3rd Bn Monmouthshire Regiment

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by Gordon163, May 15, 2017.

  1. Gordon163

    Gordon163 Active Member

    Soldier Charles Arthur Thomas (Army No: 3910177 Monmouthshire Regiment: 3rd Battalion) turned up in my genealogical research. It seems that the 3rd Battalion of Monmouthshire Regiment were training in Yorkshire,during the summer of 1943, prior to action in Europe in 1944. Does anyone have any information about the training in 1943, please?

  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I've only got the 1944 battalion diary I'm afraid.
  3. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is a summary of the service of the 3rd Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment. This should provide some details of the period in Yorkshire.

    3rd Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment, The South Wales Borderers (T.A.)

    159th Infantry Brigade – 3 September 1939 to 3 April 1945

    The battalion dropped the subtitle (Brecknockshire and Monmouthshire) on June 1st, 1939 on formation of the re-constituted Breacknockshire Battalion. It was embodied on September 1st, 1939 at Abergavenny. The battalion concentrated at Moreton-on-Lugg in Herefordshre on September 3rd, 1939. During the first week of November 1939, the brigade concentrated at Tenby, Wales with the 3rd Monmouths located at Tenby, Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock. On April 10th, 1940, the 159th Brigade moved to Northern Ireland and the battalion was based at Londonderry. The brigade concentrated in the Newcastle area in mid-July 1940 with the battalion at Warrenpoint in County Down. In September it moved to Seaforde, still in County Down and then to Rostrevor in County Down on October 24th, 1940. The battalion left Northern Ireland with the brigade on November 16th and arrived at Knowsley Park, Prescot in Lancashire on the 19th. The 53rd (Welsh) Division concentrated in Kent starting in March 1942 and the 3rd Monmouths arrived at Gore Court Camp, Otham near Maidstone on April 7th. In May 1942, the 159th Brigade moved to Sussex with the battalion located at Warren Camp, Crowborough on May 5th. On May 17th, the brigade transferred from the 53rd (Welsh) Division and became attached to the 11th Armoured Division (On establishment from June 1st).

    The 11th Armoured Division moved to the East Riding of Yorkshire on June 10th, 1943 and the 3rd Monmouths was located in Beverley on arrival and then moved to Leven, Kingston-upon-Hull six days later. It moved again to Hornsea, Kingston-upon-Hull on September 4th, 1943. During January 1944, the battalion was sent for eight days of training in the Inverary area of Scotland, but returned to Hornsea after. The division shifted south in April 1944 and the battalion was located at Talbera Barracks in Aldershot by April 15th. On June 13th, 1944, the battalion embarked at Newhaven in Sussex for France and landed at Courcelles in Normandy the following day.

    On arrival the brigade concentrated near Lantheuil. The 11th Armoured Division’s first operation was to be Operation Epsom, the battle for the Odon bridgehead. At 2130 hours on June 27th, the battalions of the 159th Brigade began to cross the Odon with the 1st Herefords on the right and the 4th King’s Own Shropshire Light Infantry on the right under constant harassing fire. The 3rd Monmouths occupied defences on the north bank as a brigade reserve. The brigade was not successful in taking Hill 112 and the battalion had its first setback. While moving through a gap in the enemy defences in the dark from the Cheux area, the battalion lost its way and strayed into the village of Mouen. In the morning it moved to its correct position, leaving ‘C’ Company in the village to cover the withdrawal. ‘C’ Company was attacked by superior German forces with tank support and only fourteen men eventually fought their way out and rejoined the battalion. The brigade began to form the bridgehead across the Odon. It remained in the Odon bridgehead through July 6th, when the 130th Brigade relieved it. The brigade moved to a rest area at Fresny-le-Crotteur near Saint-Gabriel-Brécy. On July 16th, the brigade moved forward again to a concentration area near Ranville in preparation for Operation Goodwood, a planned armoured breakout northeast of Caen. The brigade’s objective was the capture of the villages of Cuverville and Démouville as it entered battle on the 18th. The 3rd Monmouths were on the right of the advance to Cuverville supported by the Cromwells of ‘C’ Squadron 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry. ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies easily entered the village. Artillery fire and the late arrival of a unit of the 51st (Highland) Division to take over Cuverville meant a late start as the Monmouths pushed on to Démouville, which was taken against heavy resistance. At 1800 hours, the brigade started to move forward to join the rest of the 11th Armoured Division and reached Le Mesnil Frémentel less than two hours later. On the 19th, the 3rd Monmouths were brought up to take over Bras. Later the 4th KSLI took over Hubert-Folie with the 1st Herefords in between. The brigade remained in place on Bourgeubus Ridge until midday on July 20th, when the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade relieved it. It then withdrew for rest in an area between Grentheville and Le Mesnil Frémental. The battalion was located at Gruchy on July 21st.

