Narrators' notes: Summary of events 1940 May 10 - June 3, FRANCE & FLANDERS

Discussion in '1940' started by dbf, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. dbf

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    NARRATIVE.

    18 May

    On the morning of 18 May a reconnaissance of the Right brigade sector and the land over the tunnel immediately South of it, by the G.O.C. led him to report that he was particularly anxious about this flank, At 1500 hours O.C. R.E. (G.H.Q.) called at Divisional H.Q. and reported that his sappers, preparing bridges for demolition, North of PERONNE, had been fired on by enemy tanks.

    This report was telephoned to G.H.Q. at ARRAS and the Division was ordered to refused its Right flank. This was done by withdrawing the 70 BRIGADE into villages between the CAMBRAI - ARRAS road and the railway running from MARQUOIN and BOYELLES (N 48).

    The Right brigade was ordered to make tank-proof localities in these villages.

    On the Left brigade front 69th BRIGADE were ordered to make similar dispositions in villages behind their front.
     
  2. dbf

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    NARRATIVE.

    19 May

    H.Q. 23 DIVISION moved from CHERISY to MONCHY le PREOX (N 59) during the night 18/19 May arriving at MONCHY at 0130 hours on 19 May and 8 R.N.F. came to MONCHY from ST. LEGER. The village was still inhabited and on our arrival orders to evacuate the civil populate were given.

    Captain A.S.C. BROWNE, (G 111) was sent to G.H.Q. ARRAS as Liaison Officer 23 DIVISION was informed that G.H.Q. had moved and that the Division now came under "Petreforce" (Major General PETRE was in command of ARRAS Defences). This was confirmed in G.H.Q. Operation Instruction No. 42 dated 18 May .

    Divisional H.Q. and 8 R.N.F. set about the task of barricading the roads and took up positions from which the village could be defended against tank attack. One field gun was added to the garrison.

    Before leaving CHERISY orders had been given for all bridges over the CANAL du NORD to be blown leaving the two main bridges, i.e. those carrying the CAMBRAI - ARRAS Road and the CAMBRAIN - BAUPAUME Road, to the last.

    At 0600 hours 19 May enemy tanks approached the positions on the canal and opened fire on the demolition parties. Despite this all demolitions were completed without casualties, except that two men of 5 E.Y. were accidentally killed.

    At 0800 hours on 19 May, General HERBERT and Colonel HARE (G. 1) went into ARRAS and reported the situation to General PETRE. They returned about 1000 hours with orders for 23 DIVISION to move back that evening to the line of the LA BASSEE CANAL between ROBECQ (N. 3435), and LA BASSEE (N. 5125). The Division was to march to THELUS (6 miles North of ARRAS) where it was hoped T.C. Companies ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS would emboss the troops.

    In anticipation of this move reconnaissance parties were sent to the new positions. Included in these were the C.R.E. (Lieutenant Colonel KENNEDY) and C.R.A. (Major BURNS, ROYAL ARTILLERY) while Colonel GULLAND, A.A. & Q.M.G., went to THELUS to reconnoiter embussing point.

    At 1600 hours Captain BROWN came to H.Q. 23 DIVISION to say that the situation had materially improved, that ARRAS was to be held at all costs and that the orders to moved back to LA BASSEE CANAL were cancelled.

    The new role for the Division was to hold the line of the ARRAS - DOULLENS Road from SAULTY (N. 29) to ARRAS and the line of the ARRAS - LENS Road between these two places, with two battalions in ARRAS.

    It was pointed out that the LENS - ARRAS Road was devoid of tank obstacles and it was suggested that this sector be brought forward to the line of the River SCARPE between ARRAS and BLACHE (N. 5901), to which suggestion "Petreforce" agreed.

    By this time preliminary moves had been made towards THELUS and it was difficult to direct units of 70 BRIGADE to their new positions West of ARRAS. This was done, however, but with the result that units were only approaching their positions as daylight broke on 20 May. It was then that enemy tanks appeared and overran the greater part of 70 BRIGADE.

    The move of this Right Brigade (70) to this new position on the ARRAS - DOULLENS Road had entailed a march of at least 17 miles as the crow flies and 25 miles by roads and tracks. It was a move in hours of darkness, with troops already very tired, in unknown country, with no roads leading in the right direction, and with no previous reconnaissance possible.

