing patrol to go to road and river crossing 627355.

    Crossed River Melfa.

    Orders from Comd 1 Gds Bde that WG would march up road towards Arce at 2300hrs, supported by B Sqn, who would move at first light.

    Fit tanks:
    Shermans 51
    Honeys 11.

    27 May
    B Sqn supported WG, held up on Mt Orio and Mt Piccolo, which were strongly defended by the enemy

    A and C Sqns put down supporting fire onto Mt Grande and Mt Piccolo. Heavy shelling and mortaring of B Sqn, two tanks hit.

    Reverted to comd 26 Armd Bde.

    One enemy SP gun knocked out by A Sqn during the day.

    Wounded in Action
    240878 W/Lt A K Waterston MC

    28 May
    Put under comd 3WG. A Sqn in support of 3WG.

    C Sqn put under comd DY Gp. Remained with WG all day, harboured night with them (less C Sqn) North of Le Cash.

    Wounded in Action
    420616 Sgt Bell, S A
    14415934 Tpr Long, S A

    29 May

    Moved up Route 6 towards Arce - B Sqn leading. Bridge at Providero blown but diversion found and made. One Honey blown up on mine. Reached Arce 1200hrs, contact made with C Sqn, who came up from left with DY Gp, and with 8th Ind Div at Rocca d'Arce.

    Two bridges at Arce blown but diversions found.

    Eventually held up at bridge over R Liri. Regt shelled very heavily all afternoon.

    Moved back to Mt Piccolo area, believed to be a rest area for a few days.

    C Sqn rejoined Regt.

    Killed in Action
    7891950[?] Sgt Fairbairn, W B

    Wounded in Action
    [illegible] W/Lt [illegible], G A
    7891364 Sgt Yorke, J W
    7902888 LCpl [illegible], J C
    420255 Tpr Robertson, J B

    30 May
    Regt moved 2.5 miles to different conc area near Ceprano (654283).

    Wounded in Action
    [illegible] Tpr Ruston, G HQ

    31 May

    Regt ordered to pick up mines below Mt Grande. About 300 Italian box mines picked up (see Appx K Mine Report [see related Documents 1944]).

    Maj Scott MC (acting 2IC) proceeded on recce of area near Strangola - Gally, where Regt will move tomorrow under comd 1 Gds Bde.

    Harbour parties moved off; report received that Germans are counter-attacking near conc area.

    13-17 May

    Losses Inflicted on the Enemy

    By A Sqn
    Mk1V Special 1
    88mm A tk 1
    75mm A Tk 1
    SP 8
    Hy MG 2
    Killed 200

    By B Sqn
    SP 75mm 2
    MkIV 3

    SP 5
    88mm SP 1
    MkIV 1
    Killed 100

    27 May

    By A Sqn
    SP 1

    MkIV 5 (incl one Special)
    88mm SP 1
    88mm A Tk 1
    75mm A Tk 1
    75mm SP A tk 16
    Hy MG 2
    Germans killed 500 (at least).
    (Sgd) G R Simpson, Maj

    A Sqn War Diary May 1944 - Appendix G.


    11 May
    Left Regtl area at Alife and moved to conc area about five miles East of Cassino.

    12 May
    The Sqn spent the day in the conc area and various recces were made. The tanks suffered no ill-effect from the long approach march.

    13 May

    Before first light the 2IC moved the Sqn to a forward conc area East of AMAZON, while the Sqn Ldr went to meet the CO of the BW (Lt Col Modders). Owing to the darkness and ground mist, the marrying up of the Sqn and the Bn was very difficult, particularly as the provost had been unable to mark the route all the way.

    Contact was made with a sqn of the 17/21L, who said that AMAZON was not completed and the whole operation would be delayed. The Sqn was lined up along a railway embankment and mysterious MG fire was encountered. Rumour was very rife. The bridge was completed and we crossed at about 0800hrs.

    Progress was fairly slow and the first obstacle was a scissors bridge. The Valentine had laid the bridge but, as it was moving off, it was shelled and caught fire, with the result that the bridge was blocked and so useless. The direction was changed right and the first objective reached without incident.