    The next breakout operation for the 11th Armoured Division was Operation Bluecoat, an operation to contain the German armour on the British front. The division moved to the extreme right flank of the British sector and concentrated on July 29th west of Caumont between Balleroy and Caumont-l’-Éventé. For this operation each of the four infantry/motor battalions were paired up with the four armoured/armoured reconnaissance regiments of the division. The 3rd Monmouths formed at battle group with the 23rd Hussars. Even before the battalion crossed the start line on July 30th, it suffered heavy casualties from mines. The Monmouth-Hussar battle group were mortared and shelled but advanced through Sept-Vents, where ‘C’ Company fought a sharp engagement, and to St. Jean-des-Essartiers, where some German tanks and assault guns attacked the column. The group then moved to St. Ouen des Besaces. The next day the 2nd Household Cavalry found an unguarded track through woods, which enabled the group to penetrate well behind the German defences. It first liberated the village of la Ferrière-Harang then crossed the Souleuvre River undetected by evening. On the morning of August 1st, the 23rd Hussars carrying the 3rd Monmouths advanced out of the Souleuvre bridgehead and took le Bény-Bocage. Later that day the battalion moved on toward Vire behind the tanks, fighting a running battle with the retreating enemy. On August 2nd, the 3rd Monmouths teamed up with the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry to find a way from le Reculey to the Burcy ridge and to cut the Vire-Vassy road at Viessoix. By the end of the day, it took up positions with the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry around Sourdevalle on Bas Perier Ridge. The 8th Rifle Brigade and the 23rd Hussars were established two thousand yards to the left on the same ridge. The division was then ordered to halt and hold its positions. The enemy on three sides surrounded the units on the ridge and the Germans began to build up their forces in the area. On August 4th, units of the 3rd Infantry Division began to relieve the 11th Armoured Division’s units on Bas Perier Ridge. On 5th August enemy shelling began and was followed by a fierce tank and infantry attack. The group’s tanks were driven back through the forward positions. ‘D’ and ‘C’ Companies were then attacked by enemy infantry and some of them managed to penetrate as far as Battalion HQ, but the battalion held its ground and the enemy were beaten off. The battalion’s losses in this and the previous actions were so heavy that some platoons were down to half strength. On the 6th, the 1st Norfolks began to relieve the battalion, with the two battalions together less than a full battalion in strength, while the 2nd Fife and Forfars had only twenty tanks left. The relief was under way when heavy enemy shelling indicated an enemy assault. It was decided that both battalions should stay commanded by the CO of the Monmouths. Only fifteen minutes later the German attack came in. After heavy hand-to-hand fighting the enemy overran first the forward positions on the left and when a counter attack drove them off, those on the right. The Germans got to within two hundred yards of Battalion HQ whose personnel turned out to man posts, but the battalions held their ground and before night the heart went out of the enemy attack and he withdrew. The losses on both sides were heavy. Of the five hundred and fifty men of both battalions who fought this battle, one hundred and sixty were killed or wounded.

    Between August 9th and 10th, the 11th Armoured Division exchanged places with the Guards Armoured Division and the 159th Brigade took over the divisional front around Le Busq. A period of pursuit of the retreating Germans began and on August 14th the battalion reached Vassy as part of an advance on Fleur. During this period reinforcements arrived to bring the battalion back to strength, but after twelve days on constant skirmishing and patrolling, it was again reduced to half-strength. The brigade took Flers on the 17th and pushed the Germans back towards Argentan, with the battalion passing through the town on August 20th. After capturing L’Aigle on the 23rd, the division rested and reorganized for a few days in the area of Aube-sur-Risle and L’Aigle, with the battalion being brought up to strength again. After the rest, the 11th Armoured advanced toward the River Seine. On the 28th, the battalion reached the area of the Seine at St. Etienne. The division crossed the Seine over the period of August 28th and 29th. The 11th Armoured now began its advance to the Belgian frontier. The battalion reached Amiens on August 30th and crossed the frontier on September 3rd, 1944. The battalion helped clear Antwerp on September 4th and 5th particularly in the dock area. On the night of the 5th, the battalion with the brigade made a crossing over the Albert Canal at Merksem, but had to withdraw back as the position became untenable.