    The Left Brigade (69) was in position on the SCARPE by dawn on 20 May and Divisional H.Q. had moved to MONT ST. ELOI. Owing to the great length of the front, it was impossible to spare two battalions for the defences of ARRAS. Of this General PETRE was informed.
     
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    NARRATIVE.

    20 May

    At 0830 hours on 20 May, Captain BROWNE arrived at Divisional H.Q. at MONT ST. ELOI (N. 40) with an urgent request for a battalion to re-enforce the WELSH GUARDS in ARRAS. 8 R.N.F. were ordered in from THELUS and by noon this move had been completed.

    From MONT ST. ELOI on the morning of 20 May, heavy firing could be heard West and North West of ARRAS. By noon, having no news of 70 BRIGADE, Captain HEDLEY (G. 111) was sent to GOUY (N. 39) where H.Q. 70 BRIGADE was supposed to be, with orders for 70 BRIGADE to withdraw to Area AGNIERES - FREVIN CAPPELLE - ACQ (H. 30).

    At GOUY, Captain HEDLEY found the Adjutant and 1 Company 10 D.L.I. engaged with enemy tanks in and round the village. Orders to withdraw were given to this detachment and Captain HEDLEY was directed to SAVY for 70 BRIGADE H.Q. En route for SAVY, Captain HEDLEY met Lieutenant-Colonel MARLEY and part of 10 D.L.I. near FOISSEAUX (N. 39) and warned Colonel MARLEY he was approaching an area already occupied by German Tanks, and was thus able to save this detachment from almost certain destruction.

    At SAVY, Captain HEDLEY gave Brigadier KIRKUP the G.O.C's orders for the withdrawal of 70 BRIGADE and the Brigadier then accompanied Captain HEDLEY back to Divisional H.Q. at MONT ST. ELOI

    Here Brigadier KIRKUP reported to the G.O.C. that 70 BRIGADE had been heavily attacked in the early hours of that morning whilst on the move and that the bulk of 70 BRIGADE had been lost.

    Scattered elements of this Brigade were still in the vicinity of the ARRAS - HOUDAIN Road, very exhausted. Brigadier KIRKUP left Divisional H.Q. to effect the withdrawal of the remnants of his Brigade and to get them back to the new position.

    12 LANCERS (H.Q. MONT ST. ELOI) were asked to co-operate and they later reported a party of about 100, including some wounded, immobile through exhaustion near VILLERS - MINGOVAL (H. 31).

    The G.O.C. had meanwhile visited 69 BRIGADE where he found two forward Battalions intermingled with French troops on the River SCARPE. They were very tired and had no tools to improve their position. The G.O.C. considered these battalions redundant in that position and at 1700 hours General HERBERT went to H.Q., PETREFORCE in ARRAS and asked permission to withdraw this troops to THELUS.

    Here General HERBERT spoke on the 'phone to the C.G.S. at G.H.Q. and received the definite order of the C. in C. that no withdrawal was to take place and the PETREFORCE (including 23 DIVISION) was now under the orders of 5 DIVISION (H.Q. at VIMY).

    Returning to this H.Q. General HERBERT found enemy tanks reported close to MOUNT ST. ELOI and he now moved his H.Q. from ST. ELOI to SOUCHEZ (H. 41) at 2100 hours where he planned to collect what was left of 70 BRIGADE using all available transport.
     
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    NARRATIVE.

    21 May

    From SOUCHEZ Lieutenant BELL was sent by M/C to locate detachments of 70 BRIGADE and Colonel HARE and Major SLADE-POWELL went with transport to pick up parties. All these were unsuccessful and by 0300 hours 21st May had reported to GIVENCHY (H. 41) to which village Divisional H.Q. had now moved.

    During the forenoon of 21 May 2/Lieutenant MOSCROP 11 D.L.I. arrived at GIVENCHY completely exhausted to ask for transport to help him bring in 110 men of his unit whom he had kept together and who were now lying up near MONCHY le BRETON (H. 21) unable to move. This Officer was rested and fed whilst the vehicles were being collected for him and he later left with 3 - three ton lorries and Sergeant CHAMBERS of 31 Line Section R.C. of Signals. This fine young Officer and his party have not been heard of since.
    :poppy: CWGC :: Casualty Details

    Captain BROWNE attended a Conference at H.Q. 5 DIVISION at VIMY at 0730 hours 21 May and learned that forward battalions 69 BRIGADE on the SCARPE had been ordered to withdraw to THELUS on relief by units of 50 DIVISION.