    As no wheeled vehs could get within one mile of the tank harbour, Honeys and 1Tp Shermans were used to ferry supplies up from AMAZON. The operation was very difficult and it was necessary to use the track, which was blocked by many vehs on the same mission. When the tanks reached the Amn Pt a mortar shell landed on one of the Sqn A1 amn vehs, setting fire to three altogether. Fortunately the enemy did not shell the surrounding country, although the loading of supplies was carried out in daylight conditions, owing to the blaze.

    Tpr Shaw, D A A1 Ech
    Tpr Tew, K A1 Ech
    Cpl G Boag and Tpr C Bacon made a very gallant effort to rescue Tpr Tew from his blazing lorry.

    14 May
    The Sqn moved off to support the BW [in an] attack on the next objective. The enemy used smoke, which mingled with the heavy mist, reducing visibility to a few yards. The leading troops (3 and 4 Tps), guided by the leading coys, succeeded in reaching the objective. The rear troops (1, 2 and SHQ) were out of touch with the infantry and were quite unable to make contact with them, or find the objective. The mist continued until about 0900hrs.

    At about 0800hrs the Sqn Ldr (Maj T E Robb) dismounted from his tank to recce on foot and was shot by what appeared to be a sniper's bullet. He died very shortly after, in his tank.

    The feeling of being completely lost and quite unable to do anything at all, coupled with the death of the Sqn Ldr, reduced the Sqn to very poor spirits. The 2IC (Capt E G Hervey) took over command of the Sqn. His only available force appeared then to consist of two control Shermans, one Gunner OP, one Honey and one carrier, who seemed to trail along behind, but no one knew to whom he belonged.

    As the mist cleared sense of direction returned and 1Tp (Lt R Crichton) was found to be not very far away. Almost at once 2Tp appeared as well. This was little short of a miracle, as not one man knew where he was; and every few minutes the rear link was informing his Sqn Ldr that an attack was coming in.

    As the mist lifted more we saw B Sqn hull down on a ridge only 100yds away. Knowing our correct position was on their right, we contacted Maj C E Montagu Douglas Scott MC, who put us in the picture. We then moved into hull down positions, where we stayed all day.

    During all this time OC 3Tp (Lt A C Angliss) and OC 4Tp (Lt J Patterson MC) were informing the Sqn Ldr that they were expecting a counter-attack on their position. Lt J Patterson MC was unable to say his exact position as he had been guided by the infantry through the mist. Almost at once Lt Patterson reported that the strength of the two troops had been reduced to three tanks commanded by himself, Sgt J S Burns MM and Sgt A A Cockburn

    The situation then became clearer and it was obvious that many enemy SPs and MGs had got in at the rear of the BW and were firing at 3 and 4 Tps and the BW. Due entirely to the clear thinking and courage of those three tank commanders, the remainder of the Sqn was able to move into a position and shoot up four SPs and two MGs from the flank, catching them completely by surprise.

    This kill did much to raise the morale of the previously dispirited Sqn, and was some consolation for the news that the three remaining tanks had been knocked out. It is known that the tanks, by clever handling on the part of Lt J Patterson MC, killed probably 100 Germans, and [there] is no doubt that their presence did much to encourage the BW in their very difficult defence.

    All our survivors returned with the highest possible praise for the fine work that the BW had done, and particularly the stories of the gallantry and leadership of their CO, to whom they had offered their assistance in a dismounted role when the tanks were lost. LCpl White, R G, Lt Patterson's gunner, was killed during this action.

    At about 1900hrs the Sqn moved to the area of the scissors bridge, having been relieved by A Sqn 16/5L. On reaching the approach to the harbour the A Sqn Ldr was greeted by the Second-in-Command of the Regiment, Maj G R Simpson, with an order to 'shoot some infantry on a hill from where you were this morning'. With the assistance of B Sqn, all our tanks reloaded with ammunition and returned to that area to make contact with the CO of the RWK. Thanks to so many 'SPLICES', the orders for the attack lasted two minutes and, within one hour of receiving the order from Maj G R Simpson, the Sqn was on the first objective. As we were using the same frequency as A Sqn 16/5L, the wireless was very chaotic.

    As darkness fell the Sqn withdrew to join the Regt, much to the disgust of the leading pls. Owing to the darkness and bad going, the tanks returned to the harbour using hand compasses, and also with the assistance of an accomplice already in the harbour, who fired occasional Verey lights. For this breach of discipline the accomplice prefers to remain anonymous.

