War Diary: 2 Monmouthshire Regiment

Discussion in '53rd (Welsh) Division' started by Swiper, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    2nd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment War Diary

    [This is all hand written... so will take a while to transcribe]

    1st – 30th June
    Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Colonel WH Kempster
    Location: Whistable
    1st – 5th June – NIL

    6th June – Battalion placed at 6 hours notice to move to Marshalling Area.

    9th – 15th June – NIL

    16th June – Final despatch of mail from Battalion in UK.

    Location: UK
    18th June – Marching troops depart 1100 hours.

    19th June – Advance Party 58940 Major J Price and 5 ORs depart Whitsable and embarks.
    Battalion moves to Marshalling Area. Vehicle Party departs at 0345 hours.

    19 – 20th June – NIL

    22nd June - Vehicle Party embarks

    23 – 24th June – NIL.

    25th June – Marching troops embark.

    Location: France
    26th June – Marching troops disembark – FRANCE.

    2[7]th June – Advance Party disembarks – FRANCE.

    28th June – Vehicle party disembarks in France – Courseulles-sur-Mer.

    29th June – Battalion established in assembly area at Subles.

    30th June – 0900 – Orders received 0900 hours to move to forward locality at Le Mesnil-Patry.
    Location: Le Mesnil-Patry
    1200 – Battalion established in area Le Mesnil-Patry.
    1600 – Battalion area shelled – casualties: 58632 Temporary Captain WFT [H]erbert, 293744 w/Lieutenant G Edwards – wounded. Two ORs killed – 5 ORs wounded.
    1800 – Orders received for Battalion move to front line position.
    2130 – Advance Party moves to take over position area Mondrainville 9264.
    Main Body moves by march route.

    1st – 31st July
    Location: Mondrainville 9264
    1st July – Battalion HQ established at 925645 [Appendix 1]
    For the are shelled and mortared spasmodically during day.
    Casualties: - 58740 Major J Price – Killed
    - 42446 Cptain TR Baber - Wounded
    - 49532 Cptain Gay – Wounded
    - 3 ORs sick and evacuated

    2nd July – 0630 – Observation post established at 925628. No activity reported on front.
    Battalion HQ and B Company area shelled and mortared. Maintenance train shelled.
    Casualties: 1 OR killed, 3 ORs wounded, 3 ORs sick and evacuated.

    3rd July – Battalion area mortared and shelled occasionally. No casualties.

    4th July – Intensive shelling and mortaring. Battalion moves to new location orders received to prepare to lay minefield on nights 5/6th and 6/7th. Daylight patrols report no activity. Casualties: Lieutenant R Hasted and 1 OR Killed. [Appendix B]
    41233 Major HW Tyear, SWB (2IC) and 37 ORs join Battalion.

    5th July – Mine laying postponed until night 7/8th July 44. Slight enemy shelling and mortaring.
    Casualties: 3 ORs wounded. 2 ORs sick and evacuated.

    6th July – arrangements made for RE representatives and Battalion Pioneer O to make recce night 6/7th June.
    Heavy mortaring and shelling – our arty [replies].
    Casualties: ORs wounded.
    2 ORs sick and evacuated.

    7th July – 0050 – Pioneer and RE representatives proceed on minefield recce from D Company locality.
    Tripwire laid in front of Company position.
    0315 – RE reports in from recce.
    B, C and D Companies sleight mortaring during day.
    Sleight enemy reported by Regimental and Royal Artillery Observation posts.
    2310 – C Company mine laying party proceed to C Panel.
    2315 – D Company mine laying party proceed to B Panel
    2342 – B Company mine laying party proceed to A Panel
    Casualties – 1 OR killed, 1 OR wounded.

    8th July – 0255 – D Company report B Panel complete.
    0445 – Pioneer Officer report A Panel will be completed night 8/9th at 150 yards to be done.
    0425 – C Company report C Panel complete.
    Sleight mortaring during day
    2330 – Recce patrol despatched.
    Casualties – 2 ORs killed, 7 ORs wounded, 3 ORs sick and evacuated.