    General HERBERT saw General FRANKLIN, 5 DIVISION at VIMY at 0900 hours and received orders to move 23 DIVISION via LOISON (H. 51) to SECLIN (H. 62).

    Divisional H.Q. moved from GIVENCHY at about 1400 hours 21 May for LOISON and later to SECLIN arriving about 2000 hours.

    At 2300 hours Lieutenant-Colonel MARLEY arrived at SECLIN with remnants of 3 battalions of 70 BRIGADE (about 600 in all). He had lost touch with Brigadier KIRKUP. Men were quite exhausted. They were guided to GONDACOURT (H. 62) and there attached to units of 69 BRIGADE.
     
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    NARRATIVE.

    22 May

    69 BRIGADE moved by T.C. Coy. from THELUS during night of 21/22 May to the GONDACOURT - WATTINGNIES Area. The move was completed by 0500 hours 22 May.

    General HERBERT visited G.H.Q. at PREMESQ (H. 63) during the forenoon of 22 May, 23 DIVISION now being directly under G.H.Q.

    23 DIVISION ordered to move to the line of the River AA from the sea North of GRAVELINES (H. 08) to ST. OMER (H. 15). Troop Carrying Coys. were to be sent to SECLIN for this move and an escort of light tanks (FIFE & FORFAR YEOMANRY) provided for the protection of the column.

    Reconnaissance parties were sent to the new Area from Divisional H.Q. from R.E. and from 69 BRIGADE.

    Dispositions on River AA to be:-

    69 BRIGADE on Right - Sea to WATTEN (H. 16) (excl.)
    70 BRIGADE on Left - WATTEN to ST. MOMELIN (H. 15) both inclusive.
    9 R.N.F. - ST. MOMELIN to ST. OMER (both excl.)

    Of the two T.C. Coys. allotted by G.H.Q. one had moved and could not be found. Orders were given out in detail for the move of the whole column at a Conference at Divisional H.Q. at SECLIN between 1400 hours and 1600 hours there were present Brigadier NORMAN, ARMOURED REC. BRIGADE and the O.C. No. 4 T.C. Coy, ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS.

    General HERBERT accompanied by G.I. and G. II (and two G. III's on motor cycles) went to G.H.Q. to raise another T.C. Coy and to report that the G.O.C. had changed the route of the columns to go via HAZEBRUCK and CASSEL for the Left Brigade Group and CASSEL and DUNKIRK for the Right Brigade Group.

    A second T.C. Coy (No. 12) was found in LILLE and having given the O.C. his orders General HERBERT and Staff went to SAILLY (H.Q. POLFORCE) to contact with General CURTIS, where they arrived about 2130 hours.

    Captains HEDLEY and IZOD (G. III's) were sent to LESTREM to ensure the 9 R.N.F. would be at the embossing point at the appointed hours.

    The composite Artillery Group which had last operated with 23 DIVISION on the CANAL du NORD was not on the line of the LA BASSEE CANAL and under orders of General CURTIS. General HERBERT, whilst at H.Q. POLFORCE at SAILLY met Major BURNS ROYAL ARTILLERY, commanding this Artillery Group and Major SLADE-POWELL ROYAL ARTILLERY. It was agreed that these gunners revert o 23 DIVISION as from 0500 hours 23 May.

    At 2245 hours 22 May while at SAILLY General HERBERT received a message from G.H.Q. that a "motor contact officer" had been sent to STRAZEELE with orders to had the move of bus columns of 23 DIVISION.

    Major ALLEN (G. II) was then sent to ensure the column was stopped and he reconnoitred the road as far as STRAZEELE. Transport both British and French was found on the road leading North but no signs of 23 DIVISION bus columns or of the enemy. Major ALLEN returned to the road junction East of ESTAIRES and met Brigadier NORMAN and a sentry posted by the motor contact officer to stop the column. He then returned to General HERBERT at SAILLY to report. General HERBERT endeavoured to telephone to G.H.Q. but was unable to do so.
     