    15 May

    The Sqn remained in the same harbour all that day and D Coy Beds & Herts dug in round the tanks.

    Cpl W Lindberg, 2Tp, was killed by a mortar shell which landed in his tank while he was assisting in the recovery of another tank.

    In the evening Lt Angliss and his survivors from 3 and 4 Tps returned to the Sqn harbour area.

    16 May

    In the late afternoon the Sqn moved to Vertechi. That night the Sqn Ldr was informed that the plan for the morrow would probably take the form of an indirect shoot on Piumarola.

    17 May

    A Sqn moved out at first light, followed by RHQ and C Sqn. On arriving at a point South of Piumarola, A Sqn were sent off to work round to the right. Some 800yds short of the village an 88mm A Tk gun was seen and shot up almost at once. The orders for the manoeuvre were to take all precautions and proceed slowly. A short distance on, Sgt J Burns's tank was hit by an A Tk gun firing from the village, and caught fire. The crew got away to safety and Sgt Burns, quite unperturbed, went over to the Sqn Ldr's tank to point out the gun. At the same time OC 3Tp, Lt A C Angliss, reported there was a MkIV looking at him, 75yds to his right. Every tank in the Sqn loosed off a barrage so quickly that the MkIV was on fire within a few seconds. There was a lot of AP shot flying about and it was quite obvious that it was impossible for tanks to go anywhere near the village. The Sqn moved off very cautiously to the hills on the right overlooking the village.

    German prisoners began to appear and the Sqn pushed on to the next crest with difficulty, since the hill was heavily wooded and snipers appeared to be everywhere. At this time the strength of the Sqn was reduced to eight tanks.

    Running across the top of the hill was a track and, on meeting the track, a MkVI was reported on the other side. Owing to our reduced strength it was impossible to be very bold, but a plan was made for 1Tp (Lt R Crichton) to close on the MkVI, supported on the right by 3Tp (two tanks + one SHQ tank) and on the left by 2Tp (two tanks + one SHQ tank). Lt R Crichton reported the re-appearance of the MkVI, on which he scored a hit. As 3Tp moved to support him, Cpl J Hackett received a direct hit on the turret of his tank which killed him, but the remainder of the crew got away under smoke. The tank that hit him was later confirmed as a MkIV Special.

    Nothing further happened until about 1700hrs, when the Sqn was ordered to support a battalion of 78th Div in an attempt to capture a group of farm buildings about a half-mile to the right.

    The Sqn was taking no further chances that day and, from the moment the first tank moved across the track, every single gun, including bow guns, kept up a continual fire and laid a smoke screen on its left, since the flank appeared quite unprotected.

    This concentrated fire proved successful to the extent that, at the end of the attack, about 50 prisoners came in and, on inspecting the hedge on our left on the following day, at least 50 German corpses were found; it is known also that there were many killed and wounded on the objective itself. Lt J W Fulton was knocked out by a bazooka-type weapon at a few yards range.

    The Sqn returned to the track, disregarding the harassed CO of the infantry battalion, who seemed rather uncertain of the limitations of a Sherman tank. The operation was entirely successful and the infantry walked into their objective from the right.

    During the day Lt R McC Robertson, who was ferrying supplies in his troop of Honeys, was unfortunately killed by a mortar shell while taking cover in a trench. Tpr Davies, K of 1Tp was killed in the same trench, having baled out from his tank earlier in the day.

    At darkness the Sqn moved back to Vertechi to harbour with the Regt.

    18 May

    The Sqn remained in the same harbour.

    19 May

    At first light the Sqn moved towards Aquino with the remainder of the Regt, to be in a forward position ready in the event of a breakthrough of the Adolf Hitler line.

    20 May 1944

    The Sqn moved with the rest of the regt to an area South of Piumarola for 48hrs rest, and called up various units of the Echelon.


    Dark was the night and oft disturbed
    As Mars played tattoo on his drums,
    Short was the night and short the rest
    In the leaguer where they lay.