    9th July – 0200-0245 – Three calls made for arty defensive fire tasks as counter-mortar [support?].
    0400 – Recce patrol returns. Reports NIL.
    Enemy activity during day restricted to shelling and mortaring.
    2330 – Recce patrol despatched. No casualties.

    10th July – 0245 – Patrol returns, reports enemy in wood 917625 (approximately 1 Company)
    0250 to 430 – Commanding Officer calls for nine defensive fire shoots in area 917625 and adjacent enemy positions suspected.
    0450 – Patrol despatched to report on wood 917625.
    0630 – Prisoner taken by D Company and despatched to Brigade.
    1640 – Patrol returns with report on wood 917625. Reports enemy 914625. Royal Artillery shoot on this.
    Casualties – 1 OR killed – 4 ORs wounded.

    11th July – Four Prisoners of war taken during day.
    2115 – A Company reports Cahier 9056628 is enemy strong point. Patrol from this Company sent out to investigate.
    Casualties:- 1 OR.

    12th July – General activity and shelling during night on Battalion left flank.
    0400 – Patrol returns – reports wiring North-East of Cahier
    Casualties 3 ORs – 2 ORS previously casualties returned.

    13th July – 0015-0120 – Intermittent enemy shelling
    0445 – D Company patrol reports enemy infantry activity in West Wood 917625.
    1015 – B Company patrols reports enemy West and North West Wood 917635. Shot one man.
    1040 – C Company report two men missing from Bren group 923638.
    1330 – Cahier area hit by our medium regiment and 25 pounders for ten minutes.
    1350 – Cahier area hit by our 4.2” mortars for ten minutes.
    1630 – Two missing men found dead.
    2130 – Standing patrol of Lieutenant F Evans and 38 ORs briefed and despatched by CO to wood 917625. Task – to remain until prisoner of war taken or withdrawn by CO.
    Casualties:- 3 ORs killed, 1 OR wouned, 2 ORs sick and evacuated.

    14th July – 0530 – Patrol established in Wood 917635.
    Mortaring and shelling intermittently during day.
    2030 – Commanding officer calls for arty fire on 909629 (25 pounders) and 906629 (medium) as result of patrol report.
    Casualties:- 295370 Lieutenant DD Houler – wounded.
    2 ORs wounded, 1 OR sick and evacuated.

    15th July – Prisoner of War identified as 991 Grenadier Regiment bought in by C Company.
    0945 – Report form D Company observation post of enemy platoon approaching company position.
    “Alert” to Battalion HQ, Mortars and Carriers.
    1030 – No activity reported, alert ceases.
    2130 – Mortaring reported A Company locality.
    No casualties.

    15th/16th July – Battalion forward Companies form protection for start line of Ox and Bucks attack which is made through Battalion position. Mortar platoon shoots in support of this attack.
    Standing patrol in Wood 917625 affords flank protection for Ox and Bucks.
    1700 – Relief of standing patrol by unit of 71 Brigade complete.
    2115 – Battalion moves to new area [Appendix 3]
    2300 – Battalion HQ established.
    A Echelon shelled.
    Casualties: 7 ORs killed – 13 ORs wounded, 3 ORs sick and evacuated.
  2. tango

    tango Junior Member

    hi all, dont know if anyone can help, but i am trying to find out a bit more about my relative Edward Powell who was sadly killed on the 17th july 1944. He was in the monmouthshire regiment. 2nd battalion i think? He was 30 years old when he got killed and was my nans brother.:poppy:
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Welcome to the forum.
    Yes he was 2nd Bn.
    CWGC - Casualty Details

    I hope the members can help out with a bit more info for you.
  4. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum tango - enjoy!