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  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    NARRATIVE.

    23 May

    At about 0100 hours on 23 May, General HERBERT still at POLFORCE H.Q. at SAILLY, having failed to contact G..H.Q. by 'phone and being anxious to complete all bus moves before daylight, in the absence of orders form G.H.Q., sent Major ALLEN (G. II) to ESTAIRES to order the move to the River AA to continue. At ESTAIRES the motor contact officer told Major ALLEN that he himself had been unable to make telephone contact with G.H.Q.

    Immediately afterwards General HERBERT was able to speak to Brigadier LEES at G.H.Q. and explained his actions. General HERBERT was told that on no account was the move to proceed and such of the columns as could be halted were to return to SECLIN an area of much greater importance.

    General HERBERT and Colonel HARE at once went to ESTAIRES and found Major ALLEN. As a result of the great congestion on the roads 23 DIVISION bus column had been delayed and it was possible therefore to turn nearly all back to SECLIN. They arrived in the SECLIN - GONACOURT - WATTIGNIES area about 0600 hours on 23 May, troops now very tired, especially those of 70 BRIGADE after 3 days and 3 nights of continuous movement and fighting.

    The following details could not be turned back and were no 70 miles away on the line of the River AA -
    H.Q. 23 DIVISION, 6 G.H. who had missed the route ordered during the night and reconnaissance parties from all units.

    Major ALLEN (G. II) and Major SLADE-POWELL ROYAL ARTILLERY were sent to BELLEZEELE to order Divisional H.Q. back to SECLIN and to convey similar orders to reconnaissance parties of Brigades and units.

    General HERBERT and Colonel HARE (the only two Officers of Divisional H.Q. now at SECLIN) visited units in billets during the forenoon of 23 May.

    At 1245 hours they returned to H.Q. and found a Liaison Officer from G.H.Q. with orders timed 0855 hours 23 May for 23 DIVISION to move again to the River AA position.

    General HERBERT accompanied this Liaison Officer back to G.H.Q. leaving Colonel HARE to call together C.O.s and to issue preliminary orders for the second approach to the line of the River AA. The rest of Divisional H.Q. had not yet returned from BELLEZEELE.

    General HERBERT found that G.H.Q. were under the impression that 23 DIVISION still held 2 T.C. Coys. M.T. but these had been released on completion of return move to SECLIN.

    G.H.Q. were unable to obtain M.T. by 'ozone for the move of the Division and General HERBERT himself undertook to find a T.C. Coy. in LILLE. This Coy. had however in the meantime changed its location and General HERBERT returned to G.H.Q. to report his failure to obtain this M.T. In these circumstances other troops were sent to the River AA in place of 23 DIVISION except that at the suggest of General HERBERT 23 DIVISION ROYAL ENGINEERS went forward in their own vehicles to assist in the work of bridge demolitions.

    General HERBERT returned to SECLIN (1800 hours) where the whole of Divisional H.Q. were now reassembled.

    The Division remained in the vicinity of SECLIN during nights of 23/24 May and 24/25 May.
     
  7. dbf

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    NARRATIVE.

    24 May

    During the night 24/25 May small parties of 8 R.N.F. who had shared with the WELSH GUARDS in the defence of ARRAS, started to arrive at SECLIN. This battalion on being order to leave ARRAS in the early hours of 24 May were ordered also to abandon all vehicles and motor cycles.

    ARRAS at this time was almost entirely surrounded by the enemy and the battalion suffered casualties whilst making their way in small parties Northwards from the town. The C.O. and Adjutant are both missing.
     
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    NARRATIVE.

    25 May

    On the morning of 25 May reconnaissances towards DOUAI found parties of 8 R.N.F. marching up the LILLE - DOUAI road. Transport was sent to lift these parties and they were sent into billets at WATTIGNIES alongside 4 R.N.F. the sister motor cycle battalion of 50 DIVISION. Major CHALLONER assumed command of 8 R.N.F.

    SECLIN during this period was under fairly constant attention from enemy aircraft. Casualties were sustained by ROYAL ENGINEERS in billets.