    On September 9th, the 11th Armoured Division was switched south to give flank protection for the Guards Armorued Division. It moved through Louvain and crossed the canal at Beringen. After crossing the division advanced through Helchteren, Peer, Bree, and cleaned the area between the Albert channel and the Maas up to September 12th. The division was then given a week’s rest in the Peer area. While resting the division was transferred to VIII Corps on the 16th and two days later the division was again on the move to secure the right flank of XXX Corps during Operation Market-Garden as far as the Maas. The division advanced in two columns. The division contacted the 101st US Airborne Division at Neuen, forced a crossing of the Willemsvaart Canal on the night of the 21st, and crossed the on the 22nd. The 11th Armoured then circled around Helmond, forcing the Germans to withdraw. At Deurne on the 24th, in a brisk action, the 3rd Monmouths killed twenty Germans and took forty prisoners for the loss of one man killed. On 25th September, the battalion had just occupied St. Anthonis near Oploo when Lieutenant-Colonel Orr was killed, together with the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment. After the Maas was reached, the division recovered at Helmond from October 1st to 9th, 1944. During the rest of October and and November the division helped clear any German pockets west of the Maas. The operation began with the 159th Brigade crossing of the Deurne Canal on October 17th. The brigade took Amerika on November 22nd. One of the last pockets was a Brockhuizen, north of Venlo. The battalion attacked the village and the nearby ‘Kastell’, an old fort surrounded by a moat on November 30th with ‘A’ attacking the castle and ‘C’ the village. After crossing several hundred yards of open fields covered by enemy fire from the well-entrenched Germans, the companies lost both company commanders along with most of the other officers, senior NCOs and many men. The CO, Lt.-Col. Stockley, while rallying the troops to attack the ‘Kastell’, was killed leading his troops over the moat. ‘D’ Company then joined the battle with the tanks of the 15th/19th Hussars and cleared the village. Finally the remnants of ‘A’ Company with tank support took the ‘Kasteel’. Of the three hundred men of the battaion who fought, one hundred and forty were casualties. On December 5th, the western bank of the Maas was cleared and the division settled down along the Maas for the winter.

    The division moved to the Helmond-Deurne area at the start of December to rest, refit and re-equip. Around the 14th, the tank regiments were sent to the Ypres area to gather new Comet tanks. The 159th Brigade’s infantry took turns on the Maas line during this period. The 159th Brigade left the Maas on February 17th, 1945 and moved to Turnhout in Belgium. On the 23rd, it moved to the Cleve area to take part in the fourth phase of Operation Blockbuster, the clearing of enemy between the Mass and the Rhine. The division arrived on the 24th, with the 4th Armoured Brigade temporarily replacing the re-equipping 29th Armoured Brigade, was to break through the Hochwald (Schlieffen) Line to capture the high ground north of Sonsbeck. The battalion advanced on February 27th, skirting the Hochwaldberg and suffering heavily from artillery fire, but pushed on and on March 2nd formed a bridgehead over the anti-tank ditch, which was the main defence of the Schlieffen line. Here some heavy fighting took place, which left ‘A’ and ‘C’ companies so much understrength that they had to be amalgamated. On March 5th, the 3rd Monmouths moved out of the Schlieffen line toward Sonsbeck and Xanten, but the division was halted as other formations converged on Sonsbeck. The division was withdrawn to concentrate near Louvain in Belgium on March 9th to rest and refit.

    The division left Belgium on March 28th, crossed the Rhine at Wesel, and moved to a concentration area northeast of Wesel. From there, the 11th Armoured advanced to Gescher by the evening of the 30th. On the night of March 31st/April 1st, the 159th established a bridgehead over the Dortmund-Ems Canal facing the Germans positions on the high ground of Teutoburger Wald, a wooded range of hills to the east. The 3rd Monmouth’s task was to clear a two-mile area of thickly wooded steep hills to open the Ibbenburen road against a battalion of German officer cadets from a training school in Hanover. Battalion HQ was established at the bottom of the hills only five hundred yards from a bridge over the Dortmund-Ems Canal. The four rifle companies advanced at dawn on April 2nd along a track in the woods. The first objective was taken, but a heavy counterattack drove it back with heavy casualties. The next morning another German attack hit the Battalion HQ and Support Company on three sides. By throwing in cooks and mechanics, the group stood its ground until relieved by tanks. After relieve by the Dorsets, it was found that the battalion’s losses were the heaviest it had ever suffered in the campaign and included a Victoria Cross wond by Corporal E.T. Bates. It finally took a full brigade to take the battalion’s objectives. Due to the losses in this battle, the battalion had to leave the 159th Brigade and was left behind as the division advanced into Germany.