    Jonny (handle 'Swiper') is the forum's resident expert on 53rd (Welsh) Division, to which the 2nd Bn Monmouthshire Regiment belonged. He posted Message #1 of this thread, which is a transcription of the battalion's War Diary for the period 1 June to 16 July 1944. The whole War Diary WO171/1348 covers the period 1 January to 31 December 1944.

    It may be worthwhile dropping Jonny a PM (private message) - click on 'Private Messages' near your name at the top right hand side of the page and off you go - to ask if he has a transciption of the War Diary for the 17 July 1944, which may give you have information about location, cause, etc. of the death of soldiers on that day.

    Have you obtained Edward's service records?


  5. Tiflo 62

    Tiflo 62 Member


    Do you have the month of September 44 for this unit?

    Thank you.

  6. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Digitised, but not transcribed sadly.
  7. rich 127

    rich 127 New Member

    Does anyone know the location of 2monmouthshire regt in the first week of march 1945, my great uncle was 12 platoon, b company, 2 Monmouthshire regt when he was wounded March 45, thanks in advance
  8. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    Just had a quick look at Delaforce's Red Crown & Dragon. On 6 March 1945 2 Mons led an attack on the Bonninghardt Ridge just to the west of Alpen at a cost of 14 killed and 57 wounded. This seems a likely possibility for where your great uncle was wounded. I'm sure someone with more expertise than me can provide more info.
    Wapen likes this.
  9. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    pp93-7 of the Regimental history by GA Brett cover it.

    Without a date of his wounding, can't really help with specifics, although it was likely to be the attack on Alpen (mispelled by Brett)

    B Coy held the reserve + right flank as 2 Mons advanced on a 3 Coy front.
  10. A D Joned

    A D Joned New Member

    Can anyone help me find out how my mother's cousin was killed in action on 14/8/44. He was a private in the 2nd Monmouthshire . He was 19 years old. I have visited his grave to the east of Caen. There are 4 other graves from his battalion with this date next to him at the cemetery . Thanks
  11. rainham boy

    rainham boy Junior Member

    Hi all,
    I have been looking into my father's war records and have discovered that while serving with the 2nd Monmouthshire he was wounded on 6/3/45 at Alpen, is there a way of finding out more about his wounds

  12. John hanbury

    John hanbury New Member

    Hi ..my uncle died on 14.8.44 ash taylor Hanbury ,age 20 , he was in the same battalion ...i wonder if my uncle is 1 of them 4 graves . ?

    Hi ..my uncle died on 14.8.44 ash taylor Hanbury ,age 20 , he was in the same battalion ...i wonder if my uncle is 1 of them 4 graves . ?
    On that same day ,same pattalion my uncle ash taylor Hanbury age 20 died maybe he is 1 of the 4 graves ..would u know by any chance .thanks
  13. Dave Williams

    Dave Williams New Member

    Just seen a post regards 2nd Bn. Monmouthshire Regiment, my Grandfather died 15/08/1944, WILLIAMS, JAMES JOHN
    Service Number 1818175, wondered what, if anything, is posted in the war diaries regards this event/day, Thanks
  14. Hi Swiper,
    Long shot, but do you have 2 Monmouth's War diary for 7 August 1944?
    I am researching a Soldier (4080587 Pte Owen G Morris) who was KIA on 7 August 44, and trying to get a better handle on where, how he was killed and what action the Monmouths saw that day. Pte Morris is buried at Brouay war cemetary and have his details from CWGC
    Thanks in advance for any help !!
  15. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    They're static on the western banks of the Orne, running patrols over to the eastern bank etc.

    No offensive action really.