    Betimes they stirred to make their monsters
    Fit again to fight in the fray.
    The waning moon seemed loath to look
    For long upon that scene and soon,
    Once more the Squadron moved
    Up to the lines they'd left;
    Slowly they moved, for the light was bad
    And dawn brought naught but mist
    And smoke which, Gorgon-like,
    Devoured them in one gulp.
    A gasp of horror went around
    That scattered, blinded group,

    For Tom had gone.
    Shaken, shattered, all but lost.
    The helm soon steadied 'neath
    A new, though firm, unwavering grasp
    And soon they grouped - two arms
    United only by the ether waves.

    Poised for what might come, they waited
    Behind a scanty screen of earth
    Dug in with the Black Watch men.
    That morn had seen 'Three Charlie' hit,
    'Yoke Three' but seconds later was aflame
    And crews dispersed. Time and time again
    The others kept the Bosche at bay
    Till, their ammunition gone, they too were fired.
    On every side the Spandaus spat,
    The Nazi ring closed in, until
    The Colonel rallied men and guns,
    Prepared to stand or die - they stood
    They drove them back, the line was held
    And all was still once more.

    Throughout the lull the snipers kept the air alive
    And nebelwerfers whined o'erhead
    But through it came the sweetest sound on earth -
    The squeak and creak of Sherman tracks -
    Relief was there, they prayed for its success.
    Dark was the night and full of noise -
    The twittering of the long-range shells,
    Busy on their journeys to and fro,
    With thunderous crashes as they found a mark
    And through it all the nightingale sang.

    C Sqn War Diary May 1944 (Appx H)


    11 May

    On the evening of 11 May the Regiment moved forward to a concentration area about two miles South of Trecchio.

    12 May

    Remained in the concentration area. Orders received to be ready to move during the early hours of 13 May, order of march A, C, RHQ, B.

    13 May 1944

    OC C Sqn, Maj W S Thorburn MC, left to contact the Bn Comd of 2RF, whom the Sqn were supporting when across the R Rapido.

    The Sqn moved out of the conc area under the 2IC, Capt W A Taggart, order of march 1Tp, 2Tp, SHQ, 3Tp, 4Tp, Honeys. The route was along Route 6 until just South of Trocchio, then left down a track onto the railway line (which ran to Cassino). Then down a narrow road to the bridge named AMAZON. Owing to demolitions there were delays and difficulties in getting along the railway, also the enemy were shelling the railway at frequent intervals.

    The leading tank of 1Tp (Lt H W Robb) got bogged, but the Sqn managed to get round and left the Tp to follow as quickly as possible; while towing the bogged tank out, Tpr Lowton was hit by shrapnel and was sent back along the CL.

    The bridge was reported not completed and we would not be able to cross at 0500hrs, as expected, but some time later.

    The Sqn moved down from the rly line into a field on the right, where there was some protection from the shelling; tea was brewed and the Sqn Ldr held a conference of all tp ldrs, giving latest information. The CO RF turned up during the conference.

    The sound of tracks came out of the mist and a scissors bridge appeared on a Valentine chassis. This got mixed up with the Sqn and the dvr reported to the Sqn Ldr, requesting DERV as he was running short of fuel. The Sqn Ldr told him to 'Clear out!'.

    A message came through that the bridge was nearly completed and we were to move forward. 1Tp by now had caught up and were at the rear of the column.

    The Sqn reached the road leading to AMAZON Bridge and were halted, as A Sqn had not yet crossed. Heavy mortar and shellfire was now coming down all round the halted tanks. The RF were now with the leading tps, ready to cross with the tanks. The mist had now cleared.

    The scissors bridge again gave trouble, getting mixed up with the tanks. Orders were given by the Sqn Ldr to get it off the road.

    The Sqn moved within sight of the bridge. Very heavy fire coming down. A smoke screen was laid all round the bridge to try and cover the area of the crossing.

    The scissors bridge again! Orders received it must get through at all costs and the road was to be cleared.

    2Tp (Lt F R Woodroffe) began to cross AMAZON.

    The whole Sqn across without mishap, also the RF. On crossing, A Sqn went left and C Sqn right, in the direction of Cassino and just to the left of the town. 2Tp went out to the left and 4Tp (Lt N McLeod) right. 3Tp (Lt C M Joyner) followed SHQ and 1Tp went right behind 4Tp.