    115th Infantry Brigade – 8 April 1945 to 31 August 1945

    The 1st Cheshire Regiment left the 115th Brigade on April 4th was sent forward to replace the 3rd Monmouths in the 159th Brigade. The 3rd Monmouths joined the 115th Brigade, a line-of-communicatins formation, on the Rhine on April 8th. At the end of the war, it was still with the brigade on the east bank of the Rhine. The battalion was placed into suspended animation on January 13th, 1946.
  4. Gordon163

    Gordon163 Active Member

    Terrific! Thanks very much for this, most helpful

  5. ATC_CPL1999

    ATC_CPL1999 Member

    i have been looking for a family member that might have served in the regiment, but i am not able to find a good website to look his service number up has anyone got any good suggestions
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Is it just his service number you are after? If he survived the war then it will be in his service records, if he died during WW2 it will be listed on the CWGC website.
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  7. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    From talking to a late pen/telephone acquaintance,towards the end of the war,there was an intake from the Birmingham area,he was one, who were inducted in the 3rd Mons and fought at Teutoburger Wald.Those officer cadets turned out to be quite a formidable opponents.

    There are some of the Mons dead who are interred at Reichswald. My acquaintance told me of a good friend of his who was severely wounded and evacuated back to the UK where he died and was interred in his home town of Walsall.

    There used to be an annual reunion of the 3rd Mons at Abergavenny on 8 May to celebrate Mons Day (8 May 1915 when the 1st Mons were badly mauled at the Battle of Frezenburg in defending the Ypres Salient) where there was a march past of the veterans.

    I remember being there in 1999 when there was a very good turn out.

    For the SWB and Mons regiments,a visit to the museum at Brecon is a must.
  8. ATC_CPL1999

    ATC_CPL1999 Member

    I have his service number, ive found him on the war records but cannot read the file on him
  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  10. ATC_CPL1999

    ATC_CPL1999 Member

  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    When you say 'War Records' do you mean the website Forces War Records? If so we don't recommend anyone to use them (Its a long story).
    Owen likes this.
  12. ATC_CPL1999

    ATC_CPL1999 Member

    Yeah that's what I mean
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Just make sure your subscription is cancelled properly ;)
  14. ATC_CPL1999

    ATC_CPL1999 Member

    Im not paying
  15. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Does anyone have a copy of Major J.J. How's "History of the South Wales Borderers and Monmouthshire Regiment Part IV: 3rd Monmouths"?

    I'm hoping to learn how detailed the coverage is of the 3rd Monmouths part in Operation BLUECOAT 31 July to 8 August 1944.


  16. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I have a copy of the history. Start a conversation with me and we can see what you need from the book.
  17. Germansi

    Germansi New Member

    Hi All,
    Wondering if anyone can help me. My grandfather 4074951 Horace Williams I believe acting warrant officer at the time, was taken POW on 27/28 June 1944 just 15 days earlier on 13 June. His service record has him with (SWB 3rd Mons) Does anyone have any records of action on these days for them? Would like to pin donw where he was likely taken POW and which units thye may have been fighting at the time.
  18. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    From earlier in the post:

    On arrival the brigade concentrated near Lantheuil. The 11th Armoured Division’s first operation was to be Operation Epsom, the battle for the Odon bridgehead. At 2130 hours on June 27th, the battalions of the 159th Brigade began to cross the Odon with the 1st Herefords on the right and the 4th King’s Own Shropshire Light Infantry on the right under constant harassing fire. The 3rd Monmouths occupied defences on the north bank as a brigade reserve. The brigade was not successful in taking Hill 112 and the battalion had its first setback. While moving through a gap in the enemy defences in the dark from the Cheux area, the battalion lost its way and strayed into the village of Mouen. In the morning it moved to its correct position, leaving ‘C’ Company in the village to cover the withdrawal. ‘C’ Company was attacked by superior German forces with tank support and only fourteen men eventually fought their way out and rejoined the battalion. The brigade began to form the bridgehead across the Odon.
  19. Germansi

    Germansi New Member

    Thanks Dryan67. I had read this, was just wondering if anyone had any of the finer detail. Perhaps someone on here having a copy of the war diary from these days.
  20. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I understand. Good luck.

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