    Suspect wounded earlier on and died of wounds, so you'd need Owen's Service Record to find more.
  16. Wapen

    Wapen Active Member

    A really nasty one that. They got into the woods and onto the forward slope facing (German held) Alpen and then pounded with arty for hours.
  17. Some more information about 2nd Mons. during September'44

    Arendonk (Voorheide), September 24th./25th. 1944

    6th. Bn. The Royal Welch Fusiliers were to secure the village of Reusel, 133rd. Field Regiment, Royal Artillery and 2nd. Bn. The Monmouthshire Regiment’s orders were to guard their left flank. They were to clear the opposition, if any, from the small village of Voorheide.
    This was two miles West of Reusel and on the banks of the Dessel-Schoten Canal. The Royal Artillery felt their way gently forward from Postel. The column soon came insight of the church tower at Reusel, which had caused much trouble previously to other battalions. There was no shelling this time and the Royal Artillery turned northwards on the canal bank.
    After some 500 yards they came to what was shown on the map as a dynamite factory. The Royal Artillery and 2nd. Bn. The Monmouth Regiment were on the towpath of the canal, with trees and a bank on their right and water on their left. They did not know who was on the other bank, but they knew it was not held by them and so felt very exposed. They were warned that the towpath was mined, and about 800 yards beyond the dynamite factory lay the village of Voorheide. “D” Company under command of Captain Prince Dimitri Galitzine found some Germans in the dynamite factory and shot them up, so it was plain that there was going to be trouble at Voorheide itself.

    133rd. Field Regiment’s infantry, 2nd. Bn. The Monmouthshire Regiment, started to move forward, and from his observation post in the dynamite factory Major Richard Hughes watched their progress. He had his glasses fixed on the “B” Company subaltern leading a platoon up the road. Suddenly there was a flash and Major Hughes saw him, or pieces of him, whirl through the air. It was horrible, and his immediate thought was that one of their guns must be firing short. A superficial check showed that to be impossible, then two more explosions occured with more casualties and they realised that they were treading on mines.

    On September 24th. 1944, the other companies were making good headway, and by 20:00 Hours “C” and “D” Companies were established at Voorheide. “B” Company was still moving ahead and “A” Company remained with battalion Headquarters, giving them protection. It was now quite dark, and the situation at Voorheide suddenly became unpleasant. Hardly had “B” Company arrived when it was challenged. In the resulting spurt of fire both the officers were wounded, leaving the company under command of an NCO. There was a very gallant diplay by the bearer officer and first aid men who went up and brought the wounded back from Voorheide, in the full knowledge that there were many Fallschirmjäger around.

    On September 25th. 1944, at 03:00 Hours, “C” Company under command of Major John Chaston reported a number of Fallschirmjäger passing by them at Voorheide. When “B” Company reported the same thing, it became obvious that a serious counter attack was under way. Heavy fighting was developing all around them, so Major Hughes called down defensive fire on the German line of approach. As it was now getting quite light, and the observer who was on top of the dynamite factory could see the action and started directing some fire. “C” Company called in some targets, and their guns really started to lay into them. The Fallschirmjäger now found themselves in a very uncomfortable position, being shot at from all sides, and pulled out leaving sixty or seventy casualties. It was an outstanding display of artillery skill.

    Meanwhile the battle of Reusel had not gone well, so their position was far from comfortable. They were alone, 2.000 yards ahead of their own lines, with Germans on all sides. They spent three windy nights there. Unreliable civilian reports claimed thousands of German reinforcements were approaching. Eventually the Brigadier decided to pull them back into their own lines until the Reusel battle was settled.


    During the two days’ fight following soldiers of 2nd. Bn. The Monmouthshire Regiment were killed in action at Voorheide (Arendonk):

    L.Cpl. T. Gray
    L.Cpl. T. Aubrey
    Pte. C.S. Dagnall
    Pte. G.J. Finley
    Pte. A.H. Polis
    Lt. D.A. Evans (land mine)
    Pte. P.J. Lyons
    Pte. J.A. Yates
    Pte. A.M. Cook
    Pte. J.D. Desmond
    Pte. W.C. Gibson
    Pte. F.J. Morgan
    Cpl. T.H. Wheater (land mine)
    L.Cpl. H.A. Fisher
    Pte. J. Morgan