    Cpl Patterson of 2Tp received head wounds just short of the first ridge, about 600yds from the bridge.

    2Tp reached ridge about 800yds from AMAZON; 4Tp, working to the right, had one tank bogged and contacted enemy infantry, who they quickly shot up. 1Tp were now ordered to fill the gap between SHQ and 4Tp, as 4Tp were getting well out to the right and were in difficult country.

    The advance continued to our objective (QUEEN ST codename), terrific fire was now coming down all round, the infantry fell back behind the tanks. Trees and small streams and ditches made the going very difficult. 4Tp had another tank bogged and 1Tp, moving forward to left of 4Tp, lost a tank bogged in approx the same area.

    500yds from the objective the Sqn halted on a ridge, 1Tp right, on a crest overlooking Cassino and Route 6. 2Tp left, SHQ centre, 4Tp watching the right flank, just behind 1Tp. The Sqn was now facing north west, with A Sqn on our left. The RF came up and started to dig in, in this area.

    1Tp were ordered to push forward to the objective (a sunken road about 600yds distant). Lt Robb led his Tp, supported by half of SHQ and fire from 2Tp on the left. An open field with an orchard on the left lay between the Sqn and the objective.

    On reaching the field two German MkIV tanks came over the ridge and, at the same moment, an 88mm AP shell hit Lt Robb's tank while he was making for cover to engage the tanks. The whole crew were killed. Both German tanks were knocked out in a few minutes by fire from SHQ and the remaining tanks of 1Tp.

    Large numbers of German infantry began to infiltrate into the area around our tanks; many were killed, both by the fire from the tanks and our artillery fire. A German counter-attack looked imminent.

    Sgt Buckle of 1Tp was wounded in the head while doing great work on the right flank; his crew managed to get him back to the MO shortly afterwards.

    The only remaining tank of 1Tp (Cpl Tarrant) was ordered to fall back; while doing so the tank was hit by a 50mm shell and Tpr Mitchell was killed, Cpl Tarrant and and Tpr Bennett being wounded. 1Tp were now completely out of action.

    Continued holding on just short of the objective, amidst intense mortar and shellfire, while German infantry made repeated efforts to get into the area. All these attacks were successfully beaten off

    Orders received to withdraw to a harbour area about 400yds behind our positions. 3Tp were given orders to join B Sqn for the night, ready to go out if the Germans put in an attack during darkness. The harbour area provided little rest, as the Sqn were subjected to continual shelling and MG fire, and great difficulty was experienced in getting the tanks refuelled and replenished with ammunition; nevertheless, the Sqn A1 Ech did great work under Sgt Goalen.

    14 May 1944

    The Sqn Ldr tried to contact the CO RF, but could not find him.

    The Sqn Ldr left in a Honey to again try to contact the CO RF, and the 2IC had orders to take the Sqn at first light back to the positions we had occupied the previous night.

    The Sqn attempted to move out but a thick mist came down making visibility nil but, shortly afterwards, despite the mist, and working by compass, what remained of the Sqn moved out, 2Tp leading followed by SHQ and three tanks of 4Tp. 3Tp were ordered not to rejoin until the mist cleared. Our OP, Capt Massey 12RHA, moved with SHQ. Progress was slow and the Germans, having heard the tanks, put down intensely accurate mortar fire and smoke, with the result it was impossible to move as there was no visibility.

    About this time the Sqn Ldr reported over the wireless that he had contacted the CO RF and was going forward with him to do a recce, as it was thought that the Germans had withdrawn slightly.

    The Sqn Ldr decided that, if possible, a tp should be moved forward to make contact with the infantry in the area of the objective, ie the sunken road. 2Tp moved forward, plus the OP. Visibility had slightly improved but shortly afterwards the mist was as thick as ever.

    2Tp found difficulty in keeping direction, and also there was continual sniping and bursts of enemy MG fire. To try and get the right direction, Lt Woodroffe and Capt Massey went forward on foot and the approx direction was found. While the recce was going on, Sgt Burke took two prisoners who were completely lost. The Tp then moved to the right along the crest overlooking Cassino and the mist became thicker than ever. The Tp was ordered to halt in its present position.