    Captain BROWNE was sent to G.H.Q. at PREMESCQ for orders. 23 DIVISION was to come under "RUSTYFORCE" and to move to area ERQUINGHAN - LIGNY - BEAUCAMPS (H. 53) on 25 May and to LE PETIT MORTIER on 26 May. The infantry of the Division now consisted of the equivalent of 3 battalions without C.O.'s or Adjutants and Brigadiers and Brigade Staff were now separated from their commands all of whom whilst engaged in reconnaissances to the River AA had become involved in swiftly moving operations in that area.
     
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    NARRATIVE.

    26 May

    Divisional H.Q. was established at BEAUCAMPS (H. 53) at 0400 hours 26 May. 23 DIVISION now came into III CORPS and at about 0900 hours General HERBERT visited III CORPS H.Q. ARMENTIERES taking with him Major TRENAM (D.A.Q.M.G.) and Major GOLDINGHAM, ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS. The Division had now been seven days without any reliable flow of supplies, 23 DIVISION Supply Echelon was separated from the Division and the Division was almost daily looking to different Corps for orders.

    A note in the diary of the D.A.Q.M.G. for this day (26 May) says "no supplies for two days".

    At III CORPS, D.A.Q.M.G. was instructed to seek supplies at FARM (N 462706) [U[or[/U] Railway Station POPERINGHE. Authority was at the same time given in writing for Major TRENAM to collect from 1st Ord. Fd. Pk. at FURNES (H. 4?)) 20 vehicles for issue to units deficient of transport.

    Major TRENAM and Major GOLDINGHAM left for POPERINGHE immediately, optimistically taking 3 lorries for supplies. They travelled via YPRES finding some difficulty in that town, roads being impassable as a result of skilfully placed bombs and debris from fallen houses. POPERINGHE was found to be almost deserted and at the Railhead the last supply N.C.O. was try to clear the last pack train. Three lorry loads of supplies were picked up and delivered that evening by Major GOLDINGHAM to 23 DIVISION now in the neighbourhood of LE PETIT MORTIER.

    At 1330 hours Major TRENAM left POPERINGHE arriving at FURNES about 1500 hours. After some searching No. 1 Ord. Fd. Pk. was located in camps about 5 miles West of FURNES where they were organising the destruction of vehicles and stores preparatory to embarkation. Lieutenant-Colonel CRAWFORD undertook to collect 20 vehicles at HOOGSTADT (H. 47) but 1830 hours.

    Whilst waiting, Major TRENAM contacted Major JONES (S.O.M.E.), Major CAMERON and other 23 DIVISION ROYAL ENGINEERS, and Lieutenant-Colonel STEELE, 6 G.H. all of whom had, in consequence of their tasks, become separated from the DIVISION and were now awaiting evacuation to ENGLAND.

    It was 2000 hours 26 May before Major TRENAM's column of 20 vehicles were ready to move from HOOGSTADT. He set out for LE PETIT MORTIER travelling fast via ELVERDINGHE - VLAMERTINGHE - RENINGHELST. Darkness was falling when the column reached the neighbourhood of KEMMEL (H. 55) and it was realised that on congested roads and against the main traffic stream there was no hope of reaching LE PETIT MORTIER that night.

    Vehicles were therefore harboured on the North side of MOUNT KEMMEL. During the night a D.R. failed to find Divisional H.Q. which had meanwhile moved.
     
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    NARRATIVE.

    27 May

    At dawn on 27 May, Major TRENAM released the officer of 1st Ord. Fd. Pk ands twenty drivers and returned them to the coast in a three-tone lorry for evacuation to ENGLAND.

    He himself made his way to LE PETIT MORTIER and at 0530 hours located Divisional H.Q. at STEENWERCK (H. 54). There Major TRENAM collected drivers from 8 R.N.F. and took them back to MT. KEMMEL. By 1115 hours eighteen of the twenty vehicles were in service with the Division at STEENWERCK.

    Divisional H.Q. had moved from BEAUCAMPS at 1715 hours on 26 May and was established at STEENWERCK at 2030 hours. Infantry units followed at intervals during the night. There were attacks by large enemy bombing formations (52 planes counted) en route.

    Following on orders from III CORPS at 0600 hours on 27 May a warning order was issued by Division for the move to the POPERINGHE area during the day and a Conference was held at Divisional H.Q. at 0900 hours.