    Major Alfred John Chaston (71593)
    2nd. Bn. The Monmouthshire Regiment ‘C’ company

    Alfred John Chaston was born at Bedwellty, Monmouthshire, on December 17th. 1916 and was educated at Monmouth School. He was commissioned into the Monmouthshire Regiment in 1937. In 1940 John married Sybil Byers, they had four children, two sons and two daughters.
    In 1944 he commanded “C” Company when the 2nd. Battalion landed in France on June 26th. 1944. Major John Chaston won an Military Cross in Belgium in 1944.

    On September 24th. 1944, 2nd. Bn. The Monmouthshire Regiment was ordered to occupy the village of Voorheide on the Dessel-Schoten Canal. Chaston was in command of “C” Company. The previous night had been spent under gas-capes in wet, windswept fields intersected with ditches. Sleep had proved elusive and many were tired. “Weary men dealing with a nightmare”, was how one of them described it.

    Breakfast at dawn was a foot-stamping affair of hard biscuits and sardines, with fish oil running down frozen fingers and wrists, under the gas-cape sleeve, to be absorbed in a sweat-stale pullover. The wind was bitter, and the only evidence of heat was the wisps of steam from the tea dixies. The approach to Voorheide along a narrow towpath beside sunken barges and blitzed pillboxes was a matter of trudging on foot or grinding along in a vehicle. Pressure mines were concealed along the verges, and two of the leading carriers blew up.

    Chaston and his men cleared the houses despite awkward crossfire from enemy positions. As evening fell, the area was lit by fires from burning farms before heavy rain came down, leaving everything in darkness. At 03:00 Hours four companies of Germans, most of them Fallschirmjäger, made a concerted counterattack using spandaus and bazookas. A period of confused and bitter fighting followed. For a time the village was in complete pandemonium. Soldiers seeking to survive crouched in slit trenches and shot the enemy against the skyline; others hid indoors and shot intruders off windowsills. At one time Voorheide was held by both Germans and British, one outside the houses, the other inside. Invitations to “Surrender! You are surrounded!” always met the same response – a stream of obscenities and a burst of automatic fire from skylight or cellar peephole. Platoons running out of ammunition lost men captured by the enemy when trying to make their way to Headquarters to replenish; on some occasions men taken prison contrived to turn the tables on their captors and brought them back to company or battalion HQ.
    One of Chaston’s platoons was overrun, and the positions of the remainder of the company – including its HQ – were penetrated by large parties of Germans. Chaston organised the defence with great skill and determination. He sent back cool and accurate reports by wireless until he was forced to close down the set as some Germans were at his window. But he and his men held firm and at 05:30 Hours the Germans began to withdraw, leaving many dead, wounded, and some prisoners behind them. Chaston was awarded an Military Cross for his spirited leadership during the action.

    In February 1945, in hard fighting in the Reichswald, Major Chaston was wounded and invalided home. He rejoined 2nd. Bn. The Monmouthshire Regiment in 1947 as second-in-command and was appointed commanding officer in 1950. He became deputy commander of 160 Infantry Brigade in the rank of colonel in 1956 and served as a member of the Monmouthshire and, subsequently, Wales Territorial, Auxiliary and Volunteer Reserve Association for more than 30 years, acting as chairman from 1974 until 1981. Settled at Newport, Pembrokeshire, he was managing director of the family motor business, Chastons of Blackwood, for many years. After selling the business to the Howells Motor Group in the 1970’s, he became managing director of the parent company until he retired. He was appointed OBE (military) in 1954 and CBE (civil) in 1981. He was appointed ADC to the Queen in 1968, Honorary Colonel 2nd. Bn. The Monmouthshire Regiment in 1959 and Deputy Lieutenant of Monmouthshire in 1954. John Chaston died on July 20th. 2010 aged 93.


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