    While halted two tanks were attacked by sticky bombs, one sticky bomb did no damage, the other pierced the turret of Capt Massey's tank, killing the operator and wounding Capt Massey, his gunner and co-driver. On hearing of this, Lt Woodroffe formed his Tp into a small leaguer and attended to the wounded. When this was completed the Tp moved forward with the wounded on the back of the Tp Ldr's tank, which shortly afterwards got bogged; the wounded were taken back on the Tp Sgt's tank, as his 75mm gun was out of action.

    The mist had now cleared considerably and Lt Woodroffe contacted the Sqn Ldr and the CO RF, who had spotted a German MkIV. The CO RF asked for one of the tanks to go forward and deal with it, and he pointed out its exact position to the Sqn Ldr. This tank turned out to be one shot up the night before; the Sqn Ldr then started back to rejoin the Sqn. While walking back he received a direct hit from a mortar and was instantly killed. Capt Taggart took command of the Sqn.

    Lt Woodroffe and one tank (Sgt Burke) remained forward with the CO RF, ready to support the infantry if required.

    The Sqn now had 3Tp on the right, 4Tp left, SHQ centre.

    Large numbers of German infantry were reported on our right, in the area of the sunken road. 3Tp were ordered to move forward to deal with this, prior to the infantry putting in an attack in that area. Lt Joyner led his Tp with great gallantry through the heaviest shelling and mortaring received that day. It became so bad that he was ordered to pull back; before doing so 3Tp covered the whole area with terrific bursts of .30ins Browning, which caused severe casualties to the enemy.

    3Tp pulled back in line and to the right of SHQ. Shortly afterwards, Lt Joyner's tank was hit by the German equivalent of our PIAT. Lt Joyner was instantly killed, his gunner and operator wounded. Sgt Turnbull, without delay, got the wounded conveyed back on the back of his tank.

    A message was received from the infantry that they were going to attack and clear the orchard to our front, and wished some close support from a tp of tanks. The attack was beginning in about fifteen minutes.

    Lt McLeod and Sgt Fraser of 4Tp were ordered to join the infantry on our left front and support the infantry attack from the Sqn side of the orchard, while the remainder of the Sqn supported from the present positions. The orchard ran right across the Sqn front and the infantry were attacking from left to right, ie in a northerly direction. Lt McLeod led, followed by Sgt Fraser, while the infantry cleared the orchard.

    After advancing about 200yds Lt McLeod's tank was hit by a PIAT. The gunner, Tpr Kidd, was killed, and the co-driver wounded. Lt McLeod baled out and lost contact with both the tanks and infantry. Some days later his body was found forward in the area the Germans were holding at the time. His action had been of the highest standard.

    With great coolness on the part of the driver, the tank was reversed to a safe position and the remainder of the crew got back safely, although the tank was on fire. Sgt Fraser was forced to withdraw, owing to very heavy fire being directed at him.

    As the Sqn was now reduced to eight tanks, A Sqn 17/21L came up and took over the positions, and what was left of the Sqn concentrated about 500yds behind. Later a harbour area was found further back.

    During both these days Lt Baxter and the crews of the Honeys did most excellent work.

    - END MAY 1944 -
  11. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Much ta.

  12. JohnH

    JohnH Active Member

    I’m interested in the award of the Military Medal to Sergeant Robert Emslie Rennie No. 7894173 2nd Lothians and Border Horse Yeomanry, Royal Armoured Corps and found your posting of the War Diary from 2nd Lothians and Border Horse Yeomanry, 'C' Squadron in May 1944.

    Sgt Rennie was in commanded of a tank in 'C' Squadron, 2nd Lothians and Border Horse. I have attached his Recommendation for Award which provides an account of an action on 14 May 1944 at the Rapido River during the 4th battle of Cassino (11-18 May 1944). Sgt Rennie was awarded the Military Medal on 19 April 1945 per notice in The London Gazette Publication date: 17 April 1945, Supplement: 37039 Page:2074 (also attached).

    Reviewing this War Diary on 14 May 1944 and the citation for Sgt Rennie it would appear that it was Capt. Massey on an OP tank who was rescued by Sgt Rennie. I would welcome your thoughts on this, thank you.

    Attached Files:

  13. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    I think that you are correct. It looks like Capt Massey is the officer mentioned in Sgt Rennie's citation.


    JohnH likes this.

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