    Units were directed by 2 routes to the wooded area North East of POPERINGHE about H. 5264 with midway halting places in the neighbourhood of WESTOUTRE (H. 45). Large formations of enemy bombers were active during the day. All roads were packed with transport, mostly French, moving Northwards.

    Colonel GULLAND went to TERDEGHEIM (H. 35) to report to III CORPS H.Q. This H.Q. had gone and the A.P.N. whom GULLAND met was unable to locate it. There was much shelling and bombing in the FORET DE NIEPPE area and in the country between TERDEGHEIM and STRAZEELE. Villages and farms were burning

    Divisional H.Q. moved from WESTOUTRE at 1815 hours 27 May and reached the woods an hour later to find them occupied 50 DIVISION. At the requisition of General MARTEL 23 DIVISION moved out to the ELVERDINGHE - POPERINGHE Road and Divisional H.Q. were established in an estaminet 1 1/2 miles North East of POPERINGHE.

    Touch had now been lost with III CORPS and all efforts to find them failed. Contact was made with H.Q. II CORPS moving through ABEELE (H. 45). Four officers from Divisional H.Q. engaged in the search for III CORPS without result. General HERBERT therefor spoke to General MARTEL 50 DIVISION and arranged for 23 DIVISION to move to the neighbourhood of KILLEM (H. 37) to which area 50 DIVISION also were preparing to withdraw.

    To free transport for the conveyance of men orders were given to dump all kit and stores except fighting equipment. Secret papers were burnt.

    After troops had moved off General MARTEL came to H.Q. 23 DIVISION on the ELVERDINGHE - POPERINGHE road to say that G.O.C. II CORPS had visited him and said that 23 DIVISION being in this area was to come under orders of 50 DIVISION and should be used to reinforce that Division. It being too late to bring troops back it was agreed that these reinforcements should be held ready at KILLEM (H. 37).
     
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    NARRATIVE.

    28 May

    By 1620 hours on 28 May Divisional H.Q. and units were in the area CROMBEKE (H. 46) - STAVELE (H. 4) and 100 men per infantry battalion were held in readiness to join units of 50 DIVISION. General HERBERT, Colonel HARE and Major TRENAM visited LA PANNE (H. 49) in search of II CORPS and later found them at WINCKEM (H. 48). Here it was learned that efforts were being made to accumulate supplies on the beach at LA PANNE for issue to 23 and other DIVISIONS. The Division remained the night 28/29 May in the CROMBEKE - STAVEELE area.
     
  12. dbf

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    NARRATIVE.

    29 May

    At 0945 hours 29 May General HERBERT ordered the Division to move to KILLEM - LINDE (H. 3994) and units were assembled in fields round this village by midday. II CORPS were informed of location of Division and that 100 men per unit were held ready to help 50 DIVISION. There being no orders for 23 DIVISION Captain BROWNE was sent to II CORPS H.Q. [time illegible]. He returned with orders for 23 DIVISION to move across the FURNES - BERGUES Canal to the neighbourhood of MOERES (H. 4084). 23 DIVISION to come under orders of 50 DIVISION and a Liaison Officer to be sent to 50 DIVISION H.Q. at CROMBEKE.

    At this hour troops of 42 DIVISION and French troops were retiring through KILLEM LINDE from the direction of REXPOEDE (H. 37) and reported that 42 DIVISION had been overrun. Earlier in the day Canal crossings immediately North of KILLEM LINDE had been reconnoitred and information gained that no transport would be allowed over the Canal. Wrecking parties were organised and instructions given for all except a very few trucks and cars to be put out of action.

    8 R.N.F. and 5 E.Y. were ordered to take up a position facing South West to cover the withdrawal from KILLEM LINDE and the wrecking of vehicles - to remain in position until 1945 hours.

    Battalions were ordered to moved independently across country and to cross the Canal by any bridges between DULSCAMP (H. 48) and HOUTHEM (H. 48). Representatives of units to be sent to report centre at road Junction South West of "F." in FURNES (about H. 425850).
     
  13. dbf

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    NARRATIVE.

    30 May

    Notwithstanding difficulties owing to congested roads packed with troops, transport and guns, units were in position ordered by dawn and Divisional H.Q. opened in a farm 1 mile South of the rendezvous at 0600 hours 30 May.

    Meanwhile 50 DIVISION had withdrawn to the line of the Canal with 23 DIVISION immediately behind 50 DIVISION. H.Q. DIVISION was at ADINKIRKE (H. 38). THe only reinforcement called for was for 3 Officers and 100 Other Ranks from 5 E.Y.

    There was some shelling of this area during the day 30 May and casualties were sustained at Divisional H.Q. (2 killed, 3 wounded). Troops in front line were subjected to bombing and trench mortar activity. Divisional H.Q. moved into ADINKIRK at 2020 hours.

    Colonel HARE (G. I) and Major SLADE-POWELL ROYAL ARTILLERY left at 1700 hours 30 May to join the embarkation Staff at LA PANNE.

    During this day the Division was without supplies and no meal had been possible since the abandoning of vehicles at KILLEM LINDE at 1800 hours on 29 May. At 1400 hours on 30 May Majors TRENAM and GOLDINGHAM finding a 3-ton lorry took it to LA PANNE and themselves collected cases of rations from the beach. Later that evening it was possible to deliver some of these stores to some units, but the bulk of this lorry load of food, after following the Division though the night 30/31 May to the embarkation beach, was abandoned for lack of opportunity to distribute the food to the troops needing it.

    At 2315 hours Colonel GULLAND and Captain BROWNE went to 50 DIVISION to move to the beach near BRAY DUNES for embarkation. Staff Officers were detailed to guide units to the beach.
     
  14. dbf

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    NARRATIVE.

    31 May

    Troops of Divisional H.Q. moved off at 0315 hours under Major TRENAM from ADINKIRKE and arrived on the beach at BRAY DUNES at 0530 hours. Units followed in quick succession and were dispersed in the dunes to find cover.

    A wind was blowing from the sea making embarkation from the beach extremely difficult. After some hours and many failures troops were ordered to march along to beach to DUNKIR 7 miles away. Troops were trying to embark along the whole length of this beach and casualties were incurred through shelling. The Division marched to DUNKIRK in good order despite no food. On the way 6 G.H. joined the column - they had been away from the Division for 10 days and had been waiting on the beach for 3 days.

    The quay at DUNKIRK was very narrow and hundreds of stretcher cases had to be handled. In consequence units became dispersed and troops were embarked without reference to unit in any ship available. Every kind of vessel was in use, Destroyers and Lifeboats, Pleasure Craft and Merchant Ships. Shelling continued but there were few casualties. Ships left the quay as soon as full and others took their place. On the day of embarkation the strength of the Division was about 2,000.

    Troops were disembarked at DOVER and MARGATE during 31 May/1 June and without regard to unit organisation dispersed by special trains to all ports of ENGLAND.

    Division was reassembled at LAUNCESTON, CORNWALL by mid-June and troops were given 48 hours' leave at their homes.

    Some 4,600 of All Ranks have been accounted for of the 6,500 who went overseas in April.

    Orders were then received for dispersal of 23 DIVISION.
     
  15. These narratives are fascinating. Thank you for posting them. As you may remember, I've been researching my uncle's experience as a 2nd Lt. with #W517 Petrol Coy in France. A few years ago, you copied the War Diary for Jan. 1940 through April, 1940 for me, but unfortunately the diary for May, 1940 was either lost when the commanding officer Major C. Beale's valise was taken while he was at LaPanne, which he states in the diary he wrote after Dunkirk, or destroyed in the field in May, as the official record states. Any chance there might be a similar narrative about what happened to Petrol Coy in May, 1940?
     
  16. skimmod

    skimmod Senior Member

    brilliant work! thank you so much for sharing.
     
  17. May 19/6th paragraph - "Emboss the troops." Does anyone know what that means? I tried to find it online, but didn't succeed. I can guess, but that is all it would be. Thanks.
     
  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Possibly a typo for Embus. TC Companies are Troop Carrying Companies. Their role attached to the Divisions was to transport troops around in trucks from one location to another.
     
  19. You've decoded another mystery for me. Thank you.

    I really will get this book done, and you have been a huge help. B
     
    Drew5233 likes this.

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